Kool Kyle the Original Starchild
Spring of 2005 with Troy L. Smith
What’s up my brother good to have you. Lets get it on….Where were you born and raised?
The Bronx New York. Up on Gun Hill Road.
How old were you when you
were first inspired by hip hop?
I was 16 or 17 years old. I used to go to Music and Art High School, Kurtis Blow was a class mate of mine, and Russell Simmons was giving party’s at the City College under the Rush Productions. Star Ski was the main D.J. then as well as Hollywood. I used to go with a girl, who’s best friend used to go with Hollywood. That was back in 1976. Hollywood was rocking 371 at the time. She heard me say a couple of rhymes that I had written, at that time we used to imitate the d.j.s on the radio. Hank Span was like a big influence of ours back then, and cats used to try and have that d.j. voice. (Kyle starts imitating the d.j. voices of that day.) she heard me doing that one day and said “you know who is a good friend of mine?” She said “Hollywood.” I heard a lot about Hollywood, but I never saw him. I saw Star Ski a couple times up here in the Bronx, rocking at a Burger King party. I checked Star Ski out a couple of times there, he was real good, I was like wow. So my girls friend, introduces me to Hollywood one night. We all go to hang out one night at 371, where Hollywood was the main man, he was rocking and it was the s---. He was a legend in New York already, by that time. When he got on the mic, he started that who makes it good? The crowd was going Hollywood! I’m scared of who? I’m scared of you! You know that chant and response s---. What he was making these people do totally bugged me out, I couldn’t believe it. If he told these girls take thier panties off, they was taking there panties off, you feel me.
If he said take your panties off and throw them in the air, those b----- was throwing panties in the air. That’s how Hollywood had it in 371.
Straight like that, I couldn’t believe it. Brothers was rocking too, he had the crowd going. But he really had people into what he was saying. But what really got me was they knew his rhymes and would answer back, and from that point I was hooked on m.c.ing. I walked over to the booth to him, June Bug was his d.j. at the time, he stopped playing, and Hollywood announced to the crowd, there was a new m.c. in New York, and said I am going to give him the mic for a minute. Now this is Hollywoods house, and at the time 371 was the Mecca of the Bronx, when it came to hip hop. You had other spots like the Hevalo and Executive Play house, stuff like that. But that was straight up B Boy s---. Hollywood was more like a Disco guy, with a little B- boy thrown in. But he was mainly Disco. My main influence was that type of m.c.ing. I was really a d.j. and m.c., but his type of voice, along with Eddie Cheba and Star Ski, were my influences in a way. So for me to meet Hollywood at 371 was a big deal. He let me get on the mic I tore s--- up. From that point on I was bitten.
How long was you
practicing before you got on that night?
Not too long, maybe about a year. I used to be in my house using my mothers turntables practicing by myself and with my boys. But none of us ever did a real live party, but cats were starting to form crews up in the Bronx. It was Timmy Hall, K.B.J and Kool D.J. Rock, they was in the valley. I lived closer to Gun Hill Road, by the Gun Hill Road projects and the T- Connection. Flash and them, were down town from us. Cats were forming in different sections, but everybody mostly hadn’t gone any where, mostly rocked in their own area. But if you really wanted to go to a dope party everyone usually went to 371. Hollywood is real cool, he wasn’t like yo I am Hollywood and this is my spot, you know acting like he all that. He offered me the mic, so till this day when I see Anthony Holloway, I give him props. In fact I seen him a month ago at Kennedy Center in Harlem, Al B of the Disco 4 was giving a party. I got on the mic, rocked for a while, but it was Hollywood’s show that night, and I let the crowd know, Hollywood was my man and a real cool brother. Whenever I get interviewed I give Hollywood props, because he is the one that started me.
So what made you cater to
Hollywood and Reg Wells, Eddie Cheba type, sound, instead of Mele Mel
and Cold Crush and other guys like that, sound?
Back then you had two factions, cats that wanted to excel & be more adult like, dress a certain way, and you had cold street kids that came from nothing had nothing, but wanted to be something, you know what I am saying. I went to Music and Art, for art and drums. I was a graffiti artist during that time as well.
What did you write?
Spec 1 and Kyle. On the No. 1 line. So the bottom line is being as Music and Art was in Harlem at the time you met a lot of cats from different neighborhoods. Also you have to understand hip hop was just starting at this time. It really started from cats being break dancers, dabbling with the music. I remember when cats played one turntable! It really started from a party thing. Cats really didn’t have anything, but D.J.ing and partying took that emptiness away. Living to go to a party Friday and Saturday night is what we did. It was a certain point when you started getting a little flyer about your self. You wanted to meet older women, you wanted to be jazzier. You really didn’t want to hang in spots like T- Connection, even though I did play them, because there were two different factions, it was a b- boy spot. I was an original b-boy, me and Kurtis Blow, the whole s---, spinning on our head, all that.
Son Dance, Butch 2, Case 2 another famous graffiti writer from back in the days.
Son Dance, not the one that was a m.c. with Zulu? You talking about gangster Son Dance who really ain’t take no shorts. Pow Wow’s man?
Right. In fact Pow Wow was down also with the Break dancing. See what we used to do is go to party’s and dance with girls and break on them. Cats would be at home practicing their routines, Friday and Saturday night you would start breaking. These routines that we did on these girls, actually became dance acts. Cats would see other cats doing it and you would eventually get together with homeboy and say let me see what you just did, and cats would start breaking against each other. In High school that’s all we did. In school we plug up a turntable in the auditorium, meet Kurt and start break dancing. As we were break dancing we would also go to each others neighborhood and tag our name. The tagging and the hip hop was simultaneous, they were both original parts of the culture. I think cats from the uptown part of the Bronx had a little bit more money than the cats from the down town part of the Bronx or what we call south Bronx. I had my own car when I was 17. Us from the uptown was like we don’t need to go down town because cats from down there was wild. I mean we was wild too, to our own degree. But we thought we were living a better lifestyle by going to clubs like 371, Executive Play House, Diplomat and places like that. What happened was cats like Herc, Theodore and Flash were all getting popular. The m.c.s were starting to form little groups and they were getting popular. I formed my style from Hollywood, because when I heard Hollywood he had a little bit of an adult voice, and he really tore s--- up. But what I liked about his style was he had the crowd going. What also made me get with Hollywood’s style is he had the chant and response thing. M.C.s back in those days, the Furious, the Treacherous, the Funky 4’s, they didn’t talk to the crowd, their thing was yes yes yall, you don’t stop. That’s all they did. What I did was kind of take some from Hollywood, talk to the crowd and plus run the rhymes. So what I did was not only cater to the sound that I was influenced by Hollywood, I kind of crossed over to the B- Boy s---. I was one of the first m.c.s to run the straight rhymes all day long and then talk to the crowd. Throw your hand in the air what’s my name cool Kyle, tell me why you afraid of me because cool Kyle rocks so viciously, lets rock and roll, lets roll and rock hip hop and you don’t stop. Throw the rhymes in there and have the crowd answer back, I was one of the first people to do that. My original influence was the disco s--- but because I was hanging out downtown and parlaying with cats, eventually I started hanging out with Flash a lot, and Ray Chandler was Flashs’ manager. He had Black Door productions. What Ray Chandler did was scoop up Grand Master Flash and the Furious 3, Kurtis Blow, D.J. A.J., Busy Bee Star Ski, Love Bug Star Ski and me.
Were any of you ever apart of the Furious during your time with Black Door Productions?
Technically we were all solo, but we were all one unit. There are biographies that say we were part of the Furious 5 and they were called the Furious 7 at times.
I heard that also.
That was true for awhile, but they were technically the Furious 5, but there are flyers where it is the Furious 7.
Ummh I am glad you told me that I never knew that.
Kurt quotes it in his biography, a couple other people quote it. But actually it was Black Door Productions.
What about those
At that time the Casanova’s were like a gang, they would come to party’s and at a certain point in time they would let you know, “Yo Flash, it’s going to be on.” They would tear s--- up. Most of the people that wasn’t down was getting robbed. Straight like that, Casanova’s was shooting speakers out, gun fights all the time. That was live, that was real, that is how the Bronx was at that time.
How good was Rahiem before
he left Funky to go to the Furious?
Rahiem was the bomb, he was the singer of the crew. He had a certain quality about his voice, he was real smooth. He didn’t run down the basic rhymes, that other cats were saying, but the way he did it, his flow was a little bit different, and he had a very smooth voice. Girls really liked him a lot. He was more like…….like a lover type dude.
Like a Spoonie Gee?
Yeah, yeah….but just a little bit smoother. Maybe before Spoonie, because Spoonie was down there in Harlem. Maybe, but probably a little more smoother. But like I told you earlier, cats wasn’t really going to each others neighborhood until the game really started going, because you heard about cats and you wanted to see these cats and you wanted to battle these cats. Before we was doing that, like uptown, Funky 4 was the main group, Flash and them was down town, and they was building up a hell of a name. Cowboy and Mel was tearing s--- up, when Creole got down, that was it! It was Mele, Creole and Cowboy and they was really, really, really hot. By the time Rahiem got down they were basically Superstars in B-boy hip hop. So, to be in the group was the move. I think because Funky was going in like another direction, they were becoming popular, but they were getting closer and closer to the cross over tip, cats from all the way down town, the white boys, were checkin’ out the Funky 4 now. Blondie and Fab Five Freddie reached out to the Funky 4, they were the first ones to be on TV.. They were on Saturday night live. Funky 4 were still hip hop, B- boy, but Flash and them had just a little bit more harder edge to them.
Yeah, they was on the next
level! Now why would Ray Chandler allow all that beef and violence,
being as that was his production, also him being an ex- cop?
There are a lot of stories about that. Stories like Ray was down with it, he might have got hit off. There are a lot of stories I can’t tell you for a fact what was going on. But what I do know is at a certain point Ray put the word out, “listen this s--- got to stop” “we not having this at our party’s”! It got to be like a phenomena, it got to be like a regular thing. Cats were afraid to go to a Flash party for a little while.
Yeah imagine that, this is the best party in the New York City, and you go up there and expect to get robbed.
Yeah, but T, the culture was like this then, cats were in the streets and taking the streets inside of buildings to party. The same s--- they did in the streets they did in the parties. Except you had music with m.c.s and d.j.s. now the m.c.s became entertainers, they weren’t just rocking the mic any more. They started developing routines, you paid attention to what they were doing, and it became a show. As that developed you wanted to leave that wild s--- alone. This is also why cats wanted to be disco m.c.s in the beginning. If you were a B- boy m.c. you knew that you were playing at places where most likely a cat was going to get stuck up. I can’t tell you how many parties I played where cats got shot up, I did a couple of parties at T- Connection where cats got killed. I been in the Fever when a cat got killed. You know what I am saying? This s--- was real in the streets then. The clubs were one step away from the streets. Until it became understood that “yo that was crazy”. Cats were getting hurt over nothing. But the gangs were out then, the Savage Skulls, the Peace Makers, Black Spades. All that was happening at the same time, cats were really trying to find their identity. It took along time before they realize “yo we hurting our selves, we tearing s--- up, cats ain’t going to really make no money because people ain’t going to come.” But the crowds kept coming, but eventually like you said about Ray, I think he put the word out, it had to stop. I don’t really think he was allowing it, but Ray was all about money back then, straight like that. Ray Chandler was about a dollar. Flash, Kool D.J. A.J., Busy Bee, Kool Kyle the Original Star Child, D.J. Love Bug Star Ski, cats was drawing big crowds, mad n------. We use to fill the Diplomat, fill the Audubon ballroom, fill T- Connection. A place that might hold 300 hundred people, we got like 600, 700 people. So Ray was getting paid. I don’t think Ray really paid any mind to it, when it was going down. Nobody really wanted to mess with Ray. Ray was an ex- cop, he had family that was connected in certain areas in the streets, cats were afraid of Ray, they would tear s--- up, but they wouldn’t f--- with Ray. I think as long as he was getting that money he really didn’t pay any real attention to that side. I think eventually he put the word out this got to stop. Eventually it faded out. You was kind of safe going to those parties, because they had certain security now, cats was strapped with pistols, watching over Flash and the parties that leaked down to the streets and it kind of died.
Where did the name Star
Child come from?
Back in those days everybody had a name that followed their name or prefixed their name. It was Grand Master Flash or Kid Creole the Solid Gold, or D.J. Star Ski, the Love Bug. Busy Bee Star Ski. My original name was D.J. Kool Kyle. But I wanted something to follow my name, I just felt it added to the name, it added a little bit of luster to it. For a minute I was thinking about calling myself Solid Gold. I had a gold microphone, I had it spray painted gold, because I was an artist at school like I told you. I hooked it up, it looked alright. I was going to run around parties with this gold mic, saying I am the solid gold. I’m in this party one night and here’s Creole talking about “ the solid gold, Kid Creole, the solid gold”. I’m like oh s---, I can’t run with that. I remember Parliament and Funkadelic and I am not saying they are influences of mine as far as that goes, but the name Star Child I heard it, I liked it, and I really wanted to stand out a little something. I was real young at the time and I envisioned myself as being a star, so I was like yo, Kool Kyle the Star Child. There was another Star Child who was strictly a D.J. was playing a little bit after I started. In fact I had met his sister. She stepped to me in the Disco Fever one night. She said she had a brother and his name is Mark he is a D.J. and he calls him self Star Child as well. Now my first record was out and it was already established Kool Kyle the Star Child and the Disco Dolls.
The Disco Dolls?
Yeah, they were the girls that backed me up, said my rhymes with me. Well the bottom line is she came to me and said “he really likes that name and he loves being a d.j. and he is from Brooklyn, but he is up here tonight, what do you think about that.” I had mad n------ and it was the Bronx and it was very territorial back then, there were brothers saying yo “this kid can’t call him self Star Child cause that’s you.” My troops really wanted to do something about it. I never persuaded it, also he was a d.j., and at that time I was concentrating on the m.c.ing. So it was cool, but it also made me attach the word “Original” before my name Kool Kyle. So the name stuck every since.
Right, you also told me
that he was a cool brother as well, that’s why you let him do him.
Yeah, it was really a matter of respect, I met his sister, and she didn’t have to say any of those things she said. It could have been beef, cats die over names in the streets. Back in those days it was about graffiti and tagging your name and your name meant something. Especially as an m.c. because everybody was carving their areas in the game. Cats were trying to build their names up. There was only one Grand Master Flash, there was only one Mele Mel. After awhile this brother started playing in the Disco Fever and started rocking it. He is an excellent d.j. Plus when I met him he said it “Kool Kyle the Original Star Child”. I say back to him “no doubt Mark, what up Star Child”
(We both start laughing)
what about Busy Bee calling him self Star Ski?
Wow that was a big deal too!
How big of deal back then?
Love Bug is the original Star Ski. Busy Bee Star Ski was running around with the L- Brothers and Love Bug Star Ski was a little bit territorial about it. But Busy Bee was a little bit younger than Love Bug, and he was running around with the B- boy crowd. Star Ski was really running around doing the Hollywood and Eddie Cheba type party’s. Busy and Star Ski didn’t really run into each other too much early on. Later on like 80, 81 they ran into each other a lot because they both was doing parties with Ray Chandler. I am pretty sure originally Love Bug was not pleased with it. They were two different types of m.c., Star Ski was a d.j. that talked to the crowd, like Hollywood. Busy Bee was a straight up B- boy. His style slowly metamorphosised over to being a crowd and rhyme thing like I was doing, he had rhymes where he messed with the crowd the crowd messed with him back. A la Star Ski, but he said many more rhymes than Star Ski. Star Ski had rhymes but they were pretty basic at the time, he really talked to the crowd in between cuts and leading up to cuts. Busy Bee originally would just say rhyme after rhyme after rhyme. He was a straight m.c., but he started developing the thing with the crowd. I don’t think Star Ski liked it in the beginning, in fact I remember him saying who in f--- is this n-----. But they never had open beef about it. Eventually crossed paths enough times that Ski said it was cool.
This is what I got from Kevie Kev, I did his story last week. He says that Busy Bee’s original name was Lil Star Ski, and Busy and Master Rob used to run together so much that Rob named him Busy Bee because he was always so Busy like a bee and always into something, doing things such as rocking on the mic, where ever he could get on the mic at all.
Alright bust this, I am saying a lot of this with a grain of salt and trying to be very accurate. Also because of the Love Bug, Love Bug and Busy Bee. They both are insects. But I am not sure.
Man, when Kev told me the
story, I saying to my self why would Rob say Busy Bee because it sounds
so corny even though his name is very popular almost like a cliché
today. So maybe you are right as well. But like Kev said nobody was into
biting back then, so when Busy did that everybody was tight about that.
To be honest he is lucky that Star ski didn’t flip because I seen him even come close to blows with Kurtis Blow, over a chick. This is a little quick story about Star Ski and how I first met him. Me and my man K.B. , was writing on the trains one day, this is way back like 1976. So we tagging the trains and we get off at 219th street in the Bronx, he says come with him to his house because he had paint all over his clothes, then we would go back down town. Then he tells me there is a d.j. that practices in his garage. I said word, who is it, he says a big light skinned kid name Star Ski. A couple of weeks earlier I seen him at the Burger King Disco rocking, the kid was unbelievable, he had you hypnotized, he was fabulous. So we go to my mans house, go into the basement, turn on the light and the garage is hooked up like a little club, it has a spinning ball a little booth, you know what I am saying
(Troy is laughing)
word up it was like a little club I couldn’t believe it. Here comes this big light skinnned, I mean tall dude, coming down the stairs saying what’s going on what ya’ll doing down here? My man said yo Kev it’s me. Star Ski says oh what up Kev. So my man introduces me by saying yo this is my man Kool Kyle, Kev, he writes Spec. So I put out my hand and say it is a pleasure to meet you, that is how I was raised. I’ve always been that type of cat. It was an honor for me to meet this guy. So I as shook his hand I said yo Kevin, and I was about to tell him how good his work was and he says to me “yo, my mother don’t even call me Kevin, my name is Star Ski”. That’s how he was, from way back, I will tell anybody that story. So I know when Busy Bee came out like that, there was tension, because I heard him talk about it, and it was like an insult because Star Ski thought he was the next thing like, say Hollywood and Cheba. He was the man on that level, there was a time when Love Bug Star Ski was number one also.
Reggie Wells was very popular too.
Yeah, Reggie was the other d.j. at 371 plus he was a party promoter. Reg did a lot of shows, he had an excellent voice also.
Was he just as good as the
I think he was.
I used to hear his name a lot back then as well.
Reggie played 371, in the front of the club when you first walk in to the left side. Hollywood had the back but it was really the main part of the club. For Reggie to be playing there you know he had to be on. Reg could cut, he could spin, he had an excellent voice. He also was one of the first guys to go down town and play for the white crowds. He had his own reputation and we all knew him and he knew us, and he played at a lot of places.
T- Connection was your
It was, but I played a little 371 as well. Mostly T- Connection. I also had a spot around the corner from the T, called Emma’s place. It was an after hour place that everybody used to go to after the T- Connection on 211th street. Herc played their a lot. In fact he played there after me, after I left and started doing the Disco Fever.
So was it Friday night you would rock your Disco hip hop, at the T- connection and Saturday that B- boy hip hop with say the Cold Crush would rock. I say that because my man Cary who used to write Snake 77, is ten years older than me use to go up to the T- Connection for you and Hollywood and the rest of the fellas, and he spoke highly of the spot, but he damn sure wasn’t going for Cold Crush, he didn’t even know who they was in, fact he said they messed up the T. by letting those hip hop dudes in there.
It really wasn’t a set date of what night was what, but Ritchie Tee the owner of the place was very funny about who played and who he let rock his mic. He wanted to be the house d.j. because it was his club, his system, he built it. He was an older cat he was in his late thirty’s early forty’s. We were all teenagers. The B- boy thing he really wasn’t with, he wanted the older crowd. But what happened was he wasn’t making any real money. He eventually let Ray Chandler, Tiny Woods do something in there. Tiny Woods was also a very big promoter back then.
Tiny is not the same Tiny from Casanova’s is he?
No, light skinned, big Tiny, with the glasses. His flyers used to say The Greatest Show on Earth. It had a little globe on the flyer, and it would say a Tiny Wood production.
So who did he mostly
He did everybody, but he mostly did Kool D.J. Rock and Timmy Hall and K.B.J., The Come Off Crew. He did me a lot, he did Jimmy Dee (The house d.j. for the T- Connection) D.J. Sinbad, he had Flash and them for quit a few things. His main turf was uptown.
From Gun Hill road and up, is uptown. So Tiny Woods did a few things in there, with Ritchie. The money that was coming in there was from the B- boy parties. Ray Chandler was doing the same thing in there. So eventually Ritchie started opening more and more to the B- boy crowd. Although I rocked on Friday and Saturday nights, it took a long time for him to allow me to get on the mic, because he basically didn’t want a bunch of thugs in his club, but that is what hip hop was. A bunch of young kids. It wasn’t cats 21, 22 23 or 25 going out with their lady. It was younger cats 15, 16, 17 going to meet young girls. They had the sneakers they had the hats on backwards and they had the jeans. What ever was popular at the time they was wearing. (Lee jeans, A.J. Slacks, Overlap slacks. British Walkers and Playboy shoes, Adidas, Pumas, Pro keds. Not really Nikes, definitely not any Reeboks at that time. Mock Neck shirts, Button downs. Bubble vests. Lee jackets) There wasn’t that many places to hang out together, so the T- Connection became very popular. So what I had to do was convince him I am not really a B- boy m.c. I am more a disco m.c., at that time 78, 79 I had the deep baritone voice, and that was my s---. But I learned that eventually you have to say rhymes, and that it wasn’t just about talking to the crowd. So I had the rhymes, and like I told you before I took the rhymes and threw it with the crowd pleasing and I created a whole new journo. It wasn’t just B- boying. In fact when I got down with Flash and them, they was like “well he is more like a Disco guy.” Flash was like its disco but it is not really disco, and that’s because I would switch it up, I would rhyme all night if I had to. But I kind of knew that the crowd liked when you talked to them and made them answer back. Eventually Cowboy got deep into it. He was the first to say throw your hands in the air. That was part of that chant and response thing. Which eventually everybody started doing. So when Ritchie finally heard me, he said “you more like a disco guy, so its cool”.(We both start laughing) he was a down south guy.
I heard he was cool dude before he passed.
He was a cool brother. He said “that old B- boy stuff I don’t know.” But if he watched closer, I was running around with The Furious, The Fearless 4, Treacherous 3 it was the groups and the m.c.s that I really wanted to be with. My style eventually crossed over more to the B- boy style. But always combined the two depending on where I was playing at.
So what would you call Cowboy, because Kev told me that Mele Mel and Kid Creole were the first B- boy m.c.s.? Cowboy was down with Flash before Mele and Creole, so was Cowboy a Disco m.c. that crossed over to a B- boy m.c., or was he just the first m.c.?
Well it was Cowboy and Flash first, and Cowboys main thing was talking to the crowd. He was a crowd motivator, “say Ho, throw your hands in the air.” That type of s---. He started rhyming but it was on the disco tip. You also have to listen very closely Troy. There was cats with two distinct types of voices. The Deep D.J. Hollywood voice “yeah ya’ll”. Then you had the “one, two ya’ll” voice (which sounds a little fast, the bass voice is not essential). You didn’t sound like Hollywood and say rhymes, and you didn’t sound like Mele Mel and do the crowd pleasing. Nobody was doing that, Cowboy was the first. Cowboy was really the first to talk to the crowd and throw the rhymes in. I would say he was more of a party motivator originally, that had rhymes. As the group developed, you had Mele right after him and Mel was straight rhyming. So how could you stand next to Mele Mel and just talk to the crowd and not rhyme back. I think Mel was an influence on Cowboy to write. He did make up “throw your hands in the air.” But cats had tapes and were listening to each other, and a lot of things would cross from one area to another, and there would be an argument about who made what up. I say that because I remember saying “throw your hands in the air,” about the same time Cowboy did, and I am not saying I did, but that is to give you an example of some of the conflicts of who went first developing something.
Back to Busy Bee for a minute. I have an L- Brothers tape of him just m.c.ing, not once is he asking for the crowd participation. In fact I didn’t know who he was at first, just because he kept m.c.ing and of course because it was his younger days.
Exactly, they also used to rock the echo chamber back then, especially Creole, and this was more of a straight B- boy thing.
So how did you get so kool
with Flash and the Furious 5, because even through the tapes I can hear
that they was real cool and digging you?
Flash and them had been coming up to T- Connection to play, I had already been rocking T- Connection a little bit, then I started rocking it a little bit more on the regular. At that time people were saying that me and Mel sounded a lot a like. There are a lot of tapes where I know its me, because I know me, but for the ear that doesn’t know, for a couple of seconds you would think Mel is me, and I am Mel. I have a tape that Caz gave me that I hadn’t heard in twenty years. In the beginning of the tape I thought Mel was me. Cats used to say to me back in the day, “you ever heard of this kid Melvin, Melvin Glover.” Mele Mel? No I never heard of Mele Mel. (Troy’s laughing) No really, they would come to me, and I be like who is he? My main competition back then was Timmy Hall.
I heard of him.
He had a deep voice, Hollywood style. He also rhymed and he was nice. So him and his boys used to come and check me out and I would go to the Valley near Co- op city and check them out. I met Flash and them through Ray Chandler. Flash is really a cool dude, I was always gifted to see who had and who didn’t have it. I was Kool Kyle before hip hop, I got my name in 6th grade. What ever gear was out I had it, from the A.J. Lester gear, to the Mock necks, to the Kangol’s, to the braids, to the glasses, what ever, I had it. This was back in the seventy’s. So I was cool, my mother and father moved from the Bronx to Long Island in 1977. I had a car, and I used to come back to the Bronx where I was raised, I also had my girl who still lived in the Bronx. Ray Chandler basically wanted me to help promote a little bit. He would say, “Yo I am going to do this party in Hartford Connecticut, I am going to need a ride.” I said cool I will give you a ride, we can hang out a little something, something. Put me on the show! Now if I hadn’t had a name, he would not have put me on the show. He only f----- with cats that had a name. So he started putting me on the shows, and eventually it became Black Door productions. Also I taught Flash how to drive, me and him always vibe pretty good. I told him one day “what you are doing is not beyond mortal men, don’t get it twisted (Troy busts out laughing) but it is the next level of the s---.” (Kool Kyle starts laughing too) He is not God, but as far as that s--- goes on those turntables, Troy I seen Flash do things on the turntable nobody ever thought of doing. People realized how talented he was, but I went to a high school with nothing but talented cats. Marcus Miller the number one Bass player in America (studio musician) was in my class for three years in my high school. Great jazz bass player. Omar Hakeem a talented drummer went to school with me. Kurtis Blow was there also with me, and so many others. So what I am saying is I seen a lot of talent at my school, so I knew Flash had talent. I used to tell him all the time, “what ever you are doing just keep doing it.” Because there were a lot of haters back then, d.j.s and m.c.s were very territorial. They were more “f--- your crew, my crew was it.”
But it wasn’t no “I am going to kill you.” But more boastful, try to capture your territory, try and be the king of yours. Young black men bragging about what they have or what they could be, or what they were going to be. Who basically didn’t have anything, but this is what they inspired to be, and it all came out through the rhymes. Flash did his thing through the turntables. There was a time where I was going to became a member of the Furious, me and Kurit Blow, because we used to run around with them so much. But because they established such a hot name as the Furious five, some of them did not want to change the name to the Furious 7. I ain’t going to front I wanted to be down with them. I used to be in that little ass kitchen in Flash house practicing. Flash also took me to Enjoy records, introduced me to Bobby Robinson. Funky 4 was first, Flash was second. Back then their was 10, 15 records out. I went ahead and got some money together, made my own record, produced it, did the whole s--- by myself and gave it to Flash. I sat and waited in my car while Flash went into Enjoy records. I don’t know what he said to Bobby, but he was in there for half an hour and he came back and said yo he wants you.
What was the name of that
first cut you took to him?
“Do you like that Funky beat.” It was a little different because it wasn’t the basic yes yes ya’ll, you don’t stop. Even though I did have it in there. But it was mostly me and the Disco Dolls. Get the crowd going a little something.
Where did you meet these
girls, what made you put them on.
One of them was my girl, I was influenced by Hollywood who had these girls that he called Hollywood’s Honeys. They would go to all his shows, obviously they practiced, because he would say rhymes and they would answer back.
So Eddie Cheba had his
click of chicks as well?
Yeah he had them also. My main girl went to Evander Childs high school. She had a lot of girl friends who used to hang out with her just to be around me. Now at Emma’s Place I made a lot of money for the owner, performing. So he decided to rebuild the club, he added a smoke machine, he took the booth and put it in the middle of the floor, also added a bubble machine. Then he had his grand reopening, featuring New York’s Top d.j. who was Hollywood. I said if you are going to hire Hollywood, you better hire me because I am the house d.j. and m.c.. and let him know that I am going to have a group here as well. So I went and got my girl and told her to get her girl friends, “those 4 girls that’s always with you.” So I wrote rhymes for them and myself, and we practiced. So they came with me to the party and a certain part of the party I would run down this routine where they would answer me back. The crowd didn’t really expect it, because they thought they was just four girls hanging out, but they were with me. So by the time I got to the record stage, I knew I couldn’t cut them off. So I said I would put them down, because no other m.c. had done that. So at two different parts of the record I would say rhymes and they would answer me back. Now that I look back on that record that I did 25 years ago, my s--- would have been done differently.
Im sure you would have, the majority of the brothers probably say the same thing. I am sure you all would have like to made it tighter
Yeah definitely made it tighter, it was mad amateurish, you know what I am saying? But for back in those days I guess it worked a little something, because I made some money off it. But the deal was I had them answering me back, but now I would have handled it another way, which was have them singing. I tried to recreate a party in that song.
So when you went on tour
for Enjoy, you would take these girls with you?
Yeah, they went with me many times, especially to Philadelphia. My first record and mostly my second record “It’s Rocking Time”, did real good over there. I used to like, rule Philly.
Yeah Philly was definitely in love with New York music.
We was doing things at that time. “Super Rhymes” was out, Kurtis Blow had “The Breaks” and me. My first show in Philly, Russell Simmons promoted for me. I really didn’t know what to expect, I know I had records that were selling over there, but Bobby Robinson was notoriously quiet about how much he was selling.
(Troy is laughing) Yeah, everybody be saying that.
Put it that way. You know what I am saying? “Ah Kyle I just sent out 10,000 records and I got back 8,000 records.” “I don’t know man, I don’t know what you doing.”
I am switching gears for a minute. Was Star Ski just as big as Flash and Hollywood and the rest?
Yes, very big, he blew up all by his self. He was almost just as big as Flash on the Disco scene!
What about Pete D.J.
I am glad you mentioned him. Pete was a whole separate entity. He was one of the first with a good set, that did his thing. But he was like an older guy. We didn’t think of Pete as one of us. Pete really did start a lot of things, him and Herc. Herc was more like us because he hung out with us, and you used to see him at all the partyies. Herc was giving parties, he used to put me down with the parties. In fact there is a flyer that goes around, when ever you see those old school books or pictures of flyers. You see this kool flyer with Herc and the Herculoids and my name is the first name on that flyer. To this day I see that flyer all over the place. Herc was down more on the B –boy tip. Pete was a disco guy and party giver guy, who really didn’t get down with the B –boy s---. But he initiated a lot of things by actually having the two turntables and the continuation of music, you know what I am saying?
What about Grand Master
More on the Disco tip as well, who rocked Brooklyn and Manhattan, but the crowd he drew was a little bit more older. They were not the yes yes ya’ll crowd. Like I said before it was a real separation between the two types crowds. They didn’t all come together until like 1982, 83. after that, it all became the same s---.
What about Larry Lavan?
Larry was doing straight cold Disco. Im talking 120 beats per a minute, s---. He was down town, all the way down town. You have to understand their was a difference between black disco and the down town club disco. The down town club disco was the, young yuppie white kids, hanging out sniffing coke and partying. Their music was a little different than black disco music. We played the same records they played, but they more so…..how can I put this, they were more into the glamour and studio 54 type image, you know what I am saying. Black disco wasn’t really about that, although it was about being fly, but it was really about being funky. Black disco always had a lot of funk involved in it. They got funky too, but their funk was little bit different.
Alright, I need you to go a little bit deeper, when you say they played the same records as us. What drew the line in the difference of their records and ours? Are you saying that white disco d.j.s played Tavares, and Black players played Commodores, or something like that?
Yeah, I think you hitting it on the head. Alright I will give you an example, Flash would do a party, and do the B –boy thing, then he would play Flash Light, Galaxy by War, and the way he did it was different. It was funky, he was scratching and back spinning. But it was straight disco too, because it was dancing. Flash could keep you dancing for an hour and a half, if he wanted to. With out any m.c. talking, because he was a real d.j.. Now their type of Disco, they would do the same thing but they would do a lot of Euro discoing, and you know that is, that s---, that was coming out of England and Germany at the time with the synthesizes.
Those Kraftwerk brothers,
with Trans Europe Express!
Exactly, well not really Trans Europe Express.
We dug Trans Europe Express.
We dug it along with the other cut numbers. But they had other cuts that we never played. The cut that we really didn’t mess with, Y.M.C.A. by Village People. We played it for a minute, but down town it was like an anthem. It wasn’t just music it was a theme. We played for the scene, but we really played for the people, and the funk of it. They played for the people, the look, and the feeling, s--- like that. Georgia Marota those type of records, they really emphasized those type of records.
I never heard it separated like that before.
I had to get around, I didn’t sit still. In order for me to be known as an m.c., I had to go places. This is how hip hop got down to the Roxy. When Bam bought out Planet Rock which is an international hit. Planet Rock is basically what record?
The Kraftwerk joint.
There you go. But the way they did was speed it up and had these m.c.s rapping over it. Now there was a time when I had this record called “Getting Over.” Leroy Burgess produced it, it was the music from “Over like a Fat Rat.” By Fonda Rae. He wrote it, so he wanted a rap version. Leroy was the lead singing for the group Black Ivory he did a lot of Disco stuff. Any way he got me to do the rap version. So I go into the studio, he does the whole record over. It’s the same music but a different beat. Back in the days that’s what you did, you didn’t really take from a record. We really didn’t sample anything, we did the record over. At that time Frankie Crocker was the main d.j. in New York City. WBLS at 4 o’clock. The only rap record at that time that got played on main stream radio was “The Message.” And that’s because the record was phenomenal. It had to get played. The company I was with was called Frill’s Records. The president was Frankie “Double Dutch” Smith. He was the cat from Philadelphia that made “Double Dutch Bus.”
I was going to be the first artist on his label. so he says how can we get the record played in New York? I said well we need to hit WBLS. He says but BLS doesn’t play rap records. What cats were doing at the time was making commercials for WBLS. They would put a little rap with their music, and they would play the commercial with the rap. Hopefully by them playing the commercial with the rap on the song, they would continue on with the whole song. Once again “The Message” was played because it was an unbelievable good cut, and a couple of other rap records got played, but Frankie Crooker on a whole wasn’t f------ with Hip Hop. When I took my record to BLS, you know what he told me. Yo Kool Kyle, thanks for the commercial, but we don’t play rap at BLS. This is what Frankie Crooker told me. At 4p.m. he would come on everyday with my record in the summer for about 2 months, for half a minute, 30 seconds. “Frankie Crooker is getting over.” “BLS is getting over.” “Such and such is getting over.” And I would do a rhyme about my record getting over and BLS. Soon as I would get to the main rap of the song he would cut it off. Rap wasn’t getting played kid. When Bam did Planet Rock, it was totally a club banger. So these whites that were really feeling it,…….
Was waiting for it!
Exactly, and they started playing it in Roxy, I went down there to find out what this place was about. Roxy was one of the first places that uptown B- boys, downtown…now mind you, down town was developing its own crowd now. Not just the Disco crowd but, but a Disco crowd that really wanted to get funky with the B- boy s---, because they was feeling it. They felt “The Message”, they felt “Planet Rock.” They came to the Roxy and actually intermingled with the hood. When that happened the whole rap seen just totally changed. It became an international thing. It no longer became a black white thing.
Frankie Crooker played “Planet Rock” if I am not mistaken.
He played it but…yo I was real naïve about the business back then. I thought if you had a good record and you talked to the right people and you made in roads, they played you. It wasn’t about that, it was about payola. How much is the label giving Frankie Crocker. My label used to send Frankie Crocker Dough. He would take the Dough, but he would never play the record.
He would sit on the Dough
and still not play the record?
I met him, sat down with him. Had a meeting with Vaughn Harper, Vaughn loved my record. He was like yo that bass line from Fonda Raes record is hot.” He said yo this is going to be something, we really thought we had something. Frankie was program director and the main guy at BLS. He had the 4 o’clock slot. You really had to grease his palm, and Frankie had to feel you. Frill’s was a brand new label, it had no history. Frankie, I guess didn’t believe there was going to be a following or he wasn’t sure. The record business was like that, now it is a little bit different. But back in those days it was about singles and then an album. Your label actually had to have single after single, then you would have an album. The label couldn’t have just one group, but a couple of artists, to show you had a track record, to show that you were a real company, and that you were really making records. Radio time and record time is very valuable. For them to give a single play, and this artist doesn’t have a follow up record, nor an album coming up later, is basically bad business for radio. Frill’s was a brand new label, I was the first artist on the label. So they didn’t really know what Phil’s was going to do. They had the dough, they were trying to hit Frankie. I think they hit him a couple of times. In fact they were sending him money through U.P.S. but he wasn’t going to f--- with it. I don’t think they were hitting him enough. I met with him one night at the club, you remember Bonds down on I think 54th street. That was a clothing store. Stacy Lattisaw, Jeffrey Osborne, L.T.D. and I think the Commodores. I went there because I knew Frankie was going to be there. So I get back stage, Frankie was the host of the show. I pull him to the side for a minute, I said thank you for using my commercial, but how about the record? So he says I really like the commercial, the way you do your thing over the record, its really hot. But as far as the record I don’t know I will get back at you. And he never played it.
The only other station at that time was WKTU, which was 92.
Right, but they was straight disco if you remember. WBLS was basically the first to play rap, they played The Message, but they didn’t even play Rappers Delight.
What, you sure?
They didn’t, only at the end, and it was a big street record, before it got on the radio. To me Mel’s, “The Message” was the first to get real radio time nationally. Especially local air play in New York. WBLS thought that Rap was some Ghetto music, and if you remember they were basically trying to cater to the up scale black. I remember the ad they had on the radio. It was “Picture the Sound”, it was like a classy sound. “The best in R&B” “Stevie Wonder,” “Gladys Knight” “Smokey Robinson.” It was the best in this. Rap and Hip hop wasn’t the best in nothing, this was street s---. This is a bunch of n------ running around, running their mouth, to a beat. “So we not f---ing with ya’ll, because ya’ll scaring us anyway.” “We left that like 10 years ago.” You know what I am saying? Basically until the money started coming in, and they seen how much hip hop was generating. And mind you Troy this was all in the streets. This is not money they saw through record sales, this is money through parties, from records that were hits out on the streets that you never heard on the radio. This eventually filtered down to radio, and they said to them selves that they had to start playing them. The streets demanded it. The Message was first and Kurtis Blows “The Breaks” I think was next to really get radio time. Kurt got on too. It took him awhile to break through, but he was on a major label. (Mercury, which is still major today with Polygram) it was hard for them not to mess with Mercury because they had the Mercury money behind the Mercury power.
Alright I am going to flip
for a minute. What is up with this guy T- Ski Valley? I asked you
because it doesn’t appear to me that he was making the circuit like
That’s my man. He really wasn’t but this is the deal, T- Ski was from up in the Bronx, not too far from where I live right now. He lived on 219th street off of White Plains Road. Hence the name the Valley. He used to live in the Valley, over there where the Funky 4 used to rock a lot. That’s over by Co-op City near Bay Chester. Over there is a park called Hafen Park. Which is right across the street from Co-op City. He played there a few times, he was basically an m.c., who was trying to get on. He would come to the parties, he hung out at the park a lot. Back in those days he was hanging out with Brad, who was the owner of Brads record shop , which was on White Plains Road on 218, 219th street. The Grand Groove label, that was Brads. Brad was a Jamaican musician, who owned this very popular record shop up here at that time. Tee Ski lived right down the block from this record shop, and he used to always be there hanging out with Brad. I bought many of my first records from this shop. So Brad wanted to make a record and he made a couple of attempts at it, but they didn’t jump off. But when Heart Beat came out, he had the foresight to jump on that beat. Now mind you there were a bunch of cats that did Heart Beat. Treacherous did it, Sweet Gee did it. you had the original Heart Beat, and there was another Rap off of Heart Beat. But his take on it, was a little bit jazzier, he sped it up, he had that drum break in the beginning, because he wanted somebody to rap over it.
Hold up, slow down, you said Catch the Beat, was off of Heart Beat?
I had no idea.
Troy, Catch the Beat is Heart Beat.
I love that song, its like
a classic something that would go on WBLS or something, just the way it
was put together. I used to say to myself this is nice jazz type song.
Yeah, he freaked it. Brad was an excellent musician. He got his Jamaican posse together and they played all the music on that record. Being as he had his own label and record shop and down with a couple other record shops. He basically distributed it himself. It was a real popular record. But T – Ski wasn’t like an m.c. that ran around with us, he did a few shows, and other things. He wasn’t really on our level as far as putting in work but he was around and cats did know him. Dougie Fresh was like that in the very beginning. Dougie used to hang out at Bobby’s record shop on 125th street. I remember him being 13 and 14 years old, and break down that beat box. Me and this girl that I was with at the time were thinking about managing him at the time, because we knew he was going to be something.
Yeah he was very thirsty back then, he grew up a couple blocks away from me, we used to play basket ball together. Let me tell you something in those summers when we were growing up, we use to see each other and he used to say “yo come on I am going to this block party to rock.” I would say “yo Doug, see you later I got something else to do right now.” And where ever I would go in Harlem stopping off to do something, see a girl or driving by in a cab, what ever. There would be Doug on some body’s mic. And I would say to my self there go Doug putting in work, and this was long before a record came out for him.
I feel you, because Doug did run around a whole lot. T Ski was something like that uptown where we were at. You seen him, you recognized him, but he never made that move were you started to see his name on a lot of flyers. At that time it was about the flyers, “how many flyers were you on?” “How many shows have you done?” Were you just in Harlem, were you just in the Bronx?
Yeah Tony Tone said the same thing.
“Did you cross over and leave the Bronx to go to queens or Harlem, Jersey even Connecticut ?” When you did s--- like that, that’s when cats start seeing your name and recognizing you, and you then become an entity and personality. T- Ski never really did that. T Ski is a very good close friend of mine. I haven’t talked to him in a while.
So when is the last time
you talked to him, because cats is asking where he is?
He lives down in Baltimore or Virginia, and he is doing pretty good for him self. The last time I seen him was at a park called Olaville park where we live at which is on 216th street and Bonds avenue and they have a old timers reunion every year for the last 20 years. So I went two years ago and seen brothers I haven’t seen in years. But who is the first person I see, its Tyrone my man T- Ski Valley. He had tried to get in contact with me in the late 80’s to do a record. I was selling drugs by this time making loot, I wasn’t really trying to feel rap. Not to the point I wasn’t going to do it, but really it was about the money at that time. I really didn’t get with him like I needed to. He went back down south, back and forth. Finally he stayed down there for awhile had a construction business. So the last time I seen him which was last summer we talked and hung out and chilled.
So how did you and D.J.
Sinbad get together?
Sinbad used to hang out with a guy name Jimmy Dee.
Oh Jimmy Dee is the house m.c. for the T- Connection.
Right, Sinbad is a real good d.j. and Ritchie Tee used to like him a lot. I guess because he was a real quiet cat. Ritchie Tee had a thing about m.c.s and d.j.s being straight b- boys, you know running their mouth making noise. We were young and crazy and we wanted to get paid, and we loved hip hop. Darren aka Sinbad played, but he was quiet, he didn’t cause no troubles and didn’t get into no beefs. So Sinbad was the house d.j. and Jimmy was the house m.c..
So Sinbad was following
you around to other clubs as your d.j.?
Well at one time me and Jimmy was going to become part of the Come Off crew. It was going to be the Come Off crew plus Two. That was Cool d.j. Rock, Timmy Hall, K. B. J. and me and Jimmy Dee. Tiny Wood was going to manage us. But it fell through it wasn’t going to work out.
Were these guys really good, because I never really heard of them? Pow Wow told me about Timmy Hall, saying he was down from way back. But these other guys I never heard of, just very vaguely. Not like Flash, Cold Crush, L- Brothers, your name, etc.
Well basically they stuck to uptown the Bronx, they did stuff up in Mount Vernon, West Chester. They did a lot of stuff up there and they could have been bigger than what they were. Timmy and I think K.B.J. went to college, and these guys were more m.c.s that were on the Disco tip. So when the b- boy explosion took over they kind of got pushed to the side a little bit. But Timmy and them used to rock the Valley.
I met Sinbad at the Fever, and we told him he would be running with me and Jimmy since it didn’t fall through with the other guys. So when it was record time for me, I told him I wanted him to be my d.j. when it was time for me to do my records. He said o.k., and he was very reliable.
How long did ya’ll rock
About 3 or 4 years. We did a few things together. I am the first cat from hip hop to be in a movie.
Yeah, I am, I tell you that right now. Back in I think 1981, Fab Five Freddy called me up. He was a graffiti writer, of the Fabulous 5. Lee, Mano, Dirty Slug, Professor 167 and Fab 5 Freddy.
Thank you for telling me that, I kept thinking what the hell does this Fab 5 Freddy mean.
Yeah they were a crew. But he called me up, I was shocked that he had my number, but he was like, I am down with this movie, we tried to get Spoonie Gee but we couldn’t find him. So he asks me if I wanted to be in it. But because I was getting ready to play in this other movie called “Downtown 81”, I couldn’t play in Wild Style. I didn’t really think that I could play in Wild Style because of my schedule with this other movie, but I really didn’t mind because I would be solo in this movie. I said let me call my man Sinbad and he can d.j. for me. so Sinbad is cutting and I am m.c.ing in this movie. By the way “Blondie,” Debra Harry, when she made those lyrics in her song Rapture, “Fab Five Freddy told me everybody’s fly, D.J.s spinning im sayin’ my my Flash is fast.” She is talking about one night when she came to the Webster P.A.L., with Freddy and she was checking out Flash. I was there that night. So any way she gives me the instrumental version, and the movie is about John Michael Basquait.
Yeah I know home boy!
This is the only film that he ever did in his life. It was a major motion picture about him, starring Christopher Walken. This is about him being a graffiti writer and his rise as a street poet slash writer, to a main stream artist. In the movie he comes to a club where he is talking to Lee of the Fabulous 5 and Freddy. I think he had some equipment in the club so he goes in the club for a minute. Some body says what’s going on in the club, someone says it’s a d.j.and m.c. and they are hot. My scene has him coming in the club, and I am rapping off of Rapture, my girl from the disco dolls, Yvonne at that time is dancing with me, and Sinbad is cutting. Because I include Sinbad a lot of times, he is in that movie. I figured I would shine better in that movie, than Wild Style so I did that. Some legal technicality happen with the movie., so it ended up not being put out at that time. From what I understand, the producer owed taxes on another movie so they garnished the movies collateral. But to make a long story short the movie didn’t come out. That was in 1981. Here it is now, maybe 2003. Bust it, I am in central park, at the summer stage old school party. I am there, Doug Fresh, Whodini, Biz Mark, Herc, Kurtis Blow, we all talking , Cold Crush is there also. This little white lady about 5 feet comes up to me and she is pulling on my jersey, she says excuse me, excuse me. “Yes lady, she says I remember you, you did a movie called Downtown 81.” “I say yes, but know one believes that’s the first Rap movie because no one has seen it.” She says “I know because I own it.” I said “you own it?” She says she went all around the world looking for me. “I went to California, Down South, Italy, Germany France looking for you, know body could tell you where you were at.” (Troy is laughing) I said “I been here & there”, and I guess since there wasn’t no internet out, that’s why she really couldn’t find me. But to make a long story short, she said listen, she owns that movie, and she reedited it. Digitally formatted it. She says she is going to put the movie out. She said it is going to be a press party in 2 weeks would I like to come? I said “yeah!” I went, me and my fiancé, and after the movie it was a question and answer period for the press and I answered questions. Questions like how did I see rap then and now. What made that movie a classic also is that guy Basquait is world renown today. His paintings are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He died of a heroine over dose, a while ago. If it would have came out when it was supposed to I would have been created with being the first m.c. to play in a movie, but it didn’t come out. Now it is on DVD, in the stores. Called Downtown 81.
I got to check that out.
Bust it, she told me this too. She said when she went to redigitize the movie, she went through all the tracks and scenes, and all my vocals were gone.
She said yeah all my vocals were gone, she said that was why she searched the world trying to find me, so I could redo my vocals. I said since she couldn’t find me what did she do? She said she got another m.c. to do the vocals.
I said you got another m.c. to do my vocals! Who did you get? Guess who she got?
Who, Busy Bee?
Nah remember what I told you earlier? She got Mele Mel!
Ain’t that something.
That’s a hell of a story right there.
Check it out, I go see the movie and when the credits come up, it says, rapper in club, Kool Kyle. Vocals Mele Mel.
So that is how me and Mel is tied.
Talk about small world. So
did she ever let you put your vocals back in?
No, she put the movie out the way she did it, because she spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to redo it. You can’t tell it is Mel because he does such a good job of following my lips, that it worked out pretty good.
I am definitely looking
forward to seeing that.
Its in the stores now.
How did you get to Profile
Through Greg Gee of the Disco Four. He hooked me up with Cory Robbins of Profile, that is the record I did with Billy Bill who is a writer name William Waring. He wrote a lot of Kurtis Blows records, he wrote “I if I ruled the World.”
So what are they talking
about A.J. wrote it?
A.J., Kurtis Blow and Billy Bill wrote it. But my man Billy actually wrote the words. I was there when he wrote them. I really don’t know what part A.J. had to do with it, but he was Kurtis’ D.J. at the time and they were all close. Me and Billy were like brothers, Greg G got us there, but Kurtis had a little production deal with Profile, so because of that me and William got signed. Me and him did a song called “Trouble and the flip side was “Old school.” Which was the hit side. It was basically a beat and me and Billy rapping. Billy also wrote “Basketball” for Kurtis Blow. “Games people Play” for Sweet Gee. He wrote a lot of records.
Where was Billy from?
He was from Harlem, the Drew Projects, up there with B- Fats, Donald Dee and Leroy Burgess. Billy and Kurtis hung out together since they were kids, Kurtis is from Harlem too. Larry Smith used to run with us too, he used to do all the music for Kurtis and Run Dmc in there early days.
How did you get so cool with the Harlem dudes, like Mike and Dave, and I have a tape with you rocking in the early days with Ronnie Green and Jeckle and Hyde as well as D.J. Artie Art. (tape 91)
My father had a store on 145th street and EdgeCombe in Harlem, for 30 years on that corner. A lot of the cats from the rap world would meet there, guys like Dougie, Flash and so many others. The name of the store was S and S. which stood for Sam Schwartz, my father was the first black owned store on 145th street. Plus I went to Music & Art which was right in Harlem. Which fitted me real well because Harlem had it going on just like the Bronx did. What ever Harlem was doing, the Bronx was doing. Street wise, fashion wise and sports wise. Also Bobby’s record shop was down there. So I just really vibed with Mike and Dave and the rest of the Harlem cats. To this day me and Reggie Reg of the Crash Crew is close.
So what was your
relationship with the other solo m.c.s such as Busy, Spoonie and Doug
Fresh, Star Ski, etc.
Basically it was all love. Back in those days it wasn’t no I hate you type of thing. Cats was just trying to get up.
What about when Busy would
say he was the best m.c.?
I felt like this, Busy did his thing, he used to rock party’s, but for him to say he was the best, I can’t really say that. There was a lot of cats that was doing their thing. I have heard Cowboy tear it up, Kurtis Blow tear it down. I heard Mele Mel by him self tear it down, I have tore it down, Hollywood. I never felt he was the best, but he was one of the best. His voice is unique and just the way he pronounces words is real good. I seen him rock people for days.
So how did you feel about
the Busy, Moe Dee battle?
To tell you the truth they were two different type of m.c.s. but Moe definitely comes from the intelligent side. Moe went to the same college I went to Old Westbury. Moe is a real smart cat. So when they went up……. .Busy was like street corner type s---, but Busy was the chief rocker, he had people following him around. Yo Moe has a movie coming out by I think Miramax pictures. Called, I think “The history of hip hop or I am a God on the mic.” And they gave him money to do the movie. What he did was interviewed anybody who did something in hip hop, m.c. wise. The day he interviewed me, he did mad cats, me, Rob Base, Dougie. In my interview he asks me who are my influences, I told him Hollywood, but I also bought up the fact that I seen in a party what Moe did, and right away he says don’t go there. I said I am going there. It was Moe, Kurtis Blow and Mele Mel. I was there.
He has an ultimate respect for Mel, he doesn’t even want to talk about Mel when ever I talk to him.
No doubt. I am going to tell you why, at this particular show at the Disco Fever they were on the stage together……..
……..You don’t have
to tell me, I know about this party, and he won’t go into it when I
ask him. He be like “I rather not talk about that, I have a lot of
respect for him, lets leave that one alone.” Me and him can talk about
anything else under the sun but he won’t talk about that. I heard he
burned Mel that night, saying in his rhyme “Mele who?”
Yo I was there kid. It was the winter of 1980 going into 1981. Kurtis Blow had “The Breaks” out then, and at that time he was the biggest recording artists. He was the first m.c. on a major label to have a gold 12 inch. That was a big deal then, no rapper had done that before. Kurt was getting a lot of money running all around, getting a lot of attention. Deep down cats was kind of resenting him.
Hold up, I don’t mean to
cut in but Rapper Delight had to go Gold before him!
Yeah but it wasn’t certified RIAA!
Do you have any idea why
his would be certified RIAA and not there’s?
Sylvia Robinson’s label Sugar Hill Records wasn’t about getting audited by the RIAA. In order for you to be official, which means paying taxes and reporting straight income, you have to go to the RIAA. That is the official industry standard for monitoring and recognizing record sales, and she didn’t want to do that for obvious reasons. Kurt was on Mercury which is a legitimate label . All their stuff goes through RIAA, to certified sales. He was the first certified gold. We know Rappers Delight went Gold and probably went platinum a couple of times over the course of time. But she would never admit that. At that it was a better move for every one to go to her as opposed to going to Enjoy records. Just because she had more to offer as well as a bigger name. Goin’ to her was stepping up, she had the cars, she had you go to the mansion. She made it seem like she was doing the right thing when it came to paying cats. To be honest cats knew Kurt wasn’t rocking the streets as hard as Mel, Moe, Fantastic, Caz, Me etc. We was rocking uptown, the parks the clubs, this was all we did. But when Kurt made that move with Russell that set him apart from every one else. There was a little bit of animosity, cats was really hating deep down inside, they would never say that. If you listen to some of Kurt’s rhymes on Christmas rap, some of his stuff sounded real familiar. (we both start laughing) So cats were saying “Yo how did he get there?” Cats just felt Flash and Mel and others should have been the logical pick to get record deals and blow up. But the deal is he made good with Russell Simmons who really worked hard to get Kurt noticed.
I can’t remember if the Treacherous had a record out at the moment. But they were getting hot, and Mel and Flash were definitely hot. So Mele had this street reputation as one of the best m.c.s to walk this earth. Flash, Mel and the Furious were running the Bronx at the time. Funky 4 was a little behind them as well as Fantastic and Cold Crush. Although all these groups were a little bit behind them or right with them at times, Mele Mel and them were like the premiere group at that time. Cats were always talking about how tight Mel was so it was obvious that he would get with someone else that was up to his par, or can deal with him.
We heard about Moe and Spoonie and the Treacherous, but Moe had his own little thing that had him standing out above the rest of the group. So people used to wonder how would Moe do against Mel and vice versa, because Moe was real tight too. Moe was a little bit underground with his rep. But cats in the know, knew don’t f--- with Moe. Plus he was building a name for him and his crew down in Harlem. Kurtis Blow had record sales. But as far as battling, Kurt wasn’t with that. Mel was really B- boy hip hop as well as Moe, so it was natural for them to get on the stage, because in the Fever, a brother would throw a beat on and somebody would always grab a mic, who ever was there with a name. It was a Saturday night I believe and it was jam packed. I believe Water Bed Kev, Busy Bee and a lot of other celebrity all stars from the hip hop world were there, as well as Moe and his boys and Mel and his. So they threw a beat on. It ended up being a battle. It didn’t start out being a battle, they were just put up there because they were the three hottest at the time. Long story short…….
Magic was there he was supposedly amped it?
Yeah he was there, he put his two cents in. What happened was, they were both doing their thing back and forth, back and forth. Moe really went off, and when he went off he said Mele Who? I can remember that to this day. That was the clincher, I can’t tell you the exact rhyme, but he said something like “everybody talk about da da da, but Mele who?” and n------ was saying “yo stop playing”. Now right now that might not sound like something but at that time, and the way he said it, it was devastating. The whole crowd went OOOH S---. Everybody was impressed. It was like that, one of those type of remarks. From that, they went back and forth some more, at the end of it Moe came off stage and Kurtis went his way…….in fact Kurtis got out of it very early on. Kurt was like “I ain’t really with this type of thing.” It ended up being Moe and Mel. I am standing by the bathroom and Mel walks by me and says “these n------ don’t know, this is my life.” “This is what I do.” “Cats want to take it for a game,” he was dead serious. What he was trying to say was “listen all this batting s--- is fine and well, but this is my ticket from out of this mother f----- hole I live in.” “I don’t play with this,” and he meant that because he lives that to this day. Don’t f--- with Mel about rhymes and hip hop, and bull s---. Don’t come to Mel with no bull s--- he will tell you in a minute he was there you wasn’t, you never did that in your mother f----- life. He will tell you all that in a minute. For real. He was real pissed that night. It wasn’t like Moe totally destroyed him, it wasn’t even like that, Moe had an excellent line. It is about rapping and rhyming and coming out with the right line at the right time and that worked and it got Mel. Moe beat him that night, and Mel felt that “yo this s--- is serious,” and Moe Dee was like “yo I just did my thing.” He was cool as a cucumber.
Always. (Troy is laughing)
Moe walked away like “yeah I am Moe Dee n-----.”
Yeah he walking away like Michael Jordan before and after a win.
Exactly. So in the movie I said do you remember this?
So he let you talk about
that in the movie? (Troy says it in amazement)
Yeah, but I don’t know if he is going to use it, I hope he does, because this is going to be a big deal. We talked about it he said “yeah it went down like that, but I don’t really like to talk about that to much, next subject Kyle.” So what he did to you, is pretty much how he was acting with me, on that subject. Moe got him, that “Mele who?” was the clincher.
I don’t understand that,
he so humble with Mel, but would beat the hell out of Busy Bee.
Well the deal with Mel, is, way before he made a rap record. Mele Mel, Cowboy and Flash were running the streets. Flash was plugging in his system to lamp polls in the park, in Claremont Village….
Putting in work!
……Webster Projects. Exactly. This is what we did Troy, when we did parties it wasn’t about no clubs. There was no rap records at the time. No one had a clue to put this on wax, in fact cats weren’t talking about recording s--- and trying to sell it. But then we thought if we did this, who would come and see us live. All they had to do was buy the record or tape. Until Sugar Hill Gang did it and made money, we didn’t really see the value of making records. So the bottom line is n------ was grinding in the streets. Just like the crack, slash hustling game. It was about get your name around. Go to this party talk to this dude, stand behind the d.j. make him give you the mike. When you get your hands on that mother f------ mic, get that crowd going. Throw that s--- down, walk away and have the crowd say who the f--- was that.
My man. (Troy’s
That is what it was about. Mel comes from the Ghetto, south Bronx, and this was his ticket Troy. So Moe had respect, he went to college. Busy was like, on a level as Moe and Mel statue wise, if you can understand what I am saying. Busy is my boy to this day, I see him give him mad props, we hug each other it ain’t no thing. But he wasn’t the caliber that Moe was educationally or personality wise. He wasn’t the same caliber street wise as Mel was. Mel is a straight up thug, for real, he was a lot harder than he was back then. He was real hard back then.
Before all that body building s---. He was a hard cat you didn’t play with him. What I am trying to say, the respect Moe afforded Mel is because Mel earned it over the years.
That’s kind of what I
felt. But just for a split second in my mind I thought Mel might have
pushed up, or intimidated Moe
right after Moe finished his rhymes. I say that because of the way you
were describing this moment at the Disco Fever, when you said Mel said
“I don’t play with this, this is my livelihood!” You don’t have
to tell me about Moe I already know he gets down for his crown when it
comes to the knuckle game.
You know what Troy I didn’t really see that, and for me to say that in an interview would be totally inappropriate.
No I am not trying to do that either.
No doubt I know you wouldn’t go there. But the bottom line is it got to be so thick, that cats was like yo, stepping in between them, moving people around. It didn’t come to no blows, it definitely didn’t come to no shoving or none of that type s---. But you understood when Mel walked off that stage he was tight, he was like yo it ain’t even about this little battle s---. I make money doing this. Hip hop and rap is my life. That’s the feeling I got from him. I shook his hand on that. I told him I understood totally. For a good time in my career that’s what it was about. It was about hip hop straight up, rap beat all day and all night, twenty four seven. We go to parties and we rap and we get paid we get girls and we run around. It was our life, and I think that’s what it meant to Mel. Only recently over the last few years he has gotten the respect cross gender wise as far as the media on his contributions of hip hop.
So what about you, you went from high school straight to College? But you still performed while doing all this?
Yeah, basically after my third year of college I was getting a lot of money for m.c.ing. to be honest my head wasn’t in school after awhile. I got skipped twice before I even got to high school. So the deal was I always did good in school, by the time I got to the 12th grade I was hanging out a lot. I took the thick ass glasses off, and put the contact lenses on. The girls started seeing me and it was a rap. You know what I mean. My whole world was entertainment, I could see the possibilities. Everything that rap is today I knew twenty five years ago was going to be. Me and my pops used to have conversations on rap. My father was a Jazz musician back in the 50’s. He played with a lot of famous cats, J. T. Brinson is his name. He never did any records but he played with a lot of great musicians.
O.K. I remember, not sure the place, either Roof Top or Disco Fever, there being a time when Kid Capri, Bruceie Bee and you were the first on the planet to do mix tapes.
Yeah for a little while. For me it was the Disco Fever I made those tapes. I didn’t do it for long. The bottom line was trying to still get my name around, and keep the music going. But I didn’t do that for too long.
So what does the future
look like pertaining to you and hip hop?
The deal is right now I am a partner in a DVD magazine called www.HipHopMovie.com I am a co- producer and an on air host. It is the first hip hop magazine format, on DVD in the streets. It was before all those joints you see out now. We been out three years. The Nas issue is out right now. Volume 5 is about to come out. The issue before that was the G- Unit issue. My man came to me about 3 years ago and said I want to do a magazine. He was talking about putting it on paper. The Source is like the magazine, Vibe, XXL as well. So I was like “that field is very competitive”, he said “I have another idea, say we don’t do it on paper we do it on C.D. or DVD?” I said “it sounds like an excellent idea.” We took a vote on it, and we came to agreement that we do it on DVD. We been doing pretty good ever since. Remember when Jada Kiss got into that beef allegedly with some cats that suppose to ran up to him with guns? The bottom line was, we were at the DVD awards. We always keep the cameras and lights with us. We have a good relationship with Jada Kiss and the rest of his D- Block crew. We did Jada a couple of times, he always stops and talks to us. So my man seen him that night coming out of the awards show, and they started talking and my man pulled the camera and lights out, it became like a little scene, so Jada is talking about the G- Unit s--- and 50 cent. So we interviewing him about how he feels about 50 cent. How is he doing now with his response to 50 cent. He talks about all that. These cats roll up in a car and took the guns out and said “yo Jada we love you!” They were there supporting him. There is a unit of the police that are actually hip hop police and what they do is they go to different shows and different venues to police hip hop. So if cats roll with the gats they are there waiting for them. Those police were there that night. So when they saw the cats pull up next to my man and Jada with the guns in the air, the cops chased them and the rest was in the news, the cops caught them a couple of blocks later. The media wrote “the guys with the guns were going to shoot at Jada” which was not true. So we got the whole thing from beginning to end. No one else has. Jada does the response song to 50 cent live. So we got some good stuff. We have a Japanese distributor we about to hit Germany, Belgium England, France.
When does it come out?
Starting next month it will be bi- monthly. We actually started this industry, and because we did it on the fly, we did it with our own pocket money. But cats picked it up started to understand what it was all about. Smack, another DVD, ran with the idea. We are the first. They acknowledge we are the first. We had a little write up in Dons and Divas magazine two months ago. We had a write up in F.E.D.S about a month ago. So the industry knows it is out there. We have a lot of big plans for it. my name on it is K Armageddon.
Who are the other players
K. Gutter, which is Kwame Simmons who is the Producer. His brother Safoo Simmons and our D.J. Moe Funk. On the rap tip me and my man Rob Boogie the Brawler, who used to be down with Awesome 4. Him and I are in the studio with a group we got called “MVM,” Men Versus Men. The public ain’t ready for this. You the first to know. We going to kill it.
Peace Kool Kyle, thank you
very much for the story.
Peace to you Troy. One
Praise God and God Bless you.
Thank you Jayquan