Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

This is bit of an interview that Ego Trip released a few years ago, but was originally done in 1999. Also what the homey Brother Ethex was talking about when i asked him about the Rammellzee/Basquiat partnership

What are your recollections about the whole process of making “Beat Bop”? How did you meet Jean-Michel Basquiat?

Rammellzee: Jean-Michel wanted to do a rap song because rap was coming into power at the time and that was one of the things besides writing on the trains that he didn’t know how to do. He didn’t know how to do wild style or a true burner like some of these things in here [points around room]. And I was brung into the city by Fab 5 Freddy to interrogate this guy.

And the basis of the interrogation was…?

Rammellzee: What he knew about art. Why was he in the power play position? And to tell him: you need to leave this shit alone and let the real troopers who did do something on the trains get past you and Keith Haring and let these fools know there’s an ikonoklastic war about to happen…

During the process of interrogation I had made a bet with him: I can do what you can do, you can’t do what I can do. He had brought three canvases, set ’em up and got me the paint in the basement of Annina Nosei’s gallery, which was his first gallery [exhibition in] like 1982. And in the basement he decided to let me paint these canvases, and Annina Nosei sold all three at his price. My prices where nowhere near his because he was going off and selling well. She came into the gallery and she told him, “I sold three of your best artworks.” I said, “Give me my money!” [laughs] “Now you gotta do what I do!” He never did what I could do. He switched from trying to do [burners and wild style] and went to do the song.

Was that resentment towards the likes of Basquiat and Haring pretty much a common thing amongst the writers who wrote on trains at the time?

Rammellzee: A lot of writers just didn’t appreciate that that graffiti was overtaking what we were doing – the burner or wild style – and the light dwellers just didn’t like that we came up with sophisticated explanations [for what we were doing]. When [the establishment] said “graffiti” – [they believed that] you can’t have a sophisticated explanation [for it]: “Don’t come up with any theorems, and please don’t outshine anybody we wanna maintain our lies with.” And that’s what Jean-Michel was – he was a maintainer of lies. Even in music. He lied, he didn’t do shit. But give the money [to make “Beat Bop”]. Lies. LIES. LIES! [laughs] I get to have some fun too…

So [when it came time to do “Beat Bop”] me and K-Rob came in there [to the studio]. [Basquiat] had a whole pamphlet of this stuff written about girls. And I said, “I’m not rhyming to this!” I put it down. He picked it up and gave it to me, so I crushed it and put it down! And I told K-Rob: “I’ma play pimp on the corner, you play little kid coming home from school.” And that’s how [the lyrics] worked, and that’s how it sounds: somebody walking home all sad and upset about how school treating him, bullies picking on him, drug dealers wanting to recruit him. And all of a sudden I started rhyming about what pimp style would be at the time. Jean-Michel had to sit down and rock in his chair and take it! [laughs]

K-Rob was somebody you knew from the writing world?

Rammellzee: We was all writers. K-Rob was from the Bronx up in Mitchell Projects and I was from Far Rockaway [Queens] coming in with A-1 and Dondi and Fab 5 Freddy and stuff.

What else do you recall about the actual session?

Rammellzee: [Basquiat] didn’t even make that beat, man. That was made by one of his friends [percussionist and fellow writer, Al Diaz]… some dude made the beat and was playing the bongos that day. I remember the bongos and a little bit of drums, and I heard some type of other instrument I still don’t know what it is. But [Basquiat] only put up the money. He only put up the money. [Basquiat] wanted to rhyme too. And when he went to go pick up the mic we all started laughing and he went back over there and sat down and started rocking [in his chair] again. That’s what pissed him off the most. That [what we were doing] was workin’. What were [K-Rob and I] there for, just to be sittin’ there listening to someone talkin’ a lot of shit while they not saying anything? I consider that to be a waste of my time.*

[* Al Diaz’s recollection, as interviewed by Dave Tompkins in How To Wreck a Nice Beach: “Jean was involved with the process… It wasn’t like he was just doing lines and writing checks… K-Rob was kind of on this good-boy trip. Saying, ‘Your mind can’t function,’ ‘Waiting at home for Mr. Right,’ and then Rammel’s going on about cocaine. It was some sinister shit. The session was fairly controlled. There was a lot of cocaine, but we were focused.”]

How was your relationship with Basquiat?

Rammellzee: The first year [the song] came out that’s when me and him got into a damn fight. He came into [art critic, Edit DeAk’s] house, where I was staying. And pulled out of his pocket $7,000, or it looked like it. It was a big fat roll of money. I said, “I’m not interested in money, I’m interested in science.” This motherfucker threw a punch and I caught that shit and kissed it and backhanded him right in his fuckin’ head. He got up the floor and wanted to fight. And the critic, Edit DeAk, had to stop this fool from coming after me. Because I was talking science and he didn’t wanna hear nothing about it.

We sit down with this fool [Basquiat] at a meeting. And we started talking about the record. The second that the critic starts talking [Basquiat] shuts up. He’s got nothin’ else to say. Why? Because Jean-Michel only wanted drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll. He didn’t have no science. He didn’t know what to talk to no critics and if he wanted to talk he didn’t have enough to say. When I talk everybody tells me to be quiet. [laughs] Do you know why? Because I have information that comes to you either from [science], or it’s from something that comes from other people – from my peer group. Whether it came down to rap music, hip-hop music – which is slightly different, or whether it comes to break dancing.

After the fight and everything like that then everybody tried to say I was his friend. Why did I get in a fight with my friend? You don’t wanna be around somebody that thinks they know it all because these fool light dwellers is giving you money. You know? Because that’s what they were. They were giving [Basquiat] a lot of money to keep a certain art-form that I considered to be graffiti, abstract painting. Where it deals with letters on the side, cross out this over there. That’s graffiti to me. Because what I do is the burner. An aerodynamic aeronautical system of the letter flying on a rolling page in a wind tunnel known as the transit system. And that’s all that happens. A letter moves backwards with its own wings, it gained the wheels off the bottom of the train. And the page became a car with a year number on it. And the gallery was rollin’. Nobody liked to hear that because it was too well put together. They want you to be abstract and sit there and say nothing. He told me to shut up all the time.

They still doin’ it today. My own girlfriend still tell me to shut up now. Don’t want me to say nothin’. Why? [laughs] What did I do wrong? I don’t know either…

What is it about “Beat Bop” as a song that is aesthetically not pleasing to you?

Rammellzee: Another problem with that Jean-Michel song – it was too slow for me to rhyme then. But that [slow tempo] maybe causes a clearer tone of voice cuz I like to rhyme fast and yeah, sometimes I slur. I do drink a lot. [laughs] And at that time also that motherfucker was doing crazy crack, man. So when you take a hit of that how fast can you rhyme then? Your brain’s a little fried on that moment. But you know all of the drugs and everything like that you figure a guy would sit down and slow down and take his time and take himself apart. Re-evaluate himself. No, he’d rather go to an old friend of mines and get himself killed. Yeah.

I also wanna say that being out at Marine Moisture Control – which is a job that I had welding oil tankers and fixing flanges under the water in the gulf – I was perfectly happy doing that [before I got involved with all this]. Got $62 an hour, you know. Sometimes $80 an hour. You work with good people, you’re swimming, and you’re getting exercise and you’re fucking with sharks. You got a welding torch that ain’t going out in the water and you’re using five-minute epoxy under it, right? Sometimes two-minute epoxy. And you come in the city because they need you. Because the burner is being stopped and this particular guy is getting quite rich off off of what they, as light dwellers, want to see coming from what they call the subculture. I didn’t see a subculture, I saw a culture in development.

And somewhere around 1979, the burner went into a weapon slaved letter. I did that. I got a patent on the damn thing. You got people saying they got style or beyond style. They got borough style. But do you have patented style? If the government don’t approve of it that’s what you need to hear. And they don’t like me for that either. I said, well, I came up with a system that took everything that you wrote on the trains for: the wheels, the sound, the rolling pages, and came up with an [analogy] and I put it in a record with Jean-Michel and it gives him fucking fame. [laughs] And I’m stuck here wondering when the hell am I gonna get a dime from it? Never get a dime, so that’s one way to not like [“Beat Bop”].

Then [Basquiat’s] attitude about money was another way not to like it. Braggin’. I make money too now. I think all of us make money. We don’t make it the way some people make it. We don’t lose it the way some people lose jobs. You can make money. You just sell [what you create] right now. In my manuals I got seventeen different styles around here. And I do ’em in five different mediums – from shag rugs to this [points to a nearby rug]. I’ll cut this rug up later. Why waste all that beautiful paint and glue on the damn floor when it’s textured. You just slice the motherfucker up, paint on top of it, and sell it! You make your girlfriend happy. [laughs]

‘Hoppo’. ‘Honolulu’. ‘Bananas’. ‘A taste of cadbury’. *’89 Tek 9′. Only if you were a loyal listener of the Stretch & Bobbito 90’s radio show will you get these terms…

*The frequency that the show was located on was 89.9, thus >> 89Tek9

In the latest True Hip Hop Stories segment from D Nice, Greg Nice reveals a Biz Markie story and the early days of Nice And Smooth…

Researcher/writer David Icke on Prince(RIP)…

A little history lesson here, as Kangol Kid breaks down the history of the classic “Roxanne, Roxanne” record…

Ice T’s latest podcast show with guest Sal Abbatiello delves into his days running the Bronx’s legendary Disco Fever club…

Ed Lover interview with Big Daddy Kane, seen @

Via Rob Swift

I don’t share my knowledge of the history of Hip Hop to bring attention to myself. On the contrary, I do so to bring attention to the unsung pioneers of this culture. Those who fathered the very techniques DJs such as myself have gone on to making a living off. My peers and I owe them a debt of gratitude. For if not for them, we wouldn’t be paying our mortgages or putting food on the table.

Two weeks ago today, on September 30th, my New School students and I had the esteemed honor of breathing the same air as the inimitable GrandWizzard Theodore as he lectured us on the origins of Hip Hop DJing. Thanks to the good folk at The New School, BeeShine and Battle Sounds, I present to you our lecture with GW Theodore.

Bob & Stretch stopped by the Halftime Radio Show this past Wednesday to promote their upcoming documentary and spoke on their time up at WKCR…


I feel rappers are just wasting their breath debating the robots up there at Hot 97. They’re wind-up robots who are pre-programmed to play what the station directors say to play, no more no less.

The Food Warriors, Dallas Penn & Rafi, stroll thru my old neighborhood(I used to live right up the block on Truxton) at Broadway Junction in ENY looking for a place to find some grub. Check out if they succeeded…

I caught this over at AFH, and I gotta say this is an incredibly dope audio documentary by Latino USA and producers Daisy Rosario and Marlon Bishop…


When Mandy Aragones watches a movie or television show with her husband, Ricky Walters, she is ready for a running commentary.

“Anything we watch, he always has another scenario,” she said. “He always finds an alternate ending.”

In the 1980s, his ability to spin a tale earned him fame as Slick Rick, the gold-draped rapper, also known as Rick the Ruler, with an eye patch and an English accent whose adventures propelled him to stardom. That was followed by prison time for a shooting, immigration problems and — to his relief — a 2008 pardon from Gov. David A. Paterson of New York.

But like a storyteller used to improvising endings, Mr. Walters does not dwell on those rough spots. He still tours and composes songs. He leads a low-key life, living in the same Bronx neighborhood that he settled in with his Jamaican mother and his sister when they moved from England in 1976. For someone who is considered to be among the pivotal figures of hip-hop’s golden age, what better place to be than in the borough that spawned a global culture?

“People always want to hear about the Bronx,” Mr. Walters, a Grammy-nominated artist, said. “It’s the essence and the ambience of the culture. It’s my little English accent with the slang, it’s the shoes, the jewelry. The swag. It’s the whole essence of representing the Bronx.”

The borough occupies a mythic place. The Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann just announced he would work with Netflix on a series about the birth of hip-hop in the South Bronx. But other times, the Bronx gets no respect. A recent issue of Time Out New York magazine listed New York City’s “Top 10 Locations in Hip-Hop,” but somehow avoided a single reference to the mainland borough (yet found room for Herald Square).

Granted, most lists are subjective, if not spurious. Mr. Walters took one look at the Time Out list and gave it a dismissive smirk.

“It needs a bodega,” he said. “Maybe a housing project. You need to see some different neighborhoods here.”

His own life offers a different take on the usual retelling of hip-hop’s origins. He did not grow up going to DJ Kool Herc’s fabled parties at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, or grooving to Afrika Bambaataa’s turntable wizardry at the Bronx River Houses. He found his style on Fordham Road, a fitting place for a high school art student who was into fashion.

“They had stores with all the clothes, the sneakers, the jewelry,” he said. “It was a good place to go and talk to girls. The whole pace was electric, and where there is electricity, there’s fun. And where there’s fun, that’s where kids want to be.”

In a way, Mr. Walters said, all the neighborhoods were the same: places where young people entranced by an emerging culture took their shots at fame. Some with cans of spray paint wound up in galleries. Others with dazzling footwork danced on the world’s stages. As for the young Mr. Walters, he became a storyteller, with hits like “Children’s Story” and “The Show” with Doug E. Fresh.

“Ricky thinks of himself as a storyteller and that’s apt,” said Bill Adler, a former executive at Def Jam Records, which released his recordings. “It was pioneering because he was so writerly, I call it rap lit. Ricky was conscious early on about the possibilities of rap.”

A few decades on, those possibilities have become middle-class accomplishments. With his earnings, Mr. Walters bought two three-family houses, living in one apartment and renting out the rest. In one corner of his home stands a mannequin, decked out in the Slick Rick stage outfit: a crisp Kangol cap, thick gold chains, huge medallions and custom-painted Adidas sneakers.

So iconic are those accessories that Mr. Walters and his wife have donated about a dozen items from his collection to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. His wife beamed. He, on the other hand, was subdued. He spoke about politics and society, segueing into an analysis of how hip-hop stagnated and went astray.

“Hip-hop disrupted the order of things,” he said. “It was the pulpit, and if you put the right person in front of the pulpit, they can speak for the youth of the planet. Instead, it was altered and diluted. What you see now are performers who have been broken to fit into a mold. They are not going to disrupt the order of things.”

Mr. Walters is hardly broken. And he is comfortable not just with what he has accomplished, but with what music still lies ahead. Above all, having just turned 50, he is content.

“I don’t feel like I’m 50,” he said. “I don’t talk like a 50-year-old person. Sometimes miserable old people depend on happy young people to give them a sense of purpose. Not me. Of course not!”

Catch up on some of this year’s best Combat Jack interview episodes this Christmas Eve while sippin’ on some egg nog...


For those who’ve been hiding under a rock, PRhyme is DJ Premier and Royce The 5’9.. I’m looking forward to their collabo album..

In this clip, Rick Rubin returns to room 712 in the Weinstein building at NYU to relive the birth of the most important Rap label of all time. Russell Simmons, LL Cool J, Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys and Rubin’s former roomate Adam Durbin all contribute commentary.

Via NahRight

In this second episode of YML, Smif N Wessun takes us through the making of the ’95 classic album and growing up in BK… Shout out to Peter Oasis and Dharmic X for putting this together.


This past Wednesday, Rap dinosaur DJ Eclipse was the guest for Dharmic X & fam’s #NW3RADIO. They built on a variety of topics including a time when Mariah Carey introduced herself to E, thinking he was Stretch Armstrong (*DEAD*), reminiscing on the original Fat Beats & the legendary Tramps, and a time when crazy ass Necro threw a dead pigeon into the crowd (because, why not?). Listen to some hilarious history in the interview below.