conducted by Sir Norin Rad (The Intruders Crew / Germany)
on August 5th, 2017
|DJ Clark Kent a.k.a. B-Boy Poison|
NORIN RAD:"That's some precious knowledge!!! Chuck Center was located in East Harlem, right?"
CLARK KENT: "Yes on 115th Street & 2nd Avenue."
NORIN RAD: "So you were basically breaking at Chuck Center BEFORE you met Kool Herc?"
CLARK KENT:"Before I even met Kool Herc! That's where The (N***er) Twins and I honed our skills and we would go down there with cats like Wallace Dee and Chip. These are guys from the era of like Trixie and them. We ran with a whole host of cats down there before we found out what Herc was doing what he was doing on the Westside (of the Bronx).One of the names I wanna mention though is Dancing Doug!!!Back then Chuck Center was one of the places where we encountered Dancing Doug! The premier place to do breaking became Kool Herc's parties but prior to Kool Herc's we used to go to (DJ) Smokey's parties, you know, the Twins and I. From Smokey's we caught on to Chuck Center and then from Chuck Center we caught on to what Herc was doing. And out of all the places we went, you know, we honed our skills! A lot of people have this misconception that we got our skills at Kool Herc's...by the time the Twins and I arrived at Kool Herc's we was already elite!!!! And that's why we quickly ran through whoever thought they was somebody at Kool Herc's at that time. It was only a matter of time before you got on our nerves and you kept running your mouth.. There's nothing that they were involved in that I wasn't there for and there is nothing that I was involved in that they wasn't there for. We were like triplets. Wherever you seen one you seen all three of us when it came to movin' around in Hiphop. We used to travel down to Chuck Center which is one of the places we really honed our skills at before finding out about Kool Herc and going to Kool Herc's parties. We would go to Chuck Center like every other week 'cause they had a dance contest and we used to love winning that dance contest."
NORIN RAD:"That's some precious knowledge!!! Chuck Center was located in East Harlem, right?"
CLARK KENT: "Yes on 115th Street & 2nd Avenue."
NORIN RAD: "So you were basically breaking at Chuck Center BEFORE you met Kool Herc?"
CLARK KENT:"Before I even met Kool Herc! That's where The (N***er) Twins and I honed our skills and we would go down there with cats like Wallace Dee and Chip. These are guys from the era of like Trixie and them. We ran with a whole host of cats down there before we found out what Herc was doing what he was doing on the Westside (of the Bronx).One of the names I wanna mention though is Dancing Doug!!!Back then Chuck Center was one of the places where we encountered Dancing Doug! The premier place to do breaking became Kool Herc's parties but prior to Kool Herc's we used to go to (DJ) Smokey's parties, you know, the Twins and I. From Smokey's we caught on to Chuck Center and then from Chuck Center we caught on to what Herc was doing. And out of all the places we went, you know, we honed our skills! A lot of people have this misconception that we got our skills at Kool Herc's...by the time the Twins and I arrived at Kool Herc's we was already elite!!!! And that's why we quickly ran through whoever thought they was somebody at Kool Herc's at that time. It was only a matter of time before you got on our nerves and you kept running your mouth.. and we waited untiltil you were dancing in your little circle and I would jumped into your circle and make short work of you. That's how we got down at Kool Herc's parties. Like a lot of our stuff was never premeditated. I have heard when you interviewed other people and they said,"Well, guys come in and say I wanna battle you!"That wasn't my and the Twins experience! We took on people without them knowing we was coming. By the time we jumped your circle if you thought you was somebody it's too late to run.... You're trapped now!"
NORIN RAD: "Damn! I have to gather myself!!! That's some heavy knowledge!! So there were Harlem B-Boys trying to bring it to you in 1973 at Chuck Center?"
CLARK KENT:"And we would eat'em like lunch."
NORIN RAD:"Now who or what exactly was The Nine Crew and what was their position in the culture of Hiphop?"
CLARK KENT:"They were pure gangsters...and their position in the culture was..I'll give you an example...if we had an issue with somebody at a party somewhere and we went back home and told people that we had an issue.. well that issue got taken care of fairly quickly! Basically they were straight thugs. These are dudes that didn't care about DJing...they wasn't trying to be no B-Boy. They protected the neighbourhood (The Nine), you know?! They were very serious about making sure people understood that about them. If you came to The Nine you better had your ducks in a row."
NORIN RAD:"Thank you! Could you briefly highlight how your battle against Rossy went down at The Silver Door and what it consequences were?"
CLARK KENT:"Well basically at that particular time Herc had seen my skills. He took a liking to me and I guess that was his way of trying to find out just how good I was and how willing I was to continue to take on all challengers. Like I said we always chose the toughest guys. You know, if there was five guys known for dancing at a particular place...we didn't care about nobody but who was on top! My thing was I always started from the top down. A lot of people start from the bottom up cause it's a lot easier...we always took the route from the top down. So if we beat the top dudes that told you right away dealing with you made no sense because you can't do nothing like the guy who just got dusted of. That's how our reputation grew quickly because we always went for the dudes who everybody else felt could not be beaten. And in terms of the Silver Door...Rossy was kinda like the last guy Herc had on his list to test my dancing skills against people from the Westside. And I don't know if a lot of people know this but Rossy and Trixie are brothers!"
NORIN RAD:"I know and they also had a sister called Kimmy, right?"
CLARK KENT:"Yes...they also had a sister Kim who I dusted off back in the days as well, okay? Cause there were some B-Girls back then, you know? Wasn't many of them but you know you had Kim, you had Janice....you had Duesy...there were quite a few girls that were very good..they just didn't have better skills than me.....And so Herc introduced this dance challenge to me and brought it to my neighbourhood. And I guess at something like that I can't turn that down, you know what I'm saying? You're coming in my neighbourhood with somebody talking bout they wanna challenge me. Come on now, I had to handle the bussiness!! All my people was there..I mean that's like coming in my living room saying, "I'm better than you!"and that's not gonna happen."
NORIN RAD:"So you dusted Rossy off and after that you were embraced by Kool Herc as a Herculoid and you also received free entry to all Kool Herc parties for life, right?"
CLARK KENT:"That is correct because the dance contest was for life time pass at Kool Herc Production. So the winner of the dance contest had from that point a free entry into any production Herc gave and that's how me and the Twins became staples at Kool Herc's because we were the first."
NORIN RAD:"As I told you it is my intention to shed some light on the fallen and unsung heroes of this culture called Hiphop like Timmy Tim for instance. So my question is: What was your relationship with the late Timmy Tim?"
CLARK KENT:"Timmy Tim was my first mentor as a DJ he took me under his wings. He was down with Herc...the original crew that Herc rolled with by the time I got wind of what he was doing was Kool Herc, Coke La Rock, Timmy Tim and a brother named Mike Mike and Mike Mike became famous cause in the Hevalo he was sitting in a separate booth that controlled the lighting system in the Hevalo. So his claim to fame was, "Mike Mike with the lights." And that was one of the names Herc and Coke and Timmy always shouted out on the mic...you know, "Mike Mike with the lights!"To get back to Timmy...we were of similar age and when Herc brought me into the crew Timmy welcomed me with open arms, we became very good friends, he even dated on of my cousins and it's unfortunate that he died but we had a brotherly relationship, you know? Our relationship got very personal it was more than just being at the party. We would be at each other's house. I knew his parents he knew my parents, you know. Timmy Tim was the first DJ that was a mentor to Clark Kent."
NORIN RAD:"Did he also take you record shopping with him?"
CLARK KENT:"We've always done that together! As we would hang out on weekends, you know, every now and then we would stop at record stores and we would both share our different likes for records. You know if he found a new beat he would let me listen to it and say, "Clark, you think this will work at the club?" and I would do the same thing vice versa. We kinda worked together, honed our ears for music in the early, in the very early beginnings of my DJ career."
NORIN RAD:"I think at this point it is important to stress the fact for those reading this interview that we are talking about very early key players in Hiphop DJing who had a profound influence on the whole artform including rocking parties, beat digging and things of that nature which are emulated by thousands all over the world nowadays. So since Timmy Tim showed you the ropes in DJing and rocked parties with you it has to be said that he had a major impact on HipHop, right?"
CLARK KENT:"Yes, correct and let me just say this...I wanna make sure you print this, Norin. Timmy Tim had a sister named Dottie and if Dottie ever reads this interview I just wanna say, What's
up?" to her and her surviving family and "Get at me on facebook!" I'm on facebook as Tyrone Smith."
NORIN RAD:"Now from what I have heard Rossy was like real tight with Timmy Tim both as a friend and as B-Boy partner so I would like to know whether there was kind of animosity between you and them at first since you defeated Rossy at the Silver Door?"
CLARK KENT:"No, because everybody respected the game, you know?! I even hung with Rossy after the dance contest. It wasn't like we had dislikes for each other we just was in a dance contest and the better man won that night I could have just as well lost and would have still been friendly with Rossy as well. When we got down back then..I just want you to really really make this clear to your folks in Germany....it was nothing but love back then. We all did this for the love of what we were doing and we were all together.Just because we had dance contests and challenges against each other it didn't mean that we didn't like each other. We would dance against each other and then be talking about it at Taft High School the next week laughing together about it."
NORIN RAD:"Could you name 5 other outstanding B-Boys or B-Girls from your era that are generally being overlooked today and should be mentioned?"
CLARK KENT:" I think that James Bond should be mentioned. I think that Duesy should be mentioned..who's a B-Girl. I think Kim should be mentioned (Trixie's younger sister) who was a major B-Girl. I think that Wallace Dee should be mentioned because he was the first one to come out with the hat action and I also like to point out Tony Fuji who is a B-Boy from the beginning but didn't stay long in the game because he had other aspirations to make money in areas that consumed too much time to go to parties. I didn't even know him back then personally but I know him very well today. Fuji mainly comes from (Grandmaster) Flash's area....he comes of from up there of Boston Road...you know The Dixie Club and Lovebug Starski and them used to be at the Burger King. Those were all from his area up the hill there.. Boston Road and Prospect. Yeah, I was down the hill on a 169th street & Washington Avenue...so we talkin bout 5 blocks off 169th street. But those are some dudes that really are cemented in this culture that nobody talks about."
NORIN RAD:"How did Kool Herc find out about your DJing skills?
CLARK KENT:"Herc had already known us from dancing. In 1973 is when a lot of things took place that solidified my position as a B-Boy. But then in 1974..late 1974...in the summer..a DJ that lived on 169th street named Dutchmaster he would bring his system out into the park behind 1285 Washington Avenue and play music. One particular day....Dutchmaster and the (Ni***er) Twins were kinda close and they was starting to build a relationship with the Twins getting down with Dutchmaster and one day he just brought his system out and I asked him, "Could I play?" and he allowed me to play. The good thing was Herc was in the park that day and Herc saw that I was playing the music he actually came up and he said, "Yo Kent, let me help you out!You know, I'll show you!" Like I wanted to drop the needle to the break of "Just Begun"... 'cause remember back then there was no headphones.. he would say, "Needle further down!"because he knew where the groove was in the record.. he could see that..so he kind coached me on and saw that I had potential for spinning music."
|DJ Clark Kent gettin' busy on the Whels Of Steel|
NORIN RAD:"Would you say that DJ Dutchmaster was a part of Hiphop?"
CLARK KENT:"It's kinda hard because I wouldn't say that Dutchmaster had a role in Hiphop but he was one of the many DJs throughout the city who had a system and who gave parties. Dutchmaster's parties basically were like for people from the Latin community and they used to do the Hustle. You know, it wasn't a B-Boy situation like at Kool Herc's. But Dutchmaster is definetely somebody who should be mentioned because without him there would be no Clark Kent down with Herc DJing."
NORIN RAD:"You briefly mentioned that you and the (Ni**er) Twins would also go to DJ Smokey's parties..how did a DJ Smokey party differ from a Kool DJ Herc party in terms of the atmosphere, the music being played etc."
CLARK KENT: "Okay, the difference was.... all the DJ Smokey parties that I attended was on Grant Avenue in an apartment building. They just had an apartment where Smokey set up his system in one room. It was like a sweat box!!! You know you walked up five flights and you went inside and Lucky was at the door..that was his guy that did his security back then and he had Master Rob with him. It was a small venue that allowed people to come in and participate. The difference between Smokey's and Herc's was Herc's was a bigger arena. You gotta realize these guys were playing in an apartment and community room. Herc was the first to take it to a major club, you know?! Herc took it to the Hevalo from the Hevalo to the Twilight Zone..from the Twilight Zone to the Executive Playhouse..from the Executive Playhouse to the P.A.L. Herc opened the door and lead the way for everybody else. Everybody followed what Herc was doing.These venues that I'm telling you about they were exclusive to Herc!!! Like (Grandmaster) Flash couldn't even think about playing at the Hevalo. They wouldn't even talk to Flash 'cause Flash was nobody back then. You follow what I'm saying?!!?Whenever I used to play my music by the time I stopped B-Boying and I started DJing and we are talking about parties now. When I would lift my head up to look at the crowd...just to give you an idea.... you know who I saw? Who I always noticed? Melle Mel, Mr. Ness, Kid Creole, okay ? I would see Flash at my ropes!!! I'm a major part of the DNA of Hiphop because I take great pride in telling you I inspired the Furious 4 to be who they are. Melle Melle, Mr. Ness and Creole got their swag from Clark Kent!!! Later on they got with Cowboy and became The Furious 4, later on they got Rahiem and became The Furious 5. I inspired a whole generation of MCs and DJs because we were first!!!"
NORIN RAD:"How did that change of Breaking from being a dance done mainly on top to a dance that is basically centered on floormoves nowadays take place and what was your role in that process? Like I have heard that Trixie, Sasa and them did only very few floormoves if any at all and that you and the Twins were responsible for bringing the dance to the floor."
CLARK KENT:"They didn't have no floormoves! You see that's where we (Clark Kent & The Ni**er Twins) were known for changing the game 'cause first it was Trixie's era at Kool Herc's and then later Sasa came along and knocked him out the pocket cause Sasa took the crown from him so to speak. Then we came along! And you gotta remember Sasa can dance! That's my man at the end of the day I don't care what nobody says. But he was a stand up dancer. He did a lot of robots and he had alot of nice moves but when we came along we had floor moves. We would work out what we called the backdrop where we can drop down put your hands behind your back bend your knees get your hands hit the floor and you can spring up and down. Like I told you Sa was good in and out but if me and Sasa had ever got down I can honestly tell you today the floor moves would have taken him out!"
NORIN RAD: "But why did that battle between you and Sasa for the crown of the number one B-Boy never take place back then?"
CLARK KENT: "Well, because you gotta remember Sasa was a little older than me. Remember we were young kids at this time. You know we're only 14,15 years old but Sasa was a little older so he understood the magnitude, he understood the draw that a B-Boy showdown would bring to a Kool Herc production and he pulled me to the side and he said,"Yo we should get paid for this!" and I respected him for that and we took that to Herc and we told Herc, "We would have no problem doing it but why not cut us in on some of that cash?" And Herc never put up no cash and so it never really happened because Sasa was serious about getting paid for a showdown of that magnitude. Now me myself as a young kid I could have done it for free! I would have done it just for the fame and the notoriety! And the way that even came about was, you know, after the Twins and I had dusted off everybody else there was only one left...and to be totally honest with you...here I come along we're at a party and Herc is talking on the mic,"Number one B-Boy Sasa!!!!! Number two Clark Kent!!!" After a while you wanna get a taste of what it is like to hear Herc say,"Clark Kent is number one!" One night we was at the Hevalo and Sasa got in the circle and danced...'cause you gotta remember the top guys didn't dance every week.We pick and choose when we wanna dance! Some people were fortunate enough to be there to see us dance and those who wasn't there made sure that they came around so that if we chose to dance next time they were there to see it. We were the cream of the crop! It wasn't like you were guaranteed to see us just because you came to Kool Herc's yeah you would see us but we wouldn't dance every time we went there. You know to see me dance was like an event! You had to prepare for that! That's something that doesn't happen often so when it does happen it has to be a top flight performance, it has to be a show! Whenever I danced somewhere people talked about that until the next time I danced somewhere! When Sasa danced somewhere people talked about that til the next time he danced somewhere 'cause we was the cream of the crop!!! So to answer your question..Sasa was dancing at the Hevalo in a circle and I jumped his circle and when I jumped into that circle I did a floormove on him and the crowd went nuts because no one had seen anyone challenging Sasa and put something on him that worked. When I got up and started admiring my work as I came up out of my move and I backed out of the circle Sa did a move to me. He did some kind of Karate robot and did some Judo chops to me. So yeah it was like one for one. I did a move on him, he did a move on me. That let Sasa know, "You're next! I'm coming to get you!" That's when Herc started gassing up this major showdown between the number one and the number two B-Boy and that's when later that week Sasa pulled me to the side..'cause we all went to Taft High School even though we hung out at the parties we would see each other during the week at school...and me and Sa was talking and Sa told me, "We should get paid for that because we're bringing Herc an audience that he normally wouldn't have."Cause can you imagine that if Herc announced that there would be a dance contest between me and Sasa....if Herc was used to see 500 people that particular night he is gonna see 1000 people. So why shouldn't we be cut in on some of that? And I respect Sasa to this day for that!"
NORIN RAD:"So is it legitimate to say that the B-Boys were also an extremely important factor in the process of building this Hiphop culture since they drew large crowds to the parties of Kool Herc and other DJs?"
CLARK KENT:"That was the reason why most people came to Herc's because he had the top of the line B-Boys and I want to be real clear on this because I hear a lot of people out here that call themselves A1 B-Boys. I'm sure you heard that term before...The title A1 B-Boy is a title that Kool Herc gave to the elite B-Boys that attended Kool Herc's parties. So anybody who claims to be a A1 B-Boy and they wasn't at Kool Herc's they're lying to you!!! Of course people gonna copy that or try to replicate that in their neighbourhood but whatever they did in their neighbourhood didn't mean anything to us back then because if you didn't do it at Kool Herc's as far as I'm concerned you wasn't good enough."
NORIN RAD:"So the title A1 B-Boy was an accolade, right? Like a warrior who was knighted by a king..."
CLARK KENT:"It was an accolade...that's right! I don't mean this negatively, Norin. This is just the truth...There were a lot of pockets of B-Boying back then in different neighbourhoods but in my opinion if you was good come to Herc's and show us how good you are because everybody who came to Herc's who thought they was good we showed them through burning them and jumping their circle,"You need to go home and practice!"
NORIN RAD:"May I ask why you didn't mention Eldorado Mike as an A1 B-Boy?"
CLARK KENT:" I'mma give you a piece of gold here, Norin. Eldorado Mike WAS NOT A B-BOY. Eldorado Mike was known for dancing the hustle with girls just like Chip. The hustle dance.. that was another portion of the Kool Herc parties. See that's another misconception that people have is that they think that Kool Herc parties and all Hiphop parties was all B-Boys.IT WAS NOT!!! There was a portion of the party that people just came in, paid their money and danced. Then there was a portion of the party.. like we were elite B-Boys... Eldorado Mike.. guys like Chip they were elite hustlers...so they would do the Hustle with girls, you see what I'm saying?! So whenever I hear somebody mention Eldorado Mike as a B-Boy I know that person is full of shit."