Charlie Chase!!! One of the founding members of the legendary group the Cold Crush Brothers, is an influential thread to the fabric of Hip-Hop. Hes considered one of the first Latino DJs to make it in this art. As Hip-Hop was catching on, he played along with the other pioneers Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Wizzard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash, etc. His style carried its own flavor and he was one that fused Salsa and Hip-Hop bringing cultures together.
His love for the art led him to join forces with DJ Tony Tone to form the Cold Crush Brothers. As co-founders of the group, they recruited Grandmaster Caz, JDL, Almight KG and Easy AD, the rest is pretty much history. The group has a slew of records and they played themselves in the cult film Wild Style. They performed all around the world as a group and are still performing today.
Please enjoy our interview with RareHipHops own, DJ Charlie Chase!
RareHipHop.com: We are here with the legendary Charlie Chase. Where do you come from?
Charlie Chase: If you want to go back, Im Puerto Rican and I was born and raised in NYC. I grew up half of my young life in Brooklyn, until to the age of ten then I moved to the Bronx. I went back and forth and then when I was about 14 years old I stayed in the Bronx.
RareHipHop.com: How did you get involved in Hip-Hop?
Charlie Chase: I used to be in a band, I was a musician first. I was in all kinds of bands, funk bands, rock bands, Spanish bands. At that time I was in a Spanish band, we also played Salsa and Merengue and stuff. The keyboard player had a hobby of DJing, so one day I went to pick him up at his house and I saw him DJing and I had never seen anybody DJ before. I heard about it and always wondered about it, but I never knew about the mechanics of it. I just knew basically that you played one record on one side and it plays on the other. So I was watching him do it, but it took me going to his house several times before the bug really bit. Then I started DJing with them for a while and doing functions here and there then I came across break beats. When I came across break beats that was it for me! That was when I was into it lock, stock and barrel and knew this is what I wanted to do and I started doing parties on my own.
RareHipHop.com: So how did you hook up with the Cold Crush Brothers?
Charlie Chase: Well I created the Cold Crush Brothers. Tony Tone and I became friends in 77. I was already DJing then, I started in 75. So Tony used to go school with one of my MCs named RC. He knew Tony was the sound man for the Brothers Disco - DJ Breakout, DJ Baron and the Funky 4, so he was telling Tony about me and brought Tony to my house. We became friends and started doing stuff together and Tony was the one who introduced me to the bigger people at the time, like Bambaataa, Herc, Breakout, Baron and others. We created the Cold Crush in the latter part of 77. We always wanted to get a crew together, a good crew. We had MCs at the time and not that they were bad MCs, but we thought we could do better. So Grandmaster Caz was always a good friend of mine and we were always doing stuff with him. One day Tony came up to me with a flyer and said this is what he wanted to call the crew. On the flyer it said, This is another Cold Crush product. Tony said he wanted to call us the Cold Crush Crew, cause at that time everyone was a crew or a posse, so he wanted to call it a crew. I said, if we are going to form a group we are going to be like family, so we are going to call it the Cold Crush Brothers. Tone said I like that!
One day we were holding auditions for MCs and I always wanted Grandmaster Caz to be down with me and my crew but I couldn make it happen. Grandmaster Caz never wanted to do anything because he had his crew, but with my DJing and Grandmaster Cazs MCing we could start the Cold Crush, so I kind of fooled him into getting into the Cold Crush (laughs). I asked him to come down and help me pick out MCs for the new crew I was trying to put together. He came down and helped me, but I had to finagle my way into getting him on to the group! Now the funny thing is, I wanted Grandmaster Caz, but I didn want JDL. At the time JDL was kinda crazy and I didn want to deal with it (laughs) and I told him I didn want JDL. Well Grandmaster Caz said, if JDL can be down, then I don wanna join. So I was kinda forced, so I said I will deal with it. Then they joined, AD was already down and KG was already down so thats how the Cold Crush Brothers were born.
RareHipHop.com: So what was the backlash from being from Puerto Rican?
Charlie Chase: I wasn born prejudice and I definitely didn come from a family that raised me like that, my mother was a very loving person. The funny thing, as I kid all my best friends were black, I didn have any Puerto Rican best friends, they were all black (laughs)! I would bring them home from school, chill out, my moms would cook for all of us! I was never raised to think like that. I never had a problem with it, but apparently when I started DJing Hip-Hop music, I was getting heat from the Blacks and the Puerto Ricans. The blacks were like his is our music, go back to your own music with your cow bells and your Salsa music. The Hispanics were like what are you doing playing that jungle bunny music. I put on the blinders and said this is what I am going to do. I stuck to my guns and did what I had to do. As I was growing up in the Hip-Hop business, me and Tony would go to parties together and they would hear that Charlie Chase was is in the house and they would push me aside and greet Tony as Chase cause everyone thought I was black (laughs)! They always had this look on their face, like what? We went thru that for a while.
RareHipHop.com: So what is your main contribution to Hip-Hop?
Charlie Chase: One, some of the break beats that were used were mine. Two, I was the 1st Puerto Rican to do it at the time. I helped break the so-called Black barrier and I was able to take this worldwide, represent and show that not just black people were doing it at the time. At the time I was mixing Spanish music with beats and that caught on and people liked it. I brought a lot of different genres together and helped break some barriers.
RareHipHop.com: How are you treated when you do go to Puerto Rico?
Charlie Chase: Unfortunately, they don know who the hell I am (laughs). Im not going to say no one knows me, cause some do, but they don care, especially now. All those kids want to hear now is reggaeton!
RareHipHop.com: So what country embraces you and the Cold Crush?
Charlie Chase: Everywhere else! When we first went to Japan, in 1980 or 81, Hip-Hop was pretty much a baby. It was already born, it was already making noise, Wild Style was out, so it was already established as a culture and music, but records were still young. The Cold Crush didn have any records out, all we had was the Wild Style but what blew my mind, this Japanese kid had a Cold Crush tape! Somehow one of my tapes made it to Japan and it really blew me away! I said to myself, we are a lot bigger than I thought! But not just that, the kid knew every lyric on the tape! Asking for autographs, telling us his friends loved us! I thought things were ready to jump off!
Mind you we never had a hit record, but our tapes were in Japan! When we went, I was the 1st DJ to scratch and cut and do all the fast mixing. Theodore didn go yet cause Fantastic didn go! There were other DJs like Double Troubles DJ Steve was out there and Tony, but the only one doing all the crazyiness was me. So when they saw what I was doing on the turntables they were shocked, because all they ever knew about the turntables was just to play music. So when they see me grab the record, stop, spin it, do tricks behind the back and the needles weren skipping they were freaking out!
There were cameras coming from everywhere, television shows! They put me on a show, with Tamuri, he was the Eddie Murphy of Japan. He was this superstar comedian who had his own TV show. Millions and millions of viewers are watching the show! This guy comes out, he is an older man, as I am cutting. He comes out with his cap to the side, with some kicks and shorts, trying to act like a BBoy. So he jumps from behind me and tried to scratch and of course he didn know what he was doing, but he made a comedy thing out of it and everyone was amazed. So I am teaching him how to scratch on National TV in front of millions and that was 1980! So I did a lot! I did a lot for this business, I helped kick that door open so people took notice about what Hip-Hop was all about!
RareHipHop.com: So what Hip-Hop artists would you like to work with?
Charlie Chase: Thats a tricky question (laughs). There aren too many Hip-Hop artists, only rap artists.
I would love to work with Eminem. You know, Ive been blessed that I have worked with some of the most amazing MCs in the world. I worked with Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz and others. To me, not because he is my partner and brother, but honestly pound for pound and Ive worked with some of the best, lyric for lyric, there is no MC out there that can mess with Grandmaster Caz! I don care who it is, Melle Mel, Kool Moe D, Ice T whoever, I don care who it is!!! Nobody, nobody, nobody can mess with Grandmaster Caz! You gotta think about this for a second, Grandmaster Caz wrote Rappers Delight at the age of 16! The record that basically kicked the door open for Hip-Hop…at the age of 16! That man has libraries of books that he has hand wrote by himself of his lyrics. When you work with people like that your standards are set pretty high so there aren too many people that I wanna work with. I mean Eminem is a great lyricist, I would love to do something with him. I would love to do something with Busta, because he is crazy off the chain and is a Cold Crush Brother at heart! Hell tell you, him and all the Leaders of the New School will tell you, yo we copied the Cold Crush thats why we are who we are! There are a whole lot of MCs that come forth and told us as such! Will Smith went on David letterman on national TV and said I wanna be like Grandmaster Caz, thats why I became a MC I wanted to be a Cold Crush Brother! Big Daddy Kane told me of all the ass whoopings he got cause he snuck out to see us perform at Harlem World (laughs)! So right now off the top of my head, I can think of too many.
RareHipHop.com: Of the true school artists who would you like to see come back and do something?
Charlie Chase: Thats a funny question because they need to learn how to adapt in order to move on. They have to change their attitude, stop thinking that the world owes us something. Every time they see a new rapper they diss them, they gotta get away from that, the music has evolved. We created the baby, the baby grew and the baby got to an age that we had to let it go. Like a parent with a child, thats what happened with us with Hip-Hop. Our child grew up and is living his own life.
You know what…I would love to see a major resurgence of Public Enemy! Remember when they came out? What a concept, what a group!!! They had Chuck D, who was like Grandmaster Caz. They had Flavor, who was like JDL. They had the DJ, the S1Ws, what a concept man, what a group! I would love to see KRS-one who never really disappeared. If people like Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, would be able to adapt to what is happening on todays airwaves it would be crazy!
RareHipHop.com: Chase lets play a little word association?
Charlie Chase: Ok
RareHipHop.com: Grandmaster Caz
Charlie Chase: The best who ever did it! The best!
RareHipHop.com: Melle Mel
Charlie Chase: The best who ever broke records as an MC!
Charlie Chase: Hip-Hop Rock
RareHipHop.com: Big Daddy Kane
Charlie Chase: The smooth operator, thats the man right there!
Charlie Chase: Master Lyricist
Charlie Chase: One of the slickest people I ever saw
RareHipHop.com: Slick Rick
Charlie Chase: The best storyteller…nah Grandmaster Caz is the best storyteller, I will say the captivator, cause once he rhymes he captures your attention
RareHipHop.com: Doug E Fresh
Charlie Chase: Ahh come on man, the entertainer, Doug E Fresh is the man! The innovator!
Charlie Chase: A man in a class by himself
RareHipHop.com: Ice Cube
Charlie Chase: One of the hardest MCs I ever heard touch a mic!
Charlie Chase: Master Lyricist and he don take no shit from anybody
RareHipHop.com: Biz Markie
Charlie Chase: Different
RareHipHop.com: Kurtis Blow
Charlie Chase: Disco, the Disco Fever
Charlie Chase: Nasty Nas, an accomplished student
Charlie Chase: A hell of a street poet
RareHipHop.com: Queen Latifah
Charlie Chase: The Queen! Convictive!
RareHipHop.com: Salt and Pepa
Charlie Chase: Pop
Charlie Chase: Smooth
RareHipHop.com: Treacherous Three
Charlie Chase: Man, I can think of a whole bunch of things, but I gotta say innovative! With those machine gun rhymes…I don know if you ever heard them like I heard them?! They were young, ambitious, hungry and not afraid! Those guys did some MCing, they would rhyme one behind another seamlessly, SEAMLESSY!!! Thats innovation right there man!
RareHipHop.com: We want that style to come back (laughs)! When we interviewed Red Alert he said the same thing, that back and forth and harmonizing style.
Charlie Chase: It did come back in a way, but it evolved. Not with multiple MCs, but Twista and Busta did it in a sense, but not like the T3. Everything comes back but it evolves.
RareHipHop.com: Sometimes it evolves a little bit too much and loses its essence.
Charlie Chase: Exactly! You know what it is, we are cut from a different cloth. We are kind of jaded, because we grew up listening to a music at a point in our lives when it was fresh and brand new. How many people can you say was there when Rock and Roll started, you can !? How many people can say there were there when opera started or classical music started, you can they are all dead!? I can look at someone in their eye and say I helped create Hip-Hop. Dude, its awesome! When you grow up seeing what weve seen, its always going to be watered down. Its not fair to the new artists beecause they have big shoes to live up to.
RareHipHop.com: More word association. Dr. Dre
Charlie Chase: Groundbreaking record producer
RareHipHop.com: Charlie Chase
Charlie Chase: DJ Charlie Chase, number one Puerto Rican Dj in the Human race, guaranteed to keep a smile on your face, rock you at a steady pace and if you don believe me give me your address so I can come to your place and say it to your face!!!??
RareHipHop.com: (Laughs) Yeah that Charlie Chase
Charlie Chase: Charlie Chase was a bull! Charlie Chase was tough, strong and didn take no shit from anybody and did what he had to do!
RareHipHop.com: Jazzy Jeff
Charlie Chase: Jazzy Jeff, my man. Innovator of the mix
RareHipHop.com: Grandmaster Flash
Charlie Chase: He is one of the reasons why I have my name today. Nemesis! Don get me wrong we are good friends and we joke around, but when we were kids it was on. Every time, anytime, everywhere, any block party, whatever, it was on!
RareHipHop.com: Jam Master Jay
Charlie Chase: Thats a hard one, because I met him and we got to hang and talk and work together on a project and he showed so much love. A guy who was as successful as he was to be so humble and to show us so much love to point where…Im not ashamed to say it, me and Grandmaster Caz at a point in our life were down and out and he stepped in and said I got you, lets make some money here and he took us in the studio and we worked on projects together. Humanitarian! He really showed love!
RareHipHop.com: Grandmaster Caz
Charlie Chase: Most talented! Grandmaster Caz is no joke! He got the rhymes, he got the cuts, I know he is a little older now and rheumatism might have set in (laughs). Thats my brother! Grandmaster Caz was the 1st MC / DJ I ever saw do that! When we were kids, I first saw him do that in the Bronx, in Echoes Park. I was walking by one day and I saw this guy on the mic, he was DJIng and had one lightbulb in this dark ass park (laughs). It was dark and it was packed, but he was DJing, I was intrigued by that. The ironic thing was I never met him. That night I never imagined that in the future he would be my brother.
RareHipHop.com: Kool DJ Red Alert
Charlie Chase: Wow! I saw Red Alert grow up from a kid hanging around us, wasn DJing much at the time, so there has to be more than one word for him. Humble, persistent! A pioneer in his own right, cause he was one of the 1st DJs on the radio and he helped the battle between radio station DJs, but the best word in loyal! Thats the best word for Red Alert. You can use the other words, but the best word is loyal. Loyal to the day he dies, because when he is on your side, hes on your side and nothing is going to sway him from that.
RareHipHop.com: Marley Marl
Charlie Chase: Groundbreaker
RareHipHop.com: Mr. Magic
Charlie Chase: My brother Mr. Magic. I love him to death, but he drove me absolutely insane a few times. I have several words for him, he is crazy, but a dreamer. He had a dream about putting Hip-Hop on the radio and he did.
Charlie Chase: RIP to my brother!
RareHipHop.com: DJ Premier
Charlie Chase: Hit machine and good friend. Me and Premier knew about each other for many, many years, but you wanna know when I met him? I met him on line at the Apollo theatre for James Browns funeral. I was staying at Jazzy Jays house and we got up early to go to the funeral and we were at the front of the line. It was me, Bam, a whole bunch of us and he showed up and I didn know what he looked like. Then Jay introduced us and his eyes got really wide! He was mad, mad cool, mad respectful, humble and we kicked it. We were freezing too it was cold as hell waiting on line! Then they brought in James Brown in the coffin and all of us got silent! You have to remember, this man James Brown gave birth to kats like me, Bambaataa, Flash, Theodore and inspired people like Premier. We were all completely silent. Everything got silent! 125th Street was silent! When James Brown went pass, I looked over at Premier who was standing right next to me and told him we are always going to remember this moment and we bonded because of that situation.
RareHipHop.com: The evolution of Hip-Hop, where do you see it now and where do you see it going?
Charlie Chase: I don like to talk this way, but I don have a fucking clue (laughs)! Its not bad, I am not downing the music because I am accepting the fact that it has to evolve, but it is so erratic. Its pop, its rock, its dance, its all these things now, its not Hip-Hop anymore! Now its dubstep, but thats the beauty of Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop was created from all genres of music and it is still doing it! Its like a virus man! It is like an infection! Something new comes along and Hip-Hop swallows it up like the blob (laughs)!
RareHipHop.com: We just want the lyrics to come back, talk about something of substance.
Charlie Chase: Yes! That is lost and very, very few people are able to capture that and keep it going, that is why I like Eminem. Because as crazy as he is and as erratic and unpredictable as he is, the boy has lyrics! Anybody that can make you stand there, listen to their song and create a movement in your head is a master lyricist. That is the art of emceeing, Grandmaster Caz taught me that a long time ago! Grandmaster Caz is the master storyteller. Man, you have to listen to some of the old tapes when Grandmaster Caz was a kid, how he used to rhyme. Grandmaster Caz you would not believe was 16 years old at that time, the only way you would believe it was because the pitch in his voice was high! That art is kind of lost and these artists think that because they say a little cute thing and throw something at the end like, something is red and at the end of the line say visine (laughs). Its like the association sometimes is crazy! Im like come on man!
RareHipHop.com: Yeah, they don make you think.
Charlie Chase: Teddy Pendergrass put it best one day. They asked him what does he think about rappers today and he said, they are too explicit and they use too many words to get their thoughts out. He said when you write and sing or rap about things, you should be able to get your point across without actually saying it and I was like damn you are right! When he said urn off the lights you knew he was going to get busy (laughs)! You didn need a dictionary, you knew it! He didn say urn off the lights, so I can get in that ass and bang you like a screen door in a hurricane (laughs)! He didn have to say a whole lot for you to understand where he was going and he was so right! An artist who is a real lyricist and knows how to get his point across, will get it across without even saying the words!
Interviewed by Milt Boogie
Charlie Chase RareHipHop.com Shoutout: