DJ’s Breakout and Baron
and their Funky MC’s
Troy- Alright my brothers I appreciate your time, first things first Breakout where were you born and raised?
Breakout- Well I was born in Medical Center in Manhattan but raised in Georgia for four or five years then I came back to New York when I was about 6 years old.
Baron- I am originally from Harlem, I was born in Harlem Hospital. I lived right on 129th street between Madison and Park Avenue over by All Saints Church. They made that movie Cotton Comes to Harlem over there.
Troy- That was my joint, along with Come Back Charleston Blue.
Baron- Right, well I lived right by the Police station they had over there.
Troy- Okay well you going way back because I don’t remember a Police station being over there.
Baron- Because it wasn’t, they put one in a building and made it look like a Police station for the movie.
Breakout- I lived in Harlem too, on 122nd street and Manhattan Avenue right where the bus turned.
Troy- You was right by Doug E. Fresh.
Breakout– I was about 12 at that time. We were living in an apartment and my mother was like, “Let’s move into a house.”
Baron- I went to P.S. 24 on 128th street. During this time they had Busing, so I went to P.S. 6 on 82nd street and Madison Avenue. I was the only black child in the class. I moved from Harlem in 1972. My father moved us out of there because someone came through our window and my father didn’t want to kill anybody so we moved to the Bronx. I was 14 at this time.
Breakout- I went to P.S. 144 while in Harlem, then we moved to Jefferson Place on Boston Road, which was 169th street and while up there I went to P.S. 2 as well as P.S. 63. I later went to Stevenson High School and that’s when I really started getting into music.
Troy- So who was going to Stevenson with you?
Breakout- Tony Tone, he was in one of my classes.
Troy- And that’s how the two of you got so cool?
Breakout- Yeah because I told him I had a group. I said why don’t you come hangout with me at one of my parties.
Troy- What high school did you go to Baron?
Baron- I went to Brandeis. In fact all my schools were in Manhattan. I didn’t go to any in the Bronx. I went to Wagner Jr. high school on 76th street. Then I went to Commerce later known as Brandies High School on 65th street. (Across the street from Martin Luther King High School.) Then after spending one year there you would go up to 84th street and Columbus avenue to do the remainder of your high school time.
Troy- Right I went to Brandeis and did the same thing. So did you play basketball for Brandeis?
Baron- No, I ran track for a little while.
Troy- Where did the name Breakout come from?
Breakout- I had three names, one was Breakout, another was T163 and the last one was Crip. See during the time when I was break dancing with the fellas I broke my leg in karate. So every time I would break-dance they would applaud me telling me I was real good. So I told my man Doc La Rock that I had 3 names and he said, “Well what do you want to do? I said pick one of them for me. He said Breakout! I said are you serious. He said yes. I said watch I am going to make that name famous.”
Troy- So where did the name Breakout come from?
Breakout- Remember that game Breakout, well at the time it was one of my favorite games, you had a man with bricks in front of him trying to break out.
Troy- Okay and this guy name Doc La Rock is not the same one down with Fantastic Five, this is a d.j. from way up in the Bronx by you that had a name?
Breakout- Yes your right. God bless Doc La Rock, he passed away about 6 years ago. He use to have a crew back then. We use to play hooky and go to his house and break-dance all day. (Breakout laughs.) The name T163 came from when I was in Jr. High School 163 writing on the buses.
Troy- So what inspired you to do this Dj.ing thing?
Breakout- Well I use to be a B- boy first, I use to break dance. I use to go to Bambaataa’s parties and listen to Bongo Rock and go bananas.
Troy- What year would this be?
Breakout- It was the 70’s but I can’t remember the exact date.
Baron- I can tell you. When we moved to the Bronx my older brother use to hang out with Herc and go to his parties. In order for me to go I had to help him with Herc’s equipment. So I use to roll around with Herc but if I was late I had to pay to get in. I got tired of that. My brother use to spar with Herc on some karate. This was about 1976 or 77 and I knew nothing about the Bronx at this time, I was right out of high school. My brother was the one that introduced me to Breakout. At the time I had a little bit of a turntable and such in my house. Breakout had some raggedy ass speakers.
Breakout- What he say?
(Troy and Breakout start laughing.)
Baron- You know those speakers with that white ass cork around it. So that was how me and Breakout joined together.
Breakout- Matter fact when I was going to listen to Bam he was playing Bongo Rock along with the record the Pink Panther. I took my mother’s record player and another record player and went right over there to this school yard (Breakout points to the school yard right in front of us.) with my man Mark Fisher. We played one record, stop and dropped the needle on the next one with no mixer.
Troy- So you had no mixer and you would play one record and when it finished you would start up another, was Bam doing the same thing or was he more sophisticated with a mixer and a turntable and equalizer?
Breakout- That is a good question I think he had a mixer.
Troy- Okay so it’s safe to say Bam was doing it before you?
Troy- So when you seen him doing it did you see him doing it with a mixer?
Breakout- I am not that sure. See back in those days no one from my block or area wanted to go to a Bam party because they were scared. So when I did go I was popular but I never got behind the ropes to see if he did use a mixer. I was just a B boy with my name Breakout on my pants.
Photo from Yes yes y’all book.
Troy- So when you first started you played without a mixer, you just turned the volume up and down?
Breakout- I had the record player that you pull down with the knobs on the side. I had another one with the radio on the bottom and the record player on top. I had those two that I played together and I stole my mother’s speakers and I almost got killed. I bought it outside into the school yard of P.S. 78. During that time I was doing Karate and I met Baron’s brother. He told me Baron was doing music also and he invited me over to the house. So one day I bought all my records over, I had a crate. I was buying from Downstairs Records; I was trying to get all the B boy records. Baron was like I got some.
Baron- I had better records then him, I was hanging with Herc!
Troy- So Baron you heard Herc, but Breakout you never heard Herc at that time?
Baron- Breakout was from further uptown.
Breakout- I was from uptown, Baron was closer to Herc in the beginning.
Baron- Herc lived down the block from me.
Breakout- I use to play hooky from school to go to Herc’s parties. I would hang out at the Executive Playhouse over on Jerome Avenue.
Baron- But that was way after, Herc use to be at the Hevalo during the early days.
Troy- The Galaxy also?
Baron- Nah that was long before, we had a lot of clubs that we played in.
Breakout- I remember when they robbed the Galaxy. They took the Snorkels and Corterfields and dudes were jumping out of windows. (Snorkels and Corterfields are winter coats.)
Troy- Snorkels and Corterfield’s? I thought they just came for the money and jewels. I didn’t even think it was enough time to do all that.
Breakout- They came out of a van with pump shotguns and they wanted to take peoples coats and people were jumping out of the windows, I remember that.
Baron- Breakout do you remember when Herc gave us a job at the Executive Play House when all that went down that same night at the Galaxy? The Executive Play House was dead because everybody was at the Galaxy. (Baron laughs but Breakout is not remembering at that moment.)
Troy- So for me this is what has always been going around, who was first as a group!
Baron- Herc battled Bam all the time and I use to roll with Herc and we use to do all the high schools like Morris High and etc. and it was always Herc and Bam.
Troy- So Herc use to always take out Bam because his system was stronger?
Baron- Much stronger.
Troy- Did Bam ever get Herc with his records?
Breakout- Nah because Herc had a system
Baron- And that record Apache.
Troy- So was Herc the first one to play Apache?
Breakout- I wouldn’t say that because I use to go to Bam and Herc parties but I went to more Bam parties then Herc parties. Although Herc had hooky parties at the Executive Play house at 12 o’clock in the afternoon.
Troy- Damn so the Five-O never use to run up in there at 12 noon because you guys weren’t in school? (The term Five-o means Police. The term was and still is used in the streets of New York. It came from the hit series in the 1970’s Hawaii Five-O.)
Breakout- No they never ran up in there or anything. Back then they didn’t have any truant officers in our area, at least I never saw any. I use to go in Stevenson High school in the morning and before lunch time I would leave school and go right into the Executive Play House.
Troy- What about Bam’s mc’s?
Breakout- There weren’t any mc’s back then.
Troy- Well what about Coke La Rock?
Baron- Well he was the first mc.
Troy- Did you ever catch Coke La Rock say long rhymes or was he just saying shout outs?
Baron- Coke La Rock had metaphors and the way he said things it was slick, it was street.
Troy- He told me that in an interview I did with him.
Baron- Well I am sure in his interview he gave you a little bit of what he said and that was what he said!
Troy- On the real that is what he did, he gave me a couple of rhymes that he said back in the days. But he kept talking about that money, he said he was really a G money dude, he said he was getting money with Herc but he was getting more money from the streets and the streets were calling.
Baron- Yep that was what he was really about.
KK Rockwell: I never seen Herc or Coke play. Well I seen Herc one time in Claremont and that was like, when he was like coming to his end. Coke La Rock probably wasn’t with him by this time.
Troy- Coke told me he broke out after a while, he didn’t go the whole distance with Herc. So you can actually say you was before Kevie Kev and Master Rob of the L Brothers then.
KK Rockwell: I will say that Kev and them was out at the same time.
Baron: But they wasn’t making noise right?
KK Rockwell: S— I wasn’t making noise back then either. (KK chuckles.)
Baron: Yeah you wasn’t making noise, only time when people took notice was when there was a group thing going on.
Troy- Only the groups were the ones that was really making noise, not solo MCs? What about Lovebug Starski.
KK Rockwell: Lovebug and AJ? That was Flash and them protégé’s in those days. Flash used to play in the Dixie Club, AJ would play up there with them sometimes. AJ would play up there. AJ would be the DJ and Lovebug was the MC. It was all sold-out back then.
Troy- So when it came to the crews who was first L Brothers, Furious 3 or the Funky 4?
Baron- We were first with an mc. The Voice of KK!
Breakout- KK Rockwell.
Troy- So KK was before the L Brothers?
Baron- KK was before a group that consisted of an mc. (This was a couple years after Kool Herc and the Herculiods.) Then Busy Bee would come in and out and roll with us. He would get on the mic, this and that.
Troy- KK, so you was the first with the Funky Four, who else was first during that time? Was Coke-la-Rock before you?
KK Rockwell: Well, this is who I seen–
Baron: Busy B. He use to roll back and forth with us, right?
KK Rockwell: Yeah, Busy B was out there. Busy B was definitely out there. He was like a, whatchu call them dudes?
KK Rockwell: He was like a Viking. He would go crew to crew, sound system to sound system. Also, Mr. Big.
Troy- Damn, I didn’t know that.
KK Rockwell: When I use to go to Bronx River I use to see him and he wasn’t doing any rhymes, he would just talk to the crowd. Now, I remember seeing Mele Mel and Cowboy. I remember seeing them first and then all of a sudden Kid Creole appeared.
Troy- So who was first between Mel and Cowboy?
KK Rockwell: I seen them together, I don’t know who was first.
Troy- Okay, did you see Caz at all over there on the other side?
KK Rockwell: I also seen Caz but I seen him DJing at Echo Park.
Troy- And we talking about the early days when you first was doing it by yourself with Funky Four.
Troy- That was the year of the black-out. Was that the first year you played with them KK?
Baron: Right after I got out of high school. I got out in June so it could have been ’76, later part.
KK Rockwell: That’s about right. Baron: Our first jam was Murphy Projects, remember Murphy?
KK Rockwell: I remember.
Baron- The Voice of KK. Yeah
Troy- Who did you hear before you KK, to give you the idea to put rhymes together?
KK Rockwell: Well, as far as putting rhymes together, Mel and Cowboy.
Troy- So you heard them guys and that’s what inspired you to rhyme?
KK Rockwell: Rhymes yes, but talking I heard Mr. Big. Dudes also during this time actually were starting to put the rhymes together like
“Jack and Jill
went up the hill
to have a little fun,”
KK Rockwell – Ya know what I’m saying? Like a little nursery school rhymes, ya know?
Troy- Right, so mostly Mel and Cowboy. Well mostly Mel because Cowboy was also saying “throw your hands up in the air” type dude. Mel was actually saying some rhymes.
KK Rockwell: Right, well Cowboy rhymed too.
Troy- So Baron how did you and Breakout know you were officially together and did Brothers Disco come before the Funky 4?
Breakout- Brothers Disco came much later.
Troy- After Funky 4? I thought it was the other way around.
Baron- I’m going to tell you the story. It used to be Baron and Breakout. (To the reader, this is about to get hilarious for me!)
Breakout- No it didn’t.
(Troy starts laughing.)
Baron- (Baron starts laughing.)
Breakout- He’s lying. Let me tell you because he’s lying.
Baron- Yo I’m going to tell you how it went down.
Troy- (Troy’s laughing.) Let me hear this.
Baron- Let me tell my story.
Troy- I always thought it was Breakout first so let me hear this.
Breakout- You know the deal Troy, where the hell Baron and Breakout came from?
Baron- Are you going to let me tell my story? It used to be Baron and Breakout first.
Breakout- Oh my God he’s lying!
Baron- Hold up. But Breakout’s brother Donnell aka Jazzy D said my name was too short so it switched to Breakout and Baron. But I had a trick for that; I had to let them know I was still going to take over. I came with the name Brothers Disco so there you go. Sublimely my name is still on top because I came up with Brothers Disco. (Breakout is laughing at Baron sarcastically.) So regardless of Breakout and Baron I came up with the name Brothers Disco.
Breakout- Well listen to this okay!
Baron- Go ahead.
Breakout- Listen I was a b-boy, I had people following me.
Troy- So why would they follow you?
Breakout- I use to break dance real good. Troy nobody ever said we are going to a Baron party! They always said were going to a Breakout party. I was the star of the show when it came down to D.j.ing. He use to play the little gay Soulsa bull—-. I would play the hard core s—. And they waited for me to get on.
Breakout- And you know I am telling the truth Baron.
Baron- Yo the tapes are the evidence.
Troy- Baron’s right about that.
Baron- Whatever he says is irrelevant. Find me a Breakout tape!
Breakout- Oh my God.
Troy- He has them I just gave Breakout some tapes of both of ya’ll.
Baron- With you D.j.ing?
Breakout- Both of us.
Baron- But who’s doing all the work?
Troy- Well that is the question, who of the two of you feel is the best d.j. when it comes to cutting and scratching?
Breakout- We played different kinds of music.
Baron- Who’s doing all the work?
Breakout- He played disco.
Troy- When the group would go into the routines who was the main D.J.?
Breakout- He was.
Troy- And why was that?
Breakout- Because they didn’t want the cuts to throw them off. I did hardcore beats no mixing.
Baron- They didn’t like the Bambaataa cuts or what you call break dancing cuts.
Breakout- I played for my people you understand what I’m saying. He played for the m.c.s!
Baron- His people were the B-boys. My people were the m.c.s and the dancers.
Breakout- They use to get me in the back of the party and get me f—— up just so I can d.j. for them. “Yo Breakout take this, take this, now what are you going to play, you going to play Bongo right, or Shaft from Africa?” So I would tell them I got them but they still would be coming at me telling me to play “Listen to Me.” I told them I got them and all they would do is break dance.
Troy- So other then The T- Connection where were the other spots?
Breakout- 226 White Plains Road. The name of the place was called The Spot.
Baron- We were the Kings of uptown.
Breakout- Every dj had their own area. We had uptown, Flash had down there by 138th street. Theodore and The L Brothers had 163rd and Boston Road.
Baron- Flash and them also had the Black Door.
Breakout- And Theodore had Duck City…(Baron said he never heard of it.) Duck City was a hooky sure nough party, nobody would go to school. The ceiling was like 5 feet high and we were young then. You can’t go there now because your head would hit the ceiling. Bam had Bronx River so all the groups were separated. Then we had a girl group called Sister Disco.
Bertha aka Busy Bee of The Sister Disco
Troy- So what did they actual do, were they just dancers?
Breakout- Other than handing out flyers they use to hang out with us, they would all be dressed up in black and white and did a lot of cheerleading for us. Then Bam had the Zulu girls and they were ready to fight our Sister Disco girls but that got squashed before anything could jump off.
Troy- How many Sister Disco members were there?
Breakout- There was about 6 of them and that’s Bertha on the right in the picture but we use to call her Busy Bee. Ritchie Tee who was one of my mc’s before Funky 4 came to life was dating Bertha.
Ritchie Tee Photo by Timothy Brown
Troy- And Ritchie Tee was not the owner of The T Connection he did security for you guys later on as The Funky 4?
Baron- They were like our cheerleaders.
Breakout- Then Bam had his security crew and we had ours which was tied together between The Boston Road crew and The Edenwald crew and it would get real sick. (To the reader there are two Boston Road Crews that did security. Breakouts Boston Road crew lived close to Breakout over by Edenwald projects but not in Edenwald Projects. The other Boston Road Crew lived in the area of 169th street and Boston Road and the held down the L Brothers and Mercedes Ladies and also had Grand Master Flash’s back.)
Troy- So they were cool running together, no beefing amongst themselves?
Breakout- Yeah that’s the only time we would bring them together.
Baron- And that is why we never had any incidents at our events. It was always safe, never ever an incident.
Troy- So the Boston Road Crew in Edenwald is one crew and then there is the Boston Road crew down on 169th with L Brothers. So these are two different Boston Road Crews?
Keith Keith- Yes one uptown Bronx and one downtown Bronx on the eastside.
Troy- Did they know of each other at all, did they ever connect?
Keith Keith – No connection what so ever.
Breakout- Nah to different areas, one uptown one down town.
Troy- So the one uptown was down with Funky but not the one downtown?
Keith Keith – That is correct.
Troy- Breakout where were the Boston Road Crew from by you?
Breakout- On Seymour Avenue.
Troy- How many were down up there?
Breakout- About 20 to 30.
Troy- Who was the leader of the one uptown?
Keith Keith – It wasn’t really any leader, they were just fellas hanging out together. We really called them the Brew Crew because they use to drink beer together. But it just ended up being called the Boston Road crew.
Troy- Ok were they just as vicious as Joe Kidd and the rest of the Boston Road crew downtown?
Keith Keith – No they weren’t about all that violence and all that stuff.
Rodney Cee- But ya’ll have to remember Boston Road runs from 166th street all the way to Boston. So that was why Breakout and them had a Boston Road Crew too, way up there. See if you lived on say 166th and 167th and Boston Road you had your little crew and say you lived on 168th and 169th street you still had your own little crew. So each block could have had their own crew considering themselves Boston Road. Now the real thug n—— that ran around us like Joe Kidd, Easy Lance and all of them, they were like the real gangsters.
Breakout- Yes. Now there were times I would break dance over in Bronx River but known of our people would go down there with me. They would say where you going tonight Breakout? I would say, “I am going to Bambaataa party and break dance do you want to go. Oh hell no you crazy they are going to kill you.” I use to tell them I’m going. I use to jump in a cab and go straight down there. Have my drink in my back pocket while waiting for Bongo Rock.
Photo of Breakout by Timothy Brown.
Troy- So there never was any beef down there for you because Bam always had your back!
Baron- But that record Apache is what inspired me to want to be a dj! When I heard Herc’s speakers that booming sound had me. I use to stand in front of his speakers to feel that beat.
Breakout- That record will always be a part of history. . .I would take a cab over there to Throggs Neck projects center. I use to be in b boy contests over there. Soon as I walked in there I would say to the dj you got Apache, he would say yeah and I would tell him let me know when you are going to play it and I use to wait on the bleaches for this one record.
Troy- Now the Break dancing that you were doing Breakout is it similar to the break dancing they do today?
Breakout- No it was way different.
Baron- The originators were the guys that use to be around Herc. The Nigger Twins, Salsa. Salsa was double jointed. People could not mess with these guys.
Breakout- When the Spanish people took over they went to another level with it.
Troy- They took it to the floor.
Breakout- Yeah they would spin on their head, we never did it like that. We use to read books and pull out glasses.
Troy- (Troy laughs.) Right while you were dancing?
Breakout- Yes, I would shake your hand or go down to the floor and play dead or do the robot. all that dumb stuff. But when the Spanish people did it they went overboard. They started spinning on their head. We can’t do that. (Breakout and Troy laughs.)
Troy- How many Dune Buggies do you have?
Breakout- Just that one
Troy- How did you go about getting it?
Breakout- I went to this guys auto shop garage on Gun hill Road and he had it way in the back with a whole lot of car parts on top of it. I asked him what it was and he said it was a Dune Buggy. I said I want that and he said are you serious and I bought it for $2000. It was a 1972 Volkswagen.