I heard Chapter III’s (a.k.a Chapter Three) “Real Rocking Groove” last night and it immediately opened a floodgate of great memories. I first heard the song in ’82 courtesy of a tape my Hip Hop mentor, Steve “MC Romeo” White brought with him from New York. It must have been early in the year because it was apparently before I received my portable Sharp GF-575 Double Cassette Deck for my B-day in March. I assume this because the only means I had of listening to “Real Rock Groove” from ’82 until about ’07 or so when I got a better version of it was due to my previous means of acquiring dubs of music. At the time, my only recourse was taking two individual tape decks and set them with the speakers facing each other and hope things would remain quiet in the household during the dubbing process. They rarely did… The tape with “Real Rocking Groove” is ripe with character via the doorbells, dog barking, and someone deciding to run the vacuum during the recording, before a pleading call for them to postpone their chores. Even today when I listen to a proper recording of “Real Rocking Groove” those sounds are still an unconscious part of the listening process.
Another thing about that time period relates to the fact that I was living on a Army Base in Germany and getting tapes from the in flux of East Coast families joining the Military. As a result, I had zero concept of who or what was popular. To me all these songs were equal in terms of popularity. My only means of determining if an artist was popular was if they released another song. That was my thought process...if you released a new song, then your last song must have been successful. As for you first release, if I really enjoyed it I just naturally assumed it was going to be a hit until proven otherwise. Life was simple then…although often inaccurate and/or naive.
I really, really liked Chapter III’s “Real Rocking Groove”. It was among my favorite songs of the time. They effectively interpolated Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real” and the drum breaks of their band, Grand Groove Bunch, were always heavy and raw. All the MCs have classic MC voices. The “III” in the group name represents the MCS; Golden Voice, Cee Jay, and B Rock, but they also had two DJS, Disco Prince and T Ski Valley (who was also a gifted MC and dropped the classic “Catch The Beat” single, as well as some other great songs). The crew’s approach was a nice blend of Bronx styled party rocking and Downtown sophistication, which suggests the crew was probably able to successfully please both crowds. The track has a natural live show feel to it and the harmonizing breakdown at the 3:22 mark is one of favorite parts of the song*. One of the highlights of the lyricism is when they elaborate on the skills of the man behind the wheels of steel, which serves as a reminder that they come from the era where it was the DJ, not the MC who was the true star, “With a slide of the hand, a slap of the fade/He’s the quick cut master, the king of the trade/Not a cut, not a mix will ever be delayed/Rocking on beat with the new found praise (?)/MCs/Never spinning back or picking it up/Disco…. Oooh! You’re just too much!”
Chapter III released another 12” in the same year titled “Smurf Trek” which capitalizes on the strange fascination Hip Hop had with the Smurf Cartoon. To add some extra layers of excitement to the theme they blast off and partake in their Smurf experience in the limitless confines of space. I spoke about this track in my Hip Hop Smurf blog HERE. Even without the space travel this song is a bit out there, but it is also chock full of the funk, makes fine use of electronic Smurf voices, and has some nice, though eccentric, Rapping. Towards the end of the track the crew reworks some lyrics to some disco-funk classic such as Dazz Band’s “Let It Whip” and Skyy’s “No Music”, once again showcasing their party-rocking skills.
For both releases Chapter III were on Grand Groove Records, which was apparently run by Brad Osborne who owned a record store in the Bronx. Brad Osborne is more widely known in the music world for his other label, Clock Tower Records, which released many Reggae Classics. The music for all their records was provided by the Grand Groove Bunch and was always top quality. I never really noticed this before, but besides the first record on the label, T Ski Valley’s “Catch The Beat” (1981) and the last record, T Ski Valley’s “Cut It Up” album, all the other records were all released in 1982**. That’s unfortunate because the label had a solid line-up of artists (T Ski Valley, Chapter III, & Just Four), a winning formula for their musical foundation, and a small string of quality 12” singles.
Chapter III didn’t release any music together post-1982 and there’s not much info about them online. Golden Voice went on to form a group in the 90s, Partners In Kryme, who is most famous for their song in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, “Turtle Power”. Hip Hop history enthusiast Werner von Wallenrod interviews Golden Voice on his Blog HERE about the days of Chapter III and Partners In Kryme.
Although Chapter III didn’t have any other official releases, I’d like to assume there must be some live show recordings of them rocking back in the day. Based on the energy captured on their records, specifically “Real Rocking Groove”, I’d love to get my hands on some of those…
Written By Kevin Beacham, King Of Home Tape Dubbing…
*The singing part has a feel that is reminiscent to G-Man’s classic moment on Crash Crew’s “High Power Rap”
**A quick online investigation suggests the label owner Brad Osborne was killed in 1983, which would explain why Grand Groove Records didn’t have any releases past 1982. R.I.P