In the early stages of Hip Hop records, the Culture faced opposition from all sides. The older generation didn’t understand it. The critics, even when covering it, generally felt it was destined to be a short-lived trend. A loud majority of musicians in other genres didn’t respect it. If that wasn’t enough, there were stonewalls being built within the Culture.
New York was the birthplace for Hip Hop and they were very, very proud of that fact. Not just proud, but possessive about it. I suppose that is understandable, particularly witnessing how things have evolved. They wanted Hip Hop to retain its “perceived” purity as much and for as long as possible. As a result they widely rejected outside “versions” of Hip Hop. Of course, neighboring places such as New Jersey or Philly had some breakthrough artists in NYC, but there also exist stories of the struggles they even had. To some die-hard New Yorkers, those close proximity East Coast cities might as well have been 1000 miles away. And if you were 2000+ miles away…forget about it.
In a grand understatement, L.A. had a hard time breaking into the New York market. Among the earliest LA Rap records, Disco Daddy & Captain Rapp’s “Gigolo Rapp” in 1981 was quite reflective of the New York style party Rap at the time, but it was also noticeable different. While most New York records musically sourced from the more “sophisticated” Disco (a la Chic, Cheryl Lynn or Dazz Band) or from Soul inspired Rock, such as Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”, Disco Daddy And Captain Rapp went right to the Funk of Rick James. Chances are the music wasn’t the leading issue that threw the New Yorkers off, but the voices. Even in the party setting, New York MCs were a bit stone-face serious and/or hustler smooth in their approach, a fitting demeanor for rocking in concrete parks and grimy apartment buildings. On the other hand, Disco Daddy & Captain Rapp sound very happy to Rapping for you and yours and sound quite fitting for performing at a downtown club or Hollywood pool party. Ice-T added a rougher edge with “The Coldest Rap” in ’83, introducing the player element, but even with themes of sex, luxury cars, and lavish language to make Iceberg Slim proud, Ice-T sounds rather friendly. It’s said that Ice-T had respect in the streets of New York and that’s definitely not my debate, but there’s not really much evidence that the East Coast DJs were playing his records at this point*. Once the Egyptian Lover launched his movement, building from “Planet Rock” and adding some West Coast flair, the LA sound undoubted lost New York completely musically. So how did LA finally start to get accepted in LA? Indeed it was a long process, but without question a key pivotal turning point is The L.A. Posse!
The L.A. Posse, when you get to the bare bones basics of it, are Dwanye “Muffla” Simon and Darryl “Big Dad” Pierce. However, some often-associated names are Breeze, DJ Bobcat, and DJ Pooh.
I usually don’t ask much from the reader when I write these. I’m here to provide information and history, but here’s something I want you to ponder and really process. In ’85, after the success of the “Radio” album, LL Cool J was one of the biggest Hip Hop icons...period. He was on, what many would (and should) consider the most powerful Hip Hop label on the planet, Def Jam. When it came time to record his follow up album he could have worked with any producer(s) in the world. So, why did Russel Simmons enlist two unknown guys from the West Coast to produce his next record?
I will tell you this, even saying that now, it sounds radical. These guys, Muffla and Big Dad, did not have a track record to speak for them. They didn’t have industry experience. They were still young…they barely had full life experiences. What they did possess was raw talent, drive, determination to make dreams reality and they made sure they were present when opportunities presented themselves. Russel Simmons, in his infinite vision, apparently saw all, or even just some, of that and he acted on it. Next thing you know the city with probably the biggest thriving Hip Hop scene in the nation, besides the city who created it and ignored them, was on the map and producing one of the key revolutionary records of that time. That is huge!
Not only did L.A. Posse produce LL Cool J’s “Bigger And Deffer” Album (as well as most of “Walking With A Panther” and an extensive list of other projects which we’ll get to later), but being in New York they also helped expose other West Coast talent to the NYC scene, with they help of their friend Jam Master Jay.
I had an extensive talk with Big Dad about his full career. We sat in the park next to his kid’s school and he shares some amazing stories and a very impressive history in the game!
PART TWO: In this segment there are a several things that Big Dad discusses that blow my mind! We talk about their main MC, Breeze (known for his “T.Y.S.O.N” album that had the “L.A. Posse” theme song and video). The L.A. Posse’s first dealings with Def Jam was a Breeze contract that had him signed to the label for about 2 ½ years and recording an estimated 200-300 songs at Chung King Studios…NONE of which were ever released and remain locked in a vault somewhere! He speaks about how Breeze was signed to Def Jam, not just for his talent, but also to put some fire under LL Cool J to make sure that the increasing fame didn’t make him lose his hunger.
Big Dad shares stories of L.A. Posse and Breeze riding on the “Raising Hell” tour bus to learn the “lifestyle”. He tells of how Jam Master Jay became a close friend and outlines the story of when and how he named them The L.A. Posse*. We learn why they decided to fly DJ Bobcat out to NY to work with them and how Bobcat impressed LL Cool J so much on that first day that LL asked him to be his DJ**. He details the day Russell Simmons called him out of the blue and told him to call LL Cool J (who he hadn’t really met yet) and tell him to come into the studio with them to vibe together…the session that would lead to them producing the Classic “Bigger And Deffer” album!!!
*-This fact makes another Hip Hop mystery even more interesting. There were two L.A. Posse’s in the 80s, Big Dad’s crew generally is recognized as the first. The other was Mikey D and the L.A. Posse. In this case the LA stood for the part of Queens they were from, Laurelton. The original strange part was that Mikey D has also made claims that LL Cool J got some of his style from him, saying LL was a young cat around the way who wanted to be down when Mikey D was becoming a Park Jam MC Legend in Queens. I always found that strange since both L.A. Posse’s had a “connection” to LL. To add to it, we now know that they were actually given the name by another Queens native, Jam Master Jay…
**Cut Creator is usually who we think of in terms of LL’s DJ in this early part of his career (there are in fact two different DJs who used the named Cut Creator for LL). Once LL met Bobcat, Bobcat became a active part of the production team, mixing his turntablism with the production, which we’ll hear about more later in this series. Also, he was involved in doing some of the scratches. I actually learned this fact when LL toured for “Bigger And Deffer”. For his set, LL had both Bobcat and Cut Creator set up in DJ booths, which I thought was cool to have two DJs rocking, but it was sort of a Hip Hop culture shock when on his track, “Go Cut Creator Go” that I looked to watch Cut Creator go off on the cuts and what I found was Bobcat ripping the cuts and Cut Creator chilling wiping his face with a towel…during his “theme” song…it made me sad.
PART ONE: To start things off we speak to Big Dad about his early musical inspirations, his days with Uncle Jamm's Army, and his early crew with Muffla, (Def & Defiance a.k.a Double D) and how they connected with Breeze. We also discuss how they met Russel Simmons, who offered them a deal on Def Jam on the spot at the BRE Music Conference!! Part Two Tomorrow!!!
*I obviously wasn’t listen to New York radio or going to their clubs in the early 80s, but I’ve regularly asked people about this and no one can ever recall hearing a record by Ice-T, Egyptian Lover, etc… getting in regular, if any, roation in New York in this time period. The only example I have is on a 1985 Chuck Chillout radio show from 98.7 Kiss he played the Ice-T “Killers” instrumental…I told you about those LA Voices to the New York ears…
Written By Kevin Beacham
Video Shot & Edited By Adam Stanzak of Oh Boys Films