RAPPIN’ TO THE BEAT: 20/20 SPECIAL ON HIP HOP, 1981

I often say that the internet is both great and terrible… well, here’s one of those times when it is really, really great. Back in 1981, the ABC television program 20/20 ran what I guess was the first ever nationally televised news piece on rap music / Hip Hop (if someone knows of anything that predates this please let me know… this certainly was the earliest thing that I remember seeing). All I can say is that this was a BIG deal when it originally aired. We see and hear rappers everywhere today- tv, radio, movies, magazines, internet, you name it. I wish I could get away from these muthaf***as nowadays. But back then it was all brand new and m.c. sightings were scarce. To this day I vividly remember watching this show and losing my mind over it all. To see the Furious 5 and the Funky 4 on channel 7? MAN. You can’t even imagine how huge that was to a b-boyin’-ass kid like me at the time. Anyway, big ups to Rap Radar and whoever unearthed this joint (EMZ? Dan Charnas?) for posting this up and letting me relive a nice little slice of my youth. AWESOME.

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE DEVASTATING TWO – RUNNIN’ THINGS

The Devastating Two with DJ Whiz Kid. Left to right: Imperial M.C. Rus Ace, Jayrock
(A.K.A. Jollirock The Black Prince), Whiz Kid, Phantastic Philly Phill (A.K.A. Phill
Most Chill)

A few people have been waiting for me to drop this one, so here it is… another one of those Phill Most Chill TRUE REAL SCHITT STORIES (I’ll try to keep this one a lot shorter than the BARITONE TIPLOVE one if I can)…
Those who may know a little bit about my history may recall me talking about the stuff I did pre-“On Tempo Jack”, In Effect Records, etc. Well, I did get started in the Hip Hop world prior to the Phill Most Chill 12″ back in 1988. A good three years prior to that I was in a group called THE DEVASTATING TWO which consisted of me and my cousin who went by the name of Imperial MC Rus Ace. Deejaying for us was my homeboy Jollirock (who you may know about from his own random rap 12″ “Don’t Miss Me”- me and my cuz weren’t feelin’ his name at the time so we called him “Jayrock” for our project). Plus we had my man Scratchmaster Rob and Rus Ace’s partner Treacherous Troy down with us as well. Anyway, me and Rus had been messin’ around rhyming in his brother’s room for awhile, then we just started taking it more seriously after people were telling us we sounded good on the mic. Wrote a bunch of rhymes and routines, did some serious practicing, then before you knew it we were opening a show for Captain Rock, DJ Whiz Kid and Hashim at this big azz skating rink.
Now this was our first time performing in front of such a big crowd, but we were ready, jack! Set the show off with a little call and response thing over Hashim’s record “Al Naafiysh”, which was big at the time. Had the crowd in the palm of our hands! Then- disaster. Like I said, this was a really big skating rink, and I don’t know what the hell the soundman did with the stage monitors, but suddenly we were hearing two beats- the music that the crowd heard sounded like it was echoing and was not at all aligned with what was coming out of the monitors! So we’re saying our rhymes but it was aaalllll out of sync with the music (Rus heard the two beats and picked one- unfortunately it was the wrong one). The crowd starts letting us have it, booing and throwing ice and shit. At this point we stop the music and try to tell the crowd why the schitt is sounding all f**ked up, but they are not havin’ it. So now we are literally ready to jump in the crowd and start hookin’ off on fools! Finally they get the problem with the sound fixed and we start rhyming to LL Cool J‘s “I Need A Beat” and we are just beginning to kill it when somebody pulls the plug and the music goes totally out! End of show. To this day I think somebody sabotaged our novice azzes, but whatever.
Regardless, it seemed that Hashim had heard enough to be impressed and offered us a contract with Cutting Records (which I didn’t even know he co-owned). Now keep in mind back in 1985 Cutting Records was probably one of the most respected labels in the rap and electro markets at that time. So to just be starting out with this rap schitt, not knowing anybody in the biz and getting a contract after our first-ever show was a disaster? MAN. That was BIG for us. Kinda felt like this was destiny, ya know?
So I guess a few weeks later we go to the Cutting Records office and meet Aldo Marin, Hashim’s partner at Cutting (and I think we met Aldo’s brother too… it’s been a long time, my memory’s sketchy), then we hit Aldo’s apartment where they let me do work on a DMX drum machine to bang out the beats for this record we’re gonna do for a new subsidiary label called NV. I wanted to keep the beats mad slow and funky, but those dudes were on that uptempo electro schitt, so we had to compromise and raise the BPMs a little. The next day we hit Unique Studios and recorded two songs, “We’re Live” and “Runnin’ Things”, plus a bonus little throwaway beatbox track. That was a great experience, just being in that atmosphere for the first time and getting to see two studio pros like Aldo and Hashim work their magic. Cool schitt.
When we got home and had a chance to listen to the unmixed recordings on the cassette we brought back with us, I wasn’t too thrilled with it. Besides it not really sounding like the record I’d envisioned, it didn’t even sound like a real record at all, just a cheap demo. THEN a few weeks later we got a tape the final mix in the mail…. truly an OMG moment. Not only had Hashim and Aldo done some straight up studio wizardry in the mix to make this schitt sound better, they got the great cut-and-paste legend Omar Santana to do the edits. And boy, did he do the edits! Now I’m no expert on all the cut-and-paste jobs that have been done in music history, but it’s hard for me to believe that there’s much out there that’s better than what Omar did for our song. I was floored when I first heard this schitt and now, 23+ years later, my jaw is STILL on the ground. It’s really amazing to me because I know what this music sounded like before he got his hands on it.
All right, I see I’ve gotten long winded with this yarn despite my intentions to do no such thing, so let me try to wrap it up as briefly as possible. Right after all of this happened Hashim split with Aldo and Cutting Records. Around the same time Hashim signs us to his management company. We are naive and don’t realize that this is going to cause a problem as far as us dealing with Aldo. Our record gets shelved due to the Hashim / Aldo conflict. So we are stuck in limbo, tied to a couple of worthless contracts. I continue recording demos solo and in 1988 I drop the “On Tempo Jack” 12″. We’ll stop it right there- that’ll be another real schitt story for another day.
I leave you with The Devastating Two unreleased joint “Running Things” and the “Running Things Dub Mix”. Personally I felt we did pretty good for dudes who were really kinda green to the game, but even if this had been released I didn’t feel we were f**kin’ with new stuff that was coming out like Schoolly D‘s “PSK” or Marley Marl stuff like “The Bridge”. The sound of rap was changing and I wasn’t down with the electro stuff… I wanted THAT REAL SCHITT sound, man! It was cool, though. Oh, and BTW- all you people who like to click on the first audio clip and ignore the second one, DON’T DO IT THIS TIME. If you are at all into mid 80’s cut and paste schitt you’re gonna need this lost Omar Santana masterpiece in your life- killed it he did. Rus Ace, what up cousin!

DEVASTATING TWO – Runnin’ Things
DEVASTATING TWO _ Runnin’ Things (Dub Mix)

I RIP ‘EM LIKE N**GAZ IN RICHARD ALLEN WHILE I’M STYLIN’

Now that my tweeting career is in hiatus status (I’d say permanently, except for the fact that I never say never- unless it’s to tell you that i never say never), I can get back to what I’m almost famous for- THAT REAL SCHITT. It’s about time for some more Philly random rap up in this piece, so here’s a little known gem courtesy of some cats that go by the name of 24-7. Early 90’s schitt, kind of a proto-Roots flavor going on here. I can’t even tell you any more about this record because I sold it on Ebay a few years ago- I scanned the labels but lost ’em when my external hard drive went on the fritz. So if anybody has any info on these cats let me know- this was a real nice record IMO.
BTW, I don’t know if 24-7 were actually from Richard Allen projects in Philly (they name check Richard Allen but also seem to be claiming West Oak Lane, which is a whole different neck of the North Philly hoods), but lemme tell ya… back in the days before it got imploded and replaced with pretty new houses, Richard Allen was one of the most feared landscapes in the city. Seriously. Home of the Ram Squad (another legendary local rap crew, known for giving studio engineers unaccustomed with dealing with real live street folks a bad case of the pissy pants), Richard Allen used to be one of those places that outsiders did NOT want to be anywhere near after dark… boy, some of the stories I have heard. My mom actually lived there way back in the days, around the time that one of the most famous Philadelphian’s of them all, Bill Cosby, supposedly grew up there as well. Yet neither Mom or any of my uncles or my aunt ever recalled anybody named Bill Cosby living in Richard Allen- as my Uncle Wendall used to say, “We knew EVERYBODY in Richard Allen, I don’t remember no Bill Cosby… unless he was some little punk who stayed in the house all the time.” Yeah, my uncle was kinda gangsta… maybe Bill was a shook one, I dunno. Or maybe he was just always chillin’ in the junkyard with Mushmouth and Rudy and them- I’m not gonna deny the Cos his street cred.

24-7 – Let’s Have It (Raw Mix)

I’M DONE WITH TWITTER

Well, ya can’t say I don’t try. Unfortunately, to paraphrase what I said in the comments section of my last post, I attempted to live in the present and found that it sucked dog d**k. So I’m going back home to the past, where I belong. See you soon with some more of my old schitt!