Greg G of the Disco Four. Also Founder of Entertainers Classic Basketball in Harlem’s Rucker Park. Part owner of the legendary Roof Top and Willie Entertainers Sports Bar & Cafe, as well as owner of EBC clothing store.
Spring of 2005
By Troy L. Smith
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Harlem, on 123rd st. and Amsterdam avenue , across the street from the Grant Projects. At the age of seventeen I moved to Central Harlem. Although we contemplated moving to New Jersey, as well as Queens. My Father worked in Jersey and my grandmother lived in Queens, I used to love being out in Jamaica Queens in the summer and weekends. My parents really wanted a house but my mother had a very important job here in Harlem, and my father wanted me to experience the culture and the growing up in Harlem like he did.
How did you first experience hip hop, or get that taste to want to be down?
My God brother Mike Wallace was down with Kool Herc and the Herculoids, as far as hanging out with them. So he used to bring the tapes over to the house and I used to hear them. I started hearing for the first time the record “Scratching” and “Dance to the Drummers Beat.” Those records had me hype, when I heard the record “Mexico,” “I was like what the hell is that?” I actually learned how to break dance from him as well.
After awhile I started going up to Riverside Church, on 120th st. and Riverside drive for a Friday night program, where we played music. So my God brother came up there one night and showed me how to scratch the record. See they used to just play regular music up there, so I bought my records up there and started playing them and cats were looking at me and saying “what the f--- is that Greg?” I started scratching it and they really got kind of mad at me. But the more I started bringing records the more they started appreciating the music that I brought.
Even though I would still go back to the Grant, and hang around my old block, I one day bumped into Mr. Troy who lived on my new block. We were not members of the Disco Four yet, but we started getting cool. So this day he was on his way to go uptown to play tennis on 150th street and 7th avenue. I was looking at him saying “Tennis?” “That is some faggot ass sport!” He said nah man, that’s where all the girls is at. Troy was actually encouraged by his father, because his father used to go up there and play.
His father used to make a lot of money back in those days, as a big time number man. His pops had the convertible Cadillac with tinted windows, and his pops had the top of the line tennis rackets. So one day I go to the tennis courts with them. When I get there, mad chicks is up in there! To me that was a whole new crew of girls to talk to, so I started going up there and I started learning this tennis, and I found out it was a cool sport. But everyday heading up there, we used to hear music. The music was coming from Drew Hamilton projects. So one day we decided to stop. That’s when we seen and met for the first time Donald Dee of Harlem not the Bronx and his brother B- Fats who was always back there D.J.ing. Back in the days there was this men’s clothing store on 125th street and 8th avenue called A.J. Lester’s that I used to work at.
That was my favorite store back in the days, in fact everybody back in the days loved that store. That was a fly green bag they used to hold your clothing. How did you get a job there?
When I was young, I used to always ask them about work. They didn’t take me serious. So I told my great aunt, who I knew, knew someone in there. When she stepped to them that’s when they knew I meant business. They said when the summer comes around if something comes up we will put you on. That summer at seventeen years old I was working there. So you know Troy, all the top cats from what ever field are coming in there, from Number runners, drug dealers, business men, athletes were all coming in there. If you anybody in Harlem you bought from this store. So when they seen me they like “how can this cat be a salesman in this joint?” So when Donald Dee and B-Fats seen me and remembered me from the park they asked me could I get them a discount? I said yeah if ya’ll help me learn how to D.J. and let me run with ya’ll. So Don was like bet. He said in fact we got the Renaissance ballroom tonight, which was on the corner of my block. They were the first to give dollar party’s during the week from Monday to Thursday. I said o.k. I will see ya’ll later on tonight. So when I pulled up in my car that night they was like “yo you got a car too”. I had a brand new 98 Oldsmobile. Back then Cadillac’s and 98’s were the top cars. A Cadillac was like having a Mercedes, and a 98 Oldsmobile was like having a BMW. So they was like ‘this cat has to be a drug dealer.”
But I wasn’t! My Father and Mother just provided for us and I always did odds and ends jobs( sold beepers, delivered papers, packed bags), so I was more fortunate than when they were growing up. I went to catholic school and got a good education. Also my uncle, my mothers brother, was only five years older than me. To my uncle I was like his brother or son, so he wanted to always see me fresh. He had me in the long Walt “Clyde” Frazier type fur coat. He had me dressing like I was a young man already. He was the one that gave me the 98! He had the 98 for about three months and it was brand new, he gave it to me. Turn around, and bought another car, for him self.
He was legit, as well?
Yep. That was my uncle from Queens, he bought me a motorcycle too. My mother and father was serious about my education. But my uncle was like yo I want my nephew to have this and have that. So he kept me in motorcycles and mopeds and fly gear.
So cats weren’t trying to bring it to you for flossin like that?
No. I guess because nobody really knew were I was coming from. I didn’t grow up around them. I was new to the neighborhood, then I am hanging with Donald Dee. So cats be saying “damn, and he is hanging with Donald Dee.” Donald Dee was like a little star in the neighborhood, and at that time and I was working at A.J. Lester’s on 125th street. So I was doing so many different things, that cats weren’t envious of me, but wanted to know what was up with me! So I just took advantage of my surroundings and situations around me and I just kept empowering myself. Also today I realize why my parents wanted me to grow up here because I was able to see what the streets were about with out being in the streets. Even though I might have been in the streets I wasn’t in the streets.
So what kept you away from hustling (selling drugs) and using drugs?
Because I knew I didn’t have to do that. I wasn’t fiending for my money like that. I didn’t have to feel like I have to take care of my family, so I need to hustle! That’s the story most people say. But when they sell drugs they ain’t trying to take care of their family. They trying to take care of them selves.
Most cats that sells drugs ain’t trying to move their family out of the neighborhood, all they do is go get a chain, go get a car and floss with the bitches. So where you trying to take your family at, and all you doing is making it worst for your family because your either dead, in jail, or on the run or broke again, and they got to take care of you still. You know what I am saying.
And you hurt people too. I learned all of that working at a drug program.
What program was that?
Addicts Rehabilitation Center. Know as ARC. Here in Harlem.
Oh that’s where your sister works at also.
Exactly. I only did it for a year. It wasn’t really for me but it was a good learning experience for me. I feel that God puts me in certain situations for certain reasons. So back To Donald Dee and B-Fats. I realized I really wanted to Rap more from hearing Hollywood tapes, and hearing Flash and them tapes. I learned how to really rap from lip synching with them while listening to the tape and then I changed their names to mine, then I started putting my own lyrics down. I always had a musical back ground because I used to play key board. I used to be in a band when I was in Queens. So I always had a love for music.
What was the band that you were in, in Queens?
I don’t remember the name but it was a neighborhood band. We played little bars. I was like 15 playing in bars.
Yeah I heard Ed Lover of POWER 105 F.M. and other radio stations was part of a band out there also back in the days.
Yeah, Queens was famous for talent shows and bands. If you had a band out there you was trying to be like the Jackson Five or like Kool and the Gang.
O.K. (Troy starts laughing)
If you notice, all the New York bands came out of Queens or Brooklyn.
Such as who? Give me examples.
Crown Heights Affair! B.T. Express! Ready Made Family. That is how I got into the deep funk and bass, because we grew up on that. I love that, I have that history and that is how the Entertainers Basketball Classic grew as well. See people never thought hip hop would grow to be what it is today. They thought it would never last and it would make no money and look at it now. Same thing about street ball. The same thing happened, people not thinking it is going to last or make money. But if corporate America can use it and make money than you know they will use it. There is going to be Puff Daddy’s, Andre Harrell’s and Russell Simmons in the street ball in a minute, and that’s the direction I am going to take mine.
I remember when Puffy was first coming up, he had teams in your tournaments.
Yeah, he was an intern when he did his first team.
He didn’t even have no dollars at the time. Compared to what he has now.
So Donald Dee was your man.
And B-Fats as well? Or mostly Donald Dee?
Both of them. They were both our D.J.s and Al B, my announcer today, was also our D.J. back in those days of the Disco Four.
What was that story that you told me about, that abandoned house that Donald Dee hooked up to rock a party long before Beat Street the movie came out?
Yeah over there by central park west on I think 106th street, he went to this abandoned ass nursing home and turned it into a Disco. He occupied three or four rooms, put speakers all over the joint, turned on some dim lights and we partied in that joint. He did it for a couple of months.
I said Beat Street because ya’ll did it first. So I just thought maybe one of Harry Belafonte’s writers got it from what ya’ll did.
I hear you, but Don was just good like that he could take a community room, a dump, a fabulous place and make something out of it. He was an entroperneur like that, and he was younger than me! Way younger than me.
Way younger than you at that?
Yeah, Don was young but he was way ahead of his time. B-Fats was older, maybe a year younger than me, but Don was the brain behind it all.
So how did Disco Four form?
Don was just so infatuated with what Flash was doing in the Bronx he just wanted to do the same thing in Manhattan. It used to be Donald Dee and Mike Gee, so then he says he wants to do a group. He says he is going to do a group called Disco Four.
So where did they get the name Disco Four?
I don’t know were they got the name from, but I know they were trying to put the group together and I wanted to be in the group. They had already got Mr. Troy, Ronnie and Country and Cool Gee. So now they don’t want the Disco Five. So they didn’t really want me to be apart of the group because of that. So I said if I am not apart of the group I am not rolling, and they kind of needed me because Don started realizing that I knew a lot of people and then I had the car. Also I could do what he could do. I could find places to party like him. So one day he would let me rhyme and then other times I would rhyme for B-Fats. I think B-Fats was trying to take over the group. So they was like back and forth saying you had to decide who you was with. Donald Or Fats.
(Troy starts laughing) I hear that.
So I just laid back and played my cards. They said they didn’t want to be Disco Five, so I said let it be Disco Four and Greg G adding harmony. That’s how that started. Then they realized I was the one that made the record deal happen, even though that’s Ronnie’s father (Bobby Robinson of Enjoy records). I am the one that went in there and negotiated it. As well as suggested it at all, because I am like how in the world Bobby Robinson’s son is in our crew and we don’t have a record deal. I wrote the whole record.
What was the first record you wrote?
Move To The Groove. Then we did Country Rock and Rap. I wrote almost all of our records. Every record we did I wrote the concept, the main chorus and the rhymes, they wrote their own individual freestyle rhymes. I always came with the idea and what record we were going to use. See whenever I got some money I always bought me a piece of some equipment. So I had drum machines in my house. That’s how I met Teddy Riley of the R&B group Guy and Black Street. I had all the equipment in my house. 8 track, microphones, mixing board. I had all that in my house.
So how did you and Teddy Riley meet?
Through a guy name Sam Douglas. Sam knew that I was trying to get into this producing thing and I needed somebody who really knew how to play key board. To complement what I was doing. Sam told me about this little sixteen year old kid that lived in Saint Nicholas Projects (127th street to 130th street. From 8th avenue to 7th avenue.) So we talked, he came to the house, he seen all the equipment I had along with the keyboard. So that kind of fascinated him. Plus I had a car. Its always the car that get cats in Harlem. So we just clicked and started being together. That was like my little brother, we did everything together.
How’s the relationship today?
I still talk to him, but I am kind of disappointed with him, I think with his talent he should come back more and show the new brothers and sisters that are thirsty how it is done, as well as show how to watch out for the pit falls.
Back to the Disco Four. Weren’t you one of the better of the five m.c.s?
To me, I was like the most business like. Cool Gee was also good at that. But Troy was the best of all of us when it comes to that mic, lyrically. Ronnie Dee is next, then I feel I might have been third. But Mr. Troy, he was ahead of his time. If you really listen to his rhymes, and his flow, matter fact “School Beats” he wrote. He wrote the whole thing. The beat and everything. He just got that flow. I think if he came out right now, I think he could fit in. He tells me that he is still writing, even now.
So you stay in contact with him still to this day?
Yeah we still stay in contact.
This is the real question, how did ya’ll get him from the Fearless Four?
Troy was never really with the Fearless Four! He was just messing with some girl up in Grant. So he just used to rock with them when he was around them. I actually introduced him and Donald Dee and the rest of the crew to the Fearless Four and Treacherous Three, because I already knew them from me being over there. I actually started bringing Don and them to Grant and Manhattanville. You know you be tired of the girls from your neighborhood so I took the crew over to the Grant for the girls over there and the Ville.
So how long were ya’ll rocking together, before a record deal came?
From about 1977 to 1980. we was all over. We did Mr. Souls on 115th st., Randy’s Place, we did Harlem World some nights.
This baffles me because I only have two tapes of y’all.
I don’t know what to tell you because we were all over. Celebrity club. The Rennie was our biggest spot.
So what about the Bronx?
We was up there too, right when Flash was blowing up. Don was hooking that up. Don was hanging with Ray Chandler and them.
So ya’ll never really had no beef with those guys, the Casanova’s?
Hell no! Only one time, when we was at Randy’s Place! We got in a beef because this kid stepped on one of the Casanova’s feet. Our security was the Sapphire crew. They went off in Randy’s Place. But I was cool with the main cats like Cletus and Macaroni. Those was the main cats, and those were my dudes.
There were two other main cats, Tiny and I think Peanut.
I knew Tiny too. But all of them loved Don, and I used to be with Don so they knew me also. So it was all good.
Damn Donald Dee was all over. So the Renaissance was ya’ll turf?
Yeah. But there was another crew before us, that rocked in there also, called the Rolls Royce movement. They weren’t really a crew they were just some guys that use to have party’s there every weekend.
So they used to have Disco party’s there?
Right. They used to bring Kurtis Blow and people like that through.
Y’all would put on outside jams in side of Drew Hamilton projects (144th st. to 141st st. from 7th ave. to 8th ave.)?
Right. But we did a lot of Grant, Manhatttanville and Morningside(where Doug E Fresh turf was at.) We also did the battle grounds on 150th st and Amsterdam ave.
So how did that Sapphire crew get started?
That just came because we were a popular group and dudes wanted to run with us. So the cats from Drew made up the Crew, the Sapphire Crew. So that was our crew and they just got bigger and bigger.
So they was ready to rumble for ya’ll with the quickness?
Oh yes, they rumbled for us all the time. Let there be beef at our party and Sapphire crew handled it. See we didn’t have trouble with other groups or nothing like that. They were just our enforcer’s, like if we was partying and you start some beef in our party, ni**as would f--- you up. Brothers be like you ain’t going to f--- up our party. They f--- you up and then throw you out. They was like the bouncers in our joint’s. But what started happening, as drugs starting getting big in the neighborhood, and we were getting paid making music, cats wanted to be fly, they started getting into the drug game. A lot of them got killed off because they started doing other things. When we started making records we didn’t really need cats like that. We wasn’t taking them on the road like that.
So how was your relationship with the other crews, Treacherous, Crash, Master Don etc.?
It was always love with them, especially when I did the tournament. That’s when I got them all together.
So how did those basketball games start at Mount Morris park(120th st. to 124th st. from Madison ave.to ? ave). with those hip hop groups.
One night when I was hanging with Mr. Magic. I was answering the request line for him, me and Jalil and Ecstasy of Whodini. One day he was supposed to interview the Crash Crew, and Ronnie Dee happened to be at Harlem World when the Crash crew were performing there, and they told him they were going over to the Mr. Magic show when they finished their performance. So Ronnie told them he was going to ride with them, they said “cool”. So by the time they got to the studio, they telling Ronnie that they can beat the Disco Four in basketball. So when Ronnie told me that, I was like “what ever” and just ignored them. They was like “what, you think you can beat us in ball”. I said “n----- we can beat you on the court”, “we can beat you on the stage, n----- what”. So they was like “well lets do that”. Where you want to play?”. They mentioned Mount Morris Park. I was unfamiliar to Mount Morris Park, I never really hung around there, but Ronnie and them used to be over there. So I said what time, they said 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Mr. Magic was listening, he said what up. We told him and he announced it on the radio. He said “Yo Disco Four, Crash Crew playing tomorrow at Mount Morris Park, be there or be square”.
(Troy starts laughing) Yeah?
We were like “oh yeah, he gave us a shout out”. We looked at it as a shout out. We get to the park it was jammed pack.
(Troy still laughing, smiling from ear to ear.)
That shows you how many people listened to Magic’s show at 2am in the morning. So we was like oh s---. So not only are there thousands of people there, but it is was all the groups too, Funky Four, Sugar Hill Gang, Flash, every group that rocked or made records. So you have to realize, that is the only station if you had a record out, you could hear it. You couldn’t hear it on WBLS, you couldn’t hear it on 92 KTU. You couldn’t hear it on any of those stations back then. (Back then you might hear a hip hop record once or twice a day, it was a sin to play two hip hop records back to back.) So you would just listen to Mr. Magic just to hear your record. We beat those cats by 59 points.
They really couldn’t play. We could really play. So the rest of the crews were like “you couldn’t do that to us.” So every weekend we went to the park and everybody played each other. That is how the tournament got started.
So do you remember all the crews that were actually down?
Funky 4, Disco Fever had a team!
So who was the members of the Disco Fever? Sweet Gee or one of them?
Yeah Sweet Gee played, Sal the owner played.
What! (Troy is laughing) Who else was running with them.
Billy from the Casanova’s , All the Bronx cats that used to be in the Fever played. Treacherous Three had a team. Fearless Four had a team, because they swear they could play. The Crash had their team. Cold Crush Brothers had a team. I think there was only eight teams. Sugar Hill Gang had a team!
Oh, them big funny n------.
But it wasn’t really them, it was Leland and some other dudes from out in Jersey. Wonder Mike played and Big Bank Hank played. Master Gee never played but he used to come. It was every Saturday and Sunday.
And it used to be jammed pack?
Yep from 2pm to 4pm.
So how long did it last and why did it stop?
It never really stopped, it just went to another level. The next year we did it again I was calling everybody up asking if they wanted to do it again, they said yes.
You were setting all this up?
Yeah. Sal kind of helped, he made a donation. Everybody had to pay for their own shirts. I picked up the shirts and we used to ball. The next year Sal comes with a ringer. The rule was you was supposed to just have your crew. This time Sal comes with a whole real team.
(Troy laughs.) He coming with a bunch of ringers!
He got cats that was playing over sea’s.
High school all Americans!
Yeah! So I am like “oh ya’ll want to get dirty?” I was still working at A.J. Lester’s.
So you seen Walter Berry (St. John) and all those other big name High school and College ball players.
Exactly. But I knew some of them as well when I used to play for the Riverside Hawks. But Chuck the head sales man at A.J. Lester’s knew all the ball players, because he used to coach and play. So he got Walter and Richie Adams (U.N.L.V.)and them for me.
(Troy starts laughing, because these were some of the top of the line basketball players in high school and college at that time.)
I got Pearl Washington (Syracuse), also had Kenny Hutchinson that was going to Arkansas.
Damn, yeah I remember Kenny, he was a real good guard.
Charlie Beck. I had a team.
Damn, Charlie Beck.
The whole starting five were all Americans. That was the Disco Four team. But I made a rule you had to have two members on the court at all times from the hip hop group. We won it the first year, the Disco Fever won it the second year. The third year I didn’t do it. The fourth year we were on 139th street and 7th avenue. That’s when I started getting real teams, like Fred Brown’s (V.M.I.), the Butch Lee’s (Marquette)
Fred was my man.
The Artie Green’s (Marquette)
God rest his soul, because I just heard he passed away. But him and Fred Brown along with Alonzo Jackson and Steve Burt (Iona)were my favorite to watch among others. There were so many at that time back then.
Yeah Alonzo and Steve Burt were out there as well. The fourth year that is when I got Dominique Wilkins to judge the slam dunk contest. That is when it really went to the next level.
How did you get Dominique?
I had a connect at Athletes Foot sneaker store. At that time Brook sneakers was the sneakers that he wore. So they was trying to find away to promote the sneaker.
So you just be walking into some blessings.
So my connect told them about my tournament and they called me up, and said they could bring Dominique Wilkins out there I was like “come on man stop playing”.
(we both start laughing)
He was the slam dunk champ at that time. They said no we can bring him to you what do you want. At that time I wasn’t thinking money, because I really didn’t need it. So I told them to outfit the league for that day and give us some sneakers. They sent it all. They bought him in a limousine. I always remember that day that he came because my daughter was born at 3am in the morning. So I could never forget when he came, July 17 1985. So my life wasn’t super great but it was blessed to me, and it has always been up hill since than. I have had my bumps and bruises along the way with this tournament. But at the end of the day I think about all the positive things that people are getting from it, and have gotten from it. When I go I feel I did something on this earth and not just for me, and that’s what’s really important to me. I think God put us here not to do for us but for others. Even if its one person you help.
That’s how I feel, you have to be a positive to everyone around you, in a complete circle. Not any thing negative. That is why I pray for the drug dealer today, and I used to hustle myself, as well as get high. But that was then when I was younger, I didn’t know any better. There was also I time when I was a drug counselor.
Honestly I am glad you said that because I used to feel the same way. I used to be around drug dealers and I used to see what they were doing and they used to say f--- that crack head or f--- that dope feind, that’s what he wants to do, I am just going to make money off of him, and I was like you right if he or she is dumb enough to want to use drugs that’s on him. But when you work at a drug program you see another side of it. You find out why a person did that, it is not because he wanted to it started out as fun…
Yeah, and then he didn’t know nothing else, so when he had problems that is what he turned to. He turned to what was fun to him, but it wasn’t fun no more. Then the drug dealer is preying on a weak person. Then the drug dealer is thinking he is making money but he is hurting everything around him. Killing everything around him. So there is really no wins in that game.
Your right I speak to drug dealers around my way all the time and I ask them what is wrong with them, the person they are serving is weak, in fact they should be helping that person . I ask them what do they think will happen to them in time. Some times I will say lets play the whole tape. You sell them the crack, when they walk away from you and go home, they go home into the same project you might live in but when he gets to his apartment it looks filthy and the children and the mother is unkempt. So the mother says to the man who is her boyfriend or husband did you get the food and pampers with the money I gave you. He will say no, I lost the money on the way. Now she is hurt and the children go another hungry night. So now he sneaks into the bathroom and gets high off the crack he just bought, and his brain crumbles just a little more, and he comes out of the bathroom and his world is even worse than what it was before he went into that bathroom, if that is possible. The children are crying, the wife is screaming and yelling calling him a crack head, asking why his sneaky ass didn’t just save her a little bit of crumbs from the crack. The neighbors are banging on the door and walls for them to shut up. So I tell the drug dealer, “so now lets take it all the way back to the beginning”, “where did the crack head get the crack from”. He got it from you “Mr. Neighborhood drug dealer.”
And you’re part of the reason why all that hell is going on in his life. Of course the crack head made the decision, but you took part in his wrong move.
But he could have stopped it if he had not sold the crack to him. Of course the crack dealer will say “well he would have went some where else.” If every black person got together and said we not selling drugs no more, there would not be any more drugs to buy. The white man ain’t coming in your neighborhood to sell.
Hell no! (Troy starts laughing)
He gives it to you to do his dirty work.
Then he is selling you cheap, because he is not paying you maximum of what you deserve, by taking those risk out there.
Yep. Then he makes money off of you anyway, from the lawyers and courts and jail systems. So he is making money from you all around, it just keeps coming back. The only time he wants the drugs to stop, is when it starts getting into his neighborhood. Then it became a problem, when his kids started coming into your neighborhood to buy the drugs because they couldn’t get it in there’s , then it became a problem. And he is seeing it because his kids are now going into his bank account stealing his money and hard earn dollars. That’s when it is a problem. Then I tell the drug dealer how do you think this addict got this money, he went robbing and stealing, meaning he could have just robbed your mother or killed your mother or sister to go get high.
Right. So now you tell the drug dealer four to ten times, stop, and why he should stop, and he hears you, but he is so conditioned to the bull s--- that he feels this is just what “I do.’ A very small percentage I have influenced to stop, but the other numbers will just lie in my face. They have respect for me, but they feel there is no other hustle worth while. Meaning a job or school, or both. I tell them, “the majority of you have never been behind bars so you have no idea what it is like in there, but it is not a place you want to go.’ Some of them will tell me, the ones that did go to jail, that they had to live like an animal, that was the only way to survive in there. So I ask them why do they want to go back to jail. They have no answer.
Then even with a female, the first thing she is selling is her body.
Right because it is so easy.
Then she is passing germs and disease’s. Then you got dudes selling there body’s. They do the same thing when they can’t steal or rob any more. It just messing up a whole society.
So how did you go from 139th street in 7th avenue to 155th street and 8th avenue with the tournament?
We out grew the park that summer after Dominique came. The parks department said it was too much traffic. They told me I had to find another park, to choose between 145th street and Lenox avenue, and 155th street. I didn’t like 145th street because it had only one entrance.
Was the Parks Department always cool with you about this tournament?
Nah! Back then they acted like they didn’t want me to have my tournament. But I knew somebody in there,that forced the issue. Once he got my permit the first two times that was it. He passed away but the cycle had started, and I knew what to do to get the permit. Rest in Peace Mr. Ollie Edinboro.
Every year you have to do this to start the tournament?
Now what is the real difference between your tournament, EBC, and the Rucker it self? Because when I was growing up I always thought it was one and it was known as the Rucker until the last say 7, 8 years?
Alright EBC stands for the Entertainers Basketball Classic. It just happens to be played at Rucker park. The Rucker was named after a person that started his tournament. Holcombe Rucker. I just happened to be in the park that was named after him. That tournament ended in the 80’s, 1989. I just kept going on with my tournament, but some brothers like you would say “yo I am going up to the Rucker”. Which is short for the park!
So now the Rucker got their tournament back on Friday’s? Yours is Monday to Thursday?
Yeah. The grand son is now capatilizing off of the fact that there is so much confession with the name, “hey let me just start me a tournament and run with it.” That’s why he got Rucker basketballs and Rucker jersey’s and so when people buying it they think they buying EBC stuff.
So he just has one day, Friday, not even Saturday?
So what is he doing, unlimited?
One day I am reading a story about you in F.E.D.S magazine, and you were supposed to have beef with the F.B.I, because so many drug dealers were allegedly involved with your tournament.
People accused EBC of this, but what it was, was people didn’t know who ran the tournament. Which is what made me come up front, just to let people know. Law enforcement said they had no idea I was owner of this tournament. But they said I was doing a great thing with my tournament, and I was doing something good for the community but stay away from the drug dealers. So to get rid of this stigma and to make sure no drug dealers were ever involved, I started to get the Andre Harrell’s and Russell Simmons’ and them sponsoring the teams. I don’t even except money from people from the neighborhood; I get it from companies or corporations. Strictly.
So what was your relationship with those guys that used to run the King Tower Tournament (115th street to 111th street, from Lenox avenue to 5th avenue) back in the 80’s? which to me was the hottest tournament at that time.
There was no relationship, but I used to go to the tournament to watch also.
Man I ain’t going to front, I used to love that tournament. All the big names we were talking about were there. Fred Brown, Alonzo Jackson, Mike Pruitt, Sam Worthy from North Carolina, Tony “Red” Bruin from Syracuse. Billy Goodwin from St. John, Ed Pinckney from Villanova, Kenny Patterson from DePaul, Bill “Daddy Boogie” Saddler from Pepperdine, Steve Burt and Gary Springer’s from Iona, Moe Hicks was from Loyola, who today coaches Rice high School, Troy Truesdale from I think Marquette, Pearl Washington of Syracuse. Even Kenny Smith who later won championships with the Houston Rockets and now doing basketball analysis on TNT. Beatle, Randy “Ice Cream” Williams one of the baddest ball players to come out of Grant projects.
There were so many more damn good ball players at that tournament. Some of the finest, most beautiful girls used to be there. Then it would be so packed, a stampede would start because somebody would bust off a gun, or there was a fight and in seconds people would find new seats and places to stand to see these top notch games. It was an unbelievable tournament to me, at that time. That was a hell of year for ball players from New York in college.
So now why did the Pro Rucker stop, which was about 1986.
The pro Rucker was just what it was, it dealt with a lot of pros. When they couldn’t get the pros to come no more, that was the end of the tournament, because they no longer could sustain the sponsorship. So that’s why I try not to only deal with sponsors, but have my own corporation, were money is generated year round.
So that Willies bar on 145th street where all the old school cats chill at, is yours also?
Yes, but yesterday (March 28) the landlord sold the property. We were leasing.
What, so Willies Bar is gone?
Yep. But that’s just like the Roof top. That was ours too. I came in half way through and me and Teddy became partners with Gusto and Willie on that.
So why did the Roof Top go out it self? Because of all those hustlers going in and out of there?
No not because of that. Poor judgment, insurance was getting high. We really didn’t realize what we had until it was too late. Then the shooting’s started happening. The police should have been more involved, say when we were closing. To stop or aleviate as much trouble as possible. Believe it or not, them Brooklyn cats was the ones mostly trying to bring the drama with the sticking up and robbing.
I can’t believe they come all the way up town for all that drama.
Man they used to come all the way up to Harlem World and Madison Square Garden. That’s what a small few were about. But after awhile they realize they couldn’t come to the Roof top with that, because brothers wasn’t having it.
Some of them was probably getting blasted for that.
Yeah, and beat the hell up!
Who exactly is Willie?
From Willie Burger.
I know that, but who is he?
A older guy, Gusto’s God Father.
Then you have a clothing store on 153rd street and 8th avenue?
So what is your relationship with the guys like Joe Hammond, William “Shot Gun” Hines and Pee Wee Kirkland, street ball legends?
I am cool with them, much respect and love for them.
I remember seeing a game in the mid 80’s in King Towers, I don’t know how they got Joe Hammond to play, I really didn’t care, I was like honored to actually see this park legend play. So Joe gets the ball, goes straight to the middle, goes up, the center goes down, stretched out on the ground like he fell out, hurt, can’t move.
(Troy and Greg is laughing!)
Joe elbowed him to get his shot off, but you couldn’t see the elbow. So Joe, all cool, walks by to see how the guy is, ask if he is o.k., and walks away. They help him up, and the guy stays in the game. The very next play Joe does the exact same thing, heading towards the middle with the ball, the dude is stretched out on the ground again and Joe scores. The old timers in the stands shaking their heads saying “Joe still busting their ass like old times.” Even in his situation today, “because I see him from time to time on 125th street” he is still looked at as a legend, who is very much respected.
What up with Fat Joe, it seems like he wins every year?
He has the right coach, and team, right now.
So who is coaching his team, Mousie?
Damn Mousie be doing his thing, he ever think about coaching a high school or college team, or is he already.
He was coaching at a high school J.V. team in the Bronx.
How did you and Mr. Troy get on Pumpkins All Stars(Here Comes That Beat)?
That was my last record for Profile records. What happened was I didn’t want to do any more records for Profile because we weren’t seeing any real royalties. I refused to do anything with them any longer. I hooked Pumpkin up with producing for Profile. But I always told him to be careful. See Pumpkin never made no real money at Enjoy records for Bobby Robinson. All he got was $600 dollars for his band, every record you heard from Enjoy, the music was live from Pumpkins band. Profile gave him 12,000 dollars and took his exclusive rights to be a producer. I was very mad at him for that. But he jumped at their offer. You must also realize Pumpkin was very young when he did our music, he was only 16. I didn’t even know that. So Pumpkin might have been 21 when he was doing our records at Profile. He was younger than me.
One day he calls me and says Greg I need you and Disco Four. I said “yo I am not doing another record for Profile!” He said man please just come down to the studio and listen to the record. I got down there, and I still had it in my mind that I ain’t doing s---. I had Mr. Troy with me. THAT NI---- THREW THAT BEAT ON!
(Troy starts laughing) I love that record.
I SAID OH S---. He said “see I told you, you going to love this.” No lie, no exaggeration, Jeckle and Hyde was there, the Fresh Three M.C.s, and Galaxy were there. All of them did their part. Me and Troy wrote our part right there on the spot. I said I don’t want any of these cats to hear my part, I just wanted them to do their part and go. When they did their part, and me and Troy did our part, they was heated. All of them wanted to come back and change their parts. They was like “Greg and Troy got the best parts of the record”. That beat was so…., I told Pumpkin this beat is wicked. He did the beat on a Linn drum machine. That cut got on the radio so quick.
How did Pumpkin pass?
They say he died of ammonia. He might have been about 26 years old.
What? I always thought he was this older man maybe even somebody rocking back in the days with Bobby Robinson.
I kind of felt he same way until I met him. He came out of the Bronx and he knew how to play many instruments. He played bass, guitar and others. But he was a killer on the drums.
In any event, that was one of my favorite cuts.
I think that and “We are at the party” was our two best cuts. Country Rock and Rap was my third best that we did, because that was just something new and creative, but n----- just didn’t understand it. The beat that was being used was by Blue Grass, I went and got the guitar player from the band!
From Pumpkins band?
No. From the original record.
What, from the original artist? (Troy is laughing)
The kid came with his banjo, and played it live for us. Cats were f--- up, saying yo Greg where did you get this n----- from? I went and looked at the credits, and I called the company and he came, and he played it live for us.
How much did he charge y’all?
That’s all for a session. That was probably a lot, for that time.
We kept trying to do play it, but it wouldn’t work, so we got the real banjo player.
So what happened with Profile? How did you end up breaking out of that contract. Weren’t you still on contract with them.
I just never did any more records with them.
They never tried to bring it to you. Saying you had to fulfill the contract?
No. They were making money off of Special Ed, and all of their other groups by then. They killed it with RUNDMC.
So you could have slowly walked out the back door, and they wouldn’t even had known.
So are you involved with music at all today?
Not really, only when I do my DVD’s for my tournaments.
Thanks a lot Greg. This is some good stuff.
Praise God and God bless you.
Troy L. from Harlem, One