Unfortunately, Hip Hop and Longevity are not two words often heard in the same sentence, at least not one with any positive notion. It’s one of the genres that seems far too quick to toss aside or forget the artists of the past. Whereas in other genres, such as Rock, Jazz, Blues, Country, and others, so many of those artists can continue on to make music, do tours, and perhaps even get their own TV Shows/Reality Shows and have a sustainable amount of fans to support them.
With that in mind, how many Hip Hop artist from the early 80s can you name that still pay their rent from making music. Even looking at the 90s you would likely find an alarming amount of missing names on a similar type list.
Donald D may have never broke into the so-called mainstream, but he’s been doing his thing since, at least, the early 80s and still regularly drops new material with the same passion and basic approach as he has thru out his career.
Representing from the Bronx, Donald D first started to make noise on the scene in the early 80s as the resident MC for the Zulu Beat Radio Show with Afrika Islam. Around the same time, he formed with another soon to be Hip Hop radio legend, Chuck Chillout, and Brother B, with a group known as The B Boys.
The B Boys debuted in the recording industry on Vintertainment Records in ’83 with their “Rock The House” b/w “Cuttin’ Herbie” 12”. On “Rock The House” Donald D acts as a tour guide to take the world on a trip thru the world of Hip Hop. After he excellently outlines the Cultures basic roots in the streets, he expounds on its growth and it’s growing diverse audience, “Gorgeous pretty fine girls/Tourists from around the world/Executives in their business suits/Texans in their Cowboy boots/Officials of the Government/And Those on Unemployment/Drive around in Limousines/ To rock the B Boy scene…Rock The House Y’all.” On the official 12”, “Cuttin’ Herbie” was an instrumental scratch track, but a rare test press contained a vocal version.
The B Boys-Rock The House
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Rock-the-House.mp3|titles=Rock the House]
The B Boys-Cuttin' Herbie [Rare Vocal Version]
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Cuttin-Herbie-Vocal.mp3|titles=Cuttin' Herbie (Vocal)]
The B Boys dropped another joint in ’83, “Two, Three, Break” which continues in the fashion as the 12” of “Cuttin’ Herbie”, no rap vocals and DJ Chuck Chillout ripping up the wax.
The B Boys returned in ’85 with “Stick Up Kid” b/w “Girls”. The B-side caught on strong and is a certified underground classic. The title suggests it all, Donald D & Brother B entertain with tale of their pursuits and tribulations with the young ladies. It ventures from the explicit to the absurd. Even as far as a mother being disgusted and results in, “Hits Vicky in the head with a jar of mustard.” Good Ole Fashioned outlandish 80s story rap!
Speaking of which, it was the A-Side that was always my choice pick. The beat is stripped down, but rather creative, particularly for the time period. “Stick Up Kids” addresses the crime in the inner city, outlining that no one is safe and just about anything can happen. However, the most classic moment comes when the MCs go back and forth revealing that some of those seemingly tough guys are perpetrating the fraud. Donald D offers, “You wanna be down, giving pounds/Eating Almond Joys, chewing Mounds/Running the streets, rocking the beat/Watching Bernard King from a front row seat/You starving desperado, you stole my El Dorado/And Left my car stranded in Denver Colorado/Then brag and boast from coast to coast/But between me and you, I had your girl the most.” Brother B continues relentlessly, “You knucklehead, still wear Pro-Keds/Can’t buy new Adidas because you have no bread/Your breathe smells rotty, your hair all knotty/Your face all spotty and your nose all snotty/You’re hanging around the bar drinking too much Barcardi/You know you’re not down, can’t join this party/You know you can’t fight always talking about Karate/You’re nothing but a fool and you ain’t nobody!”* Mixed in with the awesome ridiculousness of it all is a heavy dose of reality and a nice touch of advanced rap techniques for the era.
The B Boys-Stick Up Kid
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/B-Boys-Stick-Up-Kid.mp3|titles=B Boys-Stick Up Kid]
Donald D broke out as a solo MC and teamed up with DJ Chilly-D to drop his “Dope Jam” b/w “Outlaw” 12” in ’87 on the very short-lived indie label Rockin’ Hard Records.
Microphone King Donald D & DJ Chilly-D-Dope Jam
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Microphone-King-Donald-D-And-DJ-Chilly-D-dope-jam.mp3|titles=Microphone King Donald D And DJ Chilly D - dope jam]
Meanwhile across the country, Donald D’s former partner, Afrika Islam, had formed an alliance with rising West Coast Legend, Ice T. I assume that is what lead to Donald D, as well as other New York MCs, to become part of the Rhyme Syndicate**.
In ’88 Donald D rocked alongside Ice T and Hen Gee, on “The Syndicate” via Ice T’s sophomore album, Power. That same year the Rhyme Syndicate crew album, “Comin’ Thru” dropped and one of the best joints on the compilation was Donald D and Bronx Style Bob’s “Name Of The Game”.
Ice T soon secured a Rhyme Syndicate label imprint with Epic Records and at the front of the line was Donald D. In ’89 he dropped his debut album, “Notorious”, with production handled by himself, Afrika Islam, Johnny Rivers, and DJ Chilly-D. The biggest track from the album was the metaphoric, “F.B.I”, an acronym flipped to stand for Free Base Institute as he spoke heavily on the Crack epidemic.
Donald D-Notorious[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/A1-Donald-D-Notorious-Vocal-Version.mp3|titles=A1 - Donald-D - Notorious (Vocal Version)]
In ’91 he dropped his second album, “Let The Horns Below”, enlisting the production talents of some heavy hitters; Bilal Bashir, DJ Aladdin, and SLJ, as well as Trekan and Donald D himself. To continue his previous momentum he penned “C.I.A”, cleverly picking up with “F.B.I” left off as he speaks on Crack In America. Other album highlights include the title track, “Rage Of A Rap Renegade” and “3 Poets On A Mission” which features, what I believe is, the debut of Peter Gunz.
Donald D-C.I.A (Crack In America)
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/07.-Donald-D-C.I.A.-Crack-In-America.mp3|titles=07. Donald D - C.I.A. (Crack In America)]
At some point Donald D moved to Japan to do radio and eventually moving to Italy. Thru out that time he continued to make music, DJ, rock shows and keep himself busy. When the Internet music revolution kicked in gear Donald D was prepared and used his Myspace and Facebook to promote a few new vinyl releases and some digital releases as well. As a result of that, I connected with Donald D in 2005 and he blessed me with some Radio Drops for Redefinition Radio. Then last year he blessed with a nice joint that I still give regular spins, "We Are Known As Pioneers", which places homage to the History of Hip Hop Culture with plenty of key name drops and a barrage of essential break beats!
Donald D-We Are Known As Pioneers (2010)
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/DONALD-D-WE-R-KNOWN-AS-THE-PIONEERS.mp3|titles=DONALD-D (WE R KNOWN AS THE PIONEERS)]
Today while strolling the Internets, I came across a music video for his latest project, Bronx Syndicate, titled “Time Machine”. It’s a nice joint and video. Just hearing and watching him rock in that video inspired me to write this piece to celebrate the fact that he’s been so adaptable and resilient, all the while remaining true to the Culture and his own ethics. That is truly an unfortunate rarity in Hip Hop so to The Microphone King Donald D, SALUTE!
Bronx Syndicate-Time Machine:
*I can’t begin to calculate how often these two lines pop in my head randomly; “Eating Almond Joys, Chewing Mounds” and my favorite, “You know you can’t fight, always talking about Karate”. Pure Awesomeness!
**Read a bit about the history of the Rhyme Syndicate in Ice T's super-good Biography HERE!
BONUS JOINT: Donald D-Hellraiser (1990): This a B-side vinyl only cut and I figured it's perfectly fitting with Halloween right around the corner!
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/B1-Donald-D-Hell-Raiser-12-Version.mp3|titles=B1 - Donald-D - Hell Raiser (12'' Version)]
THE B BOYS:
MICROPHONE KING DONALD D: