An Interview with Chill Will of the Get Fresh Crew

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Troy- I got you. Now how did that Barry Bee & Chill Will vs. Doug thing start?

Will- That was something we used to do in the house, and people don’t know it actually started the other way; Doug used to do stuff on the stage and we would mimic him. But really, we would do it in the house and Doug would follow us and that was how that started. Then we did it on stage and people went crazy, and that was when we added it into the show.

Troy- So during the groups high point how was a typical show performed?

Will- Well me and Barry would do our own set before Doug would come out. And that would mostly be to get everything warmed up and make sure everything works, as well as get ourselves warmed up. Then we would start our show and Doug would come out. The first record we would do of our songs is “Keep Rising to the Top.” We would do that first because you would go to a lot of concerts and cats would play something first that you might not really know about. You might say, “Oh, that’s a mediocre record” or “something I never heard before at all.”

We always felt you had to keep peoples interest and so you need to start with something strong enough to hold their interest at the very beginning. And if you have more than one song, then it should be easy to do. But some people still don’t do it that way. We feel like if I can’t get into your show within 15 minutes, then I am like ready to go to sleep. Or I will ask my girl, “You want something to drink or eat? …Let me get you something.” Basically, my attention is not being held.

Chill WillSo we try to hold people’s attention right from the beginning with the very first song. We also try to keep it exciting by not trying to just beat you in the head with records. We not going to try and hit you with every song we made. That’s not a show for us, for some people it is. Some people feel, “I just want to do all my songs and get off!” For us, we want to do songs, but we also want to bring you into other people’s songs. Our thing is more of a feeling. When you leave I want you to feel like, “Yo, that show was hot… I feel good!… I don’t feel like he beat me in the head with a bunch of songs, cause I could have flipped on my IPod and did that.” But I am going to give you something different. We are going to give you this, a little bit of that. We will even do one of Doug’s records off of another beat; like we will do La Di Da Di off of “Pop Champagne.”

Troy- I see.

Will- Man, we used to do La Di Da Di off of “In the Club” by 50 Cent. So we would try and take you on a journey with something new and something old and try and have something for everybody. We know that young people 13 and 14 years old know “The Show” by relationships to other people. They don’t really know it firsthand.

Chill WillTroy- Alright, let’s step back. How did that beef go down between Doug and Master Don & The Def Committee?

Will- The battle was really between Barry and Don. It wasn’t really all of them, they just got involved. What happened was Master Don said Barry stole what Don was already doing, which was suppose to be, I believe, a rhythm of a cut. Barry said he was doing it before Don. Don was like, “Nah, I made that up.” Barry said he didn’t, but Barry is not really a vocal person. Barry really doesn’t like too much confrontation, but Doug enjoys it. (Laughter) So Doug got involved and was like, “I will talk for you.”

Troy- He damn sure did when you listen to the tape of the battle.

Will- Right. So Doug said “I am going to talk for you, and you just show them what you do!” But then Don’s MC’s came and they said they didn’t know it was going to be a battle, which was a lie, because they had all this stuff prepared. They was like, “We wasn’t prepared for this!” But I was like, “But ya’ll got rhymes for this! I don’t get it.”(Will laughs)

But we all family now, but at that time the most heated person was Don. I think it was more Don vs. Barry than Doug vs. the Def Committee. They were just the vocal people to give some color to it.

Chill WillTroy- I hear you, because Pebbley Poo told me that Don really dug Doug. So it was nothing personal.

Will- For sure. But Don, I think, believed that Barry actually took something from him and that is what started it off. And nothing really came out of that battle because it wasn’t like the crowd said who won.  Everybody just kind of let it go; it didn’t escalate, you dig what I am saying? You know how some battles go on for two years and it’s still going on!

Troy- During the battle, when Gangster Gee gets on the mic, he cracks that Doug has on corduroys in the summer. Did Doug get back on and do his thing? I ask because on my tape of the battle there is no rebuttal from Doug.

Will- Doug got on, but he didn’t really say too much, He was putting more of the focus on Barry by saying Barry can do this and Barry can do that.

Troy- OK, during the early stages of your record career, do the three of you guys battle any one?

Will- No, that wasn’t really our thing. We were cool with everybody.

Troy- Ok, but did Doug and Busy Bee have any quarrel? I ask because I have a tape where Doug wants to battle Busy!

Will- Nah.

Troy- OK, did you play the night that Doug was at the Savoy Manor with the Force MCs and the Crash Crew?

Will- The Savoy Manor was me and Doug’s very first show together. Not something like at an outside jam where we would shoot from the hip, this was something where we were at home practicing and we had a format, a plan… And it was one of my worst nights ever. And I say that because I messed up from the jump. And that was because I wasn’t used to being structured like that. The first record I played jumped and skipped; it was just a rough night.

Then later the shootout happened and everybody started running. We were in the back trying to get out the door in the back, but the doors were locked. And then one of our friends, Lay Low, got shot. And no one knew he got shot because he got shot under his arm, right in the arm pit. We never seen blood, so being as he was diabetic people thought he was having a seizure or whatever, But come to find out he had got shot and he passed away that night.

Just before he got shot, the Crash Crew were on stage performing and when the shots rang out they dropped their mics and took off. Crazy thing about it, I was the one that was making the tape. I was talking just before it happened. So as soon as it happened I was trying to snatch my tape and get up out of there! I had to leave the tape in there and come back and get it. Really I wasn’t concerned about the tape as much as I was concerned about my tape deck, because I bought my own deck. I was like this is our first night performing, I definitely want to have this on tape.

Troy- Ain’t that something. And that’s your tape of all that which has now been around the world and back.

Will- (Will laughs) Yes that’s my tape. I made that!

Chill WillTroy- Now how or why did Doug feel it was necessary to put Slick Rick on board?

Chill WillWill- Well me, Doug, and Tito of the Fearless Four went to the Cadet Center in the Bronx. And it was a rap contest and we were special guests. We went to hang out, we weren’t in the contest. And that was the first time we saw Rick, and he won the contest. That night him and Doug connected and they started talking. And Doug said, “You should come uptown one day and let’s hook up and maybe we can put something together.” Because Doug was like, “Yo, that cat got something. That’s going to be something right there!” Rick was like “Alright,” and they came to my house.

I had a little drum machine up there that was actually Tito’s drum machine… Like I told you from the beginning stages, we were borrowing from everybody. (Will chuckles) We had turntables from homeboy next door. The only thing I owned was a mixer. Ted, the guy that bought us the equipment earlier, did a party so he came and got the equipment and now him and his cousins are starting to do a lot of parties. So we never actually got the equipment back. So we went back to our old hustling days of I got to get a turntable from here, and mixer, etc…

So my house was full of rented stuff. But Slick Rick came through and we played a beat up in my house. It was a bunch of us up there along with Tito and just local homeboys.

Troy – Like Damon (Doug’s cousin) and James? (Doug’s close friend from childhood)?

Will- You’s a funny brother, because James was the one that named me Chill Will. I used to be mad quite. So James one day was like, “Will be chillin. He always chillin! I’m going to call you Chill Will.” From there it just stuck.

…Back to your man Rick. Rick actually said “La Di Da Di” for us for the first time. Yo, we was dying! He did like half of the routine and we was like “Yo, we got to record this. We got to put this on record!” This was about 1984 when this went down; “The Show” came out the summer of 1985. We got to know Rick for almost a year before “The Show” came out. Then he did, I think, “Indian Girl”, and we was like “Yo, this guy is sick, we really need to lay something down with him.”

Chill WillSo we started putting stuff together and then we went to Teddy Riley’s house. Doug and Rick is sitting there making up the beat. Mostly Doug was putting the track together. Teddy Riley played the Inspector Gadget part and all that stuff. So we putting all that together and Doug is liking the beat so much with the Inspector Gadget beat going in and out that he put it on a tape for the entire side of the tape. Like a 60 minute tape, and 30 minutes of that whole side had just that track.

So we were still making tapes and selling to people and trying to get money together to go into the studio to do this. We would do shows, but we weren’t really making any money from it. We might pull down 200 or 250 dollars something like that from these shows. We tried to take all that money and go into the studio to make “The Show,” but we couldn’t get the machine from Teddy Riley’s house because he wasn’t there. We actually had the studio time set up, and we couldn’t get the machine, so we used another machine.

So now we have another version of the show that was horrible. (Will laughs) We was like, “Yo, we got to get the other one, because this isn’t working.” It doesn’t sound the same, nor does it have the same feeling. And we got tapes of that, and it’s horrible.

So we did get the machine back later on, and we did the beat and laid it down. We tried to get Teddy Riley to come in and play, but he couldn’t make it. So our manager, who was Dennis Bell at the time, ended up playing the keyboard parts on it.

Troy- How did Dennis Bell get on with you guys?

Will- Doug actually met him at some event he was at and Dennis was talking to him trying to tell him how we could make this stuff happen and move us forward. Dennis had a lot of stuff that we didn’t know about, where he could take us to the next level. And he could do this and do that. In fact, Dennis Bell was the music teacher up at Truman High School in the Bronx. He also put some money into this thing we was trying to do, and that’s when we felt he was real about it.

Troy- So Doug was the one that thought up the salt shaker sound effect on “The Show”?

Will- That was Doug and Rick who was doing the shaking of the salt shakers.

Troy- So now on the final product, Teddy Riley really had nothing to do with it, just helped out in the beginning?

Will- He actually gave us a place to do it, and he played the stuff in the house, but on the actual product Ted didn’t play anything. Ted didn’t even come to the studio, and we tried to get him to come, but he was busy. And we didn’t have the privilege to say, “Well since you can’t come, we will schedule it another day.” We didn’t have money like that at the time. Cause if we cancel the session, they are going to charge us anyway.

Troy- So now once you guys put it down on wax, and you heard it for the first time, how did you feel about the record?

Will- We thought it was hot from day one, but not for what it did. I didn’t expect that. We thought the record was good, and we thought at the least it would get us on.

Troy- So when did you get that thought, “Oh man, this is getting bigger than I thought!”

Will- When I started working… Listen, I only had two jobs in my life other than what I do now, and I have worked a total of about a week between the two jobs. I worked in Madison Square Garden as a vender for two days, and after that second day I said this is not for me, I really can’t do this. Then I started a construction job and I worked there for like five days, and like the fourth day there I heard the record on the radio!

We listening to the radio and I am telling the other construction workers, “Let’s just keep on working. And this could be big,” because I heard the record like four more times on the radio that day. It got so much play that after only working like five days (More laughing)… which I am still on a leave of absence from. (Both start laughing)

Troy- I was just thinking that. So listen, the record is now following you home? …Soon as you come out the train station, until you go to sleep at night, the record is played everywhere in Harlem!

Chill WillWill- “La Di Da Di” and “The Show” are being played crazy. If I don’t hear one, I hear the other. I heard “La Di Da Di” more in people’s cars than I did on the radio. But then we made a radio edit, and then they started running “La Di Da Di” on the radio, because back then there wasn’t really any radio edit. Back then they wasn’t really beeping out or fading out. If you didn’t have a radio edit, they just wouldn’t play it. But the record just got completely out of control. We started doing shows back to back. We would play The Fever, then the next day we would be at the Fun House,  then the next day we at The Red Parrot. It was like we were on tour in New York!   It was crazy.

Go to Part 4

Author: Troy Smith

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  1. These guys came to my elementary school and performed for us kids in the auditorium . It was right when all the way to heaven came out and they were large . They rocked the spot on the school PA that they would use for assemblies, it was unbelievable for us. P.S 95 on Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. Doug was doing all his beat boxing tricks on this hurtin mic but it was pandemonium . These guys were stars and they’re doin this for free for kids that are graduating .

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