Sunday, December 21, 2008

When It Was All About A Party

Man, I've been sick with bronchitis as well as pneumonia, so I haven't been able to post, but I figure that now that I'm a little stronger I'd hit you with this...

This group right here rocked the mf'n house! They were called the Disco Four. Should've been the Disco Four Plus One More. The crew consisted of Greg G, Country, Mr. Troy, Ronnie D and Cool T. This was an Uptown group that had the hip-hop flavor, but you could really feel the R&B vibe as well.

Their best cuts were "Do, it, Do it", "Throwdown", "Here Comes that Beat" and this one right here "We're At the Party".

This may have been the best cut of that year. I think it was 1983 when this dropped. The harmonies - back in the day, four or five guys would sound like one, well, these guys would harmonize and sound like the 5 Stairsteps or something like that.

None of them, were stand out lyricists. But they all came together well and did the damn thing. My man Troy L Smith from the Foundation has interviewed Greg G (Greg Marius) and is in the process of interviewing Ronnie D (Ronnie Robinson) whose father is Bobby Robinson that owned Enjoy Records. Ronnie is also first cousin to Spoonie Gee.

The production on this cut is great it sounds like the producer - I believe Eric Matthews, replayed or should I say, made a version of Isaac Hayes "You've Lost that Lovin' feelin' if you lsiten to the piano and the bass line, tell me what you think, it sounds like that break to me. But somewhere between "Here Comes that Beat" and "We're At the Party" is the very essence of the Disco 4.

Mark Skillz

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Founding Fathers Part Two: My Disco Brother...

Because I want to be able to walk the streets of the Bronx in peace I better clarify my position on the last post.


Ok...the hip-hop of the Bronx was pioneered by Kool DJ Herc in 1973. Hands down no questions or arguments from me. What Kool Herc did back then inspired Afrika Bam, Flash, Theodore, AJ, Charlie Chase, Breakout and hundreds and hundreds of others.

However, in the other boroughs a similiar thing was going on. The differences weren't major. Whereas, Kool Herc called his set the 'merry go round' (when he played break after break after break after break) cats in Brooklyn and Queens ie; Master D, the Smith Brothers, Grandmaster Flowers, King Charles, Disco Twins, Infinity Machine and many others were playing rhythm and blues and funk and soul records. They didn't specialize in rare and obscure records with five second breaks like the Bronx cats did, but they did spin records like "Phenomenon Theme" and "Ashley's Roachclip" and when the break came on they kept it going. Not by scratching or cuttin, but they extended the break.

At that time damn near everything in Black music was called disco as the producer (Ron Lawrence) of the documentary below asked me recently.

"Yo, what was Grandmaster Flash's right hand mans name?" Disco Bee. He has a point there.

Lil Rodney Cee of the Funky Four used this line in one of his rhymes: "to be a dis-co sensation a rock rock yall."

Or how bout this: (can't remember the groups name but as the MC handed the mic off to the next MC he said) "My disco brother, get on the mic you undercover lover!"

There was an uptown group called the Disco Enforcers. There was another group (actually one of my favorite groups ) called the Disco Four.

All this to say, cats front on disco big time. But everything back then was called disco and there was no such thing or concept as hip-hop. Especially if we're talking about 1975.

King Charles, Grandmaster Flowers and Pete DJ Jones had been doing their thing since the late 60's! These guys mixed the hell out of records. What they did inspired cats in Brooklyn and Queens. At some point (don't ask me when or where) the two different styles (the Bronx style and the BK/Queens style) started converging.