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D R . I . P.




back to burn used to drive around with a speaker sticking out the trunk of
his car. Back then you didn’t have built-in car sound-systems, so

speakerbussin’ up all around the Bronx you had people driving around, blasting
the music from speakers placed in the trunk of their cars. The

in the bronx... other thing we did – and this was before we’d go out to the
parks to play – was I’d put out two big speakers in front of my
BY T LA ROCK building, a two-family house, and play music that way.

The first time I heard any music similar to hip-hop music was A friend of mine at that time was a b-boy named Vincent
what’s now called break-beats. It was actually my father who Thompson – he didn’t have a colourful name! – who was a
I first heard playing records with breaks on them – though he break-dancer; and also a deejay named Harold Jackson aka
wasn’t paying attention to the breaks! But the first time I heard DJ Skeeter: these were people who were playing music in the
them in a hip-hop context was through Kool Herc (pictured), neighbourhood. There was also one very well known b-boy
who was from my area of the Bronx. This was in the early ‘70s, called Sah-Sah who definitely had the biggest local reputation
in the community centre of an apartment building. I’d heard out of everyone. Other deejays from that era who never get mentioned are
breaks before that, but it was just called funk. But Kool Herc Prince and Blackjack – who, by the way, was the first ever person
had that system where you could really hear the pounding of I also studied kung-fu at an early age, just like DJ Breakout, that Kool Herc let on his system outside of his immediate crew.
the drums along with the bass part of the record. the deejay from the Funky Four [Plus One]. He was a friend of Blackjack played a lot of break records. There was also a hip-
mine – I believe he lived in Edenmoore projects. We’d hang out, hop duo named DJ Pee-Wee and DJ Punch who were relevant
Kool Herc’s system didn’t consist of 10 or 20 speakers – he practice, spar together, and he, like Kool Herc, had speakers at that time. These were all deejays from the Bronx, all from
just had huge speakers that packed a powerful punch. He also that were so powerful he named them Sasquatch! the section where hip-hop started.

INAL #014
Tony D R.I.P .
Recalling the Career
of the trenton icon…
By John W McKelvey

On April 4th 2009, word that Anthony Depula had passed

away started to spread across the internet and make roads
throughout the hip-hop community. It looked like a hoax at
first – for reasons we’ll come to later – but finally an article on confirmed the tragic news.

Depula started out as one half of the Partners In Rhyme, as

Grand Poobah Tony D, releasing a two-song 12-inch record with
Cool Gino G in 1987: ‘It’s My Day’ b/w ‘I’m Terrifyin’’ on Body
Rock Records, a division of Tommy Boy. It’s a fun ‘random rap’-
sounding little record, produced by Vandy C, and with a distinct
LL Cool J influence. Later, Tony dropped the Grand Poobah
part from his name, in deference to the Masters Of Ceremony’s
Grand Puba Maxwell.

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But while the Partners never made another record, Tony The Rhythm’, where the two of them rhyme over their hit ‘In Tony D had discovered; they also laid it over the exact same
found his true calling behind the boards. His first production Control Of Things’, going hard at other artists who’d since ‘Substitution’ break; and they took two separate segments
came out later that same year, YZ & G-Rock’s ‘I Am Who I jacked the sample: “Who in the hell do you think you are? of the J5 song and pieced them together in the same way. It
Am’, a move which led to the formation of his company, Two A star like me? No, you’re not; so stop. Big Daddy Kane stole it, makes you wonder about Kay Gee’s claim to the Source in ‘92
Tone Productions, which produced albums and singles for YZ, that they’d never heard ‘Music...’ before crafting ‘OPP’...
Poor Righteous Teachers, King Sun, Too Kool Posse, Kaaos,
MC Sergio and others. He also co-hosted a Princeton-based But it didn’t slow Tony down – he stayed busy getting genuine
radio show called Raw Deal where he’d debut the artists he rap classics under his belt. And besides producing, he kept
was working with. Tony had crafted a sound that was at once
varied and yet instantly recognizable. When asked by Fat Lace YET INSTANTLY rhyming, first contributing a killer song to Jazzy Jay’s ‘Cold
Chillin’ In The Studio’ set, ‘Back To The Lab’ (plus producing a
to describe what he contributed to the game in an interview
shortly before his death, he said, “I think I pioneered the use
RECOGNISABLE slick number by Ice Cream Tee on there), and then grabbing a
record deal with 4th & Broadway as an emcee and releasing
of the vocal samples in hip-hop. Think of the Average White Lakim Shabazz stole it, GangStarr stole the whole ‘In Control’ the album ‘Droppin’ Funky Verses’ with DJ Troy Wonder.
Band for ‘Thinking Of A Masterplan’ and the James Brown one rhythm. Who’s next to do it? I’ma dis who in the hell ever steps;
for ‘In Control Of Things’. No one was really using samples or I’ll break ya neck!” Tony’s beats, of course, were impeccable, but as an emcee the
loops that had a voice in it until I did that.” results were more varied. He had a hard delivery and a cool
Ironically, this same album led to one of the most famous beat- voice, his flows were varied and creative, and when he was
His success as a producer created a demand for his first jackings in hip-hop history. In 1991, fellow New Jersey natives on point Tony D was an emcee to be reckoned with; but he
mostly instrumental album, released in 1989, entitled ‘Music The New Style took the set’s first song, ‘Adam’s Nightmare’, had a serious penchant for some very corny lyrics: “Suckers
Makes You Move’ – that’s ‘mostly’ because it features a cut and used it for their hit debut as Naughty By Nature, ‘OPP’. And be sayin’, ‘Tone, you ain’t nothin’’/But I got more flavor than
by the Too Kool Posse and a sick duet with YZ called ‘Get Off they didn’t just use the same Jackson 5 sample (‘ABC’) that Stove Top stuffin’/Nuts! My favorite past time/Forget the last

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line ‘cos you can’t gas mine/ repeatedly and making puns off their song titles. There’s 4th & Broadway never asked Tony for a follow-up album, but
Like Sunoco, you go bum debate over what exactly drew or maintained Tony’s ire, but it he stayed busy producing. In 1992 he formed the Crusaders For
loco/Visit Acapulco with your likely stemmed from the fact that in Serch’s pre-3rd Bass days Real Hip-Hop and signed with Profile. Two Tone Productions
girlfriend Yoko… Ono!” The he had a deejay who also went by the name of Tony D. On his took full production credit for the album, but he used an alias
rhyme scheme’s nice, and blog, Serch said, “I met Tony [Depula] back in the day with to mask his role as lead emcee, switching up to Don Nots. (The
there’s a genuine freestyle that brother Wise Intelligence and Poor Righteous Teachers, other members were Mr Law and a reggae chanter named
feel – but you weren’t going and he tried to play me. He even put out a record called ‘Don’t Rahzil Hi-Power, formerly of Blvd Mosse, another group Tony
to intimidate anyone in your Fall For The Gas Line’...” And he came even harder at Serch on produced.) Their lead single, ‘That’s How It Is’, got a lot of
neighborhood by blasting the antagonistically titled ‘Shoe Polish’, saying, “I stepped to play, and it was followed up by a more underground 12-inch
those words out of your jeep. CBS, they was wit’ it/They said you got another white rapper? I featuring remixes and the exclusive B-side ‘La Cosa Nostra’.
And it was probably that said ‘Quit it!/I’m not gonna give you suckers what you want/A
corniness that kept him from really blowing up as a rapper. replacement for the group that you love to flaunt/Outspoken Still, the Crusaders never really caught on with the mainstream,
Still, he had two reasonably successful singles off that album: drug users drinkin’ beer on stage?’/Now they got you, another and the style of the Five Percenter acts he was producing
‘EFFECT’ followed by ‘Check The Elevation’ – and you would beast in the cage.” were going out of vogue – so Tony D went underground. After
have been hard pressed to miss the videos on Yo! MTV Raps producing Wise Intelligent’s first solo effort and a track for
in those days. (Tony D even has two cards in the Yo! MTV Raps But despite his beefs and his hardcore delivery, Tony was a Kwest Tha Madd Lad, it was the independent release of his
trading cards deck.) conscious lyricist. His content was never gangsta, most of next instrumental album on Contract Records that took him to
his verses were freestyle wordplay, and he devoted songs the next level. Mark Rae credits that record with inspiring his
And it’s here we should pause to touch on his beef with 3rd to issues like police brutality and stopping racism; plus he’s label, Grand Central Records – and after forming it he signed
Bass, and MC Serch in particular. Here, because he takes probably the only rapper to take a stance against product Tony, who released a series of instrumental albums and singles
shots at them throughout the album, calling Serch “devil” testing on animals. throughout the rest of the ‘90s and into 2001.

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After remix work for The Outsidaz’s ‘Who You Be’ though, phone call and left his home on the evening of April 4th. On
production work quietened down, and Tony D became an his way back, he “lost control of his 2002 Suzuki XL wagon
online presence, selling beats on forums like The Vinyl Exchange about 6.20 pm and struck the fence of the St John’s Cemetery
and UGHH, plus touting records from his collection on eBay. on Bunting Avenue near Lalor Street.” He was pronounced
(The rap nerd in me is damn proud to have feedback from him dead on arrival at the Capital Health’s Fuld Campus hospital in
declaring Werner “knows a great record!”) But after forming Trenton – a sudden and shocking end to a great artist. He left
the Cha-Ching label to drop PRT’s ‘Rare And Unreleased’ set, behind a wife and two young daughters, Sophia and Olivia,
Tony D started selling mix-CDs, and then MP3s of rare ‘random and the people who knew him personally all describe him as a
rap’ – allegedly without compensating the artists – a move sweet, friendly man with a genuine passion for the music.
which led to his bootleg ‘The Philly Throwback’ vinyl series.
Tony D leaves us with a large body of great work – much of it
Unfortunately, the shady rumours don’t stop there: nefarious rare and yet to be properly discovered or appreciated. Beyond
chatter abounds about emailing collectors and taking offers that, he apparently had a ton of unreleased music – both his
on rare records he didn’t have, and his eBay account was own and by the artists he produced. On his MySpace page,
eventually shut down. (‘Buyer beware’ stories are but a he was offering CDs of unreleased Crusaders For Real Hip-Hop
Google search away from those who claim to have got stuck songs “circa 1993”. He had leaked a few tracks already, like
for hundreds of dollars – and received conflicting excuses, ‘Dummy Move’, a track with him, YZ (pictured) and B-Fyne
including claims that his wife had left him.) dissing PRT, and was talking to labels about putting out more.
I hope his wife or the artists he’s worked with can still get this
But according to a touching piece in The Trentonian, they were out, because I for one would love to hear it. Tony D – a man
still together, his wife cooking dinner for them when he got a who recorded more gems than we’ll probably ever know.

INAL #014
By James McNally

[Last month Ancient Britain went on the trail of Tony Buttons’s HHC DIGITAL #002
elusive 1994 classic ‘Funky Bumpkin’. After a little bit of OUT MAY 12TH
investigation we tracked him down...]

“My name’s Dappa-Dred now or Dap-D. But back when I did

the ‘Funky Bumpkin’ record I did it under the name of Margah
Man Tony Buttons.

“The older generation called me Buttons after my father, who

was off the scene for a while, so the right thing to do was to
fly the flag in his name. And I’ve always been a skinny dude
[Margah is Jamaican for ‘Skinny’] and due to my mother, who

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is called Margaretta, a clothes designer, I formed the first part PYBT [Prince’s Youth Business Trust] money, and some o’ my o’dubs that I did after being managed for a brief spell by this
of the name that I made that record under. The label itself was money and cut a vinyl: my first one. American dude called Rocky Hill. I even rinsed at BBC wit’
called Marga records. Westwood at the controls.
“I’m still to this day not content with the recording [of ‘Funky
“I started rapping when I was ‘bout ten, eleven-years-old Bumpkin’]; it makes me sound child-like. I bus’ a lot better “Since then, I was on [in Steve Rifkind’s online emcee
maybe. I chat, I rap, I do alladat – it’s the year 2009 an’ I refuse in reality than on that record, but it was good to have had competition]. I brought my mic to the table and I represented!
to come wack! My father’s side of the family resides up these I did that due to being in a court dispute pertaining to a record
sides [London], but my mother’s side reside in the south-west,
and when I was 13 I used to roll wit’ these deejays who’d tour
I REMEMBER HIJACKING I cut in 2005 called ‘Nuff-a-Dese’/’Real-Toppa’. To cut a long
story short my professional integrity was in question and had
around the Midlands. They weren’t my age group, but when A DANCE AND RAPPING yet to be resolved at that point, which meant that recording

my mans and them mans linked up, suttin’ dope was always was put on pause.
set to happen. I remember one time when four of us – me and
my friend Marv, GI Joe and Gary – hijacked one dance in Oxford “The Loud competition? Obviously people wanna get brave
and I rapped to 50,000 people over some Ragga Twins joint! when they see you down; maybe I had retired or some shit.
I just had to do it. This nigga stood up and guess what? This
“But, you know how it is, I didn’t want to be here five years the experience of writin’, producin’, recordin’, releasin’ and nigga still standin’. I shot everyt’ing that moved. You’ll be
later and say ‘I’m an emcee’ without suttin’ real to back that performin’ that project. I would have liked to have made a hearing more from me soon, a lot more; and trus’ me they
statement up wit’. The older generation, especially black video for that shit: imagine a group of nikkas with Wellington ain’t heard shit yet.”
people, make dudes feel like they got no ambition. Maybe I’m boots in the rain in a forest or meadow, you know, just going
just a dreamer, so I put together a little business plan, ‘cos ‘tings crazy, some dirty south lick. But it just didn’t get to that point. (Check out and
have to be legit, that’s key. Put together some bank money, You think that’s it? Nah, Westwood got untold amount for more on Dappa-Dred.)

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THE ‘90S
By Robbie Ettelson Photography by Kristina Hill

AFFILIATIONS: Kim and Hass G began as the UMCs
(The Universal MCs), a duo from Staten Island. Their Wild
Pitch debut was co-produced by RNS, who would later work
on projects for Shyheim and GP-Wu. Hass went on to produce
‘Apollo Kids’ for Ghostface and ‘Magic Stick’ for 50 Cent.

CLAIM TO FAME: Gave us the hit single ‘Blue Cheese’ and

the under-appreciated ‘Fruits Ov Nature’ album, plus a UMCs
poster was a regular fixture on the lounge room wall on Martin
Lawrence’s character on his popular ‘90s sitcom, Martin.

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CURRENT STATUS: Evolved into the rap superhero known as ENTER THE WU: “Now I’ma telI you a funny story about Shyheim and them GP-
NYOIL to eliminate sell-outs and weak rappers. His excellent “We used to all work at the Statue Of Liberty – it was me, Wu cats. I used to live on Cedar Street, which is adjacent to
‘Hood Treason’ was recently re-issued as a double CD by the U-God, Method Man, Deck and Hass – and that’s where I met Broad Street, which is where most of them cats is from. They
folks at Babygrande. Hass. Me and Meth used to go to public school together, back walked by, and they knew I was living there so they’d try to
when he was just Clifford Smith and I was just Kim Sharpton. tease at us, on some ol’, ‘Wooooo-Tang!’ You know, try to start
FIVE ESSENTIAL KOOL KIM TRACKS: Me and him used to play trumpet together – he modeled his some shit. They think I would not come out! It’s so funny, man,
UMCS ‘ONE TO GROW ON’ trumpeting style on Clifford Smith, the trumpeter, ‘cos our I was watchin’ this interview that G-Dep or one of those dudes
Silenced the critics who mistook them band teacher used to say he reminded him of him – which was was givin’, and he used to box, so he was like, ‘Yo, I like when
for a happy rap novelty act. The 12-inch pure bullshit. When I heard the real Clifford Smith I was like, cats try and came at me thinkin’ that I’m just some rappin’
version is essential. ‘Get the fuck outta here!’ dude, and y’all be all loose – ya arms be all loose, ya neck be all
UMCS ‘SWING IT TO THE AREA’ loose – riffin’ with me like I’m a herb. But of course you don’t
The way the track shifts gears mid-way through from breezy “Son used to enjoy Clifford The Big Red Dog books… I’ma know I box – I’ll knock your ass out!’
to hardcore is priceless. show you how well I know this cat. But son was in Stapleton
UMCS ‘SOME SPEAK ILL THOUGHTS’ – I wasn’t no hood dude like that, so I wasn’t gonna rock with “And that shit is so true, ‘cos as a rapper it’s the same thing.
The highlight of their troubled second album – with a beat him in Stapleton. And I knew Rakeem [RZA] from back when Dude’s be swearin’ I’ma say some ‘Blue Cheese’ shit, man! They
that’s crack-rock catchy. he used to rock with this dude Forest, who calls himself Ishem be swearin’ that’s what’s gonna come out my mouth! And I’m
NYOIL ‘WHAT UP MY WIGGER, WIGGER’ now. Rakeem and Forest, they used to have they thing, ‘cos like, ‘Aight!’
A sobering lesson in race relations set to an immense break. Rakeem ain’t no emcee. He wack! He a wack rapper, kid. But
NYOIL ‘SHOUT IT IN THE STREETS’ Cappadonna, who used to be called Original God at the time, “I remember one time I came outside, yo – me, my cousin who
A superb showcase of how sharp his vocal technique has he was ridiculous. Back then, Cappadonna was the Slick Rick was called C-Strangles, and his dude Prezzie – who was his
remained after all this time. of Staten Island. rhyming partner at the time – we came outside... Man, I like

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to eat a whole chuck outta all three of they asses! They got
rocked so bad, that after that motherfuckers was comin’ by
just givin’ me love, yo. They got demo’d – all of ‘em! Shyheim
is my son, B. He can’t front on me! I remember when he was
literally knee-high to me! It’s like, ‘Come on, stop playin’, pa.
You wanna come and battle me? And you ain’t even got no
lyrics other than what…’ Come on, man.

“In New York there’s great love and appreciation for the Asian
culture because we grew up watching kung-fu movies all day!
The Master Killer, The Five Deadly Venoms – this is all shit we
grew up watching. So everybody was on it like that, but they
[Wu-Tang] was calling theyself, ‘Yo, it’s that Wu-Tang slang.’
So we was like, cool, them brothers is comin’, so we’d say stuff
like, ‘I flip my style and start to flow Tang Wu,’ out of respect,
and in our minds they was comin’ soon so we was gonna pave
the way for them, and when they got on, they would holler
back. Except… Well, that wasn’t the case. Power corrupts and
absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that’s pretty much
the long and the short of it. It was real unfortunate, ‘cos we
thought it was gonna go that way.”

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BIG CHEESE AND FRUIT BASKETS: “There was cereal back in the day called Oh’s and a puppet
“[The first UMCs single] ‘Invaders Of My Fruit Basket’ came out would come out of the cereal and be like [singing], ‘Oh’s cereal!’
the same time as De La Soul came out, and Red [Alert] would That was the same puppet! They just put a gold tooth on the
not play the song, ‘cos he didn’t want us to be competition mouth! I was sitting there thinking, ‘These wack bastards…’
with them. He held us back. A lotta people don’t know that. We
weren’t on some Daisy Age shit – we weren’t abstract. We just UNLEASHED:
made some weird titles so people got confused. Like ‘Fruits “Admittedly, the [follow up] ‘Unleashed’ album was not as
Ov Nature’ – everybody thought that was some fruity shit, honest as the first album. I say that because I honestly would’ve
right? But the ‘Ov’ was meant to be spelt ‘Uv’ so that it spelled liked to have done a different album. But at the time it was
out F-U-N! We was on some 5 Percenter shit right before then, sincerely the album we could deliver – that was the UMCs in
which is what it correlates to as well. Fruit Of Islam will fuck that situation. Two years after the first album, I’d done lost
you up! my house, my grandmother done passed, my mother been at
war, my brother moved away, I had a child and another on the
“I’ll tell you why the ‘Blue Cheese’ video was one of the worst way. I never drank or smoked, but now that I’ve been under so
videos in hip-hop ever – because it was so campy and cheesy, much duress because my record label won’t pay me – now I’m
and they did it so cheap. The budget that they had for it was drinking and smoking and buggin’ out. Now you’re this totally
not the budget that we thought. I made the concept of the different dude, and you’re going into the studio after two years
video – however, it was supposed to be this phantasmagorical, of experience: you’ve been around the world, you’ve done
visual cornucopia of eye-candy that was supposed to blow the slept with groupies, you’ve done been disappointed seeing
minds of the hip-hop world away! It was supposed to be the how much sharks this industry is, motherfuckers disrespected
equivalent of how a Michael Jackson video is like, ‘Pow!’ you, got jumped, beat, fought, win, loss...

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“So now you’re in the studio making this album, that had living in squalor, we’re very frustrated and angry – things aren’t Hass kicked the cake over, and our team took a ride with that
nothing to do with the kid you was when you was 19 and at going well. So we got into the studio, it’s Hass’s birthday, and cat on the elevator when they seen that. There wasn’t any
home with no responsibilities. we’re begging Stu to give our publishing back so we could get words traded between us and them – I seen the look on them
a publishing deal and get a couple of hundred thousand dollars cats’ face, and I knew what was gonna happen. When he got
“The last things your fans heard was, ‘We are the kids from and get it together. on that elevator, you could just hear the sounds of the tussle
Never, Never Land!’ The next they know, they hear you talkin’ and him just screaming. It was some rough brothers that was
about, ‘Ay yo, I be the rough, rugged!’ ‘Oh, these niggas are full’a in there with that dude – he had to be hospitalised. It was an
shit! They tryin’ to act hard!’ Do you know how many people, awful thing, man. I really regret that. And then after that we
right now, walk around with the stigmata of, ‘I got fucked-up got black-listed and nobody would fuck with us, so we had to
by them UMCs dudes!’ Because of that very statement. It’s lay low for a while.
awful, B! You know who told me about this years ago? It was
De La Soul! They going outta town and cats be like, ‘Oh, De La “To be honest, I’ve never made a dime from selling records. If I
is soft!’ Then they see the dudes is towering infernos and they “Now the shit that was so hurtful was that me and Hass had started working in McDonalds – part time – from the time
gotta think twice!” would’ve did anything for Stu. I mean, honestly, we were like I signed with Wild Pitch until the time that it was truly over, I
two pit-fighters – no one did a better show than UMCs! You got would have made way more money than I did. When I got my
DON’T WANNA MAKE A PITCH THAT’S WILD: on the bill with us, you were getting rocked! KRS-One? Rocked first number one plaque I had to hop the train. A number one
“We got deaded from Wild Pitch because Stu Fine got beat-up. by us! Naughty? Rocked by us! Black Sheep, Main Source, Greg plaque from Billboard, and I had to hop the train to get home!
At the time, Stu was making us do ten songs a week, and we Nice? Rocked by us! And you know what this cock-sucker did? Unbelievable. We sold over 250,000 records, easy. We’ll never
weren’t getting paid anything. Our apartment only had two He brought a cake to the studio session! Knowing that we were know how many we really sold... One time I got a letter from
windows, and both of them were facing each other – that was literally hungry at that very moment – hungry like we hadn’t the IRS, said we owed them a million dollars. I was like, ‘Word?
the most depressing place you could imagine being in. We’re eaten in a couple of days because we didn’t have no money! For what?’”

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Boy did George Orwell get it wrong with Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Sure, his 1949 tome kicked some prescient predictions about
surveillance society and the erosion of the individual, but across
the globe b-boys hardly suffered the novel’s eponymous year
as mental slaves in a dire dystopia. Nope, they were too busy
freaking the wildly expressionistic dance moves birthed by a
futuristic culture called hip-hop – and if ol’ Big Brother was
watching over them, he did so slack-jawed at their funky fresh

Actually, Big Bro was probably busy peeping the flick that
helped cover the world in lino. Made on a shoestring, Breakin’
transplanted the culture clash musical melodrama of West
25 YEARS AGO, THE BREAKIN’ MOVIES Side Story to the Cali streets, where promising jazz hoofer
MADE THEIR MARK ON POP CULTURE. Kelly (Lucinda Dickey) befriends street dancers Turbo (Michael
‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers) and Ozone (Alfonso ‘Shabba-
Doo’ Quinones). So popular was Joel Silberg’s movie that
GAME ON LOCK... By Richard Watson


no sooner had TKO triumphed over both rival dance crew
Electrorock and the stuffy dance establishment than Breakin 2:
Electric Boogaloo hit cinemas. Here Shabba-Doo reflects back
on his part in the movement...

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Where were you career-wise when Breakin’ came along? a contract to star in a film called Body Rock. This was during
“I’d already had a pretty significant career. I started out circa the whole breakdance gold-rush when everybody wanted to
1971, ‘72 as one of the original Soul Train gang before becoming make a breakdance movie.
one of the founding members of The Original Lockers, who
were headed and managed by Toni Basil. We did countless “But then they told me that they were taking me off the
television shows and tours with the likes of Frank Sinatra, picture because they wanted a guy that girls would like. So
Dean Martin and Bill Cosby. If you went to Las Vegas you they hired Lorenzo Lamas and I went off and choreographed
wouldn’t see us dancing on a street corner – we were in the a music video that garnered a lot of press – ‘All Night Long’ by
main showroom, on the marquee level. The group disbanded Lionel Richie. I toured with Lionel and put together the other
around 1977, right after we did The Dick Van Dyke Show, and I street dancers that toured with him, namely Boogaloo Shrimp
went on to headline with Bette Midler on her Divine Madness and Pop N’ Taco.”
tour on Broadway. I brought this brand of street dancing to
that show, garnered a lot of publicity, and was eventually So Breakin’ came along next, right?
given my own series, called The Big Show, on NBC.” “Right. I’m unemployed when I get a phone call from Cannon
Films saying they want me to choreograph a movie called
What was the format of the show? Breakin’. I showed up there in full Shabba-Doo regalia, you
“I was responsible for putting together huge production know: the ear-ring, the red hat, the long coat – I came as is.
numbers and creating what is now known as ‘musical street
theatre’. I discovered and hired a number of different dancers “I’m sitting there meeting with [exec producer] Menahem
including Boogaloo Shrimp, Pop N’ Taco and Poppin’ Pete. So Golan regarding the choreography, and he said, ‘Are you an
I had all that under my belt when New World pictures gave me actor? Can you act?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m from Chicago.’ I don’t

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know what that really meant, but he was like, ‘Okay, Shabba was a really important question – most people just wanted us “Now, we know in retrospect that Jerry Lewis was really the
Doo from Chicago, why don’t you go and audition for [Pamela] to do it and they pretty much didn’t care how it came about or genius behind the two of those guys, but unlike them, I was
Basker and [Fern] Champion, the casting agents for the film, what the feeling was or any of that stuff. To be honest, I was really the guy who kind of masterminded things behind the
and tell me what they think.’ So I did and during that audition I a kind of walking, on-set street dance aficionado and historian scenes. Shrimp didn’t have that knowledge; he was only about
said that one famous line: ‘I’m Ozone, street dancer,’ and was in residence, so I did lend them that expertise, yes.” 15-years-old at the time.”
given the part. I had to play an 18-year-old and at the time I
was about 30.”
THE ORIGINAL LOCKERS What do you remember about filming the dance showdowns
Did you bring Boogaloo Shrimp on board?
“Shrimp, Pop N’ Taco, Ana ‘Lollipop’ Sanchez, Poppin’ Pete
and all of the main street dancers in the film aside from Lucinda
TONI BASIL! “I fractured my rib filming the first dance scene and it was
towards the beginning of the shooting schedule so I didn’t
ever mention it. I wrapped up my wrist for the whole movie
Dickey were recommended by me. They were all part of my Presumably you and Boogaloo Shrimp already had your and people just thought it was part of the costume, but I was
dance crew in some way.” chemistry down pat... dancing really with one arm. I couldn’t really roll my wrist, and
“Oh yeah, absolutely. That relationship was not created on set; to this day, because it didn’t heal properly, it will hurt at certain
Director Joel Silberg and the producers weren’t from hip-hop we brought that to the table. At the time, I was Shrimp’s legal times. But, yeah, they were difficult to do, with the on-set fog
backgrounds. Were you constantly being consulted on how guardian. His parents signed a document allowing him to tour that they made with oil or whatever.”
scenes should be played? with me. Right from day one, Shrimp and I had a chemistry
“Absolutely, from day one. From my meetings with Joel Silberg reminiscent of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. If you look at the In his big screen debut, Ice-T gives a glimpse of the charisma
I knew that he wanted to create a film that really felt real from film you’ll see that Shrimp takes on the Jerry Lewis persona he’d build a career on. What are your memories of him?
a dancer’s perspective and I think the first conversation we and I became more of the Dean Martin character, the straight “I was very good friends with Ice-T, and he always exuded that
had, he wanted to know why we do what we do. I thought that guy. That was in terms of on camera. sort of star power and personality. I was having a conversation

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not so long ago with the writer of the original Breakin’, and he
brought up something that I wasn’t really aware of. He said,
‘Before you were really finalised as Ozone, we had approached
Ice-T ’cos he had the same kind of leadership qualities that
we thought the character needed to possess.’ He said that
Ice-T told him, ‘Hey, you know the better one to have for
that role would be Shabba-Doo because he is that guy. To all
of us Shabba-Doo is the leader, so he is Ozone.’ I was kind of
surprised but not that much, because Ice-T’s the kind of guy
who’s gonna do what he thinks is right for the movement.”

One of the movie’s highlights is the scene where, ordered by

Ozone to sweep the street, Turbo dances with the broom...
“There’s been a lot of talk about how that scene came about,
but I’ll tell you in all honesty: that scene right there was due
to the genius of Hymie Rogers, one of the original members
of the West Side Story Broadway cast and a choreographer on
our film.

“This idea didn’t meet well with Shrimp. I remember very clearly
that he did not want to do it. If you watch closely while he’s

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While Breakin’ was filming, Beat Street was being made in
New York. Was there any rivalry between the productions?
“There was a sense of rivalry that existed between the
production companies, but that didn’t really exist between
us, the dancers in the films. Even though our film was called
Breakin’, we weren’t really breakers in that real sense.
Breaking is a really specific form of dance. For instance, let’s
look at martial arts being the kind of umbrella term for all
forms of Asian-influenced combat. Hip-hop dance or street
dance would be that umbrella term, and then under that let’s
say locking would be karate, popping would be kung-fu, and
breaking would be ju-jitsu, more ground oriented. So any
dancing with the broom, at some point he unceremoniously you couldn’t see his foot, so he gestured as if he was magically rivalry was between the production companies vying for the
throws it to the ground. Now I tell you, editing saved him, but making the broom rise up, but it was fitted with this metal same consumer dollar.”
the reason he threw it down was because he was frustrated piece for him to step on. Then it looked like he was magically
with it. He was uncomfortable; he just wanted to dance with controlling the broom when it was being moved with a fishing Were you surprised at all by the movie’s success?
the thing. line – of course everybody could see it, but that kind of added “I personally took on the attitude like, ‘See, I told you so.’ You
to the charm! gotta understand, I had been with The Lockers on Soul Train
“He didn’t want to do any of the moves that became the and we were a famous group so I had already been around
trademark stuff. It wasn’t his idea to put the metal plate in the “You have to credit to Michael Chambers for brilliantly doing town beating that drum before Hollywood decided to make
broom bristles. The way the camera was positioned mid-thigh, it, but it was Hymie Rogers who instigated those ideas.” the movie. So when Breakin’ became a success, I just kind of

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yawned my way through it because, you know, I already knew “In a lot of ways, Breakin’ kind of scratched the surface of script, I think it was a line: ‘Ozone shows Turbo how to get it
what was up.” being almost a reality movie. Reality TV is so popular these on with a girl,’ then the next line was, ‘Ozone and Turbo dance
days and Breakin’ kind of scratched the surface of that. Aside with a doll.’ That was it. There was no lines, no direction, and so
After the summer success of Breakin’, the sequel was in from the cast having different names we were pretty much literally, on the set, Shrimp and I improvised that whole thing,
cinemas by Christmas that year. How did production compare playing ourselves. There was no character development there. like, ‘Hey, just look in her eyes and do what I do and just smile.’
to the first movie? We knew what we were doing. We played up the whole Dean

“It was the same sort of market-sensitive attitude towards Martin, Jerry Lewis aspect of our characters’ relationship.”
the release of the second film; more so, in fact. It was kind of
like, ‘Let’s get all we can and not really care anything about You co-choreographed Three 6 Mafia’s performance at the
quality or any of that stuff. It had a larger cast and many more ORIGINALLY APPROACHED 2006 Oscars. Having starred in one of hip-hop’s earliest flicks,

dance numbers but we produced the second film for the same was it a thrill to help put the culture centre stage at the
amount of money.” Academy Awards?
“I remember Three 6 Mafia showing up to rehearsals with
From the start, the sequel felt much more flamboyant, more their entourage. They come in ten deep, okay, with the Gucci
like a straight musical... I mean, Ozone is Shabba-Doo and Turbo is Boogaloo Shrimp sunglasses and watches with faces the size of trashcan lids.
“It did, it did. I think creatively it took the wrong sort of turn. and Special K is Lucinda.” They walk into the room and of course everybody was like,
Rather than get more expansive in terms of the larger musical ‘Ooh, Three 6 Mafia!’
numbers and all that stuff, I think it probably would have been The scene in which you teach Turbo how to woo a girl with
best served if they had gone more inside and said, ‘Let’s go into the help of a doll is funny but also genuinely bizarre... “The one guy turns around and he looks at me and his jaw
the characters, dig deeper into the motivations and have some “That was kind of new but we also knew there was this comedic drops. All of this big, gangsta, dangerous-looking crew started
of that stuff become a little bit more real and more raw.’ chemistry between us. Now get this: that wasn’t written. In the acting like they were all ten-years-old, saying how if it wasn’t

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for me they wouldn’t have what they’re enjoying today. The
whole of the room was just stood there with their mouths
gaping open.”

Was that a typical reaction? Presumably the success of the

movies changed your day-to-day life...
“I had fame going in, but what the Breakin’ films did was elevate
me to a mythological state of being. I could go anywhere. To
this very day, people see me and they cry. When I conduct my
House Of Shway workshops around the world, kids actually
line up and they fall into my arms and they cry. I’ve kind of
taken on almost this sort of Ghandi, Dalai Lama persona within
this movement. People wanna go back to when hip-hop felt
good. Hip-hop entered a very dark episode in its life with the
Biggie Smalls and 2Pac killings and the shootings and the
negativity associated with that world. But even now, in the
Obama era, people want to go back to feeling good and they
want hip-hop to be what it always was meant to be – bringing
people together in harmony.”
(For more on Shabba-Doo hit up and

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EDITOR Phillip Mlynar

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PUBLISHED by Just One More in association with Infamous Ink Ltd.
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or The Original’s staff. The publishers disclaim any liability for those impressions. Now go grab
that broom...

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