by Davey D
DaveyD: Right now, it’s HARD KNOCK RADIO. Davey D hanging out with you live in New York City. KPFA and we are with some of hip hop’s legends. We’re talking about members of the Crash Crew. If you gentlemen can step on up to the mic and let everybody in Northern California know who you are so they can recognize the voices as we start our conversation.
EK Mike C: How you doing? I’m Pretty Ricky.... Naw seriously... I’m EK Mike C. I’m from the legendary Crash Crew. I’m up here in Harlem in my home studio.
DaveyD: It’s a nice studio for folks who can’t see the video, yo. But it’s nice. You got all the equipment. TV mounted to the wall. Also got his bed in the same place so that’s all good. Studio with a bed. Long night sessions. Who’s this here?
La Shu Bee: Uh, name is La Shu Bee. I’m one of the coolest rappers that’s ever been in the rap game. Listen to one of the Crash Crew hits and you’ll wonder why.
DaveyD: Let me ask you, man. Just to start off, a name like La Shu Beee, that’s a unique name. You don’t just have names like..I’m used to names like “Mack This,” “Mack Dre,” “Mack Don,” or you know, “Big This” or “Lil L” or “Lil M” and “Lil B“. I mean and um, “La Shu Bee“, that’s a whole different thing. What’s that about? How’d you get that name?
La Shu Bee: Well, the concept came from back in ‘79 - well, ‘77, ‘79. We used to go to different parks and hear people play and everybody had a name. Somebody was a “B this” or “B that”. So, I took “La” from “Larry” and “Shoe” I took from I took from a jockey and a basketball player: Willie Shoemaker and there was a basketball player used to play for this school I went to called David Clinton and his name was um, I forgot his name, but his name had a “shoe” in it. So, the combination I put together, ya nawtamean, even members of my crew laughed at that name. ‘What’s a La Shu Bee?’ I said it sound good. So, I stuck with it. I made it work and it become like a phenomenon. ‘What’s La Shu Bee? You a Five Percenter?’ No, just a name I made up.
DaveyD: ‘Cause most of the time back then, you had names like, if your name was Arnold, it’d be “Arney Arn” or “Davey Dave” or you MC’d you’d put a “D” or a “T” or a “B” at the end of your name so, uh, “Davey D” or “Mikey T” or something like that or “Melly Mel”. But that was just and unusual thing . So, were you able to...was it a good name to rhyme with? Was it easier to rhyme that name?
La Shu Bee: Oh yeah, it was a great name to rhyme to ‘cause I threw a little flavor to it. Ya know, I just said, “To the L to the A to the S-H-U to the B-E-E...I’m La Shu Bee. So, when people heard it they was always wanting to know who’s Shu Bee. Ya know, I gotta put that person with that name, that face. Let me hear ‘em. Let’s see who he’s about. So, when you heard me, you say, ‘Yeah, that’s Shu Bee.’
Davey D: And who’s this here?
Yoda: Peace, yo. This is Yoda from the legendary Crash Crew / Zulu Nation / Rob Bass and all that other good stuff / Total Image Productions.
Davey D: Now, let me start off and ask y’all this: What do you all do with the Crash Crew and how did ya’ll start? Let me start off with you , Mike. How did the Crash Crew start?
EK Mike C: Okay, the Crash Crew started in 1977, uh, early part of ‘77 actually. Um, we all grew up in the same neighborhood just about and...
Davey D: And that neighborhood is?
EK Mike C: And that neighborhood is Lincoln Projects on 135th and 5th Avenue. Um, we all formed together and came about and said, ‘Let’s make this happen.’ We formed the group Crash Crew. Reggie Reg came up with the name ’cause he was all into the comic book era at that time and um...
Davey D: And who else was in the Crew?
EK Mike C: Whoo, we had about close to twenty cats in the group at the time. Um, we had a subgroup called the Poison Clan which rolled with us and that consisted of a guy named Larry, we called him LSD; Buzz; Forty-Five; Mace; TC; Stan The Man; and Yoda; Devy-Dev...
La Shu Bee: I don’t wanna cut you off but Wu Tang also got the Poison Clan ‘cause we all...reason we all got the word “Poison Clan” is we went to the movies and saw this movie called “The Five Deadly Venoms”. They originally the “PC Clan”. The reason me and Tony was hanging out together was we was inspired watching that movie. You know, all these different karate moves and we called ourselves the Poison Clan. Then, we shifted to Crash Crew ‘cause with twenty of us we was the Poison Clan.
EK Mike C: Before we shifted to Crash Crew, we also had another name called the Force Of The Five.
La Shu Bee: That was the last one we took, right?
Yoda: Yeah, but that was still another element called the Poison Clan...
Davey D: Now, that was unique in that you had an entrepreunerial, well, a company basically set up a time when New York was plagued with gang problems and the whole nine. How did you all make this jump from going from an era where gangs were prevalent to becoming an organization? Did you guys have a bunch of hard heads that was part of the Crew and just, ya know...
La Shu Bee: Well, we had Mike and Dave. Mike and Dave was the organization. Mike had worked in a recording studio so was older than us, a lot older than us. So, he found out what his bosses did and he said, “Well, I can take this, make money on it, and I gotta do this independent.’ So, he knew how to get records pressed.
Davey D: But I’m even talking before you got records pressed. I’m talking ‘bout you was a crew and that were promoting parties and that you guys had your own security, that you guys had, you know, that you had back up DJ’s. You all were doing that even before the records were pressed.
La Shu Bee: This was Mike and Dave. Mike and Dave was like the corporate heads. They kept us in line. We were young knuckleheads. To us, you gimme a girl and that made my day. To Mike and Dave, this is a business. ‘K, y’all come to rehearsals, y’all don’t come to rehearsals, there’s a problem. You had to carry speakers. They built they own systems. So, we when out and promote the parties. Now, the MC’s, we was too fly to give out flyers, so some of the people in the crew, let them do it. But we was supposed to give them out to, but they would give us stacks of hundred to give out at school, but we thought this would tarnish our image. Mike and Dave was one of the originals who had a DJ company when it started.
Davey D: Now, you know, this is interesting that you mention this. Y’all went to rehearsals? I mean, the way that it is today, you don’t think of hip hop artists as going to rehearsals. What did you do in rehearsals? Did you guys didn’t just make stuff up on the spot?
La Shu Bee: Uh, no. Some rappers did. Me, personally, I did. But we still practiced. Mike and Dave had a place just like this and they had a studio within there. We would come up there. They would make us come up there like what, four times a week? We had to be there a certain time. If you didn’t, you got penalized.
Davey D: What was the penalization?
La Shu Bee: You lost five dollars out your pocket or Disco Dave would kick you in your chest or you wouldn’t even get to get on the mic or something ‘cause then they was like, ‘you don’t got no rhymes so you gon’ have to carry equipment or so and so.’
Davey D: So...
La Shu Bee: It was like a school almost.
Yoda: It depended on how many times you broke the rules.
La Shu Bee: Yeah, you broke the rules, they made you pay for it. That’s what made us hone our skills besides going out watching other artists because we knew Flash and them practiced. We knew the Bronx practiced. Nobody just climbed up on stage and did what they did. They practiced.
Davey D: So, you know what was interested? So, what were some of the routines you were known for doing? I mean, the first time I heard Crash Crew was actually on tapes and you all used to harmonize. You know, like the “Five of Heartbeats”. Was that something unique for hip hop at that time? Was that considered being a part of hip hop or was that commonplace and you guys just happened to excel at that particular skill?
La Shu Bee: Well, it was commonplace ‘cause in the Bronx when they did a record...to be honest with you when I hear Flash...
Davey D: Let’s talk about before records....
La Shu Bee: Yeah, before records. When GM Flash and them did the beatbox, before when they was on stage, they would be doing things like ‘We came in tonight...take off our frustrations...”. They was doing it. But the way they did from what we did it, we took another step. See, we had these three, four members in the crew who could do a little harmony. So, we took it that next step.
Davey D: For example...
La Shu Bee: For example, we did stuff like we are known as MC’s which was our routine...
Yoda: Before they was records.
La Shu Bee: ...before they was records.
Davey D: Okay.
La Shu Bee: So, we just come outside and introduce it to the crowd. Things like, um, ‘We’re on top of the world looking on competition and the only explanation that I found...’. We took, like, sixty theme songs, change them to a rhyme version, and we harmonized them to the crowd and they was like ‘Whoooaaa..’.
Davey D: What was the early audience like when y’all was doing this and how did they, uh, latch on, you know, being up here in Harlem, the black capitol of the USA? How did they treat you?
Yoda: Well, honestly, at first, it was crazy. They wasn’t no real fan base. You had, like, your local cats that’s, like, from your projects that are coming to your community center and see you and then, like, ‘alright, so what...we see you on the corner everyday...we not supporting you like this.’ You know, but then, as hip hop itself grew, so did the fan base. I mean, we would literally go to the local candy store and practice in the basement just to get cats to listen to us, you know what I’m saying? And, like, the lady that owned the candy store would allow us to do this because she had, like, a game room downstairs. So, she that that if we was in there, that would pull people down there also to spend money and um, school was another story. You had other crews that was trying to do this and, like if your party was kind of weak, that weak, you didn’t wanna go into the lunchroom. In like, Shu Bee school, you had like Jekyll and Hyde in the same school.
Davey D: Now, Jekyll and Hyde, that was Andre Harrell who once ran Uptown Records and Motown.
Yoda: Right. This was before he did “AM/PM” and all this other stuff when he was still rhymin’. And you had LuvBug Starsky who was in the school. Um...
Davey D: What school was this?
La Shu Bee: Alexander Hughes.
Yoda: Yeah, Alexander Hughes and you know, these cats was already established before us. So, they had they little fan base and they was doing the block party thing and all this other thing. So, they had people that was coming from all over to see them but they parties would be, you know, fuller than ours that weekend. They would hear about it in the lunchroom.
EK Mike C: That was around the time when we used to wear sweatshirts and play hooky out the classroom and be in the lobby bangin’ on the walls and everybody...King Tim went to that school as well, King Tim III.
Davey D: King Tim III who put out the first rap record? Fatback Band? Really?
EK Mike C: Yes and that rhyme that he got was from Shu Bee. I think he snatched that rhyme up from him and used it on the record. You know, but we wasn’t mad at him. You know, and uh, yeah, that was basically what it was, you know. Come in here, you got your little Crash Crew t-shirt on, be in the hallway, somebody doing the beatbox on the door, and each one of us would take a step up to the plate, and throw the best lyrics out there. You know, Shu Bee was good as far as freestylin’. I give that to him. He was good on freestylin’.
Davey D: What did you excel at?
EK Mike C:
I’m more of a
Yoda: Lady’s man.
EK Mike C: I’m more of a, uh, tryin’ to concrete the routines together as far as the songs and stuff ‘cause that’s my thing, I love harmony and songs, ya know.
Yoda: Mike C was good at arranging. Nawtahmean? He was the glue that what everybody else was coming up with Mike would be like, ‘We need to do it here...I think you should rhyme here...’. You know, he would, like, set up the order and make sure everything gelled. That was what Mike C was good at.
Davey D: Okay, that’s the voice of Yoda. You also heard the voice of Mike C and La Shu Bee. We’re talking to the Legendary Crash Crew here on 94.1 Hard Knock Radio and when we return, we’ll continue our conversation.
Davey D: We’re back and we’re continuing our conversation with one of hip hop’s pioneering groups, the legendary Crash Crew. Um, one of the things I want to talk about is the time before the landmark record “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang ‘cause that’s when I think the whole world was introduced to rap and there’s been a lot of history on that but people are very curious to what happened before then. There’s a lot of different stories, a lot of tales, and not a lot of information. Let me start off with you, La Shu Bee, then we’ll go to Yoda, then Mike, to talk about some of the early crews that You knew who were coming out. And I ask this question from the context that we’re familiar with the Bambaata’s, and Kool Herc’s, and Grandmaster Flashes, who were in hip hop’s birthplace, the Bronx but in other conversations you said there were a lot of crews in Manhattan that were just as important in the development of hip hop, and when I’m saying Money Makin’ Manhattan I’m talking Harlem. Tell us what their contributions were.
La Shu Bee: Okay, now, were were originally the true Harlem Worlds, where Puffy and them be sayin’ now. We had groups like, um, coming out now we had like, funky, coming out now Treacherous 3. Basically, now you know him as kool moe dee.
Davey D: He’s an actor now.
La Shu Bee: The Heartbeat. Used to battle us every weekend in the park. You had Fearless Four. You had Spoonie G.... Special ‘K, these are what Manhattan was contributing to the rap early in the game. Where we was in the park coming out with two Technics turntables. We was out there playing to the street lamp on a Saturday, Sundays. We went from housing project to housing project, ’77, ’78, ’79, ’80. People didn’t give us the recognition because we’re the burrough that they said didn’t start hip hop but we wereone that came after that and we did contribute. Matter of fact, the contribution that we did was tremendous. We had Raywan, Johnny WaWa, that people never new about, Magnificent Seven on the east side, people never new about. We had Parish and Panelio, Saint Nick. We had Master Don and the Death Committee. People didn’t know about. All this came out of Manhattan.
Davey D: Money Makin’ Manhattan.
La Shu Bee: Money Makin’ Manhattan. Harlem World. Harlem World as we used to say back then.
Yoda: Forgot about the Harlem Crew.
Davey D: Well, go ahead Yoda.
Yoda: Speaking of Harlem World, you had the Harlem Crew, Rodney Green, Captain Rock. You had a couple few records under that name. I mean Jekyll and Hyde, Andre Harrell of Uptown Records like we said before, Son of Sam runs things at the Apollo, holding it down over there. I mean...
Davey D: These were rappers?
Yoda: Uh, yeah. These were rappers, DJ’s. Harlem World was also one of the main clubs in Harlem over on 116th Street. Son of Sam, Rodney Green and his crew, that was they spot. They was the main cats there. We would come in, rip it then, come and do our own parties, whatever, whatever. But on our side of the block, I wanna get away from everybody else and bring it back to Crash Crew. Well, we was doing it this time, like Shu said, we was coming out in the parks, in Lincoln Projects or whatever projects we had to come out in, and people and were coming down to see us. I mean we were starting to build up our sound system. We’d build our own speakers. We had the 10,000 watt “Mix Monster” sound system which was like homemade, a homemade cabinet, with like 14 or 15” woofers or whatever in it, and we had two or three of those plus all the Sherwin Vegas, a 100,000 amps and all this crazy stuff we used to go all over with. And you could literally hear our sound for blocks and people started flocking down to Lincoln Projects, ‘What’s this? What’s going on down here?’ and we used to spend all night til the people from across the street used to call the cops, ‘Yo, you gotta turn it down.’ We got shut down. And then we had.... groups coming from all over perform with us on the freebie tip. We had Flash and them who used to come down from across the bridge from the Bronx. You know, I mean, Treacherous Three used to come down off the hill. Disco Four used to come from Drew Hamilton Houses.
Davey D: Disco Four is different from the Furious Four?
Yoda: Oh yeah. This is Greg G who right now runs the Entertainers’ Tournament. This is his group. Bobby Robinson who owned Enjoy Records at that time, this was his son’s group, Rodney G, Disco Four. Uh, B Fats, you had Hollywood... DJ Hollywood who’s one of the most influential party-rockin’ DJ’s EVER. I mean to this day, still.
Davey D: Eddie Cheeba who is from Harlem as well.
Yoda: Eddie Cheeba who was rockin’ the parks and then later on he had a club that was called Broadway International that was his residency. You had all these people: Pete DJ Jones, you know, Red Alert...
Davey D: I thought Pete was up in the Bronx.
Yoda: He was in the Bronx but you gotta remember, he made his name in Manhattan because this is where all the spots, the disco spots. These are all the so called Disco DJ’s.
Davey D: Okay, so when we’re talking about hip hop, there were two sides early on. There was the street side with cats that were younger like yourselves at that time and there was the disco side to the clubs, people that sounded like a Kurtis Blow, ‘Hey, to the beat....hey...hey, hey, hey’. That was different.
Yoda: That was like your LoveBug, Starsky’s ‘cause those were really the first cats that cracked the mike while they was spinnin’ records. Like you had Cowboy who did it for Flash . Cowboy was one of the first ones to say, ‘Yes, yes, y’all...to the beat’, Mel and them and Cowboy. Um, we all like, expanded on what they was doing. You gotta remember that when we first heard Grandmaster Flash and them everything was simple. Rhymes was simplistic. It was more like ‘Yes, yes, y’all...to the beat...’. You had an echo chamber that somebody was rockin’, impressin’ the crowd, enticing the crowd. ‘Yes, yes, y’all...to the beat...’ [Mimics echoes] And then Flash, it was about the DJ then. The MC was just there. He was just dressing. Basically, he was just letting everybody know what was coming up, who was in the house that he knew, and that was it. It was about the DJ rocking the party, doing in incredible tricks, scratching, back spinning, and all this other stuff. Then, it evolved to the MC’s stepping up they rhyming skills. It was no more hickory dickory dock. They start telling stories. Then you start getting MC’s like us that start putting routines together. They would sing a song and make you feel it. You chop a rhyme in there...
Davey D: Let me ask you something. Would you all consider that hip hop ‘cause you hear a lot of people who wear backpacks and consider themselves purists who go, ‘All that singing’s not hip hop. That’s not keeping it real. That’s not keeping it true to the essence of hip hop.’ I mean, if y’all were doing this in ‘78 or ‘77, would that be hip hop?
Yoda: Yes, sir. How can it not be hip hop if that’s the way it started? We are the premier hip hop group from Manhattan. If we did it...We pioneered that style of MCing which everybody else from Force MC’s, not MD’s, Dr. Rock and everybody else. Grandmaster Kas and them they developed it. Um, Whipper Whip and everybody. Everybody had their own way. Commercials would start a rhyme. They would start singing different theme songs from TV shows. That would be a rhyme. So, there was singing from day one. Like Shu said earlier, when Flash rocked the beatbox you had Raheem singing, “We came here tonight, woo, to kick up our frustrations...”. There was singing from day one. So, to the backpackers: Learn your history, seek us out, we’ll break it down for ya.
Davey D: Okay, something to think about. That’s my man Yoda. Mike C, what you add from the early days that they may not have covered? Um, some things that people go, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that,’ that was really important in the building and the evolution of hip hop.
EK Mike C: Well, basically, they covered most of the ground. Um...
Davey D: That’s what I was gonna ask them at the record company. Go ahead. Gimme your thoughts on that. I wanted to ask you about that first record company that came out.
EK Mike C: The first record company? Mike and Dave? Yeah, basically, um, when we first decided to record our first record, we basically done the distribution. We sold records out of the back trunk.
Davey D: What year are we talking about?
Mike C: We talking late ‘79.
Yoda: Or early ‘80.
Davey D: So you guys were...if there were ten hip hop records that first came out, you guys would be one of those ten, right? What was the name of the first record that came out and the record label that it was on?
EK Mike C: Okay, it was “High Powered Rap”. It was on Freedom which led on Flash an them carrying the same label.
Davey D: And the original song was “Get Up and Dance”?
Mike C: “Get Up and Dance”, right, by Maleco. And, um, we actually got the records pressed up. We was up on pretty much of a small budget. You know, but we made it happen, you know. We had labels that was blank so we had a little stamp and put our own little name and address number for contacts. So, basically, it was a one-sided record.
Davey D: And these were on Mike and Dave Records. These were the promoters that held you guys together.
EK Mike C: Right.
Davey D: Now, did y’all get paid off that record? You know, did y’all get a lot of money, bling bling, and all that?
EK Mike C: We got - put it this way, it wasn’t a third party cut so it was more of a 50/50 type thing that we worked out with Mike and Dave. You know, we did the promotion. Like I said, we did the distribution. We went on to the distributors, handed them boxes, came back couple of weeks for returns, things of that nature. Everything was more of a 50/50 cut between Mike and Dave and Crash Crew.
Davey D: Now, on “High Powered Rap”, there’s a unique scenario to that we can hear on an excerpt on a very popular record today. Maybe you can elaborate a little bit on that.
EK Mike C: Yeah, we were robbed. [laughter]
Yoda: That’s my boy.
EK Mike C: We got vamped by, Jay-Z, you know. What makes it so bad is that...
Davey D: Tell us what part of the record that everybody hears that originated from the Crash Crew.
Mike C: Okay, the part that, um, the MAJOR part that’s on his record - “Girls, girls, girls, girls...girls I do adore...” - that came from our first record. And what’s so bad about it is that the brotha don’t wanna give no credit to the creators that made the record, you know.
Davey D: So, the hook that goes, “Girls, girls, girls, girls...girls I do adore,” that’s you guys. That’s 1979.
Mike C: In 1979 we created that routine and um, that record held us out for a long time.
Yoda: Still to this day.
Mike C: Still to this day when we do the record we get much love from people who knew us from years or people who knew us in general.
Davey D: Let me ask you this. Rap artists have been accused of being thieves in a sense, ‘Oh, you guys sample music. You’re not real musicians. You guys take from James Brown. Didn’t give back...’, etc., etc. Rap artists, for a long time, have said, ‘We’re bring back the old school to a new generation.’ Why wouldn’t this apply in this situation if Jay-Z, 20 years after the fact, is taking the hook from a particular record. How’s that not the same?
Yoda: Well, first of all, when we did it we gave props to who was doing it, ya nawtahmean? I mean, in old records you didn’t hear anyone deny that I got this one from James Brown unless you was a DJ. If you was a DJ, you covered your records. As far as the MC’s, the MC’s was shoutin’ out whoever, ya nawtahmean? It wasn’t like they was saying ‘I did this’ or ‘I did that’. You gotta also remember a lot of us did play instruments also. So, we was adding to what they did anyway. A lot of us played drums. A lot of us played keyboards, played pianos...
Davey D: Really? I didn’t realize that. Who played instruments?
Mike C: Crash Crew, basically, we started out with a drummer. His name was Apache and we used to play out in the park with the live drummer.
Davey D: Now, that’s a little bit unusual because at the time that this was happening, you didn’t have after school programs to teach you how to play instruments. I know my high school - and Shu Bee, you went there for a little bit - you know, Bronx Science High, there was no music class. You know, they cut all that out so how unusual was that to have people in New York playing live instruments?
Mike C: Pretty much very.
Yoda: It was so ghetto....
Mike C: Everything was pretty much self-taught. From elementary school, I took a little lessons in violin but I wouldn’t really put that as a cause.
Davey D: You weren’t out there playing the violin in any of the Crash Crew routines.
Mike C: Right.
Yoda: What do you play now?
Mike C: What I play now: I play a little bit of keyboard and I program drums. You know, with the keyboard you can basically play anything, you know. You can play a guitar, flute, violin.
Davey D: But going back to this thing with Apache. So, that was a big hit thing to have the drummer out there.
Mike C: Right. And it was unusual, you know. And that was another thing people used to come around us to check out the sounds that we was doing. A lot of things we done was basically different, you know. Things that people haven’t heard before. From there we just carried on and each year we try to do something different, you know.
Davey D: You know, Yoda, you were about to add something else to what you were talking about the whole Jay-Z and the ‘Girls, girls, girls’ situation. So, maybe you can continue what you were about to say.
Yoda: Okay. Well, actually, with Jay-Z, I mean...
Davey D: I think where we left off was the fact that I was asking you how it was different somebody samples or borrows from you guys, when rappers from day one have been accused of taking other people’s music.
Yoda: Right. Well, I mean, like I said before, we did do it or whatever but back in the days when you took somebody’s, like say somebody accused Crash Crew of....
Yoda: stealing a Furious Five routine, well, y’all just gotta battle for it. Yanawtahmean? Y’all take it to the next party and battle for it and let the crowd decide who‘s the dopest and keep the routine because if it was whack you lose stripes. I know some crews who lost equipment battling. I know some folks who lost the right to use they name from battling ’cause they had the same name as somebody.
Davey D: Gimme an example.
Off the top of my head, there’s just too many. Like if we was in Lincoln, and you got somebody named Crazy K and another dude in Drew Hamilton named Crazy K, y’all gotta battle for it. Whoever Crazy K is whack, can no longer wear his DJ shirt or his crew shirt that says I am so and so from this crew. No, you’re not. Your name is now K-Love or whatever the hell you gon’ call yourself but it ain’t Crazy K no more.
Davey D: You know but this also gotta have a sting when you have a number one record that’s out there in a multi-billion dollar a year business . I mean, um, to not have that credit or recognition, does that add extra hurt to it or do the old rules of hip hop still apply?
Yoda: No, the old rules are out the window now ‘cause the game has changed so much. Once these multi-billions and Madison Avenue came into hip hop, the game changed. I mean, it’s no longer can you battle somebody because people are getting killed for battles, yanawtahmean? I mean, the fans are loyal to everybody now, to each other’s camp. You can’t have a decent battle without somebody wanting to take it to a violent level which is not the way it was. Well, sometimes battles back in the day turned violent but not as a rule, yanawtahmean? And my thing now is, I mean, we try to talk to the Rocafella camp, you know, and we try to open a dialogue ‘cause we’re not dead, yanawtahmean? We’re still here.
Mike C: No doubt.
Yoda: I’m still in the game in a big way. Mike C’s...
Davey D: You manage Eazy Rock and Rob Bass...
Yoda: Yes, sir. And I’m out there on the road. I see these cats all the time. I talk with these cats and they know I’m original Crash Crew. I mean, I’ve met members from Wu Tang and they like, ‘Oh! Crash Crew, we love you guys.’ They give you your props. They model themselves after us. LL, he’s one of the brothas that always give props. And my problem with Jay, with Jigga, is he talk out the side of his mouth on the whole album. I mean, how can you say in one record, ‘I’m changing this cats up for what they did to the Cold Crush,’ but...
Davey D: But meaning charging up these cats who took routines from the Cold Crush but didn’t give credit.
Davey D: As then he turned around and did it...
Yoda: He did it to us. So, where’s the respect, loyalty, or love for what you calling yourself doing if you’re gon’ accuse somebody else of what you’re doing?
Mike C: Right. We would like to hear a response back from that.... [laughs]
Davey D: But let me ask you this, um, as we get ready to close out on this thing. You mentioned the importance of the rapper, the entrepreneurial aspect, the fact that you all had, before there was the Wu Tang, you guys were a big, giant crew that’s self-contained, did it all, routines, the whole nine. When you hear people talk about hip hop you hear, ‘Well, it has to have the graffiti,’ and I talk to the older cats that’s not something that has to come front and center. Um, and I ‘m wondering what role that played between the graffiti as well as the dancing.
Yoda: Well, you had a lot of cats. You gotta remember, in the early days of hip hop, you had a lot of people that did all of these things so they was never considered ‘Oh, I’m just a graf artist, I’m just an MC, I’m just a DJ, I just B-boy’. You had cats that did all of that. When you went to a party, even if you was a DJ, you get out there and show your B-boy skills. So, everybody had they own little niche but it was all there. It wasn’t like ‘I’m separate, I’m a B-boy, I’m a graf artist.’
Davey D: Let’s focus specifically on the graf ‘cause people didn‘t come to your parties to see people right on the wall.
Yoda: Exactly, ‘cause if you was known for it, you was known for it. Honestly, the person who did every Crash Crew flyer is one of the most noted artists in the history and that’s Phase 2. Phase 2 did every Crash Crew, Mike and Dave flyer. You check if from day one to now. It’s a Phase 2 flyer.
Davey D: And that’s history there. What were you gonna add to that La Shu Bee.
La Shu Bee: See, I mean, I was amazed when I saw “Wild Style” and “Beat Street” and I saw the pop locking and all of this. It was done in a party but main thing was watching the DJ cut and scratch; watching MC’s get up on the mic, tell stories, brag about his self. That’s what is was about. It was about what Crash Crew was gon’ do against the Funky Four. We gon’ walk in your Bronx party and steal your fans. That was our main objective. Let’s go up here and rock they party. See what girl and I take out of this party. It wasn’t about what flyer I see on the wall or what kid and their pop locking. So when I saw “Beat Street”, when I saw “Wild Style”, man, they just have had something that I missed. Even though, back in days like 1975, we did go to center parties where they were spinning to James Brown “Popcorn” and all of that but we were just in there trying to pick up somebody. You know, because back then we wasn’t rapping. We was just in the party trying to dance. But MC’s, we was basically, honing our skills.
Davey D: Now, you know, the other thing sometimes artists are accused of being too materialistic and too, um, saying nothing on the mic. Now, I listened to the old tapes. Um, people weren’t as graphic but was there a difference between what they’re saying today? Seems like people were bling blinging from day one.
La Shu Bee: Yeah, it was true. Every rhyme that Shu Bee said, I always talk about what girl can I get from you or can I take. I only got into maybe politics and certain issues according to what kind of song we made. On one song I told kids to keep on striving for your goals and if you find them then don’t let them go. But our basic thing was let me go to a party and get a girl. We wore gold. We were one of those original groups that wore a plate ‘cause I had a plate with my name ‘cause ‘Shu Bee, where’d he get that from?’ But our thing was, we wasn’t getting money back then. We wasn’t getting paid. We worked summer Youth Corps jobs and we took our summer Youth Corps cash and bought clothes with it and go outside and rock our name belts, our sweatshirts with our name on it, and our jackets, you know. For us, it wasn’t bling bling back then but you can say it was that kind of avenue.
Davey D: You know, I talked to Barry B-stro about six years ago and he had mentioned going overseas and seeing records with the Crash Crew versus the Sugar Hill Gang that you guys didn’t you all had done. He was talking about all types of projects that took place where it was literally the outtakes of the groups being pressed on to albums. He said a lot of people early on, because they didn’t have the major label experience, that it’s pretty commonplace knowledge now. A lot of people got ripped off, essentially, and I wanna know if maybe you can comment on that. Was that an unfortunate aspect of being a pioneer that you guys laid down the trails, and everybody goes ‘Oop, them guys made mistakes; let me not do the same thing.’
Yoda: Exactly what you said. I mean, we were to hip hop what Little Richard and all those cats in rock and roll who got ripped off. I mean, when the Sam Philips and everybody ripped off the Little Richards of the world and you had the Jerry Lee Lewis’s stealing their music and all that other stuff, it’s the same thing with the early groups. I mean, we didn’t know. We sixteen, seventeen years-old. They show us a case of money, say you gon’ travel the world, and do what you wanna do. Where do I sign? I don’t know what I’m signing away. I don’t know what I’m publishing. I’m a sixteen year-old kid from Harlem. What we know? You know, we want to just make records and get fame. That’s how it was easy to be set up that way for us to get robbed because it was the same thing that happened earlier on.
Davey D: And it happened to a lot of the earlier groups.
Yoda: Most of the earlier pioneer groups, it happened to, and that opened the door for the next cats to get a little bit of money like you see when RUN DMC came out. They started to get a little bit of money now they able to get cars, able do get they little mansions, and all this other stuff. Then the LL’s and them, and it just evolved and each group, like even L’s first contract was on the shaky side which he just finished negotiating. It was like a twenty year contract or something he signed with Russell.
Davey D: Really?
Yoda: It was something like crazy like that he renegotiated. Now, he’s second in charge at Def Jam next to Lyor Cohen(?). [laughter in the background] Now, why you think he selling Def Jam? Everybody else knew Lyor stole Def Jam. Crazy what happened with him but it’s cats like that the set the tone for the Jay-Z’s to make they money, get they own companies, and get they own distribution deals, and own they own masters.
Davey D: But people would say you started off with the first record company with Mike and Dave. But...
Yoda: That’s a whole ‘nother issue. I mean, we did have the first independent company, Mike and Dave Records, but once again the money wasn’t that good and somebody came to us with a better deal. I mean you had cats from the Sugar Hill Gang showing the group a bag full of money and saying, ‘This could be yours if you sign with us and come with us.’ Sugar Hill was the premier label, I mean, Mike and Dave was taking us locally: Tri-state area we were known; Sugar Hill is known nationally. Now, they tell us we can go travel the states and Canada. We can get out of this little area we were stuck in. Of course, we gon’ jump at that.
Davey D: And that’s the unfortunate cycle that history has put upon us. You know, I wanna thank yo guys and just in closing, maybe you can give some last comments. One of the things I often talk about with hip hop, one of the reasons that a lot of people got ripped off was that there wasn’t older mentors to really explain this. You know, and in particular, older black parents weren’t really feeling it. Until now...
Yoda: The parents and all the older community leaders was trying to shut us down. You know, even your parents were like, ‘Why you doing that stuff you do? It’s a fad. It’s not gonna last.’ Well, Ma, twenty-five years later, yanawtahmean, we still doing this. It’s a big business but there was nobody that took the ball and said, ‘Yo, you guys can do this. It’s a great thing you doing.’ Nobody saw the potential of how many of us got took off the street ’cause a lot of us was into other illegal things that could have been a lot worse on the community if we didn’t get into hip hop. Hip hop not only changed lives but it changed directions of people’s lives and thinking. Now, you have hip hop activists. You have people that’s really trying to make a difference through the music. There’s nobody that told us we could do this. There was no blueprint saying, ‘Yo, you guys can get that. You can do this.’ It was all about ‘It’s not gonna last. Why you guys out there wasting you time. Go back to school. Go get a job.’ Nobody thought it would be the business it is.
Davey D: And here it is, twenty-five years later. Last comments from you, La Shu Bee?
La Shu Bee: Um, basically comments from me is this: For anybody that know they history, contact the Crash Crew. You know, research it, go to the web site, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know that you didn’t know.
Davey D: Point well taken. Mike?
Mike C: Yeah, my last comment is that, you know, within this music business, as far as hip hop, I just wish that, you know, it goes into a different direction because there’s a lot of music that’s degrading women and talking about nonsense. You know, I’m just looking for that change.
Davey D: But let me ask you this as we close ‘cause if somebody listened to La Shu Bee talking about picking up girls, is he degrading? So, is it all relative to whatever time you’re in because nowadays everybody’s more graphic so it’s gon’ be more in your face. But somebody might make the argument that compared to Marvin Gaye, La Shu Bee was, you know, a misogynist.
Mike C: Well, actually, that wasn’t all what Shu Bee talked about. There was a lot of strong points that we put together as far as music, you know. We talked about schooling, you know. He mentioned, ‘Stay in school; don’t be a fool.’ There was a lot of educational things that we have put together, you know. But as time goes on, you much older now, it ain’t about ‘I’m trying to get this girl and trying to get that girl.’
Davey D: I guess that as quiet as it’s kept, there’s a lot of folks who came out of that time period that kind of know better who’s doing the fowl stuff. So, that makes sense.
Mike C: Pretty much.
Davey D: Well, I appreciate it. It’s 94.1 Hard Knock Radio talking with the Crash Crew: Mike C, Shu Bee, and Yoda. We’ll be back with another edition tomorrow, folks. Peace.
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