Monday, February 20, 2012
I remember being in the back seat of a Cadillac driving through Brooklyn with my mother and her friends. It was daytime and a bum came up, put something on the windshield then asked to clean it. This was the first time I saw automatic windshield cleaner but fuck that. After the fluid did it’s job what I saw next I will never forget. It was a train up on the L with Dick Tracey looking at his watch painted on it. I asked “what is that?” My mother said Graffiti, the kids do it at night. I said I wanna do that and she told me I would go to jail if I did. Well lets just say Mother knows best.
Hip Hop as a whole has always been able to grab my full attention. My cousin Cathy brought home rappers delight when it was first pressed up. I knew it was next. The Flashdance movie and Michael Jackson doing his thing resulted in a worldwide explosion of b-boying & Hip Hop.”Impereial Rockers”.. that was our crew. Back then I used to hang out w/ a bunch of Italian kids from school. We were all 10, 11 & 12 always looking for a refridgerator box. Always coming home later and later, breakin for hours under the street light. Luckily there was a popular club Le Jardan’ within walking distance from my house. They did an all ages friday night and people would come from all over to battle and shit. Breakin,girls and causing any kind of trouble we could.
That was life. In the 80′s we got away with so much shit, kids today would just think we are lying. Back then neighborhoods would be filled with kids running wild day and night. This was way before parents were as afraid to let there kids out to do, basicly whatever because you didn’t tell your parents the truth. Our parents let us do what their parents let them do. Go out , play ball, ride bikes, the beach and so on. We did all the same things but w/ a sort of progressive twist. I’d be playing baseball at 11 w/ a pack of marllboro’s in my pocket. I’d ride my bike to go steal paint and then put it up against a wall, stand on the seat and write my Name DAMIAN as big as possible. Where I grew up at that time the beach was where you got trees. $10 (a lid) would last you a week. This was just everyday life and you didn’t even think about it.
The music was the sound track to my life. It had no boundary’s. It was exciting and it was new every week. At first it was bls with Mr.Magics rap attack. Then came Red alert on Kiss fm on friday’s. Chuck Chillout also rocked on kiss on saturday. I liked Red best but would listen to Mr.Magic during commercials. HipHop was kind of underground at this time compared to when “breakin” as everyone called it then had been saturated by the media and wasn’t “in” I guess. I never stopped until about 5 or 6 yrs ago. (Update..Sept 15 06..I was breaking today. Another important issue is there were no hip hop clothing companies, (nothing substantial) back then. You would get some twill Lee’s and get crease’s stitched in. You would buy some Puma suades or Campus, stretch them out and wrap “jelly rolls”(an extra pair of socks) around your feet. Robin’s was the spot. Fly adidas for 20 dollars. This was the era. Pure HipHop!
At this time in my life I was pretty well versed in two of the elements of this culture. Now it was time to take the first step on the long journey of another, production. I had no idea thats where I was headed at that time. I just knew I wanted to cut up some flavor shit, like the backbone to my favorite group. Sure there were other dj’s before Jam Master Jay but he made me forget. In my original bio I told the whole story about how I got my first pair real of turntables. Bottom line it was 1985 I got two technics, that big old pyramid mixer that was pretty popular back then and a coffin for $140 used. DOPE! I wish I knew what happened to them? I was addicted. Thats all I did. Smoke weed, scratch records. Steal paint, bomb everything.
My first concert was RUN-DMC, Public Enemy,EPMD & Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. That concert was famous for the 3 million dollars of gold that was stolen off the necks of fans by fans, according to the news anyway. The best show I ever saw. RUN-DMC and Public Enemy were at there best. It might have been the location. Nassau Collesium was a short bus ride from both groups home towns. Bananas!
My friends that I wrote with were mostly into heavy metal, skip that. All my friends were metal heads back then. The ones that wrote liked hip hop but they were still head bangers. I moved around a lot when, well I still do actually but before I moved out of Long Island I lived at over 20 addresses. I went to a bunch of different schools and had friends all over the place. Somewhere around 16, I lost track of my turntables, I got kicked out of high school and I was living back in Llindenhurst (where I learned to break) w/ my Grandmother. Grandma was the best. She gave me the freedom I needed, thank you.
I started going back to Le Jardan again and they were having live acts perform. I saw the jungle Brothers when that “girl I’ll house you” track was new. Rob Base performed another night, Tone Loc’. It was mostly groups like TKA playing there but the girls loved that shit so it was worth going on those nights. Most of my friends were going to Metal and hardcore show’s. There was another popular club called Sundance two train stops away. I first went to Sundance in the fall of 88′. I went on a thursday night to see a friends band. Skull Rot was some metal hard core mix that was made up of some metal heads that I played handball and got high with. I was familiar with the music(metal & hardcore)because that’s what everyone listened to for years. I liked some of the music I heard all day, everyday. S.O.D., Slayer Cro-mags, Bad Brains and a few more. Skull Rot was the opening band to a bunch of other local bands that would play on a thursday with hopes to get asked be the opening act on a friday or saturday night show. This was my first taste of a live metal /hardcore and I liked it alot. That night I met a skinhead from my neighborhood through some other friends. George & I were the only ones with short hair accept the old guy at the door who took the money.
Needless to say, a short time later I was one of the three “skinheads” from my neighborhood. I just wanted to fight and that’s just what I did. I fought every tuff guy longhair and guido around who would bring it, and there were a lot. I was only 17, 18 and I was embarrassing alot of people. Kids would hope to catch me too dusted or by myself. They caught me a few times but the most famous one was when this crackhead Henry some shit, I forgot his last name- he’s been dead for along time now. This mother fucker hit me in the head with a hatchet. He wasn’t too dedicated with his swing, because the cut stopped at the skull. This might be the first of my 9 lives to be given back to me. It’s good to be a Leo.
I was the guy who ran up on crowds instead of away from them. That’s why the skinhead thing attracted me. We stuck together and the more I met, the crazier I got. Don’t be fooled by the media. Skinheads were black, white, Spanish and Asian. White power kids were our most sought after enemy. Even throughout this time in my life Hip Hop was the biggest influence. There were a lot of skinhead/hardcore kid writers so that was fully blown. I was that kid breakin’ in the pit. I was listening to Kool G Rap and NWA in the parking lot of Sundance waiting for our next “reason” if we felt we needed one. Just the perfect sound scapes to our brutal weekend hobby. I didn’t know it then but all these hard core shows I was attending would later have a huge influence on my Hip Hop production. I know it sounds crazy but the energy from so many shows I’ve seen, I later incorporated into my music.
Sundance closed around the end of 1990 . The owners of the property, Southside hospital were looking to get rid of the club for a while before it finally closed. It’s safe to say the emergency room over there lost mad friday and saturday night business after that. Frank Cariolla, the owner of Sundance opened a couple of spots after but they never had the same appeal. Around the same time I went to this club called Voodoo a few times. One night I was breakin’ there and this girl came up to me and told me how much she loved it. She handed me a crazy looking flier and said you need to go to this rave. I had heard a little about raves’ but had no idea. The rave was called Storm rave and we had to go to a record store (Groove records) in Brooklyn the night of the party for tickets and instructions. This was some shit. When we finally got to the location, it was somewhere in Staten Island. I was just finishing my second Crazy Horse and it was about 1 am already. I remember pulling up and saying “that’s it, what the fuck?” There was mad girls, thats all I could see accept for the lights coming from this garage/ gas station. This was kind of in some neighborhood type shit. When I got inside, that was it. It was all about location. There was something really dope about being at a club, that wasn’t a club. Freedom. In the beginning there weren’t any raves in clubs. I’ve been to almost every armory in NYC & Long Island. Many abandoned or emptied out factories. An indoor soccer stadium. Convention centers. Huge empty parking lots. An abandoned Horse racing track. Air plane hangers, Government buildings. Mad places you wouldn’t think. The next few years were not that productive for me. Too many nights that turned into days. Party after party, hustling and killing brain cells.
Now it’s 1996 and I’m a mess. I haven’t touched a turntable in years. All I do is party and hustle. I was living off my girlfriend at that time,(not intentionally). However, with every negative, there’s a positive. My life story. My boy Cypher from LI started school at The school of visual arts. He’s a dope rhymer/free styler. One day he tells me he met this kid who rhymes, John doe (now Slaine). Slaine comes in Cyph’s room about 15 minutes later and after a little while he kicks this ill rhyme. After the rhyme he explains how he doesn’t rap any more and he’s into this film school. I told him he needed to quit school and keep rhymin’ and that’s just what he did.We recorded our first track using a borrowed mixer with a built in sampler and I made drum tracks w/ this old roland drum machine I had. The track was dope, I think Slaine or Cypher might still have it. Anyway our group, “Bad Habbits” was formed and in the summer of 96′ we got a three bedroom apartment in Astoria. Slaine and I went straight to work on music and that was our main goal. I guess Cypher Just wasn’t as in to making music as much as we were because he was dope and if he was still doing it you would have heard it from him already. This was the beginning of a life long lesson on music.
The next couple of years were spent creating music and learning everything we could about the music business. We also started hanging with other mc’s & producers/dj’s that shared the same passion for the art. I2I (eye to eye) was the name of the crew we became apart of. These brothers were young, talented and on a mission. This crew was the seed to what is now End of the weak (the longest running weekly open mic in the world). Back then we were doing our thing and people were taking notice. One of my best friends Lash was hangin’ with this dude Ner who was real tight with Runny Ray, from Run-Dmc fame. The introduction was made and Runny Ray as well as us (Slaine,Burnz) thought he was managing us. We thought we were gonna be bigger than Bruce Springsteen. Ray was best at runnin’ his mouth but not with any productivity. Managing acts just wasn’t for him. He’s a great guy though, I still see him from time to time. Some how after we met Ray MC Shan started taking an interest in Slaine. A deal was put up and Slaine turned it down.
Skarhead was and is a band that one of my brothers Ezec has. E was loving the music we were making in Astoria and wanted to incorporate it into Skarhead. The first thing I did with the group was a Motorhead cover for some hardcore/ Motorhead record. We did sweet revenge. Shortly after that Skarhead was on tour with them. I guess they liked the song. Not too much though Skarhead got kicked off after a while. When that was over and they came home he asked me to join the group. This was a once in a life time experience. Skarhead was a very busy group. I’m sure there were some weeks when we didn’t play a show but I can’t remember one. We were always loading up and taking off to another city and then eventually to Europe.
TO BE CONTINUED
Posted by ILL ROC STAFF at 10:18 PM