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?

 

Caz                          Yes

 

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.

 

Caz                          Yes

 

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

                                equipment.

 

                                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?

 

                                Mel first!

 

                                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.

 

                                Who second?

 

                                Caz!

 

                                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)

 

For those who do not know Charlie Rock, he was an M.C. for the Harlem World Crew. He also helped promote for Harlem World, as well as bartend, custodial, construction and did security. I have been looking for Charlie rock for about two years to get his story. And boy did he give me a story.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Troy L.             When was the very first time you walked into Harlem World?

 

Charlie Rock    The fall of 1978 I had just graduated from Martin Luther King high school. I believe Harlem World just opened up a couple months earlier. I was staying down on 114th st. and 7th ave. one of my friends had told me that a club had opened right up the street and it was real good club. I said “word”. So we got dressed that night and went.

 

Troy L.             At that time were they just spinning Disco?

 

Charlie Rock  :  Yes, just Disco, and all the pimps and players were hanging out there. The guy that owned Harlem World was  big time on the streets of the Mid South. 

 

Troy L.             Was this a white guy?

 

Charlie Rock    No! This was a large black guy. We called him “Fat man”. He passed away a while ago.

 

 

Troy L.             Was he cool people?

 

Charlie Rock    He was a strange individual. One minute he was straight up gangster, and the next minute, he showed a beautiful heart. Who ever worked at the place, he kind of took them under his wing.  If he thought you were in trouble, he’d be like “You can come and work at the club if you’re in trouble, but you have to work the club.”  That was our main focus, to work the club, because the club didn’t have money. The club was in the red for years. He was the first to open it up. A couple other guys from around Harlem also got down and invested some money with him.  Some were politicians and some were street cats. The thing about “Fat Man” was that he was a “Master of people.”  He could talk a dude into bathing himself in gasoline and stepping into a fire, and tell them that they were freezing cold, and they’d believe him.  He really couldn’t read or write, but he knew how to handle people. He was really a genius in his own way.

 

Troy L.             So why was the club always in the red?

 

Charlie Rock    Well the club was a very big place, and there was not really enough start up capital to do what was really needed to allow the club to properly make money.  We did everything that was done in that club, construction, painting, promoting, DJing, etc…, the crew did it all. When the club first opened up it was in its infancy. It wasn’t complete. The lower level wasn’t open yet, nor the third floor. Just the main floor was open.

 

Troy L.             The Balcony was the third floor right?

 

Charlie Rock    No. The third floor was all by it self.  It was like a V.I.P. section. There on that floor was the very first time I’d seen those big video television screens.

 

Troy L.             So by this time he was no longer in the red?

 

Charlie Rock    He stayed in the red up until just before it closed. Around 1985, he made an announcement that we were out of the red, and were finally going to make some money, because he didn’t owe any one any longer. But at the same time, a lot of entities did not want us there. The Muslims who were across the street from us were trying to get us out of there just about everyday. We also were in an area where there was like nine or ten church’s. There were also a couple public schools close by as well. So we were zoned improperly. If you can remember, the official full name on the outside marquee was not Harlem World Disco, but the proper name was Harlem World Cultural and Entertainment Complex.  It had to be like that because that was our loophole to stay in the community. We could not list ourselves as a nightclub because of the way we were zoned.  By the way, Troy, nobody called it by its full proper name, it was just to damn long.  So eventually the spot became know all over as “The World.”

 

Troy L.             So were they doing anything pertaining to cultural awareness?

 

Charlie Rock    They tried to play it off but not really. But when you got politicians in your pocket they will tell you how to get around it. We never really had a liquor license but we were able to sell liquor. We had a politician that was able to get us temporary liquor license every weekend. So we never had an actual liquor license.

 

Troy L.             So was the construction done on the third floor?

 

Charlie Rock    Yes over the years 78 and 79 it got completed by us.  Randy, Kool D, Son of Sam, me, and all the other guys that worked there as a staff, like Reynard, Bernard, Johnnie, Heavy, and ‘Trick-a-punch Rob” (affectionately named by Sam & me, because he was the main bartender, and he always tried to pulled the ladies by giving away the fruit punch that he was supposed to be selling.), and others help out in the daytime. Fat Man had money for materials but not to hire laborers. So we did it all.

 

Troy L.             So y'all were being paid for this type of work right?

 

Charlie Rock    Hell No!

 

Troy L.             So what made you stick around brother? Because the parties were blazing?

 

Charlie Rock    They were indeed blazing.  But it was more than that, I was 19 or 20 years old, I wasn’t a street child, and my parents were very strict. They emphasized school all the time. So when I got into the club thing, I didn’t know anything about clubbing.  I didn’t know anything about hanging out at parties, so I guess I just got caught up in all the mystique of it all.

 

Troy L.             Excuse me, excuse me. That is kind of hard to believe, because you were a funny brother, the way you were snapping on people in the crowd.

 

Charlie Rock    I learned all that from being around the guys I was working there with. If you wanted to say that I was a nerd, I was a nerd. Because I was all about school, and my parents just didn’t let me hang out. That might have been one of the reason’s I left home when I was 16 years old, I just couldn’t take it any more. See I had eight brothers and sisters and when I went to hang out in the park or anywhere, I had to take at least two or three of the younger ones with me.

 

Troy L.             Where were you born and raised?

 

Charlie Rock    I was born in Durham North Carolina but raised here in Harlem on 116thst. Between 7th and 8th ave.

 

Troy L.             So you grow up seeing brothers hustling hard over there?

 

Charlie Rock    Yes. Then we moved to 117th st. between 7th Ave. and Lenox. I went to elementary school P.S. 76 over on 122nd st.

 

Troy L.             Right over there by Hale House.

 

Charlie rock     Right. Then I was sent to Junior High school I.S. 44, downtown on 77th street (Columbus & Amsterdam Ave.), after going to Wadliegh JHS on 114th St. for about 1 week.

 

Troy L.             So tell me why would you not leave Harlem World under those terrible money conditions?

 

Charlie Rock    I know I went away from the question, but I was leading up to it.  The reason I didn’t leave was because it was exciting to me. It was a new environment. Also, more importantly, I had nowhere to go. At that time I was staying at my best friend’s house while I finished High School.  I then tried to do a year at Bronx Community College, majoring in Elementary Education, but I stopped because I was so unfocused because I felt like I didn’t really have anything going for me. So my friend’s parents said we were trying to help you because you were going to school, now you are not doing anything, so we can’t let you stay here anymore.   So when I got to Harlem World I found out that there were other guys like me who had nowhere to stay. I just started hanging around and never left.  Believe it are not, at that time, we were all sleeping inside the club. So that was like a place where I lived from 1979 to 1985.  All of us did. That was not just a place we worked, but also lived.  The whole third floor was not only a lounge, but the entire wall circumference area was a lot of little rooms that were once offices. They had been converted into like dorm rooms.  Nobody really knew this except our closest friends, the girls we slayed, and a couple of the top hip hop boys like maybe Caz, Love Bug Starski, Jeckyll & Hyde, and Busy Bee. There was only a hand full that knew. And they knew, only because they were like the underground superstars, so we allowed them behind the scenes on the third floor where others didn’t get to go. We did not care if they knew because Harlem World was the place to be at that time. Some of them actually thought it was kind of cool, because come Friday night when we turn on the lights, our living room was a whole night club. There were a lot of virginities lost on those nights upstairs at Harlem World.

 

Troy L.             Who was the first D.J. rocking during that time?

 

Charlie Rock    The main D.J. at that time was Teddy Dee. He paid for most of the D.J. equipment that was there during that time. Music was really his passion.

 

Troy L.             Did you start as an M.C? Or a D.J.?

 

Charlie Rock    I started in as an M.C., but really the real truth is when I first started I couldn’t M.C. or D.J.  They kind of took me in as the young black guy that was different from most of the other guys there.  You know; well spoken, and well read.  I did a little bit of anything that was needed to be done.

 

Troy L.             So how did the crew get started?

 

Charlie Rock    Son of Sam was already M.C.ing, D.J.ing and carrying the crates with Teddy D.  Randy and Kool D where the main house D.J.s, but Teddy would come in and get on when ever he was ready and do his set and then break out.  Kool D never really was a rapper, but he was a real Master of Ceremonies that knew how to talk a lot of slick s---. He was  slim, and considered to be a very good-looking brother by most of the ladies. He had a little gift for gab. (Although, when you really took time out to actually listen to some of things that he would say, you might find yourself wondering “what the hell does that mean?” (Laughing).  Randy and

Kool D was long time friends from The Tinton Avenue projects up in the Bronx.  Teddy D and Son of Sam both took a liking to me, and took me under their wing.  That’s when I started writing rhymes and practicing the M.C thing.  I always wrote poems and stuff, but never those like n------ were doing on the streets.  It was Son of Sam that schooled me on that stuff.  Eventually we started rocking the mike while DJ Randy and Kool D hit the “wheels of steel.”  I guess it was just fate that brought us together, because we became tight, and stayed together as HWC until the club closed.

 

Troy L.             What do Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde have to do with the Harlem World Crew?

 

Charlie Rock    Jeckyll and Hyde where signed to the Harlem World label. This was Fat Man’s label called Rojac and Taystar Records.

 

Troy L.             Where did Fat Man get that?

 

Charlie Rock    From what I understand, that was his old record label Fat Man originally had out in Detroit. He and his boys were big time out there, so when ever we needed some extra money, they would leave for about two or three weeks, and some how when they came back they had pockets full of dough. I guess they had a record label down there and it was defunct, so he tried to revive it by doing the hip-hop thing up here. See people don’t understand we actually gave Sylvia Robinson of Sugar Hill Records the idea to put hip-hop on record.

 

Troy L.             Why is that?

 

Charlie Rock    We were working on a recording with the Harlem World Crew before Sugar Hill Gang came out.  That was Sam, me, and Jeckyll and Hyde. That is how we originally became the Harlem World crew on record. For some reason Fat Man liked Jeckyll and Hyde, and Kool D couldn’t really rap.  So Fat Man put Sam and me together with Jeckyll and Hyde. The name of the record was called Rappers Convention.  I am trying to find a copy of that record today.  I’ve seen it listed on catalogs on websites in the UK along with the other records produce by the label.  

 

Anyway, one night at Harlem world, we were having a birthday party for Sylvia Robinson, who was once a recording artist herself.  Her big hit was called “Pillow Talk”.  The crew was up on stage rapping and Sylvia Robinson was sitting in a balcony directly in front of the stage with Fatman.  As Fatman began to divulge to her that we were in the studio, and that he felt this was the perfect time to put this Hip Hop thing on wax, Ms. Robinson was taking it all in.  A very short time later she released “Rapper’s Delight” with the Sugar Hill Gang.  She beat us out of the box, but the record was dope! It will always be a legendary classic.  DJs are still rocking the house with that joint today.

 

Troy L.             So how did the Harlem World Crew record do? Did it sell in the stores?

 

Charlie Rock    A little bit.  It sold some units, but what they did was put it in One Stop record distributor stores. Are you familiar with the One Stop?

 

Troy L.             No.

 

Charlie Rock    One Stops are like consignment record distributor shops.  Say you have a record, but don’t have a distribution deal. What you do is you take your plates to these One Stop record shops. What they do is they put them into record stores on what they call consignment.  In other words, I give you twenty five records, at the end of a week or two, I come back and ask you how many did you sell, based on your sells, you owe me this much money kind of a thing.  It sold some units, not big units, but it sold and we never saw any of that money.  Fat Man sent this guy out on the road to shop the record, but he didn’t do that well, and he was always calling up for travel expense money.  People kind of liked the record because it was new, but we never did like it. We were trying to tell Fat Man “listen you need to use these beats that they’re using in the streets and the clubs right now. But he wasn’t trying to hear us.  He had his own agenda.

 

Troy L.             So what type of beats was he using, a live band?

 

Charlie Rock    Yep. Come on, man!  He forced us to use the old corny live band bull crap. We told him, “listen, that’s not what’s happening now. We need to come correct, and sample these cuts off of these records. But he wouldn’t do it.

 

Troy L.             I wonder why he wouldn’t listen to y’all since y’all were in it, and knew what was going on? 

 

Charlie Rock    Because he was an “Old School” type of guy.  Much older.  He was like in his late fifties.  He didn’t think that we knew anything, and he had a record company in the past back in Detroit. In fact, when we signed the contract we didn’t even know what we where signing. We just signed the contract because it was a thrill to be able to go into the studio and make a record. When I tried to take time to read the contract, Fat Man was like “Man, sign the damn paper, or we can put someone else in your place.”  I didn’t want to take the chance of missing out, so I went ahead and signed.

 

Troy L.             So what gave y’all the idea to make a record, since no one else came up with a record yet?

 

Charlie Rock    That’s what I am trying to tell you, Fat Man was definitely a visionary! He had the vision of the club Harlem World.  Did you know that it was one of the first few clubs in all of New York to have a lighted dance floor? The club was very plush. Chandeliers, thick, wall to wall, gold shag carpeting, Mirrored walls, and a, one of a kind, one hundred foot lightning bolt shaped bar. It was definitely plush, and that was his vision.  To create a super gigantic plush environment for people to come and enjoy themselves.  Other records that he did along with Jeckyll & Hyde, Love Bug Starski, and Lady Smiley had much better beats, but still they didn’t really hit on nothing.  Sam and I really didn’t like the fact that Fat Man never gave us a chance to rock our own joint.  

                       

 

Troy L.             So did the brothers keep it nice and neat before it closed down? Or by the time it closed down did it start looking shabby in there?

 

Charlie Rock    We tried to keep it up, but by the time we closed down, it wasn’t as great as when we first started out.  Especially once we started packing in the Eddie Cheba, and DJ Hollywood crowds, with the “Wild, Wild Wednesdays” and “Terrible Tuesdays” joints. Then you had all the big hip hop “MC Battles”.

 

Troy L.             So what happened on Tuesdays and Wednesdays?

 

Charlie Rock  D.J. Hollywood would come in on Wednesdays for “Wild, Wild            Wednesdays” parties. It was like three dollars or five dollars, something like that.

 

Troy L.             For a Disco night?

 

Charlie Rock    Right, a Disco night.  Man, we used to pack’em in.  I’m talking wall-to-wall packed!  Sometimes it would be so packed that we literally had to close the front gate down, because we couldn’t get any more people in! “Terrible Tuesday” belonged to Eddie Cheba, and that was the same way. We had our own joints happening on Fridays and Saturdays.  Plus any night that was a holiday we had some type of Hip-Hop show going on.

 

Troy L.             So Sundays and Mondays the place was closed?

 

Charlie Rock    No, not all the time.  at one point we had a Kiddy Disco running on Sunday’s

 

Troy L.             What was the "Kiddy Disco", and the age group attended?

 

Charlie Rock    It was like a “bring your kids in” from the ages of 2 to 12.  Son of Sam and I ran that by ourselves on Sunday afternoon’s. Believe me, It was real funny!  People from the neighborhood would come in and drop their kids off and then come back like three or four hours later to pick them up.  To tell the truth, I really enjoyed the Kiddie disco, because always I loved to see the little kids dancing and having a good time.  We sold sodas, chips, and franks and played music.  We would always pocket a couple of dollars from the door so afterwards we could go downtown to Times Square to watch some Kung Fu flicks (laughing),and eat some KFC. 

 

Troy L.             So y'all never had a camera or projector filming these shows or events?

 

Charlie Rock    Man, No. But you don’t know how badly I wish we had.

 

Troy L.             So was Ronnie Green aka Captain Rock down with yall?

 

Charlie Rock   Captain Rock? No, He was Jekyll & Hyde’s main DJ for a while.  But He was a good friend of the crew.  Ronnie Green was real cool people.

 

Troy L.             Ronnie Green said Jeckyll and Hyde was the real Harlem World Crew.

 

Charlie Rock    I guess that was his own perception.  Jeckyll and Hyde came from that same place over there by D.J. Spivey, Cookie, and all those other guys.

 

Troy L.             Shomberg Plaza or project?

 

Charlie Rock    Yep, somewhere over on the eastside. They came from over there, and they just so happened to get on the Harlem World record label. The people were feeling their more sophisticated hip hop style for a minute. That was around 1982, I think. From the record label stand point, they were down. But as far as the club was concerned, they were not the Harlem World Crew. Ronnie Green played in the club sometimes, but he never really DJ for us either.  DJ Randy and Kool D were our main DJs, and occasionally another DJ named DJ Double.  I’m going to tell you something else, those guys from Mean Machine, you know that group that had that Spanish rhyme on their record.  They used to carry record crates for us before their record came out. They were down with Harlem World from the beginning doing construction work. They were our homeboys and all that.  Later on, they left Harlem World and had their own spot up there in the Bronx by the Bruckner and 138th st.   Hey, let me tell you something very few people know.  The biggest record Mean Machine ever recorded had mostly all of Son of Sam’s lyrics! Except the Spanish part of course. They came in Harlem World one day and said “we are going to do this record and we want some of your lyrics”. Sam said, “Ok. I don’t care what ever.  The next thing we know they have a big hit record and traveling around the world.

 

Troy L.             Same thing pretty much like Caz and Big Bank Hank?

 

Charlie Rock    Right.  Same thing happened to CAZ with Big Bank Hank, same thing with Mean Machine. Sam didn’t get a dime for his lyrics, because we didn’t know any better.  When we heard the song for the first time, we were like “oh wow”, “damn, Sam, that’s mostly all your stuff on that record!” (Except the Spanish part).

 

Troy L.             So why did Harlem World close?

 

Charlie Rock    It was financial and political reasons that made it close. When it came to the money, Fat Man wasn’t doing the street stuff as big as he was before , so he really didn’t have the money to support the club any longer. A lot of the politicians that were involved eventually stepped away. I guess they just stopped believing in it. Also there was the pressure from the social community.  The churches, local school board, and what not.

 

Troy L.             It had nothing to do with the music as for as everybody going downtown?

 

Charlie Rock    Yes and No. Other big clubs in the city started catching on to the Hip-Hop thing. Once clubs like the Roxy, Fun House, or the big skating rinks like Skate Key, figured out that they can do the same thing also, they then started to capitalize on it.

 

Troy L.             What was the last big show you did in there?

 

Charlie Rock    Wow, that’s kind of hard for me to remember right now. It’s been awhile.  It may have been some type of Hip-Hop show.  But we still had the R&B shows in between.  so we had groups like Atlantic Star, Blue Magic, and Jerry Butler come through. We also had Arthur Prysock, GQ, and a local group called Jahmila, that featured a very young Teddy Riley on keyboards, and Keith Sweat on vocals.  Let’s see, who else I remember (pausing for a moment to think).   We also had some big Reggae acts like Mighty Sparrow, and Yellow Man.  Oh yeah, we even had Eartha Kitt in there for a whole week!

 

Troy L.             Eartha Kitt!!!

 

Charlie Rock    Yeah, Eartha Kitt!!! (Laughing). Yep, that was probably one of the funniest, weirdest shows we ever had in there. It was Eartha Kitt and Love Bug Starski on the same show!  I wish I had a copy of one of the flyers to send to you. That whole thing was Fat Man’s idea. We said, Fat Man you got to be out of your mind, who in the hell is going to come see Eartha Kitt and Love Bug Starski together?  Of course it did horrible. The only good thing to come out of that show is we got to meet a legend (referring to Eartha Kitt).  That’s right; we got to spend time with “CAT WOMAN” from the “BATMAN” TV show.  It was unique in that sense and kind of a great honor for me.  I loved that show.  We also had New Edition; Harlem World was the first club they performed in when they came to New York City.  We also had The Force MDs.

 

Troy L.             So when New Edition performed, it would be like an R&B night or Cold Crush or some other Hip-Hop group was on the card as well?

 

Charlie Rock    No, when they had New Edition there, it was like just us, the house DJ type thing.  We just spun records and rocked the mic by ourselves.   It was a mostly a dance night.  But brothers and sisters were packing it in that night for New Edition. We became real cool with those guys when they first came in that night.  They were really young, and just happy to have a hit record.

 

Troy L.             That was during those “Candy Girl” days, huh?

 

Charlie Rock    Yes.   I remember they had some “Candy Girl dancers” come out first on the stage before New Edition. So everybody thought that we were trying to pull a fast one.  The crowd was on the verge of going buck wild! Screaming “that ain’t no New Edition!”  So we had to turn off the music and tell the dancer’s to stop and let on the boys get on stage. M.C. Smiley was also down but she was down with the record label part. Love Bug Starski also did a recoding with the label.

 

Troy L.             What was the real story behind the Moe Dee battle with Busy Bee? Was it set up?

 

Charlie Rock    No, no, no. That was a straight up battle, Man! None of our battles were set up. Not one was planned or scripted. The way they happened, was the real deal. At one point, Ray Chandler had actually wanted to bring the different crews together.  He would say “listen, Man.  Y’all got all this rivalry stuff going on and you take this to heart.   But, y’all are not looking at the big picture. You can carry this thing on for many shows and we can make this money!” But these crews were like “no. later for that trying to pretend and act like we mad at each other.  This sh-- is real!”  Those fellas had a lot of pride.  It was all about the street rep in the Hip Hop game.  But at least the brothers kept most of their battles behind the mic, and they were not out killing each other like these foolish cats are today.   Man, Crews used to battle for equipment and all that.

 

Troy L.             Who used to battle for equipment?

 

Charlie Rock    One of the dudes from Treacherous Three challenged us to a battle for our equipment once.

 

Troy L.             Who gassed that up?

 

Charlie Rock    That lil dude with the big mouth. L.A. Sunshine.  L.A. was always running his mouth, bragging about how nice his crew was.

 

Troy L.             L.A. said he had a lot of love you guys.

 

Charlie Rock    Oh, don’t get me wrong, he was a good man.  But you know, L.A. he was always talking about they were the best crew out there period.  They lived up there by you.  By the Grant, up on the hill, right?

 

Troy L.             Right.

 

Charlie Rock    So Sam and I used to go into the different neighborhoods giving out flyers. One day we ran into them by the J.H.S. 43 swimming pool around 127th street and Amsterdam Ave in Harlem. Right there in between Grant and Manhattan Ville Projects. We handed L.A. Sunshine a flyer, and he says “Y’all them dudes from the Harlem World Crew, y’all want to battle?”  At first we just kinda laughed the whole thing off, because we didn’t know who this kid was getting all loud and stuff.  “The hell with that.  We the best crew out here.  Y’all want to battle?” he asked again. We were like “whatever, if you want to battle, come to the club.”  We told him that they   could come down to the club whenever and we could battle. But it never went on, because Fat Man wanted to promote it as a big show.  Fat Man said “it isn’t going down like that. Y'all just not going to battle for free! Let’s put it on a flyer and charge money for the show.”

 

Troy L.             Now who do you think is the best m.c. Between Moe Dee, Mele Mel, and Caz?

 

Charlie Rock    That’s a strong question…boy that’s a rough one. I’ve seen all three perform many times, and I like all of them so that is a real hard question to answer.  But if I had to give an answer, I’d have to go with Moe Dee.  He has always been one of my favorites.  Besides that, I got to know him a little better than I knew the other two, and Moe is just simply a very cool, down to earth brother, with a vicious mic.   Caz is real cool also.  I don’t know Mel that well at all though.  One thing I can say about all three of those cats though is that they always walked like they were superstars.  Even before the records and all that hit, they were definitely the kings of the streets.

 

Troy L.             That night of the first battle with Moe and Busy how could you say it was a draw.

 

Charlie Rock    That was Fat Man’s doing.  He told us to say that we were not going to judge this now; y’all are going to have to come back and see Moe Dee go head up with Busy Bee for the crown, from that night the word got on the street just by word of mouth that there was going to be a big battle. The buzz was all over the streets in NYC. When we put out the flyer it just got really crazy.  All we heard as we would walk the streets was kids talking  about the Moe & Busy battle that was coming up.  We knew way ahead of time that this was going to be a sold out night.

 

Troy L.             So it was jam packed the night of the battle?

 

Charlie Rock    Hell yeah! It took a life of its own. Busy really got crushed. Moe was   definitely a better M.C. then Busy.  As a matter of fact Moe Dee was better than just about anybody on the solo tip.  Busy was more of a crowd mover. He got his style from Love Bug Starski. Moe was a pure M.C.  When he said that rhyme about “…put that ba diddy ba bull--- on hold.” the house exploded.  It was real ugly for Busy that night. That was a famous tape. You could not imagine how many of those tapes we sold on the streets.

 

Troy L.             I wrote about that. I said if that tape had been on wax it would have went platinum.

 

Charlie Rock    Oh yes, easily.  Maybe even double.  We made and sold so many of those tapes!  We had recorded that show live to a high quality reel to reel, so it sounded really clear.  I think that was another reason that it sold so well.  We stayed up late at night just making tapes, and the next day just walk around Harlem saying “Yo, we got the battle, we got the battle.” Selling the tapes at about $10 a pop, ($20 to the street scramblers). In the early eighties that was a lot of money for a tape. Both of those battles between Moe and Busy were monumental. When it came to MC Crews, Fantastic Romantic and Cold Crush were like Jackson 5 one and two. When they had their battle they had the whole night to themselves. There was no one else on the flyer.  That was something very rare to happen.  There was a time when they were all on one show with all the other wannabe MCs, battling to see who the best was. We used to have open-ended M.C. and crew contests where any one could get in, (sometimes we asked for a small fee, like $5 per man to get down).  Sometimes, there would be hundreds of them. There would be so many trying to battle, and make a name for themselves. But there was just no way that we could get everybody on.   

 

Troy L.             A bunch of no name rappers too?

 

Charlie Rock    Right.  We tried to get as many on as we could though.  We also let a couple of really wack ones get on, just so Son of Sam and I could snap on them. (laughing loudly).  That helped to keep that tension down when we got the crowd laughing like crazy.

 

Troy L.             What about Johnny Wa and Rayvon?

 

Charlie Rock    Johnny Wa and Rayvon were by all means two of the best at what they did (Charlie starts doing their melodic lyrics) “well it’s ah, E E man, and he’s ah, rockin’ on, and then the beat don’t stop until the, break of da –awn.” you remember all those don’t guys don’t you, Chip-Roy, House slinger, Wee-Wee, Shoe Shine, Cookie and the rest of them?

 

Troy L.             I did a lil something about them it isn’t completed yet.

 

Charlie Rock    Man, some of those guys had some really crazy nick names! Sam and I used to stay up nights repeating those shout outs, and laughing like hell. I think it was Cookie’s father who used to be down with Sung Song productions. They worked with getting the Michael Jackson concerts to the garden and stuff like that.

 

Troy L.             Now why is it that Rayvon wasn’t at the Busy Moe Battle with Johnny Wa?

 

Charlie Rock    What I think it was with Rayvon and them is that they were doing their thing out on the street too. So they was kind of like “we show up when we show up. We don’t really care.”  I think they kind of did it for fun more then anything else. They were already very well known in the neighborhood locally. People knew of them, but overall, not as much for parties as the Cold Crush, Treacherous, Busy Bee or Fantastic. Those guys were people who tried to make a living out of it. Rayvon and Johnny Wa, I don’t think they were really trying to make a living out of Hip-Hop. But that’s just my opinion. They weren’t trying to stand around in line with a whole bunch of people and battle. They were just like “if you put us on, you put us on.  But we ain’t waiting around with how bunch of n------ wasting our time.”  When Rayvon started that singing thing, that would blow up the spot! He really did have a decent voice. The Disco Four made a big hit off of that Rayvon melody. They just changed the words up. 

 

Troy L.             Rayvon and Johnny Wa were also labeled as notorious.

 

Charlie Rock    Sure they were some Notorious street N------. But they were real cool with us.  The one thing everybody had for Harlem World was respect.  Man, they had beefs, and there were a few shootout’s inside there.  But nobody ever got shot inside the club.  Most of the shootouts were outside and came from us having to chase some knucklehead n------ to the #2 train back to Brooklyn. Back in the day, some Brooklyn kids just came to the parties to start trouble. This comes from experience, Brooklyn n------ are the worst motherf------ in the world. (Laughing) I’m telling you when it comes to the Hip-Hop scene. We used to have regular Brooklyn cats come up to Harlem World from out of the train station and we would spot them immediately. Because it was like a job to them. They never came inside to party, they always came with there crews ready to snatch peoples chain’s, take there Cazal’s frames, or take some poor kid’s sheep skin or leather coat & sneakers that they just got for their birthday or Christmas or something like that.

 

Troy L.             Right inside of the club?

 

Charlie Rock    No, Never inside “The World”, but maybe right outside, around the corner, or kids getting off the trains. Nobody liked them Brooklyn n------.

 

Troy L.             Did y'all have problems in the bathrooms?

 

Charlie Rock    No.  Really the way our crew ran on the inside, we really didn’t have so much trouble on the inside.

 

Troy L.             So who did the security for y'all?

 

Charlie Rock    We pretty much did our own security. We used to have one or two under cover off duty officers. Sam and I had a little hook up with a crew. I don’t know if you ever heard of this crew called the Shack crew.

 

Troy L.             Yeah they used to sell dust over on 118th st.

 

Charlie Rock    Those were our boys ; so we really didn’t have too many problems because we had a trade off with them. “We let y'all into the club, y'all got cart blanch, anything break out y'all know what to do!” everybody knew that, and you know how the Shack crew was! They kind of left us alone.

 

Troy L.             Yeah I remember hearing Busy Bee give a shout out to the Shack Crew on the tapes.

 

Troy L.             Do you remember what shows were real hot real big and jumpin? Say like the Treacherous 3 2nd anniversary?

 

Charlie Rock     That show was big! The Cold Crush Anniversary’s were big, Fantastic anniversary was big.  I also have to mention the Force MCs out of Staten Island.  Sam and I discovered them on the Staten Island ferry one day while we were going over there to give out some flyers.  They were performing their singing-like rap on the boat for money.  We invited them to come to “The World” on our next party.  Those guys really rocked it with their style.  They took theme song melodies from old television shows like Gilligan’s island and added their own words to them.  It was different and they could really sing.

 

Troy L.             I don’t have any of those shows, on tape; I would love to hear them.

 

Charlie Rock    I think Busy Bee’s birthday party was big too. Doug had big shows in there too. You know Doug learned his trade in there.

 

Troy L.             Yes, I remember when he first started he called himself Dougie Doug or Dougie Dee.

 

Charlie Rock    Man, they used to boo Doug off the stage all the time. Until he came up with that Human beat box thing.  The he became the man.

 

Troy L.             What!

 

Charlie Rock    Dougie was mad corny when he first started.

 

Troy L.              But once he got to vinyl he killed it. Blazin. His early days I wasn’t feeling.

 

Charlie Rock    After every show, Doug would come sit next to me and say “yo Rock what did I do wrong”? Doug will tell you this the next time you see him. Then I remember when Doug got his first big applause, and I don’t remember his whole rap but this was the time when Dougie decided he wasn’t going to go out and try and say straight rhymes like everybody else. This was the time when he decided he was going to become a crowd motivator and he was going to do the human beat box stuff. He came out and we announced “Doug E. Fresh” and everybody was like yeah o.k., alright Dougie again. So Dougie says, “all right everybody are you ready”? “Now here’s what I want y’all to do”, “Just bang your head on the wall, everybody, just bang your head on the wall!”

 

Troy L.             Yeah, I remember that tape that was the M.C. Convention the crowd started laughing with him.

 

Charlie Rock    He broke out with the human beat box stuff and from that day on it was on for Dougie. I don’t know if Doug ever told you this, you need to ask him when you get the chance who penned his name the way it is now. Doug E. Fresh with the period after the “E”. Which is like a sir name. That was my idea! One day we were giving a college party, and I was always down for Dougie, so I was like no matter what I can do to help Dougie I would do to help him.  One day when we were preparing for this college party, he asked could he get on the show.  So I was like, “sure, man, we would put you down on the party cause you got the beat box thing going, but then I said, “you know what, Doug.  These are college students and we can’t really have you on this flyer with your name spelled like it is.”  I was the one designing the flyer at that time. I was thinking this is a more mature crowd, they are a little bit older than the regular hip-hop crowd. So I need to make his name a little bit more mature looking. That’s when I dropped the “I” and made the “E” capital and put “Fresh” to make it look like it was a sir name. As opposed to a corny Hip-Hop name. I guess he liked it so much that he has kept it that way to this day.  Now check out Larry Love, you remember Larry Love?

 

Troy L.             Yes, later Furious 5!

 

Charlie Rock    Yes, Larry Love didn’t really rap, he was known for his Electric Boogie skills. They just happened to make a theme song after him for his dancing. Larry used to be in there. Him and another little guy named Supreme from Brooklyn were probably the best guys with this electric boogie that I had ever seen.

 

Troy L.             What about Loose Bruce?

 

Charlie Rock    Loose Bruce was nice too! But he wasn’t as good as Supreme. But I’m glad you brought Bruce up, he was another one that was real good. But that little skinny kid, Supreme out of Brooklyn… this kid looked like he was literally floating across the floor.

 

Troy L.             With Loose Bruce, were y’all paying him for a minute?  Because I remember seeing his name on a flyer.

 

Charlie Rock    No we never paid him. I’m going to tell you the God honest truth and you can write this. It was just the nature of Hip-Hop back in the day, guys wanted to be paid. Guys like the Cold Crush, Fantastic and the Treach 3 and all those guys wanted to be paid when they worked at Harlem World.  And we really felt that they should be paid, but it was Fat Man that wasn’t really about paying none of these young dudes. He liked them, but he didn’t really have much respect for them.  Some of the main groups got paid what they asked for, some of the time.  But for the most part, he wasn’t about to pay them the $1,500 stuff they were asking for. So I am not going to front a lot of times they got jerked. They all knew the deal about Fat Man, so they took what they could get.

 

Troy L.             So did Fat Man ever slap any of these big time M.C.s?

 

Charlie Rock    (light laughter) oh man….I don’t know, I don’t know! It may have happened. Fat Man had some strong arm guys named O.C. and Blue. They were two big, loyal guys. They might have slapped a lot of mother-------. But truthfully, I can’t recall any incident like that when I was present.

 

Troy L.             See all these years I was thinking DJ Randy ran the place.

 

Charlie Rock    No, Randy was the D.J.

 

Troy L.             I know. I know that now.

 

Charlie Rock    He was the D.J., Promoter, and anything else guy, just like the rest of us. He didn’t run anything but that DJ Booth, none of us did. It might have appeared that he or any one of us was in control.  Because when the club doors opened, we were the people that you saw. But behind the scene, we really didn’t have any say about anything that went on. We would suggest things, and Fat Man would have the final say on what was going to happen. Everyone who got any money got it through Fat Man. Unless another promoter, say Ray Chandler or Disco Dave would come in and do a promotion. Then they cut a deal with Fat Man and the promoter was then responsible for paying the entertainers off.  Mandiplite was more known for the flyers he did for Harlem World than promoting.  Armstrong used to do a lot of parties with us also. Even the promoters got jerked, except for someone like Ray Chandler.  He wasn’t having it. A Promoter might bring in 3000 people; Fat Man will say y’all only bought in 1500 or so. Much later on, Fat Man started allowing us to put the shows, so then the guys would get paid from us and that would be the money Fat Man gave us. Randy was usually the one with the money because he was older then us by about 4 or 5 years.

 

Troy L.             How did you and Son of Sam get so close?

 

 

Charlie Rock    The reason why we stuck so close together was because we were probably the only ones in there that didn’t get high on something. We never smoked, drank, didn’t do drugs, didn’t do anything. A whole lot of the other people got caught up in the freebasing, they got caught up in the cocaine and the reefer, and the drinking and all that stuff. But Sam and I kept each other strong.  We liked the Ladies, basketball, and Kung Fu flicks !!

 

Troy L.             So it was like a psychiatric ward up in there in the V.I.P. section?

 

Charlie Rock    Man, it was crazy!  There was times when the owner and other guys on the staff (which  we also called the Harlem World Crew, even though they were separate from HWC the hip hop crew) would stay locked up in rooms getting high for four or five days at a time, just freebasing or whatever. All you would see was a “Runner” coming out the room to re-up. There was times when they had girls up in there also. I know for a fact that orgies and gang bangs were in effect.  When they finally came out of the room, the girls’ business would be broadcasted all over the club.  I won’t repeat those things here, but there is definitely a whole lot of Harlem World that your website probably isn’t ready for.  It’s damn near a movie in itself.  But somehow we managed to hold it down for a good little while, even with all the craziness.  One good thing I can say about the crew is that we all stuck together.  I guess that’s why not too many people tried to mess with us on the outside.  Because they realized that if you f----- with one, you f----- with all.  That was The Fat Man philosophy, and we all followed it.  So we never had any real serious stuff go down with us.  One or two tried, but they most certainly didn’t have a win.

 

 

Troy L.             So you and the rest of the guys were like “Rock Stars”?

 

 

Charlie Rock             Yes, that’s literally the way it was! Most people don’t understand the real history of Hip-Hop and the power of it from back in the day. See also in the late 70’s early 80’s all you had to do was be down with a crew.  If a brother wanted to get with a girl, all he had to do was say, “yo, man, can I carry your crates or stand behind the ropes. We all know about the famous ropes D.J.s used in the parks. All you had to do was be lucky enough to be let on the right side of the ropes, and you were good!  Crews like Grand Master Flash & the Furious, the Cold Crush Brothers, Fantastic Romantic, and Treacherous Three were underground street Superstars, long before these people today who pull these big crowds for their shows.  Back in the day, Flash and them used to pull huge crowds just by word of mouth!  All you had to do was spread the word by saying, “Yo, Cold Crush is going to be here and so and so.”  Most of the time you didn’t have to put out a flyer, the flyer was like extra promotion power. The word got around so fast, through word of mouth, that by the time you turned around, you got 4 or 5000 people at your club door. The nice thing about Harlem World was it was one of the few clubs that was able to hold that 4 or 5000 people.  Plus it Was safer than most other places because it had lots of exits in case some s--- broke out. There was the backstage door, a side door, also the main front entrance had two large double doors, and directly to the left of those was a side door which had some stairs that lead directly to the third floor.  This door was used as the main entrance during non-show days (Note: The Harlem World building was originally a Woolworth’s department store.  Today It still stands as a Conway clothing store).

 

Troy L.             Now what was the worst group that performed there?

 

Charlie Rock    Oh, Man. There was sooooo many really wack, busted groups that came through our doors; I can’t remember any one specifically by name because I really didn’t waste any brain cells on that type of thing.

 

Troy L.             Well how about as far as the popular ones are concerned.  Can you recall a crew that did such a terrible show that they got booed off the stage or somebody threw a chair at them or something?

 

Charlie Rock    None of the really popular ones ever really got booed. But I do recall one very funny incident that occurred with the Fantastic.  At one of the battles, The Fantastic showed up in these white tuxedos, which they had worn on several big shows before.  On this night, when they stepped out on the stage, you heard a large section of guys yell out in unity “OH NO, NOT THOSE SAME TUXEDOS!!!”  The place was packed, and the laughter was earsplitting.  Fantastic had a very embarrassed look on their faces, and I don’t think they ever wore those white tuxedos again.  Other than that,you had a lot of no name groups that came on and got booed, but not any of the popular guys.

 

Troy L.             What were the best shows?

 

Charlie Rock    Mostly the Anniversaries and the Battles. Also the terrible Tuesdays with Eddie Cheba were off the hook. I’m going to tell you something, Harlem World didn’t start out as a Hip-Hop club, and It was never supposed to be. It just evolved into that because Hip Hop was generating big cash on a consistent basis. Harlem World started out as a chic disco spot.  Its original concept was to grow it to be on the same level as the Cotton Club or Celebrity Club from back in the day.  In its early days, we had big time street cats coming in on a regular basis spending thousands of dollars at a time.  $10,000 dollars was not an uncommon amount to be spent.

 

Troy L.             $10,000 buying what?

 

Charlie Rock    On special private Birthday parties, buying crazy bottles of Champagne, and drinks, tipping the waiters or waitresses $100 dollar bills.

 

Troy L.             Were they shooting dice in there?

 

Charlie Rock    Dice, what ever! 

 

Troy L.             So Fat Man was allowing dice games in there.

 

Charlie Rock    It’s not that he allowed it officially, but whatever it was going on in there, went on.   Lots of times the parties were closed to the public.  They were private, So yes, they had dice games, but in the back by the bathrooms.  Not just out in the open.

 

Troy L.             So security would let this go on.

 

Charlie Rock    Yes, because that was the instructions. The instructions were don’t f--- with these n------. Don’t get them mad. Don’t go in there and tell them “you can’t do that.”  “What”! These were not  the kind of people you told “you can’t do…”  You know what I’m saying?   Besides, nothing really came out of it, because they just came to have a good time.  And they spent a lot of money. Also, at that type of party we weren’t trying to do the Hip Hop thing so much.  At those types of parties, you had to become a real M.C., (A Master of Ceremony’s). You had to flip into the Eddie Cheba, Hollywood type of mode. When we weren’t doing that, we were working the bar; we flipped into the waiter mode. Working the bar and serving these guys drinks you can get a $50 or $100 tip. For Sam and me that was sneakers and movie money.

 

Troy L.             Is that were you met your wife?

 

Charlie Rock    No, no, no. I met my wife in College. This is a funny story. When  Harlem World closed in 1985, I walked to 116th st. and Lenox ave. and the joint was closed tight, that’s when I realized that it was really over for good, and I would never walk back into those doors. That’s when it really hit me, damn, what do I do now?  I had not finished college, cause I had only did one year.  I had not worked anywhere else for the last 5 or 6 years; I didn’t have any type of resume.   Man, I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself!  What I decided to do was buy all the major newspapers. The New York Post, the Daily News and the Times.  I opened the help wanted section and I said to myself, “what ever job skill is in the most demand, that’s what I’m going back to school to learn! That was 85, 86 when the first P.C.s came out.

 

Troy L.             Oh, computer technology.

 

Charlie Rock    Exactly! I went to Monroe College up there on Fordham Road in the Bronx.  I graduated with honors, and received my Associates degree in Computer Science in about a year and a half.  From there I worked at IBM for a while, Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of New York, for more 10 years. After that, it was major insurance company, and now one of the oldest Pediatric medicine colleges in the country.

 

Troy L.             Good for you my brother!

 

Charlie Rock    Thanks, Troy.  I had a great time sharing a wonderful, life altering portion of my life with you.  Many people have asked me if I had the opportunity would I change anything about that portion of my life.  I have to honestly so “No”, because without those experiences, I wouldn’t be the strong man that I am today.  Peace.

 

Troy L.             I very much would like to thank you, Charlie Rock, for giving me and the fans who love this hip-hop that we do, the info that only you can give us about Harlem World.  Because you actually lived it! Thank you once again and to my man Jayquan this all could not have happened without you and The Foundation peace