Archive for September, 2008

Major props to Jeff Carroll out of Miami for penning this important article. It couldn’t have come at a better time when you consider how the rascist white executives like Jeff Smulyan, Rick Cummins, John Dimmick and Barry Mayo over at Emmis’ Hot 97 allowed their on air jocks to make disaparaging, racially offensive remarks about a group of people who are acritical in the foundation for Hip Hop music and culture. In short there would be Hot 97 if it wasn’t for these good folks profiled in the article… I say read this and then email a copy to them at and demand an apology….. -Davey D-

The 10 Most Influential Caribbeans in Hip Hop Culture
By Jeff Carroll

Note: Due to the highly debatable nature of this editorial, Urban America Newspaper is welcoming a round table community discussion on this topic. If you have any comments or suggestions in regards to the article, feel free to make them on our message board at

Jeff Caroll

Let’s get it started. This article was written for one reason and one reason only, to clear up the confusion around the origin of values within Hip Hop culture. This article isn’t written to promote the careers of any of the people mentioned. I’m not playing favorite with any artist and I don’t work for a record company. This list came strictly from my own independent research. The main motivation for this article is to show how we all have contributed to Hip Hop culture’s positive and negative characteristics. When I say we all I mean us African people.

As an African American living in the huge Caribbean diversity of Miami I am a cultural minority. Living in a place where my Caribbean brothers and sisters out number the African Americans I hear comments about Hip Hop and African Americans that are different than the comments I heard from Caribbeans living in New York.

I lived in the New York area for 32 years and never heard some of the comments I heard on a regular down here in the MIA. Down here Caribbeans feel they are much different than African Americans. Many of them feel that we blame the “white man” too much which makes us lazy. They feel African American moral values are low and are manifested through Hip Hop.

Now, I know older African Americans have problems with the morals in Hip Hop culture too. There is a difference between the way African Americans 50 years old and older feel and than the way many Caribbeans in Miami feel about Hip Hop. African Americans who are upset with Hip Hop expect more responsibility from the future generation. They’re partial acceptance allows them to approach solutions from within their families and communities.

Many Caribbeans in Miami on the other hand believe that Hip Hop is violent, anti-education, overly sexual and has a negative male/female relationship value system. They see these things as African American culture instead of something wrong that can be fixed. Their opinion of African American culture is so low they try to adopt the values of European/white Americans. Their attraction to European culture and desire to separate form African American culture creates other problems for them.

In this article I’m just dealing with how Caribbean culture has influenced Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop is one of the greatest creations we descendents of African captives have produced. Hip Hop has produced tremendous wealth for us. It has changed American society and it is influencing world culture. Hip Hop’s greatest legacy is it’s ability to provide a path to economic wealth for America’s poor. The future impact of Hip Hop on the world is uncharted and something we all should embrace.

Okay, here we go. When I say Caribbeans I’m talking about the one’s enslaved by the French and speak Creole/French, the Spanish enslaved that now claim that language and of course the Dutch and English enslaved Caribbeans who have put their own twist on English creating patwa. These people along with African Americans must acknowledge their role in creating and shaping Hip Hop.

Hip Hop is ours and like Jazz and Rock it can be taken from us and used to build wealth in other communities. Consequently if ignored Hip Hop can be used to pull us down as well. From the very beginning Caribbeans have contributed to Hip Hop. Along with African Americans various individuals have made many positive and negative contributions. These contributions are so significant that they have shaped and produced today’s Hip Hop culture. Here is a list of 10 Caribbean people who have made significant contributions to Hip Hop culture.

Kool DJ Herc, Clive Campbell, Kingston, Jamaica, born 1955

He is an undisputed founding member of Hip Hop. He held outdoor street parties in the Bronx, NYC in the late 70’s. He came to NYC at 10 years old and brought his Jamaican rhymes and attitude with him. Kool DJ Herc spun the musical breaks in all types of songs that kept his parties hype which demonstrated what Hip Hop was. He is credited with naming and promoting Hip Hop and is widely regarded as “The Father of Hip Hop.”

Grand Master Flash, Joseph Saddle, Barbados, Born 1958

As a DJ his skill at speed mixing popularized Hip Hop DJing and made him one of the World’s most recognized DJ’s. He has remained a DJing advocate ever since he stood his ground against the push to switch the group and DJ lead structure to an MC lead structure when his group

Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five split with MC Melly Mel. As a solo artist he produced 2 more albums with another group. He is credited with popularizing Hip Hop DJing and DJ producers.

Notorious BIG

Notorious B.I.G., Christopher Wallace, Jamaica, born 1972-1997

Considered the best lyricist ever in Hip Hop by many Hip Hoppers. Along with Hip Hop mogul Sean Puffy Combs he heightened the materialism as well the gangster image. He is credited with popularizing gangster rap. He legacy is still being made through the activities of his Patwa speaking mother.

Wyclef Jean, Croix-de-Bouquets, Haiti Born 1972

He probably reps for his Caribbean Island the most out of any other Hip Hopper. Born in Haiti, he moved to New Jersey at age 10. As a member of the group the Fugees he proudly boasts about his Haitian culture. He easily announced his nationality at a time when it was unpopular to say you were from Haiti because of nasty rumors that the man made AIDS disease came from there. Wyclef is credited for popularizing cultural awareness and pride.

Luther R. Campbell, Bahamian and Jamaican, Born 1960

Still the most famous Hip Hop figure to come out of Miami, Florida. As a member of the group T2 Live Crew, Luke pushed the limits of freedom of speech and was sued for selling sexually explicit lyrics to children. After winning the law suit he opened the door for more sexually charged rap lyrics. Since then he has produced many XXX videos. Luke is credited with advancing pornography in Hip Hop.

Doug E Fresh, Doug E Davis, Barbados, Born 1967

Hailed as the Greatest Entertainer in Hip Hop. Through the use of his mouth and charismatic personality Doug is still the most celebrated Beat Boxer in the world. A strict vegetarian he has steered his 20+ year career clear of gangster and sexually promotional songs. Doug was a member of the Stop the Violence movement and even toured Colleges raising social consciousness with The Get Busy Tour. Doug is credited with being a long lasting positive figure in Hip Hop.

Foxy Brown

Foxy Brown, Inga Marchaud, Trinidad/Asian, Born 1979

Foxy Brown is one of the most recognized Hip Hop females. In the 90’s her sexy outfits and gangster lyrics made her a top rap artist. Through the use of the sexually provocative costumes worn in Trinidad during the celebration of Carnival she helped popularize the sexiness of Hip Hop women. Foxy’s choice to use these carnival costumes designed to arouse men and get them to release their sexual sins as performance outfits credits her with increasing the importance of sexuality in Hip Hop clothes.

Fat Joe, Joseph Cartagena, Puerto Rico, 1970

He is currently the #1 Latino rapper in the world. He has attracted a bilingual audience with his heavy hitting English and Spanglish lyrics. With lyrics full of Puerto Rican pride, his chart topping songs have given not only Latinos from Puerto Rico worldwide recognition but, all Spanish speaking Caribbeans. Fat Joe is a Hip Hop icon. He is credited for making Latin culture something that everyone could enjoy.

Prince Markie Dee, Mark Morales, Puerto Rico, Born 1960

As the respected MC of the group The Fat Boys Prince Markie Dee took his fun image from records to film. His appearances in just 2 movies and music videos displayed a non-threatening example of Hip Hopper. He is currently a radio personality at Miami’s own 103.5 The Beat. He is credited with advancing Hip Hop’s youth appeal.

Busta Rhymes

Busta Rhymes, Trever Smith Jr., Jamaica born 1972

One of the Hottest rappers in Hip Hop history with a unique style that has given him number one hits for over 15 years. He has been able to get respect from all Hip Hoppers by having an image that is not gangster or perverted. The content of Busta’s songs are on a variety of subjects. He is credited with being a long lasting Hip Hop celebrity that is entertaining enough to rock a crowd just like the hardest hardcore thugged out, sex promoting rappers.

Honorable mention to other Caribbean rappers:

Kid Creole
Kangol Kid
Special Ed
Star (of The Star And Bucwild Show)
Jazzy Joyce
Big Pun
Mad Lion
Trugoy (of De La Soul)
Crazy Legs
Mr. Wiggles
Karl Kani
Mello Man Ace
Shakim Compere
Herbie “Love Bug” Azor

These are the 10 Hip Hoppers of Caribbean descent that I feel have helped shape Hip Hop culture the most. These are Hip Hoppers who grew up in homes where they didn’t listen to Gospel, Jazz and Motown only like most African Americans. They ate plantains, curry goat, rice & peas and their parents searched for callous in produce sections of grocery stores. They were groomed in environments where Salsa, Meringue, Compas, Calypso, Reggae and varieties of Caribbean rhythms were dominant.

Their influence on Hip Hop culture directly relates to their bi-culture orientation. Understanding the Caribbean cultural background of these Hip Hop figure will help you better understand where someone like a Foxy Brown got the idea for her stage outfits from. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to like her outfits, but at least you have something better to base your opinion on.

Grandmaster Flash

I didn’t write this article just to tell people about negative contributions Caribbean Hip Hoppers have made that African Americans get blamed for. Knowing your History is important because it helps the world. In the case with Hip Hop being off track the way it is only those who know the history of Hip Hop can truly recognize it. Hip Hop started by positive personalities like Kool DJ Herc (from Jamaica), Grand Master Flash (from the Bahamas) and Afrika Bambaattaa (an African American) who used Hip Hop to give inner-city youth an option to gang activity and crime. Zulu Nation, the first Hip Hop organization, went so far as starting up chapters throughout New York where lessons on Black History and human behavior were circulated.

Today, Hip Hop’s image is clouded by the commercialization by companies who’s only goals are to sell merchandise. These companies find their business through appealing to sex and violence qualities which are the very values that Hip Hop was started in opposition to. Afrika Bambaattaa popularized the values of Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun, which are considered the base values of Hip Hop. These values are basically unknown to today’s commercial rap music fans. I will conclude with these thoughts. Hip Hop is a the leading American sub-culture.

It is a great monument to the achievement of oppressed people in this country. It would be a tragedy if Hip Hop were to be considered a negative element to society. It was created to give hope and happiness to the children of lower economical areas and teach them that fighting each other is not productive and they must respect themselves and women. I get frustrated when I hear people, especially my Caribbean brothers and sisters, speak negatively about American culture. Hip Hop culture is something we created together in America and together we shaped it to be as overly sexual and violent as it is today. For Hip Hop to improve we must also work together and get it back on the track it was designed for.

Jeff Carroll


Afrika Bambaataa

For All Who don’t Know Afrika Bambaataa is also An Afrikan American of Afrikan West Indian Parents and was the 1st in Hip Hop Known as a culture to 1st play West Indian Music (Carribean Music), when others would not even dare play roots music at Hip Hop Parties. He played Calypso,Reggae,Soca,Latin as well as break beats from the Carribean when all would not touch it until they heard all these jams being play at the Almighty Zulu Nation Jams and this is a fact. And a super large West Indian following especially Jamaicans would come to Bam jams cause they knew they were going to hear Reggae/Soca at his Jams. Bam made Trinty,General Echo,Big Youth,I-Roy,Yellowman,Eddie Palmari,Ray Berratto, Calpso Rose,Mighty Sparrow,Willie Colon,Mongo Santermaria, Manu Dibango,Fela Kuti and many other Carribean and Afrikan singers known in the Hip Hop World. So to the one who wrote the article respect to you for your research but you should of did more research and thats why we just want to Set The Record Straight.

All The major West Indian Records stores like Moodies,Burland Records, and many of the early Latin Records stores in the Southeast Bronx all knew Bambaataa and knew he had a army of West Indian/Latino followers who was with him. What most do not overstand is that Afrika Bambaataa story is truly a whole seperate True School story, because he was and still is the most independent never had to Kiss no one ass in all of Hip Hop World History. The Most Free person of Hip Hop Culture on the Planet. Most people when they write about Hip Hop as a Culture can never write the truth dealing with Factology until they speak with Afrika Bambaataa and all of the Groups and members of The Almighty Universal Zulu Nation. That is why we have Liars like Mr. Russel Simmons and many others who always want to rewrite our story to make it his story.

For any who wish to write a story about Hip Hop from when it was name Hip Hop as a Culture by Afrika Bambaataa and was push as a Culture by The Universal Zulu Nation first and gave all the True names as elements, if your want the True, factual of Hip Hop as a Culture then Your will have to come and speak to Afrika Bambaataa and thosands of True School Zulus from back in the day as well as to speak to The Father Kool Herc ,Grandmaster Flash and all of Afrika Bambaataa ‘s Black Spades / The Organization True School members like Love Bug Starski, The late Disco King Mario, Tex Dj Hollywood, Kool Dj Dee and Tyrone, The late Keith Cowbow of The Furious Five as well as The original Zulu Kings and Queens but for when Hip Hop was name as a Culture all roots go back Factual to The Universal Zulu Nation and if anyone wants to debate come with your Factology and we will beat you down with your lying BullShit of fake as Truth and this especialy goes out to Mr. BS of all BS Russel Simmons and any one else who loves to keep trying to write about Hip Hop The True School Days Culture and know Jackshit about Hip Hop as a Culture.

When you deal with trying to write about Hip Hop or Rap please come and speak with ones who were Truly there, not these fake johnny come lately so called scholars of Hip Hop. Much love and respect to Davey D, Jeff Chang ( The best Hip Hop Book so far Ever that deals with our story and not just his-story) ,Brother Ernie and to all the women of the early days and now who Kept true Hip Hop Culture alive and went through the struggles with the men to make this happen all over the world. To all who deals with Facts and not made of half Truths or false hood Hip Hoppers.

Also a warning to the True School Pioneers, your to stop faking the funk on the Factology of speaking the facts on The True School days of Hip Hop Culture,selling your souls now to just make money and lying about Hip Hop as a Culture,to alter it up to please your new masters of deceit. Shame on You
Bring It On
The Universal Zulu Nation
It’ll Take More Than a T-Shirt for Obama to Win-It’s On You
By Davey D

“For the past 40 years we had heard especially among African Americans that we shall overcome.
The problem was we never quite knew what over coming was nor did we know what overcoming looked like…No one set a date for the overcoming or had an itinerary for the overcoming of…”

These were the opening statements put forth by Atlanta rap star Killer Mike during the artists panel at last month’s ozone awards in Houston.
He was responding to a question I had posed which was; ‘What role do you and other Hip Hop artists see yourself playing in this year’s elections?’

Killer Mike added that he was encouraged to see the excitement around Obama’s campaign and that for many people, the possibility of him getting into the white house was an indication that the ‘overcoming’ was finally here.

We should be proud of Obama who came up from humble beginnings and like so many of us within Hip Hop and so many of our parents who struggled, he managed to make a way out of no way. However, Killer Mike cautioned that there’s much more work to be done.
In spite of all the Pro-Obama songs and videos from everyone ranging from Nas to Ludacris and in spite of all the Obama fashion wear which at times seems more numerous than Fubu or Sean Jean, Barack Obama will not get into the White House unless we follow through and actually go out and elect him.

It’s Killer Mike’s words of wisdom that I cite when asked the proverbial 64 thousand dollar questions surrounding Obama.. ‘Do you think Barack can win?’ ‘What’s happened to his campaign? ‘Have you seen the latest polls? Why is Obama losing?’ I’ve been getting hit with these types of questions ever since John McCain picked his running mate Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.

Obama supporters have been dismayed that their guy is no longer the lead story in the news every night and even when he is, he’s somehow depicted as yesterday’s news. There are many who find it hard to believe that just three weeks ago Obama was the man of the hour, blowing up the spot when he gave his acceptance speech before a whooping 80 thousand people at Denver’s Invesco field while 38 million watched on TV.

Nowadays it’s been Sarah Palin who is sparking off all the excitement and garnering favorable news coverage. It’s gotten to the point that sometimes you forget that Obama is really running against John McCain and not her.

Maybe it’s her good looks. Maybe it’s because she’s a mother. Maybe it’s because she’s from Alaska and goes moose hunting.. Whatever the case, I knew she was gonna be a problem when I was standing on the floor of the Republican Convention in St Paul and she came out and basically got her clown game on when talking about Obama.
Her zingers about him needing to take his styrofoam coliseum pillars back to the elite Hollywood backlot he got them from (referring to Obama’s stage set during his acceptance speech) and him being ‘nothing but a community organizer‘ was met with tremendous applause. It wasn’t so much that the lines were over the top funny. I just got the sense that the crowd felt good because she was basically sending a strong signal that was putting this uppity elite sounding Harvard Law school graduate ‘Negroe’ back in his place.

With her Minnesotan/Canadian sounding accent, folksy demeanor and Tina Fey like looks it was interesting to see this relatively unknown woman immediately connect and become a household name right before my eyes.. When she was done I saw all these women wiping tears from their eyes, cheering enthusiastically yelling; ‘Sarah Sarah Sarah’. I kept hearing the guys around me talking about how cool she is and how hot she looked. The whole naughty librarian thing was working to the point that I kept thinking perhaps she was brought on to make McCain look like a winner amongst middle America males and get them excited about his campaign. The bottom line is that night the so called ‘Wal-Mart’ crowd, Evangelicals and soccer moms who have now morphed into ‘hockey moms’ had found their heroine in Sarah Palin and these were the people that the Obama forces would have to worry about now that we are in the home stretch of this election.

The Challenge-Who’s Supporters Will Grind Harder?

Reflecting back on Killer Mike’s words; ‘Barack Obama will not get into the White House unless we follow through and actually go out and elect him’, is what I kept thinking the night Sarah Palin spoke. The crowds that she ignited are the type to go home and get their grind on. They’re the types to get up on Saturday morning at 6 am and start registering people. They’re truly ’bout it bout it’ and have a proven track record of showing up doing the heavy lifting and turning out to the polls year after year, rain or shine.

Now don’t get me wrong Obama has large numbers of sharp dedicated ‘community organizing’ types who have put in serious work. In fact with the record number of people they have registered and turned out to the primaries, many have argued that they have completed redefined and re-wrote the rules for election campaigns. But those folks aren’t the problem.

The challenge his campaign will have is connecting with and motivating the folks who are prematurely celebrating. These are the folks both young and old who like to run around sporting Obama/Martin Luther King t-shirts talking about ‘The Dream’ but they haven’t taken one step to turn that dream into a reality.

These are the folks who like to sit up in church and brag about how Obama is making history, but they themselves haven’t made any moves to ensure that history. They’re not volunteering at the phone banks, they not working with or putting together voter registration drives even at their church. They’re not even working with folks to make sure no craziness goes on at the polls and votes don’t get stolen during election day.

These are the folks who are over the initial the hype surrounding the campaign during the primaries and as outrageous as it sounds actually believe Obama has already won. There’s quite a few folks who think this whole thing is a wrap and there’s no need to get amped up again.

These are the folks who belong to fraternities, sororities, the links, the elks and other social and civic organizations who are the vangarde of the community. They will paint the town red and show off their colors during a convention, step show, party or other gathering but are seemingly invisible during the campaign. These are the folks who will have their pledges show up at an event and do some sort of elaborate step drills at an Obama event where they talk in unison how they are men of honor and represent the community, but not one of those pledges or the people pledging them have gone off their campus and into the hood to register and help educate voters. (Y’all know who you need to put you on blast-just step your game up) Why not make registering a few thousand folks a re requirement for membership?

These are the folks with resources, that include well off businessmen, athletes, rappers and others who we see at all the spots balling out of control, flashing their jewelry and wearing an Obama t-shirt but won’t even take Texas rapper Bun B up on his challenge to put their money where their mouth is. Bun who attended the DNC on his own dime noted that he made commitment to show up at these types of political gathering so he could go back and let his fan base and constituents know what’s happening and if given a chance he could advocate on their behalf.

When I interviewed Bun, he talked about pushing these folks to come up with some comprehensive immigration reform. He talked about how many of the Latino fans who listen to UGK aren’t in favor of the wall they have along the Texas border and that there needs to be path for citizenship. He also went on to encourage his colleagues in the entertainment industry to take some of their money and rent buses and use their celebrity to get on those buses and make sure people show up at the polls.

These are the culture vultures we used to hear our elders talk about.
These are the folks who during the hey days of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights era weren’t really riding with him. They thought he was too radical at time and kicking up way too much dust. They didn’t like the fact that he was rattling feathers. But 20 or 30 years after his death some of these very same people who opposed him are now running around claiming they actually marched with him and have been reaping all the social and politic benefits of his struggle. We’ve heard similar stories about those who were ardent opponents but opposed but 20 years after the fact now love the Black Panthers.

Killer Mike referenced these types of people in his remarks at the Ozone Awards when he noted that it was people in that room who got behind Obama early on and started making songs and videos for him.
He noted that many of older folks were hating and saying he wasn’t Black enough are now on board, but will they step up and do the work that’s needed?

It’s not enough to wear an Obama t-shirt or even show up to one of his speeches if all you do is leave and not put in any work, but sadly I caught glimpses of that in Denver where way too many people turned the DNC into a ‘Party and Bullshit‘ occasion and not a place to seriously think about and change the balance of power. And I’m not just talking about blindly working for and following the Democrats inlockstep, I’m talking about really grabbling with what role you as an individual or organization will play over the next 5, 10, 20 years in the reshaping of this country no matter what party your riding for…

This is About Power-Hip Hop Don’t Get Knocked Out

Four years ago right after the John Kerry‘s defeat, fellow journalist Adisa Banjoko wrote a stinging and sobering essay titled ‘Welcome to Politics Hip Hop: U Got Knocked The F!@ Out’.
At the time it seemed like he was hating and jumping on the bandwagon with all those TV pundits who where sarcastically asking ‘Where was the Youth vote?’ They were referring to P-Diddy‘s highly publicized ‘Vote or Die‘ campaign. The truth of the matter is that the youth vote did show up, The goal was 20 million and 21 million showed up and wound up being the only demographic to vote in the majority for Kerry. However, unlike the gleeful pundits who really didn’t wanna see success from the Hip Hop generation, Adisa was speaking to a larger issue of how we engage power and more importantly how we see ourselves in the struggle for power. He wanted people to understand that some cute slogans and a few concerts was not going to get the job done.
He wrote;

Welcome to politics Hip Hop. You got knocked on your ass. Oh, you thought just ’cause a few rappers wore some t-shirts and stuff, that Hip Hop was gonna have old G W runnin’ back to Texas with his tail between his legs? Please. It was not going down like that. It’s really not that kind of party.

Maybe now people will understand that Hip Hop alone- will NOT save America. It won’t save the world. But it can be an effective organizing tool for those with a STRATEGY…..Oh no!!! Not the S word!!! Yes y’all, say it with me- STRATEGY. It’s defined as “The science and art of using all of the forces of a nation to execute approved plans as effectively as possible during times of peace or war.
” But see, our so-called “Hip Hop nation” had no strategy!!!!

Adisa, a trained martial artist went on to talk about how we should take ourselves seriously enough to develop a game plan and not enter into no arena especially the political arena half cocked and ill prepared. This is serious business and folks on the other side-like all those people at the RNC who were laughing and cheering to the undercutting and oftentimes racially tinged remarks of Sarah Palin, Rudy Giulini, John McCain and others are really truly about snapping necks.
In the 2004 article he wrote;

“The Republicans were OLD SCHOOLERS in this arena and they had a SOLID strategy. If you don’t have respect for Karl Rove, or if you don’t know who he is- get familiar. Yes, Bush himself, is not that smart. But his team is RAW. His team has money and his team does their homework. After they do their homework they do extra credit. That’s why they won. To win we will have to do better.

Now in many ways we have done better. The success of the Obama campaign is not due to him sitting in a room by himself coming up with all the plays. A significant part has been us. All the new media stuff and blogging and innovative social networking strategies that have brought people out has been us. We’ve also seen people in our generation step up their political game by actually running for office.
Shout to Kevin Powell who boldly ran against Ed towns a 26 year incumbent in Brooklyn. Kevin lost a hard fought battle but has already announced and started laying down groundwork to run again.

Shoutout to 32 year old Rev Markil Hutchins outof Atlanta.
earlier this year he took on Civil Rights icon John Lewis and although he lost he shook things up and forced the longtime Congressman to switch his allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Obama. That was one of the key points Hutchins challenged him on. But as we head into the home stretch we still have challenges and have to put down our collective shoulder and grind even more.

Folks from our community are already starting to build a base outside of the Democratic Party which they feel takes us for granted and doesn’t adequately address our key issues.
You have Hip Hop activists like Jared Ball who ran in the primaries for President under the Green Party ticket He dropped out to support Cynthia McKinney who is also running.
We have Cynthia’s running mate Rosa Clemente who is a longtime fixture in the Hip Hop scene. Clemente talks about the importance of reaching out to the millions of people who are not registered, finding out their concerns and working to build a solid base that will last for years to come.

Also in the Green Party fold we have longtime Hip Hop activist Kalil Jacobs-Fantauzzi who recently announced he is running for Mayor in the city of Berkeley, california. Like Clemente he is determined to build a base and while he is running for mayor this election cycle his goals are long term. It’s about reaching out to those who have yet to be engaged.

Reaching Out to Those Who Are Not Engaged

For those who don’t know here’s what’s on the table. We still have large numbers of people who simply have not registered in spite of the record turnout. There are some reports that are showing that only 1 out 14 are registered who are Black and Brown and not college educated. In a place like Houston over a million people aren’t registered with an estimated 500 thousand being from our hoods and barrios. It’s been noted the one of the reasons Texas has been a stronghold for Bush and those who like to support his right wing Red state of mind, is because those 500 thousand people simply stay home on election day.

Currently there is a plan underway involving all sorts of members of Texas’ Hip Hop community to change the situation. The case they are making is that its not just about putting Obama in the White House, but instead its about getting rid of the local politicians, district attorneys, sheriffs etc who have been wrecking havoc on their day to day lives.

In Houston many of those folks have been down with the GOP.
Folks are still suffering from the shady dealings of former House majority leader Tom Delay who who while in power came up with some scandulous redistricting scheme that resulted in Black and Brown communities losing significant influence and the GOP gaining several new seats in Congress. Folks are hard at work to correct that legacy and put to rest the horrid legacy of Bush and his Boys.

http://www. youtube. com/watch?v=9BVgr_RcfA8


Determining who will rep you in Congress or on the City Council may be the deciding factor as to whether or not you get pushed out of your neighborhood by some fat cat who wants to build a new condo that you and your folks can’t afford.
Determining who is on the school board maybe what ultimately results in your kids being taught lessons that are relevant to their lives as opposed to getting a rehashing of how George Washington cut down a cherry tree.

Weighing in on the district attorney race may get you someone who is trying to fight real crime and not some fool who trying to make apolitical name for himself by persecuting everyone over the most minor and non violent offenses.

How this may ultimately connects to Obama’s campaign is at the very least he can hopefully set a tone that supports the voting directions of the people on local level. If he or any nationally elected official sees that there is significant political influence being enacted locally, it may move them in that direction.
Ideally it maybe reflected when he goes to appoint the 2-3 Supreme Court judges who will sit on the bench for life.
Perhaps we can get someone in there who won’t be hating on every move we make like Clarence Thomas or Anthony Scalia.

When we go to the Supreme Court and wanna overturn some Draconian drug law or push back on some rich developer who wants to use eminent domain to take over our property or use the courts to put some constraints on out of control police, we’d have a more receptive ear with judges appointed by Obama versus John McCain. It’s not just the Supreme court, but its all the federal court judges who get appointed under a particular president that will impact our lives positively or negatively for the next 30 years. We won’t even get into what McCain and his people have in store for Roe vs Wade.-They wanna get rid of it. And they wanna privatize social security.

Here’s the bottom line to all this…Mississippi rap star David Banner said it best when I ran into him at the Ozone Awards. He emphatically warned us to not make Barack Obama the savior. He said if he gets into office fine, but either way the climate in this country is such that we will have to work hard. We have to look out for one another and be responsible for one another. The predicament that Banner and others found themselves after Hurricane Katrina underscored those assertions. He said an Obama presidency will put an end to any excuse one may wanna have for not doing the things within our reach. His success will mean that no one will give us a pass so folks have got to get ready. We gotta get ready to elect and we gotta get ready to hold him accountable and we gotta get ready to take the necessary steps to set forth our own political future and get power. Simply put-This is not a game, this is not a joke, there won’t be no time to be dancing in the streets-This is real. We are past the age of being cute and innocent time to stand up and TAKE our seat at the table.

Just so you know, this is why you wanna pay attention to whats going on. This man’s views were typical of the of what we encountered while at the Republican National Convention..


original source:

Around 1983, while in Brandeis High School I heard of an emcee by the name of Coke La Rock for the first time. At the time I had no idea who he was, nor did I realize he was looked at as the first emcee ever. But what I did notice was the name COKE LA ROCK. The whole name to me was a symbol of Street, Fire, and Coolness. One day while interviewing Kevie Kev of the legendary Fantastic 5, I bought up the name Coke La Rock and right away Kev said, “That’s my man, someone not to be toyed with.” When Kev said those words my eyebrow went up because I would never figure Kev to give props to anybody but himself and the Fantastic 5. Imperial J.C. of The Herculiods spoke of him the way we spoke of the infamous Larry Davis the night of his coming out. When I finally met Coke La Rock for this interview he lived up to all expectations. This is Coke La Rock’s story.

-Troy L Smith-

Coke La Rock

Coke La Rock

Troy- Let’s go back to the very beginning of time for you where were you born and raised at?

Coke La Rock– I was born in the Bronx that’s why I said hip hop began in the Bronx. I was born and raised in the Bronx. One would say west Bronx but I was born on the east side on Home Street, between union and prospect.

Troy- So how did you make it over to Kool Herc, over on University Avenue?

Coke La Rock– Well my mother moved when I reached the 6th grade. So from the 6th grade to the 8th grade I lived on the west side on Jessup Avenue. And I went to Jr. high School 82. I knew Herc before hip hop, before the party’s. Herc and I met in my neighborhood because of a young lady he was dating that lived on my side of town. We also use to see each other at clubs like The Tunnel or The Puzzle as well as the Audubon. I also have to say that Herc was a graffiti artist before he was a D.J. but I myself was not one at all. But I did come from an era where you thought it was legal to sell drugs and that was the way to go. I am going to call it how it is.

Troy- Well how old were you and Herc when you guys first met?

Coke La Rock- When we first met I guess I was 15 years old, he was 16. Herc has a year on me. We use to go to the night center. You know what I am saying because cats don’t know what that really is. The schools use to open up from 6pm to 9pm.

Troy– right

Coke La Rock– Because the night school centers use to be from 6pm to 9pm the after school centers were from 3pm to 5pm. To get into the night center you had to be about 16. And a lot of schools had a night center. So you went there and you played what ever recreation they had there such as basketball, pool etc. I taught Herc how to play basketball and that’s no disrespect to my man but he was from Jamaica and he was a bigger fan of playing soccer, swimming and lifting weights.

Troy– So Herc ended up becoming extremely good at playing ball?

Kool Herc

Kool Herc

Coke La Rock- He could jump, and he was powerful with his dunks. He didn’t have a game like say one of those fly brothers from Harlem, he was straight power! I made him stay down low under the basket. Herc had one of his greatest games against a guy name Bear from Dewitt Clinton High School. He was one of the biggest, strongest mother f—— in Clinton High. Bear dunked on Herc about two times, Herc dunked on him like 6 times!

One time I had Herc lift 250 lbs 25 times in high school. The gym teacher tried to out do Herc and caught a rupture.

Herc use to ride his fix (bike.) 20 plus miles every Saturday and Sunday down in Central Park. Then come back up to the Bronx and ball with us. And you could never tell he did all those miles on the bike because he would go all out on the court. He was on some strong s—.

But then on some rah rah s— Herc got into a fight with some big cat I knew who was getting money, who use to go back and forth to jail. The dude was fouling me hard so Herc was ready to put it on him. The dude made Herc’s lip bleed but he didn’t knock Herc down. Then the crowd broke it up. So I saw that this cat had a better knuckle game then Herc. He wasn’t better fighter then Herc, but he had a knuckle game. I said, “Herc f— the knuckle game, dopefein yoke that n—–!” (Troy starts laughing.) So the n—– swung and Herc got under him and dopefein yoked him and started putting him to sleep. The cat was out and his crew went to like break it up and I stood in front of them and pulled out and told them to sit the f— down. I said kill that n—– Herc! The n—– eye balls rolled back. I said let him go Herc! Herc let him go and he was a sleep.

Herc is strong, very strong. Herc didn’t have the traditional knuckle game at that time, but over all he was still no match. Now if Herc had to kick him he would have soccer kicked his ass around, but at that time you know you had to give a fair one. (We both start laughing.)

johnshaftAs far as high school I went to Alfred E. Smith because I liked cars and I thought I wanted to fix cars for a living. I later realized I didn’t want to fix them I just wanted to drive them. What got me and Herc even tighter was I was supposed to have a fight with this guy from the school. Being as I knew Herc and a few others from the school the word got passed around, “Coke is about to have a fight!” So the whole crew was there. And I did what I had to do. The dude I fought was named John Shaft. I beat Shaft up and they gave me the nick name Bumpy!

Troy- Bumpy?

Coke La Rock- Yeah Bumpy, they said Bumpy beat Shaft up! That was the reverse side of the movie.

Troy– right… (it takes Troy a moment.) you’s a funny brother!

Coke La Rock– (Coke recognizes that Troy remembers the movie Shaft.) There we go. So the next day they were calling me Bumpy because I beat Shaft up. Shaft was a senior I was a freshmen, so everyone was surprised. See growing up D.j.s were not popular they were the last guys on the totem pole when it came to respect when we were growing up. A n—– will put his foot in your ass, take your records, take your money and your sodas and beer and tell you have a nice day! The only cats that got true respect in the streets were the pretty boys, the boys that were getting money, if you could fight and the ball players. Those were the four popular cats coming up.

Troy– Pretty much the same thing in Harlem.

Coke La Rock– See what I am saying. We use to go down to Harlem. I knew a couple of cats, like Charlie Rock who was from 139th street’s pit. I use to go to the Pit after midnight because the hustlers use to play for like a Grand or better. Then one day me and Herc bumped heads with Cisco. Now a cat getting money knows about Cisco.

Troy– Cisco from 116th street that was cool with Freddie Myers.

Coke La Rock– Thank you. Cisco created The Wiz Kids basketball team and he wanted us to play for them. Cisco was the first cat I saw getting real money when I was a young guy. Back then he had the two Mercedes Benz. He had the big jewelry, he was getting that paper. Herc mostly knew all the D.J. cats coming up, I was more in tune with those cats getting money. I meet Cisco through my friend that also went to school with me. I later found out my friends father was a bank robber. So that went with that. When I met Cisco I wasn’t hustling yet and we tried out for his team and Herc and I  could have played for his team but we were from the Bronx. Plus I really enjoyed watching the game as well as playing it because Coke La Rock wears glasses so it can get real physical on the courts and you throw an elbow and brake my glasses I am not responsible for what happens next. But one on one I use to play in the Pit on 139th street in Harlem for that money, I am talking about $1200 a game.

Troy- You talking about Five Two then!

Coke La Rock– Thank you, you know what I am talking about. Some times it wouldn’t be Five Two it might be one of those 6 feet and under games. The hustles played and guys left them alone because of their rep, but very few of them could really play ball. I use to see Pee Wee out there too when he use to bring his man Joe Hammond out there with him. I remember Joe Hammond getting like 80 points up in the Rucker back in 1979. Harlem was fascinating.

I remember you telling me in the past you went to Brandeis High School well my man Diamond Dee went there as well. This was my man from back in 1971 the original Diamond Dee. See when cats want to take your name they want to have your fame. So my man Diamond Dee took me to Brandies one day and they had 6 fights in the lunch room during the dance. The party never ended I was like lord these cats are crazy. I remember another spot in Harlem over by Dante’s on 160 something street between Broadway and Amsterdam called The Devils Inn.

Troy– Over there by Wilson’s restaurant bakery that I thought would never go out of business.

Coke La Rock- Right, well The Devil’s Inn was the first real club I went to in Harlem to feel the difference. When you come out of there at night you see at least two n—— lined up against the wall dead. They would have fights inside and the party would still go on. That was unbelievable to me. It was like the tough survive and the weak perished. That spot woke me up. Then I went to this spot called The Factory West which was on 125th street one block down from The Apollo.

Troy- You talking about The Factory where you walk up the stairs! (It was changed years later to Randy’s Place. B Fats, Crazy Eddie and The Treacherous 3 and other young hip hop stars started making their bones there.)

Coke La Rock– Thank you. Well the fifth time I went there they killed the bouncer and just threw a sheet over him and kept getting that paper and partying. I didn’t know at the time if the police found a body at a spot the party is dead!

Troy- Right.

CokeLarock-KoolhercCoke La Rock- They couldn’t take him out so they waited until the party was over. But people kept coming in stepping over this man and he was dead. Another club I went to was the Sand Pan. During this time you had other clubs downtown of Manhattan like The Eckanema and The Cheba. I was 17 years old when I started hanging out at the Sand Club down on 34th street between 7th and 8th avenue. At that time it was a club and a restaurant and a bar all in one. You had to be 21 to get in but I got through and it was the first club I really loved. And during this time on the forth of July all the fellas that were balling or getting a little paper would go out to Coney Island and you chilled by The Hemilayer ride, dancing and showing your wears off. I lived fly and I loved lizards so I stayed in the reptile house. Cats were wearing Penny loafers I was wearing reptiles. I couldn’t even go in zoo because the animals acted up. And I was G money man I kept a G and better on me. I walked around with 16, 17 hundred a day on me that was a normal thing with Coke La Rock.

So my man was like, “Come on over to The Sand Pan I was like nah I am only 17.” He said pull out that knot because it is only 5 dollars to get in. So I pulled out 1700 and gave the cat a $20 and I was in there. I felt like a big man, I got the older women saying, “hey.” I got 3 or 4 entrées of food around me. I’m smoking weed, got my car outside.

Troy– So you were doing all this before you got on the mic?

Coke La Rock- Right, but this is what threw me more deeper with Herc. I use to sell weed at Herc’s parties. I would sell like 40 nickels a night at Herc’s recreational room. So I was always scrambling….

Troy- Scrambling! Damn I haven’t heard that in years.

Coke La Rock- Right and I really fell into it because one night Herc’s family went away and Herc wanted a little time with his girl. So Herc was like Coke play the records for me for awhile. I was in the recreational room but nobody knew me as that because wasn’t my thing. Herc said he was going to take less then an hour. But when he came back in the rec. room which was two hours later everybody was partying hard. He asked me if I wanted to be down with him, I didn’t mind because while I was playing music I was selling all my weed at the same time. See I go back with the weed, back to the days of The Chunky Black!

Troy- Chucky Black? Damn Coke you went way back to the Chucky Black from 23rd! (123d street between 7th avenue and Lenox Avenue had some of the most popular weed spots in Harlem and the rest of America probably.)

Coke La Rock– Lets go back Troy I was a Chucky Black man. I go knock on the door they look through the peep hole and let me in. They had 5 spots that covered both sides of the street. I take you deeper with the smoke part, they use to sell Motar back in the days and that was even more powerful and cats couldn’t get that. That Motar was over on 157th between Amsterdam and Broadway.

Troy– I heard about it, but it wasn’t easy to get.

Coke– Exactly, because this spot sold it once a week. And that was only for a chosen few. Now on the hustling tip I got like a little $1700 a day off the deuces and treys.

Troy- You talking about those deuces of heroine that got four dudes high?

Coke- Damn kid you remember those days.

Troy- This was up in the Bronx you was doing your hustle?

Kool Herc & Coke La Rock

Kool Herc & Coke La Rock

Coke- Exactly and see a lot of cats that were getting money in Harlem lived in the Bronx. And on the quiet tip nothing could challenged Harlem, Harlem was, is The Mecca of the world! Let’s get that part real. Harlem is the Mecca of the drug game.

But the west side up here in the Bronx were I am at had families that had money. I went to Jr. High School and kids had 6 and 7 leather coats. And I was struggling to get one. I came from a single parent. My mother raised us and she worked 6 days a week. I had to stay at my grand mother’s house while my mother was at work. So really my grand mother and grand father raised us. I went to church every Sunday so I wasn’t raised as a street cat, but once I got in the game it has to be what it is. Plus you have to be in it to win it. The old saying goes, “it wasn’t nothing funny, it was all about the money.”

Troy- So how did you get the name Coke La Rock?

Coke La Rock– The name Coke La Rock came about the 3rd or 4th party, once we started really making an impact on everybody. Herc was like, “Coke you have to get a name!” I was like, “nah I ain’t with that.” But Herc had his name, so I thought about it, but I was taught because I am getting all this paper hustling you don’t put your name out there like that. But to be honest Troy it came in a dream.

I’m tell the story and no one has ever heard the real story before. I was smoked up one night in this dream and I was hanging with cats that were getting plenty money and one night some of my people came over to the spot and said come on we going to run down to Mexico and they was paying for it. So in this dream we are in Mexico and I say to Herc where can I get some Coke from? We go into the saloon but they call Coke, “La Rock!” You know what I am saying? They don’t say, “I got Coke.” All they would say is, “La Rock! I got La Rock.” So one of the Mexicans that was selling in the dream really took to me because of the money I was spending. So He asked me what was my name in Spanish! I said, “Coke!” So the next time we seen each other he said, “yo what’s up Coke La Rock, I got the La Rock!” So I was like Coke La Rock, o.k.! So when I woke up the next day I went looking for Herc and said I got my name. He said what? I said, “Coke La Rock.”

Troy- So were did the Coke part come from?

Coke La Rock– The Coke part came because as a child they use to call me Coco. As I got older I felt only the ladies could call me Coco. I couldn’t have the fellas calling me Coco.

Troy- Right.

Coke La Rock– So I chopped the Coco and had the fellas calling me Coke.

Troy- So why did they call you Coco at all?

Coke La Rock- Well I was a premature baby so I didn’t take to the regular milk so my mother had to mix it with coco. They didn’t have nestle quick and all that other stuff back then like they have now. So that is how that truly came about.

To be honest when we were all growing up no one really had their government name it was nick names all over the place. Cats didn’t know your government like cats didn’t know your momma. Everybody couldn’t eat in your house. They didn’t know your mother cooked chicken on Sundays. Back then it meant something when you said this is my boy or my man. Today it is held real loosely. That’s why I use to say this is my mellow this is my fellow this is my ace king boom. This is my pride and joy, this is my boy. You know what I am saying you would die for him. Just like when I got in the game with Herc, I told Herc it’s me and you against the world. That’s how we got to live. We could never be wrong amongst people but we can be wrong amongst each other. And that’s how it goes.

We made it fashionable for cats to hold their heads up, and say you know what I do, I play music. See because the same money we start making off playing music was the same money cats I knew were getting that were coming off 116th and 126th street in Harlem. When cats would come up after scrambling all day he might have 10 or 20 thousand on him. Our first party together Herc and I made $8000. That’s when I knew right then through the law of average if I leave the drugs alone and get into this here I could settle for at least $5000 a week. Compared to going to jail in the process of that other hustle! And people don’t recognize this but we killed Disco! I don’t care what anybody says.

Troy- (Troy starts laughing.)

Pete DJ Jones

Pete DJ Jones

Coke La Rock- The last person was Donna Summers, that’s what cats were rolling with.  Even the great Pete D.J. Jones he was Disco. You read in the books Pete cut Herc up and Pete had Flash and Starski. He had a bunch of cats and don’t get me wrong I love those brothers I am not saying anything against them but Pete controlled the Bronx with that music. But that was Disco. We came with those beats and we played what we wanted to play the same I played what I wanted to play. I am going to drop a rhyme on you about the different clubs we played back in the days.

“It started in a spot we called the twilight Zone

This is were Herc and I became men of our own

We took it down to spot we called the Exec

That’s were we started demanding respect

Then we took it to the Parkside

Created a land slide

That’s where we seen we owned the Bronx

Because we were packing every spot

Then we took it up to the Hevalo

And from the Hevalo everybody knows

Because we did seven nights in a row

At the Hevalo

It was packed back to back standing room only”

And not for nothing The Hevalo was the first Fever. As far as rapping I never wrote anything down I just told you what was going on. Also I was always strapped. That was a bad part of the game but it was a part of the game that was real, and that was to let you understand you not taking anything from us. You weren’t robbing us and then you see us tomorrow like its all good. We treated it like the drug game. You ain’t robbing those drug dealers and you ain’t robbing banks so go ahead with that. Because I was taught if you ain’t robbing enough to live with for the rest of your life why rob!

Troy– So let me ask you this, why did you choose to be an emcee instead of a D.J.?

Coke La Rock- I’m glad you ask that I was always a D.J. I was a D.J. first then I became an emcee. I guess they classified me that because it was so new to them that a cat was popping shit out the mouth, and cats felt I had the gift for gab. I felt I was just talking and relaying messages and giving props to my friends and other people out in the crowd.

Troy- So lets talk about that you being the very first emcee of hip hop, who inspired you at all being that their was no one in front of you to give you a platform! Because maybe I am mistaken but was any one doing it before you that I don’t know about?

LastPoetsCoke La Rock– Of course not I was the first, no one was doing it in the fashion that we were doing it. But I did listen to the Last Poets.

Troy– Well that was what I meant were you inspired by say Rudy Ray Moore, Pigmeat Mark Ham, The signified monkey or those Last Poets?

signifyingmonkeyCoke La Rock– Well I use to hear stuff like Signified Monkey and the other stuff you mentioned but we were not really allowed to listen to that stuff because that was what your parents played I would have to be in another room. That was like the nasty records, The Wild Man Steve and them type things. But what really got me with the rap thing was the Richard Pryor records. We use to say this little thing for my man Timmy Tim. Timmy Tim use to do this thing with the monkey routine Richard Pryor had in his show called, “little tiny feet.”

Troy- Right I remember that very well, Richard Pryor was hilarious when we were growing up. “With the tiny little feet!”

Coke La Rock- Yeah well I use to cut that in after Timmy Tim would finish his lyrics or rhymes. I would say you are listening to the sounds of Timmy Tim and then cut in with “little tiny feet.” (Troy starts laughing.) Then I would say you are listening to Clark Kent the man with Kryptonite the first Superman from the 9! Clark Kent was from the 9 and the 9 was tough in its own way. But most of the rhymes came by giving a message about us to the cat’s that was out there. One night I had to pull my gun out on some dudes because they weren’t listening to what I was saying.

Troy- What does that mean?

Coke La Rock– One night we were at the Exec playing and of course everybody was swamping Herc. Herc had about 9 cats up on the stage listening to him. So when it came time for me to play I got on the stage and being as I didn’t know any of these guys I told them, “no disrespect but I want you guys to step down from the stage.” They looked at me and said, “yo Herc run this here!” I said, “yeah I hear that but fellas I am asking you to leave the stage. My name is Coke La Rock I am Herc’s partner. I am not a worker!” They was like, “man f— that! I was like o.k.” I spent around to were my back was to them, and then when I spent around again I had my three seven out and I cocked it! I said, “get off the stage or I will blow you off the stage.” So they sure enough jumped off the stage and ran and told Herc on me. So when Herc came back he asked them, “yo who pulled the gun out on ya’ll?” They turned to me and said, “him!” Herc said, “That’s my partner, what did he tell ya’ll, get off the stage, then get of the stage! Why didn’t ya’ll listen!?” That was what made me say I can’t mess with D.J.s!

Because just like today everyone has that jealousy, that hate, they had it back then. Cats were getting money but still hating. That hating bothered me a great deal. Then you had claim jumpers. You read these books and everybody is telling what they did and half these cats didn’t do any of that, and that’s fact.  At the same time you hear somebody discussing hip hop and they talk about Herc! And all praise due to him that’s my n—–! But when they say Herc, Herc and they don’t say Coke La Rock you was not at the beginning. And that’s how I know.

Troy- I hear you.

Coke La Rock- Because me and Herc were like Bonnie and Clyde, like any two pairs that’s how it went. You had certain guys growing up that if you don’t see this guy then you not going to see the other guy.

Troy- I know what you mean.

Coke La Rock- that’s how that really went. That was why I stayed with the hustlers and left those guys alone. It was easy because I was a G money man and I hung with G money cats. So that’s the way that went. Also stick up kids backed up off of us because we had brand new guns. Everybody else had musket rifles and little 25.’s.

(Troy starts to laugh.)

I had a 12 gage pump, I had a three seven, Herc had a four five. And that was all we needed. And that was back in the 70’s. Cats from Bronx River remember us. Ask them what the stage looked like one night when we were up in there and some guy got shot! Ask them what the stage looked like. It was too much artillery up on that stage that night. We parted the sea like Moses. Nobody wanted to make a move. Nobody played tough guy that night. This was Bam’s house  but we were playing that night and this was the early part of the 70’s before 1978. This was way before we got real big because I can tell by the equipment we were using. We only had a couple of speakers but we still out did everybody else. I told Herc one day, “You like the exorcist of this here s—. Every where we play people come.”

Cats had just came out of the gang era so nobody could go in other guys neighborhood and play music and all of that because they treated you like dirt. We went any and everywhere. I never knew half these cats; they never came to the west side. You be hearing these lies, “We were over on the westside playing music and we destroyed Herc!” Oh come on man that was all game there. I don’t know where they heard that from. Like I said that’s all claim jumpers.

But that night in the Bronx River we playing, and as a hustler you can feel that negativity like something is about to jump off, and quit naturally you can feel the tension. So automatically when I feel that I don’t leave the stage! I put my jacket on and I get ready, because it could happen any minute any second. See and sometimes at a party you might have an outburst and somebody might run up at your equipment and try and grab your equipment and run off with it.

Troy- Right

Coke La Rock- We were the first ones to put a rope and that was one of the main reasons after Bronx River. So if you come pass that rope we are entitled to shoot you! Point blank that’s the mentality of us at that time. So any way a guy shoots another guy in the leg and the running starts and we don’t know how the crowd is coming but I had about 6 of my boys on the stage and all of us were strapped with burners, a sawed off shot gun and 12 gage. So there was a lot of fire power up there. Then you had a about 10 cats down with us in the crowd ready to go all out moving close to the stage. What was strange about that situation was just this year Herc and I see the brother that got shot that night after 30 years. I knew the guy but I didn’t know it was him that got shot in Bronx River. But basically that night that was beef amongst Bronx River cats and not us we just happened to be performing when that went down. But situations like that made it fashionable for cats to hold there head up.

Herc's sister Cindy Campbell

Herc's sister Cindy Campbell

We were also big on schools and Hercs sister Cindy  was on the school committee for Dodge High School. Being as we were on top of our game the committee sold out all the tickets in what seemed like seconds, and you know this is word of mouth not know radio or t.v. promotion. When me and Herc got in the party at 7pm it was jammed packed. By 7:30pm the police came to us and said, “yo ya’ll got to end the party!” The Police said it was too many people inside the school and outside in front of the school. The Police said it was so many people it’s going to cause a riot. Also cats were trying to break into the school from the side and back. Cops said it was too many people, if something happens it is going to get out of control and so the police shut it down.

Two weeks later we went to Roosevelt high and did the same thing. See another thing back then our promotion was we would come in your neighborhood and do a 60 40 with you. The next week is all ours. We give you a piece but the majority of the money is ours. And that was how it would turn into a Kool Herc production because we promoted our selves.

I guess it all started because one night we were playing at City Missions over on 170th street at the Cadet Core. I was playing the music and talking and I will never forget because this is what really made Coke La Rock, Coke La Rock. This guy comes up to me and says who are you? I said I am Hercs partner, I’m Coke La Rock. He said, “Listen we didn’t pay for you, stop all that talking. Matter fact we paid for Herc to play.” So I looked at him and said what? I said o.k. so I called Herc and said you got to play all night. I said, “How much does it cost rent this spot? He said $700.” Because I carried 1700 in my pocket I pulled out $700. I said let’s rent this in two weeks. That same person made $4000 that night, two weeks later we made $9000 and the party was packed. I played all night talking s—. All the hustlers were there and the fly girls. So home boy comes back that was talking about we didn’t pay for you, was now, “yo Coke La Rock next week…I was like nah yeah done!” A lot of people didn’t get a second and third chance because of the way you treated me. I am not a worker. A made a rhyme were I said,

“I am a man of my own

I am not a stepping stone!”

So when you treat me that way I will show you I am a boss. Because I don’t know what a worker is. I am a boss. Any way it was destiny for Herc and I. I knew we were before our time. At our very second party together I was playing the music, Herc was at the door, his father was showing an 8 millimeter film on a white bedroom sheet of a party in the recreation room with me dancing as a young kid with all of our friends partying in one room. Hercs mother is in another room selling sodas and chili dogs. See we were before our time. That was a whole concept right there.

I know you asked me if I had tapes, sorry I don’t but back then I made 8 tracks and sold them to hustlers for $50!

Troy- And that was some money back then.

Nickey Barnes /Frank Lucas

Nickey Barnes /Frank Lucas

Coke La Rock- $50 a whop, because I only sold them to hustlers.  I put your name on it, your car, I will even put your mother on it if you want! What ever you wanted Coke La Rock to say on it I would say. But I am not going to lie to you a lot of that stuff I lost through growing up living with different women and places. And by me being in the game so much a lot of that I shied away from. Especially all that picture taking. Like I told you in Crotona Park me and Herc were like Nickey Barnes and Frank Lucas. How they were to drugs is how we were to hip hop. And look where it went, all over the world. It’s exactly that way and we came up through that era. I understand today that the drug side of the game was not the way to go or succeed successfully in life. You either get rich, go to jail, or die. And most of you don’t get rich at least most of us. Most of us go to jail or die. Like you said you do things but you have to recognize what’s what!

Troy- Well what’s the saying, “hind sight is 20 20!” If we knew then what we know now!

Coke La Rock– There we go, but I don’t regret nothing I did because that’s like wishing on a star, you can’t take it back.

Troy- Let me switch back to that Bronx River beef. That night what was you and Herc’s relationship at that time with Bam and was that commotion over Bam’s people?

Coke La Rock- Nah nothing like that it was just neighborhood cats. Because you had cats that use to be in I think the Four Corners bar. It’s just everybody controlled there own little neighborhood. That’s how that went.

Troy- What was the original crew once you and Herc started putting people down?

KoolHerccrewCoke La Rock– First Herc then me. I have to put my man on Mike Mike who was our record carrier. We started coming up in the world so Mike helped us out. There was another cat name Eldorado Mike who would hang out with us but he wasn’t official down with the crew. Then Timmy Tim, God bless him. He passed away. They were trying to call Timmy Tim little Kool Herc! That shows you how much they would follow you that they would call you that guy. Then Herc picked up Clark Kent. We were playing over at the 9 that was how we picked up Clark. Herc said he could play the music and he felt him. By this time we were playing clubs as well as after hour spots. We would play the Hevalo and at 4 o’clock in the morning we would head over to this after hour spot called Top of the Lane, which big Willie money cats. Everybody else mostly knows of the Hill Top club which was mostly for the public. That was the commercial after hour spot on Edward L Grand highway. But the Top of the Lane was a gambling spot on Featherbed Lane. And that’s where Guy Fisher,  Nickey and Nickeys body guards Big Smitty and Leroy use to hang at. We use to play there from 4 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. So therefore we use to have to do shifts. I use to stay home to about 11, 12 o’clock at night before I would come to the Hevalo because I would play from like 3am to 3pm! See I was also the R&B side that cats didn’t really understand. Everybody thought it was just break music and beats. I got Marvin Gaye, Donald Byrd, War, Earth Wind and Fire.  I was playing that so I can say we gave you everything you wanted to hear. Herc was Tha Foundation, Timmy Tim and Clark Kent were the filling. And that’s a plain cake but that cake was gooder then a motherf—–! Sometimes people like plain cake but when Coke La Rock comes on you getting a little bit more then what you bargained for. I’m the candles that you blow out that come back on when you turn your back.

Troy- I got you. Now can you break down the rhyme situation? You are the father of Caz Moe and Mel.    As well as Jay Z, T.I. and Lil Wayne. Did it start from nursery rhymes and then you stepped it up?

Coke La Rock- It was just giving out a message. (Coke starts to speak anxiously.) Really where I think it came from was when guys use to come from certain areas of hustling, I use to call their names out and call their drug out. For example I was cool with some brothers hustling down in Harlem on 126th street.

Troy- Over by Kelly’s Hotel, on St. Nicholas Avenue?

Coke La Roc- Exactly, their dope was called the Double Green, the Mean Machine and Black Tape. And when you come up to the Bronx they had some dope called Power. So if you came into the spot I would be like, “yeah we got my man Easy Al from 26th street, Double Green Mean Machine Black Tape, come get it!” You know what I am saying. Then I would take you to the Bronx and say come up to Featherbed Lane and get your Power! I had some cats in Harlem doing their thing on Amsterdam, so when they would come up I would holler them out. I would holler out what you were doing and where you came from. Then it got to a point where cats would give me money and say, “here Coke call my name out.” Then I be like, “you ain’t buying me to call your name out.” I would keep it real if I don’t feel the rock stomping then I can’t call your name out. I can’t feel you, I have to feel you! I got to feel your name in my throat. So then a cat would give me a package and if it is what it is then I would call your name. So it was like hustling and being what I am doing. But I am doing what I am doing.

Troy- Now what about the time when it came to stepping up to saying rhymes, did you ever step into that era?

Coke La Rock- Sure here goes one.

“There is not a man that can’t be thrown

Not a horse that can’t be rode

A bull that can’t be stopped

And theirs not a disco that I Coke La Rock

Can’t rock!”

Here go another one for you Troy

“If a Freak is unique

Then that’s the freak you seek

Then I guess before you go

The freak will be on the bo

As long as the music is not stopping

The rocks are dropping

The champagne is flowing

The freaks will be going

Hotel motel

You don’t tell

I won’t tell.”

Doesn’t that sound like something Sugar Hill took? So if you want to start taking bits and pieces of where it came from and who said what then don’t take out the book of memory on me because I wrote the book. Like I said we are tha foundation everybody else is the product. The rest is claim jumpers. They fighting over who played the first vinyl, come on man! That’s all that claim jumping.

Troy- Alright Coke once you started doing these rhymes that you did you were actually the first on the planet earth and then Cowboy and Hollywood were the ones that followed you?

Coke La Rock- O.K., I can get with that. But don’t forget Mele Mel. I can’t really say who came after me because once I got out of the game other then my self I didn’t classify anyone else. To me I couldn’t feel who was doing that because Herc was saying everybody is sounding like you Coke. I remember I went to the Black Door and it was Mele Mel and just Flash. And you know Mele Mel never touched the table. So from what I seen and I wasn’t in every little area people were starting to become who they were. So that’s why I don’t want to say it was Mele Mel before Cowboy or Cowboy before this one or that one.

Troy- So being as you were the first and you had no platform to stand on how did the birth of rhyming begin for you?

Coke La Rock- Its hard for me to describe it because like I said it was never in the plan. To me it was just me talking on the mic. I always had vibe, I didn’t write anything down. It wasn’t like on that stage where you came prepared like that. That’s what I was saying about guys don’t understanding about being the first. I couldn’t see that that’s what everybody really grabbed a grip of.

Troy- So your example would be more like Biggie Smalls and Jay Z,   all this was done in your head and not on paper.

Coke La Rock- Right.

Troy– I got you, so how were you able to put like three sentences together at that time?

Coke La Rock- It came together just on what I was feeling and how the night was going, as well as who was in the club.

Troy– But it was a complete rhyme?

Coke La Rock- Of course, and like I said I got that talk in me like I got that talk in me now. Every rhyme I did had something to do with the party. But just like a child taking its first steps I said a small maybe one or two sentence rhymes and then they got longer. And most of the time I would rhyme to T plays it cool,  which was my interdiction record. And if you notice Red Alert plays that now.

Troy- I got you.

Coke La Rock- I am not trying to hold no grudge but I remember you telling me one cat said all we said was nursery rhymes. Come on man that hit me a certain way. Nothing coming out my mouth was a nursery rhyme!

Troy- I feel you, thank you for saying that.

Coke La Rock- I was above and before my time. I was wearing jewelry and driving cars and these guys were renting coats, tux’s or outfits for big event parties. I dressed like that everyday. I stayed in A.J. Lester’s, Corterfield coats and Dobbs. And like you bought up what other cats said about me. That was how they thought they seen me, they didn’t know me. And I know they don’t know me. But like I said I rhymed over records like T Plays it Cool, but I talked over all types of records. But I would prefer rhyming over records that I knew we had that were instrumental. But say like a James Brown record etc. I would talk behind. They might say something in the record like James Brown hit me and I would start talking.

Troy– So you never heard Cowboy or any one else do there thing when you was doing you?

Paradise Garage

Paradise Garage

Coke La Rock- Nah see once I got out of the game I started hanging down in the village and going to the Paradise Garage because they had the best sound system in New York. That was before Studio 54.

Troy– Larry Lavan

Coke La Rock– Right, there you go, Larry Levan.  And I knew the owner Mike Brody. Brody use to like smoking that Ill from 123rd street over by your boys with the Chunky Black. He said he felt creative once he smoked that. (Coke starts laughing.) Plus I had the Fish scale off of Broadway for them too. His partner was Noel Garcia aka the Marlboro Man. They were gay, I wasn’t, but you know that’s how that goes. But that’s that crowd. But anybody that came through New York as an entertainer came through the Paradise Garage. Sylvester was like James Brown, him and Grace Jones. She was the queen of that punk rock and house music. I seen Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Billy Ocean etc there. I would take a trip once in awhile to The Fever because that was what was going on uptown. But I knew I had to be some where on my own, that I knew I didn’t have to be watching my back to a degree.

Troy– Right

Coke La Rock- And I wasn’t one of those cats that be in your face. I was taught if you getting a thousand dollars why would you be around cats that was only getting a hundred dollars. They are going to want to get your thousand. See you put pressure on your self that way. Just the way you see in the hip hop game you see in the street game, period. Guys run behind guys just to rob them. And see I was never a foot soldier, I was never a lieutenant I was always a boss of bosses. I was always my boss. So that’s a hustler’s hustler. That’s bigger then a hustler. Because where do the hustlers buy, from a bigger hustler! So the Boss is not a scrambler. So that’s why you haven’t heard scrambler in a while because a scrambler is out on the street going hand to hand, he’s scrambling.

Troy- You right I haven’t heard it since we were kids and we were all out there scrambling and it was as you would say fashionable to say it. Back to Herc how long did it take before you got down with Herc?

Coke La Rock- The second party he ever did in the recreation room.

Troy– So now why would he pick you instead of any one else, being as you never d.j.ed or emceed ever in your life!

Coke La rock– We were very close and to be honest with you, I was there originally because I could sell my weed. I would sell 40 nickels a night.

Troy- So when Herc started playing those beats did he amaze you the way he amazed the crowd?

Coke La Rock- Nah I couldn’t look at him like that, because quite as kept being as I was a good dancer Herc use to come and get me. I wasn’t a B boy, I was a dancer. I could do it all dance, play ball, fight! I can fight very well. So girls during that time use to do what we call, “burning people up!” As they use to call it. The girls are burning people up and Herc use to come find me and say, “Come on Coke, come and dance with her.” Herc never seen a girl burn me. So that was another reason how we got so tight. I use to go to a lot of clubs, so Herc use to come get me to dance against these girls. Some times I use to be like come on Herc. (Coke chuckles.) But that was how we got closer.

Troy- Who were some of the celebrities that came through when you guys were partying?

Coke La Rock- They didn’t come through because we were dealing with the young. See our thing was and this was what kept us strong for like 4 years. We never let the high school kids go. See when you mentioned Hollywood earlier, they caught our older crowd that got too old to continue to come to our parties. That’s when 371 and all those type of spots became who they were. See we never let the high schools go because I told Herc one day, “The high school kids always want it.” As a freshman you are always going to want to know where the people are going as seniors you should know where to go. Plus you will never run out of high schools.

Troy- So did Vietnam affect you or Herc?

Coke La Rock- No see when that came if you was going to school you was cool, so the only people that were really going was the cats that weren’t getting any paper out on the streets. During that time it was not a career move that it is now. But I did have a lot of friends that came back shell shocked. When cats came back from Vietnam they were either shell shocked our strung-out. So when you seen that you was like, “man I ain’t going to fight.” And you did the Ali, “Send me to jail!”

Troy- So you were never in that type of situation you’re self?

Coke La Rock- Never, but there was one time I thought I was going to run away and this was before the music. I was living at home with my momma and you know how you call your self getting even and saying I am going to leave. Well I went and took the test for the navy and failed it by 5 points. That was a wake up call. And it wasn’t some deep dark type situation with me and my moms because by no means was there a situation of abuse, I just wanted to get away. But I am glad it didn’t happen.

Troy- So did you stick around long enough to be there for that battle with the L- Brothers?

KoolhercspeakersCoke La Rock- No I didn’t the ones I stuck around for were against Pete D.J. Jones and Disco King Mario. But I didn’t even participate in those battles because I played by the hustler rules. No one wanted to battle us until we got to the top. We had already gone through the grind. We were mobile d.j.s in the beginning. I remember Herc playing at another party before he played at his own; Herc played for Taft high school boat ride that was $50! We played a record called Rock the Boat, it was pumping. Mobile d.j.s got $150 to $250 the most. A big time d.j. would get $300. But they would rent you. I told Herc come on man I’m getting drug money. I didn’t get a pay check from Herc for a whole year. I didn’t have to. One time we went to a Bam party and that’s no disrespect to Bam because he wasn’t on the door. We get to the door they like, “oh wow Kool Herc come on in.” when they get to me they like, “Coke you have to pay $3.00.” Herc is like, “what, that’s my partner.” They like, “Herc only you can get in!” So I said alright I pulled out $3 off of my $1700. The party probably made a $150. I got more money in my pocket then you pulling at the door and I am not trying to brag but that was another thing that was turning me off was when I would go places they would treat me like I was a helper. I wouldn’t put up with any of that, and I would tell them, “I am a partner man.” Same way with the jewelry we were before every one with that also. We had the big house medallion, our jewelry was proper. We shopped at the big stores. Let me hear them say they shopped at A.J. Lester’s in Harlem. (Troy starts to laugh.) Did they shop at Laden’s? Did they get their tailor made’s at Mr. Tony’s or Mr. Ories. We were rocking Corte field coats. I bought my hats from Dobbs. I use to get my initials engraved into my valor’s. Like I said I bought my shoes at the reptile house. When they were wearing Playboys I was wearing lizards. We were shopping at Dick Gidron’s (Cadillac car dealer ship.) when cats were buying bikes! Just like Herc never drove, although now you see that picture of him driving with the speakers in the back of the caddy, I was doing the driving.  Herc didn’t have a license. I drove the Eldorado, I drove the truck. I drove all the cars. I always had a fresh afro with a part on the side and the afro was always round, always stayed fresh.

Troy- When and why did you get out of the hip hop game?

Coke La Rock– I got out the game by 1979, 1980 maybe.

Troy– So you were still in the game when Herc battled the L Brothers.

Coke La Rock- Yeah I was still around but I wasn’t with all that. Some people he battled and I was there but I didn’t know any of these cats. So to me it wasn’t necessary to battle any one because we had already been on top of our game nobody was getting paper like that. To be honest all those guys that started trying to do it like us I was pretty cool with like Love Bug Starski.  Meaning me and him use to kick it all the time when we seen each other. I gave him his respect not that other cats didn’t deserve it. I was cool with Star Ski and Flash also to a degree. But everybody didn’t show that. Meaning everybody didn’t show that love with each other. If I played on the west side I couldn’t like you because you played music on the eastside. This is why all that jealousy and envy is here today because it was there in the beginning. That’s why I said I couldn’t mess with d.j.s because I didn’t know them and I didn’t care and that was because it was too much envy! I was raised how can you hate a brother if you don’t know him?

Troy- Did you have to beat down any of these dudes back in the days?

Coke La Rock- I pulled my gun on them once or twice, but I really didn’t have to do that because they knew were I was coming from. I had a great knuckle game. See plus that was a bad move to do anyway because Herc had the muscles and I had a big gun. I wasn’t trying to pump up muscles, but I could fight like I said I was real good with that. So it wasn’t so much stepping to me because it was me and Herc all the time every where. Like I said you get nothing but death this way.

Troy- (Troy laughs.) You said you get nothing but death?

Coke La Rock- That was our saying. You get nothing but death this way man.

Troy- So you weren’t there at The Galaxy robbery?

Coke La Rock– Nah I was on my way out by that time. Matter fact the cat Mandingo who did security at The Fever and all of these other spots, you know him?

Troy- Yes a real cool brother God bless him he died a couple of years ago.

Coke La Rock- Well he had one of my guns that night. I use to let him hold my 38., nothing bigger then that. Let me lay another first on you. When cats started trying to get up on us they didn’t even have turn tables to back spin. We were the first with the techniques to go backwards. Man I even remember battling a cat who bought his house speakers to the party. He had 12 little house speakers that weren’t bigger then a 2 litter soda bottle.

Troy- (Troy laughs.) you is a funny brother.

Coke La Rock- We battled another cat that had a bunch of speakers that he stole from the train station. They didn’t have money to get equipment.

Troy- I hear you, they was so into the music, by any means necessary they were going to find away….So now how did you feel the night Herc got stabbed?

Coke La Rock- Tore me up. I almost lost my mind that night. I am going to tell you Troy it was a hell of a coincidence because that night before it happened I had to use the bathroom. My apartment was like 4 blocks away from the club, The Executive Play House which was later changed to The Sparkle. So I ran home and used the bathroom because it wasn’t one of those big nights. When I left my house to get back to the club a couple of blocks away I started to see the ambulance and police cars. When I got there they had already taken Herc to the hospital. On the low I asked around who did it, who was involved? The word on the streets was it was some friends of the club. One of my people said they caught one of the dudes and they are now a victim. I told him I wasn’t satisfied take me to him and I am going to put one in his head to make sure. Cats were like, “let that go they think they got it right, go to the hospital and check on Herc because he was stabbed badly.” And that was what made me go to the hospital. When I got there I flipped out cause it hurt the hell out of me to see my man hurt like that. It bought me to tears because I had lost one of my other good friends when I was 19. Herc’s father was there and he seen that I was bugging; because I got quiet and I was crying, I knew after that I was going to go on the war path. Herc’s father told Herc, “Tell Coke to wait for you before he does anything!” Herc called me in the room before they took him into the operating room. He said, “Coke I know one of them, wait for me.” I was like, “yo why are you telling me this!” Herc said it again, “wait for me.”  I said alright. He said promise me that. Then when I leave out of Herc’s room his father says, “Coke let me hold your gun till tomorrow.” Then I started crying again I said, “No Mr. Campbell don’t take my gun.” He said, “I have to, you are not in your right state of mind. I know you are hurting.” I gave him my gun and the next day he gave it back to me. Then I went on the hunt, that’s how I felt about it Troy.

Troy- Damn my brother you messed up my head just listening to you tell the story. Praise God you and Herc are here today. I feel you all the way my brother.I am going to go in another direction. What were your thoughts on Rappers Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang?

Coke La Rock– Good question, me and Big Hank used to go to Junior High school together. Hank was never an emcee or a D.J. When he first got down with Sylvia I remember him taking me to New Jersey and getting the Cadillac. But to be honest by that time I had jumped out of it, I couldn’t see where it was going. But me and Hank used to hang out a lot. Hank used to always come and get me when he was going to get his money.

Troy– So when Rappers Delight came out did it make you think about the Hevalo days and think about going back to Herc and trying to do something on a record?

Coke La Rock– Nah because like I said Herc kept always doing what he was doing and I just jumped back into what I was doing which was going to work everyday getting drug money. And that was it.

Troy- So what was the chief reason for you leaving the hip hop game?

Coke La Rock– Truthfully when my son Dante La Rock was born it made me say I can’t go to jail or die for this music and somebody else raise my son.

Troy- So how could you feel safer hustling than playing music?

Coke La Rock- Because it was always there, I mean I hate to say it but well, I was always on a boss level in this game so it was never like threatening to me to be on the street getting money.

Troy- Well in all honesty to keep it official with the story did the hustling game ever catch up to you? Did you ever go behind those bars and give them some time.

Coke La Rock- The funny thing is never, I have never been locked up. I got picked up smoking some weed two years ago but nothing other than that. Ain’t that something I been around 53 years and I been around the biggest, baddest hustlers in the world. Guys have done 10, 15, 20 years in the penitentiary. As Frank Sinatra said, “I did it my way!”

Troy- So you never paid attention to the hip hop history of say Moe vs. Busy Bee, Cold Crush vs. Fantastic?

Coke La Rock– Nah the most I paid attention to was who took that name La Rock. You had the T La Rock and the late Scott La Rock, Ace La Rock. Anybody that put La Rock on there name I kind of felt something.

Troy- What was that feeling?

Coke La Rock– You wanted to be me, so I must have been doing something right.  You don’t take a brothers name if he wasn’t doing what he did.

(Coke and I had to take a short pause because he was on the other telephone talking to Herc about business.)

Coke La Rock– Back to those guys with the name La Rock. Just like when Scott La Rock died I cried. A tear came to my eye and felt, “yo I don’t know you but you took my name and you had to feel the game.”

Troy- So what’s the deal with Platinum Ice Records?

Coke La Rock– Yeah I am running with Platinum Ice Records and Sedgwick and Cedar. It is still at the small stages for me and they trying to fit me in. The players involved with this is the first creators of hip hop. You got Herc, Grand Master Caz, Mele Mel,   Theodore, and Busy Bee to name a few, as well as Easy Moe Bee. So we just got up into the studio and they are trying to put me into things.

Troy- Damn I am looking forward to this. So Coke La Rock do you have any parting words for the reader?

Coke La Rock- I like to say to Hip Hop, Hip Hop forever. And thank you Troy for being who you are and for acknowledging Coke La Rock as the first emcee and I appreciate that, and thank you.

Troy: Thank you Coke La Rock. Peace

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