Mittwoch, 5. August 2020

                                          Interview with DJ B-Ward (Rockwell Inc.)

                                                                              
DJ B-Ward (Rockwell Inc.)
                                                          
                                             conducted by Sir Norin Rad (The Intruders / Germany) 


SIR NORIN RAD:"From which part of the Bronx are you originally?"

DJ B-WARD:"Marble Hill Projects."

SIR NORIN RAD:"That's on the westside of the Bronx, right?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, by Kennedy High School, right by the bridge going into Manhattan."

SIR NORIN RAD:"How did you get into Hiphop? Were you a B-Boy once?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, yeah I used to breakdance. That's where it started from.......from going to  different clubs breakdancing. I never paid attention to who was actually playing the music because they only played the music we was like doing the B-Boy dance to. Then after that I started getting into DJing. You know, you like the music and you start playing the music yourself. I wind up finding my own beats back then. They sounded good so I put them into my music. That's how that went on. But when I started DJing I didn't know too many other DJs. I went to Afrika Bambaataa from the Zulu Nation and then when I was in school there was a guy named (Lovebug) Starski and also (Kool DJ ) AJ. AJ and Starksi....They used to do parties at Harlem Prep and The Renaissance but they had their own style. Everybody had their own style, you know? After a while everybody had a crew of three, four MCs and that's how I wind up doing the same. When they see you playing the music everybody wants to come in. I kept saying, "If they sound good bring'em in!" So I had a lot of MCs, maybe seven or eight but I couldn't really have everybody join the crew because they were too many. You don't wanna overflow it, just a certain amount of people so it looks proper. So I had to narrow it down to maybe three or four MCs. That's when I saw Flash coming around and when he was doing it I did a party with him also at the Ecstasy Garage. And then there were a few other guys..... Theodore....they called them The L-Brothers. Then I met one guy Kevie Kev (Rockwell)......he is still DJing now....I brought him in and he started rocking with me and we had good times. "

June 6th, 1980: The Rockwell Crew is rocking at the legendary Ecstasy Garage in the BX along with Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
 


SIR NORIN RAD:"What were some of the venues that you used to go to in order to dance when you were still a B-Boy? Would you go places like The Hevalo?"

DJ B-WARD:"The Hevalo....yeah I used to go there and dance also. A lot of guys.....Sasa was there, The Ni**er Twins, Clark Kent was there......a lot of good dancers that I know of were dancing there. After a while the younger guys started coming in and they started doing all this acrobatic stuff. That's when it got too far for me. (chuckles)"

SIR NORIN RAD:"What did the dance look like when you were doing it? I guess you were still dancing mainly on top?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, mainly on top. We might go down and do a flip but not like spinning on our heads. Nah, none of that. That came later on. I have seen young guys doing that. Nah, we would do things like The Pop-Up, The Robot.....something nice with the feet. Swinging the feet around and then fall down a certain way. Like that, you know? But not really the way the kids are flipping now. They're acrobatics now, you know?!" 

SIR NORIN RAD:"Did you have a specific B-Boy name?"

DJ B-WARD:"B-Ward they would call me. That was like my name as that. They would call me that, that would be short for Brian Warden. So they called me B-Ward. When I played football, when I played sports I wouldn't have the full name, I would have B-Ward on the shirt."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Did other B-Boys accompany you to these parties?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, I went with a few friends, we would go.....but the ones I would go with they wasn't B-Boys like me, they was just going to the party, you know? At that time it was all about breakdancing for me, I was a B-Boy. Everybody would say, "Go off! Go off!" They always  wanted me to dance 'cause they knew that's what I was doing at that time but they wasn't breakdancing. I grew up in the projects so you can imagine how many people I knew. Twelve buildings...so I knew everybody. When we would go to the parties we would go maybe nine, ten guys strong and out of them maybe one other guy was breakdancing but not so much, you know?! One guy I remember was CB (MC of the Rockwell Inc. Crew). He would breakdance now and then. A lot of times he would start it off for me. He would say, "I'mma start the party off!" He would start breaking and then I would follow behind."

SIR NORIN RAD:"So during which years were you active as a B-Boy? 1975 to 1977?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, it were no MCs then. No MCs at all. I didn't hear no raps then. Nobody was rapping then it was just the music playing." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"Okay, and when exactly did you start DJing? 1977/78?"

DJ B-WARD:"Around '78....around that time. I was like in and out of high school. At the end of high school I was trying to play my music. So yeah it was around that time."


May 2nd, 1980: Rockwell Inc. performs at Randy's Place in Harlem along with The Shining Stars


SIR NORIN RAD:"Please describe the process through which you build up your soundsystem and your record collection! I guess it involved a lot of money that had to be spent?" 

DJ B-WARD:" Oh, the record collection....... you just accumulate it. You buy records little by little as the money comes in and it's the same with the speakers and the rest of the equipment. You do a party here and make some money and use it to build up your sound system. When I was doing it Kevie Kev had equipment, too. He came along, he had stuff so we put everything together and that made it more and as you go along you buy as you go along. If you feel you need to do something to make your performance better you do that. We put lights, bright lights to entertain the people. You maybe wanna buy that little ball that when the light hits it, it has these spots on the floor.  You wanna surprise 'em, so you do what you have to do. It costs money, it's not free but you have to sacrifice like anything else when you want something."

SIR NORIN RAD:"I see. Who came up with the name Rockwell Inc.?"

DJ B-WARD:"I'd say my friend CB...Clarence....one of the MCs that was down with me. He came up with the name, "Let's call it Rockwell!" And Suzette was there and one guy named Darren.....Crazy Dee and one other MC was with us.... I don't remember his name right now but anyway CB came up with the name....Rockwell Incorporation and from there we just kept the name."     

MC CB of the Rockwell Inc. Crew


SIR NORIN RAD:"What was the main stomping ground of your group?"  

DJ B-WARD:"Well, we would rock in Marble Hill Park every chance we can get, when they allowed us to because that's where we grew up at. So we would just bring our equipment out, plug it in a lightpole and play our music. Marble Hill Park...it's one side of the projects with nine buildings, on the other side it's two and that's where the big park is. It was like a baseball field and there is a church right there.....St. Stephen's Church. That's the park where we would always set up in because it's so much room. So if a lot of people came they had the room to dance or whatever they needed to do and you have a lot of fences, a lot of people would climb up on the fences to see what we were doing."   

SIR NORIN RAD:"Were there ever any incidents where people would try to stick you up for your equipment in the park?"

DJ B-WARD:"No, we didn't have problems like that because the people I was with.....I grew up in the projects...  a lot of the guys that came with us they were crazy anyway so they made sure nobody bothered us. We had nobody robbing us. Nah!" 

SIR NORIN RAD:"Please describe how the MCs of your crew were recruited! Did CB pick them or did they have to audition in front of you?"

DJ B-WARD:"Well, CB was the closest one to me. We always hung out. Like I told you when we were breakdancing he was the only one that was breakdancing with me. He was more with me than anything.  He was always there so everytime I was playing my music he was rapping. He didn't have to audition to become a part of the crew because he was already down with me."

SIR NORIN RAD:"I have been told by that your MC squad also had a female MC by the name of Lady Suzette who was the best female MC of the West Bronx."

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, she used to MC, she would come by and MC. She was good, she grew up with us also. She lived in like a building next to mine."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Ok, so besides CB, Crazy Dee and Lady Suzette you also had Lil Dee and Kool Dee in your crew. How did they join Rockwell Inc.?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, I remember them. They came in, they rapped. Like I told you at that time I was looking for good MCs, people that could really do their thing and at that time I ran into Lil Dee and I said, "Come to the house! I wanna hear you rapping, let me see what you got!" And he rapped. I said, "Whenever I play you're coming with me!" He would do rehearsals with us and that's how he got in, you know? I brought him in because I liked the way he was rapping and everybody else liked him, too. So nobody had no conflicts, we all was good."


November 7th, 1980: The Rockwell Inc. Crew is rocking at John F. Kennedy High School along with DJ Red Ski (RIP) and DJ Prince


SIR NORIN RAD:"You also had one MC by the name of Ronnie Ron that died very young, is that correct?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, he passed away but he wasn't really in the group, he just lived in my building. He was more on a solo tip. He would rap but he would rap with anybody, you know? By him being close to me in the same building I said, "Come on, let's do our thing!" You know?! And a couple of times he would come down and we would rock. We would do different parks together.....Cedar Park. We would go out there, set up and we would rock. The crowd would be there, when I finished rocking I looked up and I'd see everybody all around and I'd be like, "Wow!!!""


DJ Kevie Keve Rockwell & MC Ronnie Ron (RIP)


SIR NORIN RAD:"So who exactly were the MCs of Rockwell Inc.? CB, Lady Suzette, Lil Dee, Kool Dee...."

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, and Crazy Dee, he was with me. That was my crew right there but Ron he was like a freelancer. He would do parties here, parties there but not really with us." 

MC Crazy Dee (Rockwell Inc.)


SIR NORIN RAD:"Okay, from what I have been told so far in the very beginning of Hiphop DJs used to play the whole song and so of course the B-Boys danced to the song in its entirety. They would really go off  though when the breakpart of the record set in......"

DJ B-WARD:"That's true." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"As time progressed Kool Herc would mix the breakpart of one song with the breakpart of another song......like Clark Kent said Herc would mix "Apache" with "Scorpio" and then take it back to "Apache" until one day he presented Herc with the second copy of "Apache" so he could keep that beat going."

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah!"

SIR NORIN RAD:"Still Herc and them weren't able to cut up the breaks in such a precise way as Flash would do later on after he had introduced various groundbreaking techniques to Hiphop. So my question is how did you become acquainted with the technique of the backspin? Was that shown to you by someone?"

DJ B-WARD:"I used to do pause button tapes with my man RC La Rock before I got myself two turntables. These pause button tapes are the same thing as if you put two turntables. You are trying to keep that beat going. That thing that came on my own, you know? That just came natural."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Could you please explain what a pause button tape is?"
   
DJ B-WARD:" A pause button tape...you would have the music play on a turntable and you would only tape the beatpart of the song and before the song came back in you would pause it. Then you would spin the record back to the part where there is only the beat and you would tape it again and then you would pause it again. Then at the end you would have just only that beat playing on your tape, you wouldn't hear no singer none of that. So this was just like cutting up records, you know? This would be the same as two turntables and a mixer...the beat just keeps on going. That's how that came along. That's how I started." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"So from producing these pause button tapes you were already familiar with the technique of spinning back records to the point where the beat sets in?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah. When you're young you experiment on different things and that's how that came along."

SIR NORIN RAD:"How much time would go into practicing your DJing?"

DJ B-WARD:"All the time!!!! All the time!!! As soon as school was out..... right to the music! I would come to my house, they (the Rockwell Inc. MCs) would play the music. I'm trying to do my own but the equipment was in my house so they would come and they wanted to rehearse. So I was like, "Let me finish my own then I can help you and rock with you."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Nice!"

DJ B-WARD:"And from there I'm rocking and rocking and that's it!!! All day long, all night long!! Hour after hour!! At daytime I would think about beats in my head that I wanted to cut up to make something out it. That was the life at that time!! (excited) We would go to a place called Downstairs Records. One guy.... he worked there....one young man and I would say, "You got any new beats here??"  So he would pull out a couple of records,"Check this out!" Boom! Then I would be, "Yeah, that was good! Somebody can rap to that!"  And from there that's what we would do.....go searching for different records. Wherever we could find beats we would go."

From left to right: DJ B-Ward (Rockwell Inc.) and DJ Charles


SIR NORIN RAD:"Could you please explain to the younger cats out here why DJs back then where so secretive about their beats?"

DJ B-WARD:"You wanted to save your good beats...... no one should hear them until you played them. Of course! That's your performance right there! You wanna provide everybody with the best beats only and at the same time you wanna come up with something new and that's how that have to go!!! You have to hide your certain songs. So when you perform you gonna say, "I'mma come out with this!" Especially if you're battling...you have to prepare for that."

SIR NORIN RAD:"So which precautions did you take against other DJs finding out about the titles of the beats you were playing?"

DJ B-WARD:"I would cross out the title with a marker and then a lot of times I would put an arrow where my certain beats is at. This way I knew where it's at, you know? Yeah, I would mark the records because I didn't want nobody to see what I was playing."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Which other methods besides going to different record stores did you use in order to acquire new beats?"

DJ B-WARD:"Well, my parents always listened to music and a few records I did take from them (laughs) and then I had to buy another copy of that record, sometimes even two because every now and then one would be so old it would skip so I had to get two of the same."  

SIR NORIN RAD:"This is something that will never cease to amaze me. I'm talking about the fact that back then DJs couldn't just download their beats from the internet as many do today but really had to search for them plus they always needed double copies."  

DJ B-WARD:"You had to! You had to go to a lot of  different record stores and look and hope they had it. I remember back in the day I was going to this store, to that store hoping they had it. And this one didn't have it I said,"Let me check this store. Let me check one more store." And then you might find it at one store that had it in an old collection. Maybe for 1$! (laughs) You might find it there sometimes. But yeah you're looking for a record and you find it in a supermarket. They're selling the album and it's there on a rack maybe for 1$ or at that time 1.99$. Yeah!"

SIR NORIN RAD:"Did you have a record boy back then? Someone that would hand you the records and also put them away when you were done with cutting up them up?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, yeah! A lot of times the MCs would help me with that. A lot of times before I would perform I would make sure I had my records set up already. Eight or nine records ready to play......in order..... in line, you know? What's gonna go first, what's gonna go second..I already had that planned, you know? And a lot of times when I had to put back my records I needed somebody to put them back in order so I wouldn't lose track. While you're DJing you wanna see the crowd and if they're not moving to this you gotta find something else that they move to. You know, you had to rotate. I had about six crates of records, you know a lot of records. We had trunks full of records!" 

SIR NORIN RAD:"How would you divide up the time on the turntables between DJ Kevie Kev Rockwell and you? Who was in charge of what? Who would DJ for the MCs?"

DJ B-WARD:"Well, we both were because if one gets tired the other one has to come on. A lot of times you're rocking and you don't wanna stay on the turntables because you wanna get a drink or something. Sometimes you need to walk around the crowd to say hello to your friends. Then you go back and do your thing. You don't wanna be on the turntables the whole night long. That's where it came in that I needed help, you know?" 
  
SIR NORIN RAD:"I see. I have been told by many people that you were one of the few DJs back then who actually managed to catch even those beats that only lasted for about 4 seconds. How did you do that?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, I would pick up the needle and catch it right away. Theodore used to that also." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"Amazing! Did you also mark the beats on your records with stickers?"

DJ B-WARD:"Yeah, I would put a little mark where the beat was, yeah! So when I was switching records this helped me to find the break right away but when you are cutting up beats everyday you catch it anyway because you know it."  

SIR NORIN RAD:"I've noticed that Rockwell Inc. used to perform quite often at a spot called The Promenade. Could you please describe this place?"

DJ B-WARD:"That's where I met Derrick Miller (aka DJ Mr. Dee) and them. The Cold Crushers (not to be confused with the Cold Crush Brothers)....they used to rock down there. It was a big hall in the basement of a building. The name of that building was The Promenade. You would go down to the basement...M3 or M4...I don't remember...it's been a while....but there used to be a lot of space and we would decorate it and make it look like a club down there and we would charge people to come in. We played a lot at the Promenade and when it was warm during the summer we would rock outside and then the rest of the parties we would do wherever the people asked us to rock. The Renaissance Ballroom, The Skate Key...wherever they wanted us to rock we would go." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"What kind of relationship did you have with the Cold Crushers back then?"

DJ B-WARD:"We did some parties together at The Promenade. We became good friends because we lived in the same neighbourhood. We went to the same school, we all went along and matter of fact I remember Derrick (DJ Mr. Dee of the Cold Crushers) I asked him to do my flyers after a while because he did really good flyers. He had one guy....Dayton...I forgot his name his..but he used to make flyers for the Cold Crushers and I said, "Yo, get this guy to make some flyers for me!" I liked his flyers and he finally helped me out."

The Promenade

SIR NORIN RAD:"There is this one flyer which announces a battle between your crew and The People's Choice from Harlem. What do you recall about this battle? Who won?"

DJ B-WARD:"I would leave that up to the crowd. All I know is when I'm rocking, I'm rocking the best I can! The crowd later on they would discuss these battles like, "You did good! You really turned it out" or "The other crew was good, too. It was a tie!" This and that....We just did what we had to do. But yeah I remember TPC they were from 149 Street (in Harlem) I think. We would battle them now and then."


June 29th, 1979: Rockwell Inc. battles The People Choice at The Promenade
SIR NORIN RAD:"What are your top five breakbeats?"   


DJ B-WARD:"Well, it's hard to tell because there were so many different beats that were nice. I couldn't tell you that right now. There was just so many beats...hundreds if not more."

SIR NORIN RAD:"DJ Kid Capri mentioned you as a huge inspiration of his. What do you remember about him?"


DJ B-WARD:"Well, Kid Capri.....he came up. I remember Kid Capri because I used to be up on Kingsbridge where he lived at. I used to go with a girl on his block and she had a brother and he was close to her brother. I would always see Kid Capri, he was always on the block. He also used to come to a lot of the parties but you know at that time when I was doing parties I would see him but when the crowd comes and you're behind the ropes and the crowd is on the other side you really don't know who's who because it's so many people. So you really lose track unless someone yells out your name and then you look and then you realize but other than that you don't know who's who. But I remember Kid Capri, he was very young and I remember when he started playing music and then he blew up! But at the time he was blowing up I was going out, you know?"



SIR NORIN RAD:"Would you like to give some shoutouts at the end of this interview?"


DJ B-WARD:"Well I wanna give a shoutout to DJ Kevie Kev. He is still doing his thing. A big shout out to Kid Capri because we all go way back. I grew up with these guys. I'd like to give a shoutout to the whole crew...CB...everybody...Suzette.....Larry...all of them and everybody that was with me."



 

   

 


    


Freitag, 24. Juli 2020

                                   Interview with MC Donald D (The Funk Machine)


                                                                       
                                                                
Donald D (The As-Salaam Brothers/Three The Hard Way MCs / The Funk Machine)
                                                                                                                                       

                                       
                                  conducted by Sir Norin Rad (The Intruders / Germany) 

SIR NORIN RAD:"From which area in the Bronx are you? I think you hail from Lambert Houses. Is that correct?"

DONALD D:"Right. Right. So basically Lambert Houses is in the South Bronx, probably a ten minutes walk to Bronx River Projects. Back then Lambert Houses they had some other legends that lived in that project complex like Sha Rock  from The Funky Four and Rahiem from The Funky Four /  Furious Five. Tony Tone from the Cold Crush also lived there." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"The legendary Style Writer Chain 3 is also from Lambert if I'm not mistaken."

DONALD D:"Yeah, and also there was another group called The M&M Crew which is like an unsung DJ crew that not too many people talk about. "

SIR NORIN RAD:"DJ M&M and his brother DJ Kool Joe."

DONALD D:"Right. Exactly! They lived right across the street from me. So yeah man, it was a lot of us young Hiphoppers in that project back then."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Who inspired you to become a MC?"

DONALD D:"Well, basically I had no one inspiring me because I had not seen any MCs in the beginning. The only person I saw on the mic was Kool Herc and he didn't say any rhymes to make me inspired to wanna do it. So basically it was me going to a party that a friend of mine who I played basketball with had told me about. He lived in the Soundview Projects and he was like, "Yo, there's a party going on over there with this DJ named Disco King Mario." So I'd go to check out Mario and Busy Bee Starski was on the microphone. So he basically was the first MC that I heard actually saying rhymes over the beat in rhythm. So that's where my inspiration came from. I remember it to this day.... they used to have this thing called the local bodega which was a store on the corner....I ran to the store, asked the guy in the store,"Can you give me a paper bag?" 'Cause back then they didn't give you stuff in a plastic bag, they gave it to you in a paper bag. So he gave me a paper bag and I also got me a pencil and I basically wrote down everything I heard (Busy Bee) Starski saying. That was my introduction to rhyming. So when I did my first party I was saying Busy Bee's rhymes!"  

SIR NORIN RAD:"Where did you see DJ Mario and Busy Bee Starski at?"

DONALD D:"123 Park."

SIR NORIN RAD:"I guess this must have been around 1978/79, correct?"

DONALD D:"I think it was 1978. I have to go back and look at some of the flyers. I don't really remember."

SIR NORIN RAD:"So what were your next steps towards becoming a MC? How long did take you to form your first crew The As-Salaam Brothers?"

DONALD D:"Me seeing Busy Bee is in the beginning of us starting the As-Salaam Brothers. I mean we're having this group called The As-Salaam Brothers and I'm rapping but not saying rhymes. I'm more like what I heard Kool Herc doing,"Yes, yes y'all! Clap your hands everybody!" I'm more like doing chants, nothing extravagant. So probably it could have been like a week later when my friend Andre asked me to go check out Mario. That's when I heard it (the rapping over a beat in rhythm) and then we would be coming up to our first party because up until then we didn't have any parties. We was just basically in DJ Rashid's house practicing, you know? He is cutting up beats and me and Easy AD is rhyming or whatever we called it at the time. We basically lied to Rashid, because he asked us,"Do you know how to rhyme?" and we said, "Yes!" And we had never done it (laughs)!!!  

SIR NORIN RAD:"Where did that name As-Salaam Brothers come from? As-Salaam is Arabic and means "Peace". Did you choose that name because you were Muslims?"

DONALD D:"Nah, I wasn't no Muslim, none of us was Muslims. Now I'mma tell you how this name came about!  First the name of this crew was The Hoe Avenue Crew which was the street where there was this boy's club.....basically the place where that big gang meeting took place to stop all the violence back in the days with The Black Spades, The Peace Makers, The Ghetto Brothers and all the other gangs.....basically Hoe Avenue is that street. So DJ Rashid lived on that street and he basically named his crew The Hoe Avenue Crew but now this is before me and Easy AD know him. It was him and he had his wife DJ Stephanie and a MC by the name of Frank Nitty.  During this time there was a guy that just hung out with the crew who was studying Muslim things and he came up with the name The As-Salaam Brothers. His name was Dave. So basically when me and Easy AD came aboard the crew was already called The As-Salaam Brothers."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Did the As-Salaam Brothers ever get to perform outside on a regular basis?"

DONALD D:"Like I tell you, when I wrote down all Busy Bee's rhymes that would lead to our first jam which took place in this abandoned building. Many people saw this movie "Beat Street"...they know how they do these parties in buildings where nobody lives.....you know, we did the same thing. You put your extension cords together, get the power from the street lamp and we would set up in one room of this apartment. People would basically be dancing in another room. We could not actually see the people and I was back there rhyming Busy's lyrics off the paper while Rashid was cutting up the beat and then somebody called me out and said, "Yo, you're saying Busy Bee's rhymes!!!" and "You're a biter!" From that day on is when I started writing my own lyrics. To this day I could tell you the first rhyme I ever wrote. I sat on the stoops of my building and I wrote to some beat that Rashid was cutting up on a cassette. And the first rhyme I wrote was, "Dip dive recreate, there's not a MC that I imitate. Got my own style, my own rhyme to show that I can rock your mind! I'm not telling a tale or fantasy, I'm just Donald D from the top of the key. When I shoot the ball through the net, put your money on the table and place your bet! If you win, if you lose, if you lose or you win, don't forget you can do it again! So party people get in the groove as I rock to the beat, I do it smooth! 'Cause the microphone I rock, the money I got, from the bottom of the sea to the World Trade top. I'm a rhyme designer, the women finder, the virgin breaker, the money maker! Donald D rocking the house!" That's the first rhyme I ever wrote!"  
  
SIR NORIN RAD:" Nice! I must say that rhyme already sounds pretty advanced."

DONALD D:"I don't know, man! I just knew I had to try to come up with my own style and it's funny because I put that rhyme on a song for my "Let The Horns Blow" album called "The Way It Used To Be".

SIR NORIN RAD:"I see. How long did the As-Salaam Brothers stay together and what was its main stomping ground?"

DONALD D:"I mean we didn't really have no stomping ground. We was kinda like gypsies, we roamed around wherever we could find a place to set up the soundsystem. I mean we basically stayed in that community in between 174th Street and 173rd.....Hoe Avenue, Vyse Avenue, Bryant Avenue. So they had empty lots where we would do jams in.....like I said...abandoned buildings. Now we did a few parties down like in an area called Freeman Street which was where the club The Dixie was at which is what they see in the movie "Wild Style" where they do the club scene. So we was doing parties down there and I remember that we did a party off Freeman Street and some stick up kids came in there and tried to rob the party and then one of our guys that was down with us named Stan pulled out his gun and once they saw the gun they ran. You know, we was just trying to get our name out there and as we were saying tried to do parties with the big-timers. We always looked at people like Bam & The Zulu Nation or Grandmaster Flash or The L-Brothers or Kool Herc and them or Breakout and Baron and them as the big-timers. We were still like way below all of them, we were just basically trying to pay our dues and earn our stripes. We almost thought we gonna get there when Easy AD and I saw Kool Herc walking down the street on Grand Concourse one day which we couldn't believe 'cause up until then we only saw him at his jams and we were always on the other side of the ropes. So to see Kool Herc approaching us was like...I guess it could be equivalent to somebody seeing Michael Jordan walking down the street in his heyday, in his biggest time ever and we basically asked Kool Herc if we could do a party with him.  He was like, "Okay, youngbloods! What's the name of your crew?" We gave him the name and he was like,"Yo, I'mma be doing this jam at this place called The Sparkle. I'mma put your names on the flyer!" So we was like,"Yeah!" and we would tell everybody that we were going to do this party with  Kool Herc. 'Cause one thing I always loved about Kool Herc.....he gave everybody a shot. He never felt like, "I have started this and I'm bigger than everybody!" He was like willing to put everybody on. He would let you present your art to the community. So we basically was gonna do this jam with Kool Herc but it never took place because the club burnt down before this jam could ever take place. So as As-Saalam Brothers we didn't have a long run at it, we probably did no more than 10 or 15 jams. And then it all came to an end when DJ Rashid decided that he was moving back to Jamaica with his family." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"So DJ Rashid was a true Hiphop DJ? Digging for doubles and cutting up breaks?"

DONALD D:"Yeah. So this is how we met Rashid.... as I say we used to go to the Hoe Avenue Boy's Club and that was a place that kept all of us young ones off the street....it prevented us from getting into trouble 'cause back then you had all the street gangs and as you know some of these gangs had younger divisions. So we went to the boy's club and we played on the basketball team, we played baseball...whatever the boy's club had. You could swim, shoot pool, do arts and crafts. It was a lot of things going on in the boy's club. So DJ Rashid worked at the front door and basically you had to have a membership card to get inside this boy's club and on your membership card it had your number on it. And he sat at the front door with a sheet of paper that had every member's number, so when you walked in through the door he checked it off so that the people knew that you entered the facility. But he would be sitting there with this giant boom box with all these breakbeats playing, you know? "Apache", "Catch A Groove", "I Can't Stop", "Scratchin'" all the classic breaks at that time. A few times we just went in and he never said anything to us but then this one particular time he asked me and AD, "Do you guys know how to MC?" And we said, "Yeah!" So he was like, "Aight, come up to my house!" Which he lived right next to the boy's club. So a few days later we went up to his house and he was cutting up beats and he gave us the mic. Like I said we didn't have no rhymes we were just going by what we had heard, "To the beat, y'all! Rock rock, y'all! Clap your hands!" That was the start of our hiphop journey, man!" 

Easy AD & Donald D (The As-Salaam Brothers)


SIR NORIN RAD:"I have seen a couple of flyers featuring DJ Afrika Islam and his partner, the late DJ Ed La Rock (RIP). The name of their crew is listed there as The Mayberry Crew. Were they still called The Mayberry Crew when you joined them?"

DONALD D:"No. Aight, so this is how this came about and I'mma first tell you a story about Ed La Rock. Ed La Rock went to elementary school with me but I never knew he was a DJ after that. After elementary school we didn't see each other no more 'cause you had to go to junior high school and all of that. I didn't even know he was a DJ till years later after I got down with Afrika Islam and them. So as this story unfolds I told you Kool Herc wanted to put us on this party..... the club burns down it doesn't happen. At that same time  DJ Rashid's family is moving back to Jamaica and he goes with them. So now we are not in no group.....me and Easy AD! So basically I was just doing nothing but in Lambert Houses there was a community center and there would be DJs in there playing music. I can't remember if it was the M&M Crew playing that night or if it was a guy from my building named Rod but I happened to be in that community center rhyming that day and there was this girl named Kim Anderson hanging out there. She was from my building, she actually lived on the floor above my apartment and she heard me and she was like, "Man, you're really good! You sound good!" and I was like, "Thank you!"  So then she was like," I want to introduce you to my boyfriend." And I was like, "Who is your boyfriend?" And she was like,"Afrika Islam." Now I had seen Afrika Islam going into the building before but I never knew he was going to see her. I saw him but I was too intimidated to say anything 'cause I always looked at him as one of the big-timers. He was part of the Zulu Nation!  I had already seen some of their parties when I went up to the Boston Secor Community Center and I saw him when they were known as The Mayberry Crew. He had a MC called Ell-J rhyming on the mic. So basically she said she wanted to introduce me to him. I meet him and he tells me,"Aight, why don't you come and try out for my group?" So I tell him, "No, I got another MC that rhymes with me named Easy AD." So he was like,"Aight, both of y'all come!" So we go the next day to DJ Superman's house which was a short walk from where I lived and we go in this house and go down to the basement and down in the basement is Afrika Islam. Once I got in there I was like shocked 'cause I saw all these big speakers and everything and I was like, "Yo, these speakers look like the ones I was seeing in Bronx River Center!" 'Cause I didn't know they was building this stuff themselves. So in the basement was Afrika Islam, DJ Jazzy Jay and DJ Superman. So we go down in there and DJ Jazzy Jay is on the turntables and he puts on "Seven Minutes Of Funk" and they basically ask me to rhyme and I'm rhyming, going off, saying whatever rhymes I can say. After I rhymed they asked Easy AD to rhyme. After we rhymed they told us to go outside....I guess they were having a little discussion. Then they called us back in and they was like, "Ok, we like you but we don't like him." So they basically liked me but they didn't like Easy AD. So my whole thing was like, "Yo, let's go, AD! We're out!" So he basically told me, "Yo D, this is your chance to get down with a known crew! Do it!" I was like, "How come y'all can't put AD in the group, too?" And they was like,"Nah! We're only looking for one other MC, we already have two MCs." Which was Kid Vicious and Ell-J. But I'm thinking like,"Well, there are other groups that have four MCs!" The Funky Four had four MCs, there was The Furious Four in the beginning and whatnot. So I was thinking like,"Why can't they put Easy AD in the group?" But AD was like,"Yo, just do your thing, man!" It was the unknown for me because now I was thinking,"I'm getting down with people I don't even know." But then they embraced me, you know? Ell-J welcomed me into the group 'cause actually he lived right near to where I lived in Lambert. So that made it easy for us to get around. So next thing you know I'm getting down with the crew. So basically when I got down with the crew was kinda when they shifted the name from The Mayberry Crew to The Funk Machine."  


April 7th, 1978: DJ Afrika Islam & The Mayberry Crew are rocking at the Boston Secor Community Center in the Bronx


SIR NORIN RAD:"From which part of the Bronx was Kid Vicious?"

DONALD D:"Kid Vicious was more on the Westside (of the Bronx). He was over there....Webster Avenue.....between Webster Avenue and Grand Concourse. So he would be more in that Kool Herc territory, not far from the P.A.L. where we did a lot of parties. It was funny because I was intimidated by them because I thought that they were more advanced than me because they were more experienced than me obviously. They had already done all these parties way more than me. Plus they were also on stage with Pow Wow and Mr.Biggs and Lisa Lee and all of them. So they had a lot more experience than me but they welcomed me with open arms and basically showed me the ropes and I fit in. We sat down, we would write routines and all of that, man."   


The legendary MC Kid Vicious (Three The Hard Way MCs /The Imperial Four/ The Funk Machine)

SIR NORIN RAD:"When did you join Afrika Islam and his crew?"

DONALD D:"That was about late '78 going into '79."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Where would the MCs meet up at in order to come up with routines and to rehearse? Would you meet up at DJ Superman's house or at DJ Afrika Islam's house?"

DONALD D:"We were doing both. Either at DJ Superman's house or at Afrika Islam's house 'cause now Afrika Islam lived in a community called Parkchester. We all basically lived in the same community. If you're going to the other side of Tremont you're in the community called Mayberry which was where they all started. So we would rehearse in Afrika Islam's house and make up routines. You know how MCs did it when you listen to the Cold Crush Four or The Force MCs. You kinda take stories..it could be from a commercial, it could be from a TV show. I remember we took one that was part of the TV show "Giligan's Island". We did it in a harmoninizing way and it used to go,"Just sit right back and you hear a tale, tale of some old school raps that started in the Boogie Down. We're taking you way way back! Kool Herc and the Mighty Herculords were the first to show us the way. Afrika Bambaata, Zulu Nation, DJ Jazzy Jay" and on and on and on.  So yeah that was one of the routines we did and we took Shananananana Anananana Eeeheeeeheeeehh Funk Machine!!! So we had little routines back and forth that we used to do, man! Little dance routines also..We were just trying to make our niche in that community back then because at that time you already had Rahiem as part of the Furious and they were on top of their game. They had set the standard. I was at the jam when they did "Flash is on the beatbox".......the original version....at Bronx River Center and that took us to another level! Seeing them doing,"Just stepped in the party.....", just them doing all of that! Rahiem could sing! They had it down!! So we was like, "Man, we have to step up our game!" Then you also had the Funky Four Plus One doing their thing after Lil Rodney Cee and Jazzy Jeff got in the group. Jeff and Rodney used to be at the boy's club playing basketball with us. You know, I remember the Ni**er Twins coming up in the boy's club playing basketball.....I also saw Waterbed Kev and Master Rob from The L-Brothers playing basketball there. I remember seeing them.....funny story....at 63 Park and I went and I was like, "What?!" 'cause I remembered Kevin (Waterbed Kevie Kev) from playing basketball at the boy's club. When I saw them I was shocked. They was kinda like the second wave of MCs that I saw. After Busy Bee I saw the L-Brothers. My high school was right down the street where (Grandwizard)  Theodore lived and then Keith Cowboy (from The Furious Five) lived right across the street from the main entrance of my school. It was funny 'cause when I used to go to school in the morning I'd be seeing Mele Mel and Kid Creole and Cowboy and them standing right in front of the building. I didn't know them at the time. Basically I was like,"Damn! Those dudes are the big-timers!" Going back to the As-Salaam Brothers days...'cause I left this out. We were supposed to do a jam at this place called The Black Door. So we basically gave out our flyers which said that we were going to be performing at this club The Black Door. So the night of the jam the owner said we couldn't do the party. We were like,"Why???" He said, "'Cause Grandmaster Flash is having a party." So basically their manager Ray Chandler kicked us out of the place and put them. So we was thinking, "We gave out all these flyers so the people that are coming to the club they are coming to see us!" (laughs) So I remember standing there on the other side of the rope watching them. Me and Easy AD we were mad, man!  I was mad to the point where I started talking crap to Mr. Ness. At the time I was like, "Y'all ain't even that good!" I 'm telling Mr. Ness this story, "One day we gonna be better than y'all and you gonna need my help!" But watching them I got a full education on how to become a MC 'cause each one of them gave me something different. Kid Creole showed me the art of rocking the echo chamber. Cowboy gave me the technique of how to rock the crowd....get them involved. Mele Mel showed me how to be complex with the rhymes and then Mr. Ness...and also Cowboy...they were the first to show me how to make the rhyme into a story. I remember seeing Caz one time before he was with the Cold Crush when he was just Casanova Fly.....DJing and MCing...he did a rhyme about Jaws, about a shark and I was so intrigued with that story! But then when I heard Cowboy say the rhyme about the mouse on the hill.....He said,"There was a little mouse that lived on a hill. She puffed the joint like Buffalo Bill until one day I went for a ride with my echo chamber by my side." So he was the first that I heard say a story that made me visualize more than hearing somebody bragging about himself or jump in the O.J. whatever whatever... So basically I got educated that night that we didn't get to do this party. I learnt all these different techniques to become a MC."   

SIR NORIN RAD:"When you joined Afrika Islam's crew the name of the MC squad was Three The Hard Way MCs, is that correct?"

DONALD D:"Right. Yeah, that was the name that Afrika Islam gave us to identify us within the group. He took it from the "Three The Hard Way" movie back then."

SIR NORIN RAD:"That's what I was about to ask you 'cause I got the soundtrack to this movie which was done by The Impressions after Curtis Mayfield had left them...."

DONALD D:"Right. He gave us that name, man! Afrika Islam always had a vision of different things to incorporate within us and he told us about the technique of passing the mic around....everybody say a part... which he had also learnt from The Furious. I'm pretty sure The Furious got that idea from listening to groups like The Temptations.....going back to songs like "Ball Of Confusion" where each member is saying one part...the five of them...and at the end everybody come in together. So we basically incorporated that technique and we were just there doing all these parties, man." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"There is this clip of The Temptations on youtube where they are performing "Papa Was A Rollling Stone" on Soul Train. It's amazing to see them doing all these choreographed steps and hand gestures..."

DONALD D:"That was the blueprint of being showmen on stage for the first generation of MCs. We had to rehearse, man!! It wasn't like today. Now you can just make a record in your bedroom and just go on the stage and have no experience and don't need to know how to really perform. We rehearsed many, many days, man! We would just perfect our technique and you could see when The Furious 5 did their parties back then or The Fantastic 5 or The Cold Crush Brothers or The Force MCs......everybody was on point. Even The Funky 4......there was no half stepping when it came to showmanship on stage." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"So I guess the members of the MC squad were expected to show up on time and to really work hard during those rehearsals?"

DONALD D:"Yeah, 'cause you know a group could be hard if not everybody is on the same page.  You see within a lot of the early groups the sense of unity eventually vanished because of various reasons. A group is the hardest thing to keep together, man! In my house my mom played The Temptations, James Brown, Sam Cooke. Even as a kid my mother took me and my brother to our first concert. We saw James Brown, The Temptations and Jean Knight at The Apollo back in the 1970ies. This is when Dennis Edwards was the lead singer of The Temptations. So I got to see first hand all the movement on stage and this was even before I thought about being in any music group."

SIR NORIN RAD:"What was the main stomping ground of the Funk Machine Crew? Was it Bronx River Center?"

DONALD D:"Yeah, basically the same places that Bambaataa did jams we were there and I have to put this in there because when I spoke about all the MCs that gave me the education I forgot to mention Pow Wow. He also played a big role. Love Kid Hutch, Lisa Lee, Sundance (RIP)....they all played a big part at that time. Watching them, checking out their techniques.....all that educated me. So we basically played in Bronx River Center, The Webster P.A.L., The Ecstasy Garage, Boston Secor...you know, places uptown. The Stardust Ballroom...we was all over the Bronx. We even went out to Queens and did parties with The Disco Twins. You know, we was up in Manhattan. Wherever there was a party we was there, man!"

February 16th, 1980: Afrika Islam & The Funk Machine are rocking at the Ecstasy Garge along with DJ Rockin Rob & The Mean Machine


SIR NORIN RAD:"What about the parks? Was there a specific park where you would play at regularly?"

DONALD D:"We did a lot of parties at 118 Park, 129 Park.......123 Park...that's outside of Bronx River Center...we did a lot of jams there. Basically we was all over. We went trough many changes though. When we were The Funk Machine we later on added a fourth MC and changed the name of the MC squad from Three The Hard Way to Imperial Four."

SIR NORIN RAD:"You're talking about Elroy, right?"

DONALD:"Yeah, with Elroy in the mix. Elroy was a guy who worked at the Downstairs Records Shop. I think that's where Afrika Islam actually met him on one of his journeys to go and find vinyl with Bam and Jazzy Jay. So we brought Elroy in the mix. Caz even got down with us for a little bit 'cause he was one of those roaming MCs. He would just come and get down. This is way before the Cold Crush became known. If you go back to the original Cold Crush Four Caz wasn't in that group. They started with Whipper Whip and Dot-A-Rock (RIP) and two other guys along with DJ Charlie Chase. So Caz and J-DL came a little later 'cause remember they were The Notorious 2 and before that Caz was with DJ Disco Wiz. So Caz also got down with us for a little bit, you know?"

Elroy & Afrika Islam ( The Funk Machine)


SIR NORIN RAD:"Please describe the style of each MC of the Imperial Four as well as the role that each MC had within your squad! J-DL of the Cold Crush 4 told me that in his crew he was in charge of getting the crowd hyped up and that Easy AD was like the pretty boy who had all the girls screaming for him...."

DONALD D:"He was the girl taker, he became Prince Of The Hiphop." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"Yes, and Caz was their super lyricist. So please describe the role of each MC within the Imperial Four!"  

DONALD D:"Well, Kid Vicious was our motivator. He would set it off, get the crowd involved. Kid Vicious had this unique voice, man!!! He was that,"I'll start and get everything popping!" You know, shouting out Islam,bigging up the DJs and everything and then Ell-J was more of that smooth MC. You know,"Ell-J rocking on to the break of day!". And then I was more of like that storytelling MC. I always incorporated my sport into my rhymes...just little things like that...and I would just tell a story.....either facts or fiction. Then later on when Elroy came in, he basically just fitted in. 'Cause then when he came in we kinda split up. When we did routines on stage we'd split into two groups. Elroy would be with Kid Vicious and me and Ell-J would be together. Then we would all come together. At that time Afrika Islam and Jazzy Jay were the first DJs to do tagteam routines together on stage. They were doing routines that were way ahead of their time. No other DJs at that time were doing what they were doing 'cause most crews didn't have two DJs that was really good. If you look at Flash...yeah he was Grandmaster Flash but then you had EZ Mike and Disco Bee. They didn't get on at prime time and play. Theodore was basically the main DJ of the L-Brothers. You had Mean Gene and Cordie-O but Theodore was the main attraction of that group. So with us Jazzy and Islam were great when they would do these routines together, man.  I always thought Jazzy Jay was ahead of his time. I just used to love his DJing at the parties especially when he cut up songs like "Bustin' Loose". Some of his mixes.... I'd be like,"Man, this dude is incredible!"


The legendary MC Ell-J (Three The Hard Way MCs/ The Imperial Four/ The Funk Machine)

SIR NORIN RAD:"What exactly was the role of DJ Superman within your group? I've heard that he helped to build up Afrika Bambaataa's soundsystem but he wasn't exactly that type of DJ that would cut up breakbeats at the parties, was he? What kind of music did he play?"

DONALD D:"He was more like a Disco DJ. He'd probably throw on some disco. He would be playing when people were showing up at the party, coming to the place. But Superman was the architect of the soundsystem. All this stuff was being built in his basement. So he had that knowledge to build the speakers, get the amps together. So he was our soundsystem man. He played that part. He was more what EZ Mike and Disco Bee were to Grandmaster Flash." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"What was it like to perform as a MC at Bronx River Center for the first time?"

DONALD D:"That was the first time I ever did a party with Afrika Islam and them as The Funk Machine. That was in Bronx River Center...outside....and I was scared to death because I had told a lot of my friends, "Yo, I'm gonna be having a jam in Bronx River Center!" They thought I was lying, they thought I was crazy because they was like, "Come on, man. Those guys are the big-timers!" They were like, "Yeah, yeah right." I went many times to Bronx River..like I said I was on the other side of the ropes looking up at that stage, watching  Pow Wow and Mr.Biggs and all of these guys gettin' down. So when I got there as a MC they welcomed me, man! I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that I was amongst all of these MCs..standing on the stage with all of them 'cause as you know back then in the Zulu Nation there was like a thousand MCs. So once you said your rhyme you was not gonna get the mic   passed back to you for a while. That's why back then everybody said rhymes that were very long. There was no 16 bars, you did your whole arsenal of rhymes up until you passed the mic to the next MC and then you waited for your turn again, man. But then when you think those parties went on all night. It was not like a one hour jam. It would probably start at 8 and finish at 5 in the morning. I used to always like that. You know, sometimes we did parties where we made just enough money that we could go eat White Castle after the jam, man! It was fun, man! It was innocent." 


October 24th, 1980: Afrika Islam & The Funk Machine are rocking at the Ecstasy Garage along with Touch Of Class

SIR NORIN RAD:"Did you also become a member of the Zulu Nation when you joined the Funk Machine?"

DONALD D:"Yeah. So once I got into the Funk Machine I became a member of the Zulu Nation. Now I'mma tell you a funny story though it wasn't funny at the time.... The area where The As-Salaam Brothers were from was more like the turf of The Peace Makers and being that gangs were basically over but there was still some claiming the name...like The Fun City Peace Makers and so on. So basically when we broke up as the As-Salaam Brothers and I got down with Zulu they were basically like, "Yo, you ain't allowed around here!" 'cause they didn't really like each other. And the crazy thing is that my girlfriend at the time lived in that area on Bryant Avenue. I remember one night I was leaving her house and I always used to cut up Hoe Avenue to walk back towards Lambert. So this particular night I walked 173rd Street, past the boy's club, past Hoe Avenue and I remember looking to my right and I'd see police cars and an ambulance and I just kept walking and I was like,"Man, what happened!?" So I found out the next day that one of my friends that I grew up with and who was basically kinda like security of the As-Salaam Brothers group got shot and died. So I was like,"Man!!!" From then on I was just a member of the Zulu Nation."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Did you have to go through a special initiation process to join the Zulu Nation?" 

DONALD D:"Well, initiation......my initiation was that I was down with Afrika Islam. Whatever initiation they had prior to that I don't know nothing about.  You know, I would just go to the meetings every now and then. It wasn't like I went to all of them. I was more part of the Zulu Nation on the music side. Whatever took place with the guys that were part of the gang life or the security I never really mingled with none of them. I would see them at the party and I would know who Spider was, who Monk was.....you know, B.O. and all of these dudes. You know, Smitty.....Smitty was the guy who rocked the echo chamber for us. If you go back and listen to all those Zulu or Funk Machine tapes, you always hear,"Smitty is on the echo!" He actually controlled the echo chamber as we were rhyming on stage. Whatever was the bad side of Zulu I never was part of that, man."     

SIR NORIN RAD:"What kind of things were discussed in those Zulu Nation meetings?"

DONALD D:"History lessons, things to uplift the community...you know, keeping everything in a positive light to get the kids off the street whether they were into drugs, crime or their family didn't have enough money to eat. Just basically uplifting the community. It took a whole shift from what originally was.....from the Black Spades to the Organization to where it became a positive image of just partying and  having fun and bringing peace within the community."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Kimba from the Infinity Four once showed me a flyer dating back to December 1979....."

DONALD D:"At the P.A.L?"

SIR NORIN RAD:"Yeah, exactly. Was that some type of competition?"

DONALD D:"Yeah! To this day Kimba and D.St don't own up to it that we smashed them that night.  We smashed them! I'm telling you. Lyrically they couldn't compare to me, Kid Vicious and Ell-J. Shahiem was good but they were not.....I don't think...on our level, man. I mean D.ST was an incredible DJ as we all know but Afrika Islam and Jazzy Jay were also great at that time, so I don't think he had the advantage. But they won't admit it. I wish I could find the tape, man!"

October 6th, 1979: Afrika Islam & The Funk Machine are battling Grandmixer D.St & The Infinity Squad at the legendary Webster P.A.L. in the Bronx


SIR NORIN RAD:"Could you please explain to the people out here in Europe how original DJ/MC battles went down?"

DONALD D:"Basically it was based on the routines that the MCs were doing. You may have some stuff in your rhyme that is talking about that crew that you're going against 'cause I think we had one party....I think there is a tape out...we did a party at Bronx River Center against The L-Brothers and we did a routine......an Apache routine that was directed towards Master Rob, Kevie Kev and them. Kid Vicious was kinda like the bandleader and then me and Ell-J was coming in with the routines and Afrika Islam was doing this Apache cutting in and out against them. So basically that's how you did it, you did routines. Like if you go back and listen to the night when the Cold Crush 4 battled The Fantastic 5 at Harlem World, basically that's how it was. We did routines like that. It was also based on whose soundsystem was the loudest. So basically if you battled Kool Herc you would lose because he had a soundsystem that was very loud at that time. I also think that when we did that party in Bronx River against the L-Brothers our soundsystem was way louder than what the L-Brothers had. We were on the main stage and they was set up down where the people where, but to the right of the stage... . Those were good times, man!"


October 19th, 1979: DJ Afrika & The Funk Machine are battling against The L-Brothers at the Bronx River Center. 


SIR NORIN RAD:"Please describe your process of writing rhymes back then!"

DONALD D:"A lot of them I wrote with no music. Just sitting in my bedroom, looking out my window. Just writing....but then a lot of them I wrote where Afrika Islam would give me a cassette tape of him cutting up breaks and I would just sit and write. But when we did routines like as the group we did it all together. We would be at Afrika Islam's house in his bedroom and coming up with routines....sitting up in there. I tell you another thing even back then I would still get down with other groups. Like help some of the DJs and MCs that were in my community. Like later on I was in the group called The Mark V MCs....."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Master Tee's group......"

DONALD D:"Yes, that was Master Tee's group and then who started out with them....that came ouf their camp was Just Ice and they were part of DJ Kenny Ken."

SIR NORIN RAD:"The K-Connection."

DONALD D:"Right. So that's that area, so I was down with Master Tee and Raydeen and all of them on that side. Then over by the boy's club I was with The Fabulous Five." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"At the beginning of our interview you mentioned a lady by the name of Kim Anderson...."

DONALD D:"Yeah, so Kim Anderson...it's funny there is some footage of her....there is a scene  I can't remember which movie it's from but there's a scene where there is Sha Rock and Lisa Lee rhyming back and forth together. No music they're just rhyming  and Kim is there with them. So Kim was always there, hanging out with Sha and Lisa. She played a big part. Her name was Taste back then."

SIR NORIN RAD:"That's what I wanted to ask you about whether Kim Anderson was known as Taste. Cholly Rock told me about a B-Girl from Lambert that went by that name...."

DONALD D:"Yeah, exactly. That's her. Like I said she was the girlfriend of Afrika Islam and she introduced me to him."

Zulu Queen Taste


SIR NORIN RAD:"What do you remember of the time in Hiphop when there were no MCs, when it was still all about the DJs and the B-Boys at the jams?"

DONALD D:"Yeah, I mean going to Herc's parties. Like I said there was nobody really MCing so yeah I saw like the Ni**er Twins gettin' down there and then later on when I went to Bam's parties I would see like the Zulu Kings gettin' down. I'm talking about before I'm knowing Afrika Islam I'm seeing him dancing, I'm seeing D.St gettin' down. You know Cholly Rock and all of these dudes. There was a whole generation before the Rock Steady Crew and all of these guys that was gettin' down, man."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Please name your top five breakbeats to rhyme to!"

DONALD D:"First and foremost "Apache" (by The Incredible Bongo Band). I get on that and say my rhymes and say the "Ikey and Mikey" rhyme. Bob James "Take Me To Mardi Gras". "Catch A Groove" (by Juice),  "Seven Minutes Of Funk" (by The Whole Darn Family), "Funky Drummer" (by James Brown) and I gotta throw in "Impeach The President" (by The Honey Drippers). Also "Kool Is Back" (by Funk Inc.)......ah man, that could be up there at the top of the list, too."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Would you say that Afrika Islam benefitted from the fact that one of his MCs namely Elroy worked at Downstairs Records?"

DONALD D:"Yeah, I mean but they would go in there before Elroy was even working there. They were out record hunting everywhere. I been on some record hunts with Islam and Jazzy Jay they were just basically going any and everywhere digging for records. But yeah they probably did benefit from Elroy because he probably either always gave them records for free or sold them at a real good price."

SIR NORIN RAD:"When the MCs got together with the DJs to plan a show how would the process of selecting beats go down?"

DONALD D:"Islam would basically come out and he would say, "You know, you guys rhyme over "Apache"when we throw it on. Okay, let's make a routine to this beat!" Now remember how we did it where me and Ell-J would go,"Funk Machine is on the scene, known to make the ladies scream!" Afrika Islam would cut in BOOM BAP BOOM BOOM BAP......Then we would say, "We got three DJs going all the way: Islam, Superman and Jazzy Jay!" We would basically make up routines according to the breakbeats that Islam and Jazzy Jay came up with."


SIR NORIN RAD:"Damn! So who was the captain of the Three The Hardway MCs / Imperial Four MCs?"

DONALD D:"Like Grandmaster Caz was the captain of the Cold Crush? Kid Vicious....he was more like the captain of the group." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"The younger generation out here is not aware of the various challenges which MCs had to face back then when they were rocking in the parks with their DJs. How would you handle such critical situations as the skipping of the needle or stick up kids robbing cats in the crowd?"   
   
DONALD D:"To go to the first part when the record would skip...basically we learnt how to keep it going whether you still keep on rhyming or you just get the crowd going,"Throw your hands in the air and wave'em like you just don't care!" and then Afrika Islam or Jazzy Jay would come right back in on whatever you're saying. You know, they would just bring it right back in. So we would never..... like I see a lot of artists in recent years...something happens on stage they panic and either they stop rhyming or they get mad at the DJ and whatnot and I be like,"Yo, you as a MC...Master Of Ceremonies....you should know how to do it!" I see a lot of today's artists don't have that technique because they have never been in parties to either practice it or learn how to do it. Like I said today's rappers they can make a hit in their bedroom and never been on stage or at a party ever. They get on stage and don't really know how to perform. With us we learnt how to really MC. As for the stick up kids..yeah, they were there, man. I mean at our parties there was no guns being drawn. Zulu Nation's whole thing was, "Come In Peace Or Leave In Pieces!" So there wasn't that much violence going on. I was lucky that I never got any of my stuff taken back then whether I was wearing Adidas or Pumas or Pro-Keds or a Cortefiel Coat or any of that.  I never got stuck up for any of my stuff but they were there."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Out of all the numerous MCs that were down with the Zulu Nation ranging from The Soul Sonic Force all the way to The Devastating Four who were your top 3?"

DONALD D:"Oh, my top 3? 1. Donald D 2. Donald D 3. Donald D."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Alright." (laughs)

DONALD D:"Nah, I'll tell you. Now my top 3 is Pow Wow, Lisa Lee and Sundance (RIP). Those are my top 3, man."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Would you like to give any shout outs at the end of this interview?"

DONALD D:"Man, I just give shout outs to basically all the guys that I started out with: Easy AD and Rashid. All the Funk Machine: Islam, Superman, Jazzy Jay, Kid Vicious, Elroy, Ell-J. All the people I worked with pre records. Also Bam back in the day, man. I wanna thank you for your time, man, and all that you do. Put all these interviews out there with some of the unsung heroes that many people don't know about or forgot about. "

SIR NORIN RAD:"Thank you! Shout outs to my crew the Intruders, Sureshot La Rock for all the flyers and Troy L. Smith!"   

Dienstag, 9. Juni 2020

     Interview with Keith & Kevin (The Legendary Twins, formerly known as The Ni**er Twins)



The Legendary Twins
SIR NORIN RAD:"Where were you born and raised at?"

KEITH:"In the Bronx, New York."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Okay, where exactly in the Bronx were you born and raised?"

KEITH:"Well, my brother and I we were born in Bronx Lebanon Hospital. They have like two different locations. My brother and I we were born in the very first location which was on Fulton Avenue between 169th & 168th Street. The year....we were born in 1960, so that means we will be 60 years old this year."

SIR NORIN RAD:"When you started dancing you were living in an area which is called The Nine, right?"

KEITH:"Exactly, that's where we lived at! We started dancing publicly when we was in junior high school, right?"

KEVIN:"Yeah."

KEITH:"7th grade......"

KEVIN:"At the talent shows...."

KEITH:"It was at the school's talent shows where we started really dancing. I mean we danced at home with our family but our first public performance was at our junior high school.  They had like a concert that they do every year."

SIR NORIN RAD:"What's the name of the junior high school that you attended?"

KEITH:"Arturo Toscanini..he was a musician. Arturo Toscanini Junior High School on 165th Street & Teller Avenue in the Bronx."

SIR NORIN RAD:"169th Street & Washington Avenue is that The Nine?" 

KEVIN:"Yes!"

KEITH:"Yes! The building that we lived in was right there on that corner between 168th and 169th but really closer to 169th. The building number was 1285 on Washington Avenue."

SIR NORIN RAD:"I have noticed that when people from other parts of the Bronx talk about The Nine they often also include Webster Avenue in their definition of that area. That is not correct though, is it?"

KEITH:"Webster Avenue is a couple of blocks away from Washington. It's like two blocks over, you know what I mean? So you can say it's part of the area but the exact location of The Nine was 169th Street & Washington Avenue. That was it! That particular corner where the center was at, the community center for the projects. It was right there on The 9. Our building was diagonally from that building. That was Claremont Center."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Is that community center also the place where you and your brother went against other dancers for the first time?"

KEITH:"I don't know if you wanna say that. Kevin, was that the first place we danced against other people? 

KEVIN:"I mean we danced pretty much everywhere."

KEITH:"On The 9 that was one of the places where.. like during the summer months... if Kool DJ Herc didn't come out it was several different DJs that would bring their equipment out and we would dance outside.....in the back of our building and in the park. We danced there."   

SIR NORIN RAD:"Did you also go to other areas in order to check out the DJs that were playing there?"

KEVIN:"We used to go downtown and see......what's the kid's name?"

KEITH:"Plummer!  Yeah, but those were Disco DJs, it wasn't like the Hiphop thing. There was a time when we went to parties to check out the other scene, just to see what it's like and they had like DJs that weren't playing the type of music that Herc would play, you know what I'm saying?!? Flowers, Plummer, Pete DJ Jones and all of these guys. It wasn't no breaking at those type of parties."

KEVIN:"No!"

KEITH:"It was just straight dancing and people doing The Hustle and what have you."

SIR NORIN RAD:"What about DJ Smokey's parties?"

KEITH:"Yeah, we been over there before. That was on The G-Nine. Grant Avenue...... 169th Street & Grant Avenue.........that's what they called The G-Nine because it was on 169th Street. Smokey and Rob The Gold and they had Lucky there. Those guys."

SIR NORIN RAD:"What made you go to Kool DJ Herc's parties?"

KEITH:"My brother and I we were in junior high school, Arturo Tosacanini. I had a classmate... one of my better friends named Daryll Green. We would go visit him at his house, he would come visit us at our house. So they had a community center over in his area where he lived at. So we would go over there when we visited him. We would go to the community center and play basketball,  play ping-pong or what have you. The school was over there near University Housing Projects, the Highbridge Houses over there on 165th Street & University Avenue and Ogden Avenue...that's where the school was at. We would go to that school just to have fun....to that community center. So when we would go over there we would meet other young girls that would be there as well and they would ask us "Are y'all going to Herc's?" We had no clue what Herc's was and so we asked them"What is Herc's?" and they explained to us that it was a party. Now mind you we were 12 years old at the time....like 1973. They were telling us that Herc was having parties like every weekend and they would tell us where the party was at. So we wanted to go there and check it out. That's pretty much how it started. Our first Herc party.... Cindy (Kool Herc's sister) was at the door collecting the money. She was collecting like 50 cent or something like that. My brother and I we were like the smallest guys going to that party and originally they didn't want to let us in 'cause they thought we was too young basically. All of the kids that were going to Kool Herc's parties were in high school, we were in junior high school. So we would wait, wait, wait and we would finally get in." 

SIR NORIN RAD:"What was the atmosphere like at these early Kool Herc parties in that rec room on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue?"

KEITH:"Ah man, it was amazing!!! First of all, it was exciting just to get in. Then the music and all the people that were there doing their thing.....Trixie, Wallace Dee, Chubby....People don't talk about Chubby anymore, he was a bad boy, too!"

SIR NORIN RAD:"I have been told that you and your brother would do intricate routines like the Groucho Marx routine back then. Where did you draw your inspiration from to do this kind of routines?"

KEITH:"Well, I mean of course you would see a lot of that stuff on TV. We would practice at home, in my mom's living room. We would move the table out of the way, out of the living room. Then again, we lived in the projects so the space we had was our apartment and normally the living room is the biggest room in the house. So we would move the table out the way and we would practice. You would practice your moves, everything that you gonna do. You would play the same records over and over again and you would practice your moves to certain parts of the records. You gotta remember we were 12 years old when we were practicing our routines."

SIR NORIN RAD:"There are certain people who claim that you and your brother were not exactly a crew.  What is your take on that?"

KEITH:"Well, there was two of us, right? So we were a two-man crew! We were a two-man crew of a whole crew. Let's keep it a hundred...part of our crew was B-Boy/DJ Clark Kent, Chip.....we were all from The Nine. We had our own crew from The Nine but what separated my brother and I was just us two because we had our own routines! That's what separated us from everybody else. Now there were times when Clark Kent used to come to our house every day and practice in my mother's living room with us! There were many years that Clark Kent, my brother and myself were inseparable. We were together every single day for years straight! People may not know that, if you lived on The Nine you knew that. You didn't see one without seeing three of us. We grew up together and spend a awful lot of time together! Just to let you know we brought Clark Kent to Herc."

KEVIN:"Yeah, he came with us to Herc."

KEITH:"Clark Kent started as a dancer, then he turned into a DJ. He started DJing with Herc. So it was Clark Kent, Kool Herc, Coke La Rock and DJ Timmy Tim. It was those four. Then Imperial JC came on years later."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Could you describe some of the routines that you and your brother were doing at Herc's parties?"

KEITH:"Well, I mean just basically things that we practiced during the week. We didn't just do the Groucho Marx or the Charlie Chaplin routine at the Herc parties. Every week we practiced a routine and then when we went to the party we would do the routine. Then the next week we practiced other routines. Something else. So we always did different things, you know what I'm saying? That's how it was with us we always practiced so many different things. It wasn't like we would go in there and do the same thing all the time. It was never like that. We practiced, that was our way of not getting involved with a lot of the stuff that was going on outside during our teenage years. There were gangs but it was different back then with the gangs. Totally different, you know what I'm saying? It were no Bloods and Crips. It was a whole bunch of different names. Black Spades, Savage Skulls, Savage Nomads...just so many different names. We stayed away from the gangs, that wasn't our thing, you know?"

SIR NORIN RAD:"What did the Groucho Marx routine entail?"

KEITH:"We dressed up in trenchcoats, we had canes, cigars and all that stuff. Our signature move though was probably just dropping, going down to the floor. That was probably our signature move 'cause not many people were doing that."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Yes, I have been told that you and your brother (as well as Clark Kent) were responsible for the transformation of the dance since you were the first to actually take it down to the floor."

KEITH:"That's what you heard and that's what it is!"

SIR NORIN RAD:"When did that take place? I guess it must have been after the battle between Trixie and Sasa that took place at the Twilight Zone in late 1974, is that correct?"

KEITH:"Okay, let's understand this. 1973 and 1974 is a year apart. We started going to the Herc parties in 1973."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Ok, I see."

KEITH:"So I mean how much further would you say? Like a year? That still would not make much of a difference.....so be it. We had our inspiration and our inspiration was James Brown. He always went down to the floor because he did the split. That's actually going down to the floor! And then the footwork and what have you that came from no other than the Nicholas Brothers. They were brothers. Those two (James Brown and the Nicholas Brothers) were our main inspirations. So we kinda did a combination of what they did."

SIR NORIN RAD:"What did your drop look like?"

KEITH:"Backdrops, you know? And then when we did backdrops we would get into spinning. It wasn't a powermove. Our heads weren't hitting the floor, maybe our hands did but just to support to us when we were doing the dropping, the spinning and the turning."

 

SIR NORIN RAD:"When you talk about footwork you are referring to what you would do with your feet while you were dancing on top, right?"

KEITH:"Yeah, pretty much. More like the way that the Nicholas Brothers danced. That requires tremendous, tremendous ability, you know what I'm saying? And the thing about them...they were in sync with the music! The most important thing....being on beat. Now you have people that dance and they are not even on beat with the music."

SIR NORIN RAD:"So in your era it was important to match the music with your moves?"

KEITH:"Absolutely!!! Absolutely!!!! That's what we would do when we were at home practicing. We knew that what we was going to do had to be a part of the music. Just like somebody doing a Broadway show. They know every move they gonna make of every sound that comes off the instruments. They know what they gonna be doing at that point. We practiced! That's what we did! We practiced! We knew that for every B-Boy record there was a break part that came because they didn't play just the break, they would play the whole record. If you play James Brown's "Give It Up Or Turn It Aloose" you had to wait for the "Clap your hands, stomp your feet.....Clyde!"- part. That's when the break came in. Herc wasn't mixing up those parts back and forth like that at that time (at his early parties). He would put one record on and then it would play all the way through. It was the same with "It's Just Begun", you know what I'm saying? After that saxophone part that's when the break came in and that's when you did whatever you had for that particular section. It was also the same with "Get Into Something" which was a very beautiful song to dance off of because it was so uptempo and then it had that break which was in the middle part of that song! Same thing with Baby Huey's "Listen To Me"...you know, you would be dancing that whole song and then that break part would come very late in that song. You had to have a lot of stuff going on to get to that break part and then when that break came in that's when you really had to go in....do some of your fiercest moves at that point. It was a lot different than it is today...the B-Boy thing, you know what I'm saying?"  

SIR NORIN RAD:"How would the people at Herc's parties react to you and your brother dancing there as 13-year-old boys?"

KEITH:"They would be like,"Look at these little guys! Oh, wow! And they can dance, too!" So it wasn't like, "Get these little guys out!"or, "What are they're doing here?" I'm telling you it was crazy 'cause we were 12, 13 years old and we was out there damn near all night when we was going to the parties. And we lived on the other side of town. Herc was on the Westside (of the BX), we lived like on the Eastside. When we went to those parties there were guys that were older than us. Like Chip (legendary Hiphop Hustle dancer) was there.....Chip is a few years older than Kev and myself. There were other guys from our neighbourhood that went there, too. So we were never by ourselves when we first started. As I said we would go there because we wanted to see what it's like. When we went there we started turning other people on that we knew. They wanted to go to Herc's parties. Everybody knew about Herc back then! That was the thing! There wasn't no parties for teenagers to go to. If you say a club or a party that was like basically for the grown folks. Herc was an outlet for everybody to come and have fun. Then of course you had Afrika Bambaataa, Flash and Smokey and all of them. They started, you know, doing their parties regularly just like Herc. So at times we would go over to their parties just to see what their parties was like but it wasn't really really like Breaking going on over there unless we started it. Just like Melle Mel and Mr. Ness  (of the Furious Five)......they were breaking before they became MCs. Did you know that?" 

SIR NORIN RAD:"Yes, I knew that but I wasn't aware of the fact that you ran into them when they were B-Boys."

KEITH:"Oh, yes!! We all lived in the Bronx. We knew all of them. We were all going to the same parties. They used to dance at the Flash parties but it wasn't like we never came to a Flash party. First time I heard....what was it...."Rice Crispies" wasn't it at a Flash party?"

KEVIN:"Yeah!"

KEITH:"Flash, yeah! The way that he mixed... his music was like totally different...he kinda jumpstarted a mixer or something where he would hit a button and everything was like perfect. Flash was the one that extended a record like for a very long period of time. He would cut up a beat for like 5, 10 ten minutes straight, you hear me? He would play "Rice Crispies" which is by Ralph MacDonald...you know that song....."Jam On The Groove". That was his  joint, he played that. The first time I ever heard somebody play that song was at a Flash party. He played that! That was Ralph MacDonald "Jam On The Groove"...that was the name of the song but he gave it a nickname called "Rice Crispies". He just extended the break, the whole break, he just played the whole break and if you wanted to dance it made you wanna dance...just hearing that break part!! Amazing stuff, man! We also used to go Bam's parties as well in Bronx River....You know, we went to those parties, too. But the Herc parties was our home, that was our home base. Even though we lived on The 9 and I would say that Flash was probably closer to where we lived our home was Herc because those were the first parties we started going to."

SIR NORIN RAD:"What made Kool Herc and Coke La Rock become aware of you and your brother?"

KEITH:"Well, you gotta remember in 1973 at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue that room wasn't that big. It wasn't a huge room, everybody in there you knew.  And again you have to remember my brother and I we were the youngest and smallest people in the place. (People were like,)"Who are these little guys? And like I said we used to beg Cindy (Herc's sister), man! We wanted to get in the party so bad but the first thing was,"Nah, you're too young! You can't come in!" So we would wait and beg Cindy until she finally let us in. We would get in, you know, but later on. W would be out there for quite a while. Herc really didn't have much to do with it because he was inside playing the music. So I thank Cindy for that, you know what I'm saying?"

Kool Herc's sister Cindy


SIR NORIN RAD:"Where did that name "The Ni**er Twins" come from? Did you choose that name or was it given to you?"

KEITH:"Okay, this is what hapenned. That name was given to us by none other than Coke La Rock. He gave us that name. Now prior to Coke La Rock even having that name Coke La Rock he had a different name. Did you know that?"

SIR NORIN RAD:"No, what was it?"

KEITH:"Nasty Coke! His name was Nasty Coke and then it got changed to Coke La Rock. You ask anybody that! Again we was there!! His name was Nasty Coke!"

SIR NORIN RAD:"I have spoken to Coke La Rock already and he told me that every B-Boy whom he gave a name to like Trixie, Wallace Dee, Dancin' Doug etc. became a celebrity instantly because if you got your name from Coke La Rock that meant you were really making noise. So obviously you receiving your crew name from him meant that you were acknowledged as the elite dancers."

KEITH:"Well, yeah. I mean Coke had his reasons why he gave us that name and that's something you have to have a conversation with him about. We had a conversation with him. We asked him, "Yo Coke, why did you call us The Ni**er Twins?" and he explained everything to us, so we understood that. Back then when we were young we didn't know what that was about but when we got older there was no way we could walk around with people addressing us by that name. It couldn't happen! It had to stop! But at the time when Coke La Rock would shout us out at the mic,"The Ni**er Twins is in the building!!!!!", we felt really good about hearing our name on the mic. That happened as we were getting older.....in 1974, 75."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Could you please name your Top 5 B-Boy Songs that really made you go off when you heard them back then?"

KEITH:"My top five?? It was many of 'em. I mean bar none the greatest of them all was James Brown....from the "Sex Machine" album....."Give It Up Or Turn It Aloose". That was the number one of all time. You had Baby Huey "Listen To Me", you had "The Mexican"...Babe Ruth....from "The First Base" album. "It's Just Begun" by The Jimmy Castor Bunch....The Isley Brothers "Get Into Something!" Those were some of the main ones, you know? You know it's like asking me about basketball, "Who are your five greatest players?" I mean there is no comparison....James Brown "Give It Up Or Turn It Aloose" that's the number one B-Boy anthem of all songs. No ifs, ands or buts!  I don't care who you are, no one will ever top that song, you know what I'm saying? None! You can play that song five times! That's enough for me! I'm good!"

SIR NORIN RAD:"Where did that term "B-Boy" come from? Coke La Rock told me that it started to be used by Herc later on by the time they had begun to play at the Hevalo and the Executive Playhouse. Trixie and Sasa also stated that they didn't refer to themselves as B-Boys and that this term started with you. What do you recall about that?"  

KEITH:"That came from Herc. We didn't go around calling ourselves "The B-Boys" just like we didn't call ourselves "The Ni**er Twins".  As I said Coke La Rock gave us that name. Herc gave the crew of his dancers the title of "The B-Boys". It was like the crew of the guys that danced. They were the B-Boys! That's how that came about!"

SIR NORIN RAD:"So not everybody that danced in the circles at Kool Herc's parties was a B-Boy? Only those that were close to Herc?"

KEITH:"No, I can't consider everybody a B-Boy back then. It was a group of us. Herc gave us that term "The B-Boys". It was us....The Twins, Clark Kent, James Bond, Bobo, Eldorado Mike and also Trixie, Wallace Dee........"

KEVIN:"Sasa! All of them!"

KEITH:"WE WERE THE B-BOYS!!! If anybody that we ain't never seen before came in to the party to battle or whatever....wherever they came from.....THEY WASN'T CONSIDERED B-BOYS, YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING? Not to us. It was a certain group of guys that was called The B-Boys. It was created at the Herc parties. So you wanna call yourself a B-Boy and say that you was dancing at Bam's or Flash's parties? Be my guest! Call yourself that! But in the circle of the Herc parties that was the Original B-Boys! That's why you always hear the term "The Original B-Boys". 

SIR NORIN RAD:"Okay, and where does the title A1 come from?"

KEITH:"There was only one person that had that title "A1 B-Boy" and that was Sasa!!!! It was given to Sasa by Coke La Rock. Coke La Rock gave out all the nicknames, you understand?! Herc would be at the mic sometimes but for the most part Coke would be at the mic. Coke had that distinct voice. He came up with many names! The reason why Sasa got that title was because he was considered the best and Clark Kent was right there beside him! It's like so many people that was out there back in the days but again everybody wasn't part of that B-Boy Crew."

A1 B-Boy Sasa and Coke La Rock


 SIR NORIN RAD:"Could you shed some light on two dancers, please? I'm talking about Johnny Kool and Chubby. Who were they?"

KEITH:"Johnny Kool! Wow!!! I remember Johnny Kool! (Kevin laughs in the background). He was something else! He was a piece of work! He had skills, he was pretty good! What was the other name?"

SIR NORIN RAD:"Chubby."

KEITH:"Chubby!! Yeah, Chubby!! God bless Chubby, man. He died very young. Chubby was nice, he was exciting to see, you hear me? Johnny Kool and Chubby they were all known for going to the Herc parties."

SIR NORIN RAD:"So were they part of The B-Boys?"

KEITH:"Oh yeah, absolutely!! They need to be recognized!"

KEVIN:"Rossy was a B-Boy, too! Trixie's brother."

KEITH:"There were girls that danced, too. But they weren't B-Boys, they were B-Girls. Sister Boo, Duesy, you know what I'm saying?"

KEVIN:"Yeah!"

KEITH:"Janice danced her ass off. Nobody really talks about Janice. Janice was nasty but she came up dancing with Chip and they became like Hustle Kings. But she was nasty! Ain't no bullshit."

SIR NORIN RAD:"What do remember about Sister Boo?"

KEITH:"She was a very good dancer! People didn't want to dance against her, you know I'm saying?!"

KEVIN:"She would put some guys to shame!" (both start laughing)

KEITH:"Yeah, but we would have no encounters or nothing like that with her. Nah, she was good. She was a real good dancer."

B-Girl Sister Boo (RIP)



SIR NORIN RAD:"Let's go back to the routines that you did for a minute. What did your Charlie Chaplin Routine look like?"
 
KEITH:"Let's say this....we would emulate what he did on television. We had our canes, we had cigars, too. That was also part of the Groucho Marx Routine. We had top hats, we had trenchcoats and we would twirl our canes and move around the way he moved. We just emulated what we saw on TV. We practiced, man! We put the work in because we knew that going in to the weekend when we went to that party and we would enter the circle we wanted to do things that were special. Things that we knew that nobody else was doing. We put our heads together. Not only did we want to go out there and dance but we wanted to bring something different that nobody else was bringing, right? Let's bring an attire! Let's bring an outfit! 'Cause for us when we went to the party and we dressed and stuff like that , it was a performance for us. That was our approach. We're going to perform."

SIR NORIN RAD:"How would you get to these parties? Did you take a car service or would you ride the train?"

KEITH:"Nah, we always had car ride when we went to these events. We didn't take the train or stuff like that. We took the train to one place that we would go to and that was Chuck Center. We took the train downtown to Chuck Center in Harlem."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Oh, so you also danced at Chuck Center?"

KEITH:"Yeah, we danced at Chuck Center. They used to have dance contests. Me and my brother used to go down there and win. We would win the contest, take the money and then leave the party after we had won the money. So once they had a shootout down there we decided we would never go back again. There were also times when they had shootouts at The Hevalo and The Executive Playhouse. We were in there and somebody pulled out a gun and started shooting. Everybody had to duck and run for cover. We had to run behind a table and put the table on the floor and duck down on the floor. I'm telling you, it was crazy! Makes you thank God that you survived those times."

SIR NORIN RAD:"Did any dancer ever try to fight you after you had burnt him on the floor?"

KEITH:"Nah, I wouldn't say that. It was more of an embarassment. They just wanted to leave the party I would say. But our thing was this, right? We didn't go to the parties looking to battle. We went to the parties looking to perform, to put on a show. We weren't looking for battles but if it happened then yeah! We're not gonna back down."

SIR NORIN RAD:"So you were about that showmanship I guess?"

KEITH:"Exactly! That's exactly what it was! We were going to entertain. But if you got into our circle you better knew what you were doing or you got booed out!" (both start laughing heavily)

SIR NORIN RAD:"And your routines were designed as team routines, right?"

KEITH:"Exactly! We practiced certain things at home together. We knew what the other one was gonna do."

SIR NORIN RAD:"I have also been told that you had different ways to start your performances. Like entering the circle from two different directions, meeting up in the middle and then getting busy. Is that correct?"

KEITH:"Yeah, that would happen, too. We had a hypemaster...Chip was our hypemaster. "Oh, here they go!!! They're ready! Here they go!" Everybody all of a sudden formed a big circle and one came in one side,  one came in the other side,you know? We would meet up and we had certain handshakes. So we would slap hands, grab each other, drop down together, jump across each other...all sorts of things we had. We practiced these things!"

SIR NORIN RAD:"Kool Herc once said in an article that he wanted the people to show up at his parties real splivvy. So how would you dress up when you went there?"

KEITH:"Splivvy meaning I guess you wanna say fly. I mean back then when we was growing up, the popular sneakers were the Pro-Keds.  The 69 Joint Pro-Keds. Puma! Puma became very popular.  You had the Chuck Taylor Converse and then you had the Suede Pro-Keds. We were sneaker guys because we were dancing. We wasn't doing the shoe thing but the shoes way back then were the Playboys. We were sneaker guys, we were about the Pumas. Adidas was just coming out. The 69 Joints. The jeans that was one the number one jeans during our era at that time was the Lees.  You had the Lee Jeans Suit. It was the dark colored jeans. Mocknecks were popular then, they were popular. Alpacas was out there back then.....We wore different things."

SIR NORIN RAD:"What do you have to say to those people that claim that there were no B-Boys at Kool Herc's parties and what was going on there as far as dancing is concerned had nothing to do with B-Boying because you guys didn't do floor-based footwork like the Six Step, Four Step etc.?"

KEITH:"First of all they wasn't there and where did the term come from???  Who made the name up? Who made up the name???? Can you tell me, Norin Rad?"

SIR NORIN RAD:"It came from Herc."

KEITH:"And that's a fact!"


 







  



                                          Interview with DJ B-Ward (Rockwell Inc.)                                                        ...