Friday, August 27, 2010

..D&D Studios Part Seven..WORD IZ BOND!..

..This is probably one of the most difficult memories to write about,but it wouldn't be right if I didn't do it.Just a lil history on my man HeadQCourterz.I first met HeadQCourterz during the making of Group Home's Livin' Proof album.He was one of many crew members that rolled with Dap and Mal back then.Always a lively dude..loud and boisterous..but remarkably intelligent and well spoken when he wanted to be.Most of the time he was just a knucklehead,having fun with the crew doin dumb shit like we all did from time to time.When the Group Home album was done the crew dispersed to do their own thing i.e. go on tour or do time or whatever.As a result, I wouldn't see Head for a few years.He popped up at the studio one day out the blue and planted himself on the couch in the main lounge.."I'm here to see Premier"..he said as if I wasn't gonna let him..."Whatever just stay out my room son till he get here"..him.."Oh I can't go in there son?!"..me.."Nah you good where you at.."..he laughed at me saying.."Aight G..I can respect that."Him and I would have lots of verbal sparring matches when he came through to the studio,talking about each others clothes,shoes,if either one of us took a shower this week,stupid shit.One day I asked him,cause I had to frigging know.."Dog why they call you HeadQCourterz?"..him.."Cause I got a big ass fucking head!"..we both fell out laughing cause he was good at making fun of himself as well as others.

..Head had been M.I.A. for a few years as I said before.During his hiatus,he had decided to restructure himself .He was now hustling T-Shirts and hats outta this humongous back pack, as well as doing promo work for GangStarr.Dude would come through to the studio  and sell a shit load of merchandise,racking up a couple hundred dollars at D&D alone."I'm buying you lunch today you fat bastid.."he said to me one time counting his money.."Good,dealing with you is a full time job nukkah..and stop blocking the light with your dome piece"..him(voice raised and laughing at the same time).."Yo word to my mother I'mma smack the shit outta you son..WORD IZ BOND!"..me.."Cool..can we eat first though?"..him.."No doubt".His hustle eventually paid off.While selling tees and hats and doing his promo for GS,he landed a gig with Rawkus doing their street promotion,ultimately becoming the head of that division.I remember him coming through to the studio with a Dodge Durango that Rawkus purchased for the Street Team.."I told them niggas get me this shit!"..he said sitting in the drivers seat.By this time, he had made a name in the industry as one of the most aggressive street promoters for Hip Hop.Everyone knew Head,and respected the way he did his thing and handled his business.You always knew when he was in the building.His voice was loud and distinctive.One day while in the studio he told me he was going to go back to school and get his degree,as well as start his own promotions company.Almost as soon as he said he popped up with a mini van he copped and had it wrapped for his promotional push for Large Professor's solo debut..."Look at this shit nigga,I'm doin this on my own!WORD IZ BOND!".Yo I gotta run but I'mma catch up with you fat nigga.."..me.."Aight moon face be easy!Peace!"..him.."PEACE!"...

..On Wednesday 30th,October,2002.Jam Master Jay was tragically and violently gunned down in his recording studio in Queens,NY.Hip Hop mourned the loss of one of it's forefathers,mentors,idols,heroes the list goes on and on.Ironically,that was the last time I saw Head alive.He told me about an up coming show he was going to, to promote for Large Pro and that is was supposed to be on Friday night.That Friday night/Saturday morning my dude was also gunned down.I was in the studio with Malachi(Group Home)waiting for Premo, to do whatever the fuck we were supposed to do that day.I got the call from Flippah of M.O.P.,who were on the road at the time.It took me about 2 minutes to really understand what he was saying to me.I guess I didn't want to hear it,but he made sure that I did.."The same thing that happened to Jay happened to Head Dex..".Malachi saw my reaction and was asking me what happened.When I told him,he lost it.Punching walls and screaming at the top of his lungs.."What happened to you Kenny?!..What Happened To You?!".I calmed Mal down,locked up the studio,went home and went to bed and stayed there off and on till Monday.No one could answer any questions.The who's,whats and whys were just that..who,what and why.Who would do this to my dude,a dude who had given himself a second chance to be great.A dude who had brought himself back up from the bottom.A dude who loved his family and friends as much as they loved him.What did they gain from it?Why now,just when he was about to excel past even his own expectations.My best friend Samantha picked me up to take me to Head's wake.I sat in the car ..frozen,I couldn't get out.I couldn't look at him.It was too final.At some point though,I'm out the car,but I still can't go inside.I'm standing outside BS'ing..talking with the fam reminiscing,laughing,drinking a lil henny someone had.Sam comes over.."You have to say good bye to him Dex.".Reluctantly I go in,the first person I see is Guru, tears running down his cheek.."We gonna miss him Dex,but he still here wit us..Word IZ Bond!".Walking down the pathway I see his sister.I met her briefly once at the studio,but I knew it was her because she was wearing a wooden necklace she had brought back from Africa for Head.He wore that necklace with pride.."This joint straight from Africa nigga...can you say that bout your bullshit gold chain"..he said to somebody once.I didn't realize I had reached the coffin when I did.Looking down on my dude for what would be the last time.."Look out for us Head..watch our backs down here".As I was leaving,Premier pulls me aside and says to me.."This is Head's mom.."..with tears in my eyes I said to her that I was sorry for her loss,to which she responded.."We all lost that day son"..Preem interjects.."You see mom,you see how much we loved him?!".She nods in agreement while giving me a hug.Bumpy Knuckles takes the podium to speak about Head,he was preaching rather and as he spoke I went outside.The reality of my dude passing had struck and now we have to regroup and carry on his legacy.I know he wouldn't want us to mourn him to long,but rather use him as a source of encouragement when we need it.His murder was never solved but his name however lives on.In "03 D&D closed it's doors,later to be reopened and renamed The HeadQCouterz,in honor of our fallen family member,and those of us who remember him will continue to carry the torch of him.We Love You Head..WORD IZ BOND!!!...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

..D&D Studios Part Six..Heinekens & Nag Champa..

..One summer, at least I think it was summer,I went to the Bushwick Brooklyn HQ of Da Beatmierz,to link up with Evil Dee to go label hopping.Got to the lab,rang the doorbell and was greeted by Mr.Walt..."What Up Boy!"..me.."What Up Boy!".Walking down the hall way to the studio/kitchen area..he was muttering something to me,but I couldn't hear much, 'cause there's a beat playing and somebody yelling at the top of their lungs.."C'mon on man,you supposed to make those baby!".We walk into the kitchen and the intros commence..Mr.Walt.."Yo Dex this is my man Rashied..Sheed this my man Dex"..him.."Sup Joe"..me.."sup man pleasure to meet you"..him.."Likewise brother likewise..you got next on here or what?".By the way the person I met was Common Sense,the next he was referring to was NBA Live and yes he can whup anybody's ass on there.I don't think we made to the second quarter before three of my starting five were in foul trouble.That's what you get for picking the Knicks!Back to the studio/kitchen..Walt.."Dex I would offer you a Heineken but..."without uttering another word, Walt tilts his head sideways like three or four times in Common's direction..Comm.."Man whatever I didn't drink that much"..Walt.."Dude there were like twelve beers in here an hour ago!"...Comm.."Whatever whatever".We chill for a minute,talking about whatever the hell til E comes down.BS'ing continued for a lil while longer,then me and bounce to Manhattan and leave Walt and Comm Sense to it.

..Move along to another summer,I think,and I'm at D&D,working with Premo on one of several "side" projects we had for that year.It was a hectic year already with the fact that on top of the side joints we had to do we had to finish up an M.O.P. project..I think it was 'Worriorz"..not to mention GangStarr was also on tour,Smokin Grooves I believe,so alotta the times it was just me printing Primo's beats and recording vocals with artists while Preem was on the road.Today he was in town for a minute..I get the call while I was waiting for him at the studio.."Yo find me a reel with some room on it..I gotta lay this beat down for Common.."..me(as I have done so many times before)replied.."Gotcha"..I go find a reel..did my engineering thing and waited.Preem shows up a lil later,the beat is laid to tape and Preem goes.."So listen I aint gonna be here for the vocals you think you can handle it for me?"..me.."Yea why not?"..him.."Cool, cause you know we go on the road tomorrow and all that..."..me.."It's cool,I got it".After a day goes by I get a call from Sarah Honda and David Carpenter to confirm that Common would be coming in to do his vocals the following day,which was like a Tuesday or something."Cool whatever as long as he shows up!".The day is here and so is he,early,and I can't believe it's the same guy I met maybe a year or so ago at E and Walt's crib.No more baggy ass gear,now he all slim fitting and shit,making my fat more apparent.He walks into the "B" room with his manager and looks at me like "I know this cat!"...me.."Sup man,met you at Walt's crib that ti..."..him.."Yo that's right how you Brother?"..me.."I'm chillin,I'm chillin..you need a minute or you good to go?"..him.."yea lemme get a few seconds to get my thoughts together"..me.."cool".He reaches into his back pack and pulls out a box of Nag Champa(incense for those of you who don't know) and lights one up as he chops it up with his manager."Can you run the beat for me right quick,this aint gonna take me long"..he says to me,to which I was like.."Cool".So now the beat is playing,Nag Champa burning and he's vybing out,I'm in the main lounge like.."Man this dude has changed!"

A few minutes go by and Common calls me into the room.."I'm ready"..and he literally ran through the song verse by verse.No punch in's,a few take it from the tops(maybe twice) and we were done..just get in and get it done!The delivery to me was flawless.He gets out the booth to listen to the entire song on the studio monitors..he's pleased as is his manager and they ask me my opinion.."You think Preem gonna dig it?"..me.."Hell yeah..that shit is perfect son".."Cool".I give him a copy and make one for Preem to be FedEx'd to him the next day..we say our goodbyes and we leave the studio...and the "6th Sense" is almost done...but it's never that easy!On my way back to my crib in BK, I get a call from Comm himself.."Yo do you think we can get into the studio tomorrow..I wanna do the verses over"..me(to self).."Nigga are you crazy?That shit is dope as is"..but to him I say.."Yeah no doubt,same time?"..he agrees to it.."Cool,Peace!"Next day..he's in the room, does his Nag Champa thing and goes into the booth and  recites the song,slightly different on the delivery.Glad I kept the first take,which I liked,he loves the new take..him.."We gonna have to wait for the man to say what he wants to do huh?"..me.."Yup..I think he gonna like it though,shit is tight,trust me"..him.."Aight Joe".Before we leave that day though he lets me know that he's gonna have his boy come in and lay a reference vocal for Mary J who's agreed to do the chorus for the song..."Bet!"The next day he arrives with his man Bilal,looking like a mini Lenny Kravitz,cool dude though..didn't say much.He lays the reference down and I'm like that damn was easy...but of course NOT!Comm wants to do the vocals over again!.."Last time brother last time,I promise,I promise".Third take recorded and copied now with chorus ref and sent off.We again part ways.Now remember I said it's never easy...well it isn't.Ya see Common was signed to MCA/Universal Records at this time,as was Mary J.However Mary was in contract re-negotiations and things came to a head,so she couldn't record for anybody,not even a label mate,as her old contract was still in place,valid and binding.So we now have to switch gears,and put Bilal in place of Mary.Easy enough because he wrote the chorus.He sailed through it and even added some unexpected ad-libs and riffs along the way.Everyone present loves it and all we need now is Preem's approval.Several FedEx packages and phone calls later the man is back in town and me and him go through the song take by take.He likes parts of one and not the other..so we kinda mix and match the one's he's feeling..and the best part?Comm didn't have to come back and re do a thing,which he,Common, was nervous about."You really think Preem gonna dig this?"..he would ask me.."Yeah son you gave him enuff takes that he can fuck around with it and Bilal slayed the chorus so we good"..him.."Aight Joe,if you say so.You know him a lil better than me.."..me.."If he says do it over I'm buying you a Heineken!"..and he replied with a slight grin.."Bet!"..

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

..D&D Studios Part Five..What's For Lunch??..

..When people think about D&D,one name comes to mind.DJ Premier.His contribution to Hip Hop and music in general is without doubt well documented and appreciated.What he did to build the D&D sound and mystique is also undeniable.I mean GangStarr,Group Home,Jeru and countless other artists made their landmark albums and names there thanks to him.However there were other patches in the D&D quilt,and they should never be forgotten.Mr.Walt and Evil Dee collectively known as Da Beatminerz were a big part of the D&D sound, as well as the sound of the culture..period.. then and now.Shit, even Kanye had to admit he used to get dressed to "Got U Open" remix before he went to school..listen close you can here Da Beatminerz influence on "The College Drop Out".We're getting ahead of ourselves a bit,or should I say I am.I met E first, as most of you should already know.Walt I met a week or so later.Around this time"How Many EMCees" was in heavy rotation on the radio and on "The Box".(damn did I just mention "The Box")..and they were just about to get started on "Dah Shinin'".Like KRS,Evil was one of the few dudes that knew what it was to be an intern and would constantly look out for me when he was up there..."Yo man I used to be an intern so I know what it is already!".Walt on the other hand was more of the big brother/bully type.Never subtle and always quick to punch the crap out you.

..One late night session during the making of "Dah Shinin'", Walt runs out the "A" room and into the main lounge area, where I was sitting watching one of three VHS tapes that were there(cable didn't appear in the studio till much later).I knew for sure this fool was gonna mess with me.."Hey what you doing..Nothing?..Good get in here!"..me.."Huh?!"..him.."C'mon, c'mon I need you to do something for me real quick."..me.."Aight"..I follow him into the "A" room,past the usually smoked out "A" room lounge that was almost always was filled with BCC affiliates.Today there weren't any PNC's there,just Tek, Steele and Dru Ha..who is sitting behind the board with Kieran Walsh the engineer."Is he gonna do it?"..Dru asks Walt.."Nah I aint ask him yet"..me(to self).."What The Fuck?"..Walt.."OK look we need you for this chorus,its only the five of us on it but we want it to sound like a big crowd..you feel me?"..me.."Yeah..what you need me to say.."..him.."BuckTown!"..me.."Cool".We...meaning me ,Tek,Steele,Walt and Dru,pile into the vocal booth and get behind the mic.Several misfires of "BuckTown!" later we get the right energy and takes that Walt and E were looking for.."Yo yall sound like some bitches!"..one Evil's many comments during the process."Good lookin out"..Walt goes.."No doubt"..I reply and go back into the main lounge to finish watching the movie that I've seen like a thousand times before.Few seconds later Walt comes back out..laughin.."Yo!..you gotta hear this"..we go into the control room and Walt says to Kieran.."Play it for him"..they play me the chorus.."BuckTown!"..it sounds like a stadium now..what they wanted..but I'm confused..what's the beef?Walt to me.."Duke you don't Hear That?!..me.."Nah what?"..Evil.."Money..YOU are the Loudest nigga in the bunch!"..I'm like(ahhhh shit!)..they rollin..I'm thinkin I fucked the shit up..their like.."Son all we needed was you in there like twenty times for real"..me.."Yeah aight"..now I'm laughin' cause Walt is on the floor.."Play it Again!..This nigga goin crazy!"..me.."OK I'm out".Later on that night Walt comes back out.."For real good lookin out on that,that shit was funny as hell..You're still a nigga though."..

..So like I said,Walt was a big brother and a big bully..and he made it his business to mess with me.Being the" intern boy" at the time,I had clean up duty on a daily basis,and on a daily basis,Walt would come in and purposely wreck what I took an half hour to clean.Kick over the tables...toss the magazines..topple over the trash cans..then look at me and say.."Clean this shit up now!"..and walk away chuckling.I would be fuming mad at this dude.Is He Crazy?!One day after he is routine "Hurricane Walt" impression he then asked everyone in the room.."What's For Lunch?"(that became a part of Da Beatminerz session routine,before we started to work we'd ask "What's For Lunch?").Anyway..I was like.."Wait...What?..Yeah he's nuts!".Evil took me aside one time and was like.."Yo you gotta whup his ass B..."..me.."Huh?"(This is a set up)"..Evil.."Nah he does that shit all the time,he just wanna see how much you gonna take before you snap and bug out...Next time just smack him.."..me.."hmmm".Saturday rolls around and Beatminerz have a session and I'm on my clean up duties as usual.Walt and E arrive and enter the "A"room lounge...Evil.."Sup Dex!"..me.."Sup E"..Walt.." What's Up Nigga!"..and scans the room and focuses on the coffee table with neatly arranged magazines on it...and smacks them all onto the floor.."Clean that sh.."..before he can finish I'm on him,choke hold city..Evil.."Oh Shit!He's Wildin'".I got Walt in what has got to be the best choke hold ever!He can't get free.."Stop messin wit me Walt!..him(tappin on my arm).."Aight Nigga I'm Done..."I let him go..he catches his breath..and says.."We good?"..me.."Yeah we good"..him.."Good nigga..What's For Lunch??"...