An Interview with The Disco Twins of Queens
Troy- He doesn’t say. I thought you guys might have known about this record. I guess one day I will bump into Kool Keith to find out the story behind this record.
Robert- I don’t know anything about that unless maybe he was down with Bambaataa.
Troy- So you guys battled Bam back in the days?
Reggie- Nah he did some shows for us. We use to hire him and Red Alert to do shows for us.
Robert- Didn’t we do something up in the Bronx in one of those parks with Herc?
Reggie- We could have, but I don’t remember ever battling Kool Herc.
Troy- So how did you guys feel about that sound in the Bronx and Harlem once you guys found out about it?
Robert- What do you mean the sound?
Troy- Those routines, Flash and The Furious 5, Cold Crush, Treacherous 3, Crash Crew, all those records they were making as well as their style and swagger!
Robert- We loved it. We use to hire them when we were promoting some of our venues. We bought Cold Crush into Queens first. We bought Flash to the Travelers Hotel. We bought Bam and the Treacherous 3 to Queens; we bought The Crash Crew to Long Island. We bought the Funky 4 to Reese Center, as well as D.J. Hollywood. We did a lot of parties. We welcomed those guys.
Troy- Who did you have the best relationship with out of all those players?
Robert- I think the Cold Crush.
Reggie- Yeah and Bambaataa too. He used to come to our house. We did the Soul Sonic Force at the roller skating rink in Lefrack City. In fact me, Jazzy Jay and Red Alert remained friends to this very day.
Troy- How did you guys get so cool with D.J. M.C. Les Love the owner of Harlem Lanes?
Robert- We either met him through Winston Sanders or Sparky Martin. I believe we did Super Star 33, also a club called Ray Sharay. He was real cool his style was similar to a Eddie Cheba or Reggie Wells. Real smooth brother. I think I met him in Nell Gwen’s over by 42nd street.
Troy- So who did the security back then for you guys, The 7 Crowns, 5 Percent Nation or the people from Astoria Projects?
Reggie- We was dealt with these guys name Larry and Thomas and another guy name Beast a couple of times. I believe Beast later went on to do security for Wyclef. But we have used Beast, Thomas, Charles and some other karate cats that we were dealing with. We also had this big huge cat name Walter. We always had big huge dudes when we were doing things.
Troy- What about when you were doing outside jams in Astoria?
Robert- We really didn’t have any security because we never really had any problems when we played outside. Back then the only fights were with the fists oppose to today where the fights are not the same guns are involved now. Back then it wasn’t as serious.
Troy- What about the stick up kids? In the Bronx and Harlem there were many dudes robbing people at the party inside the bathrooms and along the train stations. People were getting their equipment taken from them right in the middle of a jam. How did you guys deal with that type of thuggery, did you guys have to ever use your karate on any one?
Robert- No but we did bring a machine gun one time. We had a friend that we knew that owned a Thompson machine gun. We played at the T- Connection for the first time and we had heard so much about somebody might rip us off up there. See we heard from a source that someone said we better not come to the Bronx or they are going to rip us off.
Troy- Who said this.
Reggie- The word was getting around if we come to the Bronx we are going to get robbed and I am not going to front we were nervous until we got in there. But that was why we bought the Tommie gun because we were hearing a lot of stuff. So when we got there we had one of the brothers running with us shooting the machine gun up in the air. To be honest we were just happy to get out of their alive.
Troy- Can you describe it?
Reggie- Well it had a 45 clip that was like a half moon.
Troy- That’s like the old machine guns from the 30’s that Al Capone and his henchmen used, ya’ll some funny brothers.
Robert- Absolutely we borrowed it from a friend of ours, he had it hidden in his ceiling and we just said we need that. (Troy and the brothers start laughing.) He took it out the ceiling and we took it with us. We were scared as hell because we didn’t know what was going on. Matter fact that night it was a guy name Star Ski that we were cool with that was holding the gun for us and and a guy name Billy was with us too. Reg you remember that?
Reggie- I remember.
Troy- So at the end of the night there were no problems?
Robert- No in fact when the night was over we called the police so they could escort us out of there because we really thought they were going to jump us.
Troy- Was there any other time you played The Bronx or Harlem?
Robert- We played the State Building on 125th street.
Harlem State Office Building 125th Street 7th Avenue before the grounds were remodeled
Robert- We also played the Audubon. D.J. A.J. and The Funky Four were there with us. This was the early 80’s.
Troy- So your main spots in Queens were Astoria Projects, I.S. 8 and Fantasia?
Robert- Well Riis Center, 8th Street and we would intertwine with the Hotel Diplomat. As well as Shalay, The Fog House and USA.
Troy- Did you ever play Madison Square Garden?
Robert- No we didn’t do that. Name some other places Reg
Reggie- We did the Savoy Manor.
Troy- That’s up in the Bronx.
Reggie Yeah we did that, we did that a few times.
Troy- You also use to advertise on The Supreme Team Show on WHBI?
Robert- Yes and we also did one with Jerry Blood Rock at that same station. We did a lot of stuff for him as well as Mr. Magic. The Supreme Team Show interviewed us also.
Troy- So how did you guys get up with Marley Marl?
Reggie- Marley Marl use to come to our parties to see what we were doing and he admired our sound system and a lot of things we were doing at that time. We knew that he was a d.j. in Queens Bridge. This was before he was producing anything, he was a local d.j. in the area and we had gotten wind of it and every time he would come around we knew that we had to impress and we let him know that we were there. Whenever he would come by we would turn up the volume to make him recognize. He never knew that we were getting down like that, but we did it on purpose.
Troy- So why did ya’ll treat him like that, he had not made a record yet?
Robert- No he didn’t make a record yet but it was a d.j. thing.
Reggie- I guess it was more territorial.
Reggie- You know how some cats spray their mist where ever they go.
Troy- So Marley Marls name started getting up there fast? Did he have really good d.j.ing skills.
Robert- I don’t know I never really seen him d.j. at that time. We heard about him and you have to remember he was working with Mr. Magic at WHBI. He was the d.j. over there. He hadn’t made any records yet when we were doing our thing.
Troy- What inspired the girl group The Fat Girls?
Robert- The Fat Boys, we just felt let’s try the Fat Girls and one morning after putting them together we got them on the Morning Show with Regis and Kathy Lee and we surprised the Fat Boys with the Fat Girls and they did not like that.
(Troy Laughs and then the brothers laugh.)
The Fat Boys and The Fat Girls
Robert- The Fat Boys were watching and Reggie is right they didn’t like that. Regis said I got a surprise for you and he walked out with the Fat Girls and they almost chocked. I wish I could find that tape.
Troy- So did the Fat Boys ever respond to you and your brother about them?
Robert- No because we had already developed a relationship with Buffy and Kool Rock Ski. Buffy more because I use to go and see him.
Troy- So they never spoke on it, you just seen a look on their face?
Reggie- Absolutely because when they were on the stage their reaction was not good. I wish I could get a copy of that. Do you think they archive stuff like that?
Troy- Yes they should, in fact they should have recorded every last one of their shows over the years.
Robert- I would like to see that but we also did a PSL on Channel four with The Fat Girls and Mele Mel. It was a commercial about Crack, saying Don’t do it. We were rapping a little and they were rapping. I would like to get that.
Reggie- We did a couple with Jeff Harris too but I really want to see the one we did with the Furious 5.
Troy- So did that help the Fat Girls as far as getting them a record deal?
Robert- Yeah it got them on Spring Records with the Rifkin’s, B. Rifkins and Julian Rifkin. They were on the same level with Ice Tee. So they had the deal and Patrick Adams was the one that did the session and the record for us.
Troy- So now the record Do the Wop and Get Back, There It Is by you and your brother?
Robert- That was at Profile Records and we did it at 1212 Studio in Queens.
Troy- With Paul C?
Reggie- Wow you remember Paul C?
Robert- Good brother Paul Cee-
Troy- So how did that record go down the Power House joint Don’t Sleep on Us. One half of the record is Soul and R&B the other half Rap?
Robert- It was a compilation.
Reggie- How did you know that?
Troy- Just putting in work trying to get as much history about the two of you. I have to give props to the website known as www.oldschoolhiphop.com message board because they have contributed to some of these questions I am asking you.
Troy- So how did that work out for you guys?
Robert- Go on Reggie you elaborate on it.
Reggie- We basically did that independent and we got everyone together and then we distributed our selves. We sold everything that was out but we didn’t follow up by printing more records and continuing to distribute. It was kind of difficult back then because we were going to the stores ourselves. We went to stores in Brooklyn and Queens and leaving it on consignment. So we were pushing it ourselves, I believe if we would have stayed in the game who knows where we would have been because we learned a lot at that particular time.
Troy- So what are you guys doing today and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?
Robert- Well we are dipping and dabbing in the real estate business, we are also doing some production here and there, some independence stuff, some mixing, recording and producing.
Troy- Yeah I seen quite a few guys you have been working with, are you ready to go full time with this?
Reggie- Yes because that is one of my loves and we are doing our parties again as well we have been enjoying some of the documentaries that is getting ready to come out. We are in 2 documentaries about to come out. We would like to do our own somewhat like the untold story but a forgotten one. So we are going to do something like that in time.
Troy- So what are the two videos you guys are on right now?
Reggie- One is with Hassan and Ron Lawrence and they talk about Queens and Brooklyn D.J.s, the sound system and that is a very good one. And another two cats name D.J. Swan and Barshon Gibbs and they are from Queens Bridge doing a docu called Lost Tribe. They interviewed us and there are supposed to be some other people in there from Queens Bridge because a lot of things came out of there. Like some of the people that didn’t get the recognition or notoriety as well as ourselves. I guess the difference between now and then is we never had a hit record out. So were trying to change that a little because it would be nice if some one starts to recognize not just Kool Herc because Kool herc got the accolades when he was in the Bronx. But him and Hollywood didn’t have any records either but they got their props on the hip hop honors and I think it’s about time that they need to recognize some of the cats that have not made records. I think they need to let us tell our story because we all have a good story to tell.
Reggie- Russell Simmons will tell you himself when the records weren’t out he was doing parties just like we were, It was no records out at that time. There is a story before the record and it has to be told. I don’t think it’s fair that you have Hollywood and Herc in there and no one from Queens or Brooklyn.
Troy- I hear you but I am sure they are working on it. So what is your position on this video or documentary that says Queens and Brooklyn started hip hop?
Robert- Well I know that when the music was happening it was really disco but it evolved. I can’t say the Bronx started it and I can’t say Queens started, but I know that at that time it was disco music, it wasn’t no hip-hop! So we have our own version and definition on what was going on in Queens and Brooklyn. We were more known for sound systems and having the best sound systems in Queens and Brooklyn. I can’t tell you about anybody in the Bronx that had a big sound system and that is no disrespect.
Troy- Well the big sound systems from the Bronx would be Breakout and Baron of the Funky Four and that would be that same type of equipment that you guys were talking about, as well as Kool Herc owning a hell of a sound system. There are other crews that had big systems but these two crews were talked about by many.
Reggie- Are their pictures of any of the crews large sound systems?
Troy- I will try and find some and send them to you but I don’t think the Funky Four have any but there are legendary stories all through the Bronx and Harlem about these booming speakers and powerful amps. A couple of months ago I got the chance to interview Baron and Breakout and we went through their whole system and they too felt like you and your brother felt, they wanted the best for that clear sound.
DJ Barons “The Mighty Sasquatch Part 2”
Robert- See the only equipment people had at that time prior to Richard Long were Vega’s and B 36’s that are also Vega’s and Crazy Eddie bought those out. Crazy Eddie started selling the B 36’s and Vega’s and everybody started buying them. But we wanted to be different so we went somewhere else and got something different.
Reggie- We got those B 36’s in I think 1976. After that everyone was using the B 36’s. Even the Infinity Machine and up to this day their maybe a mobile d.j. that uses the Berthas now. Today a lot of cats are just mimicking and I am not mad at them. But see like I said earlier we knew Richard Long personally and I can say back in those days I don’t know anybody with a Richard Long sound system. Only Richard Long was making big sound systems back then.
Robert- In fact there was this guy that bought all those Richard Long systems out of all the clubs Richard Long had set up and I don’t know the guys name but he now controls the patent design. So now you can get it from only one person and if you get them from someone else they are basically mimicking it.
Reggie- So I would like to see those pictures of guys from the Bronx sound systems. I seen one of those videos with Herc driving around in a car and he had two shore columns. I don’t know if that was his system but that was the only thing I saw.
Troy- Thank you Fellas.
I would like to thank The Disco Twins for their great pictures and flyers. Also like to thank Denise-djladylove Briggs for her flyer and D.J. Baron for his photo.
Also like to thank the www.oldschoolhiphop.com message board for its contribution to this interview.
When I am abroad I don’t tell them I am from New York! I tell them I am from Harlem, the Grant Projects.
Peace Troy L. Smith.