My mellow my man DJ Eclipse blesses the Dopehouse with another interesting editorial. This time, he shares HISstory, from his move to South Carolina via Providence, RI to the formation of his friendship with producer extraordinaire, T-Ray (Wrong Side of The Tracks or Back To the Grill (rmx) anyone?). Check it out, and hit the jump for the rest of the story plus some gems E pulled out of the vaults, including some really rare demos.
DJ Eclipse: A good friend of mine named Erik Blake came to visit me the other day while in town for business. He’s one of my “non Hip Hop” friends. He used to DJ a little back in the day, but didn’t choose music as a path in life. BUT, he does play a part in this little story I’m about to tell if for nothing more then refreshing my memory on “the good ol’ days”. In the mid 80’s I went to high school in Providence, RI with my man Marvin Fowler. Both of us were on the same page with the type of music we liked. We’d run down to Rainbow Records every week to pick up the latest 12” (before Hip Hop LPs existed). Then we both left RI around ‘85. He went to California and my family moved to South Carolina.
I was just getting into DJing and he was a dope beat boxer. Naturally we had to seek out like-minded people in the new places that we had moved. In Cali, Marv made friends with these kids Lucas, Charlie and Mark. In SC, I became cool with a lot of kids that we’re trying to get into music too, but my man J.C. was another dope DJ who I bonded with more then the others. Along with J.C. some other friends of ours, Preston, Marvin and Fred, would also work on music with us. Marv and I would send tapes back and forth of the music that both of our crews were making. Marv(ski), Lucas (Cut Chemist), Charlie (Professor Charles) and Mark (Born Mathematics) went by the name of the Unity Committee and man did they make some dope demos. Years later, Professor Charles became Chali 2na and Born Mathematics became Mark7 and made up half of Jurassic 5. On our end, me and J.C. (The Mighty Maestro) were flipping the beats for Preston, Marvin & Fred (Finesse, who later just went by Ness or Rapper Ness of Dynasty) under the moniker The Motivators. Meanwhile, my friend Erik Blake who I had met when I first arrived in SC, a couple years later went away to college in Jackson, Mississippi. I would send Erik mixtapes that I would make to keep him up on the latest joints. He had a roommate named Tony Fields. Tony was from Chicago and wasn’t up on all the stuff that I was sending and started getting really interested in the music and DJing in general. On one trip home, Erik brought Tony with him and I remember the three of us watching and studying the DMC DJ battle videos for hours. Next time I heard from Tony (Tone B. Nimble) he had hooked up with this brother named Dave and started making demos under the name TND (Tony N Dave). Eventually they would change their name to All Natural.
Maestro eventually left SC to go to NY in search of the big record contract and landed some work at Tuff City Records. I was still in SC and was pretty much DJing all the clubs. I had my “go out” crew which consisted of Charles, Mike, John & Virgil. They were basically “the dancers”. Virgil eventually started rhyming and we worked on a couple demos together. He chose the name Asiatic Born as around that time everyone was getting into the 5% Nation movement. Eventually, Virgil also left SC and wound up forming Sunz Of Man with some other cats, changing his name to Prodigal Sunn.
When I wasn’t producing or DJing, I worked at Sounds Familiar record store. One day this kid named Mike came to check me at the shop. He told me he was down with the Houserockers (MC Rell & The Houserockers) and had a friend named Todd that had sent him to find me. Come to find out, Todd had already put a record out as part of a group called The White Boys. I was familiar with the group and interested in meeting Todd. A few days later, Todd met me at the store and we took the 45-minute drive to his crib in Kershaw to start digging for samples. That was the first of many trips. We would lock ourselves in his small, hot as hell studio room in his small, hot as hell house and make beats for 24 hours straight. Since Todd was an MC in The White Boys he still had the itch to want to be an artist, so we narrowed down a couple tracks that we produced together, he rhymed on them and then used them as demos to shop to labels. Todd (T-Ray) packed his bags and went up to NY to try his luck in the industry again. Although nobody was interested in signing Todd as an MC he did land a production deal at Big Beat Records. After several production gigs for the label, Todd’s name grew and so did the amount of artists he worked with. MC Serch was one of those artists. Todd ended up producing half of Serch’s first solo album “Return Of The Product”. At one of those recording sessions Todd introduced Serch to this up and coming MC named Nasir (Nas). If I remember correctly Percee P and Akinyele were also hanging out around that session and we’re all supposed to be on “Back To The Grill”. For one reason or another issues prohibited all the MCs from staying on the track. As luck would have it, I met Serch at that same record store in Columbia, SC and introduced myself mentioning that I knew Todd and had already heard the tracks he had produced for Serch’s upcoming album. We kicked it and ended up hitting it off. Serch had recently split from 3rd Bass and was looking for a new crew and asked me if I would be interested in joining him and DJ Riz. I said yes and shortly after that we were all on Arsenio Hall performing “Here It Comes”.
By this time Maestro had come back down to SC and we were working with this kid Kevin who was going by the name Zigg Zagg. The project was pretty much done and in the “shopping to labels” stage when I had met Serch. At that time I was given a choice by Zigg Zagg’s management to either continue to work on the project or go work with Serch. I didn’t see why I couldn’t do both, but since I was given an ultimatum I made my decision to roll with Serch. Zigg Zagg’s project ended up getting picked up by Priority Records, but the album was shelved before it could see the light of day. Years later I ended up working with Zigg Zagg again when he was going by Sun Magnetic as the other half of the group Dynasty (with Ness). So I packed my bags and ended up crashing at Serch’s crib while we toured and I started producing what was to be his second solo release. That was my introduction into NY and the rest as they say is history.
Now for making all of you read that lengthy story I give you some gems of demos from some of the people I mentioned. These are all from around 1989-1990 and are mostly all 4-track demos.