Wednesday, July 28, 2010

..D&D Studios Part Four..Yikes!..

..One of the best things about being in the industry or any creative forum,is being there when something great happens.I guess it would be the closest thing to seeing a child being born,minus the yelling and screaming.To say you were there when it happened,at the beginning of it,you can't beat that.Being at D&D in the greatest era of Hip Hop,I have had the privilege of "being there" on many occasions. I cant really recall the exact time of year we started but it was around the time that they had their lil deal with Pay Day Records.It was then I was put into the whole Roc A Fella Records mix.The epitome of do it yourself,these cats were really bout their hustle.I mean they had every door shut in their faces.Not a lot of folks at the labels were messing with em,and if they were, they giving em low ball money.The streets loved em though and that's all you really needed back then.Street love equaled big money interest..eventually.Now this was before Beans,Freeway,Kanye and all that.It was just Jay heading the bill with Memph in the wings awaiting his turn,soaking up everything.The dynamic was simple..Jay did the music...Dame and Biggs did the business.More than often as most would find to be true,Dame was the one who did most of the business dealings and handling the day to day,cause Jay needed to focus on the music.Jay would have his say of course,as did Biggs,but Dame was the one who had to carry out the missions most times.Cause that was his thing!

..Don't get it twisted,they did have tough times in the beginning.It wasn't always peaches and cream.I remember getting paid for sessions in singles and fives,maybe a ten or a twenty will show up,but yall get the idea.One time in particular will always stick out. Dame came to me when he was ready to pay with his Dame Dash shit on full tilt,as usual .."Yo Did-Ex..my nigga..how much we owe?"..me.."$2,500"..him.."Aight hold up"..Now Dame was good for wearing sweats all the time, unless he had to carry money, back then.Depending on the amount it was either cargoes or fatigues, cause all the loot was loose bills.Today it was cargoes.He's reaching into every possible pocket pulling out money and putting on top the piano in the "A" room vocal booth.Now there's a pile of money sitting in front of me, he points at me and says.."It's all there..Peace"..me.."HOLD ON MONEY!"..him,real calm.."Wah?"..me.."You stay here while I count this madness,you always do this shit Dame"..him.."Aight Aight Calm Down..Lemme get Biggs and Jay we gotta sort some shit out with this kid"..me.."Sort away nigga".

..Few seconds later Jay and Biggs walk in,with some kid,I can't remember who, but he was lookin a lil disgruntled.Dame.."What's the problem Nigga?!"..me(to myself)..(yikes!)..dude.."Yo I aint makin no money with all this shit yo,I'm sayin,this shit is crazy right now man ..I dunno.."..Dame.."Yo HOLD ON!"..(me again to self)..(YIKES!)..back to Dame.."NONE OF US ARE MAKIN MONEY RIGHT NOW NIGGA!"..Dame proceeds to lay into this kid with a series of "Shits" "Damns" and "MotherFuckers",not in any specific order.The kid is now nervous as all out doors and the room is a lil tense..and I lost count of the friggin money..DAMMIT!Dame now thoroughly heated,begins to poll the room.."Jay you makin money yet?"..Jay.."Nope"..Dame.."Biggs you makin money yet?"..Biggs.."At all"..Dame back to dude.."nigga we tryin to make this money nigga but we gotta sacrifice!We the only ones payin up this bitch anyways...why you complainin?!..I don't see you complainin when everybody up here having a ball and shit,so what's the problem?!"..Dame then turns to me.."This nigga here is probably the only one makin money!"..my reply.."yea right!".Few more words are spit in dude's direction by Dame as Jay and Biggs look on and occasionally chuckle at Dame's antics.Homie's train is now derailed and my money count is done..$2,500 is present and placed in the envelope..me.."Dame we good"..him.."I told you nigga..fuck outta here..I ain't that type"..me.."I gotta do it son,you know!Nigga You Know!"..him.."Yea yea nigga I got you..Fuck outta here though(ha ha!)"..me.."Asshole"..There's more about my Roc days..Lots more,lemme get my thoughts together..Stay Up..

Thursday, July 15, 2010

..D&D Studios Part Three..Maybe Tomorrow..

..September 10th 2001..starts off like any other Monday.Dollar cab ride to the "D" train,"D" train to 34th st., walk to the studio, set up for Preem and waaaaiiiiit.While waiting,the phone rings and Preem is on the line.."Yo what reel you got up now?"..me.."Nothing,waiting on you.We doin GS today right?"..him.."Nah we gotta do a remix for this kid Craig David"..me.."Fuck is a Craig David?"..him.."Some kid from London,supposed to be big,find a reel with some space I'll put something together by the time he gets there"..me.."Aight."So I find my reel,set my space,lay the SMPTE,all that good engineering stuff and resume waaaaiiiiting.Preem walks in a few minutes later,kinda early for him but from his tone earlier it's a rush job,gotta get it done quick!He's in there doing what he does and then Craig David walks in.Tall,light skinned "good hair" having R&B cat I saw on MTV just that weekend,making chicks loose their minds along with their underwear.OK,now I can put a face the hype.He's a cool cat though.Me,him and Preem kick it for a minute while he tells Preem what he wants the remix to sound and feel like,that he plans to have Mos Def spit on it and that he can't go to the mall without a police escort nowadays..WOW!..A little while later Preem comes up with a nice lil something for dude to vibe to,he goes.."That's it right there,I'm going to the hotel and write my part tonight.I got pro tools on my lap top so I can do a reference vocal, and we'll see if you like it"..Preem.."Aight then"..looks at me and we concur without speaking.."We don't have pro tools here".Time is set for the next day,which no one shows up on time for anyways, and Craig takes off to his hotel with his lil pro tools and me and Preem leave shortly after,him to Queens,me to Brooklyn.It's around 2am September 11th and my session is at 11am,I'm taking a cab home...

...September 11th 2001, around 8:30ish in the am.I just stumbled into my lil BK basement apt a few hours ago.Phone rings.All types of mental expletives are flying around in my head.Can't go off on who might on the line,could be moms...me(groggy voice).."Hello"..my then girlfriend.."Dex turn on the TV...the World Trade Center is on fire!"..me.."Shut up yo,it's to early for these games you playin"..her.."Dude I'm serious,turn on your TV"..me.."Aight"..fumbling around for the remote,on goes the TV,quickly switch to NY1....SHIT!IT'S ON FIRE..me to her.."I'll call you back".As I'm sitting there watching the coverage of the tower bellowing smoke, a small figure appears out of nowhere.I thought,because I'm still groggy eyed, it was a bird.No sir it was a commercial airliner,similar to the one that hit the the other tower moments before."What The...!!".."How is this happening!"On my block,people are going cookoo!In my apartment,I'm remaining calm.The phone rings..it's her.."They evacuating the city,no trains,buses,nothing,I gotta walk home"..me.."Get to walking babe,call me when you get home!"..click!..My mental rolodex is on 100 right now.Who do I know that works in the Towers?Shit who works in that area?I'm watching people scampering for their lives,diving out of the towers and thinking damn,this is crazy.This is CRAZY!.Soon after there is no phone service what so ever,and only one channel broadcasting.I'm hearing about planes crashing all over the place,the Pentagon got hit,supposedly LA was gonna be next,all types of madness."Stay calm dude and stay in your crib".My landlady knocks on my door.."Are you seeing this?..me.."Yeah'..her..'My God what is this".."I wish could tell you something Paulette,I really wish I could".New York stood still for the next few hours and it felt like an eternity.At some point,I managed to fall asleep..not sure what time but it seemed like only seconds before my phone rang and woke me up.."Yo..sorry but Preem said we may have to go in tomorrow"..me.." Eddie you jokin right"..


..September 12th,2001,10 am.Another day but not like the others.You can feel the tension.People are scared to death, as we should be.We just watched a landmark crumble and lives lost and couldn't do anything about it.There no answers but a slew of questions.NY is resilient and bounced back quick,not at full strength,but we back at it.The routine ensues..dollar cab ride to "D" train,"D" to Manhattan.Damn...look at this.As the train crosses the bridge to my left I see what's left of the towers.Still smoldering.Everyone on the train is silent for a minute,or sobbing as they look out the window."What the hell happened yo?"..this kid across from me asks looking dead at me like I had the answers."Duke I dunno"..Few minutes later here comes my stop.34th street..I exit the train..exit the station..go out on to the street and pause.Silence.34th street at 11am..and nothing is happening.All the stores are closed,there is no traffic in any direction,literally I was walking down the middle of 34th st without dodging a vehicle.It was surreal.The air was filled with the smell of smoke, it felt eerie.Yet here I am in the city on my way to work!Got to the studio,second routine done and I wait..Eddie shows up and we wait.Gordon shows up and we wait..Preem shows up and says.."Let's get this done,I wanna get outta here!"No shit we shouldn't be here in the first place bruh!But we gotta get this shit done regardless.Mind you the kid David..he was on the first thing smoking outta the US...like Fuck u guys I'm going Home.So we working,Preem's making music..me, Gordon and Eddie are watching TV for coverage,well repetitive BS about yesterday's events."What a mess"..I'm thinking as I watch expert after expert dissect this thing.All of a sudden Preem bursts out the room.."Yo they just called in a bomb threat at the Empire State Building...Let's get outta here..fuck this!"..I don't think I ever locked up the studio so fast,cause Gordon was giving me a ride home, and any second less than the time he said to be downstairs he woulda left my ass...no joke.We zoom outta Manhattan,cross the bridge and Gord drops me off at my crib..."Good Lookin"..him.."Yea Laterz"..He's out and I'm in my basement apt.Sits on the couch and turns on the TV..nothing new..I turn it off.Cell phone rings..answers.."Yea?!"..then girlfriend.."you aight?"..me.."yea I'm home,we gonna do the joint another day"..her.."You know when?"..me.."Hmmph..maybe tomorrow..yea..maybe tomorrow"...

Friday, July 9, 2010

..DREAM REALIZED..I LOVE MY MOM!

..This is all...My mother...my lovely,lovely mother...started buying me vinyl instead of toys when I turned seven.Had a pretty decent collection of music,Reggae,Soul,Funk,Calypso(I am Trinidadian..and I don't need a T-Shirt to prove it!).Get it straight..I AM HIP HOP!...Don't need a T-Shirt to prove that either.1982,my mother helped to create a monster though.You see back home on my lil island,we had one decent record store in my area of San Fernando,Jimmy's Record Shop..and my mother knew the guys who ran the store.Her bright idea for my birthday present this year way to let the guys pick the record for me..their pick..Planet Rock Afrika Bambaataa...yeah ok,what were you thinking my friend!I think I played that record all of seven straight hours before my grandfather told me to "STOP IT BOY!!"..young me.."OK OK"..but I knew that I loved that shit from the moment I heard it..where can I get more of this?Believe me that my allowance went to records,specifically anything Hip Hop..I cared about nothing else.Honestly I only cared about the music..the rappers annoyed the shit outta me..for real.I learned every lyric though,had to..why not.Not until "The Message"did I really care what dudes had to say but that goes without saying right?

Now here comes my Happy Birthday of 1983..Style Wars and Wild Style,sweet Jesus!..I know a lot of people would say Beat Street was the quintessential Hip Hop movie but that's like listening to commercial radio to me.Style Wars and Wild Style was some real Hip Hop shit..aint no body falling in love and living in abandoned friggin buildings with their pregnant baby momma..just hit the train yard and BOMB THAT SHIT,write a rhyme SPIT THAT SHIT!.Those movies showed a real side of life and why dudes was turning to the Hip Hop lifestyle.It was crazy to think that people dealt with stuff like that..and back when I only visited the states,didn't look like Beat Street to me...but I LOVE THIS SHIT!..Who cares if it not exactly like it was in the friggin movie.How do I get in this!There's gotta be a way to,there has to be!My father discouraged me but my mom's, as always, pushed me in the direction of my dream.

So we had to come up with a plan,me and my mom's, to get me into what I wanted to do.I was serious and she knew it,so she pulled out every STOP sign that we came across...Brainstorm!I had a uncle that lived in New York,so I wrote him for months telling him what I wanted to do.He too was like.."are you sure this what you wanna do,Don't make me waste my time finding you a school and so on"..I was like.. "maaaaan I want off this rock in a bad way!"..."Get me the school info so we can get this going..I graduate high school in 3 months"...Weeks go by,seemed like months though.I get home from school one day and my mom was like you got some mail on your bed..feels like some books or somethiing"...runs to my room..rips open package..in it..brochure for the Institute of Audio Research..dream in formation!Now I gotta get outta here!.My father as always not with the program and shows no support...but God Is Good!From the day I was born,my parents started a savings account for me.By now I had enough in there to make it outta my homeland and on to my future.Cleaned out the account in one fell swoop.Got all the necessary paper work for me to leave the country and to start my schooling in New York.Of course there was a curve ball thrown.The Muslims in my country,upset with the party in power,decided to overthrow the government.How?By running up into the main parliament building known as the 'Red House' and hold all politicians present hostage until they meet their demands.Basically a Coup..the result..Martial Law...No One Goes No Where To Do NO-THING!...DAMMMIT!Dreams squashed?Nope.After maybe 2-3 weeks of bullshit curfews and looting and military siege,coup over,martial law lifted,Dex and mom on plane...out!Touch down in NY on Friday,shop for new clothes and shoes Saturday and Sunday,orientation on Monday,classes on Wednesday..Dream  Realized..And All Day.. I Love You Mom!..

Friday, July 2, 2010

..Random Industry Reminderz Pt.1..Brandy..

I remember being at D&D when Kid Capri had a radio show which was mainly aired outta state.In order for the show to seem live he would record his part,spinning the hot new stuff first and do his interviews at the studio.Most times he couldn't be  there, so his then manager would take care of the interview portion of the show.A lot of people came through there for the Kid,showing support for the show and of course to build their buzz...The Fugees, The Diplomats.. countless amounts of people I cant remember all of them.One particular person has always stood out from the rest of them.That would be Brandy.

This was around the time that the show she was on ,"Thea", got canceled,and she had just got signed to Atlantic Records.To me she was just a sweet girl,she had to be all of 14 at the time or what ever,but even still she was real humble.I kept thinking to myself that she was real shy, or maybe nervous as hell, cause D&D was a grimy spot.Even grown ass men were scared to roll up there,so imagine this young girl from CA getting a big mid day dose of that place.After her interview we spoke for a lil while and she seemed a lil out of it,cause like I said her show got canceled and not to many people were giving the single she had just released that much love.Matter of fact I cant remember if there was a rep from the label there with her...but she kicked with me for a minute while she waited for the car service to come get her.When she was leaving she gave me two copies of the single"I Wanna Be Down",vinyl of course,said her goodbyes and broke out.

Around this time Evil Dee had Monday nights on HOT 97 in NY.Evil's show was notorious for breaking new records,it had become his trademark.I went up there to the show that Monday and told I met Brandy and all the blah blah blahs.He was like..."yeah I got the record and I kinda like it"..me.."You gonna play it on the show?"..he looked at me like You Already Know!..I told him how she felt like the record wasn't getting that much love and that she really wanted it to go well..E was like "Fuck It I'm Playin It,It's What I Do!"..he sarted the show off with that record that night.The funny thing about that whole scenario,all the HOT 97 dj's were coming up to him that week like"Yo where'd you get that Brandy joint?"..him.."In the mail like the rest of yall""Check your in-boxes"..Just so you know my dude was the first, if not one of the first, dj's to play that record in NY...Word Is Bond!..

Till The Next One...