Harlem World T- Connection and other clubs
By Grand Master Caz and Troy L. Smith
Troy L. Do you remember the first time you played in Harlem World?
Caz The first time I played in Harlem World was as Casanova Fly! I was like damn I am down in Harlem. I was D.J.ing as well as rocking the mic. Then the next time I came back I was with the Cold Crush. We did not start headlining until after a few M.C. Conventions really after the battle in 81. We shared the card with many hip-hop groups and a few r&b groups but not that much. We did a few at skating rinks with New Edition but at Harlem World, it was mostly hip-hop acts.
Troy L. When was the first time you played T- Connection?
Caz Me and J.D.L. as the Notorious 2!
Troy L. I thought you might have played there as Casanova Fly or with the Mighty Force.
Caz No we mostly did Ecstasy Garage.
Troy L. So T- Connection wasn’t really banging just yet?
Caz T- Connection was mainly uptown Break Out Funky 4 territory .
Troy L. What would you say is the difference between Harlem World and T- Connection?
Caz I don’t know, Harlem World was more a show place. T- Connection was more a homey place like for the brothers in the hood. It didn’t have to be a big production it was just jammin’. Brothers just came to hear other brothers jam. When you went to Harlem World, you went to see a show. By the time, it got to Harlem World groups where more tighter, their presentations where better. Their shows where more like a show then just getting on and rocking.
Troy L. Which of the two did you like the best, to do your thing?
Caz I liked Harlem World. More people had access such as Brooklyn. You could not get Brooklyn to come to the Bronx.
Troy L. What was your Relationship with Ritchie Tee of the T- Connection?
Caz Just a D.J. to a club owner. In fact Ritch was also a D.J. and in the summer he used to play in the park known as Arthur park. The name of his D.J. crew was the “Super DJs”. His boys names where Rough House and Fire House as well as Ritchie Tee. Ritchie Tee had been in the business long before us. He might have been 7 to 10 years older then us. He opened as a disco club but respected our game cause he was in the music business of getting money.
Troy L. So how was your relationship with D.J. Randy of the Harlem World crew?
Caz Pretty much the same, Randy was the D.J. the head promoter that used to book us to play. Randy was more downtown more clubish more discoish; they didn’t have no real bad rappers. However, they had personality you know Charlie Rock, Son of Sam and Tastic.
Troy L. Which show do you think was your best show at Harlem World? Could it have been the battle between Fantastic 5?
Caz No I don’t think that was our best show that night, cause there was a lot of tension that night. There was a lot on the line and we kind of got caught up in the moment we weren’t as relaxed. I didn’t even complete the rhyme I did about Kevie Kev and Master Rob about “the closet full of clothes and a lot of jewelry”. The crowd picked up on the rhyme, but they really caught it once they heard the tape. I see you now have the whole version of the rhyme on your list of tapes at tape 120 at our 21 anniversary. But it could have been the Treacherous Three 2nd anniversary as far as best show.
Troy L. I am glad you brought that up I love that show. Was that staged when that heckler said after the rhinestone cowboy routine “I’ll give you a dime if you get off the stage” and you went into your routine of dissing the hell out of this heckler.
Caz We didn’t stage it but a lot of cats dug that rhyme, cause they just used to love the way I used to dig into a fools ass. So brothers used to just f--k with me on purpose to get me to say it. If nobody was out of hand, then there was no reason to do it. I only did it if somebody said something out of line then they would duck down in the crowd while I blazed them.
Troy L. The best show at T- Connection?
Caz Like I said earlier it was grittier. Moreover, just fun. I remember having good times at the T- Connection and not even performing. We did do a lot of free styling up in the Tee. If we were not doing a show sometimes we would be, right up in the booth with our D.J. know what I mean. When he is cutting we were rhyming. Many times the best stuff be right there in the both not on the stage.
Troy L. So how many people could fit in the booth?
Caz It was a long both, you could get people up in there but basically Ritchie tried to keep it cleared. All the equipment all the amps were up in there. Whenever there was a D.J. there was a M.C. right next to him. Even if there is a show we going to rhyme right up until the show. Then we get out of the booth do our show, finish and go right back to the booth.
Troy L. So in your opinion are those the two best clubs?
Caz No no no I wouldn’t say that. The T- Connection was a better place, it was more organized as a club but the Ecstasy garage was more a big space, and we did a lot of parties at the Ecstasy. Many skating rinks that open during that time as well had good parties. Harlem World was the Mecca though. You couldn’t just go down to Harlem World and B.S. we went down there and set the standard for what you do. That is when people came down with shows, even came dressed, having dances and routines.
Troy L. What about the Fever or Audubon?
Caz The Fever was the spot to hang out after your jam. It was like the place if you had any juice in hip-hop you would get in the Fever free. The Audubon was the places were they use to have the conventions. They started in the Sparkle. But it was moved to the Audubon on Oct. 6th once they had these D.J. conventions and every D.J. brings his own system. Cats looked forward to the Audubon cause it was 5 to 6 groups performing one after another. It was like a special thing because everybody was going to be there. So to be on the card was a big deal. Moreover, many cats just were not on that level to rock at the Audubon. However, it was not a regular thing that was going on every week.
Troy L. That didn’t last too long at the Audubon did it. Cause I only have a couple tapes from there so that was like 79, 80.
Caz True, you are right because sparkle was 79, 80 cause after following Oct. was Audubon parties.
Troy L. Can you remember your last party at T- Connection and Harlem World?
Caz No not really because everything mostly started going down town. You could not get one borough to fill a party any more. You need to be somewhere were all the borough’s connected.
Troy L So yall went into like 1984 still doing shows at Harlem World and it still stayed packed or it just died out.
Caz It died out there because more spots where opening up. Performers started going on the road. More records were coming out. Therefore, it was not that every week you know it is a party going on. Cause bigger cats were moving up and moving on.
Troy L. Do you feel that the Cold Crush started doing more shows at Harlem World then any other spot.
Caz Yes because we became the main draw.
Troy L. So yall was like just about every weekend doing something in there?
Troy L. So what was it like when the Cold Crush pulled up in their Limo?
Caz It was official when we showed up. See promoters started putting everybody on the flyer.
This one and this one and this one. Just to draw the crowd but many those acts would not show. So after, awhile in hip-hop cats was like there was unsureness if the acts were going to show. Because there were so many parties that people had given with every body’s name on it and you didn’t know who was going to be there or not. So a lot of times people waited until the act got there, before they walked in. So that would be the case at Harlem World when the Limo pulled up and they see the convoy behind us and we step out, the crowd would say, “yes it’s on”. All right, let us get in this mother----er.
Troy L. Who was your real competition back in the days. To me Fantastic didn’t really blow up blow up until yall battled them.
Caz See the Furious 5 had gone out of state doing tours with R&B groups we was still here in New York grinding for the number one spot in the city. Fantastic had been out long time ago they had juice from the L-Brother days from Grand Wizard Theodore being the no.1 d.j. after Flash. So a lot of their juice came from that once they added Dot and Whip their juice became even more out here. So once they became the Fantastic 5 they already had been out since 1977 cause all of them were original pioneers except maybe Ruby Dee.
Troy L. Cold Crush was the top group so yall got the top money right?
Caz Treacherous 3 was getting the most because they had hit records. But even cats with hit records we would head line. So we were not far behind them when it came to the dough. Because we really were the group to see. After we got off the stage, the crowd was leaving. The show was over as far as the crowd was concerned. See in the beginning we all basically got the same thing. As you draw more people, you became the premier act. Your price goes up, because you’re a headliner. As opposed to somebody they just throw up on the show to fill it up. It still really wasn’t a lot of money back then you can tell by the conventions back then. You have a m.c. Convention and the winner gets $300.
Troy L. So was it a struggle in the early days to get bookings in T- Connection and Harlem World?
Caz Not really I had my own clubs to play in. T- Connection and Harlem world was the main stream clubs for all the people to play hip-hop in but everybody had there own spot. Love Bug had the Rennie and the Fever, A.J. had the Renaissance, Theodore and them had spot called Rock City down on 169th. in the Bx.(nick named Duck City cause you had to Duck your head to get in there). Flash had the Black door (later the Dixie) I had my spot 462 club and a spot called the Blue Lagoon up in the Bx. With out those main clubs we still had our own clubs to rock.
Troy L. Once yall blew up yall could just go into any of the main stream clubs and rock soon as yall walked in the door and get paid.
Troy L. All crews and m.c.s knew that yall were no.1 so no one never really complained that y’all went on last once y’all were the kings.
Caz Everybody pretty much knew we was the one except Fantastic cause they figured they were the best so they should go on last. After the battle they had no say so over who went on when, cause we were the number one group. The loser won and the winner lost.
Troy L (I had to laugh) it is unbelievable how that worked out. J.D.L. told me the same thing. He also made it sound like yall were trampling over people as far as the battles with other groups and how yall performed whenever Fantastic was headlining with yall.
Troy L. Thank You Grand Master Caz and Thank You Jayquan.
L.A. SUNSHINE (Treacherous 3)
Troy L. When was the first time you played Harlem World?
L A. The first time I came to Harlem World I was a spectator and it was a disco or r&b group.
Troy L. What about T- Connection?
L.A. I don’t really remember the first show we did there, but we did about 5 or 6 shows total. Harlem world was really our haven. Don’t get me wrong T- connection was on and poppin, but Harlem World was our home so we didn’t have to venture up to the Bx. Back in the days a lot of cats were not shook or scared but the Bx. was off the hook and you know guys like the Casanova’s and other brothers were buck wild. However, once we made ourselves known we got a lot of love from the T- Connection. They were not receptive in the beginning. They watched us very close. Since they started this thing we call Hip Hop, they had no faith in us brothers from Manhattan. So they was like y’all better rock this. However, once we did “Body Rock” and “At the Party” they gave us our props.
Troy L. What is the difference between the two clubs?
L.A. Harlem World was more Disco, club, party atmosphere. T- Connection was more of a B-Boy party with breaks. Not for nothing, I like Harlem World more then T- Connection cause it was my house. The crew and me would be there every weekend once we became prominent. Even on some weekends when we were not performing the majority of time, we were hanging out Harlem World. Then I would go up to the Fever a lot solo.
Troy L. I have a few tapes were you were rocking with out the crew.
L.A. That’s what I be trying to tell these young cats I did my thing. I party enough for cats 60 years old.
Troy L. Which of the 2 was bigger?
L.A. Harlem World was bigger because it had three levels. With balcony main floor and a disco room set up like a club.
Troy L. So the music on the main floor was was shot down to the basement?
L.A. No a different sound was going on down there so two different parties were going on at the same time. People would come in the entrance of Harlem World, pay what ever you had to pay that night and you could stay on the main floor or go to the basement where reggae is being played.
Troy L. That is what I was about to ask you when a Hip Hop show is going on, on the main floor was another show or music being played in the basement.
L.A. No they would turn the music off in the basement. Everyone would come up stairs to watch the show.
Troy L Was there any other club as popular as Harlem World and the T- Connection?
L.A. Yes the Fever. Randy’s place, which was a bingo club when we were not partying in it. Which had nothing to do with D.J. Randy, was a popular place. The P.A.L.s in the Bx. and Harlem had a following and we would rock them until somebody had a fight and we all would be barred for about 6 months before they let us back in. These places had their time or moment and it was hot to do a party at these spots.
Troy L. Did you know who owned Harlem World?
L.A. Not the owner I forgot his name, cause he was never visible, but the crew that ran it was called “The Harlem World Crew” and the players were Randy who was a promoter and the house D.J. as well as the D.J. and leader of the crew then there is m.c.s Son of Sam, Charlie Rock and D.J. Tystick.
Troy L. So, what was your relationship with Randy?
L.A. We were kool with the whole crew. Randy was laid back quiet kool. Especially with me personally cause I did a lot of dolo stuff with them.
Troy L. What you saying in an emergency he used to use you when he needed a performer right away and he hit you back in kind?
L.A. Exactly, I even remember hosting a couple of joints just on a whim. It wasn’t planned nothing like that. That’s why it was like my home.
Troy L. What was your relationship with Ritchie Tee?
L.A. Business! And he was kool I just never really got to know him. I mostly performed there and got out of there to do shows other places.
Troy L. What was your best show you did at Harlem World?
L.A. So many. I don’t know if I can point out one, cause I told you that was like my home. Maybe the first anniversary.
Troy L. So the first anniversary is better then the second one.
L.A. I don’t really remember which was better. But I know with the first one, I had that anticipation, that anxiety. They just showed us mad love. It was jammed and I felt we had finally arrived. People were feeling us.
Troy L. Bust it on the second anniversary how did the crowd respond to you. Especially when y’all did the call out to the Furious Five in your routine, asking them for a battle?
L.A. The fans blow up. In addition, people were egging that on for a while to battle Furious. There were a few girls there in the beginning of party who where saying, “nah no way Y’all can beat Furious”.”Y’all is wack”. But by the end of the routine, we ask them for a battle, when we got to “will turn yall out” and the crowd lost thier minds, these chicks was like “oh ----“ they is bad.
Troy L. Once y’all blew up were you treated like pure superstars?
L.A. Once we got to superstar status, it was limos and back doors. But Harlem World never had a back door. So there where other times we be in D.J. Lee’s caddy, park it and go through. Sometimes we had to have someone who wasn’t in the crew to go out first to open up the crowd for us. Cause it be so crowded and they run inside to let them know we here so 2 or 3 body guards could come; not cause any beef but just to clear a path. Moreover, I never really considered myself a superstar. There was times I would come out my house on 129th st. and Convent, jump in a cab and take a 5 minute ride over to Harlem World which was only on 116th st. and Lenox ave. There would be a big crowd, of course I don’t have to wait on line but I be like yo “what’s up”, and mingle with people cause I knew the majority of the party goer’s by names.
Troy L. In the beginning, was it a struggle to get bookings at Harlem World?
L.A. No. We were doing shows before we made records. So we were already making noise at Randy’s place and other spot’s before Harlem World was even started. Once we made records we still did not go in Harlem World cause it was a disco spot at that time. But once a lot of hip hop records came out that’s when bookings started cause that was only way a group got play, was if they had a record. Therefore, it might be “Funky Four” and us along with “Secret Weapon” and some other soul or disco group.
Troy L. What? A disco or soul group playing before or after y’all?
L.A. Yes. You could not get a booking if you had a street name, you had to have a record, but after a while, hip-hop took over.
Troy L Do you remember how much you started out with money wise and how much y’all finished with.
L.A. Well long before Harlem World we first started out we were getting pizza money. By the time we got to Harlem World, I believe our going rate was $1200 a show.
Troy L. So you would split the money 4 ways? What about the roadies?
L.A. We didn’t really have no roadies or some times maybe the boys from the hill we were playing basketball with that morning would help out ; but mostly we did it our selves.
Troy L. Do you remember how much you were getting by the record “Heartbeat”?
L.A. Man it went from I think like from $800 to $1200 to $1500 to $3000. The hotter we got the more we made.
Troy L. Y’all did shows at Harlem World every night, Thurs, Fri., and Sat.
L.A. Nah once a week but we would still be upstate, Long Island and other places on those 3 days.
Troy L. I see y’all did many shows with Cold Crush and Dougie Fresh ; But not the Furious 5!
L. A. The Crush and Doug were like our adopted family. It was very easy to book us together and the Cold Crush got more love from Harlem than any other crew from the Bronx. As far as the Furious 5, we were not even on speaking terms with them. Fantastic had a little air about them selves, they thought they were baby Furious or what ever but they never had no real record juice but we were basically cool with them. But every other group we did shows a long side them with no problems.
Troy L. Thank You L.A. I appreciate every drop.
DOTA ROCK (FANTASTIC 5)
Harlem World & T- Connection from Troy L. Smith and L.A. Sunshine
When was the first time you ever went in to Harlem World?
Well for one ; the first time I got on the mic people already knew my rhymes. I was like "oh my
God!" Then when I spit something new, they would listen. I loved Harlem World for that.
The first time I ever did my rhyme “The first time I went to Rome” was right there at
Harlem World. They were feeling every verse. See, when m.c.s rhymed people kept
dancing, but when I rhymed they stopped and listened just to hear what I had to say.
I would have to say Harlem World made me understand what rap was about.
I would say it was not exploited yet. They loved Dota Rock up in here.
So what about the T- Connection?
It was more like growth. People had to understand me! It was hard up there because it was
the Bronx. T- Connection was already established. It was hard core rap they wasn’t really
listening. It was more musical. Therefore, I had to work hard. Im not going to front I loved
Harlem World but T- Connection was my home.
So you liked T- Connection more then Harlem World?
I cannot say I liked any one better then another. I liked Harlem World because they listen.
Which meant a lot to me so now I can take time with a rhyme. Just go with the flow. At the
T- Connection they wanted to hear and see more action.
So what would you say is the difference between the two boroughs?
One was more Hip Hop, the Bronx was more advanced. Harlem was more laid back. They
knew the skills and knew the game, so they are looking at you. Even Brooklyn was a
hell of a place to rock cause they would say stuff like “the hell with all those routines
we want to hear Dota Rock.”
Which one was the bigger of the two?
There is no comparing between the two of them. They were both history makers. There
is no way I can say one was better then the other.
They were the two most popular, what club came next?
Celebrity club, Zodiac club, Ecstasy garage, there were many.
What about the Fever?
The Fever was never really our spot, we just go in there to hang out. That was a Love Bug
Starskis thing. He had that locked down. They didn’t really want Hip Hop in there, they
only wanted Flash in there. I was not really a Disco Fever head, we just go up in there, go in the back, do our thing, and keep it moving but not a place I would perform at. They
did all that for “Krush Groove” and it shocked me because they never let us up in there.
It was like an R&B Disco spot, Love Bug be like “COME ON " That D.J. Hollywood disco style.
What was your relationship with Ritchie Tee of the T- Connection?
That was my man. (R.I.P.) He was like a father to me. He was like everybody father.
Let me tell you about Ritchie Tee, if he did not like you, he would tell you. He was straight
up thug. “Yo you ain’t coming in here” “I don’t give a ----” “Who you are" ! “Who”?
“You better take your funky --- down stairs” He was a real dude! God Bless him. It was a
homicide. Me, Caz, Kool Herc all the brothers came out we represented at his funeral.
Not only did he rock the T- Connection but he also had a record shop up here in the
Bronx on Tremont avenue. He used to make the tapes from the night before at the club and
sell them out of the store. Ritch also used to bring his equipment outside into the park and
let the brothers get on and rock.
I am going to switch off the subject for a minute , where did the name Cold Crush
come from? Cause I remember one day you said you made that name up.
I did. Me, Tony Tone and A.D. sat down and was thinking of a name. It just came to me.
So we became the Cold Crush Brothers right up there on 180th St . And we had the Ching A
Ling gang backing us. The Ching a Ling gang was notorious up there. They told Charlie
Chase we better play that record “Ring my Bell” 5 times or they was going to take our
Back to the story. What was your relationship with D.J. Randy of Harlem World?
Randy? That was my man. (Hearty laughs) Man I used to come up there and rock the house
I used to come in there even if I was not playing, just to chill with my man and the people.
They would say my name on the mic “Dota Rock in here” and they would go crazy in there.
If you ever see Randy tell him “I love em”, he always kept it real with me.
What was the Best show you did in Harlem World?
There was so many but I guess it was the battle with Cold Crush , and I guess cause I
Won a thousand dollars.
The best show at T- Connection?
Us versus the Furious 5
What? I never heard of that battle.
Well it is probably cause not even a flyer was done. Theodore vs. Flash, Fantastic vs.
Furious 5. Ritchie Tee put the flyer out 3 days before the show it was jammed pack.
The year they did that record Freedom is when we battled. To be honest it was really
just a party but he advertised it as if it was a battle. We told him we don’t have any beef.
He said he just wanted to pack his joint.Sugar Hill records had them locked and all they
could really do is thier record so when it was our turn we killed it with routines and
the works. We smoked them. But we really respected them. I had just seen Mr. Ness
AKA Scorpio down at Webster hall when they was rockin about a month ago for the Zulu
Anniversary. It was very good to see him cause that was my man. Bumped into Mel and
Kreole too. Let me tell you we always respected them because they were the fore fathers
of this thing. L- Brothers and all those other cats came up in the beginning but we all
knew the Furious where the first cats to put the Mac down. I don’t care what anybody
say Melle Mel is my mentor. Kreole my mentor. Rahiem I would not say mentor but I
have a lot of respect for. Kreole used to say to me “you that nigger”. I used to say “Kreole
I learned a lot from you” he says, “yea I hear my shit” (laughter from both of us). I love
Cowboy because he is the party man.
So how would you rate or put first between Moe, Caz and Mel?
Now Caz is your man but you pick Mel cause you keeping it real?
Caz is my man, but Caz learned from Mel. Caz will tell you Mel first.
Kool Moe Dee third?
No no no. Moe came long after. We are talking about Shiolins, Masters.
Alright, who is a Master?
Kreole is a Master; he had the echo in check. Cowboy is a Master. Mel is a master.
They were the first with a lot of things. Right now Caz is the best but back in those days he was not.
So you really don’t have any love for Moe?
No I have respect for his skills but I don’t really know Moe. Caz and me grew up
Together. Caz is like my big brother, he taught me how to rhyme.
Do you remember the last show you did at Harlem World?
Not sure if we were the Fantastic Freaks yet but I believe the last show was around
Christmas time cause we did those Christmas rhymes. After that the crew broke up cause
Kev left and then Whip went into the army.
Did you and Whip, one of your closest friends ever have problems betting bookings
At T- Connection through your careers?
No we were already established. Ritchie Tee already knew who were the top performers at that time. Ritchie Tee kept Hip-Hop alive during that time. Cold Crush got on cause they was our peoples, so we put them under us and carried them and people started liking them cause they was running with us. Caz was always an ambitious straight brother. Caz went and blew up now he is number one.
How was the money situation at the T?
Sometimes Ritchie Tee used to come short, he let many people in free. He tells us we said let this person in free, let this person in free also and we did let our peoples get in free. However, money was taken care of. However, there were times when your money was not guaranteed. Picture this you doing a show with Flash and the Furious 5 and its packed they cannot even let no more people in. When you got in there, it was a sweat box you could not even move so you were guaranteed seven hundred dollars. When ever the flyer said Grand Wizard, Grand Master. Here comes “Tiny” head of the Casanova’s, security for Flash and the Furious 5 and rolls out with all the money.
Nobody wanted to try Tiny?
What? Try Tiny? You better be ------- police going up against him. Therefore, we stop doing party’s with Flash and them for awhile.
But hold up. Why would Ritchie Tee allow that?
You never heard them say “Casanova all over” ain’t nobody telling Tiny ----. That’s Black Spades the head of the Crips. Some thing like that. You had better watch your mouth or get ---- up! Any party you did they come shut you down, shot it up. They was crazy. He was head of the hottest crew out.
Was there ever any beefs with any crews about who went on first or who went on last?
They hottest crew got on last.
How hot was Funky 4?
Ultra hot, Rahiem before he got down with Furious he made the Funky 4 what they were back in them days. Break Out, that’s my man we play pool to this day he straight gully.
Could you say one club is more wild or crazier than another?
No they all had some madness one time our another. I be up in the Audubon and somebody bust off and people be running like deer you know ----up as they running. Tearing up the place and you know that place was very big. When they bust thier gun off people was in motion jumping out of windows. Anywhere Audubon, Galaxy 5000, Ecstasy garage etc.
Let me have to go to the bathroom or something, the Nine Crew was holding the Fantastic down. They would clear the bathroom out for me.
So would the 9 crew follow yall down to Harlem World?
No Harlem World was cool that was not necessary. The Bronx was hard and wild. Let me go to the bathroom at Harlem World the brothers are like “yo Dot rock the house”. But up in the Bronx you would need protection they would try to rob you.
Thank you Dota Rock
Don’t worry about it.
POW WOW (Soul Sonic Force)
Troy L. When did you first rock the mic?
Pow Wow It was about 77 or 78. The first place I ever picked up the device called at mic was in the gym at J.H.S.123 Morrisane by the Bruckner expressway.
Troy L. So, what made you pick up the mic?
Pow Wow Listening to Dota- Rock and Whipper Whip. I use to always listen to them cause I was a dancer. One day we were up in 63-school yard. I am listening to Whip and Dot and I am digging them so much they made me want to start rockin the mic. Dot and Whip my boys.
Troy L. Where did the name Pow Wow come from?
Pow Wow My Man Troy! (P.W. starts laughing) My Mother named me that when I was 5 or 6 years old. There was a cartoon back in the days called “Pow Wow the Indian boy”! He was a bad boy. I was always getting into trouble growing up. Even the schoolteachers called me Pow Wow!
Troy L. What originally was being done in Bronx River Center in the daytime?
Pow Wow They had every thing going on in there Karate class, boxing, after school center, senior citizen care, basketball tournament, talent shows. It was a 2-story building so we had the dojo going on on the second floor. The center was right in the middle of the projects. We use to give parties and give money back to the center for books and things trips to Action Park with the kids. We use to give back a lot. They don’t do party’s there any longer but it is still open. To be honest we stopped rockin in there cause it was getting to wild in there. Mr. Skinner who ran it was not feeling us from Jump Street. We had a good ten-year run.
Troy L. Who were all the crews under Zulu?
Pow Wow Jazzy 5, Cosmic Force, Soul Sonic Force and Devastating 2 (God Bless Malibu who passed away about 5 years ago) D.st. also rocked with us. However, Soul Sonic was the main crew. Bam knew when it was time to get busy me, Globe and Jazzy got busy! Bam had the records, Biggs was rappin but he had his eyes on the door.
Troy L. Nevertheless, Cosmic had Lisa Lee and Ikey?
Pow Wow I am going to tell you about that. Lisa Lee was originally down with Soul Sonic. What happen was the first time we went down to Paul Winley records to do our first record we did not go, Bam took Cosmic instead. However, Lisa Lee did not know she thought Soul Sonic was going. Therefore, she wound up doing the record with them.
Troy L So if she was originally down with yall. Then your crew would have been a house.
Pow Wow Well originally Hutch Hutch was down with us he was right up the hill from me on 170th st. and Washington. A little bit away from Theodore, who was 168th st. and Boston Rd. Break Out, Keith Caesar (That’s Keith Keith) and Jazzy Jeff were all close to were I lived at just to give you an idea how much talent we had in this area of the Bronx. Globe was not down yet. My younger sister introduced me to Globe and I use to teach him how to dance. Globe came to my house one morning telling me he wanted to be an m.c. So he says I am going to write some stuff and I am going to come at you. I say o.k. cool. That was the summer of 77. Towards the fall or winter, he knocks on my door and starts saying his rhyme. “People people hear my voice” and it was so cold in my house cause we didn’t have no steam I was standing around the stove getting warm so I started beating on my stove while Globe started rappin. I said hold up man this boy sounds good. This something about him. So I said lets sit down and start something together. Harmonizing was what was going on at that time and me and Hutch wasn’t clicking like I wanted us to. Troy, Globe filled the void.
Troy L. Was there any other type of music being played at Bronx River like Disco or something?
Pow Wow Just stone cold hip-hop. Disco was not cutting it there. Not for nothing but same thing at Flash party’s. Yes, you go there to see girls but you mostly went there to B-boy. Because Flash was playing that B-boy cold hip-hop sound.
Troy L. What was the first time you played in Harlem (Manhattan)?
Pow Wow We played with Donald Dee one time on 133rd st. What’s the building or project that is like a block away from the Hudson River? Where the 1 train goes by.
Troy L. Manhattan Ville projects
Pow Wow Yes we played there one night with Donald Dee. We were working the door that night. These cats came to the door talking about they want to bring their guns in. So, we took their guns from them. These cats came back kind of deep. This night is when I gave Bambaataa his props. I knew he was a bad mother------. Nevertheless, he is a powerful man. But he ain’t never show me know power like this. I said, “Bam it’s deep, look out the window he looked out the little window in the gym. They had about five cars outside waiting. I am saying to my self “some body is not going to make it”. I got my clips but ain’t nobody else bring no iron. Bam said, “I ain’t worried about that” “give me a phone”. 15 minutes later, that street was flooded. Bam said, “ain’t know body going to mess with me.” Them cats that were trying to bring it to us bowed down to us. In addition, they did not get their joints back.
Troy L What was the crime like inside Bronx River center?
Pow Wow (Pow Wow starts laughing) high-level, high-level. Brothers caught it. Especially when n------ came over with that bulls---. A perfect example it was about 15 dudes from Brooklyn came up.
Troy L. Came all the way to the Bronx?
Pow Wow yea they knew somebody who knew somebody that’s how that went down but it was too late. These cats all night just getting up doing wild s---.
Troy L. They were asking for it.
Pow Wow There you go.
Troy L. I’m surprise you didn’t get them soon as they started.
Pow Wow Nah Nah you know what? I cannot speak for any other Zulu that I do not know about. All I can speak about are the brothers I rolled with. We were not troublemakers. Word straight up Troy the brothers I was running with that were really holding s--- down. You had to have some type of knuckle game. And if you didn’t have one they would teach you and give you one. Then Troy when the s--- hit the fan, (we had our time to rally out like a bunch of pirates know doubt). But majority of the time and this is straight up. Say you came with 6 cats and things got thick right, we could swarm on you and f--- you up. But we didn’t do that unless you was that type of mother f------ caliber
Troy L That deserved it! So you would give them a fair one.
Pow Wow There you go. They tell you to pick one. Who ever he pick you fought him. If you won you walked out. Straight up they did not jump you. If you won, they let you walk out. Now if you want to be one of those fools that went ballistic and try to get crazy that is when we turn the force on. You know what I am saying and just nip and bud that. Let me tell you something out of all the hip-hop party’s our’s were the most peaceful.
Troy L hold up you just said crime was high post in there.
Pow Wow yea but this is what I mean. In Bronx River projects period. Bronx river projects was the wildest projects in the Bronx. Statistically speaking.
Troy L You weren’t from Bronx River projects originally?
Pow Wow My family always lived there. One of my older brothers on my father’s side lived there as well as an aunt. Because of some trauma my aunt was going through, I was sent there for thereputical reasons. So my mother (god bless her soul) use to take me there a lot when I was little so as I got older I just stayed there. Going back and forth. Like my second home. Back to Zulu we also had inner beefs. Over who was going to do what. But outsiders where the ones who got it.
Troy L Well what outsiders? Who in the world would come inside of there?
Pow Wow Well we had a few outsiders but we mostly stayed to our selves. We eliminated that. Either you going to come in here and have fun or do something stupid and get hurt.
Troy L So do you remember how that saying started “come in peace or leave in pieces”?
Pow Wow naw that was always a cliché in the streets to me.
Troy L I hear you but they said that there was a sign in front of the projects that said that just before you came in. do you remember that?
Pow Wow Yes I remember that. Back then we called Bronx River baby Vietnam. The home of Gods. Mayor Koch came to Bronx River to have meetings with us cause we use to put it on the cops.
Troy L Were there any Zulu Queens.
Pow Wow What, yes. Mrs. Kie Ann, Lisa Lee, Deb-O. Deb-O was the leader as far as I was concern. That chick was big and bad. This was a mean rough momma. You watch Steve Harvey show, that girl Coretta, that character is how Deb-O got down. She was not having it. I used to see her lay chicks out and fellas, I never seen her lose.
Troy L So how she making out today?
Pow Wow I seen her brother Troy on Bronx River day and he said she is doing O.K.
Troy L. So what about Nae Nae?
Pow Wow Nae Nae was a fine looking girl that was m.c.ing with Islam.
Troy L Wasn’t Funk machine with Islam, Kid Vicious and Donald Dee down with yall?
Pow Wow Yea they were all Zulu but they were not under Bam’s guidance. There was division’s. Islam really had the Mayberry crew down with him. My man O-Z and Caesar and the rest of the crew. They were all Back Spades. They were from a little section in the Bronx we called Mayberry over there I think by Common Wealth ave. or Beach ave. We called it Mayberry because it was in a quiet section of the Bronx like Mayberry on the Andy Griffin Show.
Troy L. So, have you ever been to or rocked Harlem World?
Pow Wow Once, as far as rockin it, I killed it, ripped it apart. Globe was not there but Ikey Cee, mostly Cosmic Force and me. The first time I got there, I was just hanging out with my fellas from Harlem. It was me, Son Dance, Roscoe, Dynamite, Ever Ready, Photo, Manic (who use to walk around with Dynamite) these were my Zulu brothers. At this time, I had an apartment up in Delanor Village. Now my other brothers I was runnin with that were not Zulu but lived in Harlem, were I-van, Gamie-O, Buster, and Skinny.
Troy L. Dam kid you was runnin with some thorough brothers back then.
Pow Wow For sure they were like my brothers. We be up in the game room, the Royal Flush all that.
When I look back on my life I say dam Wow, God has blessed you to meet many people on the good side and bad side.
Troy L. What about the T- Connection?
Pow Wow We owned it! Meaning we were always there. However, I liked Bronx River better.
Troy L. Seem as if they had a different flavor of girls at Bronx River then T- Connection. Like the girls at the River were harder.
Pow Wow Bronx River girls were not as fast as T- Connection girls. Bronx River girls were more home settled. They had money.
Troy L. You going to tell me them Bronx River Girls were more settle then T- Connection Girls?
Pow Wow Yes because they were not exposed to as much as the chicks further up at the Tee.
Troy L. Was there any difference between the hip-hop in Bronx River and the hip-hop in T- connection?
Pow Wow Yes it was rawer in Bx.River, then in T- Connection cause at the River, is the essence of hip-hop. They were playing stuff like “Square Biz” that was not played in The River. Once the real hip-hop evolved that is when T- Connection came into play. Like Garrison’s basement, which was Flash’s spot on Garrison ave, 1111 fox street. D.J. Smokey’s spot which was called “Over the Dover” on 174th st and Boston Rd. and that was a movie theater T- Connection was not on the map yet. Matter fact Smokey who had D.J. Roscoe running with him was pulling the crowd from Herc and Flash. The B-boys use to come to Flash and Herc’s parties, but then they started checking Smokey. Even the Nigger twins who was bad and real good at what they do but mostly drove around with Herc and rock at his parties came around and one day to the “Third avenue Ballroom” where the L-Brothers were rockin, man “Burnt face Melvin and Black Amy tore there --- up”. Those were the first days, then came T- Connection.
Troy L. So how did you feel about Harlem World?
Pow Wow I loved Harlem World? However, to be honest the girls were more materialistic in Harlem then in the Bronx. As far as the crews from Harlem that played the music, I loved them all. I respected them cause they had their way of doing it. It was the Harlem Way. Its not as if they went up to the Bronx copied us came back down and started doing it the Bronx way. They did it the Harlem way. Say like in Florida, they got there on thing. The pattern was basically the same “four or 5 m.c.s” “get a girl”. But when it came down to rocking there style they were unique it was beautiful. They didn’t come out sounding like Melle Mel, they didn’t come out sounding like Soul Sonic, they didn’t come out sounding like L- Brothers they came out sounding like Moe Dee or Master Don or Fearless Four that’s what I liked about them. Sorry I wasn’t feeling Jeckle and Hyde or Johnnie WA and Rayvon because that was like the Disco part of Harlem. Eddie Cheba, D.J. Hollywood. It wasn’t raw enough for me. The best crew I liked was Master Don and the Def Committee. Peeblee Poo was like my sister. Also Fearless Four.
Troy L. In a battle between Furious 5 and Treacherous 3 who would have one? Because you know there was a time when they were, suppose to battle?
Pow Wow Mel would have ate there ---, Furious would have ate them. Mel would have got up in them regardless. But Creole and that brother Keith Cowboy (God rest his soul) forget about. Mel was the Rhymer, but Cowboy would get you jumping. They had a hell of chemistry together. I have been to plenty of there party’s.
Troy L Now I have two tapes with Flash rockin the beat box and the Furious killin it. The original recording has them at Bronx River doing there thing live. Then I have the tape where Bam is at the T-Connection rocking the recording they did at Bx. River which is called a plate which everybody loves including me. But what in the world is a plate?
Pow Wow I take a tape of a show and make a record out of it, or anything I record on a tape and put it on what is called a plate, and make a record out of it. A plate is vinyl.
Troy L. So say Apache, why is that not considered a plate?
Pow Wow Because it was recorded like a regular record. Bam and me one night made a plate strictly beats made for b-boys. As far as them doing that show of routines for Bronx River center and the plate, the first time I seen them do that was before Bx. River. It was at the Dixie club. It was the bomb those boys was nice. The was nice at what they do they had a chemistry.
Troy L So in your opinion what club was rockin the most other then Bronx River?
Pow Wow Bronx River was not the most rockin club. Over in that section, it was rockin but over here by third and Webster ave. the Black door slash Dixie club. Another place called Rock City by 170, 169th st.-prospect ave. Ecstasy garage was slammin too. In the mid 70’s we use to rock the Hevalo that turned into the Sparkle later, which Herc was rockin. The Third world.
Troy L. So you and your boys use to run up in Disco Fever Too?
Pow Wow Let me tell you about Disco Fever that was a place for cats tryin to floss and front. It was boring to me. We as a group never even played in there. Now the brother that use to do the security in there was my man. His name was Mandingo.
Troy L. Sorry to inform you, but Mandingo passed away about a month ago.(God Bless him)
Pow Wow (Quietness) nah get out. You just messed me up.
Troy L Sorry homeboy, I see you and him were very cool.
Pow Wow Yes. I knew Mandingo long before the Fever we use to run together in the streets. So when I go to the Fever and see him it be all love and sometimes I might see Bam Bam in there too on security.
Troy L. Where did the name Soul Sonic Force and Cosmic Force come?
Pow Wow I do not know where Cosmic came from. Me, Biggs and Bam made the name Soul Sonic Force. Some green book Bam had that was like black awareness and it was titled Soul Sonic. We did not want to say Soul Sonic crew or Soul Sonic 3 so we put the force on the end. The rest is history. We had no promoter we promoted our selves. As L.A. Sunshine said he was paid in pizza and it did not matter to him long as he got to rock that mic he was happy. I felt the same way cause in the early days before our records it was not about money cause I was getting my own money. I just wanted to get on the mic for rec. and girls. It was the latest thing going on at parties. Break dancing played out. I was not to good of a d.j.
Troy L. Did Sugar Hill Records ever come at the crew to be on their label?
Pow Wow Yes! We went out there a couple of times. We laid down a track called the “Rhythm of Life”. It was banging. It would have pumped to this day. I asked Sylvia Robinson what did she do with that track. She said “Pow Wow I am not going to lie to you its some where buried.” “We weren’t trying to mess with you Zulu’s”. We met Sylvia through Sheryll the Pearl. Sylvia loves her like a daughter.
Troy L. So yall was ready to go with Sugar Hill Label? Soul Sonic Force and Bam?
Pow Wow Yes! But it fell through.
Troy L. When Planet Rock came out what clubs where you now hitting.
Pow Wow The Bronx slowly played out. Roxy’s, CBGB’s, Urban Plaza, Peppermint Lounge, Roseland. We did an anniversary at Roseland it was so big it made the front page of the Sunday Daily News. To be honest I felt Roxy was the best place rockin at that time. The owner and me be came real cool.
Troy L. Once you did Roxy and other spots in N.Y. yall started traveling around the country with Planet Rock, what was the best state for you and the crew that showed you love.
Pow Wow Chicago! It was club three blocks away from Wrigley field. The dressing room was down in the basement. All I heard the crowd saying was “more” “more” “more”. The mayor had to come down stairs and give us $1500 dollars more for 10 minutes. All we had at the time was “Planet Rock”. We were writing perfect beat at that time on the road. A lot of places we got good responses. There was a club in South Carolina called the Razzle Dazzle that we ripped apart and the feedback we received was unbelievable. There was another club we liked because it rock so hard it was called the “Rob Benders” in Yonkers. The stairs there was like the stairs at T- Connection. When you got up stairs and sat down the floor actually rocked. After awhile you would think the floor is going to cave in. We rocked countries. We rocked Madrid. Paris, London, Germany, Japan was fly Hawaii was on. We played a place in Florida called “Pin Rod’s” and “Big Daddy’s” that was slamming. Norbe Walters was our booking agent when we was runnin with Tommy boy records. With his gangster self. He was kool and the gang with me, and he was a powerful brother.
Troy L. When you played the west coast did you run into Ice Tee?
Pow Wow We played at San Diego Padres Baseball field. I’m going to bug you out. When Cheryl Lynne did that record Encore. we where on that card performing as well. Remember it was live? It was live right there that day we were there. Roger Troutmen, Gap Band, a group called Goody and Cameo where also there along with us. In L.A. we rocked a club from the movie called “Breakin”. The club was called “The Radio”. Who was spinning was a brother called D.j. Glove who was real nice and he was Ice T’s D.J. That was how I met Ice T. One time we linked up at the Joe Louis arena in Detroit with Mel and the Furious Five and rocked it. We took the Bronx to Detroit
Troy L. Thank you Pow Wow.
Thanks again Pow Wow. I have to say Pow Wow is one of the coolest brothers in Hip-hop since I started doing these story’s, much love and respect to my brother Pow Wow.
Thank you also JayQuan my brother. Troy L. Smith from Harlem, the Grant projects. Read proverbs a chapter a day.
CHARLIE ROCK (Harlem World Crew)