An Interview with Lightning Lance
Troy – They beat the Cold Crush?
Lance – Well they beat everybody, and to be honest, Crash Crew just did their record.
Troy – Alright, I am going to move on to your record. How did Live Convention 81 come about?
Lance – My cousin Sharon, who is Lil Sha – aka – Lil Sha Rock, she met a guy named Johnny Soul who owned a record store. He wanted to do a track, so he asked her was she part of a group or a solo artist. At that time, I believe I had just started djing with the Hypnotizing…. so Lil Sha comes to me and says she met this guy that wanted to do this record with her, but she didn’t want to do it by herself, she wanted to do it with a group. So she asked me about Hypnotizing, and I said I don’t know because I didn’t know if the guys wanted a female in the group. So I said, “I will talk to them about it.” When I spoke to them about it they said “No!” But I told them you don’t know where this record might take them. So they thought about it and said, “F— it, what the hell!”
Troy – So Lil Sha choose Hypnotizing instead of Super Sonic?
Lance – Well Hypnotizing and Lil Sha had history together because, along with Sharon and Clyde, the whole Hypnotizing went to Truman High School. So she knew them.
Troy – Wasn’t Super Sonic making a name for themselves up in the Ecstasy Garage?
Lance – Yes at the Garage, but Kev and Dynamite of Hypnotizing were making a name for themselves over here in the Soundview section.
Sharon told me about Johnny Soul and she knew about the Hypnotizing 5 and the word was they were nice, and she wanted me to be down with the project also. So I said I will talk to them and see if I can change their mind.
Then one day Mr. Soul called the house and we spoke to him. He said come over to his store in Harlem. So I said let me take my turntable and mixer with me and see how this works out. So me and the whole crew met him over at the record shop on 125th Street.
Mr. Johnny Soul, he was maybe in his late 30’s – early 40’s, was a dark skin gentleman, medium built, and close to your height Troy (6’4″). He seemed like a nice slick talking guy with a gold tooth. (Lance laughs)
From there we all went to this studio in downtown Manhattan, somewhere on 8th Avenue. The studio wasn’t big, but it had a 16 track. Back then to make a song you didn’t need a 16 track, but there was some advanced stuff in there. When we got there, there wasn’t any music made up. In other words, there was no track to do it to. There was no band there, but there were about two engineers there.
Troy – Well how did you guys pick Taana Gardner’s “Heart Beat”?
Lance – It might have been just coming out, or I might have gotten it before it was blowing up on the radio. I say that because I was getting records from record pools. Plus, I was rocking with the Thomas twins, who I told you about earlier, and they were getting records from Bam.
Troy – How did you get the name Lightning Lance?
Lance – I am not 100 percent sure, but I think Bam named me that.
Troy – So you and Bam were pretty cool?
Lance – Yeah, Bam used to come around Lafayette a lot back then.
Troy – So back to Tanya Gardner. She didn’t try and come at you guys for using her record?
Lance – No, and thank God because we never made any money off of that.
Troy – So he didn’t give you guys an advance?
Lance – No! We were so young back then that we didn’t even think about a contract back then. We got some money, but I don’t remember how much it was.
Troy – How long did it take for you guys to get the record together in the studio?
Lance – It didn’t take us too much time to prepare. It was our first time in the studio, so it took a little time for us to get it together. It took my cousin Sharon a little bit more time to get her parts together because she was new to the group.
Troy – Did you guys ever tour with this record?
Lance – No. We did a few shows together, but not based on the record. The emcees might have said rhymes from the record, but they would do their rhymes to other records. They did the routines off of say “Mardi Gras” or something.
Troy – What was the deal with the metal sticks that I hear tapping in the record?
Lance – Well we were in the studio for awhile trying to get it together when Johnny Soul said he wanted to make this energized like a party or a club track with crowd participation and all that going on. After awhile, we did the track over and Mr. Soul gave emcees Domain and Divine those metal sticks that you hear in the record… and Mr. Soul said clack them together on a certain down beat, and that was how that went down. That idea came while we were in there putting it all together.
Troy – So you guys had already recorded the piece, then he recorded it again to overdub that metal tapping sound?
Lance – Yes, but when I was scratching, they were doing their lyrics live.
It took about 4 or 5 hours to put the whole thing together. It’s a long song that was chopped up [and mixed up] into two parts on the record when it was issued. The first part should have been the latter part, and the second part of the record is supposed to be the beginning of the record. But that was how he choose to do it.
Troy – Now onto this “Who was the first to scratch on wax situation?” You went first, but who went second, and are people trying to say you wasn’t that first person?
Lance – The next person would probably be Flash and his record “The Adventures of Flash.”
I guess what it is is sometimes people confuse it with [who is] the inventor of scratch (Theodore), as if I was the first to do the art of scratching. The first to do scratching is like saying you are the inventor. So when you say that you are the first to put scratching on a studio record, then people take a step back and analyze it and say that is a little different though. Sometimes people say, “So what you was the first to put it on a record! … You are not the inventor of scratching.” So they might overlook it, but it is what it is.
Troy – Ok., in terms of the record, who are all the people involved? Please include side B which appears to be from a live tape.
Lance – Well on the first side, that we had, the members of the Hypnotizing were Dynamite D, Prince Domain, Divine, Little Sha Rock and myself. We took up the first side.
Now the scratching you hear [on side 2] is from Flash. This is from a live show, but from a tape. And it might have been before I did my scratching on the record, but his is from a tape.
Troy – When you guys finished making the record how long did it take before it hit the streets? Maybe a month?
Lance – Not even. It could have taken a couple of days. We had this s— planned, yo! (Lance is laughing)
Troy – When Live Convention 81 came out, side B had Flash and other performers from a live tape included on the record. How did you and the Hypnotizing feel about this? Did Johnny Soul tell you this in advance?
Lance – No, he did not tell us anything about other people being on side B! At that time I felt it was kind of wrong, it wasn’t like it was ours. We wanted our own single, we didn’t want any compilation. But that was how it was back then.
Troy – So how did he respond to you and the crew after you asked him about that?
Lance – Well he was talking like there was going to be a second record.
Troy – So when you asked him about why he had these other guys on side 2, he just kind of scratched his head and walked away?
Lance – (Lance laughs) Something like that.
Troy – So who else was on side B?
Lance – Flash, Melle Mel, I believe Smiley is on there. I hear Chief Rocker Busy Bee, KG from the Cold Crush, Sha Rock. I don’t know if it is Break Out or Baron mixing. I think AJ is on there too.
Troy – Did any of these people on side B say anything to you about the record? Like, “Why did Johnny Soul do that, why didn’t he ask us?” Or, “Where is he at so I can get some money out of him?” Did anybody say anything?
Lance – No, but I believe Flash and Melle Mel’s manager had problems with Johnny Soul. I believe Bobby Robinson was the one that had a problem with it because Flash and Mel were signed to Enjoy at the time.
Troy – What about Ray Chandler who was also involved with Flash and them at the time?
Lance – I don’t know, I can’t quote anything. It could have been, I know Ray Chandler personally, but he never told me. But with Bobby Robinson, allegedly he came over to Johnny Soul’s record shop with some dudes and told him stop issuing the record!
Troy – Hold up, Bobby Robinson went to another record dealer with some tough guys and told him to stop selling the record?
Lance – (Lance laughs) Yeah, that was what I heard.
Troy – Alright, now Johnny Soul didn’t give you or the other group members a kernel of money after he gave you guys this one shot deal?
Lance – Exactly. I do remember signing some consent forms. It was something we signed, but I can’t remember exactly.
Troy – On the cover of your record who is that guy supposed to be?
Lance – That is an animated cartoon of Johnny Soul with the record in his hand. On the back it is advertised with “The Chief Rockers and DJ Wheels of Steel, and Cut Creators and Number One Rappers, Hottest Rappers. “
Troy – But it doesn’t have any of your names on it?
Lance – No it doesn’t, but on the label of the record, which is Disco Wax, it says “Different Strokes for Different Folks- Lil Sha Rapp and The Hypnotizing 3.”
I was disappointed about that. I felt like I did all this work for nothing. My name is not on there! But he kept saying there is going to be some more projects. That gave us the initiative to start doing more parties. We started doing more centers and talent shows. We even got up in the T! (T- Connection.)
Troy – Were people giving you the bookings because of the record or because you guys were now out doing more parties because you were now hungry for it?
Lance – People gave us the bookings on the strength of the record.
Troy – Today do any of you guys get royalties for the record?
Lance – No! We don’t get anything.
Troy – Not even Lil Sha Rock since her name is on it?
Lance – No!
Troy – How have you guys dealt with this situation?
Lance – I have tried to look into it. I was trying to get some cake, but one of the lawyers said it might not be worth pursuing. And he said that because of the fraction of the record I used was already made. It was prerecorded -meaning I used somebody else’s record.
Troy – Referring to Taana Gardner?
Lance – Right. Plus none of us have the contract that we signed. Also the record has been rereleased on a different label now. So we was like we don’t know what deal went down with Johnny Soul, being as we didn’t have any contact with him after awhile…I don’t even know if he is still alive.
But I am pretty sure that record sold a lot of copies. That record has been on a lot of turntables and in a few magazines. It still sells today. In fact, a couple of times cats wanted to give me $200 right on the spot for my record.
Troy – It is considered a collector’s item.
Lance – See what I am saying? That’s some classic s— there. And the thing about it is somebody came to me and told me “Yo, nobody was doing scratching back then on records. You were the first.” Then I thought about it and I said, “You are right!” And when I first did it, I didn’t think about, “Yeah I am going to be the first to scratch on wax.” I just did it because Johnny Soul told me to bring the turntables…. And when we got there, there wasn’t any music! So I was like we have to make our own music. Then after the fact, I was like damn this record could have came out better. It should have been better…it should have been this…it should have been that!
Troy – Did you ever go to Tuff City and talk to them about the whole situation now that they are distributing Live Convention 81?
Lance – Yes we did. Cool Clyde called them because they had The Treacherous 3’s name in our track. As if we were the Treacherous 3! I was like how in the hell they are going to think that? Treacherous 3 don’t have any girl down or no Lightning Lance down as a dj. It says who we are right on the track.
Clyde called them and told them that they need to change that. If I knew back then what I know now, it would have turned out different.
Troy – So how did you guys react when Johnny Soul came out with the next album, Live Convention 82, and it had nothing to do with you guys and was just a live tape put on vinyl?
Lance – He was still saying something was coming even after that record came out! Then we heard he was doing a record for Theodore and The Fantastic 5.
Troy – Right, “Fresh out The Pack.”
Lance – Ours was before Fantastic. So we were like, ok, this guy is putting out people. So we really thought we were going to have another joint. We stayed in contact with him. Then one day after about a year after we finished the project with him, we lost contact with him.
Troy – So how did you guys lose contact with him if his store was still on 125th Street in Harlem?
Lance – Many times we went down to the store and he wouldn’t be there! Somebody else would be running the store. I don’t know, but he might have been in some financial trouble.
Troy – I ask you that because Dotta Rock and Theodore once told me they had a tour bus when they came out with “Fresh out The Pack” with Johnny Soul.
Lance – They did? (Sounding surprised) Ok, their joint made some noise too. I was listening to their record the other day…my man dj Spinback was playing that. But like I said, if we knew what we know now back then, it would have been different. But then again, at the end of the day, history was made. Who’s to say we didn’t make an opportunity out of that? And the thing is, if I say “The first to scratch on wax,” then somebody might say, “Well these guys must have been out there way back then.”
Troy – So now when this issue came about, of you being the first to scratch on wax, a lot of people looked the other way about it. How did you feel about that?
See, by me talking to you about this record, I have a better understanding of it all now. Before you informed me of this info, I thought the whole record was done from live cassette tapes of parties. Especially since the next record Live Convention 82 is done from a live tape, and not to mention side B of your own record with Flash and them is from live tapes as well.
All I could do is just ask them well who is the first to scratch on wax then? Who was! But mostly they might get it screwed up as if I am saying I am the inventor of scratching, which I am not. But mostly it’s like if we are getting any type of shine or notoriety, why is it all of a sudden! But I say to myself – everybody gets their time.
The only people I can probably say have animosity towards it is cats that have been there when you was there. They know that you have been there doing stuff before them, with them, and you are still doing it. And now it’s like you’re getting some type of notoriety all of a sudden and it’s a problem. But it shouldn’t be a problem, because everybody gets their time.
Even back then we were getting our shine. Man we rocked the convention at the Audubon, killed the Ecstasy, 100 Park, etcetera. We were strong up in Lafayette projects. It was a new crew and lots of us djs and we was backed up by Bambaataa. It was me, my cousin Cool Clyde, The Amazing Twins, Ricky Dee from Monroe, Lil Sha Rock, Dynamite D from Hypnotizing, Sluman, etcetera. Sluman was nice on the mic.
Troy – Why did he name himself Sluman?
Lance – I don’t know, but that boy was nice and he talked like a preacher. Homeboy was definitely nice. Back then he had a style of his own and he didn’t bite other people’s rhymes. You know how you listen to other emcees and they sound good and they are flowing, but you know they took somebody’s rhyme? Well Sluman never had to do that, he was that nice with his.
Troy – So how did that piece about you and your record get into the Source magazine?
Lance – Through K Born of the Classical 2 who made the hit “Raps New Generation.” It was really to prop up what we do up in Rosedale every summer for Disco King Mario,
which Queen Anita originally started.
And basically it is to honor Mario, but also preserve hip hop, because it does have a black eye at times.
So our thing is to bring out all age groups, as well as all ethnicities. Put them all under one umbrella, and once we get them with the music, we pass off as much positive information as we can. And to be honest we got down because of two reasons: One – Anita wanted us to be part of it. Two – before we got down with her, we were doing our own promoting with a non-profit organization called United We Stand Entertainment.
See the duties of these events is you have to have some type of organization or belong to an organization, and through that be affiliated with elected officials. Because in certain areas of the Bronx, you can’t just bring your music out anymore. It’s really rough now. We really had to fight for ours and go through many channels and avenues. We’re still fighting today. Every second Sunday in August we do a big event in Burke Park here in the Bronx and sometimes there is an after party. Then the following weekend we would do an event with Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. This event was big too and it would be two blocks down between Watson and Morrison. That was like a street fair. The crowd got so big they didn’t want us in the park any longer, so we had to take it to the street.
Troy – So it’s just you and your cousin doing these big events?
Lance – Me and my cousin, as well as another partner, Shawn Web. Shawn Web is a woman and she is the CAO. She keeps track of all the books and contacts. She has been down for about four years. We are also trying to get a hip hop museum location.
Troy – Where would you guys try and have it at?
Lance – They’re talking about over by Yankee Stadium, on 161st Street, over by the stadium, or the old court house.
Troy – I always thought that would be by a great tourist attraction, if not in the Bronx, then in Harlem, but nowhere else but those two places.
Lance – Well to have it up in the Soundview area would have been kind of slick too.
Troy – Well I think that would be too far over in the Bronx to really attract people. But long as we get it, I am happy. Peace my brother. Thank you.
Lance – Thank you.
I want to thank the Lord God Jesus Almighty for my two sons, Shemar and Troy Jr, my beautiful wife India, and our baby on the way.
Praise God and God bless you all.
Thank you John G and the message board at www.oldschoolhiphop.com