First off, I wanted to give a special dedication and Rest In Piece to Newcleus Co-Founder, Chilly B. You will be remembered thru your musical contributions to this Culture...
Hip Hop in the early 80s was an incredible era for music, but also a time of great mystery and/or misinformation. Most of the time, this was simply the result of being no where to get information on your favorite artists, record labels, etc… A complete lack of Hip Hop owned or truly supportive magazines, radio stations, & TV programming meant you were left to trust your own imagination or remedial detective skills.
For me, I was living on an Army Base in Germany when I first heard Newcleus, courtesy the classic UK Compilation Series, Street Sounds Electro 1. Their “Jam On Revenge (The Wikki-Wikki Song) was the second track on the record and it captivated my attention with its high quality production, polished sound, altered voices, and catchy “Wiki” hook. It was a bugged out record, filled with humor and even references/parodies some previous Hip Hop hits before it, such as “The Message” and “Rappers Delight”.
Although I enjoyed repeated listens of the track, I did not expect them to come back so strong with the monster track which is “Jam On It”. On this 12” they take the effective elements of “Jam On Revenge”, fine tune them and add in some nicely done rapping.
From there, they just kept it coming non-stop over the next year or so, dropping a string of great singles; “Automan”, “Computer Age (Push The Button)”, “I Wanna Be A B-Boy”*, etc…
However, thru all this I didn’t know much of anything about the actual group. They were on New York based Sunnyview Label, but I seem to recall thinking they were from Florida and not their true home-base of Brooklyn, perhaps because Sunnyview was very active on the Florida scene.
In any event, I imagine I wasn’t alone in not knowing much about the origins of this Hip Hop Powerhouse group. Then circa 1986 they disappeared from the spotlight and I didn’t hear anything about them for years. They did do some other records on smaller indie labels, but seemed to sneak by under the radar.
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that founding member, Cozmo D, signed up for one my most frequented websites, www.oldschoolhiphop.com, and started to drop all sorts of stories, gems and history about Newcleus, Brooklyn’s Hip Hop roots, and the history of Hip Hop itself.
When I found out we had an opportunity to interview the group, I pulled out the IPOD made a Newcleus playlist and soaked it all in as I reminisced on all those things I always wanted to know…
In the interview we discuss not only their complete history, but also; their complete studio and equipment evolution, life after Sunnyview, crazy stories of the Fresh Fest Tour, Unreleased Demos, the meaning of the name, why they are the original first hip hop band, and the completion of the final album in progress!!
VISIT JAM-ON PRODUCTIONS to hear exclusive unreleased demos, purchase their CDs, found out about tour dates, and stay current on what the crew is working on!!
*Although “I Wanna Be A B-Boy” is probably the least popular of all those singles I mentioned, it was always wanna of my favorites. I know a big part of that is how I related to it. I was 15 years old at the time and MCing was perhaps the most important thing to me. I was trying to go “GLOBAL”….ha. This is exactly what they were rapping about, while also challenging the perceptions of people who dismissed Rap as real music. Actually, a year later, in ’86, I wrote a song called “Kick It High” that used a line from the track as the scratch, “Why’s Your Volume Up So High!” It also didn’t hurt that the crew I had been down with for a while was the House Rockers Nation so when they say, “My main goal in life is to be a House Rocker”, I was blown. In closing I want to say that I’m listening to this song while writing this and it actually said that line exactly as I typed it….that was a bit creepy weird….
Newcleus-I Wanna Be A B-Boy:
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/01-I-Wanna-Be-A-B-Boy.mp3|titles=01 I Wanna Be A B-Boy]