Archive for December, 2010
After several months of work, I’m pleased to release the latest version of OldSchoolHipHop.Com.
To celebrate 12 years online, I decided a bit of a face life was in order.
Here are a few of the changes you’ll see:
- Complete Design Change (finally updated to a modern content management system)
- YouTube videos for bios and films
- Listen to sound clips for most recordings
- You can now comment directly on bios, records, etc.
- A list of other related links on the site you may be interested in checking out now appears at the bottom of most pages
- One click sharing of pages to Facebook or Twitter
Also, if you haven’t yet had a chance to “Like” the site on Facebook, be sure to do that in the box below. You can keep up on with any additions made to the site.
The only thing that’s lost is all the ratings on records, books, and films. They can still be rated, but the are back to starting from scratch.
I’ve done my best to import all the content as seamlessly as possible, but if you notice anything not quite working right don’t hesitate to let me know. I know there are a few quirks here and there that I’m working out, but hopefully most will be ironed out soon enough.
Also, I haven’t had a chance to set up any live shows in the archive, but I’ll get to that very soon.
There’s a thread on the message board devoted to it or you can just email me directly if you’d like.
Interviewed Winter of 2010
FORWARD: This chapter of Troy L Smith’s Old School Hip Hop chronicles sheds some much needed light on an element of the original era that is often overlooked and under realized. I’m speaking about that of the promoter.
Introduction by Jayquan
Puerto Rican Emcees have always existed in the world of Hip Hop- from Ruby Dee and Whipper Whip of Fantastic 5, Mean Machines Mr. Schick and a host of cats from the 5 boroughs and beyond that never got their shine. The previous cats were known for routines, swagger and voice – but the first truly lyrical Puerto Rican Emcee is none other than Tito from the Fearless 4.
Just as Rahiem of the Furious 5 was over shadowed by the incredible lyrical abilities of Melle Mel; Tito was never truly recognized for his real greatness due to front man DLB’s lyrical prowess. “Not an emcee lawyer or an employer, but better known as Tito the emcee destroyer!” Go back and check Fearless Freestyle, Rockin It or even lesser known gems like Dedication and peep how Tito put words together.
Tito never stressed the fact that he was Puerto Rican – in fact if it wasn’t for Mike Cee’s rhyme “Tito got the looks of a Spanish Prince, but girls around his heart there’s a golden fence” I would have assumed he was Black. In an era where cats were making songs like ” Spanglish” and the bilingual displays in Mean Machines “Disco Dream”; Tito concentrated more on his metaphors and delivery paving the way for the likes of Big Pun and other lyrical Puerto Rican Emcees.
Troy- My brother Tito, thank you very much for your time. Let’s get it popping. Where were you born and raised?
Tito- I was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, stayed for one year, and raised in New York. I’m basically a Nuyorican.
Troy- When you came to New York did you come straight to Grant Projects here in Harlem?
Troy- Before the Hip-Hop you were involved in skate-boarding and baseball, where there any special people you were involved with during the skate boarding. I know in your building 3150 you had Aaron Garret with the big long skate board.
Tito- I actually left skate boards a year before Aaron Garret got into it. There was this cat named Carlos who lived in 3150. He is the one who actually got me out there. He knew all the places where cats were skateboarding that had ramps. We also would make ramps up. See there was a time where you would see a group of kids that used to make skate boards and ramps and were really into the whole skate board deal. So me, Carlos and Aaron would go to Van court land park when the pool was empty and we would skate board on the deep end of the pool. We would sneak into that joint in like the fall around October or November. To me I took a liking to going through all the phases of jumping and hand standing on skate boards and just trying to do stuff to challenge myself.
Troy- Our man Billy Dean out of 3150 told me you use to be upside down riding your skate board and have him in wonderment, wondering where did you get this desire and idea to ride your skate board so good!
Tito- Troy you from around our way so I can tell you. Tiemann hill was a hell of a challenge, first it comes down and then it levels and then it goes downhill again to Broadway.
Well I use to do that from the top of the hill on my hands and come all the way down and even catch the green light. We would time it so I would come down the hill and go straight through the green light. There use to be a Chinese restaurant right there so I would hit the curb and jump right back on my feet, and we would go do it again. That was something for me, it was a challenge as a kid.
Troy- So what made skateboarding die out for you?
Tito- Well after I mastered it I kind of left it. Like I could do everything on a skate board at that point and once I master it I move on and I try and find something else.
Troy- So there were no skateboard competitions to think about and did you and the rest of the fellas think about the guys in California?
Tito- At that particular point we were local so we didn’t know anything about that and TV wasn’t what it is today. Man today you can surf the net. When I was coming up it wasn’t no net and it wasn’t no TV like that, we basically had NBC, CBS and ABC.
Troy- 2,4,7, 9 and 11 once an a blue moon channel 13.
Tito- Right and if we had a TV.
Troy- So what made you go all the way up in the Bronx to Van Courtland Park?
Tito- We were looking for spots.
Troy- All the way up there?
Tito- Listen we would go all the way downtown as far as the Village all the way up to the top. One end of the city all the way to the other side, we would even travel up into Yonkers. Where ever we could find hills or hear about other people that were doing their skateboard thing we would run. Now keep in mind while we were doing that skate board thing I touched into the graffiti aspect also.
Troy- That would be the next question.
Tito- Yeah so I would run with white boys and they would call us Hispanics or Puerto Ricans whatever, but at that particular time they would show us spots that we didn’t know about. They would be like, “Yo you need to come up here in Yonkers because there is this hill that they call dead man’s hill.” I was like s— we got a dead man’s hill too. So we would go back and forth with information where we could go skateboarding and basically our next challenge and our adventure to us because if we (Tito starts laughing.) can defy the laws of gravity we were trying to do it.
Tito- But our Dead man hill was the top of Tiemann and it winds all the way into 12th avenue.
Troy- Right by the exit off the 125th street highway.
Tito- Right and that was a killer Troy. Even riding it on your feet was crazy, once you jump off be ready to roll tuck and all that because I use to f— myself up.
Troy- That was what I was about to say, you had to have had a whole lot of scabs on your elbows and knees.
Tito- Ah man I wore those. I wore scabs….man I use to wear out sneakers trying to stop.
Troy- So how much did you get into the graffiti, did you go to the yards?
Tito- Ah man we was gettin it in. My crew I ran with on the graffiti was me, Oscar (O.C.), Pop O, Leo and Fed. We were actually called the Spanish 5. The Spanish five use to rock with Sack, we knew the likes of Fuse, Fuse 2, Teen. I got to meet Tracy 168 on a platform of 168th street in Harlem. I also met the Mad Transit Artist through O.C.. I Also met one arm Case.
Case on the left
Troy- Yeah I heard he was no joke.
Tito- He was off the wall. Noc77. Of course my n—– Peso he was in it way before me. He was nasty with his pen. Teen who was from my building named Kelson.
Troy- Kelson, damn I remember him he use to write very evenly and he got up.
Tito- Yeah he got up. I just stood in my cipher.
Troy- No what’s bugging me out is you went to P.S. 125 but I didn’t know it.
Tito- Yo that’s where it all started. Sam McCuller who is now known as Crazy Sam use to be in my class. His mother use to teach there, Mrs. McCuller. I was there when Mr. Reese was there as well as Mrs. Clair.
Troy- Yes of course Mrs. Clair’s was my teacher, she loved you to death but would take absolutely no shorts. She would have 4 and 5 rulers rapped in rubber bands ready to wack you if got out of line. But the whole class of act outs, me include, would be quite as a mouse around her.
Tito- Yes she was no joke. I also had Mr. Kreco and Mrs. Poindexter.
Troy- Ah man Mrs. Poindexter was a pretty light skin teacher.
Tito- Ah yeah, so you already know. As far as J.H.S. 43 up in Manhattanville I was in there when Mrs. Williams was there before she passed when she was still the dean.
Troy- Yeah she didn’t take any shorts either.
Tito- Hell no. I had Mrs. Punter then later Mr. Sheeba and his wife Mrs. Sheeba.
Troy- Yeah they was cool people he taught karate and she was the art teacher. So how did you get into the hip hop and did you listen to Latin music at all?
Tito- You say Latin music and of course you know Spanish is my heritage. My thing is I came up with the Brothers. See where I lived at in the Grant Projects we had like 4 Spanish families in my building. The Spanish brothers that lived there we didn’t see eye to eye. I was one of those moving cats I wanted to do stuff so I was with the brothers a lot.
Troy- So from day one Spanish music did not have your interest?
Tito- Well my moms and pops they use to play it, but my brother and sister who are older than me use to play the other music. So I use to like R&B, I came up listening to Jean McKnight’s Mr. Big Stuff,
that’s stuff my brother use to play like Stylistics, Temptations, Delphonics, Dells and Dramatics.
Troy- Yes some beautiful music.
Tito- Yeah and then I came back to revisit it when I got older.
Troy- Was there ever a time you tried to listen to Latin music such as Santana or Menudo?
Tito- Well actually I did like one of Menudo’s joints called, “If you’re not here” I use to play that.
Troy- Yeah that’s an English joint, (Troy starts laughing.) use a funny dude. I love that joint too, I heard that when I was in high school.
Tito- As far as Latin music I use to like Hector Lavoe. He had a joint called El Cantante and he had some other joints.
Troy- So what about Santana’s “Black magic woman and Oye Como Va”?
Tito- That was cool but I am not going to sit there and jump on the band wagon, I mean he was a good dude but I didn’t listen to him.
Troy- Well I bring it up because I dug him and he was really the only Latin artist that I knew. So it was mostly were you lived which helped you obtain your taste for your music.
Tito- Yes it was my upbringing. I would like to say that was all I listened to because it was my heritage, but it’s not so.
Troy- So now how did you get this bug for hip hop, when did it first hit you and you were you like “oh man” and stopped in your tracks as if you seen a beautiful woman?
Black out of 1977
Tito- That was 1977 which was the year of the black out and I use to ride with my sister because my brother at the time was locked up unfortunately at that time. My sister use to be in the gangs up in the Bronx like the Baby Aces, Savage Skulls and the Young Kings and she use to take me with her and while hanging out with her I use to hear these tapes. So I heard Love Bug Star Ski, Reggie Wells and Hollywood.
Love Bug Star Ski & D.J. Hollywood
I don’t know where they were playing at but I remember hearing those tapes and I use to mimic them verbatim, word for word. Hollywood, Love Bug etc and everything they were saying I use to just learn word for word and say that whole s—.
So when I was a little dude they use to laugh at me because I use to say, “I am 5 and a half bowlegged as you could ever see!” (We both start laughing.) Cats was like, “n—– you 3 feet!” you understand Troy? They like, “you ain’t bowlegged!” But it is funny what you adapt to and what you start listening to is who you try and become.
So I was just mimicking because I really liked the music and I was seeing all the publicity the s— was getting and like that was the thing to do. And I was one of those in the spur of the moment, I am spontaneous. I would go with whatever was moving. I be like, “oh that’s what’s happening I am jumping on that.” As you look through my pages the way were are going through them, as skate boarding was the thing, this new music was the thing. Do you remember unicycling, well I was crazy on the unicycle. I use to have a basketball in one hand and go around the whole block on one foot and you know our blocks are real long. I use to carry people on my back. (Troy is laughing.) Yeah I was one of those hood cats. Whatever I did, and people will tell you what ever I got into once I mastered it I was good with it, like I am done. Next thing! One thing I never grew out of because people kept jumping on and the competition was changing is music. Music to me was so crazy because it evolved and it keeps evolving and it keeps on evolving. It was but so much stuff you could do on a unicycle, so much s— you could do on a skate board but it was so much more to music.
Troy- I hear you from dropping lyrics to one day producing it.
Troy- So what about baseball I heard you were pretty good with that also.
Tito- Yeah I am going to say I was nice with that too. Yo I use to come out the Grant projects every morning and after school and you could like put the clock to me when I was coming out. I would be by myself and if I couldn’t find anybody to play with I play by myself. I also enjoyed stickball.
Troy- Yes that was my thing also the stickball. Everyday even if it rained…
Troy- Even if it was getting dark.
Tito- Listen I don’t give a f— I would have to see nothing to not be playing. Yo we would have to wait for the 9 o’clock summer s— were you know you still got that little bit of light and I am still out there playing. I just got so nice with it that I was one of those cats that every aspect of that s— from pitching to catching, to hitting, I had to be nice!
Troy- So did you ever run with Mr. Hank Welch? (Well known baseball coach in the Grant projects that got all of us together for years to play softball amongst ourselves as well as leagues across the city. May he rest in peace.)
Tito- Yes I did, I was on his softball team. But I didn’t care for softball.
Troy- So you went straight to the hard ball thinking major league baseball.
Tito- Right I wanted something that was a bigger challenge to me. With the stick ball we use to use the spalden and break off the mop. Saw off my pops mop and get my ass whopped when he found all he had was the mop head.
Troy- So back to the hip hop. Actually what you were hearing was the Disco hip hop of Hollywood, Eddie Cheba and all those guys.
Tito- That’s right.
Troy- Did you hear anybody else such as L Brothers, Fantastic, Cold Crush and others at that time when you heard Hollywood and etc.
Tito- I heard, I think it had to be Flash and them and I was like oh s— because it was the first time I was hearing more than, “yes yes ya’ll to the beat ya’ll.” Remember I was listening to four liners maybe 8 bar joints. They would say stuff like,
“I had 3 daughters
I made them go to work
because the welfare center
didn’t send them my check…”
But just like 4 bar s— and then yes yes ya’ll, you know, to the beat ya’ll. So the first time I heard like a story was Mel and Creole and the way they were doing it they were switching mics. I was like oh s— these n—— is crazy. I remember hearing,
“I am the butcher,the baker
the candle stick maker
nah I am Mr. Ness
the woman taker.
(Tito laughs.) When I use to hear what he said,
“I’m the night stalker
I’m the mean mother f—– in the British walkers.”
And Cowboy was mean with the call and response and Creole was mean with the echo. So I was like listen to these kids, these dudes is sick with it… So when I got a gist of that I was like, “Oh there is more to it!” So I was like alright let me take some of that, and start writing a little bit of my own s— and I kept going until I got confident enough to say I am not using known of that stuff, but I am going to use, “yes yes ya’ll to the beat ya’ll” because that is the comeback joint. So I would be up in there writing and writing and listening and inspired by these dudes. Mean while the tapes were $20 so I would work my way around and try to find out who was selling these tapes so I can buy them and by any means, I didn’t care, I was going to get $20.
Troy- So even though Moe Dee and L.A. were up the hill you first heard Flash and his m.c.s first?
Tito- Yeah Moe and L.A. were later and remember the year I am telling you is 1977.
Troy- And the earliest tape I have of the Treacherous is 1978 and I know Furious go back further then 78. So what made you stay with the mic over the d.j. or did you try that as well?
Tito- Well I never D.j.ed until I got with O.C. in regards to him taking his little break and then I would be in there messing with the turntables. I got nicer because all the d.j.s that wanted me to rap on their tapes would let me come in and I would say, “well let me cut” and basically what are they going to say “no!” Then I am going to say “I don’t want to get on the tape,” so they would let me get my little practice in. So when I would come back to the spot O.C. would be like, “come on T, you are a m.c. stick to the m.c.ing.” And that was because he seen I was getting nice with that s—. (Tito laughs.) He was like, “look come on just go ahead and get the mic.”
Troy- Now you starting to put in work on the mic how much of an influence was Mike Cee to you.
Tito- Well me and O.C. were making tapes long before I met Mike C. They were a group called the Def Squad.
Troy- What about the crew he ran with called The Family?
Tito- Well I think that came afterwards.
Troy- Well he told me he met you while in class in J.H.S. 43
Tito- Exactly, see that’s what I am coming to, see me and O.C. were already making tapes at that point.
Troy- So how did you meet O.C.
Tito- Because we were rolling, we go back to the graffiti days, skate board all that.
Troy- So when you when you got the mic you put O.C. on to it or he already knew about it?
Tito- He was already doing it and he introduced me to Mike Ski who was down with him. He was like T I got this other guy who raps and I want you to meet him. Remember O.C. is two years older than me so he was already at Seward Park High School and me I was going to school and not going to school. I was in and out of school. But when he was in Seward Park High I was suppose to be in J.H.S. 43. O was already into d.j.ing but I am telling you everybody transformed from graffiti to d.j.ing and m.c.ing. and me and him came together with it.
Troy- To tell you the truth I always had the impression you put the whole crew together and you were the Captain or boss! Now I have collected a lot of tapes over the years (250 plus.) but not only have you played with your crew the Fearless Four but you have played with a whole lot of other crews rocking on their tapes and the main person you have played with it is Doug E Fresh.
Tito- Oh you talking about Sweet, Slick and Sly!
Troy- Not those guys from New Jersey.
Tito- So you talking about the Devastating 3?
Troy- Well yes, but not just them, I got a tape with you rocking across street from the Polo Grounds in the Rucker Park with Master Don and the Def Committee (tape 143.)
Tito- Oh no doubt Master Don was my second family, straight up that was second family yes. Yo Don had so much love for a n—– that whenever he was out he would be like, “T you got carte blanche here, come on I am out here, come on I am at this spot!” We use to do I.S. 201 together a lot, Master Don and The Fearless. So when we would have shows like that he would be like you know I am doing XY and Z this Friday. So every time we would meet he would give me the itinerary for the next time he was going to do something. I was one of those dudes that was fascinated by how nice this dude was with the tables he was so crazy with his.
Troy- I heard about him cutting with British Walker shoes on his hands.
Tito- Troy he was retarded with it.
Troy- So was Mike Cee in the House Rockers also?
Tito- First it was me and Mike Ski as far as m.c.s and because I was going to JHS 43 I met Mike Cee. J.H.S. 43 had an audition for an upcoming talent show. So what they did was who ever rapped came to the auditorium to try out and I was one of the dudes that tried out.
Troy- So you and Mike Cee weren’t homies yet?
Tito- No he was the one picking who was going to be in the group. And he was the one that picked me and D.L.B. Now to try out you had to be in the 9th grade and DLB was in the 8th grade, but he was so nice they made that work. So it was me, D.L.B. and Mike Cee along with Markie Dee who was the drummer. Then we put together a routine once we figured out who we were working with. We did a routine that was more like a Brick House kind of like drum pattern, crazy and Markie was just sick with it. I think from that point we seen it coming together. Mike Cee immediately was like, “yo I think we need to try and put something together like a little group.” I told him you know I am already in a group, the House Rocker’s! So he said word! So I said why don’t you come over so you can hear what’s going on. So he said alright maybe I do that. I got O.C. to listen to Mike Cee.
Troy- Was this after Mike did his solo record?
Tito- I don’t know but he was well know at this time. So me and Mike started going to little parties together. D.L.B. couldn’t hang out because he was too young, his parents weren’t letting him out. So me and Mike was running around going to joints and we got real cool to the point where I was like, “yo fam why don’t you just come over I don’t see ya’ll doing much.”
Troy- Wasn’t he really the only m.c. over there? Kev Ski I believe was his D.J.
Troy- And Peso wasn’t rhyming yet?
Tito- Well Peso was the cat that told them when Mike Cee was rhyming at one of those outside parties, “Let the Spanish kid get on, that lil dude is nice.” This was before Peso was rhyming. So I got on and after a while, Kev was like yeah the n—– is nice. We started getting a long and we started going back and forth and of course me I was a loner, I was going from O.C. to Master Don, I was just traveling. I was one of those cats where ever the music was at I was coming out.
Troy- So you was running with Master Don even before the Fearless Four was fully together?
Tito- Well kind of. But I was more or less a fan of Master Don at that particular point. He really didn’t know I was doing me but we met later after the group was together.
Troy- So you were just going up there to listen to the music. So what about Mr. Troy was he a member of the Fearless Four for a minute?
Tito- That n—– showed me so much Troy, he opened up so many doors for me. He bought me to the Disco Four cats when I was only doing tapes. Before they were the Disco Four they were the Sapphire Crew. So I use to roll with them. It was me Mr. Troy and Country. I don’t think Greg G was down yet.
Troy- No he came last. Greg use to live across the street from Grant projects and he use to play music up at Riverside Church before he moved uptown by Donald D and B Fats of the Disco Four.
Tito- I didn’t know that I thought he was always uptown with the rest of the Disco Four. But Mr. Troy took me every where the Sapphire crew was playing even up into the Bronx.
Troy- So how did you and Mr. Troy got so cool.
Tito- Because he seen me at a jam rhyming.
Troy- I use to get the impression he was down with you guys.
Tito- He was down with us and don’t get me wrong he was still down with Sapphire.
Troy- So was he a House Rocker or a Fearless Four?
Tito- Well it was during the House Rocker time. He wasn’t a member of the group but he would get on with us whenever we would come out and I would come to their spot and get on with him.
Troy- And The Sapphire Crew would be Donald D and his brother B Fats and the rest of the Disco Four m.c.s.
Tito- Exactly. The doors Mr. Troy opened up for me were because I didn’t know cats really outside of our Projects. Our tapes were circulating inside of our Projects and somebody’s cousin might get their hands on it and it would be taken to the Bronx. But basically we were local.
Troy- So the Hill, Morningside, Grant and Manhattanville.
Tito- Exactly, so now Mr. Troy opened me up to 8th avenue, Lenox Avenue the Bronx, Randy’s Place, Harlem World, Joe Grants.
Troy- So how did you get down to Joe Grants (111th street and Lenox Avenue.) and start rocking with Silver Fox?
Tito- I went to Joe Grants a couple of times with Fox. Fox was my man he was one of those dudes that always had a mic on him, this dude kept one in his pocket. He always had his Shure mic.
Any rapper I ever met, he was one of the cats were I use to be like “Yo my man this is like your job” Yo Silver Fox would pull out a mic and say, “yo plug this in!” I use to roll with him because he had his own mic. You know how most other rappers won’t let you get on, “No, nah don’t touch my mic.” With Fox it was like, “Yo can you plug that in!” We were on where ever we were at and we was rocking. We didn’t give a f—, east side, Bronx, Queens, were ever we was at me and Fox would get it in.
Troy- So how did you get so cool with Fox?
Tito- Well he was from the Hood.
Troy- True, but he was older than us.
Tito- Much older.
Troy- And he was new to the game while you O.C. and Mike and some of the other fellas that got on the mic at that time were more seasoned.
Tito- Well we were getting ready to do an outside jam in the baseball field of our projects and we hooking up the equipment to the lamp post and he use to come out. At first when he use to rhyme I didn’t know who he was so we didn’t really kick it. But he was one of those cool dudes that had good conversation. So he was like yo I like this rap s— I want to do this. I was like fam just keep your pen going. At that time you just had to keep writing. See my inspiration was L.A. and Moe because they were right around the corner and those cats were kind of ill as individuals.
Tito- And all of them sounded totally different from each other. I was like those dudes are kind of nice.
Troy- 3 different sounds that come together as one.
Tito- Exactly. so I guess finally Fox’s mentality was this is what I want to do and he started writing. When Fox started writing I was like oh s—! When I met Fox I think I wrote a rhyme like this
“Soon I will be known as an m.c. major
Living in New York,
but heard about in Asia
known throughout the world
every week visit a state
to prove that I got talent
I will sit down and make
a rhyming dictionary
if that is necessary
hold up I am not through
I’ll only mention a few
of the things I will achieve
just to make you believe
number one is what I am
so you won’t leave
any party I’ll attend
you’ll bring a friend
won’t dare to leave out
until the very end
you will stay to hear me speech
because you know I don’t preach
not just like another
because others can’t teach
what I got in mind
you just can’t find
make m.c.s resign
after hearing me rhyme
because I’ll fascinate
but won’t impersonate
what I mean
make other m.c.s go hibernate
that means to rest
in other words go to sleep
the title of the king is what I shall keep.
and as long as I live I will never give ha
an m.c credit for what wasn’t his.
So peep it out ya’ll
to the break a day.
And m.c.s don’t bite every word I say.”
Now you see Biggie Smalls flow and not to compare, but listen how I changed.
“I will sit down and make
a rhyming dictionary
if that is necessary
hold up I am not through
I’ll only mention a few”
Now dictionary and necessary cool. Now think of Biggie and how he use to change from remarkable.
“My slow flow’s remarkable,
peace to Matteo
Now we smoke weed like Tony Montana
sniffed the yeyo
That’s crazy blunts, mad L’s
My voice excels from the avenue
to jail cells.”
See he would change unpredictably you wouldn’t know what was coming. Like he would switch his pattern.
Troy- And I heard it in your rhyme also where you went to the left instead of straight ahead.
Tito- Right so it was like unpredictable because I was only rhyming to two joints. Necessary, a rhyming dictionary, if that is necessary, boom and then flip those joints. So it is kind of crazy how the s— evolved and still stayed the same.
Troy- Well how many other people did you hear follow your style as well as DLB’s style or Mike Cee’s style or any other m.c. such as Moe, Caz or Dota Rock. See because during that time you guys were all on that level where we really appreciated, because we noticed that you guys took your time and you made a real hot rhyme and it was fly!
Tito- And it made sense.
Troy- Exactly so say like a Keith Keith just to use as an example he had somewhat basic rhymes. His voice was cool so that is probably one of the reasons why he made the team. But he…
Tito- He wasn’t lyrical
Troy- Exactly, but say Mike Cee and his,
“I am a million dollar boy
and billion dollar man
if you got it
I can get it
with a wave of my hand”
I dug that rhyme as well as some other joints he had and it made me say damn Mike is nice with his rhymes. Say the tape with Mike Cee in Lincoln projects (Tape 119.) he was the elder statesmen of them all. So I defiantly appreciated all of those deeply thought up rhymes. For me personally it was always a competition between Moe and Caz because I dug them both equally but because I always had more tapes of Caz, Caz was always in my opinion more of the best between the two. See Moe use to hurt us because he told me one day he didn’t like to rhyme when a tape recorder was on because he didn’t want any one to bite his rhymes. Special K felt somewhat the same way also.
Tito- I got to tell you I too use to kind of like rate them and to me I thought nobody could f— with the crowd like Special K could. As far as being witty and street. See Moe would hit you with the intricate stuff, real articulate. Even when I heard K say,
“From New York City to Mexico
I make you hate every m.c. you know.
I am like the tape in the Dolby
the line in the source
I relate to you
a positive clue
and stick it in your mind
like crazy glue.”
At that point like n—– who is on that thought pattern. (Troy is laughing with much respect to Tito’s thoughts about Special K’s rhyme.)
Troy- Yo it was like you had to keep rewinding the tape.
Tito- Yo K was crazy I was like where did this n—– get this.
Troy- K was years ahead of his time as well and he never got enough props as he should have gotten for his rhymes as well as his style. In fact I use to tell people that I strongly felt Rakim had a style and word play very similar to Special K.
Tito- I feel you. You got to listen to Special K, he was witty as a mother fu—- and K was crazy with it. Moe was the smartest and he articulated and come up with crazy s— to. I remember Moe said,
“You smoking that cheeba
sniffing that blow
doing these things that you don’t know
I said you doing these things
that are bad for your health
you better stop
and take a good look at yourself
you want to talk to a girl
and wonder why you are blue
but you never stop to think
about how she’s looking at you
you want to see a fly girl
say you want to meet her
and that’s the way you greet her
when the girl is gone
you feel left out
you want to rock that something
without a doubt
but now she left
now she’s gone
still your singing
the same old song
that if you want it
you can get it
but you have to
stay on with it
but you never think about it
until you have to do without it.
this is a rhyme you all should remember
12 months in a year
January to December
listen to me because I tell know lies…”
Now simple as it is, it was a story. All three of them were nice with the stories. But Moe was sick with his. yo,
“It’s like the church and the steeple
the party and the people
the record and the player
the rhyme and the sayer
the tape and the recorder
the dinner and the order
yo the birds and the bee’s
and the flowers and the tree’s”
Yo Troy his whole style and putting his s— together was sick.
Charlie Chase – Kool Moe Dee – Easy A.D. – G.M. Caz
Troy- Especially when he is rocking over his favorite two break beats Funky Penguin or Head Hunters.
Tito- Yes you right and Head Hunters was my joint. (Tito starts humming Head Hunter.)
Troy- I remember when we were in j.h.s. 43 you were able to make those beats beating on a wall. Like Catch a groove for one.
Tito- Oh yeah for sure I use to do Head Hunters, but beat wise Mike Cee was sick.
Troy- So he was real good at hitting a beat on the table?
Tito- Yo anywhere table, wall, window, Mike was mean and was still able to say his rhyme and stay on beat. See that’s the difference.
Troy- Yes it is a big deal to be able to stay on beat while rhyming.
Tito- I couldn’t rhyme and do the beat, I would go off beat a little bit trying that. But it came natural to Mike as if it was meant for him.
Troy- So when did you and Doug E. Fresh start getting cool because like I told you earlier I have a lot of tapes with you and Doug playing together.
Tito- During the days of Rocking It is when me and him connected!
Troy- O.k. I thought it would have been sooner.
Tito- Well I think we meet at one of those Harlem World joints and we started kicking it and I found out he lived around the way and we became cool. We started hanging out and I started going over to his house and he coming over to my joint and we were going back and forth with the rhymes and like I said early at that point I liked anything with challenges and different s— and he started doing the beat box, I was like yo that s— is hot! So beat box wise I only knew him and somebody else at the same time was doing it….
Troy- Who Fatboys or Biz Mark?
Troy- Biz and the Fatboys are after him but those two are the only ones people talk about.
Tito- Some kid name Rich out of St. Nicholas projects and Emanon. Emanon was mean with that s— too.
Troy- So you are saying these guys may have been before Doug.
Tito- Nah it was almost like somebody listened to Doug and 2, 3 weeks later they came out. This dude was mean too.
Troy- Alright back to the beginnings of the Fearless Four. You have Mike Cee, D.L.B. and Mike Ski running with you as the Fearless Four?
Troy- And for a minute you guys were called The Fearless Five?
Tito- That’s right we were the Fearless Five for about maybe a year.
Troy- One day while I was talking to D.L.B. he told me there was a time when he was going to leave the Fearless Four because Spoonie Gee left the Treacherous Three to do his first record and so Moe was in deep thought about making D.L.B. a member of the Treacherous 3 but later on said no because he felt D.L.B. sounded too much like him and later choose Special K. Now I am throwing that out there from the D.L.B. interview I did with him a while back. How much of that do you remember?
Mike C – L.A. Sunshine – D.L.B.
Tito- You want to laugh, how about this is the first time I heard this, how about that! That’s crazy and this is the first time I heard that, but see I am a real private person in regards to certain situations and some people do the same thing. Like they hold certain things in and don’t speak in general like of what cats thought of them and what they were going to do. I just know D.L.B. from bringing him over and him becoming one of us because we actually liked D.L.B. So we asked him if he wanted to be down and he agreed, “No problem, I am with that.” His main thing was he wanted to practice and make sure that we were nice and I guess he was at the Treacherous 3 stuff and whatever and he felt in order for us to sound like we were a unit we needed practice, not just rhyming. So we started going up in his house up on Convent and that was how we became really close because now it was a family thing because now we are meeting his family the Barksdale’s and we became cool.
Troy- O.k. so now what was told to me was D.L.B. was leaving to possibly join the Treacherous 3 and Mike Cee took his spot with The Fearless Four but D.L.B. came back because he did not link up with The Treacherous 3 because they decided to go with Special K!
Tito- No, no no. I don’t even know where that’s at. I have no recollection of that. Mike Ski was the only one who ever left.
Troy- Why did Mike Ski leave?
Tito- Mike Ski was doing other things. How we met Mike was through O.C. they use to go to Seward Park High school together. Mike is from uptown by the Battle Grounds on 152nd street and Amsterdam avenue. In fact another dude was down with us name Grand Supreme who was another one of our D.j.s. He lived in Mike Ski’s building uptown.
Troy- And Bo Dee was running with you guys also.
Tito- Yes he use to D.j. for us during The House Rocker days. Sometimes we would do parties that we would be like in Long Island and he had to go to work the next day so that didn’t last too long with him. You also have to remember there was no money to be made in the early days and he had a regular 9 to 5.
Troy- I got you, family obligations probably as well. Alright you going up on Convent avenue to practice with D.L.B. that also got you close with The Treacherous 3?
Tito- Nah them n—— didn’t like me!
Troy- What you saying they didn’t like any of ya’ll from the Fearless?
Tito- No, they didn’t like me! Moe use to call me Bite-O
Troy- (Troy starts laughing.) You is a funny dude.
Tito- He use to call me Bite- O because I use to say other n—— rhymes. But then I started to say my own rhymes. I remember doing my own s— and this was one day we were performing when I called them out their name. It was me, Mr. Troy and Country and they came on after us. And at the moment I can’t remember what I called them but I called them some type of name. This night we were at St. Josephs ( One block from the Grant Projects, one block from The Hill.) So before we got off stage I said to the crowd, “Alright, kool, we killed it. The Treacherous …ah… I don’t know, somebody, they coming on next!”
Troy- Damn you said that on the mic!
Tito- Yeah yeah, they caught feelings son,(Tito is laughing.) they caught real feelings. Because that was their block, so when they were coming up to the stage they were staring at me doing the ice grilling s—! We laughing as we leaving the stage. After a while Mr. Troy felt they were on the stage too long and was like, “these n—— won’t even leave the stage.” Mr. Troy was ready to get it popping.
Troy- So Mr. Troy wanted to see them afterwards?
Tito- Mr. Troy was deep, I mean he was deep. I’m telling you that Sapphire crew use to run deep and they were goons. We not talking about rappers, them dudes were goonies and they had mad love for me and Troy and…well Troy was a goon! He use to get down. He was quick to pull his pistol. So his s— was whenever he seen me or they seen me, “Yo you good? You got a problem? Everything alright with you?”
Troy- (Troy is laughing.) You sound like Carl Davis aka Carleone aka Car Lee O out of 55! “What you got a problem? Your problem is now my problem!” And he would go and beat the hell out of somebody because he was that loyal type dude to you. Wild and notorious, but loyal.
Tito- You talking about one punch Carl?
Troy- Yo use a funny dude because some dudes from Lincoln projects that didn’t know I knew him called him one punch Carl. I said, “damn Carl’s name is way on the other side of Harlem ringing bells!”
Tito- Yo that was my dude, he was knocking n—ers out with one punch! I remember he fought 5 dudes on Manhattan avenue, he knocked all of them out. They was trying to run and we were holding them in a circle. They had to fight their way out, but he knocked all of them out. They was in the wrong hood!
Troy- So this was some Cigar Mob beef!
Tito- There you go, that’s what that was.
Troy- Alright let’s get back to the Treacherous 3. So now although they weren’t digging you there was a time when you did get cool with them, was Moe the one who inspire you to have your own rhyme book. Meaning did he suggest to you to start putting your rhymes in a book so you can keep on fine tuning and adding on more and more. I ask you that because many years ago I remember over hearing that.
Tito- Well he was one of the cats I started to look up to lyrically. Like I said this n—– is really mean with it and then K. He was my biggest influence.
Troy- He was more of an influence then Moe was?
Tito- Hell yeah! Special K! I always liked that street s— that he bought. He bought like a street swagger to the game. Like I told you if I was listening for cats that I wanted to come behind and try and like emulate their style it would be him. Sounding, I would say I would lean towards L.A. Sunshine in regards to who I seen the girls liked listening to because the girls liked his voice. So I said alright I am going to use that, I was like I am going to use that nice soft tone type s—- and gettem! Then I used the rhyme style like pattern behind a cat who I like which would be Special K.
Troy- So what did you take from Moe?
Tito- I would have to say his metaphoric style. He would refer to s— as different s— in his rhyme.
Troy- So with the Moe vs. Busy Bee battle do you think Moe Dee actually did all of that off the top of his head that night or did he practice it all week before that night. I ask you that because a lot of Bronx brothers are saying he rehearsed that long before that night of the battle.
Tito- Nah he wrote that s— the night before when he went home.
Troy- Well Moe, L.A., Easy Lee as well as Special K who wasn’t there that night said he did it off the top of his head that night. But cats from the Bronx like Whipper Whip, Kevie Kev and Busy Bee will say, “that n—– did that s— a long time ago. Why he did that to Busy Bee there ain’t no snapping on people, that’s not a battle!”
Tito- Well Moe did his thing he definitely did that but it was too polished to be something he thought up like in 5 minutes. And me being an m.c. I know it is going to take more because it is too much in front of you for you to focus on just trying to say that s— off the top of your head. I don’t give a f— about the deep concentration, you need to recite your s—. It wasn’t a short rhyme.
Troy- Not at all.
Tito- You just can’t say it off the top of your head unless you were a freestyle dude. Moe wasn’t a freestyle dude.
“Hold on busy bee
I don’t mean to be bold
but put that ba diddy ba
bull s— on hold.
going to get right down to the nitty gritty
about why you ain’t s—!”
Tito- That’s cool.
“It ain’t an mc.’s jock you don’t hug
and now you even bite your name
from the Love Bug
now to bite a n—– name
is some low down s—
if you was money
you would be counterfeit.
I got to give it to you though you can rock
but everybody knows you are on the Furious jock.
and I remember Busy Bee from the olden times
when my man Spoonie Gee use to sell you rhymes.”
Tito- So he is going down the line of current events, you just not pulling this s— out your a–!
Troy- You have to be damn near a computer doing this.
Tito- Yes you have to pull. So my thing is I always thought it was that day before the battle that he got his rhymes together.
Troy- So soon as you heard him say I made that up that night you felt something wasn’t right?
Tito- Well I never heard that. See I am not a reader like that. See I put it like this I do books for gangster joints, I would read a whole entire gangster joint. I am not really with…
Troy- The Hip hop history?
Tito- Yeah and the reason is and that’s with me I never put posters or albums on my wall like cats did, because it was me! You understand, because it never impressed me to the point where I felt that I was so much of a big fan that I needed to have s— to remind me that this is what I do.
Troy- I got you. O.K. so Moe didn’t really inspire you to have a rhyme book but that became the fashion to have one?
Tito- Yeah well honestly I had a rhyme book because I am one of those cats that all the people that knew me called the absent minded professor. I had to write the s— down basically repetitions, repetitions.
Troy- I understand, you tell me your name I will forget it soon as you walk away from me unless I play it back over and over and connected the name to something else.
Tito- Right, exactly. I remember face value, if I seen you I know you.
Troy- I never forget a face but if your name is Nelson then I have to think of a full nelson or Nelson Garcia from 430, something to associate you with to help remind me.
Tito- Yeah you understand me? So that’s how I was, so no, I had books before I met Moe!
Troy- Alright before you guys took it in doors you did a lot of outside jams. Mr. Love Joy use to back you guys on that?
Big Jeff – Red Alert – Special K – Tito – The Almighty K.G.
Tito- Mr. Love Joy for sure.
Troy- So you guys would tell him the night before you were coming out and he would lamp on ya’ll at the park?
Tito- Well nah, that dude was… yo Troy he was the oldest young n—– I knew. (Troy laughs.) He use to be chillin with the same chicks we were chilling with. He was just out there, so he use to be in the mix. He was like one of us, so it wasn’t like we had to go looking for this n—–, he was around! (we both laughing.)
Troy- So ya’ll didn’t have to beg him because he wanted all that to come out front any way.
Tito- What, it’s going to bring more girls out, come on man. And he was a hustler, anything for a dollar, whatever he can make off of that. If we was out there he’s bringing a hotdog truck out there, anything. I mean he is going to make some money off the s—, I don’t give a f— what it is. (More laughter.) He’s going to bring soda, water something! He was a marketing mother f—er!
Troy- Same thing for Grant projects baseball field?
Tito- Nah you know the deal go steal the juice from the light pole. We did need Love Joy for Manhattanville because a couple times they shut us down. So he would get the permits for us and we was good. But if we couldn’t get him and they shut us down in the park then we would be on the terraces of Manhattanville projects. N—— would set up on the terrace and bring the extension card from their house. So the speakers would be facing the street and everybody would come up stairs to where it was popping at. I remember rocking with Vincent when we would bring his equipment out as well as David Nelson. David Nelson is now a promoter, in fact he promoted Moe Dee and the Treacherous 3′s 30th anniversary.
The Mighty Mike Cee on the Manhatttanville Terrace getting it in.
Troy- I didn’t know that. Now what about KC from the Ville, was he almost down with the House Rockers or Fearless Four?
Tito- Nah but KC was crazy on the mic real nice. I use to like KC, that was Mike Cee crew. Kenny Command was his name.
Troy- Aright was there ever time Kid West of The Devastating 3 was about to become a member?
Tito- Wow Kid West! We was trying to get that dude that’s right. Damn Troy I wouldn’t even had remembered that if you had not bought that up. (Thanks Gary Joseph for reminding me to ask Tito.) Yes there was a time I was trying to get Kid West. I can’t really remember but we were trying to replace someone in the group. Sorry I can’t remember that far back. But I do remember we were trying to get him in The Fearless. Yo Kid West was well equip in regards to his skills on the mic, yo he was nice. He would have fit in and he would have actually would have been an attraction because his style was crazy.
Troy- Yes he was pretty nice.
Tito- He had a different way of coming across which I really dug. So I was really trying to get him. I was the one pushing it to the crew, “yo lets get dude to do this!” But it was more of a suggestion and I tried to sell it. See I was already running with Kid West through Doug E Fresh for a minute. So I already knew his potential. But we worked it out amongst ourselves and the crew stayed together.
Troy- On tape 120 you and Mike Cee had the ill routine calling a girl a b—-! talking about how you got her on the roof what inspired it?
Tito- Oh yeah yeah, “My producer Bobby Robinson is dogging her now!”
Troy- Damn Bobby Robinson, I didn’t even realize you threw him into the rhyme.
Tito- Yeah yeah that was Mikes joint, Put her on the roof! But my part was,
“A dinner with you I suggested b—-
but I wouldn’t touch her now you’re in feasted b—-
only you and I know because I was tested b—-
you always had a nice ass but you were breast less
now that you know I am not interested b—-
don’t try it don’t trick it don’t test it b—-
And I kept on, kept on.
Troy- Damn I hear you so what inspired that?
Tito- Well that was when I heard Caz Yvette joint! So I wrote a joint after I heard Caz joint. Not Dear Yvette by L. L. Cool Jay.
Troy- No I know what you are talking about that’s the banger.
“I got caught in the bed with a girl name Yvette
scared like hell
but I got away
that’s why I am here
talking to you today.”
Tito- (Tito starts getting excited.) Yo I love that s—! Yo Caz is f—— Sick.
(We are talking on top of each there because we both have the same respect for the rhyme that Caz did.)
Troy- Yo when I first heard the rhyme I was just staring at the radio saying to myself oh man! And that rhyme is on the same tape (Tape 6) when he is snapping on somebody in the crowd.
Tito- Right yo that dude is sick, Caz said, “yo somebody is coming I said yeah me.”
Troy- Alright so once you guys started making these records what made ya’ll go to Enjoy records? Did you guys think about going to Peter Brown, Johnny Soul or even Paul Winley, before you got to Bobby Robinson.
Tito- Nah, we heard of them but at that particular point we were still getting our s— together more or less.
Troy- Alright the first joint ya’ll did wasn’t even with Bobby Robinson!
Tito- Well we did something with Teddy Riley.
Troy- So this production you did with him was actually across the street from St. Nicholas projects in a garage or something.
Tito- Yes and Teddy Riley was like 13 or 14 working on this for us.
Troy- A genius at an early age.
Tito- Yeah he was nice and we did everything with no beat box or anything, it was real drums and guitars and s—.
Troy- So what became of that one why did you guys not push it.
Tito- We tried to but at one point they would not let it go. See in the early days we didn’t have money and they wanted money, so the people that did the music for us would not let it go. We just wanted to put the record out and then give the money back to them when it started selling, but they were like no! So that was why it went nowhere.
Troy- The Four today was on the record that day?
Tito- No it was 5 of us. I remember,
“This is the House Rocker crew
here to tell you something new”
We used “This is the Surgeon General, the sounds you are about to hear are devastating to your ears.”
Troy- So how did you guys get up with Bobby Robinson to get on with Enjoy Records?
Tito- Me and Mike Cee use to go over to Bobby Robinsons office and he use to have a dude over there name Poochie Costello that use to sit there and take phone calls for Bobby Robinson right on 125th street. Me and Mike use to f—- with him every day. Now Bobby had an office slash warehouse by Kentucky fried chicken on 125th and Broadway.
Troy- Damn I didn’t know that was over there all these years I thought you guys were harassing Poochie and Bobby at the record shop on 8th avenue and 125th street.
Tito- Yes that is where he use to keep all his records and s— at. That was the ware house. Right in between Kentucky fried chicken and the gasoline station. across the street is the 24 hour McDonalds. Under the 1 train.
Troy- I got you now.
Tito- It was a little spot right there and we would go there every day and f— with him. So finally Poochie goes to him and says, “Yo boss I got these guys that are really good boss, you got to listen to them boss.” (Tito is mimicking Poohies voice sounding like he is like a southern or a Texan.) And finally Poochie says to me and Mike “I got you guys an interview ya’ll better come on and bring your best s—, I have been telling him, don’t make me look f—– up! So we go to the interview and Bobby is listening and Bobby says, “Ah Poohie get all their government names and we are going to talk.” Bobby didn’t tell us we were good. See Bobby is a funny n—–, he was like “Ah ah, just get…we, we can work something out ah, well how old are you?” I was like, “I am 18.” Mike said, “19.” Bobby was like “So its just you two?” We said “No there are two others and they will be in here.” Bobby asked “Is everybody older than 16? I said “no D.L.B. is like 17.” And I remember him saying, “ah s—! well that’s going to be a problem because this contract has to be signed by his parents.” But Troy it never happened, D.L.B. never signed the contract. So D.L.B. was the only one free to go where ever he wanted to go.
Troy- So did you get to see the other members on the label such as Furious, Funky, Disco Four etc.
Tito- Well we were cool with Moe Dee and them at that point. Well I was because I started hanging out with L.A. when they had like the Heartbeat release parties and we also did shows with them since Love Rap was out. So we were already cool, so when Heartbeat started popping we were like “yo introduce us to Bobby Robinson but they never did.” But one day for the first time I went with L.A. to that little warehouse on Broadway and 125th street. I said to myself that warehouse is right here. (Tito is laughing.) Me and Mike started hitting that s— hard until we got that response. But me and L.A. were cool so Moe and L.A. started coming to our practices. When we recorded the Its Magic joint you hear Moe with that laugh in the back ground. So Moe’s presence was there after we got with Bobby, so we felt we were good and we can rock together meaning get on each other’s record. Cool, this is it. And they actually started respecting us as one of the forces like to be reckoned with.
So they knew we were the competition and they knew that Cold Crush and Fantastic in the Bronx were the competition on that side. But we had a love for each other. Us the Crush and Treacherous 3 would never battle each other.
Troy- J.D.L. use to tell me all the time you guys were all a unit.
Tito- Allies with each other.
Troy- Right Allies as far you, Treacherous 3, Cold Crush, Spoonie and Doug E Fresh.
Tito- That is right, cats we would never battle.
Troy- So you and the Treacherous worked together on a lot of parties?
Tito- Yeah we started trying to do everything we could together as a unit to try and save money as far as limo’s, in fact I would even ride n—— out to joints. We would take my father’s car at that point and get Treacherous 3 in there as well as us, on a two hour ride over to Philadelphia to play hotels. We would be in a four door Ford Granada. It was hooked up, I threw the spokes on it. We use to ride out there and they use to gas me up, I would do no hands. Do zoom a zoom zoom. I use to be driving with my foot out the window. Cats use to be like, “Are we taking the car I got gas money!” Bobby use to give us like 200 to 300 dollars for transportation and they use to give me like $50 and back then I use to fill up the tank with $10 and I would then have $40 to myself.
Troy- So both crews would be up in there?
Tito- 7 or 8 of us in my father’s car. We wouldn’t even take the d.j.s sometimes we would take one, like D.J. Lee and he would do all of our shows.
Troy- So there was a time Mark The 45 King and Dano Bee also ran with ya’ll?
Tito- Yeah Mark the 45 King was my dude he actually made a plate of me. And at that time it was a first in our area and he had me on two plates cutting that s— up and n—– were like oh s— where you get that from I never heard that record before. It’s been a while since I talked to him but he did a track for Ironclad. That had to be about 2002 and he was sick with it. Mark always got some tracks and he was unorthodox with his style, his s— was more crazy like a Tribe called Quest type of stuff.
Troy- Abstract as they say.
Tito- Right abstract
Troy- So he went away from the Pumpkin style and did it his way.
Tito- Yes and Pumpkin was just f—— ridiculous too. But the difference between Mark and Pumpkin is Mark didn’t play instruments like Pumpkin, Mark was computer savvy with the making beats of samples and taking drums from here and there and adding on to a track.
Troy- Pumpkin did all of Its Magic?
Tito- Yes he did all of Its Magic. He also did Rocking It but with the supervision of me and Peso. We were sitting there telling him what to play and what to come up with, but he picked all the sounds. He listened to Machine Man which was more electronic and he turned it in to the piano sound. (Tito starts mimicking the Rocking It tune.) So me and Peso was like, “Oh s— that s— sounds great!”
Troy- Yes it does to this very day.
Tito- So he kept that riff going and it was almost like infectious! It just got contagious and we said, “yo this s— is going to be a hit!” Sure enough that jam couldn’t stay off the radio.
Troy- You know something when the radio use to play it, it sounded a little too fast. Did you ever notice it and speak on it.
Tito- Well the D.j.’s would play it at whatever speed they wanted to play it at and I do remember that. It was recorded slower but remember the d.j.s had the pitch device. Now Frankie Croker would play our joint the regular way, Carlos Dejesus from WKTU he use to put a little pitch on it. WBLS played it regular also. Now the mix d.j.s or after mixes or dance sessions from the radio stations they use to speed it up for their shows to fit into their mixes.
Troy- How close did you guys come to signing with Sugar Hill Records?
Tito- Wow that was kind of close. They tried to buy us up, they had us in a vulnerable state. (Tito is chuckling.) We just came from beefing with Bobby Robinson. We had our release papers and we started going around. Somebody hooked up the meeting and Joey Robinson took us out to the house in New Jersey.
So we went to meet Silvia and they were talking, saying, “We would like to have you guys in the family, I am sorry things didn’t work out with Bobby.” So they next invite us to a cook out and they had all type of s— for us to see, and you know the deal Troy it was the lore. So as we are leaving Silvia says come here son and she asks me, “are you alright, you need something!” I was like “nah I am good.” She said hold that, put that in your pocket there’s more where that came from. So I’m thinking it’s like $20. But when I looked in my pocket I was like oh s— a C note and the other fellas told me they all got C notes and invites saying, “This is your house come out, we got the pool here” and I am looking at this house fascinated. Yo it’s like I am at Yo MTV cribs. And in my mind I’m like I am going back to the PJ’s in this one bedroom joint. (Tito laughs.) So she knew what she was doing. We was kind of up in there but then we got the contracts and what they were trying to do was crazy! So to make a long story short we wasn’t f—— with them!
Troy- So you guys didn’t have a manager at the time?
Tito- No we managed our selves.
Troy- So you guys read the contract and what did it say, you stay with us for four years and this is the percentage you get off of very record sold?
Tito- Well that was when they were using that exclusively and individually sign and then they said we would owe them 4 years straight and then we would owe them 8 one year terms after that I believe. Like they can draw options every year and tell us we are signed. But there was no escalation for what we were getting paid and they were writers on our songs.
Troy- So they were going to keep your royalties?
Tito- Publishing was not ours, in the contract they said that was theirs, as far as writers they said they give us 10 percent.
Troy- Who mostly spoke for ya’ll when it came to business?
Tito- D.L.B. was the most articulate in regards to handling business and stuff. Parties and all of that s— that would be who ever found it and made the contact. A guy by the name K.C. Pearson we met through Peso started taking an interest in going out and fining us parties and events to do. We signed him for a one year joint to try out. He was getting us some shows and he got us the deal with Elektra records. When we got to Elektra we did a little live show. The people we were dealing with was Bob Krasnow who was vice president of Elektra at that point.
Troy- Was Magic and Kurtis Blow in there at that time?
Grand Master Caz – Mr. Magic
Tito- Mr. Magic was down with Problems of the World, he bought Davey DMX and Kurtis Blow and they did the track for Problems. That was our last album with Elektra Slolam, they said they wanted us to change. They wanted us to do pop orientated music because they didn’t know how to market the rap.
Troy- I am Surprise to hear that because rap was on the come up by that time!
Tito- Yes but they had acts like Motley Crew and Linda Ronstadt. The closest thing they had to rap was Pieces of a Dream.
Troy- What was the difference between Elektra and Enjoy Records?
Tito- Try the upfront money. (Tito laughs.) Yeah we seen some paper and for just a single we got 15 Grand to split amongst the 4 of us. At that point no one was getting up front money but say $500 if you did get up front money. Other places they weren’t giving you s—, they were just like go in the studio whatever, you get your money from the shows! These guys actually gave us the budget and a check for 15 grand and we were like huh? Ok! And check this out they paid for half of the studio work and we were on a voucher joint whatever studio we were at. They would make a phone call and say, “Bill us whatever they want.” We use to order all types of food but it was on them. We use to see the vouchered black cars pick us up and drop us off. So it was way more different, you talking about a major label compared to an indie.
Troy- So now Elektra wanted you guys to cross over. What were their intentions, did they want to write your music also?
Tito- No, they wanted us to come up with it. See they didn’t know how to market us so they were like this is what you have to do and if you can’t come up with this we are going to have to break our ties! So we were like nah we not selling out! We were like the closes thing we did to selling out was we gave ya’ll Cars! So they just wanted us to do things that we didn’t want to do so it couldn’t work.
Troy- So how did Russell Simmons become your manager?
Tito- Yeah Russell wanted us but he put us in his partner Steve’s hands. We never did any records for Def Jam, in fact this was before Def Jam. Russell was just going around doing management. I remember me and Run use to be sitting in Russell’s office and me and him use to go back and forth rhyming and just letting each other know what we were doing.. I was laughing because it was crazy how s— evolves. Kurtis Blow was the one that was blowing him up because Kurtis was like f—ing international.
Troy- Yes and Kurtis was nice too with his. The strange thing is the live shows at clubs like the T- Connection, Celebrity club etc before records he is not spectacular on the mic but If I ruled the world and some of his other jams are like forever! I love that song as well as Basketball and a lot of his other work on wax.
Tito- Before that “The Breaks!” I am going to be honest with you Kurtis Blow was like one of the land marks in the music game, crazy. You can’t mention rap without Kurtis Blow.
Troy- So that didn’t last that long with Russell Simmons?
Tito- No, maybe two years and I guess because he was focusing so much on his brother and DMC and other cats that were bring in the paper that he didn’t have any time for anyone else. Like I said he gave us to Steve because he wanted to work where the money was at and he had just got that deal with Next Plateau for Run so he was really focused on them.
Troy- Well I got the impression it was more of a family thing because you guys were still doing big things with your records.
Tito- Yeah but it wasn’t big enough for him. See them dudes were getting deals were cats were taking them overseas. Just based on they were partners and I guess the cats that owned Plateau had connects. They were better connected then we were.
Troy- So I know you guys took a time out making records did you do any producing?
Tito- Well I did the production on a joint that never came out which was with Mercury Records it was called After Tonight and the flip side to that was Its Going to take a Miracle. I had Barry Bee of the Get Fresh Crew cutting on that one. I think it said, “It’s going to take a miracle to take us on out” and then it said “Hey you.” I used the sample from the Dramatics, the joint Get off my Mountain. So I used Hey You and Janet Jacksons “Give me a beat.” Then I used LL’s Bell’s joint. Barry Bee was killing it, Gangster Boogie, gangster Boogie and Barry Bee is cutting it all up. I put that whole track together with the drum sounds and all that. I also used the Linn 9000, that was before the Linn 9000 drum machine changed names.
Troy- So who did the lyrics.
Tito- Well I set up the chorus and everybody got on and did their lyrics individually it was almost like a free style
Troy- So how did you get on with the group Troop to drop your lines for Spread my Wings?
Tito- That was through Clark Kent he did the remix and I had about 3 hours to get my lyrics together for that.
Troy- Damn 3 hours and you did a pretty good job on that. Alright so now you and the crew take some real time out as a group?
Tito- Well I was still in the mix I did something with Levert Give A Little Love, Madam X, all this was through Clark Kent. I also did something on the T 3 album for the Treacherous 3.
Troy- So did you take a ride with The Fearless to go down to Atlanta and record with Easy Lee?
Tito- I was with a group called Menageri and I was signed to Columbia records.
So they had to put my vocals on in a studio in New York. The other members of The Fearless did their stuff in Atlanta I did mine in New York. Although I already signed an agreement with my label they were cool because I told them this is where I came from. I told the label they needed some help so I am going to do it but I am not signing anything with them. The name of it was Creeping up on you. I did 3 tracks on that album. We did Rocking it over, did another joint called, “On the 2 5th.” I forgot the other one but the album had about 12 tracks on it.
Troy- Then you did something with a group called K7? Where they said in their routine do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, Tito!
Tito- Nah they did that s— and I was mad as hell because that wasn’t with me! I remember that, that ain’t f—- me! They used my s— and I forgot, I was f—– salty about that one. “Come baby come baby come, come, come!”
Tito- Yeah I know who you talking about. I never seen them about that.
Troy- That was a nice little joint for a minute.
Tito- Yeah that was rocking the clubs, but they definitely got me on that s—.
Troy- Yo what bugged me out when we were growing up is you use to come through my side of the projects in a van with the side door open and big speaker blasting music!
Tito- Oh yeah the brown van! I had the four 12 inches in the back.
Troy- And the police never messed with you?
Tito- Well I really didn’t give the cops a chance to do that. When n—— seen the cops I had like a latch you could pull down. So I had somebody right there by the door anyway (Tito is laughing.) like, “yo pull it in, pull it in 5-0!” So I use to go up to the Polo Grounds (155th street 8th avenue.) where ever it was popping. I just pop open my s— and play my music.
Troy- Alright so now time goes by what inspires you to get back into the game and put out a group called Iron Clad and what did you have like 10 m.c.s?
Tito- Yeah at least
Troy- One of my homies from 1315, Soup is up in there?
Tito- Yeah Soup Black. What actually influenced that was I did a joint with G Rap.
Kool G Rap
I started hanging out with G Rap, I put another label together before Iron Clad called Red Coats production! So what it is, is I had E Nasty from 75 La Salle, also of Grant. I had maybe 4 or 5 tracks with him and I did that joint, “Walking down the street with your box in your hand” from G Man of the Crash Crew. Instead I said “Walking down the street with the Glock in your hand pumping the music of the Red Coat fam” and I just changed it into like a street joint. We did about 5 or 6 cuts and I got a deal through Wanda Booth from Epic Records. She gave him 15 Grand, I gave that to him, let him do him. Nothing really transpired because she got removed from that position and once someone gets transferred your project is gone. Whoever was handling that just put everything on freeze. So he was a tax write off and that’s when I started. I got E Nasty on a track with G Rap when I went to Arizona to see G Rap. I stood with G Rap for the weekend with my producer.
Troy- Was Karrine there at the time?
Tito- Yeah yeah (We both start laughing.) Funny that you should ask that, but she was there. On the 3rd day we went into the studio and I made up the chorus,
“Champagne and tech,
blood money and sex,
Presidential iced out lex,
we don’t snitch
we rather die
going out like Gottie
take a body for a body.”
That was the chorus and G came in, then I came in, and I did my s— and that was my coming back joint. Me and G kept in the circle and we started doing stuff. I got Mrs. Jones on a track on his album The God Father. So we kept chilling and hanging out and he got a record deal with an Indie. So I was like, “yo what’s going on dude I’m rapping, get me on a track.” At first he was like how am I going to get you on a joint? But he finally gets me on a joint called Holler Back with Nas me AZ and him.
So they sent it over seas and his manager Small Change was like, “Yo Tito they loving you, they asking who’s the second m.c. up! Nas came on and then I came on after Nas. So those overseas cats were like that dude is hard, he is real hard. So that was my intro, and dudes was like, “Yo I think you need to get in the studio.” So I went and bought a Pro Tools set, track board all that s— and I built a studio up in my crib, the rest was history. Ironclad came in after I did Boriquaz for life with my man TMP.
Now once I got back into the game and started putting my name out there again cats were like, “Ain’t you from the Fearless Four and I would be like nah!”
Troy- I remember when you said that, you said, “I am not with that old school anymore!”
Tito- I was like nah dude I ain’t with that, so don’t even introduce me as that. Because my whole thing is I wasn’t going to get a fare shot so don’t do it.
Troy- I understand what you are trying to say.
Tito- It’s not like I am not proud of what I created or what I did or what kind of path I paved for other cats but I wanted to be judged on talent. That’s it. See now the cats from over there they didn’t know it was me so they was like this n—- is nice. I wanted cats that didn’t know me to be honest and say the n—- is wack or the n—– is this or that. So what I get was, “Yo that n—- is nice man, you remind me of somebody!”
I actually went to Willie Esco who had a record label at one point. The cat who did the designer jeans and my son can attest to it. I went in there and he was like, “Yo my dude this CD is crazy, what’s your rap name? and I said Tito. and he said Tito? how can yo call yourself Tito after a pioneer.”
Troy- (Troy starts laughing.) So he didn’t even know he was talking to the original.
Tito- So bust it I didn’t say anything I am just listening and my son is listening and he says, “fam” and I say Tito who?” He said, “Dude you Spanish and you doing rap music and you don’t know who Tito is, dude he pioneered this s—, he was like the first dude, you can’t call yourself Tito and come out original.” And I’m sitting there looking at this n—– like word. I didn’t want to say it but he just kept on going like standing on the Tito s—! He was like, “yo you need to do your history before you come out trying to rock somebody elses name.” I said, “yo fam listen here I am Tito dude, I am Tito of the Fearless Four.” He said, “nah man. Tito’s an old school dude, a pioneer.” I said “money that is me. I’m Tito.” He said “nah n—– you look young. nah you ain’t that Tito.” So my son says “That’s my father and that is Tito of the Fearless Four.”
And this dude got on the phone and was like “Yo come down stairs you know who is in the office right now!” And they started bugging out and n—– from FUBU started coming to the office giving mad props and love. So homeboy was like “yo listen to his s—, he sounds mad current, I didn’t know who this dude was.” So the fact is every time I was playing s— I was getting “yo do you.” So I kept it moving and I kept it young. Whatever was going on I said well I will slide up and I will do the same s— so I am going to blend in and once I get in then I am going to be able to tell n—— yeah that’s me n—–! But I couldn’t do it before.
Troy- So lil Foogie from 3170 was running with you also?
Tito- Yeah he was down with the Ironclad team he was like one of those loose cannons, he would be there and then disappear for like a month and then come back in. But I was giving him some shine I would put him on a couple of joints.
Troy- How much did you do with Ironclad and how are they doing today?
Tito- Well Streets is the only cat I keep in contact with which is probably like once a month. He was the brother that won the free style on 106 and Park, the 7 weeks in a row champion coming out of there. That was the cat I stood in contact with, I really thought he was one of the dudes that would pop off. He did Fight Club and a couple of other joints. He battled Gin from Rough Riders. He is current and he is still out there. I did a joint with Streets after I kind of like left Ironclad. It wasn’t Ironclad no more, it was basically just him coming off and I did a joint on his s—. As far as the whole crew we did two mix tapes and then we did the album Ghetto Life. Now me and TMP did a lot of stuff also. We did Boriquaz for Life. Now I had Moe Cream, me, Blue Eyes and Boo Styles on 3 or 4 joints on the album.
Troy- Did Soup Black follow you to the end?
Tito- Yeah Soup stayed with me until it went astray, you know money ran out. Soup was on a joint called Beef.
“Beef with us is
beef with def
beef with one
then you got a
beef with the rest!”
I forgot the chorus but a lil young cat from out of 3170 called Hydro did that chorus. The other joint Soup was on was called We at War.
“We at war n—–
bring the 4 4 n—–
watch the blood pour n——
semi sawed off n—–
The whole crew was me, Lil Tito, TMP, Traylud08/03/2010dro and Agony.
Troy- So what was the label that signed ya’ll at that time?
Tito- That was me Troy. I put up all that paper. I bought the bus!
Troy- I remember the bus with the full advertisement of Ironclad.
Tito- So that’s why I told you they said we can’t do nothing for you, you want us to sign you! They were like, “Our artist don’t have the stuff you have.”
Troy- So how did you get close with Radio disc jockeys Starr and Buckwild?
Tito- I didn’t even know I knew Star. I use to play pool with this dude when my manager was Wanda Booth from Elektra. Wanda was one of the A&R’s in there and I use to go and see her. Star was a clerk in the mailroom he said. Star said he use to see me there and he said, “yo duke I remember I use to say that s— you wearing is crazy.” I use to always come in there fly or whatever and Star use to always complement me. He use to say “yo duke I like your style.” But I never showed him my ass. I would be like, “yeah I appreciate it thanks.” Then my man Tony who was a part of Menagery was working there too, I think he was doing promotions and every Friday we would go to a billiards along with the other coworkers. So I met Star there playing pool. But I didn’t know he was Star, he was Troi then. I didn’t know who Star was. But it was around 1988. The Billiards spot was over on 10th avenue like 54th street.
The Devastating Tito
Troy- So did you go directly to him once he started to make noise on the radio?
Tito- What happen was Jennifer Lopez used N—– in her record and they were like, “A lot of people use that terminology, but f— that she’s a s–c, whatever” etc. He was going in on her. So somebody said what about if Tito would have used the word. He said Tito? The dude said, “Tito, the Spanish dude!” Star said that doesn’t count because he is one of us. (Troy starts laughing.) So from that moment on he was like, “Matter fact Tito if you out there, yo ring me on the phone!” (Troy starts laughing harder.)
Troy- Yo Star is a funny dude.
Tito- Yeah, so my dude Hot Day calls me up from Queens Bridge and tells me “yo T take this number down this is the warm line, this n—– Star is calling for you.” I was like Star, who is dude! Hot Day was like “the cat on the radio, Hot97, he’s the n—- right now.” I was like yeah, alright. Hot Day was like you trying to do this music maybe the n—– can help you. I said alright the hell with it let me holler. So soon as I get on the line I said what’s up? He said who this? I said Tito, He said how do I know you are Tito! He said if you Tito what girl did you use to come see at The Warner Electra building? Before he could finish I said Wanda Booth…he was like yo what’s up my dude, then he started bugging. He was like listen fam open door here! Whatever you want let me know I always had a great respect for you and etc. etc. etc.. And he gave me the whole 9. I was like I appreciate that fam I really do. He said are you doing anything now, I said actually I happen to be doing something. He said get out of here, bring me something, let me hear something, I got you. Sure enough I bought him the joint and he picked from the album. He said, “yo this Spanish s— is crazy.” It was the We Balling joint. He said the Spanish hook and you getting it in at the end, he said I had like a Pun Flow on that s—.
He said no disrespect, I said nah dude that’s a compliment, not no disrespect. So to make a long story short he started playing it. So n—— started holler at me. And Universal got at us, sat with us and wanted to do a deal. But they whole thing was I had to have a hundred thousand in escrow in the bank and they would do the imprint label with me.
Troy- What exactly does that mean?
Tito- It would be Universal Ironclad. Just like its Roughrider…
Troy- So you would be your own label!
Tito- My own label exactly, my own imprint so it would be Universal Ironclad. But that never transpired because I never had the $100,000.
Troy- So you invested so much into Ironclad that by the time you got to Universal you didn’t have enough to keep it going.
Tito- Yeah, I already had all the videos. I came to them with videos and all that. So these n—— were like wow, yo you got the whole package ready. I said I am ready I have my album, videos all. He was like damn we need that escrow because I have to show that you have money to keep on with the project. I was like dude I dont have a hundred grand right now. To make a long story short we never came to terms because I was never able to get that money so it died out. So I kept shopping Ironclad in different spots and Star kept playing stuff I had on the album. To keep us current he had us go at Jay Z as well as one of my chicks go at Foxy Brown.
Troy- Damn Star was really putting in work for you guys.
Tito- Yo he was like diss the hell out of Jay Z and we can start some controversy so that we can get ya’ll out! So I call my crew and I said this is what it is, do you want shine time or what this is what you got to do. The chick I had was Agony, she was nice. She went at everybody in the Rock camp! Everybody. But Star was like we can’t have a girl going at the whole entire Rock, it has to be a dude. But since she sounds so good and I don’t like Foxy Brown he asked will she go at Foxy! I said hold on…I told Agony the diss ain’t about The Rock no more, TMP are going to handle Jay Z. I asked her are you ready to go against Foxy? She said alright I will call you back in about a half an hour. I got a call back in less than a half an hour. she said I got the whole joint son. She said that on the phone I said we are going to record it, I am coming to pick you up. We recorded it, I take it to Star’s office and he was like oh this is f—— crazy. He was playing it like 2 or 3 times back to back. “New Agony and Ironclad getting at these n——.” Star was going off. It was sick because me and Jay Z was cool, we was real good and I didn’t want to do it to him.
Troy- So how did you and Jay Z get cool in the beginning?
Tito- I met Jay Z through Supreme from Fort Greene and Ant Live who is Eric B’s brother. We had a respect for each other on the street level s—. It had nothing to do with the rap s—. He knew what I was doing and respected it and I respected what he was doing. I will leave it like that. We would just kick it whenever we seen each other at whatever events. But after that it was kind of messed up because he didn’t answer. Of course he didn’t answer back and my thing was Jay was the type of cat that he ain’t going to give you the benefit of doubt. In other words he is not going to blow you up by answering you especially if cats really don’t know who it is. He rather just take the hit and keep moving. He is strategic like that.
Troy- I hear you, similar to when he said what’s 50 cent I’m about a dollar.
Troy- So after all that went down did you ever bump into him again, and what was his response?
Tito- Whenever we would see each other again it would be in passing and at that point every time I seen him it was body guards, so you couldn’t get to him anyway! I couldn’t get next to this dude even if I wanted to say what’s up or if I wanted to say fam that was just business. I could never say it because I never got close enough again plus I fell out of the loop because I started doing me. My whole thing is I am going to give it my all and if it don’t work I got to keep on making money. Its more than one avenue you have to travel down.
Troy- So you had to shut it all down?
Tito- Yo they was calling me telling me to stop. I had Agony up and down the east coast to all the radio stations and she was blowing up. They were playing her joint but that was at the end of the road and I was on the way out. Star called me up and told me they about to put the juncture on your s—, he said Def Jam is going to call to shut you down son, so all that s— you did you are going to waste your money because they are going to call them n—— and be like I ain’t giving y’all s— if ya’ll keep playing that song.
Troy- Damn it was like that! They had that much power?
Tito- A phone call, that was all they needed and Star called me and told me. So I was like we got to blank the project because they about to shut down everything I put together. But it was big what I put together.
Troy- So you just left the game alone after that, do you see yourself getting back with the Fearless Four for a reunion?
Tito- I wouldn’t mind putting something together but I am a realist when it comes to new material. I don’t mind doing it but I have to have a lot of input in it and I say that because my way of writing might conflict with their way of writing. I write a lot different today then the past, my concepts are a lot different so we may clash on certain ideas.
Troy- So how would your concepts be different because I heard a lot of the gangster rap in your lyrics of today, are you saying that is where you would be going or…what do you mean?
Tito- I mean well my whole thing would be based on partying now, I’m back into flossing, partying and all that! Gangster s—, nah not the gangster s—. But my thing is I would go to where D.L.B. said he didn’t want to go and DLB said he is married now and he can’t go really talk about partying. So my thought really is how many Problems of the World can we make! We can’t just rely on current events to make albums that s— is tiresome you have to do different s—. So my thing is if I didn’t have creative control over the project I really wouldn’t want to be involved and I am not no control freak but just based on where I see s— going. Like right now even though I am not in the music I have a great ear for music and I know what is going to pop off. Especially if we have an avenue, somebody that is willing to spend the money to promote it and have it popping, then let’s do it.
Troy- I understand you.
Tito- In fact I wrote a couple of things and I told Peso being as me and him go back and forth, he was like yo Tito I want to do what you are writing!
Troy- So that’s some of the work you are suppose to be doing with Silver Fox?
Tito- Yes…well I am doing something totally different with Silver Fox and I think Peso is doing something with him also. But me and Silver Fox are doing a joint with each other were we are going back and forth.
Troy- After the Treacherous 3 30th anniversary have the Fearless Four have a team meeting that night or the next day amongst the 6 of ya’ll?
Troy- So you guys just said hello how you doing and did the show?
Troy- So you guys have not seen each other all together in one space in many years and probably the last time was at you and D.L.B.’s weddings.
Tito- That is probably right and D.L.B. was the best man at my wedding that day.
Troy- I say that because I wish you guys did have that team meeting. I thought that was what was going to happen as well.
Tito- Well I was wishing it would turn out that way but..
Troy- Who knows through this story it may well happen.
Peso – Mike Cee – Tito – D.L.B.
Tito- Well hopefully.
Troy- Alright Tito I thank you very much brother, it was beautiful going down there with you. (Tito starts laughing.)
Tito- No problem my dude be easy and I will talk to you later on. peace
Troy – D.J. Krazy Eddie