D.J. Divine of the Infinity Machine

                   By Troy L. Smith Spring of 2005

 

 

 

Where and when did you first hear Hip Hop? Was it in Queens or up in the Bronx?

 

It wasn’t Hip Hop when I first heard it. It was music from the Ohio Players, Olympic Runners, like “Put your music where your mouth is.” Stuff like that. The stuff that they played at a  Flash party I believe came later. I was really interested in DeeJaying back then. Before Hip Hop was Hip Hop, disco was disco. I caught it like in the early seventy’s, say 1971 or 72. I moved out to Queens in 1969. I later got to know people around the area. There was this guy named Edwin Reyes aka D.J. Maestro. That was the first guy that made me have interest in music.

 

Was he spinning two turntables?

 

It was two turntables, but it wasn’t like two turntables and a mixer. It was two separate components.

 

So there would be two different records on those turntables?

 

Right, and he played it through band equipment. Remember those Black  P.A. columns, the tall skinny ones. They had maybe 4 twelve inch speakers in them. It was what the band used back then. Bands were really hot back then.

 

So where did you see him doing this in Queens?

 

Right in his basement. He  mostly spun R&B, Soul and Pop.

 

So was he the most popular guy around there doing that? In fact this was really like a house party, right?

 

Pretty much, nobody else was doing it on the block. There probably were other people doing it but I didn’t know anything about it, at least in that area. Bands were more popular back then, then people playing recorded music. What made recorded music popular was radio. WWRL with Bobby Bird and he used to rock. Later Frankie Crocker and FM radio really started being the big thing.

 

So did this guy The Maestro progress through the seventy’s?

 

No. He passed away in  the later seventy’s.

 

When did you put together your first group Cipher Sounds?

 

I was about 16 or 17. Right before the Disco era.

 

You went from Cipher Sounds to Infinity Machine?

 

Yes.

 

How did you form the Cipher Sounds Crew.

 

Me and two other brothers that were 5 percenter’s formed the group. Divine Justice, Understanding and me, Divine. We were all D.J.s. We would say something on the mic, but we would not consider our selves m.c.s. That was basically the difference between the Bronx and Queens. There really wasn’t too much focus on the m.c. It was more focus on the sound system. Also who could have the most records that nobody never heard of.

 

So how many other groups were in competition with your group Cipher Sounds?

 

We were from south Jamaica Queens. You had the Infinity Machine, Phase 3, Sound Experience, Supreme Sounds and Professor and Company to name a few ,but there were other's.

 

So why did you leave Cipher Sounds to go to Infinity Machine?

 

That’s a good question. A brother named Michael Goede had a dream of having the largest sound system in Queens. After he saw this group in East Elmhurst called New Sound and King Charles, and they had some equipment that was crazy loud. He said if you come with us I am going to have this, and have all that. At that time we introduced some one else to Cipher Sound and I was having problems with that person. So I said to my first crew, “I am going to leave Jamel with y’all, and ya’ll keep the group going, and I am going to go with Michael Goede. That is how I got on with Infinity Machine.

 

Weren’t you the Captain of Cipher Sounds, didn’t you put them together?

 

Yeah. But as with any good foundation it was bound to pass the test of time.

 

So who were the m.c.s at Infinity Machine?

 

Michael was one, he didn’t d.j. Then you had Groovy Lou, Wild Cat, Chilly E and Disco Kid, who came a little later. Michael J came much later. He really wasn’t apart of the group he just use to be with us from time to time. A lot of m.c.s just came with us and rocked the mic.

 

So these Infinity m.c.s actually had routines?

 

No.

 

So they were just mostly saying their rhymes and passing the mic around?

 

Yeah, and that’s what separated them from the Bronx.

 

This guy Groovy Lou, was he the best m.c. in the crew?

 

No, he had a really smooth and deep voice, and he was appealing to the women. But in terms of him lyrically expressing, everybody had pretty much the same stuff. The difference was the tone or how they delivered their words.

 

So there really wasn’t a top m.c. in Queens like a Mele Mel or Caz would be the top in the Bronx?

 

There were some that were really good, say a guy named Chucky Chuck. This was 1978 when I heard him, right at the early stages when Hip Hop was just being formed. When he came to the club Fantasia, he had a style that was really, really different.

 

Wasn’t he from the Bronx?

 

Nah, he was from this group called Rappermatical 5. They had a record out. They were pretty good. They had routines, and they used to go up to the Bronx. So I don’t know if that was what they saw and they bought it back to Queens. Their style was different.

 

So where were you born and raised at?

 

I was born in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. I lived there until I was 15, and we moved out to Queens, where I now reside

 

So was Edwin Reyes aka The Maestro the only reason you loved this music?

 

No, but he did give me the incentive, when I did it for the first time in front of him, he gave me a lot of confidence by saying “I see you already no how to do this.” In my house I basically had two components just like him. With a turntable on top of a radio, so forth and so on. I used to practice in my home like that. I moved up and  got the little mic mixers, you know the one with the batteries inside.

 

What exactly is that?

 

A mic mixer is used for mics, but you were able to plug turntables into them. It had like 4 knobs on it. We used that so it could help us to blend songs in. You needed something that could bring the volume up, then turn the volume down. Later on I found out about mixers with head phones, I said “whoa this is even better.” You hear the record before it even comes on, and then you let it go.

 

So where did you get the name? Where you Divine when you first walked into that basement at 14 years old? Were you a 5 percenter then?

 

No. I didn’t have a D.J. name then.

 

So they just called you by your government name?

 

Right, when we formed Cipher of Sounds that’s when everybody was going by their Righteous names. D.J. Divine, D.J. Understanding, D.J. Divine Just.

 

I know you pretty much said the whole line up for Infinity Machine but where there any other names you left out?

 

There was also Freaky Tee. Plus Infinity machine, they had a little group before I got there. They had a kid named John, Tony, Slug, Goat  and Mike. But I have to be honest with you, when I heard about the cats up in the Bronx, like Kool Herc, the Grand Wizard, Flash, I thought about comic characters. I said wow they had really uncommon names. But the cats out here basically extended their regular name. You might have caught one or two that was different. But they would use their righteous name for a m.c. or d.j. Like Ken Do was with us also, he came a little later. He was more or less quick, fast and creative.

 

So you were the lead d.j. and he was the back up?

 

Yeah, and he is still active, real good with his skills.

 

What about Spyder D, was he part of the Infinity Machine?

 

Me and Spyder hooked up in the later part of the 70’s more to the 80,s.

 

So when did you leave Infinity?

 

I never left them? I was doing shows with him and them. I did more shows with Spyder D because, Infinity wasn’t doing that many parties at that time.

 

So Spyder was real popular at the time?

 

Yeah Spyder at that time had a record called “Smerphies Dance” out at the time.

 

So your crew was cool with that?

 

Yeah.

 

Did you ever think about putting him down?

 

Spyder had a whole different style. His thing was to go there with just a mic, not even any equipment……

 

(Troy starts laughing.) Like a Busy Bee, I hear you.

 

…..and try and get paid like that. See with us, Infinity Machine, we  were laborers of hip hop, we used to bring the equipment there. Guys like Mele Mel, Hollywood and Cheba would come there play and that’s it. They would get paid just as much as us. Then we had to lift the equipment at the end of the night.

 

How long did it take before you meet guys like Flash, Hollywood etc.?

 

The first time I met Flash, was before the big show at the Armory with him Hollywood, Mel, Cheba and others. (tape 63.) The first time I met him was at a club called Fantasia.

 

So what were your thoughts about him before you seen him, since you heard so much about him?

 

My thoughts were this cat  is doing this, this cat is doing that. Yeah I want to see him do all that. Because there was a lot of hype about him. So I was like I got to see if this cat is the real deal. See when I seen him at Fantasia he was all right, but Mele Mel really stole the show. Maybe I was high on my self, that’s probably why I felt that way. But he really wasn’t impressive from what I saw that night. But at Rochdale Roller Skating ring he tore up his record “Flash on the Wheels of Steel.” After that night of us really meeting, we didn’t say much, but we slowly became real close.

 

So by the time ya’ll got to the Jamaica Armory ya’ll were cool?

 

Yeah we was real cool then. Then we did a show at Queens College, also at the Hotel Diplomat.

 

So I also heard ya’ll battled how did the crowd respond to this battle?

 

Like I told you before this interview, I don’t want to speak on who won, so I can’t respond to how the crowd responded at the battle, but I will say this, when I mixed the record “Dance to the Drummers beat” with my foot, they went crazy. But when he cut the record “Ring my Bell” and kept cutting it, they went crazy off of that. Flash really didn’t know that I knew how to back spin, so he was kind of caught off guard. I was back spinning “Double Cross” and I was spinning my body around and catching the record. But him and Mele Mel did their thing.

 

Hold up, you went against both of them and didn’t have an m.c.?

 

Basically the m.c.s I had didn’t want to talk, so I said the hell with it, I have to do what ever I have to do.

 

So they didn’t even want to go against Mel?

 

(Divine starts laughing.) you putting s--- in the game now.

 

No, I don’t write stories to diss nobody, but I need to know the facts, and get an idea of that night to paint a total picture. The reader will ask faster then I can type where were your m.c.s that night.

 

Right.

 

So Mele was just throwing out a whole bunch of lyrics that night?

 

Mel unleashed it.

 

(Troy starts laughing.) He unleashed it.

 

He even kicked that “oh ah, I want a piece of pie, the pie to sweet, I want a piece of meat, the meat to tough.”

 

Mel is a funny brother, because that’s like an old down south nursery rhyme. I got a couple of older friends from down south that kick that from time to time. So at the end of the night no winner was really announced?

 

Nah, we just shook hands and broke out. This was the night at Fantasia, and it was jammed packed.

 

I am going to switch lanes, where do you feel hip hop started in Queens?

 

I would say south Jamaica. We had three clubs. Fantasia, The Lechalet and  at I.S. 8

 

So what were the other locations going against ya’ll?

 

Well there was Hollis, Queens Bridge with the Disco Twins. Who might have came from Woodside. They were really the only ones who used to try and come against us.

 

Who did ya’ll beef with the most. The 40 projects or Hollis or was it Hollis beefing with the 40 projects?

 

Whoa, we was beefing more with Disco Twins. It was who had the largest sound system. They some funny brothers, because they used to come with borrowed speakers. They used to come with Richard Long stuff. He used to do a lot of sound systems, a lot of disco’s. He did studio 54. He invented the Bertha.

 

So ya’ll used to battle the Disco Twins on the regular?

 

They would come out to our turf or 48 park and try to do their thing and they would turn out. They had D.J. Smalls with them, Hollywood’s son. They had another kid named Robin Hood, and the Disco Twins them selves were very good. One would spin the turntable the other one would come on and do it also. They would jump off like that. So it was like a lot of visual stuff.

 

So they gave you good competition some times they won sometimes ya’ll won?

 

Oh yeah, oh yeah. They gave us headaches.

 

So ya’ll didn’t really have any physical beefs?

 

Close, but no.

 

They were from Queens Bridge?

 

They were from either Queens Bridge or Woodside. My association was mostly with the “40 Projects.” One of my homies from there is named D.J. Ankey. They used to call him Ank Span. Short for a disc jockey from those days name Hank Span. He used to live in 40 and he used to roll with us. I used to let him get on the turntables, he used to have a crew and these girls used to call him El Macaroni. (Troy starts laughing.) He was smooth, and that’s what he did. He got on the turntables for a little while, the next thing you know, you don’t see him any more, he is somewhere in the crowd with some chick. (Troy starts laughing again.) That was my man.

 

He got props, don’t worry about if I am putting him in this story. Alright what was your actual sound system like?

 

With Cipher Sound we had two altec lancen speakers. Maybe four speakers. We had some base bottoms, piso speakers for tweeters. The S.L. 23 belt driven technic turntables. A Clubmin mixer. A dynaco amp. Basically that was it. We mostly did bars, house parties, community centers. Stuff like that.

 

What was the pay like at that time?

 

About $150 for a nights work and we would split it between the three of us.

 

What about the Infinity Machine equipment?

 

Oh man, you are going to need a whole page for this. Four earth quake speakers, like what they use in the theater.

 

Damn.

 

Four L 48’s Cerwin vega Speakers. 6 B 36’s Speakers, mind you all this is just bass so far. Then we had 4 V 32’s which had two 12 inches one horn and two piso’s in it. We had twenty JBL speakers which is high ended tweeters. Two multi-cells horns with tangerine drivers. Four altec lancen horns. Later on we got 2 V- 35’s Vega speakers. The amps we used to push those speakers was two Vega 3000 I amps. Two 1800 I amps. Four crown DC 300 amps. 6 B 75 crown amps. A Cervwin vega equalizer. Two Crown 1050 pre amps. 1100 technic turntables. Two of those. Two 1200 technics. See we had two sound systems. We  had the Vega mixer that had the automatic fade on it.

 

Automatic Fade?

 

Yeah,  you put on the record, and you throw it, then you set it for 3,5,10 and it mixes the next  record in for you.

 

Damn, and this was back in 1978?

 

Yeah back in 1978! We had all the latest stuff.

 

What, ya’ll all combined your money to get this?

 

Well we did parties with this guy named Steve Love, but Goede's father fronted a lot of that money, and we paid him back through those parties. We bought all of our stuff from the store called Crazy Eddie. We bought all of the Vega and Crown stuff from there. I remember Wild Cat saying one day: “we fulfilled Goede's dream.” He was right. Goede's dream was to have the loudest sound system and to surround him self with the people he needed to make that dream happen. I ain’t going to front I was having fun doing it, I never looked at it being work or anything else.

 

None of ya’ll did, the guys in the Bronx and Harlem felt the same way. Some of them have said they have rhymed for Pizza. The just wanted to get on the mic or the turntables.

 

It was something special, it was something different for the people from Manhattan. I picked up. I looked at it like, these cats were doing it for something else.

 

Such as?

 

I don’t know but it was something about them, when they did it, it was different.

 

What do you mean give me a little bit more of that feeling?

 

To tell you the truth I think the Bronx had more of a love for Hip Hop, Manhattan was doing it to……………I think boast about something. And I wouldn’t say to front. But to express it in a slick way.

 

I am kind of understanding what you are saying. In Harlem they might be a little dapper and slicker on the turntables and mic as opposed to in the Bronx. The Bronx might come outside in dirty shorts and start d.j.ing just to play some music, they didn’t care they just wanted to rock.

 

Right.

 

See Dota Rock said that, some what, one day. He said in the Bronx they didn’t always care about his rhymes per say, they just want to hear that music, that thumping sound, that drum. But when he goes to Harlem, them cats in Harlem knew his rhymes, and some of them would even stop dancing ,just to hear his rhyme. But I think it was because in the Bronx they had it first, so they knew Dot long before us. So today if you go over to Europe and those European’s see Kurtis Blow rock his record “Basketball”, they don’t even dance they just watch and listen carefully, trying to I guess, catch the Kurtis Blow experience. Opposed to here in New York where we hear it all the time, as well as see him. I am not saying this is all over Europe, I just happen to catch this on one of my man Jayquan’s video’s. So how long did it take for ya’ll to set up the equipment?

 

Some times it would take an half hour.

 

That’s all?

 

Yeah because everything was basically plug in. Boom, boom, boom. Goede hooked that up where I had people run the bass lines, people run the mid range lines and I had people run the speakers. We had more or less, six people. We had guys who helped us carry equipment, that was how they got in the parties free. Plus they would get twenty dollars or something.

 

So ya’ll didn’t take all that equipment to all those parties, because it couldn’t  all fit in there, nor could it had took all that sound. The best places had to be out side jams and the Garden! (Madison Square Garden.)

 

Right. So we used to always ask how many people was going to show up, but we still always made sure they felt the bass. We always used to bring at least four bass bottoms.

 

So that day ya’ll did Jamaica Armory, ya’ll had everything there?

 

We had everything, 4 earthquakes, 4 L 48’s, six B 36’s.

 

So ya’ll’s system was the only system there that night and everybody used it?

 

I think there was one other system.

 

That was ya’ll that promoted that party?

 

No that was Steve Love. We had some partnership in it.

 

So Steve Love was your actual promoter for all your shows during that time.

 

Yeah all the big shows.

 

So how many years you and Infinity Machine were running together?

 

Wow I have to think about that, because we are still together, but we just don’t do it like we use to do it.

 

So who is with ya’ll today?

 

Kendo, Kurtis, Michael Goede, Disco Kid. Sometimes I ask John to come with me. It depends, because a lot of stuff that I do now is weddings and small parties.

 

From 1977 to 1983 what was the sound, and records you were playing at that time? I say that because there is some what of a discrepancy of the sound being played in Queens. People often say that ya’ll were mostly playing r & b and disco and not hard core Hip Hop beats.

 

In 1977 I was with Infinity Machine, we was rocking the same thing they was rocking in the Bronx. Bob James, Pleasure, K. C. and the Sunshine Band, Steve Miller. We was rocking the same thing as them. I even have a tape from back in those days, with us rocking like that. We also used to rock Apache way back.

 

Did you hear or notice that parts of Queens were stuck in r & b and disco sound.

 

I never really went out to other spots, because mostly people used to come to us. We used to play every weekend.

 

What about those different crews that used to come and play with ya’ll and against ya’ll? What was they playing?

 

(a long pause…) that’s a good question!

 

See my man, and a lot of other cats are telling me that crews from Queens on a whole was stuck on r & b and disco more then hard breaks.

 

“Got to be real” , “Love is the message” was being played and you could say that, but there were crews that also played that raw Hip Hop stuff. That is a point to be argued. If a crew had m.c.s then they played raw Hip Hop. I can vouch for that. But if they didn’t have m.c.s then they would play the r & b.

 

I know you have heard of Grand Master Flowers. Have you ever heard him play?

 

He played disco and r & b. Matter of fact he didn’t even use a head phone, he would use a speaker to cue up his records.

 

What about Pete d.j. Jones?

 

He played with me at Fantasia. He used Bose speakers. That was his trade mark at that time.

 

Were you taken back by him?

 

Not really he was old school, what made him was Star Ski. That’s my opinion. But he played good music. Back then it was about who played the music to move the crowd. It wasn’t really about who played break beats. Nor how fast they were. At that time break beats was a part of a party, where you would get into that and let the m.c.s do their thing. That’s how I looked at break beats. When I use dto do party’s I would play “Over like a fat rat” and all the r & b stuff. but when it was time for the m.c.s to come on I would switch it over to all break beats.

 

What about the Smith Brothers, you ever caught them?

 

No, I heard of them.

 

Big Bob from Empire Skating Ring?

 

Yeah Bob played mostly r & b. He let me play on his set much later on in life, like in the 1990’s.

 

So Big Bob is still around?

 

Yeah he still doing his thing. He does a lot of Bill Butler skate party’s.

 

How did you feel about Flash, Kool Herc, Theodore, Bam and Mario?

 

I never saw Kool Herc. When I saw Theodore it was in Long Island and he had his crew the Fantastic Five with him. This night I am trying to show Theodore how to use the Cerwin Vega mixer, because he kept saying its not going over. Like I said earlier it is an automatic fade, so I am trying to show him. Kevie Kev says, and I got it on tape too, because it is funny. Kev says over the mic, “yo chill” and somebody says “yo that’s Divine”. He says “I know who that is, but it isn’t his time.” I laugh because he didn’t know how to use it and I am trying to show him. See a lot of cats would come over and use our stuff but it was new to them.  They never used it before. So we often had to show them. Because at one time he would hit the cue button and switch the turn table off and on, because there were toggle switches. But when I saw Theodore, I said “this guy was pretty sharp.” As much equipment as we had, I am sorry to say we didn’t have enough mics to accommodate them. So they used to look at me and say “yo what’s up we only got one mic?” I would say listen that’s not my problem, I am not going to supply ya’ll with five mics. How ya’ll didn’t come with mics, when we lifting all this equipment? (we both start laughing.) I’m looking at it like that. The turn tables we were using were 1100’s, they were be used in the radio stations. I mean the tracking on them was unbelievable. So for the record to jump you really had to be an amateur. So the tracking on them was excellent. We also had Stanton needles back then, that went for $70 each. We also had Pickering needles. The mic situation we just didn’t have a lot of mics because we didn’t do routines.

 

So your boys would take turns walking up to the mics say something then the next man would walk up.

 

Right. Say something, make the crowd clap their hands, mostly just crowd participation, basically. Two or three at the same time saying something back and forth came much later here in Queens. I just felt that the m.c.s in the Bronx were more advanced.

 

So did your boys ever think about stepping up their game? Saying if the Bronx and Harlem are doing it like this why can’t we?

 

No, they weren’t motivated by any one else. They were pleased with what they were doing. There were some cats that were really motivated, and you could see different styles. When I left Cipher Sounds, I did hear the style changing more to the Bronx and Harlem style. The d.j's. is pretty much universal but then it was speed, but with the m.c. you could hear somebody else’s rhyme. Not to leave out the d.j., you can also hear somebody else’s cut.

 

What about Bam?

 

I never seen him play, but everything I heard was good. He was phenomenal with the records he played.

 

Other then Mel, did Caz or Kool Moe Dee play with ya’ll?

 

Yeah, we did a party up in Saint Paul’s were Moe Dee went to school.  We also did a party at the Harvard civic center with the Treacherous Three, when Spoonie Gee was with them and they did “New Rap Language.”

 

We know who were the top d.j.s in the Bronx, but who in your opinion was the 4 or 5 top d.j.s in Queens?

 

That’s an unfair question. I say that because there were so many people that did something that I was really impressed with. I am going to have to stretch it to about ten.

Kendo was very quick and creative, but a lot of the music he played I didn’t like personally. But whatever records he used, whenever he got those two together he was unstoppable. See he was one of those d.j.s you had to watch because he had moments were you would be in awe. So I would give him a 9. But my style, I would play something while the crowd is dancing that was so hot that the crowd would be like “oh yeah.” My selection was better, but his speed and creativity was better.

 

So what would you rate yourself?

 

See if I rate myself I would have to rate my self over all. So I would have to rate my self with the sound system, how the people responded to the music I played. I am not going to sell my self cheap so I am going to have to give myself a 9 too.

 

What about Davy D?

 

I would give him an 8. I remember going on tour with him and Kurtis Blow and one of his strengths was the DMX. In terms of speed I didn’t see much, but I am sure he had it, because everybody pretty much had it.

 

What about Grand Master Vic?

 

Yes, definetly but he came later. He is like Kendo and like I said it is unfair to judge because I look at Rat and Monkey who were around my time that were considered one of the top ten d.j.s and then you got guys like Grand Master Vic, who got his notoriety after us. He came like after 1983. I would rate him up there also like a 9.

 

Kid Flash?

 

He was nice. He was very quick. He was making noise back then, the stuff he was doing he was catching a lot of attention. I would rate him up their with the top ten.

 

King Charles?

 

He was in my era but he was more like a disco d.j. But he was one of the top d.j.s of that time. He also had this cat name Verneen d.j.ing for him. King Charles was older also. But he was more like the cat that had the equipment and would set up the party. He wasn’t the main d.j.

 

As far as the m.c.s from Queens, where did the idea come for m.c.s to sound like radio disc jockeys or personalities? As far as the tone of their voice. Meaning why did they choose a radio voice and style opposed to the hard core sound from a m.c. from the Bronx?

 

I would assume that because of this guy name J.D. from New Sounds. He had a voice that was very deep and appealing to women. So you know that m.c.s wanted to be appealing to women, so if you had that Barry White voice (Divine is deepening his voice to sound like Barry White.) you would consider to be basically a good m.c..

 

So this guy J.D. was the top m.c. in Queens at that time?

 

Well…(a pause.) in my book I think he was one of the top m.c.s. he used the echo chamber. His crew was like one of the first to rock the Hotel Diplomat.. They were very popular back then. Especially when the Freak dance was out. There was this park that they use to rock called 127 park in East Elmhurst. We all called it “Booty Land.” That was because when you did the very popular dance called the Freak, you had to move close up on the Booty. There was a whole bunch of girls with some nice Booty’s, so they called it Booty Land.

 

How many records did you do?

 

I did a record on West End called "Get Into The Mix". It was a scratch D.J. record. There wasn’t that much vocals on it. it came out at the same time “Play that Beat”, by Whiz Kid.

 

So who did the vocals on yours?

 

I did! but it was not really a rap record, it was a cutting and scratching record. I would  say “get into the mix.” Then I would do the cutting and scratching.

 

So who produced it?

 

Spyder D. I did another record with Profile called “Placing the Beat” that was also done with Spyder D.

 

Then you did something with the Sessomotto beat or something?

 

Yes, we started out with that beat. That was main idea to do it with that beat, but then we changed the whole thing around. We ended up doing something  entirely different. Mel Sherman the President of West End loved it. We used the Linn drum for it and  I put my scratching to it. Also what they called sampling, I used the pause button on the tape recorder to make a whole bunch of break beats, remember the 7 inch records, the plates. They were made on an acid record. I made about 8 or 9 of them, with “Work song,” “Catch a Beat” etc. Like I said the sampling wasn’t popular yet so we used a pause button. So I would lift up the pause button when I wanted to do my thing, put blends in it and stuff like that. But those were black market records, records that never went on the charts. They were being sold from a record store on Supthin Boulevard, but they were never on the charts. This guy name Mike that owned the record store was selling them for us. We made a lot of money doing that.

 

Hold up, you made a pause plate with records like “Catch the Beat” etc and sold them?

 

Yes, like Edwin Starr “I just want to do my thing”. I have to look for them because I might have some here.

 

How much would you sell them for?

 

For $15.00 a single.

 

All it was, was paused beats put together, looped and all that what ever?

 

Well we call it looped now, but when I was doing it, I was pausing beats.

 

So it was a paused button tape that you put on to a plate?

 

Yes.

 

Damn!

 

And cats were buying it.

 

Do you remember the record shop it was coming out of?

 

Yeah, Soul City on Jamaica avenue.

 

Cats were buying that up, ain’t that something? How did you get with the West End label?

 

Through Spyder. They asked Spyder did he know a d.j. that could do a mix on the Sesso motto jam. He only gave me one record, so I had to pause it, pause it, pause it till I got it. Then once I finished the one track, I would then over dub it and put my scratching on it, because I didn’t have a reel to reel, nothing like that. so I had to do everything, meaning run it through then come back and then run it through. But when we got into the studio we had access to the 24 tracks.

 

How do you feel you being one of the pioneers in Queens, and these guys today blowing up such as L. L. Run DMC, Nas, Mob Deep Juice Crew All Stars and others doing their thing today? As far as your borough doing what it is doing oppose to what it was in the very beginning. Also do you remember seeing L. L. Cool back in the days?

 

Yeah, he played on my set once at Rochdale, before he was blowing up. I knew my part in the Hip Hop era, their part was to become a Hip Hop m.c.s, so during my time I was pissed that these m.c.s were doing this and getting paid for this, see we were laborers of Hip Hop, we used to carry the equipment and they would do their thing on our set. But our main thing was our sound system would be one of the loudest. So that was our focus to be loud and play good music. I was the type of brother, if some body came up and said let me get on, I would say alright go ahead and they do there thing. As far as L. L. he spoke to a partner of mine, see there were other times when  people just couldn’t come up to me, because either I would be on the turntable or I am trying to get the next record. So I would have my people in place so nobody could just come up to me, and that was because you never know if they are friend or foe. We had to look out for the safety of our equipment even though we didn’t have any major beefs with any body. Our security was tight, very tight. So my man was telling me this kid wants to get on the mic and do his thing what ever, other cats was telling me he was nice so I let him get on. See I let a brother get on, I will listen to him, if he wack, I will just tell him “yo we got to change this up.” See I let him tell me what record he wants and I threw on the record and just rock the beat. L. L. rocked for about 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Did he convince you at that time, that he was going to go places?

 

Not really, he just was regular that day. He was just another m.c.. I think the first time Run played on my set was when we was at Le chalet. At this time he was with his brother Russell Simmons and Kurtis Blow. Kurtis Blow introduced him as “The Son of Kurtis Blow.” DMC and Jam Master Jay were not a group yet. Whodini played with me at the club Encore.

 

Grand Master Dee played on your set?

 

Yeah. I caught them later, once Friends and all that stuff got a lot of play, so I couldn’t tell you how nice he really was because they had set routines by the time they got to me.

 

What about Divine Sounds?

 

That was my man True Mathematics, he was the d.j. for them. He used to live right around the corner from me. We did a show with them at I think a place called Château Royale, that was down on Hillside avenue. When they played their record “What People Do For Money”, the crowd went crazy. As far as Nas, I think he is kind of under rated. I don’t really know or follow Mobb Deep personally but I hear good things about them.

 

Thank you D.J. Divine.

 

No problem Troy. I want the people to know that Hip Hop is a culture that is made up of different thing's from the Dee jay to the M.C. From break Dancers to the crews that got the party popping we all formed it to become such a great part of history today. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of this Hip Hop culture and keeping me safe through it all, because without him, we are nothing so count your blessing s......God Bless..........

 

 

(Note: Divine and I were playing tapes back in forth through the telephone and he blew my mind on a couple of them but then he played “Over like a Fat Rat” by Fonda Ray, and he was cutting the record, having her voice sounding like she was say “D.J. Divine” I thought it was amazing. Also he is another cool brother from the pioneers of Hip Hop.) peace

 

I want to thank my man Bruce aka Cutty Cutty who put me in contact with D.J. Divine. Also want to thank the brothers at www.oldschoolhiphop.com for helping with a lot of the history of Queens hip hop that I didn’t know. Also John G for hooking up that site because there are some really cool brothers and sisters over there. Also thank my brother Jayquan for putting me on. Oh Boy…….

 

Praise God and God Bless you all.

From Troy L. Smith of the Grant Projects. In Harlem, U.S.A. 

 

©2005 Troy L. Smith No Part May Be Reproduced Without Authors Consent.

 

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