For us thirty somethings out there that have been listening to the music since the early/mid/late 80′s, there is nothing more nostalgic than hearing the old radio shows coming out of New York City in the mid and late 80′s, Chuck Chillout, Red Alert, and the one that started it all off, Mr. Magic. Doing the first exclusive hip hop radio show in 1983, Magic was where cats went to get their weekly dose of the latest fresh hip hop music. Backed by a group of DJs, including the great Marley Marl, Magic is one of the most important hip hop figures in those early radio days for hip hop.
My true love for hip hop still lies in the old school stuff, the golden age years, so whenever a project such as the new Mr. Magic compilation “Down The Dial” by Will C. comes along, I’m all ears. My man Will C. attempts to bring the flavor back to the ears for us old fogeys as well as introduce some of those who maybe weren’t around in the 80′s to check out exactly what Mr. Magic meant to the game. “Down The Dial”, offers up a glimpse into what Mr. Magic brought to the table, his importance to the history of hip hop and more. I sat down with Will C. to discuss this extremely impressive project.
Mr. Magic “Down The Dial” GIVE AWAY!!!!!
WYDU in coordination with Will C. will be giving away a FREE copy of the Mr. Magic “Down The Dial” CD to a lucky contestant. Answer the following questions (Read the interview, it’ll help):
Q: Before WBLS, what station was home to Mr. Magic’s “Disco Showcase” and later “Rap Attack”? Also, name another classic rap radio show or DJ that aired on this station in that era.
Get that answer into Will C. (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 11:59 PM Fri, Oct 31, and Will will draw a name from the correct answers for the CD. Don’t miss out on this chance to get a slice of history!
To Purchase “Down The Dial” hit up Will C. at either:
Down The Dial Interview
WYDU: What’s good Will C.? What exactly is “Down The Dial” and why was it important to you to do this project with Mr. Magic?
Will C: What up WYDU? “Down The Dial” is a concept I put together to serve as an all-encompassing tribute to the “Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack” radio show. During the show’s heyday in the 1980s, New York City hip hop radio was filled with excitement and spontaneity. Mr. Magic, who is without a doubt my all-time favorite radio personality, was backed by his main DJ, “Engineer All Star” Marley Marl, who just so happens to be my all-time favorite hip hop producer. With that partnership, the show could do no wrong in my opinion.
“Down The Dial” is my attempt to revisit as well as recreate the Rap Attack. I took the show’s standard format and condensed it to one hour. Throughout the disc you will hear vintage pieces of some classic Rap Attack moments, as well as a collection of mastermixes I created that were heavily inspired by the show. Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, there will be moments where you can’t tell if you’re hearing the vintage side of things or the new mixes. As Magic liked to say, “Is it live or is it Marley Marl?”
W: In your thoughts and words, what is Mr. Magic’s legacy on the radio game and just hip hop in general?
Will C: I think Mr. Magic’s legacy in hip hop is a lot bigger than people tend to realize. He was known as “The Official Voice of Hip Hop.” That’s quite a title! During his years on the radio in NYC, he was an integral part of breaking countless records and acts. As an outspoken host, his crew of DJs had the power to spin your record as many times as they wanted, or to take your record off the turntable and dis it on air for the city to hear. I suppose any New York rap radio personality had the freedom to do this, but nobody used (and perhaps abused) this right as often and vocally as Magic. People would listen to his show not only to hear the best of the new releases, but also to hear what he would say about what he didn’t like. As a result, tapes of his show are still sought after to this day. The people he would dis weren’t always a Joe Schmo group either, especially when one revisits the show and hears future legends getting knocked. The intro to “Down The Dial” serves as evidence of this.
The reason I say people don’t always real
ize the magnitude of his legacy is because a lot of his golden moments are frozen in time. In such an easily accessible era, where one can snatch up classic albums for nothing and search wikipedia for info on their favorite groups, there is still a lack of substantial information online on Magic. You can’t go out and buy his “classic album,” because he’s not an artist. The Rap Attack isn’t something you can buy in a store, and you would be hard pressed to download a great quality show of his from front to back online. This makes his legacy more prone to slipping through the cracks. People reference him and seem to have an understanding that he meant a lot to the game, but without a standard means to grasp that legacy, it leaves people cloudy on the history. Hopefully “Down The Dial” will take steps in changing this.
W: You are doing this project on your own, how has it been putting this thing together? What has the initial response been like?
Will C: Man it’s been hectic, but I like to think of it as a good hectic. People are responding positively… I strongly believe there’s a demographic of hip hop listeners out there that are into this type of thing, a combination of those who have a nostalgic urge to hear an important part of their childhood, and those of a new generation trying to discover some lost gems. I’m on a mission to get the word out on the project so that everybody potentially interested is aware it exists! Nobody else is going to do that for me, so I’m thankful we live in a computer age where I can do a lot of the work myself from the comfort of my own home.
W: How was it working with Mr. Magic himself on this project as far as stories he had to share, his willingness and the such? What was his reaction when you first approached him?
Will C: Looking back, it’s crazy to me how this all went down. I actually met Mr. Magic and his longtime friend and business partner Tyrone “Fly Ty” Williams for reasons completely unrelated to this project. In fact, I met them before I was consciously working on “Down The Dial.” We had kind of a funny first encounter. Ty looked at me, noticing I was significantly younger than them, and went into what seemed to be almost a routine interrogation… (pointing to Magic) “DO YOU KNOW WHO THIS MAN IS?! The FIRST MAN to play hip hop on the radio!” I told them I knew that… one month later we’re building on ideas. Fly Ty is a story teller, and when he talks, I listen. They gave me all new behind the scenes knowledge about the Rap Attack. They told me things about the Juice Crew that blew my mind. Maybe someday those stories will see the light of day, but that’s a whole other project.
One day Ty and Magic brought me a boatload of old Rap Attack cassettes. The tapes were from the vaults of Juice Crew affiliate Starrlite. (random side note: Starrlite is the female rapper on Jazzy Keith’s “Force Desire” from Street Sounds Hip Hop / Electro 18). I had never seen an archive like this, dating back to Magic’s days on 105.9 WHBI when his show was called the Disco Showcase! There weren’t even enough good hip hop 12”s released to fill his time slot at that time… that’s going way back (check my track “New York Class” for more on this). We leaked a piece of one of the older tapes via Stretch Armstrong’s “Konstant Kontact” blog around the time I first checked it out. It was an excerpt from the Mr. Magic Disco Showcase 1981 where he, ridiculously enough, had just came from the classic amphitheatre jam the night “Wild Style” was filmed.
Over time, the tapes inspired me to start creating what was to become “Down The Dial.” I knew it was falling into place when I had Magic in C’s Section (my studio) recording exclusive radio spots. He gave me his blessing to get creative with the mix and make it happen.
W: What were some of your early memories/favorite moments that had to do with the radio show?
Will C: There are so many highlights, but I’ll just throw some out there that come to mind immediately. There’s nothing like hearing a now-classic record play on the show with the signature “A Worlllld Premiere” drop over it. This essentially means they were playing the brand new record for the first time. Put it this way… I got a show where the “World Premiere” drop is over The Furious Five’s “The Message.” Something about that just blows my mind! What adds to that scenario is when the world premiered record is an earlier recording than the final product we are all familiar with. I’ve heard shows where they play out alternate mixes and earlier rough cuts of tracks like Slick Rick’s “The Ruler’s Back,” Whodini’s “Funky Beat,” Big Daddy Kane’s “Aint No Half Steppin’,” among others.
Some of the most entertaining moments on the show are when he would dis a record. They had a drop they would play as they were taking a record off that they thought was wack. It was Mike C from the Fearless Four saying “IiiiIi don’t like it! I don’t like it at all, I don’t like it!…” Sometimes that drop comes when you least expect it.
Magic would constantly throw disses in the dir
ection of DJ Red Alert on 98.7 KISS FM. During one point in time WBLS (the station the Rap Attack was on) had a drop that stated “KISS BUSTERS!” Some of my favorite tapes are from the era when BDP had just come out, and Magic and the Juice Crew are trading verbal blows with KRS and Scott La Rock. We all know what was said on record, but there was quite a bit of memorable things said on air too.
It certainly isn’t all about the controversy though. Honestly, I just really enjoy hearing these recordings where hip hop radio was a lot more fun. I have one show from the early Eighties where they’re playing a Malcolm McLaren record, when all of a sudden Magic starts counting down “10…9…8” until you hear them celebrating the New Year. Everybody just seemed to be enjoying themselves. It was a different time.
W: You have an early special as an incentive for people to grab this early, can you explain a little bit about that offer?
Will C: No doubt! To celebrate the release of “Down The Dial” I decided to offer a deluxe package, limited to 100 pressed. The package contains the “Down The Dial” deluxe digipack CD, as well as the “No More Music By The Suckers” 18” x 24” poster and WBLS “POW! Right In The Kisser” T-shirt. The poster features 12 of the most interesting tapes from the vaults of Starrlite, including the previously mentioned “Wild Style” show. The “WBLS” t-shirt is based on a 1980s design by Mr. Magic and Fly Ty. The front features the original “107.5 WBLS In a Class By Itself” logo, with the “Will C.” and “Down The Dial” logos at the bottom. The back features the 98.7 KISS FM signature lips on the back crossed out, with the text “POW! Right In The Kisser,” with scrolling Public Enemy text “…No More Music By The Suckers…” across the bottom. They’re getting snatched up fast, so don’t sleep! Hit up iLLLicense@yahoo.com with your address and t-shirt size (M, L, XL) to get your hands on one of the remaining packages! For more info and pictures, check out http://www.myspace.com/willc6
W: What do you hope people get out of this release? Do think hip hop radio will ever have another on air personality such as Mr. Magic, or for that matter the other early cats, such as Red, Stretch and Bobbito, ect?
Will C: I just want people to enjoy this thing. I had a great time making it! Sadly, I don’t think there will ever be another wave of the aforementioned personalities, but I’d love to be proved wrong. The problem is with such an over saturation of clueless rap music, the next radio talent would probably have to name his show something like the “Disco Showcase” as well, because for even more depressing reasons, there wouldn’t be enough good hip hop singles to fill up a time slot. Instead of too little we have too much crap.
Sending what’s up and thank yous to: KARMA, Big Dan, 7L & Esoteric, Magic and Ty, Riz, Biz, Classic MC, Nostalgic, Raydar Ellis, and finally to WYDU for giving me the opportunity to do this interview. Peace