Hip Hop 101: Every City Has a History-Here’s Early LA Hip Hop

Rich Cason & FormulaV

When it comes to Hip Hop every city has its own pioneers and their own unique special history.. Some of it was influenced by what was going on in New York, a lot of it was homegrown and came to light once things started to bubble up from NY in the early 80s.. In other words, in places like LA and the Bay Area there was already a thriving street dance scene where people were tutting, popping and roboting which had nothing to do with New York.. Funk and later Uptempo dance records were the gems that galvanized people..

Below are some of the first records I recall hearing out of LA back in the early days of LA rap, which I should add was different from the Bay which has its own unique history.. What I liked about LA’s history was many of the artists started off as DJs.. People like Arabian Prince, DJ Unknown, Egyptian Lover, Chris The Glove Taylor, Tony G, Joe Cooley , Julio G, Uncle Jamms Army etc..

It’s important to note that LA Hip Hop history is by no means the totality of West Coast Hip Hop History.. There were simultaneous scenes going on in the Bay Area 400 miles away and in Seattle which is good 1000k miles away during those early days. Each had their own unique origins, pioneers and influences..The sounds were also very different at least in terms of early records.. This is not to say folks in the Bay or Seattle weren’t jamming to early Ice T, Uncle Jamm’s Army or KDAY which because of its AM signal could be heard up and down the coast, but the early sounds coming out of LA represented a vibe, mindset and overall attitude that was unique to that city..

In the video below you see Chris the Glove who produced the cut Wreckless and featured Ice T is shown in this 1983 video along with Egyptian Lover demonstrating deejaying..


EgyptianLoverA lot of the music in LA’s early Hip Hop days was classified as electrofunk and is often associated with the sound Afrika Bambaataa established with his song Planet Rock. However, when speaking with the early DJs from LA, they say they were already into that sound way before hearing Planet Rock.

Egyptian Lover explained that he was influenced by early Prince and Kraftwerk.. and that he had been deejaying in a crew since the mid 70s.. Folks in LA will recall how Egypt who was part of Uncle Jamms Army used to do huge parties at the LA Coliseum where they would work 4 turn tables at a time which was pretty major back at that time..

Here’s an interview we did with Egypt on Breakdown FM where he breaks all this down:

Below is a more in depth interview done in two parts where Egypt gives a lot more details as to his career and the early LA scene..



Uncle Jamm’s Army ‘Naughty Boy’


Other pioneering figures had already been playing in bands and were producers.. Rich Cason is a one such pioneer. You can’t talk about LA Hip Hop without proppin him up.. He’s a key foundation… The first records I heard from LA that I associated with Hip Hop was Killer Groove by Formula V, Gigiolo Rapp and Bad Times by Captain Rapp were all produced by Cason. His legacy goes way back to the 60s. In fact his group Formula V had been putting out records since 1973.

Killer Groove by Formula V w/ producer Rich Cason

Captain Rapp Bad Times..

Captain Rapp Gigolo Rapp

Arabian Prince

Arabian Prince who was an original member of NWA is another pioneering figure in LA Hip Hop who was deejaying in a crew since the 70s. He started out as a DJ and later went on to produce. He’s unique in the sense that he was a pioneering figure in Hip Hop’s electro-funk movement as well as pioneering figure in Hip Hop’s gangsta rap movement. A quick look at his track record will show you that he produced landmark tracks for everyone ranging from JJ Fad to Bobby Jimmy and the Critters as well as NWA. Here’s an interview he did with him on Breakdown FM

Tons of things have been written about the World Class Wrecking Crew which was home to Dr Dre… They had a bunch of hit songs and Dre helped elevate the deejay game before he went on to start producing..

Wrecking Crew w/ Dr Dre Surgery

Here are some other early cuts I recall from back in the days..Now please keep in mind this is just a taste of a city that is steeped with stories.. No, we haven’t touched on the dance scene and influence. We haven’t talked about KDAY and the Mixmasters which go back to ’83 and 84.. We haven’t touched on the Good Life or any of that.. This is just a sample.. A great place to go to get some good info on early west coast is my folks from germany who run www.westcoastpioneers.com

Ice T the Coldest Rap Ever.. produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis 1983


Ice T and Chris ‘the Glove’ Taylor‘ Reckless


LA Dream Team ‘Rockberry’


Ice T 6 in the Morning..


As I noted 1580 KDAY was the station that set it off with the Mixmasters..Below is an old aircheck from 86 but there was dope mixes on the radio for years prior not just on KDAY but also KACE and KJLH


Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Disturbing NY Post Subway Photo Sets Off Debate..Make Money or Save Lives?

Post photo subway I know I’m not the only one who finds the irony of newspaper outlets like the New York Post that would seemingly rush to license and publish a shocking photo of a man named Ki Suk Han about to get crushed by a subway train, but didn’t seem to eager to go against the Bush imposed media blackout on war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I guess for the NY Post its ok to shock our senses and maybe get us to debate the journalistic ethics around helping someone in dire straits vs documenting even as danger looms. Imagine if early on the NY Post showed shocking pictures illustrating the horrors of war and set off debates about why we were even in places like Iraq.

Imagine if the NY Post found a way to get photographers to document the day in and day out abuse many NY residents have to endure when they are stopped and frisked by overzealous cops. Can they shock our senses about police abuse or corruption?  Apparently not..

In the back drop of all this is the FCC led by Obama appointee  and current chair, Julius Genachowski seems to be down to loosen up the rules that would allow Post owner Rupert Murdoch to buy the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times..That would allow Murdoch to run shocking pictures in those outlets while remaining silent on war casualties.

As for the photographer R. Umar Abbasi after seeing his interview on the Today Show where he explained he was nowhere near the man to help him, I just didn’t buy it..His attitude and subsequent actions seemed more interested in a payday based on death vs saving a life or at least trying..

His attitude seems to be of the same vein of far too many who will close their doors and button up the hatches vs extend a helping hand. We saw a lot of that during Katrina. Heck we just saw that during Hurricane Sandy where a woman went door to door with her two kids trying to avoid flood waters. People refused to help her or open their doors and hearts to her frantic screams even as her kids were swept away to their death by the rushing waters.

The NY Post picture in my humble opinion represents our collective devaluing of life and another step away from our humanity


Don’t Forget..Hurricane Sandy Wrecked Havoc on More Than Just NY..

Haiti has been hard hit

By now its obvious to all of us that Hurricane Sandy did some serious damage to New York City. We pray for those suffering and we pray for those 11 people reported dead in the aftermath of this huge storm. At the same time, while all our attention is focused on New York, there are a few things to keep in mind.. First NY has vast resources and lots of contingency plans. The eyes of the world is upon her and thus as bad as Sandy has been the path to recovery will be certain and it will be swift.

What many of us including folks in NY may want to do, is note that natural disaster know no boundaries and thus our collective attention should be on all those who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Her fierce winds and waves wrecked havoc in Haiti, which was already beleaguered with hundreds of thousands of folks still living in tents 2 years after the 7.5 earthquake. Sandy wrecked havoc in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaican and throughout the Caribbean. More than 60 people have been killed in those neighboring countries. Haiti has lost her crops.. Over 200k are left homeless with far fewer resources to rescue and restore what was lost..

I wish here news outlets would be more mindful of this when speaking about Sandy.. It was a storm of immense proportions and devastation..Sadly what we see taking place are stories about when and how the stock exchange will open and what the cost will be.. I hope the rest of us recognize the humanity in others beyond  our borders and the narrow framing of corporate news outlets..We can’t say we recovered until the folks south of us have recovered. All lives our precious, not just ours in the US..


Harsh Video of Oakland Police drawing Guns on Innocent Black Youth (Walking while Black)

photo by Jay Finneburgh

This is the latest drama going down in Oakland… Police stopping two innocent men at gun point who they claimed ‘fit the description‘ … This sort of harassment has gone on for as long as we can remember.. When I saw the video what immediately came to mind, was a young 2Pac Shakur who was stopped in similar fashion not too far from that same area 20+ years ago by OPD.. Sadly Pac didn’t have the advantage of a Youtube, folks with cell phone video cameras and twitter to get the word out.. He wound up getting severely beaten..

Police rolling up on folks is not an aberration but part of a long-standing unwritten procedure pioneered by LA Police Chief William H Parker where police were encouraged to make their presence known and felt by young Black and Brown males at a young age so they would know who ruled the streets. That was damn near 50 years ago and since then we’ve seen things get exponentially worse. From Stop and Frisk in New York where incidents like the one shown happen over 680 thousand times a year to the ‘Jump Out’ routine which is what we see here in this video..

It’s incidents like these that often go unreported but lead to the anger, unrest and the weekly protests (FTP Marches) that happen weekly. It’s these types of incidents that result in the city of Oakland having to shell out a whooping 58 million dollars in brutality and harassment settlement over the past 10 years..

Here’s how the video poster described the scene

these young men strolled past me casually having a conversation before the Oakland Police Department clearly racially profiled them as they “fit the description” but were released right after the incident. Now if they had the info to release them, why on earth did they feel like pulling live ammo out on a public street in the middle of the day, right in front of a cafe? NEWSFLASH OPD all BLACK MEN ARE FUCKING CRIMINALS!


Rude or Polite, NY City’s Officers Leave Raw Feelings in Stops

Today’s NY Times has a good article on Stop-and Frisk that everyone should read… Here’s a brief excerpt..

The questions are probing, authoritative, but less accusatory. “What are you doing here?” “Do you live here?” “Can I see some identification, please?” During the pat-down, they ask, “Do you have anything on you?” They nudge further: “You don’t mind if I search you, do you?” They explain that someone of a matching description robbed a store a few days ago, or that the stop is a random one, part of a program in a high-crime area. Then they apologize for the stop and say the person is free to go.

In interviews with 100 people who said they had been stopped by the New York police in neighborhoods where the practice is most common, many said the experience left them feeling intruded upon and humiliated. And even when officers extended niceties, like “Have a nice night,” or called them “sir” and “ma’am,” people said they questioned whether the officer was being genuine.

You can peep rest of article HERE

LAPD Chief William H Parker

As your reading this keep in mind a few things about the history of police and controlling populations. During the 1950s in LA Police Chief William H Parker had a policy of suppression.  Under him, LAPD kept Black and Brown folks in sectioned off communities. Many African-Americans lived in what we now know as Watts.. Back in the days it was called the Duck Pond by police who would literally go hunting and make sure Black folks didn’t leave and enter other parts of the city..During that time LA had strict housing covenants that restricted Black and Brown folks from living in certain communities.

Aggressive harassment was routine and  was designed to ‘keep folks in their place’…Parker enhanced this harassment by recruiting officers from the deep south who had hostilities toward Blacks to be on the police force. These officers made it a point to humiliate adults in front  of their kids or on husbands in front of their wives…

Chief Parker who coined the term ‘Thin Blue line’ employed an even more sinister tactic..He made it a policy for officers to make sure they engaged as many young Black teens and pre-teens as possible. His philosophy was to establish a presence and dominance while they were still young and let them know who was boss.

There was study done in the 60s that showed that 90% of the juveniles arrested by LAPD were not charged. This was essentially Stop-N-Frisk decades before it showed up as police practice in NYC.

Parker’s harsh policies are what led to the explosion we now know as the Watts Riots.

Many were under the illusion that LAPD improved after those riots, but by the time the 1992 Rodney King uprisings took place, LAPD had replaced what they did under Parker with a new policy called Operation Hammer where they started keeping a gang data base. Chief Darryl Gates who replaced Parker used this resulting in 47% of Black males between the ages of 21-25 in Los Angles being deemed gang members thanks to the database.

Seems like Mayor Bloomberg & Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are heavily borrowing from the sordid legacies of LAPD Chiefs Chief William H Parker & Darryl Gates

With respect to NYC and the over 680 thousand people who have been stopped and frisk, things are headed off a cliff. It was just two weeks ago over 30 thousand people showed up and did a silent march down 5th avenue. One of the goals was to get a meeting with Mayor Bloomberg who has strongly supported Stop and Frisk. In spite of the dignified and solemn tone of the march, Bloomberg promptly refused to meet with organizers….Sounds like Chief Parker all over again both in terms of tactics being used and the dismissive response to complaints and concerns

I know one thing with all the police harassment going on in NY, visiting it does not seem too appealing anymore. Images of White shirted officers beating protestors or horrific stories of men cops randomly stopping  you is definitely not the lick. Maybe the goal for Bloomberg and police commissioner Raymond Kelly is to get Black and Brown folks who currently make up close to 90% of the stops, to ultimately leave the city.

Again we encourage everyone to peep today’s NY TImes article on Stop and Frisk


Here’s a great song from Killer Mike that pretty much sums up whats going on in NY right about now..





Today is Notorious BIG’s Birthday..How do You Remember Him?

Today, May 21st is the birthday of the late Notorious BIG… Not sure if people take time out to remember, most of us tend to focus on slain rapper’s death day.. and that’s understandable..15 years after his murder we still don’t have a killer in custody.. There’s still a lot of controversy.. For this birthday instead of doing the usual where we look back at the controversies surrounding his death, lets remember what made Biggie so dope…

Has anyone been able to match his charisma and flow since he’s been gone..He’s is still the King of New York in the flesh or in spirit


Wicked flows on the joint party and Bullshit.. I wish I had the video when him and Pac performed this at new Music Seminar..


I like this performance of Big Poppa…


of course there’s the infamous bottle tossing incident at KMEL Summer Jam.. Biggie and Cap showed up and didn’t do a sound check so they didn’t get a chance to get acclimated to the stage.. hence when Cap spun his records kept skipping.. Biggie tossed a water bottle at him… LOL




American Loses a Musical Pioneer & Hero-Chuck Brown Godfather of GoGo

Today we lost a musical pioneer and true hero who helped shaped the musical landscape for the Hip Hop and funk generations.. Chuck Brown the Godfather of GoGo, a musical style that was unique to Washington DC.. had his influence felt in nearby New York where jams like Bustin Loose and We Need Money were staples at every early Hip Hop block parties The Washington Post has a nice picture Gallery..HERE

Losing Chuck Brown, Jimmy Castor and Don Cornelius in the same year is rough..





An Open Letter to Tea Party members in the 112th Congress

Dear Tea Party Members and Supporters of the 112th Congress

Later on today as many as 90 men and women backed by you will be among the 434 members of the 112th Congress that will be sworn in today.  There has been a lot of speculation as to what the Tea Party will do and how your influence and potential power will be respected. Almost everyone agrees the shift in power with Nancy Pelosi stepping down and John Boehner stepping in as Speaker of the House, is due to the enthusiasm you all touched off in people.

As an acknowledgement to that influence for the first time, the Constitution will be read. As I understand it will take more than an hour and a half  and the point of reading it is so that everyone in the chambers, the country and for that matter the entire world, is reminded exactly what sort of principles we as a country should ideally be embracing.

I have a couple of questions about this reading and your next actions as members of Congress. The first involves the 4th amendment around the issue of search and seizures and our collective protections from them..The amendment reads as follows:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and Warrants shall not be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Now as you all are aware over the past few years surveillance on the American people is an at an all time high. Some of this has been a result of so-called ‘War on Drugs‘ and in more recent days the ‘War on Terror‘. We went from a nation that prided itself on having a right to privacy to one where police can stop you at any time under the loosely interpreted ‘suspicion of illegal activity‘.

For example, in places like New York City under their infamous Stop and Frisk policy anywhere from 300 thousand to more than half a million people stopped each year in New York with the police looking for guns. Very few are found, but there are high numbers of lower level summons issued.We recently come to find that New York police are under pressure to meet a quota. 20 summons is the equivalent to one arrest.

In cities like Oakland, LA and Chicago we see the government has created far-reaching gang injunctions. If it’s done thing to stop criminal activity. I think we can all agree to that, but what many of these cities are doing is establishing gang data bases.

Many of the people entered into the database are young men and women who live in high crime neighborhoods but have no gang affiliations. How they wind up being placed in the database is the police will stop many under that pesky little ‘reasonable suspicion‘ clause and then look for literally anything to associate them with a gang.

It could be they have a red, blue, purple etc backpack or jersey from a school that happens to have the same color or initials favored by a gang. They could’ve had their hats worn backwards or they were observed saying ‘hello’ to a family member or friend who is a suspected gang member. The police observe this sort of activity and the next thing you know the person they’re profiling winds up in the gang database. Once this happens, that person is subjected to all sorts of unwarranted surveillance, stop and frisk measures and even civil lawsuits.

This is all happening more often than not, without due process or the person’s knowledge they were even added to the database. Years later if that person is pulled over for a minor traffic violation, the officer punches in their name and voila, suddenly they’re viewed as a gang member.

Recently a new law was enacted in states like California which allows the police to confiscate and search our cell phones or computers to seek additional evidence in the form of text messages and emails to qualify their suspicions.

Does this sound fair? Does this sound reasonable?

Now what I described is going on in many urban areas, but I’m sure these search and seizure tactics, are manifesting themselves in other areas, probably in the form of warrantless wiretapping and are being applied to ‘suspected’ groups of varied backgrounds.

I know earlier this year while at the Netroots convention in Las Vegas I attended a panel discussion that focused on increased government surveillance. I was shocked to hear about recent reports that had come out identifying the top three targets for profiling and monitoring were Muslims with Middle Eastern Backgrounds, students at historically Black colleges and Ron Paul supporters are considered Constitutionalists. This was discussed at length at the netroots convention and I know its been discussed in other circles.

As the constitution is being read today, will you in the Tea Party be looking to put an end to all this government surveillance of innocent people? Will you be fighting to put an end to to intrusive policies like stop and frisk, warrantless wiretaps, no knock warrants and all this government monitoring on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter?

As members of the Tea Party we understand that you are all about making sure we have Due Process. This is outlined in the 5th Amendment which reads as follows:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

As you are probably aware the past few years we’ve seen government violate this amendment on all sorts of grounds. In recent days we’ve seen the Department of Homeland Security shut down websites without due process. Popular websites like Onsmash.com and RapGodfathers.com were shut down on the suspicion of copyright infringement.

The owners say they are innocent but that didn’t seem to matter to DHS. What was most disturbing there was no warrant, no letter inquiring about so-called infringement or  whether or not the site owners had permission to post particular material. In fact with RapGodfathers they didn’t post material, but instead pointed links to sites where music was hosted.

There was no discussion or place to appeal the shut downs. There was no letter issued asking sites to remove material. Similar fate was met with 80 other sites also shut down by DHS. These sites were shut down completely along with years worth of robust discussions and exchanges on message boards and  a wealth of information in the form of articles and reviews submitted by visitors to the sites. Where was the due process for those who posted up writings and material to a site. What laws did they break?

These sites were suspected of copyright infringement and for those who respect the law that may seem like an open and shut case, but as those who love the constitution we all know that due process is paramount and a precedent should not be set by allowing increased government encroachment.  Today its the rap sites, but tomorrow it could any of our own sites if we don’t do proper attributions to quotes from newspaper article or if a visitor to our message boards post up a copyrighted picture.

It wasn’t to long ago Tea Party backed candidate Sharon Angle found herself the subject of lawsuit for posting up an article from a local newspaper about herself. Although it was a private entity that sued her and not the government, there was suspicion that the government was behind it. In addition, no letters were written requesting she remove material,she was dragged into court.

Angle is high profile but thousands of others have been hit with similar fate.

Will this sort of activity be vigoriously opposed by the 90 Tea Party backed members in congress?

Lastly I read this morning that Congressman Darrell Issa, who is set to lead the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has written to over 150 corporations asking what sort of regulations they need lifted. Is this something the Tea Party supports?

Maybe I’m cynical but last year we saw 29 miners get killed in West Virginia with the company Massey being cited as one that routinely scoffed the few regulations already in place. In fact they are cited as having the worse record in US mining history.

In San Bruno California, 6 people were killed and entire neighborhood destroyed because of faulty gas pipe that was supposed to be repaired by PG&E. At first we thought it was an unfortunate accident, but came to find out PG&E had increased rates in 2007 to justify the 5 million dollars which they had on hand needed repair faulty pipes including the one that exploded which was deemed by them to be one of the most at risk.

PG&E never did the work instead they spent 46 million dollars on Prop 16 this past summer to prevent other gas companies from coming into the area and being contracted by local municipalities. The people of California rejected PG&E’s proposition.

We won’t even speak about the negligence that led to the explosion and repair efforts around the BP Gulf Oil Spill.

All in all we hope you in the Tea Party who railed against the government clamping down on our freedoms will step up and make sure the government backs off some of these egregious intrusions. At the same time we hope that you are wary of powerful forces and corporations that have access to lawmakers like yourself and have used their money, resources and influence to literally put elected officials in their back pocket. An unchecked corporation can be just as oppressive as an unchecked government and from what I gathered y’all should be opposed that as well or are you? We look forward to seeing how you will reform Washington or if Washington will reform you.

peace out for now

Davey D

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

I Say Let them (Gangsta Rappers) Get There Own Museum

This article is in response to the recent controversy that emerged around the new Hip Hop Museum in New York. The city council which funded part of the museum is insisting that gangsta rap not be aprt of the exhibit. Here’s the article..

I say Let them Get There Own Museum.
by Furious Styles

I applaud the people working with the development of the new Bronx museum. I really think its important in telling the story of Hip Hop, that we leave something for future generations to be proud of and to strive for. I believe wanting to be an emcee and to rock a party or have a good time, or to talk about yourself and how fly you are, or cleverly showing your battle ability without degrading people because of your lack of vocabulary, or talking about women and relationships in a nurturing and healthy way, or various societal issues is great. If you are a history of music, these songs with these topics and mood from the 60s and 70s are considered classics, and stand the test of time no matter what new microwave pop corn new act that pops up. Examples- Chage Gonna Come- Sam Cooke, Whats Going On- Marvin Gaye, Sweet Thing Chaka Khan.

But when you begin talking about or glorifying death, murder, mayhem, pimping, misogyny, incest, guns, cocaine, women as objects to just dance, or portray black people, or the Hip Hop generation as a group of people who live in the club, @#%$, fight, drink, steal, or do anything counterproductive to life, I feel firmly that you have no place in a museum, or in the history of Hip Hop, except in showing what was wrong with our culture, and how we should never have future generations go down that road but learn the lessons of history.

I understand the age old worn out statement that Gansta Hip Hop is a product of the environment, its bigger than the thugs, pimps and playas, we dont own the planes that bring drugs into our communities, the-had- a- bad up bringing, no daddy in the house, being shot, the streets, etc. etc. etc.. etc.. But the fact of the matter is that these artists are pushing stripper music into the ears of our children, they are talking about crack selling, distribution, and murder, and wonder why we have so much violence in the lives of our youth. Oh, by the way, what you listen to does make a difference on your psyche, mental health, self impression, everything. . Check out the movie where the dude at McDonalds for a month. If music is food, and you are what you eatThink about it.

If gangstas, pimps, playas, hustlas, tricks, ballers, killers, rapist, murderers, foul mouth imdividuals want a museum to display their works, let them build there own. But for me, I want my kids to take their kids to a museum where they can learn the importance of all the men and women on stage and behind the scenes that made Hip Hop music that had something to say, something to evoke and stimulate thought about life, family, the world, having fun, etc. And I hope my childrens children dont have to go somewhere where they have a Shrine for Nelly but none for Kool Herc, where theres the new track with Trina dissing Khia, but no ladies first by Queen Latifah, where there will be walls of shots of 50 cent, but no remembrance or understanding of Tupac. And yeah, Tupac would be in my museum and 50 wouldnt.

Again, for those of you who may have missed it, read the last 3 lines of the first paragraph. At least with Tupac he was well rounded, and had different dimensions to himself, and was able to challenge himself to talk about more than the bullshit. Most of these new dudes have no reference to Hip Hop history, and have nothing else to talk about. And great artists who have wonderful things to add in the world of music are labeled underground, cant get radio of video play, and are forced to watch people be destroyed for the lack of good musical food. Yeah I said it.

_Furious Styles

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

So You Wanna Be a Rap Superstar? Then You Betta Talk to this Woman-Wendy Day

In honor of Women’s History Month we recently sat down and interviewed one of the industry’s most powerful people-Wendy Day of the Rap Coalition. It was through Wendy Day that acts like Master P and Cash Money got their respective deals. It was through Wendy that artists like Slick Rick were able to get their lopsided contracts broken. A long time artist advocate, she’s the person that major labels love to hate because she’s committed to thoroughly lacing people with the ins and outs of the industry game.

Her website rapcoalition.org is required reading for anyone entering into the business as it contains a wealth of information ranging from the money breakdown when you sign a recording contract, to the politics of getting airplay. There’s information on how to copyright your material, how to start a record label as well as what to look for in a manager. Thousands of people flock to her site or read her columns in publications like Murder Dog where they soak up the information and go out into the world better prepared.

Originally Wendy was based in New York where she attempted to lay down foundation to start an artist union and unite the various factions within New York. She later focused her attention in the south and has been in Memphis and now Atlanta for over 5 years building coalitions and helping the Third Coast maintain their dominance in the rap game.

Back in the days Wendy was and can still tell you how to go about getting signed. Far too often she wound up having to help folks get unsigned because of the unfair contracts the industry puts before hungry artists. Nowadays she’s all about helping folks not get signed, but how to make more money on the independent tip. There are far too many success stories that have come from her camp to name off..

In this two part interview Wendy Day breaks bread on a variety of topics and shows us how to avoid industry pitfalls. We start off talking about the typical recording contract that many up and coming artists find themselves locked into. The most problematic are production deals where the producer is the middle man between the artist and label. In theory the money and resources are supposed to trickle down. In way too many cases they simply don’t and that’s when Wendy gets that frantic phone call from an artist trying to escape a bad situation.

Wendy explained the dynamics of how a street savvy hustler type cat from the hood can get got and ripped off in the music biz. She explained that far too often people enter into the music business not fully understanding or appreciating that many of the big time execs they come across come from gangsta backgrounds themselves. She noted the only difference is that these industry gangstas went and got law and business degrees so they appear legit, but they are definitely about their hustle at the end of the day. many succeed in making artists believe that they are being granted a big favor when they get signed, when in reality they are often times being pimped big time.

On a side note, folks may wanna take a look at the book Ruthless written by former NWA manager Jerry Heller. While the information and juicy stories about Ice Cube and Eazy E may be the thing that immediately captures your attention, the real jewels are when Heller talks about his background and all the power house people he came up with and what they have always been about. That book should be required reading as well.

In our interview Wendy lays out the true meaning and ramifications of RECOUPARATING and how that process keeps artists forever in debt. People need to truly understand what that word means and how it gets applied to ALL artists who sign to these major labels. It amounts to modern day share cropping.

We discussed whether or not industry conditions have improved now that we have high profile artist CEOs like P-Diddy, Jay-Z and others who are signing acts and running labels. Sadly Wendy noted that they have not. The average recording contract even by some of the new artist music moguls have not changed. She talked about the role capitalism plays in this industry and how it gets a lot of people caught up.

We also talked about the need for an artist union and why one doesn’t presently exist. She said lack of unity and ego have prevented this from occurring. In addition some artists are just so desperate to get on that they will literally sell their souls and not heed much of the advice given to them that will in the long run help them benefit.

We concluded our interview by comparing the way the rock industry works vs. the rap industry and the challenge we face in getting local airplay when the major labels are pushing a national agenda.

This is an interview you have to listen to if you’re trying to get into the game. This is our 3 part Wendy Day Interview

Wendy Day pt 1

Wendy Day pt2

Wendy Day pt3