|DJ EZ MIKE|
SIR NORIN RAD:"From which part of the Bronx are you originally?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"I'm originally from the South Bronx. I grew up on...well the main street that we normally talk about is Hoe Avenue, Faile Street and Bryant Avenue off of Southern Boulevard by Aldus Street. That's where I originally grew up at. This is the heart of the South Bronx where there is the police station......they made a movie about it called "Fort Apache"..which is the police station, the original police station by Simpson Street."
SIR NORIN RAD:"How did you get involved with B-Boying?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Well, I always danced. We just did it in my neighbourhood at little house parties but then I would go to a Kool Herc party and I would witness people breakdancing. But the form of B-Boy I was and the type of breakdancing I was doing was different from what you see today. The dance changed as the years went on. We didn't do windmills on the floor because we didn't dirty our clothes. We dressed very nice. So it had a lot to do with hand movements, facial gestures and footwork. I guess they call it Up-Rocking today."
SIR NORIN RAD:"So that means at that time the dance involved a lot of finesse and funkyness and you had to shine through your personality?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Exactly! You had to have your own aura about yourself, your smoothness and your classiness with it. One of the main differences between then and now is you had to dance to the whole song. It was no two moves and then go standing to the side. If the record was ten minutes long you had to dance ten minutes and save your best moves for the break part."
SIR NORIN RAD:"Songs like "Get Ready" by The Rare Earth or "Listen To Me" by Baby Huey that were really long."
DJ EZ MIKE:"Very long songs! Very long songs! And you had to dance to the whole song....throughout the whole song you had to add some nice moves but as I said you saved your best moves for the break."
SIR NORIN RAD:"To what kind of Kool Herc party did you go? Was it in a club like the Twilight Zone, The Hevalo or The Executive Playhouse? Or was it outside?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"It was in a park and then it was inside of a school, in the gym part of a school. But at first it was the park, outside...."
SIR NORIN RAD:"Were you impressed by what you saw at Kool Herc's parties? Like his B-Boys goin' off?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Well, I went there to burn somebody. I wasn't impressed with nobody else. I thought I was the best. It was me, this guy named Mean Gene who is Grandwizard Theodore's brother, this dude named Profile a.k.a. Black Jerry...his name was Jerry, another guy by the name of Bumpy Face Melvin. So we had a little crew already. We were neighbourhood dancers but we went to that party. We went there to show our stuff."
|B-Boy / DJ Mean Gene|
SIR NORIN RAD:"So Black Jerry is the same person as Profile?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Exactly! Same person! And look at his name PROFILE.... that speaks for itself about the way we danced because he was really our lead dancer. He was so smooth and his name was Profile. So how do you profile? If you look at the word "profile" how do you do that? He did it dancing. I already knew how to dance but he had profile with his dance!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"Where was Profile from?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Black Jerry/Profile...he lived in the South Bronx but over by Forest Projects. Over in that area...like not exactly in the projects but that area."
SIR NORIN RAD:"So you are saying that you had a little crew back then consisting of you, Profile, Bumpy Face Melvin, Mean Gene ......"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Yes, also before he became Grandmaster Flash.....Flash!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"Oh shit!"
DJ EZ MIKE:"You know that's my best friend, right?"
SIR NORIN RAD:"Yes! Did your crew have a specific name or did you just go out and attend parties together?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"We would attend parties together and dance. We would rehearse dance steps, routines....We didn't have a name, we really didn't have a name. We just was dancers who loved dancing."
SIR NORIN RAD:"Were you already called EZ Mike back then when you were a B-Boy?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"No, they used to call me Black Mike."
SIR NORIN RAD:"What about Flash? Did he have a B-Boy name?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Flash! His name was Flash!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"What kind of clothes did you wear back then? I guess you wore Cortefiel coats, Playboy shoes, Overlaps, Italian knits......"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Exactly! So you didn't dirty that up. That was very expensive clothing back then. We didn't wear sneakers and jeans. So again when you go back to the word PROFILE it kinda speaks for itself and the way we danced. And you gotta remember it's all similar to.....if you notice the B-Boys that came later on they dressed accordigly to the way they danced. You know, the Shelltoe Adidas, the jeans......We dressed accordingly to our time, to the way we danced and they did the same according to theirs."
SIR NORIN RAD:"So would you say that your era of B-Boying was the one from 1972-74?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Exactly! That's the correct time frame because I danced until I turned 16 which was in 1974."
SIR NORIN RAD:"How would you describe Bumpy Face Melvin's dancing style?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Oh my God! I would have to say he was Profile number 2. I would have to say that! Like he was so smooth with his dance moves. Him and Black Jerry/ Profile they were very talented dancers with their footwork, their hand movement.....I would have to give Melvin that. He was great!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"Where did you draw your inspiration from as far as dancing is concerned? Did it come from watching James Brown, the Nicholas Brothers and Soul Train?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"I woul have to attribute my style of dancing to James Brown because I always danced like James Brown when I was eight and nine years old. So I always liked the idea of dancing. I used to imitate James Brown when I was a kid and people would pay me to do it."
SIR NORIN RAD:"So by the time B-Boying started evolving into a dance that was done mainly on the floor you transitioned into DJing is that correct?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Correct because we weren't as athletic like that. The way some of these guys started doing it.....jumping through smoke rings and doing backflips and stuff like that. We were doing it like.....like I said... PROFILE...we took to that style of dancing. By the time the dance started changing we were like, "Ok, that's a bit much!" A guy that I was battling did a backflip and when he did the backflip he kicked me in my face!! It was an accident but how you get kicked in your face dancing? I didn't understand that. It was almost like dancing became a hazard."
SIR NORIN RAD:"When you and Bumpy Face Melvin and them were practicing together back then did you also practice routines or did you rather focus on your own individual moves?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"No, we had routines! If you look at Kid & Play when they do that thing back to back and their foot hit each other...we was doing that back then in 1972!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"The late Phase 2 (RIP) mentioned that in the early 1970ies there were clubs like The Tunnel or The Puzzle in the BX were cats would be dancing at. I also read that Kool Herc went to these clubs before he started DJing himself. Would you go there as well?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"You see those clubs.....you gotta remember, they didn't have clubs like that where you could go to in 1971, 1972 when you were just 13, 14 years old. We had nowhere to go...no clubs because we were too young to get in...... not until the DJ stuff really kicked off. Then, you know, we started being able to go in clubs and DJ. Most clubs served alcohol and we were underage. We would go to Walton High School gym, JHS 123 gym....stuff like that."
SIR NORIN RAD:"So what were some of the venues that you would go to where people would be dancing against each other?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"James Monroe High School, JHS 123, Roosevelt High School, Stevenson High School...quite a few high schools."
SIR NORIN RAD:"I'm impressed! So at all these high schools there would be parties were B-Boys danced back in the early 1970ies?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Correct. That's correct to say!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"I have been told that during the early days of B-Boying battles wouldn't go down like they do nowadays. Cats would dance with their opponent right in front of them. So they would be dancing at the same time and react to each other's moves unlike today where B-Boys jump into a circle, do their moves, get out and have their opponent responding to them subsequently. Is that something you experienced as well on your side of the Bronx?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Yes, exactly! He can't stand there and watch you! He had to be doing his stuff. You had to have footwork, facial expressions, hand gestures and you can't do that by yourself!!! You're battling somebody! Every now and then depending on what you do you get a "Uuuuuuh!!!" from the crowd and you don't wanna get too many "Uuuuhs" by what your opponent does because if they say "Uuuuuh!" that much based on what he does you're losing! And again it was very important to dance to the whole song because you could lose the battle if you're getting too tired before the break......you couldn't perform your signature moves then. So if your energy is gone and mine is still there I'll beat you! So we would dance ten minutes straight....off of one song! You can't stop! You had to have calmer moves to reserve energy for the break but every now and then you had to explode."
SIR NORIN RAD:"So what were some of the songs that you would dance to back then?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"James Brown, Baby Huey....It was a couple of James Brown songs though....."Give It Up Or Turn It A Loose"..."Sex Machine". I used to do the Hustle, too. So I didn't just breakdance I did the Hustle as well. "Trans- Europe Express"...that was later on..I used to do the Hustle to that. The thing about "Listen To Me" by Baby Huey was your footwork had to match what was going on in that song......like the beat and the horns and every detail of it. You got to remember when I was breakdancing there was no cutting (by the DJ) going on. They just put the record on and let it play."
|James Brown - Sex Machine (contains the legendary B-Boy Song "Give It Up Or Turn It A Loose" OG Copy Norin Rad's Stash)|
SIR NORIN RAD:"DJing was totally different.There was no backspin at that time......."
DJ EZ MIKE:"Flash invented that, you know what I'm saying! You had to dance from the beginning of the song to the end. Flash came along and made it possible for you to lose your mind for 10 minutes 'cause he kept the breakbeat going."
SIR NORIN RAD:"So what made you pick up DJing after you had stopped B-Boying?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Flash made me pick it up. I would have never DJed if it wasn't for Flash. He taught me everything I know about DJing. Flash wanted to understand why is it that I have to wait for the breakbeat to lose my mind? So for two or three years he was missing in action. That's my best friend and we were together everyday. All of a sudden he stopped coming out. And all of the time he was in the house, perfecting the backspin and extending the breakbeat. Once he got it together.....I slept at his house that night and he woke me up at like 4 o'clock in the morning to show me what he had done and I'm the first one to witness what he invented. Then he started teaching me how to do it. Now, even though he taught me how to do it...in the house I was incredible..in front of people I was too nervous, I couldn't do it. So people like Theodore came out before me but I was already doing it. So it took time until Flash finally said,"Okay, you're ready!" And I came out and I became like a full-fledged partner. Even before the group started (Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five) me and Flash were together. There was no group (of MCs) when we started DJing. It was me and Flash, my best friend."
|August 18th, 1979: Grandmaster Flash, Disco Bee, DJ EZ Mike & The Furious Five are rocking at the legendary Webster P.A.L. in the Bronx|
SIR NORIN RAD:"Did you perceive Flash's invention as something that would forever change Hiphop when he first showed it to you that night?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"No. In all actuality I got mad that he woke me up to show me that stuff. I'm like, "Are you serious?!!?" Then I went back to bed.... No, he left me first! He was like,"I'm going to bed!" I'm standing there like,"Ok, I'm not trying to understand what you just did! I'm not impressed! I don't know what's going on here. Whatever, man...I'm going back to bed, too!" I didn't grasp that every DJ on the planet earth would start putting their hand on the record. I don't care what you do with a turntable if you put on your hand on the record it's because of Flash being the first one to do it."
SIR NORIN RAD:"So it was only through his invention of the backspin that MCs later on would have continuous beats to rhyme over?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Exactly, and sometimes people misinterpret when we say,"Flash created rapping." People misinterpret that! The song the people would rap over, you couldn't say it over the part where there was lyrics. You had to wait for the break and say your little nursery rhymes. What Flash did allowed you to write a ten-minute-rhyme cause he gave you an extended beat to rap over. So by him developing that people had the opportunity now to write rhymes."
SIR NORIN RAD:"Some of his MCs namely Melle Mel and Mr. Ness were B-Boys before they picked up the microphone, is that correct?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Exactly, me and Mel used to battle each other before he started rapping. I battled Mel quite a few times. His footwork was superb! When I battled him he gave me a run for my money because his footwork was better than mine. He had great, great footwork! We danced against each other in a rec room around 1973/74. Mr. Ness used to breakdance as well but he never danced against me. I personally think I was that much better than him. That wouldn't have been a battle. That would have been unfair. "
|DJ EZ Mike and Melle Mel (The Furious Five)|
SIR NORIN RAD:"How did the crowd react when Flash showed his backspin technique in public for the first time?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"They were enthusiastic and confused. People did not dance to the break at first. They wanted to know how did he get the break going as long. So everybody that came to the party, they came to stand and watch. So it took a while before they started dancing again. At first they were mesmerized and confused and wondering,"How is he doing it?"
SIR NORIN RAD:"What was the umbrella term for your whole crew?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"You mean for the Hiphop group?"
SIR NORIN RAD:"Yes, DJs and MCs..."
DJ EZ MIKE:"First it was just DJ Flash, not Grandmaster, it was just Flash. Cowboy used to rap on the mic at the block parties here and there. Then when he got Melle Mel and Kid Creole it became Grandmaster Flash & The 3 MCs. Then he got Mr. Ness and it became Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Four. Then he got Rahiem and it became Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. Even though it was Grandmaster Flash, DJ Disco Bee and DJ EZ Mike, the name of the group was Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five."
|June 6th, 1980: Grandmaster Flash, Disco Bee, DJ EZ Mike & The Furious Five are rocking at the Ecstasy Garage in the BX|
SIR NORIN RAD:"What was your function as a DJ when you played with Flash? What kind of music did you play?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Well, I would play any song that Flash did not have in his line-up. You can't play a song twice! So Flash's segment was of all the number one top b-boy songs. Any other song like Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real" I would tear that up and as I got better I could step in and cut with Flash on his major songs. We would go around the turntable catching the beat. "1,2,3,4 hit it!" By the time it goes "4, hit it!" Flash would move out the way and I would spin back the record and catch it, then spin back the other record and catch it. When I moved out the way Disco Bee would spin back the record and catch it and we would go around the turntables like that. "
SIR NORIN RAD:"Would you go record shopping with Flash?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Ok, I'm a DJ that mimicked Flash. I don't know shit about records! The only thing I know about songs is what Flash taught me. Flash would go by hisself. Every now and then I'd go with him but I just did that to be with him. As far as picking out records, listening to them one by one, being in a record store for seven hours looking for beats that was Flash's baby. I don't know how he could do it I never had the patience for it but he would just go through 1000 records.....one by one...it may have twelve songs on one album...he would pick up that needle and go through all twelve songs at the record store!!!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"So he was like real patient and had a deep passion for breakbeats?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Oh my god! It was unbelievable! He would buy some albums, we'd go home, he' play them and then break them because it wasn't what he was looking for. Threw them away."
SIR NORIN RAD:"How many crates of beats did your crew have at the height of its career?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"I would say thirty. You gotta remember you had to have your crates lined up in a way that they are like an orchestra. An orchestra starts off in one area but as they are playing it's building up. So your crates are lined up like they are starting off smooth and then you go up, then you bring it down again to a cool level. Now the next time you're going up....oh my god..you better go up all the way because the party is starting at 6 o'clock and it's not ending till 3 o'clock in the morning! How do you do that? So I need to play interesting records on the cool out tip, interesting records on the slow tip and then interesting records for the rest of the night."
SIR NORIN RAD:"So that means you had to plan in advance and arrange your crates accordingly so that you were able to cover each segment of the party? Like setting the atmosphere when the people came in, getting them into a certain groove and then speeding it up with the heavy breakbeats before you cooled it down?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Right. So now you have to remember...who are you DJing for? For yourself or the people?"
SIR NORIN RAD:"The people."
DJ EZ MIKE:"Right. So now I'm DJing for the people. My plan is to start off with crate number three. Half way in crate number three nobody is on the dancefloor, so I'm jumping to crate number nine. Crate number just got deaded! Now I'm going to crate number nine 'cause I gotta get this party started. So you may have your arrangement but based on the reaction you're getting you may have to change that."
SIR NORIN RAD:"What was Disco Bee's role when he was DJing with you and Flash?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Ok, Disco Bee knew records! So whatever Flash needed Bee knew exactly what crate it was in. He would find that shit in no time. But he can also DJ. He wasn't one of the best DJs but he could DJ."
SIR NORIN RAD:"Did your crew also have a record boy?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"That was my role. I was a record boy. Record boy / DJ / labourer..... (laughs) One thing is for sure Flash wouldn't carry no records because his hands were too valuable. He didn't carry crates and if you're a DJ you shouldn't carry none either. You should never carry equipment! Not the speakers, not the amps, nothing.....Because if I hurt my hands it's not too much of a deal.....the crowd came to see Flash. So if I hurt my hands it's okay, if Flash hurts his hands it's really not okay."
SIR NORIN RAD:"That's a really interesting point."
DJ EZ MIKE:"Yeah, because if you got a splinter in your finger that's gonna affect your skills on the turntable. Protect your hands, man! Your hands is your livelihood! Your hands and your ears are your livelihood. "
SIR NORIN RAD:"I feel that the role of the record boy is generally underappreciated by today's Hiphop community. From what I have come to understand it took a special kind of skill to pass the right kind of records at the right time to your DJ. That was very important because the DJ had to always keep the crowd dancing. Nowadays technology has basically made the record boy become obsolete because most DJs rock with laptops now. Thus, an integral part of the element of DJing and of Hiphop as a whole has been destroyed."
DJ EZ MIKE:"On that note I wanna add this: I'm not against technology but if you didn't have the right touch back then you couldn't DJ because different records had different grooves. So there are some songs that you can spin the record back and the grooves are so deep the needle will stay where it belongs, but then they got those records where the grooves aren't that deep. If you didn't touch it light enough and spin it back light enough the needles goes in the wrong place! The needle would jump out of pocket! They don't worry abot that no more! You had to have a skill set, you had to develop a skill set! You gotta be able to say,"Okay, no matter what record I put on I can spin it back properly!" Let's say Flash was DJing all night, the record might jump twice and that's incredible right there! Two times???? That's incredible!! You gotta remember you're also getting tired when you're DJing and you gotta be able to keep that same skill set! No matter what!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"So that means you couldn't get yourself some Pink Champale or Colt 45 while you were DJing?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"No, you had to do your job. You better had nothing to drink on stage around the records. Period. Or around the amps, or around the speakers. You can't have no liquids up there."
SIR NORIN RAD:"Would you share your song titles with other DJs who came up to you and asked you about them? That's a common thing in Germany nowadays....."
DJ EZ MIKE:"Are you kidding me????? HELL NO!!!! Like what kind of question is that for a DJ to ask??? You don't give NOBODY your motherfucking song titles!!!! GO FIND IT!!!! You gotta remember your records is what makes your party better than the next guy's. That's why it is important to always shop, take your time, go through each album because someone else might find that beat before you. Don't be a biter! Try your best to make them wanna find out what you got!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"Listening to these old tapes I noticed that Flash always cut up "Take Me To The Mardi Gras". Did he introduce thas beat to Hiphop?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"Yes, that was him. That was Flash's song! He found that one! (hums the sound of the bells of that song) He would cut it with "Apache". He was killing it! I have to say there are a lot of DJs that are incredible at what they do but I never see nobody do what Flash did with two turntables. You know the slipmat? Flash invented that! He went to the store and bought felt, cut the felt around the record, spraystarched it with starch and then played it. The cue! Before Flash invented the cue there were knobs. It wasn't a switcher to click over. You had to turn the knob one way and the other knob the other way. That took too long for Flash to get back to the record before the break came in...the break went off! So he invented the cue inside of a cheap Gemini mixer. It allowed him to have that speed he needed."
DJ EZ MIKE:"The Gladiator! We had a mean soundsystem back then!"
SIR NORIN RAD:"Would you like to give shout outs at the end of this interview?"
DJ EZ MIKE:"First of all I'd like to shout you out! I'd like to shout out my boy Norin Rad and the Intruders Crew! The most important shoutout that I wanna give is to my best friend, Grandmaster Flash!"