home | radio show | freestyle archive | photo gallery | who we are

Jay Smooth interviews Mr. Magic and Mister Cee - 1995
Part Three: The State of the Union.

back to part two

JAY: How do you feel hip hop is different now than how it was when you were doing the Rap Attack?
MAGIC: At that time you could build up an allegiance to a certain rapper this way to the point where if Run DMC came out with a new record you were just going to buy it because you was a friend. Now there are too many rappers. It's like everybody got a rap group on their block; it's a DJ in every block; it's a block party and everybody wants to be down. And the thing that really sets people apart -- you got to be original. I also feel like the West Coast caught up to us but the East Coast came forward this year, with Biggie, and with Craig Mack. But the West Coast was doing us bad for a while; and the thing I like about the West Coast they got real good beats, but the East Coast got better lyrics. That's what I feel, but rap will be around. And plus, the fusion of reggae into rap, that also expanded it too.
CEE: I think rap has changed from just on the fact of it being on a mainstream level now. I mean, just about every commercial you see on TV is something with a rap record or somebody rapping, you know. You got rappers that's doing Sprite commercials, doing Reebok commercials, it's just totally on a mainstream level now; that it's just, we out of here.
MAGIC: And see white people like it too, now.
CEE: We're out of here with this rap thing. Like back in the early '80's, they was like it was no stopping rap, but now you just, it's way out of hand. When you got people like Michael Jackson bringing in Biggie Smalls to do a record together, it's out of here. It's out of control.
MAGIC: (Laughter) That's another thing about nowadays. I think that the rappers need to have better stage shows. A lot of times you see the rappers they're just like, studio musicians and when it comes to a stage show, they's why like, there's no tours now. Everybody's just rappin' and rappin' and plus the videos kind of hurt the tour situation too, because people would wait to see the person that they liked. Nowadays it's just, everybody's doing the same thing; it's just too many songs out. That's why, in order to be successful now, you've got to have something that everybody doesn't have. That's why Wu Tang is good, cuz they've got like a real good stage show, where you want to see them.
CEE: When me and Kane was coming up, I think that was a pivotal point of rappers that had dope stage shows; whether there was Kane, or whether it was Biz, or whether it was Luke or NWA or Dougie Fresh or Whodini or Run DMC, like the late '80's was like the pivotal point where it was just dope MC's but also dope stage shows.
MAGIC: Fresh Fest.
CEE: Forget about it. And nowadays Magic is right, it's just a lot of MC's who've got the most incredible records just don't have a stage show. And people's not going to pay $20 and $25 to hear you do the record the same exact way you do it on the album, you know what I'm saying?
JAY: Exactly. Exactly.
CEE: They want a little drama to it. Another thing about the stage show situation is that you know, like when we was coming up, we had the dances, whether it was Scoob and Scrap, or there was Heavy D and the BOYZ with their dances or whatever; Joe Ski Love with the Peewee Dancers, we had an extra little thing going on onstage whether it was the rappers, the dancers, whatever. Now, it's like, you've got an MC and a hype man. (Laughter) Somebody that will just get on stage and say "Ho-oo-oo, ho-ooo-oo!"
JAY: And steps on all your punch lines.
CEE: I'm not knocking that, but at the same time, there's somebody out there that's trying to come out that wants to bring more dynamics to the stage, and we just have to wait and see who that person is gonna be. I think Hammer to be honest with you had a lot to do with killing the stage show or presence cuz after Hammer came out and he had 30 and 40 dancers, had had like mothertfuckin' the Rockettes! (Laughter) After he did that he just overdramatized the stage and like . . .
JAY: So people had to go the other way . . .
CEE: Right, and so after he did that it's like he just really ran the dancing etc. on a rap stage show overboard and then everybody said, "We ain't touching it no more." So, I don't know what's going to be next, but, we have to wait and see.
JAY: Do you think it's better for you to use a DAT or a live music at a show?
CEE: Coming from experience, depending on your situation. But when me and Kane used to do shows, Scoob and Scrap was dancing, and them motherfuckers danced so hard that they would make our records skip. So all the songs that we performed "Ain't No Half-Steppin", etc. or whatever, we would have those songs on DAT. All the songs that we performed would be on DAT, but any free styles that was done, any interaction with the crowd or whatever would be done live on turntables cuz Kane kicking the freestyle stage Scoob and Scrap is not dancing while he's freestyling. Or if he's interacting with the crowd onstage, Scoob and Scrap is not dancing. But when the songs actually come on, Scoob and Scrap dancing. So I used to go back and forth; I used to be half live, half DAT. Is there something wrong with it? I think to a certain extent it is. You know what's wrong with it? When artists get on stage and say "Yo, son, turn that DAT on . . ., Yo, turn the DAT on son . . . Man, let's start this shit off. . . ". I cannot stand that. That shit just kills me. Cuz I just never was brought up like that. You supposed to be, everything's supposed to be kept secretive, you know what I'm saying. How you do your show. You have a DJ behind you and you're saying, "Yo, son, start the DAT". I mean that makes the DJ look stupid. And it's just unprofessional. If you want to use a DAT, use a DAT, but make you shit tight to where people don't know you 're using a DAT, you know what I'm saying. Doing shows on the road, so many people, like we would be on tour with Chuck, with PE or Stetsasonic or EPMD and them motherfuckers would be like "How did you switch back from DAT-live-DAT-live?" If you really work hard enough you can do it, you know what I'm saying? But motherfuckers don't, they just wanna -- get that money, like LL said, "6-G for 20 minutes is the pay that I earned", they just want that and be out. So, I don't know.
JAY: What do you feel is the importance of underground radio in hip hop today?
MAGIC In New York? Well, it's where you break the records and start the buzz. And see the thing about HOT '97, although it's my station, their playlist is real short. Because their philosophy is they want a quick turnover because everybody don't sit and listen to the radio stations for hours. They figure that it's like day party. They want to hear all of the dope songs in each day part. That's why the records keep repeating. The only way that you could hear anything else other than HOT '97 is the underground shows. Cuz I mean even now I get tired of listening to HOT '97, you know very seldom, we go to our music meeting and I know what's coming up and believe me you will hear it within the next couple of hours. You will hear everything that's on there. And that becomes annoying. That's another reason why here in New York mix tapes are so hot. Because you get tired of hearing the same thing.
CEE: When we first got to HOT '97 and they explained how the playlist is done or whatever, I really didn't understand it. But now I kind of like do, because like Magic said, for somebody to listen to one station for 12 hours, they would just have to be an asshole
MAGIC: And have no life (laughter).
CEE: They would just have to be ridiculous or something, so I see their philosophy on what they're saying. It's working right now for them, but as far as underground radio, it's been going on since the beginning of time, with Magic, with fuckin' Supreme Team, with Jerry Bloodrock, with the Awesome Two; you know the Awesome Two's been on the air for 15 years, man. With the Awesome Two, with the Afrikka Islam, the Zulu Beats, I mean, it's going on like that, since hip hop began, since the whole art of mixing two records at one time was started. So underground radio has always been a part of hip hop, whether it was in New York or the rest of the country. I mean the rest of the country they don't call it underground radio, they just call it college radio. But at the same time, it's very important.
MAGIC: Plus, you get to hear the stuff that's not commercial, you understand; plus you get to hear like a lot of new artists. That's how they get started and that eventually filters down to the HOT '97's and the PGC's in DC and so on and so forth.
CEE: It's just like comedy. If you can see somebody like DL Huey on BET when he does that Comic View show on BET; but when he's on HBO, he's cursing like a motherfucker; he's just raw with his shit and that's the same thing with commercial radio. Commercial radio is just clean cut, proper, but the underground shit, you can just get away with shit, you have no limits on what you want to play and what you want to do . . .and the kids like it, you know? They like it. They fiend for it. Every week. they listen to us, or they listen to your show, or they listen to Dirty Dozen or Awesome Two or Stretch and Bobbito; they just can't wait to hear what new song that we got. And that's real good, cuz it's like over 20 underground rap shows in New York, but everybody has their own exclusives every week. Like I may have a new KRS record, you may have a new Fat Joe record, Stretch and Bobbito may have a new Gangstarr record, everybody has their own exclusives. It's like, nobody plays the same exact records on their show. And everybody's show is different, even though we're all playing rap, everybody's show is different.
MAGIC: Everybody's got his own thing.
CEE: Everybody's show is different. And I've been to everybody's show on the underground circuit. Everybody's show is different. That just bugs me out, but that just shows that us being individuals we're all different, so our taste is going to be different. Like with me and Magic's show, I look at our show, it's an underground show but it's still kind of like more proper, like we do stuff more on a timely basis.
JAY: One last question, I always wanted to ask you, I used to listen to the show every week, and like you'd be playing that "this is a world premiere-premiere-premiere" cart, but it would be a song I'd heard on your show like three times already. Why would you play the cart then?
MAGIC: Cuz Marley fucked up. (Laughter) Marley's good for that. Marley's cool, see but another thing like having different DJ's. Marley's cool, but CEE is a lot more organized.
JAY: So it was Marley that was controlling that part.
MAGIC: Well , if Ty wasn't there screaming, anything could happen with Marley. Like we was on tour one time he forgot our records. Marley's really better as a producer. That's really what his expertise is. What really makes Marley real, real good is the way he could mix shit in the studio.
JAY: Right.
MAGIC: Like he hears certain things that other motherfuckers just don't hear. Like me for instance; if I'm in the studio and I'm doing something, I get bored too quickly. After a while it all sounds the same. Marley got that little expertise where he can bring out the bells in a certain area. So everybody's got certain things that they do good. C is a lot more organized; makes my life a lot easier. You know, we got a nice crew. There's Ty too. We can't forget Ty cuz Ty does a lot of the shit you can't see; he does a lot of the organizing.
CEE: Especially with the HOT '97 show, cuz like there's a lot of old school records that I may bring, and I have the name of the record but I don't have the artist on the record. And I'll be like, "Ty, who made this record? And he'll be like "it's the Emotions". So he gives us the mileage.
MAGIC: He's like the producer. Cuz he writes all the commercial copy, all of that shit. He's got his expertise. That's like when we did the old to the new shit; he's got that way to add to the shit that make everything come out right.
CEE: And that's how Fly Time started too, cuz he started doing radio at BLS. Am I right?
CEE: He was at BLS also, so . . .
MAGIC: Matter of fact, the way I met Ty, he used to do high school sports. So I had a problem getting places on time . . . so Crocker told Ty to come and get me since he lived in Brooklyn and I was in Brooklyn; so that's how we hooked up and shit. And you know, he kind of represented me in different things. Like I said, we all became like family. We've been together a while . . . 12 years.
CEE: Long time ago. Before we break out I just want to tell everybody to read this article, just support underground radio. Just support radio in general, but especially underground radio, cuz as far as rap is concerned, that's the only way that artists come through is through underground radio, or the mix tapes or whatever; but I mean, it's just like how a flower grows. It has to grow from the ground up; that's the same way that artists have to grow; and this is where we're at. We're in the ground, come down here and check this out before you get to that other level, cuz this is where they come; they all come through here; we just had Smooth tha Hustler here, that's how they all come through: they come through this level first, and then they get large, and then they forget about us, but you know . . .
MAGIC: Not all of them, just a few.
CEE: So that's how it goes.
JAY: Thanks a lot, man.
Back to the Interviews