Rayvon

  Rayvon was part of a Harlem based group called the Magnificent Seven, or for short the M7. His legendary partner on the mic, was and still is to this day Johnny Wa. This is Rayvon’s story. As told to Troy L. Smith winter of 2004

 

Who was the first m.c. to inspire you to get on the mic?

 

It wasn’t an m.c., it was my brother. He used to go to the Renaissance, on 138th st. here in Harlem, he used to come home quoting Lovebug Starski. So I  asked him where he was getting those rhymes from. He said “up there at the Rennie, you need to come with me up there”. I was about sixteen at the time, it was 1978. So when I did make it up there to the Rennie, the first person I see is Starsky, who just blew my mind. That’s my boy till this very day. I was just amazed the way he was controlling the crowd. After that night I did not have it in my head that that was exactly what I wanted to do, but I did start writing rhymes, and saying rhymes. I had not gotten on the microphone yet. A lot of people thought I started rocking with the Magnificent Seven but it is not true. I used to live in Shomberg plaza on 110th st. on central park north on the east side of Harlem, in building 1660. A guy who lived on my floor, his name was Angel, I don’t remember if he was in high school or College, but he used to play music, it wasn’t hip hop. Just music, can’t even say disco but he had equipment. He got wind that I Emceed. Word was getting around about me, because we would sit in the park and spit. So he came up to me one day and said we are giving a party do you want to be the m.c.? I said why not, sure. So to prepare for the party I started going around to other clubs like Mr. Souls, etc. and park jams, like Foster, Jefferson, Johnson projects, later on we played in Central park, threw some of our best jams right by the lake. I just started making the circuits. Soon my name started getting out there. My first real gig I was supposed to battle Andre Harrell and Alonzo.

 

Jeckylle and Hyde?

 

Yes. That was July 28th 1978, I will never for get it. It was at Clinton center inside of Clinton projects on 110th st. and Lexington ave. Andre was from the Bronx and Alonzo was from Clinton, and they were doing the same thing I was doing, hitting park jams and little clubs just doing their thing. People started comparing us. So this is what brought forth the battle between us. I’m keepin’ it gully, the first time they went against me they chewed me up.

 

You was being double teamed.

 

That’s true but the guy that was d.j.ing for me wasn’t cutting he was mixing. And he was mixing off beat. Every time I started a rhyme, he would throw me off. So I ended up cursing him out on stage, I told him to take this mic and shove it up his ass, and walked off stage. They used to tease me about that for years. So I walked out the party and this was the first night I met E-man. E-man was a break dancer. The name of his crew was called the Floor Lords, they changed the name later to the Floor Master’s. They used to come to parties and do their thing. So I’m standing out side and I’m tight, real pissed about what just happened. So E comes up to me with E-man writing on his pants leg on his sleeves and across his chest, you know how we used to do that back in the days. So he walks up to me and says “what’s up Ray” I look at him, up and down and say you must be E-man.  That’s a little private joke between me and him. So he say’s all you need is a d.j. because your rhymes (we didn’t say spit back in those days) are def, the dude can’t cut. So one day I am in front of my projects, Spivey who later became our d.j. is on the plaza playing music. They weren’t calling them selves the Magnificent Seven yet, I don’t think. But it was Spivey, Shoe shine, Cookie and D.J. Smiley.

 

They were all d.j.s?

 

Yeah, and out of the whole group Spivey was catching my eye, he was doing a little something. Later on Spivey was like our main attraction as far as d.j.ing is concern.

 

Why would he be your main attraction?

 

Because he cut better then every one else, Spivey was nice. Some will admit, some won’t, but during that time you had Flash and Theodore right, Spivey may have been third or fourth, as far as I was concerned. Then there was Louie Lou who was d.j.ing for Jeckylle and Hyde, he was nice also. So Spivey and Lou use to battle a lot.

 

So Spivey was the best Manhattan D.J.?

 

In my opinion yes, but Louie was his competition.

 

So he would take out Master Don?

 

Yes. Don couldn’t F--- with Spivey. Don’s mother lived across the hall from me. She’s baking a cake for me as we speak, and I love her to death. Me and Don had a fight too, but that’s something else.

 

Let’s not forget that please.

 

Yea yea, oh you do know the drama about that?

 

No I don’t.

 

Okay, well I am going to explain all that to you, I’m going to give you my story. Okay like I said, Spivey caught my eye. I knew Cookie like from third grade. His family practically moved to Shomberg the same day as my family. I knew Spivey from Julia Richmond High school. So I’m watching Spivey killing it, so I ask him can I get on the mic. He said go ahead. The plaza was crowded, and we did us. You know how you just feel a vibe, that’s what happened the first time me and him got together. It just came together. I felt like this is the dude I been looking for.

 

How did you meet Johnny Wa?

 

Me and him used to go to school together also. I think we were in history together and we were cut ups together. We used to laugh and joke together in class and get kicked out of class together. Our man Mark Sampson really brought us together, because I didn’t know, Mark told me that John rhymed and said that he wanted to be down with us. So I hear his rhymes, their pretty cool. So we start writing rhymes together and doing parties. So the next time it came time for me to battle, it was against Jeckyll and Hyde again. It was a battle to a stand still. Im not going to say we won , but I know they didn’t win, and they know they didn’t win. We went back in forth that night, all night. That’s when our friendship begun with Andre and Alonzo. That’s also when they really respected me. Not only did I have John to back me up, but I went back into the lab and just went fool. Because that’s one thing I hate to do is lose. That’s why I like that kid Jay Z, Jigga. When I hear him spit, he says I will not loss. That was my attitude bro. So after that we started doing parties together. Also Jeckyll and Hyde were different kind of Rappers, they were on some conservative s---. We was on some hoodlum s---. A lot of things you heard were not true. We weren’t robbing people, although we have done things, I am not going to lie to you. Smack some dudes up, took some shit from dudes.

 

At the parties?

 

At the parties! See we weren’t stick up kids, people had the wrong misconception of us, we were drug sellers. See we would hustle all week and go to parties on weekends. We done made our money, so we got our outfits on, dudes are envious, girls are feeling us. So that’s where the beefs used to come along. I had a dude come up to me and snuff me because he thought his girl liked me. I mean I beat the shit out of him but, (Troy starts laughing) but he snuffed me. So I had to bring it to him. Me and him cool today, but that girl is mine also today. That really came from dudes hating on us and we had a certain air about us. Now as far as the stick up kid thing (me and you spoke about that) that was my little brother.

 

He was running with the Cigar Mob, right? (Gang or crew out of Harlem)

 

Cigar Mob right! They used to call him Little Nickey Dee. Him and my cousin who isn’t really my cousin, “Baby Rock”. His mother and my mother used to hang out. So Baby Rock used to spend the night at our house often, so he was fam. Him and my brother were the stick up kids, I come in the bathroom sometimes during parties and they would have people lined up in there robbing them. I used to tell them they better stop that because they going to have people not wanting to come to our parties. The word was out, if you go up in Rayvon and Johnny Wa’s party you better not go up in the bath room because….and they did not say because of the Cigar Mob, they said because of John and Ray be robbing mother f------. That’s where that came from.

 

I see!

 

So that’s how that stick up stigma came.

 

So with the Cigar Mob were they actually your security, or y’all didn’t need no security?

 

No, we didn’t need no security, but they was always there. The Mob was there because they knew Nickey was my brother, plus Nickey was one of the leaders. There was Nickey D, Carl aka Corleone, Nate, Lil Sean, Pop O, Matt, Dave O, Mustered, Eddie Po , Fat Sam aka Jamie - O & Dave - O. There was a crew of them, but this was the main wild mother f------ I remember. They figured they were our security, but we really didn’t need know security.

 

So what about when y’all went to the Bronx?

 

The Bronx, I am not going to lie to you I was always on some Billy bad ass s---. I thought that dudes that walked around with security was punks. I been up to some parties and I knew dudes wanted to try me, but like I said Troy I got this thing, I used to have this thing I ain’t going to back down. I had this female tell me one time “you know something you too stupid to realize when you are in real danger.” “Sometimes you have to walk away.” Instead of walking away I be like what the f--- you looking at? And duke would be like “who he talking to’? I be like, “I am talking to you!” Next thing I know is it ain’t in his heart no more. I ain’t going to say I took every dudes heart. I done had some fights, even been jumped. I am not no Superman, but that was just my persona. I also remember you asking if it was true about the guns people assumed that we had on us all the time. We did carry guns but not all the time, we wasn’t no Jesse James mother f------. But what we was doing with the drug game, that called for it, we had to have the iron with us. But we did not bring guns to parties all the time.

 

When y’all was up there in the Bronx with them Zulu cat’s and others, y’all still received the respect? Or was y’all getting beef from them?

 

Much respect from everyone. No beef from anyone. We never had beef with Zulu Nation. Bambaataa and them cats respected us and we respected them. Same like Caz, I love Grand Master Caz! That’s my boy, him and J.D.L.. The first time we met we clicked, it has been nothing but love. See it goes like this Troy, if you from the Bronx, and you come to Manhattan to rock I am responsible for you. If I come to the Bronx to rock you responsible for me.

 

That’s right.

 

If something happens to you down there at Rayvons party, then the cats that brought the drama to you bought the drama to me. I go up to Caz and J.D.L. party, then they responsible for me, they be like “yo pa, that’s Ray and John chill”. Just like when they used to come down to the Celebrity Club, Harlem World so forth and so on they knew this was our backward, so when they popped up in here we be like “O.K. J.D.L. and them are up in here, what’s up what’s up y’all alright”? this was real genuine Hip Hop love. Just like with Bambaataa and them, if a dude went to perform at a Zulu show Bam had crazy security. Zulu Nation was and still is, one of the strongest Hip Hop entity’s ever. So when you walk up in a Zulu party and you were a guest m.c. or rapper so forth and so on, you could have been no more secure if you were at a police station. But Zulu and them was doing s--- too. (Rayvon starts laughing) in every organization you are going to have those renegades. I guess they had a few renegades.

 

So what was your favorite spot up in the Bronx?

 

I rocked at the T- Connection a few times but Ecstasy Garage was my favorite spot.

 

So was you cool with Fantastic 5?

 

Yea, I was cool with Rob and Kev. Dot and Whip was o.k. I didn’t really know Ruby Dee that well.

 

The Funky Four, you said you was cool with Rahiem?

 

More so when he was with them, I was real cool with Lil Rodney C and K.K.

 

What about Flash and them?

 

Flash and them were kind of arrogant, I ain’t going to lie. They really kept  distance from everybody. But Mel was o.k. I talked to him a couple times I didn’t never really get a chance to converse with them because they just separated them selves from everybody else.

 

So now your style is more like a disco type sound similar to Starsky and Hollywood opposed to say a hard core hip hop m.c. from the Bronx?

 

Back then I wouldn’t say Disco, I saw where rap was going, as far as hard core lyrics was concerned. I am not trying to take all the credit in the world, but dudes will tell you I was rhyming about selling drugs, guns and all that way before it became popular. I remember one day Andre Harrell was telling me, and I took it as a joke but he was serious. They was throwing a party at Harlem World, and Harlem World at one time was one of these classy type places before Hip Hop got there, we turned it all Hip Hop. He said we got Harlem World Tonight, when you come, dress appropriately. I said what you mean by that, he said just don’t come up there in them scrambling (drug dealing) clothes. We was wearing Tim’s and jeans, and what ever else we was wearing when we was hustling. I said man get the f--- out of here, I come how I want. That was just Andre, Andre was just business minded. Where Hyde was more street, even though he wore the suits with Andre when they performed he be right on the basketball courts with me and just as street as I was. When I started rhyming I was with the trend then I broke away. So now dudes is feeling what I am saying, because there was dudes who could relate to being on the block. There were brothers who could relate to getting there little bit of money up to get the British Walkers, get little fly gear. So I am not just talking about swing your partner around, you know the disco theme. Which nothing is wrong with the disco theme, but that was my thing.

 

So what was up with that Beef with Master Don?

 

We was at Chuck Center one night and Don was on the mic rhyming. I walked in, and dudes was pushing me to get on the mic. That’s how it was back in those days if a house rocker came in and the crowd acknowledged him they wouldn’t care who’s party it was they would say let him get on the mic, and that was how it was with me that night. So I’m like “I’m Rayvon”, I can get on any mic. So I tell Don let me get some of that. He said alright I got you, but he kept rhyming, dogging it and dogging it. So I feel like he playing me. So I sat and chilled and finally I got on and rocked it, then when I finished I laid for him cause like I said I was on some bull s--- back then. I said I’m going to f--- this n----- up.

 

Just like that.

 

Yeah. Cause to me it was a diss. Me and my man Mark Sampson laid for him (God Bless Mark who passed away). Master Don and I went to school together, so we arguing, me Mark and some of my people vs. Don and his crew after the party. So I swing on him and we going at it some of his crew run in the end. I just wasn’t talking no shorts. So afterwards there's beef  but there isn’t beef. He really ain’t trying to retaliate. But where ever there is a party at, and Don and I are around, people just anticipating beef was going to jump off. But I knew nothing was going to happen, Don wasn’t no punk but he was more in to the music and no gangster. Afterwards I felt kind of bad because I knew Don pretty good. Some times you do things in the spur of the moment. Same thing happen with Ski jump

 

Ski Jump?

 

Yea he was a b-boy, he was one that started the head spin. Some people know it but won’t admit it. He started it at he Renaissances. He was also Casanova. Me and him had a fight in front of Shomberg cause he was feeling bad about something and I was feeling good. So I asked him what was his problem and he swings on me. So I beat the hell out of him. So now we got mad beef because he is Casanova affiliated. He didn’t tell them it was a one on one, because he was so beat up they assumed he was jumped. So the Casanova’s came looking for us one day, but none of us were around. Diamond Dave, was Casanova, from Manhattan, and he was recruiting E-man and some others. Around the same time me and Ski Jump had our fight. Casanova’s were here in Harlem for a party on 119th st on the east side in the “Down Boys” turf. They were a Spanish crew. They had Zip, Johnny and Toney Rome, they were all Down Boys. I don’t know if it was one of them or some one they knew, but they got into a beef with one of the Casanova cats. The kid from Casanova got lumped, instead of just owning up to the beat down he went back and told the other Casanova’s he got jump and like I told you earlier, if I go to the Bronx you were supposed to hold me down, well this dude went and told Casanova that E-man and Dave let him get jump and they didn’t do nothing. So they tricked E-Man and them to come to the Bronx. I was supposde to go that night as well, the same girl that I am with right now, I was supposed to take to the movies that night. I got all the way to the train station with E- man and them and she was complaining that I was supposed to take her to the movies, so I told them yo I see y’all later I am going to the movies with my girl. So a hour later I get a phone call from E-mans father asking what I am doing because he wanted me to met him down at mount Sinai hospital. E-man and Dave and the rest of them are in the hospital and it’s pretty bad. I said what happen, he said I don’t know but they f----- up, come down here. Brothers got hurt bad, they got beat on real bad with golf clubs and bats. Dave hurt the most, because he was really fighting back. You can see scars to this day on Dave’s face and nose.  Plus Dave was supposed to be God Father of Manhattan chapter anyway. The true story is nobody jumped that dude Ski Jump. But when it got back to the Bronx it got twisted.

 

You and Master Don ended up getting cool?

 

Yea, that’s my boy! After all that B.S. we did a few parties together. We battled a lot too!

 

As well as a dancer, E- man also Emceed too!

 

Right from late 1978 to 1979 E-man was on the mic with us. But he was very curious about the world, he couldn’t see him self just hanging out on the weekends, doing the things that we were doing he said he had to do something different.

 

E-man didn’t hustle with y’all?

 

He hustled for a little while, but his heart wasn’t in it.

 

So how long did the crew stay together?

 

The Magnificent 7 stayed together from 1978 to 1981.

 

Three years of some strong partying.

 

Yes some strong partying and strong ties. We got rid of Smiley and bought in Tystic. From 1979 until we went to prison in 1981, we killed it. Any body who partied back In those days and will be truthful, will tell you we had Harlem World and other spots on lock. We was entering as many mother f------ battles as we could, right in Harlem World Audubon, celebrity club Randy’s place, where ever. We was making the rounds. 1979 is where I found my trademark style. My signature style was the harmonize style. What happen I was listening to Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to be real”, and I used to go to church and hum along with the choir. I was just humming to tune one day, I said damn this sound alright. So I said let me try this on tape, so I go to d.j. Cookie’s house, I tell him what I got in mind. So when I start doing it, he say’s yo this new style of yours is hot! The first time I did it in public was in Washington park. That was Washington project they had a jam in there project over on third ave to second ave. from 99th st to 104th st.. in my girls project. Matter fact Camron’s man Freaky Zeeky came from there and Joe Budden also. So I made my rounds with that style. By the time we got to 1980, it was every where. Johnny also wrote his part to it. Now Thanksgiving 1979 we did our first party with the Crash crew. There was a bunch of us on the flyer. So we did that routine we was famous for, and I know Crash crew was feeling us because everybody was at the party. So some where along the line when they went into the studio, G-man who I can’t say bit, because he wrote his own thing, but everybody knew where he got that from.

 

That style, right I understand!

 

Thats just like if you hear somebody sounding like Jigga, you would say oh that’s Jigga flow. Or that’s Biggie flow. So dudes knew that. So when they first started doing that they used to get booed.

 

What?

 

Yeah, see biting was big back then. It’s not like it is now. You can bite now and nobody gives a f---. But back then it was a major thing. So when they did that mother f-----s was like yo they trying to sound like Johnny Wa and Rayvon, so forth and so on. But as time went on, me and Johnny went to prison, right after that record came out by the Crash crew.

 

Everybody went in at the same time?

 

We went in at the same time but I went in first. I wasn’t on the same case with everybody else. My brother and the rest went in after me. It was a central park bust, some under cover cops got us on mark money. That was the beginning of the end for the Magnificent 7. We never got back together after that. It was me and Johnny who were hoodlums. The rest of the crew wasn’t into it like that, but me and Johnny were the lead members of the crew.

 

So before y’all went to jail, y’all were winning all these battle’s all over Harlem?

 

Yea, from 1980 till we went to jail I don’t remember losing a single battle!

 

Well who were y’all going against that y’all were beating?

 

Besides Don and them, there was Crazy Eddie and his people. Crash Crew! Everybody who was on the circuit at that time.

 

What about Moe!

 

O.K. Moe Dee, lets get to Moe.

 

Yeah we getting ready to get to that battle! (Troy starts chuckling)

 

Lets get to Moe, lets get to Moe. Me and Moe Dee was cool but every body would have loved to have seen us go at it. But we never went at it. Just like Caz! I lot of people wanted me and Caz to go at it. But Caz was my boy, but we just never went at it. I never went at Moe I liked Moe, Moe was a good dude.

 

Now listen, from what I got from Moe was, that y’all did some what go at each other. You and John went against Moe and L.A. at Randy’s place.

 

And L.A.? Naw

 

It wasn’t a straight up battle, y’all just happened to be on the same flyer, but y’all went after each other.

 

I don’t remember.

 

He gave you much props but being as he was a battle m.c. he came on after y’all tore it up and did his thing with L.A. and just in the end he used his battle rhymes and one of them was that Disco style or rhyming was played out. The crowd lost their minds, but that was it.

 

I really don’t remember. It might have happened , I can’t say it didn’t but I don’t remember. I just don’t remember me and Moe being in that type of situation.

 

So y’all tore everybody else up but never had to face the Treacherous Three? Didn’t Treacherous have to be on those flyers too.

 

I just don’t remember them being on a battle flyer with us.

 

When the thing happened with Busy Bee, I couldn’t understand how that could have came about, because Busy Bee was hooked up with A.J. So I am not going to say he was selective about who he put up against Busy, but I know he would not have put him up against Moe.

 

Now Moe wasn’t even on the card that night of the famous battle.

 

See that’s what I mean.

 

So what it is, is it was a regular battle at Harlem world and John was there. In fact that’s what I wanted to ask you, where were you at that night.

 

I was in prison!

 

O.K.

 

A couple of my friends came to see me the very next day and told me “yo you should have been there, oh my God”. I said what happen. He said Moe chewed Busy’s ass last night. Tore him a new ass last night. Troy you know it’s a classic now.

 

Right, right. Now John was left by his self on this one, and he tried to put it down. But with out you, he couldn’t really put his Mack down. The Force M.C.s were there as well. They came on first but they were very lackluster. Then John came on and he tore it for a minute, but just by his self. Then Busy came on thinking like he was the man. He didn’t even know why he had to come on. Then Moe came, but he came out of no where. Moe wasn’t even on the card. Moe told Charlie Rock in his ear I am coming on next. Charlie was in shock, but thrilled and said sure. In fact Moe was originally a judge. So Moe got on and ripped Busy’s ass. Busy didn’t even know it was coming. Nobody knew it was coming.

 

Oh, O.K.!

 

L.A. didn’t even know it was coming. Moe told L.A. to come up on the stage. He says o.k. So Moe and L.A. tore ass. The Harlem World crew milked it and said it was a draw. It was Christmas night, so they figure call it a draw and get the crowd back on New years night.

 

What they said Moe and Busy was a draw?

 

Yeah, that’s the first night.

 

How could that be a draw?

 

Exactly! So Fat Man who owned it Harlem World milked it so they could come back and make more money. See, when I was growing up I never heard y’alls stuff. But my man Fat Bub who used to run with the Cigar Mob used to tell me “these guys Johnny Wa and Rayvon are nasty”. Plus he use to tell me about y’all allegedly being stick up kids, even Caz said y’all was buck wild. But I had a real hard time finding any tapes with y’all. All I could do is listen to Johnny Wa on that Moe, Busy battle. I us to say it sounds alright, its cool, but I need to hear more to know what my man Fat Bub was talking about. But one day on one of my mission’s looking for tapes I found you and Johnny Wa (tape 76). I was stunned. I said this is what the hell Bub was talking about all those years, it was the BLAZE! Then I let my man Gary J. from Lincoln projects get a listen. He had me laughing my head off, he said yo I walk around with the walkman attached to my pocket listening to the tape all day, while I am cleaning up or what doing at home. Yo the tape is so hot my man who is almost sixty years old was humming along to the tape. So I had to write in one of my stories where the hell was Rayvon that night of the battle with Busy and Moe Dee?

 

I was in Prison!

 

Yeah, but if you was in that battle, you and Johnny Wa could have possibly took that trophy that night.

 

People told me that too. Nothing for nothing, and I would never take nothing from Moe. Moe is my boy. I love Moe. See there are not that many Harlem dudes, the Bronx was thick with cats. But there wasn’t that many Harlem dudes that could come up on the stage and rep. like that, like Moe. A lot of Harlem rappers deferred to Bronx rappers. If somebody from the Bronx was in a party in Harlem, automatically it’s there thing now. Moe was arrogant like me “yo I wouldn’t give a f--- if you from west bubble f---“. When I touch that steel I’m going to do me. I loved his attitude for that. All of them was like that, Sunshine. Special K was kind of quiet. But Moe and Sunshine the arrogance, no I am not going to say arrogance. There confidence is what I loved, that’s why we got along so well. We did boat rides and all type of s--- together.

 

So you was down with the boat rides too.

 

Yea, I did boat rides in 1979 and 80. With Treacherous Three and Cold Crush. The other year I did one with Baron and Breakout. That’s when Rahiem was still with Funky four before he went to Flash. Both boat rides went to Bear Mountain, up state N.Y.. We used to play the music all the way there and back. I always like Rahiem style.

 

What was up with the battle between your M7 verses the M7 from the Bronx with Jazzy Jeff and Lil Rodney C, later of the Funky?

 

Good question I am glad you bought that up. Rodney Cee was actually the lead m.c.. The D.J. was Steveie Steve, real good D.J.. We battled them in Clinton Center one night. I’m not going to lie it came to a stand still.

 

Yeah, that’s what I heard.

 

We had the home court crowd. We had the advantage, but take nothing from them they did they thing. But it came to stand still.

 

So who would you consider to be the best m.c. in the Crash Crew, from one to Six?

 

I still say Reggie Reg! After Reg, EK Mike Cee, the kid B-Stro as far as just lyrics he would be number three. He had like a calm demeanor about him self, he didn’t get too excited, too much. But I would give him number three just on his lyrics alone. I would give Shu- Bee four. Disco Dave fifth. The only thing that I knew that G-Man made by heart was that song from High Powered Rap album. I always say, and I would go to my grave saying that’s our sh--. So it’s hard to give a dude props who took your sh--. To use your s--- to get famous. Even when I hear that record now, I just came from prison and hear your dudes playing that record I will say yo that’s my s---. Cats be like word. Even though he changed the word used different music, biting was big back then. I keep stressing that. When he did that people rebelled, but after awhile it started sounding good to them. Especially after I went to prison. “so he ain’t here no more somebody got to hold it down now”. No animosity towards G- Man though, but I did find it hard to look past it.

 

What about Master Don and his crew. Who was the best m.c.s over there?

 

You know that Master Don was an m.c. and d.j. right?

 

Yeah, I heard, I didn’t know that originally.

 

Yea Don was a Beast.

 

He was a what?

 

A Beast. You know he could do it all.

 

I got you, Don was the man.

 

I think by far he was the best in his crew.

 

Word? The best m.c. in his crew.

 

I’m giving props to Don for all he did in the crew. Keith K.C. and Boo Ski is nice, and Gangster Gee is real nice. And there’s Pebbles. You know Pebbles live in this building too. She lives right over my sister. A lot of females were not doing what she was doing. A lot of people don’t give the props like they should to Pebbles. All the female m.c.s like Kim and Lyte, etc. They owe a debt of gratitude to females like Pebbles, Sha Rock, Lisa Lee. Know what I am saying. Because they were out there laying down the ground work, so these girls can do what they are doing today. Hip Hop music is the only music they don’t give there just due to. They give respect to the pioneers like they should. In rock and roll music they still worship Elvis and that guy that just passed, the pretty woman guy, Roy Orberson and guys like that. Because they were pioneers over there, and they respect there’s but not us. When they had the BET awards on earlier this year, I was still in prison and I’m in the day room going crazy, because it was good to see Doug and Mel and them up on that screen, all my people like that. Mel looked good, Doug, everybody.

 

I hear you… Alright what about that kid who also calls himself E-man but he is from the  Bronx. He is on that live convention 80 or 81 with Busy Bee, Moe, Mel and Fantastic 4. What up with him because for a couple of years I thought it was your man E-Man. This guy also had the same style of rhyming like y’all. One day I found the tape that was extended from that album, and he was going off. Which this album is today, from the first tape is a collectors item, sold for $200. Also this album was taken from a tape of a show at Celebrity club back in the days. So like I said, I thought it was your E-man. I played it for him on his answering machine because he wasn’t home when I called. He calls back later say’s that’s not him. He said “naw that ain’t me”. “Me and Ray was going to go up there and put it on him”.(beat down)

 

No, E did not like this dude. (Rayvon is laughing.) He didn’t like him, when he first heard about this dude calling him self E- man, he said we got to go up there and see about this dude. We never caught him, nor met him.

 

Not for nothing, his flow sounded real nice. I was like dam this sound good. But he did have y’alls flow though.  What about you and Spoonie G?

 

No I never battled him either, and don’t know why not, because we were in those same circles. For some reason Spoonie didn’t really participate in those battles. Spoonie was more on some other s--- .

 

Like what?

 

Smooth, lady killer type. Wasn’t looking for no controversy.

 

I hear that, but I remember him also busting his gun off right in my park.

 

No, I wasn’t saying he was no punk!

 

No I am not saying that either, not at all. What I am saying is as smooth as he was he could also be very arrogant, he was busting off his gun to get out of the park, because it is too crowded and also because it is show time. “I am Spoonie G”, “move out the way”. Or “take a look at me”.

 

Right, that too.

 

So for the uptown west side you had Spoonie and the Fearless Four. But the Fearless Four was young at that time.

 

Yea, they were young but they were up and coming. Their man, was my man, Krazy Eddie. Me and Tito was mad cool, but Krazy Eddie was my boy. We was at Randy’s place one night, studio 125. So I come up in the party, I used to wear a lot of jewelry. Even before it became popular, so I am up in the party dancing and the lights go out all of the sudden, and some body reaches for my neck and pops the chains off. About 2 or 3 off my neck. When the lights come back on I am like were the f--- are my chains. The girl I was dancing with said “where are your chains”? This is my word to everything I love. Krazy Eddie jumps his ass up on a table with a shot gun and told them lock the f------ doors ain’t nobody leaving out of here until my man gets his chain.

 

(Troy start’s laughing) That’s Ed, all the way.

 

I’m dead serious, because that’s how me and Ed got real tight. Him, this other kid name Matt.

 

You know Matt? That’s my man Carl from the Cigar Mob’s man. Them some real thorough brothers back then.

 

Oh you remember Matt, well those were my boy’s. Well some girl came up to me with my chain, I asked her were did she get it from? She said it was on the floor in the corner. They put the music back on, turned out the lights, and we went back to partying.

 

What about the Disco 4, who were from the uptown west?

 

Yeah, they was cool. They were in a few battles as well back in the days. Donald Dee was the one that went to school with my brother Pete. They went to 136 together. Donald Dee also did party’s at the Renaissance! Him and his brother B- Fats.

 

What was the exact address of the Renaissance?

 

Not the exact address, but it was on 138th st. 7th ave.

 

Where did the Mini Rennie come from?

 

That was the Renaissance lounge, it was a bar, club that the old timers used to relax and chill. Then they put a dance floor in there, and let put people go in there and party. Mostly just some where to go and chill. The Renaissance was an actual ball room. With a giant size stage. Two tiers. It was like the Audubon. The Audubon and The Renaissance were the two biggest places to Harlem back than. They were around before Harlem World. Then when Harlem World came around that was the rage, or place to be.

 

So were they the two most popular spots for you to be doing shows back at that time?

 

Yes, but that would be big shows. Then there was Randy’s place, which could hold a good two hundred people. Then there was the Celebrity Club which couldn’t hold nothing like the Renaissance. Chuck Center was the premier hole in the world. Chuck center actually had holes in the walls, and you had to keep your coat on in there, because it was always cold in there. Freezing!

 

Do you remember the best show there? At the Audubon or Renaissance.

 

Well the best shows were there at the Renaissance, because it wasn’t just a Harlem thing. People came from all over. I don’t know if they told you this, but Theodore and Flash were there. Both their respected crews were there also. I wasn’t on the flyer that night. But towards the end of the night, Theodore turned the music down and said Flash this is for you. Remember the record Super Sperm? Well he did some s--- with that record. I was like whooo. The crowd went crazy. With Audubon, the best show in there was easily the controversial between me and Busy Bee. This was another m.c. convention. This is where I got a lot of my recognition from. This was where a lot of people were taking notice of me. D.J. A.J. throws another one of those classic conventions. It wasn’t that the Magnificent Seven didn’t believe in them selves, but a lot of good crews were involved like Flash, Cold Crush, Theodore, and them. So Spivey suggested that I go on alone, as a solo than a group. I’m like yo we can take them. Spivey was like yo just go solo. After a while I said o.k.. So Love Bug Star Ski is one of the judges or guys introducing as we come out. It was a whole lot of groups that night.

 

Did you know Busy at the time.

 

Yeah I knew him.

 

Was that your man at the time.

 

Busy was cool with me. but if you knew Busy back then he was another arrogant brother, he had that air about him, like it can’t happen to him, I’m that dude. I think that’s why Moe Chewed his ass out like that, that night. But I will get to that in a minute. So Star Ski tells me you going to go on next to last. Busy Bee is last.

 

Do you remember any other solo m.c.s that was there that was nice.

 

Mr. Bond, Elmo and there was another one, I can’t really remember, but who ever was there was considered nice at that time. I was concentrating on Busy because I knew he was going to be the biggest problem there. But when it was time for me to go on I had been out side smoking some weed. When I came back Busy had already been on, tearing the house down as a matter of fact. So I say Star Ski what up. He says where were you at, you were supposed to have been went on. I say what I can’t get on now. He says no you go on next after Busy, just don’t go no where. So I am sitting there watching, and he is doing his thing, but I’ve heard it all before. You know what’s your favorite sign, you know that’s Busy, tearing it up. So I am next I step up to the mic, and I go right into my singing routine. Soon as I start, the crowd goes crazy. They had this big fat girl there I don’t who she was or what her name was, but she was a big fat girl making more noise than a mother f-----. She hyped the crowd up. (Rayvon laughing) who ever she is, where ever she at, I love her to death. So now the whole crowd is involved, I got them. So when I get to the end, I end on a positive note. Dudes is like hold up, oh s---. I can see the looks on thier face. A.J. threw the party and he is my man, but Busy is A.J. m.c. and man. So Love Bug Star Ski like we might have a problem tonight. See Love Bug Star Ski is from Harlem, and he knew me. But he also know Busy also. So when they ready to judge the winners, they say first place goes to………Busy Bee! So dudes is like what!!!! What the f---, come on man. The crowd screaming out, “yo Ray they jerking you”. People started heckling. So Love bug like “yo calm down, calm down” “second place goes to Rayvon”. So I walk up on the stage to get my trophy, but now you got people going back and forth, because you have some Bronx dudes in there also. So the crowd is going back and forth, some saying “f--- that Ray you shouldn’t even accept that trophy, them mother f------ are jerking you”. The dudes from the Bronx is like “f--- that Busy won, f--- that n----- Rayvon”. So now a fight breaks out, and people start to scatter. Now that’s the talk of the town for the next month or so. Some people are like, “yo Ray ate him”, and of course you had people who said that Busy won. So the controversy that was caused, put my name way out there. So now people start putting my name on flyers. People I don’t even know. Brothers showing me flyers asking me am I going to be here tonight? I don’t even know about the party. Rayvon and Johnny Wa, Johnny Wa and Rayvon. So that particular battle actually helped  me.

 

So did you or him ever talk about battling again.

 

He didn’t want that, I ain’t going to lie. I know I am being a little arrogant now, but he did not want that. That’s why when you told me about him and Moe, I knew he couldn’t possibly know that Moe was on that card. (Troy starts laughing) Busy wasn’t no fool. I believe Busy knows I tore him, and maybe he might have came back and got his money another night. But that particular night I put my heart and soul into it, and I did that.

 

Was you and him chill, with each other after that night.

 

Yeah, after that we became real tight. I even mess with him saying, y’all know y’all jerked me. He was like nah man you know I ain’t got nothing to do with that. I just went up there and did my thing. I said man y’all jerked me, here have a drink any way. (we both start laughing)

 

What about the Untouchables from downtown Harlem?

 

I was with them for a minute. I had some problems with the M7 and went to them. I was with them for about a month. That was Andrea from Douglass projects and them. They had me billed as with them for a minute. I met them at a park jam once. Nobody was on the mic and I was thirsty. Every time I seen an open mic I made it my business to take that. So we rocked together for awhile and we sounded good. So when we finished they introduced there selves. Like I said I was frustrated with M7.

 

So what happen with you and M7 at that time.

 

Well Johnny would probably say the same thing. We were not there for the business part of it, because we were drug sellers. I didn’t care about getting paid for no Hip Hop party. I did it because I loved to m.c.

 

Y’all was making more money on the streets than in the parties of Harlem World?

 

Exactly. I was coming to parties with $1500 in my pocket. They might take in $1500 for the whole night, and got to split that nine ways. (we start laughing) I remember one night we was getting paid at Randy’s and then they didn’t make enough money for everybody, so I said you can give them my split. So Jeckle was like “yo man”, I was like nah it’s cool and I pulled out a knot, he was like God damn!!!! (Troy starts laughing) I said when y’all get finish we going to get something to eat. But like I said I was selling drugs, when nobody in rap game was really doing that. I am not trying to brag, because that ended up f------ up my life. If I was concentrating on what I was supposed to be doing, It would have been a different story, possibly.

 

Yes, you might have been a bad brother on the wax. Alright, now on the uptown eastside you had the Crash Crew, right?

 

Right

 

What about the Mean Machine?

 

Yea, that was Ronnie Green and the Mean Machine.

 

No. I am talking about the Spanish Mean Machine that made the record. One of the guys did his verse in Spanish.

 

I don’t really remember, but there was another group, a dude from Wagner projects called him self Kid Flash. Then there were these two dudes who didn’t have any m.c.s but good equipment. One name Kurt the other, Kenny Sex. They would have open mic, I think they came out of Johnson projects. Louie Lou, Buddy Bud came out of there also. Then there was the Foster 4 with Artie Art as the D.J.. His m.c.s were Shaky Shake, Magic, Mike c or he might have called him self Money Mike. One other guy I can’t remember his name. Foster projects was rocking before Harlem World. Foster was really my transitional period. I used to go in Foster Projects and guys didn’t like me there. I got into a lot of fights in Foster. I used to go to the parties, and have to sit around, because nobody wanted me to touch the mic. Once I got to know them we became alright. Ronnie Green and Jeckle and Hyde would be there. I used to be mic thirsty, there was times I would rather be on a mic then be with a girl. They knew this. Everybody would get on and do them. When parties get slow now, now the mic come over. So I say is it o.k. if I get on the mic? Ronnie says go ahead. So I would bring the party right back up. So Ronnie start feeling that, and he starts putting me on his flyer. He be like yo this dude is nice, we may not like him! Like I said a lot of people did not like me. attitude and so forth, I was kind of arrogant. But you could not deny what I was doing. You could not take that away from me. Ronnie Green was a good dude, even though we had a falling out later on in life. Him and my brother had a beef. My brother shot at him nine times.

 

Damn! Nine different times or on one occasion nine times?

 

No, one time. One of my brothers first bid was over Ronnie Green slapping his girl. So my brother found out and went over to Foster projects in a pool room where Ronnie was at and started shooting at him. There was no kids where we were at but it was a type of center that children would be at, other times of the day. So my brother got three to six for it. But he ran up in the pool room where Ronnie was at, and shot nine shots at him because it was a nine shot twenty two, that he had. He bust every shot. I said how you shot all those shots and miss. We thought he hit him, but he didn’t even hit the guy. I said what you blind or something.

 

Talk about nine lives. So did a lot of crews format the routines like the guys from the Bronx?

 

Yes, Artie Art and them used to do thier routines like the Furious Five. Now Jeckyll and Hyde had some mean routines. They first were running with some guys from Clinton center, to Ronnie Green m.c.s, to A.J.s m.c.s. They were always bouncing around.

 

So they were Ronnie Greens m.c.s?

 

Yea, because when you said Mean Machine. Hyde use to always say Ronnie Green and the Mean Machine.

 

So Ronnie Green must have been a really good d.j. back in those days huh?

 

Yea he was.

 

So then Jeckyll and Hyde then got down with Harlem World next?

 

No they got down with D.J. A..J. first, for a minute. Then they got with Harlem World. They were really the reason why Harlem World became famous for what they became to be. They were the ones to talk Jack who owned it, into throwing Hip Hop party’s there. Prior to that it was a classy joint. Stephanie Mills, Tanyaa Gardner and others used to be there. Private engagements. Once Andre got his foot in the door, you know business man. Him or him and Hyde, talked Jack into throwing these summer jams. This was I think the summer of 1979. During the week it would be from 8p.m. to 1a.m. on the weekend full fledge partying. People were coming.

 

But Harlem World would go past 4 o’clock in the morning, right.

 

On a weekend, man people might come out when the sun was coming out. Say eight o’clock in the morning, on a Sunday.

 

When people going to church, and y’all coming out from partying.

 

So towards the end y’all were supposed to have gotten a call from Sugar Hill Records?

 

Yes, few months before getting arrested, Sylvia sent someone down to pick us up. shillcovr.jpg (11540 bytes)They pulled up in front of Shomberg projects, we out there hustling.  A guy gets out says “does anybody know Johnny Wa and Rayvon”? Someone brings him over to us, he asks again we say why, and he says he is from Sugar Hill records and pulls out a card. He says he has someone who wants to speak with you, and the sent me to pick you up and take you to the Mansion up in Jersey. Me and Johnny look at each other like who? He says Sylvia Robinson! We did hear about her, and she does deserve props for putting our music on wax because we  all had our stuff on tapes at the time. So we went up there we sat down and talked. She gave us some papers to read. We didn’t have no lawyers back then. We took the papers home, we read them. We thought we knew everything etc, etc. but again we didn’t take it serious. We should have but we didn’t.

 

Didn’t y’all do some parties with them, and put something down for her, in the studio?

 

We did some parties with them but never went into the booth and put anything down. We did some parties with them out at Harlem World. We also did some at Mount Morris park on 124th st. to 120th st. from 5th to almost Lenox ave. Greg from the Disco 4 who now does the Rucker entertainers classic used to have big basketball games there. We did a few shows over there. I don’t remember ever getting paid. You would have to ask Johnny or Cookie about the money, because Cookie did most of the collecting. Once I got off the mic I was in a hurry to get into the crowd and see what girl I could find. So I didn’t wait around to much, plus I had my own money.

 

So what was it like coming into Harlem World at the top of your game?

 

The Harlem World experience was like no other. It was such a phenomenal place, you know it was three floors. A lot of people think its two but it’s three floors. On the third floor that was like the V.I.P floor. All the big Harlem drug sellers were there. The guy who owned it allegedly made his money in the drug game. Guys like Freddie Myers, Guy Fisher. Guys you know is getting it. Guy Fisher was Nicky Barnes partner or Lieutenant. They had big champagne glasses, many girls running around up there. Even orgies going on up there, in those private little rooms. Everybody wasn’t allowed up there. The second floor was the main floor. They were the first that I seen with the lit up dance floor, that be blinking on and off. The D.J. booth was up in the sky, he could see everything. You had to go up some stairs to get to the booth and the stage. They had a lot of booths where you could chill at. Harlem world was nice. Down stairs in the basement people used to actually roller skate down there at one time, but they used it for dancing. The music could be heard through out the building. They had a booth down there where you could play separate music also. There were times Harlem World would be packed, up stairs and down stairs. Me and my crew might get there about midnight, one o’clock in the morning. Come in there rowdy, most likely. Who ever in the booth got a clear view of the entrance door, they will say “oh Rayvon and them in the house”. Or if it’s Jeckyll, the D.J. be like “Jeckyll and Hyde in the House”. Even with Cold Crush, same thing. Who ever had a name back then.

 

You and Johnny knew each other like twin brothers when y’all were on the mic?

 

A dude told me that me and Johnny were so compatible that we should have gotten married. The way we flowed, we just knew what each one was going to say. We used to live in the same house, that was my boy. He was having problems at home so my mother took him in.

 

So what is your thought on Hip Hop today.

 

Hip Hop today is kind of selfish. The Rap game is the only game were you get old at twenty one.  Al Green can throw a concert and still get major love. Maybe I am wrong because I been in prison for awhile.

 

Seems like only Jay Z and DMX are old timers.

 

Right. And I love the way those dudes are putting it down. Over all I think it is in decent shape. I think it can and will get better. Hopefully I might have something to do with that.

 

So you and John is plotting again?

 

Yeah, we plotting! 

 

Thank You Rayvon!

 

No problem, thank you Troy.

 

Praise God and God bless you all. From Troy L. Smith of the Grant Projects in Harlem. I dedicate this story to my man Big Bub (aka Fat Bub)God please rest his soul, and my man Dante’ aka Spanky who both used to always tell me about Johnny Wa and Rayvon.

Like always props to my man Jayquan.

 

 

 ©2005 Troy L. Smith              

 

 

 

 

 

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