Monthly Archives: May 2013
As a member of a neighborhood group of Disco DJ’s known as the Disco Enforcers, Lee began to DJ under the name DJ Magic.
At this time there was a blossoming of local Disco celebrity DJ’s, coming up across the city and the borough of Queens was no different.
Crews like Cipher Sounds, Nu Sounds, The Disco Twins, Jamaica Sounds, Ankey’s Crew, Professor & Company and Infinity Machine were all in their infant stages but had already amassed a steady and growing fan base amongst followers.
As the interest in the Disco sound began to fade, DJ’s in the Bronx (Kool Herc, Bambaataa, Grand Master Flash) began to experiment with a new sound called B-Boy, now currently known as Hip-Hop.
Along with emcee’s like; Coke la Rock, Clark Kent, Mele Mel, Caz, Luv Bug Starski and Pebbely Poo, they fashioned the sound into a hybrid mix of Disco, Soul, Latin and Rock selections, worked double time by the DJ because he only played what was then known as the breaks on the songs, over and over in a repetitive manner, thus turning that break into its own separate song.
The MCs would talk over the break with the use of microphones and sometimes echo chambers to excite the crowd, and this in essence was the creation of the Hip-Hop sound, and it didn’t take long for the rest of the city to catch on.
In 1978, he along with DJ’s Wayne (Easy E) Ely, Randy (Candy Man) Joyner and Robert (Robbie Rob) Ford, formed “Sight & Sound“.
Now going under the moniker, M.C. Magic, Lee, his cousin Rob, his sister Dawn (Cheba D.) and his then girlfriend, Kesha (Kesha Kee), became the Frightful 4 MCs (emulating The Funky 4 and Sha’ Rock), and did house parties and park jams throughout the borough.
In early to mid 80s, teaming up with DJ Ely, Magic would work to solidify his reputation as a Hip-Hop DJ and MC, this time in the Tide Water area.
Working in conjunction with the local radio station, KISS-96 fm, Magic would host and/or perform at various parties and events
He even created a trio of teenage female rappers called “Femunique 3 MC’s” who grew popular in the local area.
With the release of the film Beat Street in 1984, Magic saw this as a sign to head back to New York and returned in 1985 to form the group, “The New-breed“, opening for Grandmaster Mele Mel , The Force MC’s, Rock Master Scott and Doug E. Fresh at the Jamaica Armory.
In 1986, Magic decided that it was time to look at the entertainment industry, on the whole as an opportunity to start a real career, and not just to have fun.
Upon making the conscious decision to now use his real name; Lee Derrick.
It was in the summer of 1988 when Lee Derrick would be introduced to three female rappers; MC Mel, MC Me, and Gina Dee, collectively known as FLEXX.
The Brooklyn based group of upstarts had secured a few beats from super producer, FRESH Gordon and was looking for a writer to pen a few songs.
Lee noticed the potential in the style and appearance of the group and jumped at the chance to work with them.
For the next year or so the FLEXX roster would change occasionally with MC’s “Mel” and “Me” as the standing foundation of the group and Lee now taking up most of the writing and production duties along with the girls.
It was through his relationship with FLEXX that Lee would go on to meet Nicci Bowie, whom he would pen the rap for on the Prince Paul produced, Fine Young Cannibals remix of “I’m not Satisfied“, released on London Records in Europe and MCA in America in 1990.
In the early 90’s FLEXX would eventually land a deal with New York based JBR Records/Atco and go into their studio to redo the songs from the demo.
It was there that Lee Derrick would meet and befriend long time R&B icon, Daniel LeMelle, of Rick James and the Stone City band fame.
After a few weeks of working together redoing the FLEXX songs, Daniel invited Lee to become a part of his production team at Lions-Den studios, along with well known R&B percussionist Nate Hughes.
In 1998, BigLee, now the “Head of Black Music” at REACT, executive produced the album; The Final Chapter with West Coast legends, Rodney O & Joe Cooley featuring, Pookie Duke on WEST Funk Records, and the underground masterpiece, Blacc Plague by Horror-core creators, Insane Poetry, on Night-breed Records, both labels distributed by REACT.
By the summer of 98, BigLee, Sebastian and New York transplant, Pure Black had started a privately owned publicity firm called, N.A.P.P.Y. Executives (Nationally Advertising, Publicizing, & Promoting You).
BigLee produced, and co-produced, webcast concerts featuring artists like, reggae legends; Steel Pulse (2000 Tour), Puff Daddy & The Family (European Tour) featuring Doug E. Fresh, Sisqo, Lil Kim, and 112, the 2 Gee launch party & benefit for Toys for Tots featuring Gza & Wu Tang Clan, The Roots, Mos Def & Talib Kweli, and digital content featuring, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson & The Jacksons, and Toni Braxton.
He also represented the company at digital media summits and conferences in Cologne Germany, Cannes France, Amsterdam, London and various cities in the United States.
In 2002, after two years of heading up urban marketing at mcy.com, Lee was offered the same position at iBall media, a new digital content production company based in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville.
Currently lee goes by the name, Cheda’ Jones and resides in the New York metropolitan area with his wife and son.
He has been featured in articles and periodicals including; The NY Daily News, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Rap Sheet newspaper, Image magazine, The Source magazine, BET’s YSB magazine and YES Magazine.
He has written for the Song Writers Muse Paper and Rap Pages magazine, and appeared in the independent film Freestyle, the art of rhyme, directed by DJ Organic.
They made a single on Enjoy records called “Funkbox Party” in 1983.
That single was a hit in New York all winter.
Other records on Enjoy in 1983–1984 were “We’re gonna get you hot” and “Music Gram”.
It was later remade by Master P where the hook was “Make them say ughh”.
I doubt Master P has given Masterdon any credit for the hit.
Masterdon followed up the single in 1984 with “Funkbox Party II” (on Profile) which wasn’t as successful as the first single.
Female member of the crew Pebblee Poo also had a solo hit on Profile in 1985 called “Fly Guy”.
This was an answer record to the Boogie Boys “Fly Girl”.
“Get Off My Tip” was released in 1985 on Profile records without Gangster B and produced by Duke Bootee.
Masterdon recorded a solo joint in 1985 on Enjoy Records called “Pay The Cost To Be The Boss”.
He was the rapper and musician on the track.
All of their other records were produced by Pumpkin and Bobby Robinson
The Death Committee was one of the first truly diverse groups incorporating the Latin and female rappers.
Although I don’t know the details, I hear Masterdon passed on in the early 90′s.
Mantronix underwent several genre (and line-up) changes during its 7-year existence (1984–1991), from old school hip hop and electro-funk to house music, but the group is primarily remembered for its original, heavily synthesized blend of old school hip-hop and electro funk.
Early years: 1984–1988
Kurtis Mantronik (Kurtis el Khaleel), a Jamaican-Canadian émigré, began experimenting with electro music in the early 1980s, inspired by early electro tracks like “Riot in Lagos” (1980) by Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto.
In 1984, while working as the in-store DJ for Downtown Records in Manhattan, Kurtis Mantronik met MC Tee, a Haitian-born,Flatbush, Brooklyn-based rapper (and regular record store customer).
The duo soon made a demo, “Fresh Is The Word“, and eventually signed with William Socolov’s Sleeping Bag Records.
Mantronix: the Album
Mantronix’s debut single, “Fresh Is the Word“, was a club hit in 1985, reaching #16 on Billboard Magazine’s Hot Dance Singles Sales chart, and was featured on Mantronix: The Album which was released the same year.
Mantronix’s efforts on Mantronix: the Album and its effect on early hip hop and electronic music is perhaps best summed up by music critic Omar Willey’s observation in 2000:
Featuring “Fresh Is the Word” and the new tracks “Bassline” and “Electro Mega-Mix,” Mantronix defined the new sound of electro-funk. Mantronik used a polyrhythmic style, similar to West African log drumming, but instead of acoustic drums, the rhythm would be carried by the combination of electronic drums, synthesizer, vocoder and/or synthesized voice over a bass line completely played on the synth. No samples of James Brown here. This was truly electronic music: spare, funky and immensely danceable, an homage and simultaneous extension of old-school hip hop’s electronic template that had started with “Planet Rock” in 1982. The feeling of Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Kraftwerk and Neu all combined in Mantronik’s music. It was a neat tie between old-school and new jack, and Mantronix had the field to themselves.
The influence of Mantronix: The Album is seen among other artists through the sampling of “Needle To The Groove” by Beck in the single “Where It’s At” from the 1996 album, Odelay (“we’ve got two turntables and a microphone…”), as well as, “Fresh Is The Word” by the Beastie Boys in the single “Jimmy James” from the 1992 album, Check Your Head (“for all the Blacks, Puerto Ricans, and the White people too…”) The Beastie Boys later sampled “Bassline” for the song “3 the Hard Way” on their 2004 album To the 5 Boroughs.
Mantronix’s second album, Music Madness, was released in 1986.
While MC Tee’s rhyming style on the album continued in the traditional b-boy fashion of the times, Mantronik’s club-oriented production and mixing in Music Madness tended to attract more electronic dance music and electro funk aficionados than hardcore hip-hop fans.
During this period, while Mantronix was signed to Sleeping Bag Records, Mantronik was employed by the label in their A&R Department, while also producing other artists and groups, including Just-Ice, T La Rock, Nocera, and Joyce Sims.
In Full Effect
Mantronix signed with Capitol Records in 1987, in what was one of the first 7-figure deals for a hip-hop group, and released In Full Effect in 1988, which, according to the liner notes, was the first album to be mastered from DAT instead of reel-to-reel tape.
The album continued in and expanded on the hip-hop/electro funk/dance music vein of its predecessor, eventually reaching #18 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, Mantronix’s highest showing for an album.
In Full Effect marked the last Mantronix album with rapper MC Tee, who left the group to enlist in the United States Air Force.
Later era: 1989–1991
This Should Move Ya
Mantronik met Wilson, a fellow Sleeping Bag Records label mate, while doing production for Wilson’s aborted solo project.
The album spawned two top-10 hits on the British singles chart, “Got To Have Your Love” at #4, and “Take Your Time (featuring vocalist Wondress)” at #10.
In the United States, the album reached #61 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
In a 1991 interview, Kurtis Mantronik commented on the commercial success of “Got to Have Your Love“:
When I did “Got To Have Your Love”, I did it for a reason. I did it because I wanted to get a song on the radio.
The Incredible Sound Machine
Grammy-nominated neo soul singer/songwriter Angie Stone co-wrote seven of the eleven tracks that appeared on The Incredible Sound Machine.
The Incredible Sound Machine, which tended to favor R&B, new jack swing, and dance music over hip hop, was considered both a critical and commercial disappointment.
Shortly after a European tour and promotion related to the release of The Incredible Sound Machine, the group disbanded, and Mantronik left the music industry altogether for seven years.
Kurtis Mantronik resurfaced in Europe in the late 1990s, producing house- and techno-music artists, and remains active in pop-oriented electronic music.
Hip Hop Originated from Grandmaster Flowers, D.J. Hollywood, Kool Herc, Coke la Rock, and Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation in Brooklyn, Queens and the Boogie Down Bronx to not mention these people, as far as hip hop is concerned, is disrespectful to the culture itself.
Well, as far as Harlem is concerned, to not mention the Magnificent Seven, M.C.’s Rayvon, Johnny Wa, E-Man, DJ’s Spivey, Shoeshine, Kookie and Tystic, its equally disrespectful to Hip Hop and the Hip Hop culture.
They ran Harlem and Harlem World in particular.
The Magnificent Seven are for Harlem what D.J. Kool Herc, Coke La Rock, and Melle Mel are to the Bronx.
Johnny Wa (John Watson)
MC Rayvon Weaver
DJ Kookie (Roosevelt Ginyard)
Rayvon and Johnny were the lead members of the crew.
Back in those days, they used to party and battle with any occasion they`ve got.
Along with that, they used to sell drugs until they got busted by some undercover cops with marked money.
Everybody got in jail that night.
It was the beginning of the end for The Magnificent Seven.
From 1980 until they went to jail, they didn’t lost any single battle.
The biggest problem of the M7 was that they were not for the business part of it because they were drug sellers.
They didn’t care about getting paid for the Hip Hop parties. They did it because they loved to m.c.
In 2007, DJ Kookie (founding member) died.
He began his career as a record boy in 1971 as hip-hop first appeared in the Bronx, and he eventually became a DJ at the Disco Fever club in 1978.
Starski recorded his first single, “Positive Life“, on the Tayster record label in 1981.
Later, he recorded a song for the soundtrack of the 1986 film Rappin’, which was released on Atlantic Records, before recording his first album, House Rocker, on Epic/CBS Records.
This featured his most successful chart single, “Amityville (The House on the Hill)“, aparody song named in reference to the film The Amityville Horror (itself based on alleged supernatural activities surrounding the DeFeo murder case) was a #12 hit in the UK Singles Chart,and hit the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. in 1986.
Lovebug Starski and World Famous Brucie B also worked together at the Rooftop Roller rink in Harlem during the 1980s.
A five-year jail sentence curtailed Starski’s activities throughout the late ’80s, but in the ’90s he began DJing again with old pal DJ Hollywood.
They are known for being one of the early hip hop acts on the West Coast and one of the pioneers of the West Coast scene.
The duo formed their own Dream Team Records label, going on to release their own records and also releases by other California rap artists.
Two of the group’s best known early releases are “The Dream Team Is in the House” and “Rockberry Jam“.
In 1986, the group signed with MCA Records who released their three albums, Kings Of The West Coast (1985), Bad To The Bone (1986), and Back to Black (1989).
By 1986, as electro was faced with some mainstream coverage, the group began to fade into history as gangsta rap on the West Coast began to rise, although they resurfaced in 1993 under the name DTP, issuing a few new singles, including “Rockberry Revisited“, an updated version of “Rockberry Jam“.
Chris Wilson went on to a career in video and music production.
Pardee worked in computing, working for Universal as a Business Services Analyst, and later Project Manager.
Rudy Pardee died in a scuba-diving accident in 1998.
“The Day K-Rob Came Back” was also released in 1986.
Since the 1980s, however, aside from providing a verse for “Beat Bop Part 2” on 2004’s Bi-Conicals of the Rammellzee, K-Rob has devoted himself more to his Muslim faith.
K Rob would most likely be a forgotten name were it not for a well conceived collaboration with Rammellzee called “Beat Bop”
The song came about when Fab 5 Freddy took the Rammellzee to meet Jean-Michel Basquiat, a well known artist.
Their conversation got heated and turned into a sort of battle.
Basquiat attempted to flex his emcee talent, but Rammellzee tossed the lyrics and told partner K Rob to go off on a different level.
The song eventually was released as “Beat Bop” by Rammellzee vs. K Rob.
It was often sold for as much as $1000 at the time because of its artwork on the cover done by Basquiat.
Originally released on Tartwon Records in 1983 it was later picked up by Profile Records.
Another K Rob notable track was “I’m A Homeboy” a collaboration with DJ Cheese in 1986.
It was produced by Duke Bootee for Beauty and the Beat Records.
Another 12″ was “The Day K-Rob Came Back”/”Hey Hey Hey” on Profile in 1986.
The “Starchild” persona is an influence of classic funk group Parliament Funkadelic.
Kyle mastered the art of motivating the party crowd.
Kyle’s fiery performances began uptown in the Bronx during the late 70s.
His hardcore-b-boy street delivery is crisp and smooth.
Altering the smooth tone of his voice, Kyle’s vocal skills have a rugged edge that brings the crowd to their feet.
He would constantly practice break dance routines in school and at home.
In 1977, he graduated high school and developed his party motivation skills over a popular song recorded by the group Chic.
A friend of Kyle’s girlfriend introduced him to DJ Hollywood and they met at Club 371.
Kyle was invited to rock the mic.
From that day forward, Kool Kyle became a favorite throughout the Bronx.
The legacy of Kyle’s performances placed him at the Mecca of Hip Hop venues in the Bronx such as The T-Connection Disco on White Plains Road and nearby Emma’s Place.
Kyle invited DJ Hollywood to perform at the first party of this newly renovated club.
In 1979, the “Starchild” became the first solo MC from the Bronx with a record deal with the record, “Do You Like That Funky Beat?” originally recorded by the funk/r&b group B.T. Express making it a two time hit single.
Around this time, the Disco Fever in the Bronx became another favorite location where Kyle performed often.
During the 1980’s, Kyle toured the Northeast USA working with Run from Run-DMC amongst many others.
In 1981, Kool Kyle was the first MC to perform in a movie called “Downtown 81”starring avante garde artist Jean Michel Basquait and Debbie Harry of the group Blondie.
This film was not released however; it contains the first rap performance in a motion picture.
In 1983, Kool Kyle signed with Profile Records and recorded with Billy Bill his biggest hit that was produced by Kurtis Blow “Trouble” B/W “The Old School”.
Kyle is recording again with his partner RB Da Brolik under the group name Men Vs. Many.
A dedicated pioneer, Kyle continues to blaze new trails while always supporting the roots of Hip Hop.
And as long as there is a microphone to be found, Kyle The Original Starchild will be there to burn it up!
Spicer was managed by Russell Simmons’ Rush Management.
His single “The Bubble Bunch” featured Jellybean Benitez’s first remix.
It is a thirteen minutes song that features extremely visual and imaginative storytelling.
Thus, he was a precursor to more well known storytellers coming later like Slick Rick and Dana Dane.
He also recorded a song called “Money (Dollar Bill Ya’ll)” which is also a funky track and worth a listen. It was released in 1983 on Spring Records.
He was briefly signed to Def Jam recording a single entitled “Beat the Clock” b/w “This Is It”. It was produced by Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin.
He appeared on the television show “20/20″ around 1985 rapping about Keith Haring the artist.
His last known record was a dance hall record with Beenie Man around 97 or 98.
He has three daughters, Angelina, Leticia, and Janel Spicer.
Mr. T (K.L.M.C.)
The King Cool Cee (aka King Chepell)
This group released “We are the Three MC’s” in 1983.
They were part of a collective of Bronx and Harlem based rappers who hung out together and played many block parties and jams.
The collective also included The Fresh 3 Mc’s, Pumpkin King of The Beats, T La Rock, Pretty Rickey and Boo Ski (who recorded the remake for Select records 1984 “Its Mine”) and Rich Nice who later recorded for Motown Records.
All of these rappers hung out together and grew up in the area of Claremont Park and 174ths street in the Bronx, and 138th street and Edgecombe Ave in Harlem.