Troy- So did you hear her say “You should do it on The Sugar Hill Gang instead of Rodney and them?”
Rodney Cee- Well this is what she did to us. We got a call from the Ritz and see I use to book us so the Ritz called me directly and they said they wanted to book us $7000! So I was like you have to go through Sugar Hill. So they go through Sugar Hill and when they talk to Silvia she said give me 30 thousand and I will give you sugar hill the girls sequence, the funky the furious and spoonie gee. the Ritz say no. they say we got $7000 and we want the funky. So Silva was like give me 20 thousand and I will give you so and so. Still Ritz was like no we don’t want them. Just Funky. so she basically settles for the seven grand for everybody. and when we find out I blow my top because I know that 7 grand is for us because they call me first.
Troy- So what was Silvia’s response when you asked her about it later?
Rodney Cee- Yeah, we were riding there coat tails this whole tour that we were on with them! No mind you we maybe did 10 to 15 shows with them, tops! That the whole time we were with the label. So she was saying we were riding their coat tails and we were getting paid out of the Gangs pockets. So I say to her why would you take us on the road on their money! We not trying to ride on their money we trying to ride on our own. see I was always the speaker in the group.
Wildstyle photo by Michael Markos
So once we did Saturday night live and they reneged on the documentary Charlie and Freddy are learning about the Cold Crush, Fantastic and the culture of hip-hop more. so they realize we ain’t the only ones out there making music. They was running around with Busy Bee and to this day they still do. He’s like their spokesmen or the Wildstyle spokesperson. But it was because they heard and saw us that they wanted to do a documentary. And see Busy was alright but he wasn’t the Funky, at this point we were the Temptations of hip-hop. And what’s crazy is we were the hottest at Sugar Hill Records when we did Saturday Night live. The Gangs, The Furious nor Sequence is or anybody else at that label were hotter than we were at that time.
Troy- So with that being said Silvia still did not show any love to the funky?
Rodney Cee- No because that was messing with her pecking order as she was creating. So she definitely had to get rid of us. My last show with the Funky 4 is May 9th at the Armory because I was finish with it.
Troy- Did you ever talk with the crew later and say what did she say to ya’ll to want to stay with her instead of breaking out with me and KK?
Rodney Cee- Silvia got Jeff because she gave him the money. Now mind you this is a power struggle. All it is is we are trying to get our chips up. Everybody else on the road is getting a thousand dollars a night. we still getting two hundred a man! We was getting a hundred and fifty in the street. so basically she was trying to keep us on that same two hundred dollar thing. So we get to New York and she talking about $200 I’m like you can give me two hundred and I am not coming but you not going to give me that same money not in new York. So we negotiated and I was trying to get us to one thousand dollars a man. Jeff went with six hundred a man. so he took 3 grand instead of the 5. She gave it to him and he bought it and paid us. To this day we don’t know if she gave him 3 or 5 but all we know is he had the money that we didn’t authorize in the take. So we took the money and we knew at that point that was our last joint.
Troy- Have you ever seen Silvia Robinson over the years after all that went down?
Rodney Cee- I have seen her once or twice.
Troy- And her reaction to you when you see each other?
Rodney Cee- We look at each other like we owe each other money. That’s how we do each other.
Troy- Baron why were you not on Saturday Night Live that night?
Baron- Because I was working and Breakout was already on tour with them. I didn’t want to take a chance and stop working.
Troy- So this was right in the middle of a tour?
Troy- So you guys were already with Sugar Hill when you got to Saturday Night Live?
KK Rockwell – Right.
Troy- So take me there to that night when you guys were about to perform.
KK Rockwell – Well when we got there we didn’t have a dressing room it was like a little room in the back and was still kind of wild, we were smoking trees you know what I am saying! And I had never heard of Saturday Night Live.
KK Rockwell – I never heard of them because on Saturdays most of the time we were throwing some type of party.
Troy- I got you now, right.
KK Rockwell – So we in this room smoking weed and Eddie Murphy looks in as he cracked the door.
Troy- (Troy starts laughing.) Yeah go ahead.
KK Rockwell – So he says, “Hey what’s up fellas I just wanted to say hello.” We look and say to him “Here you want some!” He was like no no no I’m alright.” So when we go into the green room were watching the show and this is Eddie Murphy’s first season on SNL, so were watching the show and we say to our selves this show is mad funny. Eddie Murphy did a little skit with a black doll and a white doll and they were in a boxing ring and the black doll is beating up the white doll but was rapping and s—!
Troy- (Troy starts laughing.) Ah man.
KK Rockwell – So that kind of bugged us out watching that you know.
KK Rockwell – I also remember walking down the hall and seeing that guy that use to do those commercials for nacho cheese Doritos and he use to have that mustache he use to twist up. Well we were coming down the hall way in NBC and he seen us and that n—— moved over and the expression was like what the f—-! (His name is AVERY SCHREIBER.)
Troy- I remember homeboy, God bless him, he passed in around 2002. Now did ya’ll rehearse for that at the studio or was it a one shot deal?
Rodney- We were on tour at this time and so we were pulled off tour on a Wednesday to go to the studio to prepare for the Saturday Night live show. We went Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to learn camera blocks and all that s— and where we were going to be standing at and what we were going to do and all that and I remember Eddie Murphy being the new black guy on SNL.
Troy- Was it live or lip synched?
KK Rockwell – We did it live.
Troy- But it looked as though Breakout wasn’t really djing.
Rodney- I don’t know why they did that like that with Breakout but we did our part live but the music was pretaped. It was a hell of an experience, we were the first hip hop group to do national television. We didn’t even know what national television meant at that time but we knew it was important. After that night SNL put us on the map where ever we went. Where ever we played people seemed to know us over night. Florida, Texas, Kentucky. Where ever we went n—– couldn’t wait to see us and they would tell us “yo I seen you on Saturday Night Live and you guys were good.” You have to remember hip hop was new at this time. It wasn’t even two years on wax at that time. That was Valentine’s day 1981. Valentine’s day this year marked 30 years.
Breakout- From what I remember they said they didn’t have anything to plug me into so they said they would play the track in the back and they asked me to fake it and the audience wouldn’t know.
Troy- So how did you feel when they wanted you to mimic it?
Breakout- I loved it because I couldn’t believe I was going to be on t.v. around the world. When I got home my phone rang off of the hook with people saying I seen you.
Troy- So after that you guys went back uptown to the T- Connection to party?
KK Rockwell – After that we did go somewhere and hang out, if I’m not mistake. Then the next day, we jumped on the Amtrak and we went to D.C. because the Sugarhill Gang Convention Tour was in D.C.
Troy- So what was the response from the Bronx that next day about your showing on Saturday Night Live?
KK Rockwell – Well, you know how it is. Once it got around in the hood everybody was, ya know, it kind of put a little different kind of light on us like yo, ya’ll might really make it, ya know?
Troy- Right, right. Baron, how long did it take before you heard about them being on Saturday Night Live. Did you know it was coming up? Baron- I saw it that night. Troy- What was your feelings when you seen it? Baron- It was good, good look.
Rodney- But I remember one of those days on the stage of SNL and Blondie asking us about Sugar Hill Records. We were on the SNL stage playing around, and mind you we were teenagers at the time doing what teenagers do, snapping and just having fun. So Blondie says how is Sugar Hill treating ya’ll and we all froze and we all look at each other but no one answers her. I was kind of the impromptu spokesmen so basically everybody was looking at me to respond and I couldn’t say anything. So she basically said I understand and walked away. About an hour later she came back and said I got some good news and some bad news. We were like well what’s the good news? She said the good news is we are about to go on tour and it is actually a two year tour but we want to take you guys with us as our opening act.
Rodney- Blondie says plus we want ya’ll to record on the title song of our next album. So we were like great, what’s the bad news? Blondie said we can’t do any of that as long as you guys are still with Sugar Hill Records. So it was a no brainer for me at that point, “yo we out!” But it just wasn’t that easy. Silva did her divide and conquer s— and destroyed a good group.
Troy- Well let me ask you this legally were you able to get out of that contract right at that moment when she made that offer to you?
Rodney- Well Blondie put us in touch with her lawyer and her lawyer asked us to sign power of attorney over to him so he could be our legal representation to get us off the contract. I signed as well as KK but everybody else kind of back peddled.
Troy- How long were ya’ll down with Sugar Hill at this moment?
Rodney- We signed June 30th 1980. My last show was May 9th 1981. I wasn’t even with Sugar Hill a full year.
Troy- So that would be about 10 months of uncertainty and by the last couple of months it got pretty ugly?
Troy- So your group members recognized it but didn’t want to take a walk on it?
Rodney- No they didn’t. You have to remember they had family pressure telling them to stay because they believed Sugar Hill was the greatest thing since slice bread. Like “How could you let him (Lil Rodney Cee.) tell you to walk away from something you want.” Now when we did our part that Saturday night it was only a 90 second set. Also I never even knew the show existed until we got invited. S— we were partying on Saturday night’s.
Troy- Keith Keith when Rodney Cee and KK left why didn’t you Sha and Jeff not follow them, and what did Silvia Robinson say to you to make you stay?
Keith Keith- She wasn’t going to let all of us go, she said she would rather break us up then let us all go together. So it was either some of us go and some of us stay or everybody just stay. Rodney and KK decided to leave. So me, Jeff and Sha decided to stay. I don’t know what would have happen if we all would have said we are leaving! Who knows we might have gotten sued, I don’t know what would have happened or whatever but we were under contract.
Troy- So you are saying you stayed because you were under contract?
Keith Keith- Yes we were definitely under contract. Honestly that was the Lords work, for real. Only the Lord could have put that together like that. I look at it as The Lord knew me, Jeff and Sha could work something out if we stayed and the Lord knew K and Rodney would work something out if she let them go. The Lord knew that and that was why he formed that Double Trouble and the new Funky 4. The Lord worked all that out, we was just going with the flow. Silvia said before I let any of ya’ll go I will break ya’ll up and that was what she did, she is a very crooked and powerful lady. She was, we were young and had a dumb state of mind back in 79. We didn’t know no better.
Troy- Did you feel any remorse not leaving with your boys KK and Rodney Cee, especially KK because ya’ll came up together as little boys.
Keith Keith- Yes I did but there was nothing you could do. We never stopped talking to each other, me Rodney and K always stood cool. I was going to go on tour with Rodney and KK when they went overseas after the Funky officially was finish with Sugar Hill Records.
Troy- So you guys made a few records once Rodney and KK left.
Keith Keith- Yes we made a few. I didn’t know we made so many.
Troy- So with all those records you made did ya’ll get paid for every record?
Keith Keith- No to this day we haven’t. The only ones we get paid for is Rapping and Rocking the House, That’s the Joint, Do you want to Rock and Feel it.
Troy- So what about the other ones?
Keith Keith- I don’t know they just out there making something for somebody.
Troy- Do you guys see your selves doing at least one more record or something like that?
Keith Keith- No I don’t Troy but I pray for it every day. I pray for it every day that before I leave this earth we get something done you know what I am saying, God bless because all of us are still living.
Troy- I have to go back for a second—do you remember the night when ya’ll met Bobby Robinson?
KK Rockwell – Um, that date…Rodney might know that date, I’m not sure on that date. It’s got to be the fall of ’79.
Troy- So how did-why did ya’ll leave Bobby Robinson to go to Sugarhill?
Baron- Got bought out. Sylvia bought ‘em out.
Troy- Sylvia bought them out and ya’ll was cool with leaving Enjoy and joining Sugarhill?
KK Rockwell – The only reason we went to Sugarhill was because their records was getting played on the radio.
Baron- No K, Silvia bought your contract.
KK Rockwell – Yeah, well that’s what happened, that was the business part of it. But that’s what made us go to Sugarhill.
Troy- Now, how do you feel about your DJs—Breakout and Baron not really following ya’ll from Enjoy to Sugarhill.
KK Rockwell – Well like we said, Baron nor Breakout signed the contract with Enjoy Records but Jazzy Dee did cause he was our manager. And, so already they wasn’t in it. Jazzy Dee would just look out for them.
Troy- Baron, how did you feel about these guys going forward without ya’ll?
Baron: Well I couldn’t see it as a livelihood because evidently all things come to an end. I had to keep working. I couldn’t like be in between like, not getting any money and getting money. So that’s the way I looked at it.
Troy- So you was kind of cool with it?
Baron- Yeah, I said I need to work. Is that true or not K?
KK Rockwell: Yeah, you know how the business is.
Troy- Reason why I say that is-you know like with the Crash Crew, Mike and Dave didn’t follow the Crash Crew to Enjoy Records. In fact, Barry Bistro said it felt like they kind of almost dissed Mike and Dave, know what I’m saying’? And some of them felt kind of upset-ya know, they felt ashamed about it later but at the moment, as you said, it was a business thing. But the thing is, like, you’re sticking up for each other. Ya’ll came as one, we going to leave as one. You understand what I’m saying’ KK?
KK Rockwell: I understand.
Troy- Like was there any type of remorse between the seven of ya’ll? Ya know, like, we really miss Breakout and Baron, they was our boys and we come from the Bronx, we keeping it real, we supposed to always come together. Was there any type of feelings pertaining to that situation?
KK Rockwell – Yeah, and they should have signed the contract with us, ya know? They should of signed on Enjoy. Because we started out as a crew and we should of kept it that way, you know what I’m saying. When we went to Sugarhill, they should of signed those contracts with us, too, ya know? And they didn’t go on tour with us or anything, ya know what I’m saying?
Troy- Right but did they have an opportunity to sign those two contracts?
KK Rockwell – No, no they didn’t.
Troy- So Bobby and Sylvia said we don’t need these guys? We got DJs for ya’ll?
Baron- I think Jazzy D was in negotiation to do something for us but it just didn’t sound right, so he didn’t do it. That’s what I think happened.
KK Rockwell – Well with Bobbie Robinson, basically it was just like a fast move. We didn’t even think to say “Baron, Breakout sign” but Jazzy D–he was our manager and he signed. But when we went to Sugar hill, Jazzy D told us not to go to Sugar hill. He was saying “yo that company’s not right, we can look for something better.”
Baron- They found out later.
KK Rockwell – The majority of the group felt that, ya know, Sugar hill was the one.
Troy- So how long did it take before ya’ll realized that this isn’t the move?
KK Rockwell – Before we started touring with them we worked out a deal with them, we set a price. We did a couple shows and when we came back, we was expecting a certain amount of money and when we got back—it wasn’t even—she only gave us a third of what we agreed upon. Right there I knew, ya know, this is some bull—-, ya know?
Troy- Right, so before you even did the tour, she said “yes” to what ya’ll asked for with no problem, smiling face and everything, shook ya hand and said “yes.” And when ya’ll came off the tour, you only got a third—what was her response to that?
KK Rockwell – She told us we had to pay for the busses, we had to pay for the hotels.
Troy- Okay and she didn’t think to tell you that in the beginning.
KK Rockwell – No, we did discuss that. She said everything is included plus the price I’m giving ya’ll.
Troy- Right. So now, ya’ll comin’ back off tour and she gives you a third and you say listen we already talked about this. What’s the—why you doing’ this? What was her response to that?
KK Rockwell – Her response was, “I told ya’ll that!” So now we looking at each other, me and Rodney was like, “That wasn’t the deal.” We look at Jeff, and say “Jeff, what did she say?” He kind of can’t remember. We ask Sha Rock, “What did she say?” She kind of can’t remember. We ask Keith, “What did she say?” He kind of can’t remember. For whatever reason, me and Rodney remember real clearly.
Troy- Okay from there that’s when ya’ll did your Double Trouble. Alright, so even in that one year that you stayed there, ya’ll were mostly staying’ on the road. Did you ever come back and do parties with Breakout and Baron?
Baron- One or two—maybe one or two parties.
Troy- And all this was going on still back in the Bronx though, Cold Crush is going against Fantastic, Flash got that beatbox.
Baron- Yeah, see that’s when dates get mixed up. While the Funky’s on the road, that’s when the Cold Crush started to become what they became. And sometimes you hear dates that are totally incorrect because this is ’79 / ’80 when we are doing our thing and then from ’81 on is when Cold Crush started to do their thing. Am I correct?
KK Rockwell – Yeah, yeah.
Baron- So whenever you hear dates just thrown around, it’s mind boggling ya know?
KK Rockwell – You have to understand, when we started touring, we left our whole clientele behind in the Bronx. You know what I’m saying? So they just picked up the slot.
Troy- So how was that for your guys when ya’ll was touring’ though? Ya’ll went all up and down the east coast, did ya’ll also go to the west coast?
KK Rockwell: No we didn’t go to the west coast.
Troy- Strictly east?
KK Rockwell – We went up the east coast. It was cool, ya know what I’m sayin’? It was like going from the minors to the majors overnight. One day we was playing in clubs, the next thing you know were in coliseums.
Troy- Traveling with Sugarhill was like the Motown Review? When they would leave Hitsville all the groups would go together and they would all perform together at these different schools or clubs. Were ya’ll the same way? Did all the Sugarhill acts always worked together or ya’ll went in different directions on the road, performing?
KK Rockwell – Some dates we all played together but sometimes Sugarhill might go out and do a special date. Flash and them might go out and do a special date.
Troy- That one year did she keep the Funky Four busy?
KK Rockwell – Yep, we stayed busy. But remember, when we went out to Sugarhill and was talking to them, we got the contracts from her and she wanted us to sign that night.
Troy- Without reading them?
KK Rockwell – We said no, were going to take it to a lawyer. While we were doing that, Flash and them came the next day and they signed on the dotted line. Sylvia let us listen to a track and it was Freedom. That track was being used in the clubs for a minute now and it was one of the hottest tracks out. So The Furious 5 went in there that week and cut the track.
Troy- So she was actually going to give it to you and the rest of the Funky 4 if you guys had signed quicker.
KK Rockwell – Right, we could have gotten it.
Troy- Hold up, matter of fact, that record had also been done by the Crash Crew at that time too though.
KK Rockwell – Yeah, the Crash Crew did do it.
Troy- Ok, and they weren’t even with ya’ll just yet.
KK Rockwell – No
Troy- So ya’ll actually came after the Furious Five? But only what a week after? Or a month after?
KK Rockwell – No, they put us on hold. I think by the time we got the contract signed, it might have been maybe a month later or something like that. So Flash and them was already out. There were rumors that their record went gold in like two weeks-it just took off.
Troy- Yeah, it was definitely a hot joint.
KK Rockwell – Ya know what I’m saying, it was just took off so we was like “damn, man.” So when we did sign it took us almost five-six months before we cut That’s the Joint.
Troy- Did ya’ll have creative ability to do what ya’ll wanted to do? Or she started putting her hands on it real fast?
KK Rockwell – She let us listen to some music that she wanted us to use but we didn’t like it. So the funny thing about the track that we used, “Rescue Me,” is we used to play it in the parties but we never did rap on it. Even though we rapped on R&B tracks, like “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll” and stuff like that, “Good Times,” we had never really rapped off “Taste of Honey” I liked it and I told it to the group-,”yo, we should use this” and everybody agreed.
Troy- Now Baron, while the Funky Four m.c.s are now playing with The Sugar Hill label, did you contemplate you and Breakout, maybe getting’ some more MCs and starting up again?
Baron- No, I couldn’t see—it was just like “forget it man.” I was done.
Troy- You saying it kind of like knocked the wind out of you?
Baron- It kind of like knocked the wind out of me, man. It’ll kind of just recycle itself all over again—get some more MCs, so they can do the same thing? Nah, I was just too through. Ain’t nobody wanted to do underground any more. Everybody wanted to make a record.
Troy- And you and Breakout didn’t think about making a record yourselves?
Troy- Such as the way Krazy Eddie and the O.C. of The Fearless Four or Flash did?
Baron- Nah but see Flash did his record later because he had something to show, all that scratching and stuff. A style. You don’t see any regular DJs making a record, making a record just for making a record’s sake, you understand what I’m saying? You need a lot of permission to play somebody else’s music. You couldn’t make money like that.
Troy- So that was it, ya’ll just hung it up you and Breakout? Breakout and you just continued to keep doing block parties?
Baron- I stopped and just continued on working.
Troy- Just regular 9 to 5, what about Breakout?
Baron: Breakout too. I worked for a minute or two with him on construction, we got into the construction business.
KK Rockwell – Oh well Breakout winded upcoming with us. He took a leave of absence from his construction job and went on tour with us.
Troy- Ok so that lasted only for one year as well? From when ya’ll broke up and went to Double Trouble? That’s when Breakout broke out as well?
KK Rockwell – Breakout went back to working construction a little bit after me and Rodney left to form Double Trouble.
Troy- So let me ask you this-what brought on Lil Ikey C and Whiz kid? Is this right in the middle or between or before Sugarhill Records?
KK Rockwell – Well I guess they figured they needed more MCs.
Troy- Was Ikey Cee running with ya’ll when they was with Sugarhill or before Sugarhill?
KK Rockwell – Well, I wasn’t with Ikey Cee and them. He was with Keith Keith and them.
Troy- I have a tape where Ikey Cee said one night, “I’m now down with the Funky Four MCs.” I don’t have a tape of him actually playing with them but he was announcing this at a Zulu Nation party back in ’81-’82, do you remember Baron?
Baron: No, I wasn’t even around then. I stopped going to parties.
Keith Keith- Whiz Kid was a fill in for Breakout and Baron because they didn’t come with us to Sugar Hill Records. Plus they was mad at us when we went to Sugar Hill because they didn’t come along with us when we went. When KK and Rod left it was just me, Sha and Jazzy Jeff. So we needed an mc and dj to fulfill the Funky Four. So first we got Wiz Kid so it could be me, Jeff and Sha and Wiz Kid would be the Funky 4. Then it wound up we wanted to make it four mc’s to fulfill the Funky Four. Lil Ikey Cee was that fourth mc that we were looking for to get on that stage. But to actually make a record no! It didn’t even last that long, but just to get on that stage we wanted that fourth person and that was how Ikey Cee filled in because at the time he wasn’t doing anything with Cosmic Force. Ikey Cee just eased in there but it worked out for a minute. and I say that he eased in there because I don’t remember exactly how he got in there.
Troy- Whiz Kid was still alive when he left ya’ll?
Keith Keith- Yes.
Troy- So he was actually down with Sugarhill Records too then?
KK Rockwell – No, he didn’t sign. Well I can’t say if he signed or not but I don’t think he did..
Troy- So now, the question is, what brought on you and Rodney C as Double Trouble?
KK Rockwell – We left cause she was doing shady business and me and Rodney was like “well, we came from the streets, ya know, back to the streets we go.” So, we started over again. We said we will take a break. We refused to go on like that and another reason is we said “Ok, Flash and them got “Freedom” out, “Freedom” is pumping hard. Let’s give her some good product that we know is going to do alright.” So we came up with That’s the Joint, ya know? Her son, Joey Robinson, who runs the business now, when he heard That’s the Joint, he was like “yo, this is it. This joint here is going to pump it’s going to make moves. I’m taking it to the radio station personally.” His father Joe Robinson heard him talking to me like that and called Joey in a room and was like “Look, don’t be telling them kids what you going to do with their record and all that, ya know.” He came back to the room and his whole expression and demeanor changed, ya know? Me and Joey was supposed to ride to the radio station together, ya know what I’m saying? We both hyped. I know I gave him some good product, he know it’s good product. We figured, let’s get this thing popping. But they got some type of hidden agenda, ya know? Some back room type stuff. So all of that made me and Rodney say, “Let’s start over again.” Ya know?
Troy- So the Double Trouble, did ya’ll ever think to go back to Breakout and Baron? Who was your DJ?
KK Rockwell – What we did was we went back to Rodney’s old DJ but he was with his old group, the Magnificent Seven. Which was DJ Stevie Steve.
Troy- So Steve was the DJ?
KK Rockwell – Right, for Double Trouble.
Troy- So how long did you guys last?
KK Rockwell – When we first left Sugarhill, we went on a hiatus for about six-seven months. And then we got together we said man, ya know, we got to start rehearsing again. And we rehearsed from winter of ’81, something like that, all the way up to ’82 when we started filming the movie. We just was rehearsing ya know, we didn’t have nowhere to play or nothing like that. We did try to throw a show or two but it wasn’t successful. But we just kept rehearsing. We just stayed ready. We didn’t know what we was getting ready for but we just stayed ready.
Troy- What was the two shows that you guys tried to do that didn’t become successful? Where were they at?
KK Rockwell – We tried to go back to the T Connection one time, matter fact on Christmas night but not too many people showed up for that show. Then we did another show-
Troy- Hold up, KK, who else was on that flyer with ya’ll during that time?
KK Rockwell: Okay, it was Double Trouble and the Electric Force. We picked up some poppers—that’s when poppers first came out. Double Trouble and the Electric Force.
Troy- And ya’ll was going to try to do the whole show by yourself?
KK Rockwell: Yeah at the T Connection.
Troy- And where was the other spot?
KK Rockwell: Claremont Center. 169th and Washington.
Troy- Okay, over there with D.J. Lightening Lance and his people.
KK Rockwell: Right. That was the first time we ever had played over there.
Troy- And during this time really starting to jump was Harlem World, you ever thought about trying to go down there?
KK Rockwell: Well, we did Harlem World, we played down in Harlem World with Breakout and Baron and the rest of the crew maybe once or twice.
Troy- I don’t have any Harlem World tapes of Funky Four.
KK Rockwell: The reason we didn’t go back to the Harlem World stuff—all of that–is because that’s where we all came from. We was doing the battles with Flash and them, The Treacherous 3 you know what I’m saying, all of the groups that was out back then. We did the Audubon contest. We have been through all that.
Troy- Right, you made your bones already.
KK Rockwell: And we didn’t feel like doing that again.
Troy- How long did it take Rodney before you and KK went overseas.
Rodney Cee- That wasn’t until 1990. We went over like April 6th and we stayed until October 1990. KK and I had to come back home because we got deported. The people at the radio station overseas got the work permits so I came back in September of 1991. See there was a group called Beats International and the leader Norman Cook was with another group called the House Martins which was a real group that had nominal success. They had a string of hits and they made a few dollars and started bugging out. Well they wanted to get out of their contract and that is where Beats International came from. It was just a host of different artist that worked with Norman Cook. Cook decided that he wanted to synchronize the stoop scene from Wildstyle to a track that he did called Don’t be Good to Me, which was a derivative or a takeoff of Just be Good to Me by SOS Band. It was a nice little pop tune that he liked and like I said earlier he synchronized the stoop scene to it and it took off all over the world. So once they realize they had a hit they had to find us to cut a deal for the publishing. So they reached out to Charlie Ahean to cut a deal with us. So the record was doing so good that they decided they wanted to do a video to the song. They wanted authentic New York City in the video. So they wanted to send an eight man camera crew to America to film Double Trouble in New York. But I guess some one in their accounting department said wouldn’t it make more sense if we flew two people to England then eight people to America. So that was how we ended up in England.
Troy- So now the video is finished but you guys got opened on England?
Rodney Cee- Well we got us a booking agent but the visa we had said we were only suppose to be there for eleven days. They didn’t give us a working permit when we came into the country so basically they snuck us in and we did the video and that was all we were supposed to do but while we were there they got a couple of shows and put us down with them to perform. When the time came for us to leave I called KK to my room and told him yo KK I’m not going back. and K was like you bugging. I was like I can show you better than I can tell you and that was because we had a top 10 single. I said we ain’t got s— going for us in America, why the f— should we go back. So I convinced him to stay and he stayed. So we got two booking agents and we were making 3000 Pounds a performance which at that point was almost 6000 American dollars.
Troy- Damn I didn’t know that.
Rodney Cee- And we were doing two and 3 shows a night.
Troy- So how much do you think you grossed in those 5 months you were there?
Rodney Cee- at least $250,000.00
Troy- How much were you able to take back to America?
Rodney Cee- I don’t remember but you have to think we were sending money home as well.
Troy- So you tried to go back to England again right?
Rodney Cee- We tried to go back but we got deported. Why we got deported was because we didn’t get any passports and we still needed to get our Visa extended. You have to leave before your time is up. Now if we would have left on the 11th day it would not have been any problem. but what we did was spend 6 months there so they was like “how did you spend six months here and not work.” So they were trying to say it was virtually impossible for us to be on vacation for 6 months so they deported us.
Troy- How long before you came back?
Rodney Cee- It took about a year for them to get the work permit so I was back the following September. KK was suppose to come back but he was caught up in the New York scene and didn’t come back over with me.
Troy- So you performed all by yourself?
Rodney Cee- Yeah I waited for K to come but he never came. So I told them the show goes on and did my own stage show and cut my own track called Girls by the Moments/Whatnots.
Troy- I love that cut.
Rodney Cee- I dug it to so I did a rap to it.
“I love to be on an island with 5 or 6 of them fine ones.
Give me one that ain’t good looking
she be the one do the best cooking.
Give me a one with lots of money
give me two with lots of honey.
Give me three that do them freaky things
give me four fat mama’s that like to swing
Girls, I love the things they know”
Rodney Cee- Then I did my own rap at the end of that. And it took off over there I made a few dollars off of it. It featured me and Peter Hummingale.
Troy- So you didn’t get any problems from the Moments over here in the states for that song?
Rodney Cee- Nah it didn’t do that big for them to recognize it.
Troy- So how much longer did you spend overseas?
Rodney Cee- I stayed from 1991 of September to like march of 93.
Troy- And where exactly where you staying over there?
Rodney Cee- I stayed in Brixton, London England.
Troy- How was that culture change for you?
Rodney Cee- It was amazing to me because they had a lot of interracial s— going on over there. So it kind of felt like paradise to me, it was Heaven. I say that because you know when you read the bible Heaven is suppose to be peaceful and everybody is suppose to get along well that was what it was like.
Troy- Good stuff Rodney. So do you guys remember the Mercedes Ladies back in the day? Did ya’ll ever play with them?
KK Rockwell: Yeah, we did.
Baron: Where’d we play at? Outside somewhere right?
KK Rockwell: Yeah, that park on 180th street somewhere? It was amazing because as you know, it was an all-girl group. They had a sound system and everything, ya know what I’m saying? The DJ was nice, the MCs was kind of nice, ya know what I’m saying?
Troy- Sherri- Sher was one of the mc’s
KK Rockwell: Right.
Troy- Uh, Eva Def?
Troy- I can’t remember these other girls names at the moment but the DJ’s were RJ Smiley and Le Spank.
KK Rockwell: Right. So, before we played with them in the park, I might have seen them once or twice somewhere because we definitely had to know of them and the park was packed that night. It was jammed pack and we said “yo, ya’ll want to come out and play with us?” and they was females, we was giving them a shot. And they was like “yeah, we’ll come out,” And we came out and we shared the park with them that night and it was packed.
Troy- What park was that, do you remember?
KK Rockwell: It was up there by Lambert somewhere–Lambert Projects. In the one 80s, somewhere that way.
Baron: Right next to them swimming pools, right? Was it that park? Or 118 Park.
KK Rockwell: One of them parks over there. But the thing is with them-that night, they held their own, they did their thing, we gave them props, gave them their respect. So I’m like, “well damn,” when they kind of faded off, I was like “what happened to them? why aren’t they still with it?” ya know what I’m saying!
KK Rockwell: I always wondered that, why didn’t they stick with it.
Troy- Were you guys involved with any of the girls?
KK Rockwell: We was real friendly with them, we was mad cool with them. I know one night we went to Crotona Pool, we called it “Night swimming” ya know we would sneak in the pool, swim and just chill’ ya know?
Troy- When Rahiem got down with Furious Five, did he ever come back to play with ya’ll from time to time just hanging’ out with ya’ll? Did ya’ll let bygones be bygones after a while or did ya’ll still hold that?
KK Rockwell: Once we got Rodney and Jeff, we didn’t think no more about it, ya know what I’m saying’?
Troy- And ya’ll even played together with Sugarhill right on the road, right?
KK Rockwell: Yeah, yeah. This is what a lot of people don’t know: When we went to Enjoy records, we signed first. Our record came out first, then Flash and them came out. They came behind us. We were considered the bigger group on Enjoy records, ya know. Matter of fact when we did a couple of dates down south and we used a band. We used Pumpkin and his crew. We used a band and Flash and them was using turntables and they was the opening act.
Troy- I gotchu. So ya’ll was always together. Always Funky and Furious.
KK Rockwell: When you ask them brothers today, because they kept going on into success, they won’t even mention us. Like we was never there.
Baron: Like we never existed.
Troy- So Baron and KK, when’s the last time the Funky Four all played together? With the two legendary DJs and their MCs.
Baron: It’s been a long time, were trying to do something soon, right?
KK Rockwell: Yeah, it’s been over, over 30 plus years.
Troy- Damn, that long?
KK Rockwell: Yeah, that long.
Troy- Do ya’ll have everything set for this reunion of all of ya’ll? Is Sha-Rock on it, you know, as far as coming all the way from Texas?
KK Rockwell: Well, August 14th is going be a Brothers Disco reunion that’s going to be the two DJ’s and the six MCs. It’s going to be the original Funky Four and the Funky Four plus One more.
Baron: Raheim’s going to be there.
Troy- Okay, that’s nice. And this going to be an outside jam or inside?
KK Rockwell: Outside.
Troy- Anybody else you know is coming like Cold Crush, Furious, Treacherous, Crash Crew or any of those other guys or so far ya’ll just working on ya’ll?
KK Rockwell: So far we just working on us but we are going to invite everybody.
Troy- Okay and you also have contemplated a record again, right?
(Baron and KK chuckle.)
KK Rockwell: Well, I don’t know about that.
Baron: I don’t know about that either.
Troy- Did you guys read Sha-Rock’s book yet?
KK Rockwell: Yes, I read it.
Troy- What’s your thoughts on it?
KK Rockwell: It was good, she really went in depth about the female perspective of the game, ya know what I’m saying. And that’s what she really wanted to focus on, as well breaking down and letting everyone understand that she is the first female rapper in the world. Hip-hop slash rapper, she is the first. No matter how many rumors you may hear, this one or that one Sha-Rock was the first.
Troy- How do you guys feel about the Dj’s of today
Breakout: I never know it was going to be this big man. I’m so serious I thought it was going to die, I would have kept doing it.
Troy- Why would you think it was going to die? I mean the love you originally had for it was real.
Breakout- I never knew there was going to be as much money in it, ya know what I mean. Look at the rappers, see their houses on TV, man I feel like crying some times. It’s like, look at this s—. I don’t want to watch this, I turn the channel.
Baron: The only DJ that probably made a whole lot of money was the Jazzy Jeff DJ.
Troy- Well what about Funk Master Flex or Flash?
Breakout- Jazzy Jeff made the most money. He doesn’t DJ any more, he’s an actor now.
Troy- You talking about homeboy from The Fresh Prince. I don’t think he acts anymore.
Breakout: But still the MC’s money was always more than the DJ’s money. MC’s money out there right now-that’s just crazy, man. Back then we was on Saturday Night Live, we got like, $600 for a minute and a half to 2 minutes. I remember Blondie and I remember I went in her dressing room and she had bunch of coke on the table. She said “Help yourself!” I was nah I am o.k no thank you.” A mountain. Her husband, was in the band.
Troy- Oh The Ramones or something like that?
Breakout: Yeah, punk rock. Just crazy. And those were the best clubs to go to man. Especially when you’re DJing. Down on White street cause the bathroom’s are unisex. It’s real freaky man. You can touch them and hold them and the girls are laughing. They thinking your joking but I’m dead serious. (We both laugh.) Those were the best clubs, man. Punk rock clubs? I’ll go to those parties anytime cause the white folks they just freaky. Dancing and touching n——. Best parties-punk rock.
Troy- So, when the last time you guys DJed together?
Baron: Did we DJ at the Enron?
Troy- How long ago was that?
Breakout: Ten years or something’
Troy- That was the last time?
Troy- So when was the last time you touched turn tables.
Breakout: I touched them serato turntables, them s— is crazy.
Baron- I do the Serato.
Breakout- So when we do Edenwald you not going to do wax?
Baron- No wax, yeah two wax vinyl records that’s it.
Breakout- Yeah I got to learn that before then.
Baron- I got all that.
Keith Keith – Yo Troy do you have that New York to San Francisco routine on one of your tapes?
Troy- Nah how does it go?
Keith Keith – You don’t know? That’s the fly joint, I say that to myself every day.
Troy- Can you say that routine right now?
Keith Keith – You a funny guy Troy. Are you ready? A cappella style.
“From New York to San Francisco
we are the Brothers Disco
the crew that has most everything
in stereo sound
our audio collection
meets up to our perfection
we are the nastiest crew
in the whole town
so come on down
and put us to the test
see who’s music really rocks the best
we will fix you up with a bass
that will fix your face
guaranteed to rock the whole damn place
from New York to San Francisco
We are the Brothers Disco
the crew that has most everything
In stereo sound
so the story is told
across the whole wide world.
(Bongo Rock comes on.)
We rock together
like a paddle and a ball
and the game we call ping pong
that’s why we are the crew
you call the brothers disco
rock so sweet
Troy- You a bad brother Keith, I love and appreciate it.
Thank you Disco Brothers Funky 4+1.
I want to thank all the participants in this interview. Breakout, Baron, Lil Rodney Cee, Keith Keith and our brother KK Rockwell.
I also want to give thanks to my good brother Sureshot La Rock for his legendary flyers from his collection.
Also like to thank a few brothers for their legendary pictures as well. Joey Conzo, Timothy Brown Sr. and Michael Markos.
Peace to the true members of www.oldschoolhiphop.com message board!
Praise God and God bless you all. Thanks for taking out the time to read about the legends, I hope you enjoyed it.
Thank you Lord for my beautiful Wife India and my two sons Shemar and Troy Jr. and my lil girl L’Oreal.
T Shirts by Darrell Imperial Green. Catch him on facebook for many T Shirts. The brothers game is tight on the shirts.