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Mr. Magic and Mister Cee - 1995
Hip-Hop History 101

This was truly an honor getting to sit down and spend time with 2 legendary figures in Hip-Hop music. For those who don't know, here's the facts:

Mr. Magic was the first man to play hip-hop on the radio (details below), and his pioneering Rapp Attack show (with DJ Marley Marl) on WBLS New York radio was the birthplace of the Juice Crew, a collective of artists incuding MC Shan, Roxanne Shante, Craig G, Bizmarkie, Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, and Big Daddy Kane. Throughout the eighties the Juice Crew battled with Kiss FM's DJ Red Alert and his stable of artists led by Boogie Down Productions (who first became known by dissing the Juice Crew's MC Shan).

DJ Mister Cee joined the Juice Crew as Big Daddy Kane's DJ, but long after Kane himself faded away Mister Cee continued to be a major player in the rap game. He's been one of the top mixtape DJs, managed and produced numerous groups and is well known as the man who discovered Biggie Smalls. Nowadays Mister Cee and Mister Magic are reunited on Hot 97, where they bring old-school classics every Sunday night. At the time of this interview they also had an underground show on WNYC, which is where i sat down with them for a classic hip-hop conversation.

JAY:So let's start from the beginning...What were you guys like as kids growing up? Before You got into hip-hop?
MAGIC: I was a hoodlum. No, not really a hoodlum, but I was always in trouble. Not really always in trouble. Let me just see, how can I explain it? I was a basketball player; played ball; got a girl pregnant when I was, like, 15, stopped playing ball, started working, still finished school, went to college; I was doing some clubs, I was playing in clubs; me and a friend of mine named Nate we went and got a van, and we started doing mobile stuff. That's when I first met Winston. Winston used to have Bonds, Studio 54, he was like a promoter; he got in touch with me and I started playing bigger clubs; I always kind of wanted to be a DJ on the radio. So then I did some college, I went to Bronx Community; and then, let's see, I started at what's called WNWK now but it used to be WHBI.
JAY: What year was that?
MAGIC: Hmmmm, ah, '77?
JAY: Wow, that long ago? And what other hip hop was on the radio at that time?
MAGIC: Wasn't no hip hop.
JAY: So yours was the first hip-hop show on the radio?
MAGIC: Even when I first went into radio, it wasn't really called hip hop, it was called disco. So you know like doing the clubs, from playing in the clubs I ran into Kurtis [Blow] and Grandmaster Flash and all of them, so you know we became friends. I was just from Brooklyn, they was from the Bronx, but I used to always run into them and Winston was one of those guys who used to believe in that battling stuff 'cause he used to have two different rooms. Then he would have a DJ from the Bronx playing in one room and have us from Brooklyn playing in the other room and he started his whole battle thing. And so that's why battling was always like a way of life for me. So then, let's see, around '79 I went to HBI, 'cause they had some air time. I always wanted to do it, so I was like working in this electronics store. I used to make speakers and stuff, so. They said that they would help me sponsor it, so I bought an hour, it was maybe like $100 or something like that. The store, all I had to do was advertise the store, because I had built up a following playing in the clubs so a lot of the other DJ's that I knew used to come around there and I used to give them discounts on speakers and used to make speakers and the whole thing. So then, let's see, HBI, I started playing at HBI, they expanded to 2 hours. I used to come on real, real late at night. At that time it was called "Magic's Disco Showcase"; wasn't even no hip hop. I used to have someone come down and just hang out like we do now. And you know if they started rapping, like Kurtis would come down and start rapping, Melle Mel would come down and start rapping. (Laughter) And so then it kind of developed. And then the Sugar Hill Gang came out with "Rapper's Delight" and then it was Frankie Crocker, their station was doing kind of bad in the ratings, so his music director's name was May James. Her daughter's name was Crystal, she used to always listen to me on a sneak tip.
JAY: Uh huh.
MAGIC: Her mother was like, "It's 2 o'clock in the morning; what you doing with that radio, 'cause this is before Walkmans came out. "What you doing with that radio?" She used to have it under her pillow and the whole thing. So she kept telling her mother. So May was the music director and so Frankie was like, their ratings were sagging, and she was telling him about me. So he sent for me. So we started talking and he asked me if I was interested in going to a commercial show with a commercial radio station. I said, "Yeah, of course" because I would have regular hours, I wouldn't have to be on at 2:00 in the morning, I wouldn't have to pay to be on the radio, they would pay me. So I think that was around . . . I did HBI for about two years, so that was about '81. Then I went to BLS. That's when I met Tyrone [Tyrone Williams aka Fly Ty] and Marlon [producer Marley Marl] . We kind of built up like a family type of thing and then came Shanté, going to Marley's house, because Marley always had all the equipment in his house. 'Cause Marley was a DJ too. So he always had all the equipment, he was like a little genius, he was always fixing stuff and all of that so, to make a long story short, Shanté came in town, she made the record [Roxanne's Revenge], that's how the Roxanne Roxanne thing started. Then after that everybody would put the next person on, so that's how Shan got put on. After Shan came Biz, cuz everybody used to open up for the person that was hot.So then came Biz and then came Kane, right. Then came Kane and then came G-Rap. Everybody putting each other on. And then that went through the '80's, and, you know, the rest is history
JAY: What about you , Cee?
CEE: Well, when I was younger, I was like Magic when he used to play basketball, I used to play all sports. I was one of those type of kids who played stickball, baseball, basketball, hockey . . . (laughter), I was a goalie at one time, (more laughter) . . played hockey like a motherfucker, I wanted to be a black goalie in the NHL type-shit. I used to play all sports. I was weighing like a buck-o-five. Scrawny looking kid. Nappy head. They used to call me "Corduroy Head" and shit like that. I was a nerd. (laughter) You know, all kinds of shit. And then, started working at 14, summer jobs, New York City summer jobs, started going through that. Then when I got 17, 18, I graduated from high school.
MAGIC: Didn't you go to school with Kane?
CEE: Me and Kane went to the same high school, Sarah J. Hill High School, a school for cosmetology. (laughter) We both went to a school for cosmetology (laughter).
MAGIC: But y'all had all the females in there.
CEE: All females were there. And it's funny, Kane got kicked out from another practically all-girls school, he got kicked out from, I forgot the name of that school, but it's a school for cooking. I think it's Park West. Used to be Park West High School. It was a school for cooking, so that was mostly girls, he got kicked out of that, got into Sarah J. which is a school for cosmetology. So that's how I met Kane, I met him in high school. But, as far as like what I was doing, before I really got into the rap thing I was like a messenger for like seven years. (Magic laughs). I was just a regular messenger for different messenger services. Then at my last job I was working for Airborne Express, so you can't tell me nothing about the City. I know the City like I know my balls!. (Laughter) I know every part of the City, you know. And that's what I was doing. When I was working for Airborne Express we had the deal like Cold Chillin. I was working for Airborne Express all the way up until we put out the Long Live the Kane album. And then the Juice Crew all of us, we went to London overseas for the Juice Crew tour, and then like my supervisor at Airborne, he was like, "Yo." I wanted to take a leave of absence cuz I still wanted to have a job and still do the record thing. My supervisor was like, "you got to pick one or the other." and I was out. And here I am.
JAY: Who came up with the name "Juice Crew"?
MAGIC: I did. This girl at BLS, she used to call. . . cuz see, Juice, that was the station with the juice at that time. Juice was like a word that we always used to say at the Fever. I used to always hang out at the Fever constantly. So she came up with the name "Sir Juice." So I'm the one who kind of, when I first went to BLS they used to call it the station with the juice. So she started calling me "Sir Juice." So that's how the Juice Crew developed cuz it was kind of like my crew at the time.
go to part two