SILVER FOX creator of It’s Your Rock and Biters In The City.
With Troy L. Smith
Summer of 2007
What up my dude I would like to start from the very beginning, where were you born and raised?
I was born in Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan. (168th street and Broadway.) The first place I went to was the Grant Projects in Harlem. My two sisters and 4 brothers and I were there from day one.
So your family was the first family to move into that apartment when you moved into the projects?
Right and as far as school, I went to elementary school P.S. 125 and junior high school 43 and from there I went to Kennedy high school.
Where did the name Silver Fox come from?
I really dug the color Silver and I was dating a young lady that looked so good I use to call her a Foxy Lady; she told me I had to be her Fox also. So I said yeah a Silver Fox! I said yeah I dig that, and so the rest is history.
Who or what made you start to appreciate and want to be apart of Hip Hop?
See I left to live in Alaska because my wife was in the service and this was before Hip Hop really jumped off. Before I left for Alaska, Hip hop was in it’s infancy with the D.J. getting all the shine. So when I came back to Harlem I happened to walk pass Paul Winley’s record shop where everyone was making records such as Rhyming and Rappin by Mr. Winley’s daughters and The Zulu Throw down by Bam and his crews. So as I was listening to it I was amazed because this was before The Fox. I was like Man this is what theyre doing now! I was becoming acclimated to the culture just coming back from Alaska. One day I went back to my wife’s old neighborhood in Edenwald projects in the Bronx and I took a stroll over to Gun Hill Road to attend a party. Mele Mel was there with Flash and the rest of the Furious Five. The thing that I remember very clearly was the whole party got stuck up.
Who did the stick up?
I don’t know I guess it was Mele Mel’s boys because he was on the mic and he said,
“Now throw your hands in the air
and wave em like you just don’t care!
Then he said, “Now keep them there!”
And the lights came on dudes were sticking people up!
You actually hear Mel say “now keep them there”?
Yeah keep them there!
You actually heard Mels voice say now keep them there as The Casanova’s were sticking up the party?
As they were sticking n------ up! So it was as if all these people coming from all over town to see them were coming there to get stuck up.
I always heard that cats were getting robbed at a Furious Five party but I never heard
The Furious 5 members were apart of the actual stick- up!
Nah they did, I remember this clear as day. It was a shock, I saw people get punched in their face right in front of me and I am standing there thinking I’m going to be the next person. (Silver Fox is laughing.)
So you had your hands up too?
Nah I was just standing there new to this.
In shock watching this also?
Yeah, people were screaming and yelling. A n----- walked pass me and looked me in my eye as if to say, “I can do this if I want to” and then continued robbing people. I was like o.k.! (Silver Fox humbly laughs.)
So if this is Gun Hill Road, it was probably The T- Connection?
(Silver Fox erupts.) Yeah that’s the place. The party was rocking, it was like 2 in the morning when they said, “Put your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care. Now leave them there!” And the thing about it, Mel was really rocking and I wanted to stay till the end of the party and see this guy who was crazy good. Mel had a big afro and a commanding voice. He just kept rocking and Flash was cutting, and he had the old school beat box with the white buttons and I was intrigued.
So how long did you stay?
I stayed until I saw an opportunity to get out the door.
Other than the Furious Five who else did you take a liking too?
Another crew I really appreciate was the Fearless Four. One of the members, Tito, was a little guy who was young and it seemed as though Head Hunters record was his theme song. It was his rhymes, the cadence, and the way Peso and the rest of group would flow in. All the group members were good but they were all very different.
So is Tito the very first person that made you say this is what I want to do?
Well he is the first guy that made me see there was more that could be done with Rap. Tito was lyrical so he made me feel you could take rap to another level.
Let me say this, you are older than all of the members of the Fearless Four and maybe 1 or 2 years older then Peso who was the oldest member. You came more from the Hollywood, Eddie Cheba cats or Disco guys. At least that was the impression I got hearing about you. So if Tito influenced you like that, what about Fantastic, Cold Crush Etc.?
I was gone before that started, I was in Alaska. So when I came back from Alaska it was like 1977 or 78. Tito and them did not do their records Its Magic or Problems of the World just yet, but they were known on the streets for just doing their thing before they blew up.
Yeah they were doing the Police Athletic League (P.A.L.) in Harlem and other venues. As far as Eddie Cheba and Hollywood, I saw them at Columbia University and I was just like Oh my God! When I saw them I remember they had a movie screen on the wall and Bruce Lee’s “Enter The Dragon” movie was playing while they were rocking and I remember the D.J. rocking the record right to Bruce Lee’s noon chucks swinging. Everybody was partying and dancing. The Spank dance was out, it was crazy, it was madness. I was looking around saying, “Whoa what is this?”
So Hollywood and Eddie Cheba tore it up?
Yeah Hollywood and Eddie Cheba tore it up. And there were other cats performing as well. Hollywood stood out because he had the crowd going- because they all knew what he was going to say so he had the whole party participating with him. It was crazy because all the boroughs were in there and I saw so many black people in there, but they were rocking with the white people who were students at Columbia University and they were rocking with Hollywood too.
By this time I started getting hungry for rap and I went all over the place and started meeting people like Andre who is a real cool brother to this day from The Untouchable Crew (out of Douglas Projects on 100th street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue.) or The Super Three out of St. Nicholas projects and others. I later battled Bo Dee a member of The Super 3.
I listened to a lot of emcees but Tito and the rest of his crew were the first to make me start writing rhymes because they had that edge and great lyrical skills. I have to say this about Tito, Mike and the rest of the crew, emcees all over Harlem thought they were good or the best but the Fearless Four were real good. Plus they were also humble.
I hear you, so let’s take it to the essence for you. What was that first day like for you on the mic, because I remember you telling me your brother got on you about how you were rhyming in the early days!
Well I used to listen to Tito and his flow was like, “Man!” Head Hunters was like his favorite along with Cat Stevens Dog a Donut. His flow and the way he articulated him self really impressed me. I liked his flow because I too would try and flow like a drum over rhythm and that is what I heard him doing. I thought they were all good so I ran in the house and started to write my own rhymes. One day the Fearless Four had their equipment out and I was like, “Yeah I got something, they are going to put me down.” I walked out of my building up to their building in the projects, which is up La Salle and 124th street hill. They were having a block party and they let me get on the mic and I started saying my rhymes. Well quite naturally I was very new and green at this so my brother snatched me off the mic and said, “What are you doing?”
So you were just going by what Tito and Mike Cee were doing and tried your hand at it!
Exactly, because I like what they were saying and doing but I tried to do it with no kind of guidance, nurturing, just nothing! I wrote some old corny ass rhymes and tried to say them and my brother snatched me off the mic and said, “yo what are you doing” and he took me back to our building into the staircases. My brother and your man Big Kev aka Kev Ski from out of 55 La Salle of the Grant Projects broke it down to me. They started beating on the wall and let me listen to their flow and cadence and my brother then said, “All that nursery rhyme s--- is played out, talk about who you are and what you do and how can’t nobody deal with you and this and that.”
So I took notes and being as my mother was a member of the tenant association we were able to use the community room in my building and Crazy Eddie and Tito used to come over there with the equipment a lot and work on stuff. And now I am writing and listening to people and memorizing and trying new stuff with them, as well as creating my own style. See I really couldn’t listen to other emcees because I would start to emulate them, and I didn’t want to sound like them. So I would listen to them once and then throw it out of my head.
So I pretty much ran solo and I was very confident that I can do this. I had it to memory and then I started to create a new style and a way to do it, I had a style which I called the run on sentence! It just keeps going on with something like the alphabet and just go down the line with it and make a story with it and then I would bounce with the rhythm. I also would use Hiku.
What is Hiku
That is Japanese poetry. And that would be 5 syllable 7 syllable and back to 5 syllable.
How or what made you go to this style?
Believe me I had a collegiate vocabulary (Fox chuckles.) when I was in elementary school. I was doing academic studies in early grade school. I used to read Sonatas which is poetry but like a ballet type of poetry. So I would take a Sonata for my format or to tell a story:
Like I got this story I must relay
It happen to me on a Monday
Sitting alone in a café
A pretty lady
Came my way
she said you want to share a little monay
I said I don’t mind it will be o.k.
She grabbed my hand walk to her Chevrolet
Stepped inside we drove away
She said me name is Fay
Got a sister name Kay
You know that’s telling a story but some times I do two styles the story teller and the run on! So it’s like the run on sentence with the A Bay Cay Day and to tell a story.
So how did you feel about those Disco Emcee like Eddie Cheba, Hollywood or Reggie Wells opposed to The Fearless Four or The Cold Crush Brothers.
Well I liked those guys like Hollywood and the other guys you said because they would make you dance.
So you like both sides of hip hop?
Yes but when I would hear the Disco style like “who does it good Cheba, Cheba, Cheba!” I couldn’t do that. I mean I could say, “Throw your hands up in the air” but I couldn’t have that as something I wrote! I just couldn’t see that as part of my format.
Well that part was just to get that party amped!
Right but I am not really trying to get them amped that way I am trying to get then into the mood of hearing stuff. I myself am already amped. I’m like feel this beat make your own head nod now listen to these rhymes. That was what I liked about Tito he would get me to want to listen. Mike and DLB were awesome also. But DLB used to twist his words around and it was like a musical collogue. DLB would twist things around and then pause at certain times when you didn’t think he was going to pause. Then come in with three words and then a breather here and he would bounce like a percussionist. By me watching these guys I said to my self that is what the next level is going to be like.
Even like Caz I didn’t see them a lot because they were up in the Bronx, but I was hearing the tapes and he was amazing as hell. What I liked about him was his longevity, how he can start it and you can go over and sit on the bench and spark a cigarette, chill and drink a beer because he is going to keep going and going and going! Nobody was going to stop him, and nobody was going to battle him because you was going to run out of rhymes before Caz even finished his first joint. I also dug what he did because some times he would say the same rhymes but in a different order or flip them around.
So who in your opinion was the best emcee between Moe, Mel and Caz?
Mel was always the best in my eyes. Caz was second over Moe. Caz would freestyle and do things off the top of his head and talk about anybody. Let somebody try and diss him!
Well Moe would get down just like that also!
Yeah Moe would do it also, but I guess it was because me and Moe didn’t get along. (Silver Fox laughs.) The one thing I liked about Moe was he was very creative. I was very impressed when he made that fast rhyme style. Then everybody was trying it.
So you and Moe was never cool? You and him would see each other many times and just keep it moving?
Yeah we would see each other many times and we lived only a few blocks from each other but we were never cool. But back to my boys, because we will get back to Moe! Once I understood the art of rhyming I started hooking up with the cats around The Grant and Manhattanville projects as well as The Hill, (Home of the Treacherous 3 on 129th street and Convent Avenue.) Such as Peso or Special K. Special K was bad, he was a real intelligent dude also. Everybody used to hang out in O.C.’s house which I was invited to also. I use to just sit up in the house and watch all these talented brothers trying to create. I remember O.C. and this brother Reg on the bass guitar trying to make something happen putting ideas together. I would sit there and say to myself, “man this is the life.”
Special K put me on to his brother T La Rock and the both of them used to come to O.C.s house along with L.A. Sunshine. They were over by Convent Avenue and they use to cut through Grant and go to O.C.’s house which was on 124th street between Broadway and Tiemann place across from Grant. I even met J.D.L. and Spoonie Gee over there. So a lot of cats use to come through to see O.C. even if it was just to hang out. But what I noticed about a lot of the guys in our area, (Harlem, West side.) they had a different style from the rest of the hip hop world at that time. A lot o f them were into the metaphors. Like,
“I am like a snow storm
and I hit you like a blizzard!”
I got you.
Stuff that that will make you go ah man!
So was Moe Dee coming over to O.Cs. house a lot at that time?
Yeah he was coming around but he was singular. Even though he was a member of The Treacherous 3 he is like a very singular type person. He had his own frame of mind. .
What was the situation that jumped off that negative spirit between you and him?
(Silver Fox laughs’) I don’t really know but he made it known one day when I came to O.C.’s house with a young L.L., and soon as Moe seen us he wanted us to leave.
L.L. didn’t have a name in the hip hop industry just yet!
No, he hadn’t even made I Need a Beat yet. Moe was laying down a track or trying to create something and he didn’t want me and L.L. there. He didn’t know L.L. at the time so it wasn’t about him, it was about me. I was very upset, but O.C. asked me kindly to leave and come back later.
L.L. didn’t understand it, he was like, “this n----- act like he don’t know you!” I told him don’t worry about it I will deal with him later. And I have to say it did bother me, I tried to get at him on the rhyming tip but he didn’t want to see me.
Alright we are going to get back to you and Moe in a minute. How long did you stay solo before you joined a group?
Well after about a year of me going solo we started a group in the projects called the Glorious 4. We had this D.J. named Lee Dee from Tito and Crazy Eddie’s building 3150 Broadway who was a cool brother but he was like a curse to us because there were always problems coming from his end as a D.J.! I called it the Lee Dee curse. We did something in St. Nicholas projects with D.J. Pernello and his boys and it went bad. I can’t put all the blame on him but it was those turntable needles.
The Members of The Glorious 4 were me, my brother Wessu, Kev Ski, Kerry Gee and Shotgun! My brother didn’t stay too long but we did parties and we made a record. It was on Cannon Records I wasn’t too proud of it but we went into the studio down town and made a Master and then dubbed it onto cassette tapes and sold them in the neighborhood. It was also like our demo and it was a 3 inch demo that we transferred to cassette. We all broke up after a couple more months but me and Kev Ski aka Fat Kev were always together and we did a lot of parties together as well as block parties in the summer.
One night me and Kev Ski were together chilling,andwe walked through this neighborhood wherewe found an after hours spot called Joe Grants (112th street between 7th avenue and Lenox. Later moved to 113th and 7th Avenue.) Like always I asked the D.J., who was this brother named Rudy he later moved into The Grant projects. Rudy and another guy named Joe (not the owner, but the son) were the house D.J.s but Rudy was really good on the turntables. I asked can I get on and being as they didn’t know me I told them just give me the chance and if I am wack I will leave the club right away. Well they let us get on and me and Kev Ski worked together good. Kev Ski had that Eddie Cheba, Hollywood type style and this nice voice so we did our thing.
But wasn’t Joe Grants totally off the hook? I mean cats were in there partying but they were in there shooting dice, smoking weed, sniffing coke, running from the cops, thugged out to the 10th power and not too many girls….
Yeah it was a spot for cats that scrambled (Drug Dealers) and there were girls there too, but they were there for the hustlers. You had the big dance floor a bar and to the back a pool table covered up and that was used to gamble. Yes it was a place for scramblers but these were my people and these were the people I was rapping for, and they were the type that would say, “yo get the F--- of the mic”.
So that place was like amateur night at the Apollo!
Word but these cats were nodding their head saying, “Yeah, Yeah” so I ended up turning into the House Emcee because I was the only guy they wanted to hear on the mic. So I would go there every weekend and I was coming up with new material and trying different things. There was another guy there before me name Sergio. This guy Sergio and I used to do things together, going back and forth on the mic and some how he changed his name and he is now called Kool G Rap!
Yeah ain’t that something, he went from Sergio to Kool G Rap! I remember when you first told me that he was up there in Joe Grants with you. Did he ever tell you how he got to Joe Grants in Harlem coming from Corona Queens?
Nah and I never asked. Some things you don’t ask people because that was a place for scramblers so he probably was hustling him self. We were all hustlers of some form in there. After me and him would get off the mic we would either go shoot some dice or go have a drink at the bar or do our thing. That was a spot where anything goes. The door was locked and only select people were allowed in there. Then you had to be even more of a select person to get in the back room. I mean you can walk in there but if there isn’t anything in there you might as well walk out. You can’t just stand there and watch cats shoot dice. It wasn’t that type of party you had to spend some money up in there.
As far as Kool G, I dug him he had a lot of rhymes and he was always prepared, the next week he would be like o.k. Fox check this out!
So he used to always try to top you?
Yeah we used to go back and forth and like I said early I had this thing were I rhymed using run on sentences with words that rhymed together and he started doing that but he later switched his style to what you have today. I used to always kid him by calling him the anti L.L. I used to be like there’s L.L. and then there is the flip side with Kool G Rap.
So was there ever a time you Kool G and L.L. were ever on the mic at the same time atJoe Grants.
Yes maybe two times. I introduced them to each other and they were cool. But most of the time it was me and Kool Gee because he was always there. Me and him rocked the mic a lot until they were ready to switch the type of music for that night. They would put on some D- Train or some other type of R&B music, because after awhile we were saturating their brain with our hip hop.
Did you ever go out to Queens or Brooklyn with Kool G. Rap?
Yeah when my record came out he said he heard it and he liked it. He said he had a club out in Brooklyn and would I mind being on the flyer and playing out there with him? I said sure. Kool G Rap met me at the train station, we blew some trees in the car and went to the party, he tore it down. I free styled off of Its Your Rock and then we rocked together, we had a ball.
I took Tito over to Joe Grants too and he bought his mic stand. (Silver Fox laughs.) And we walked from the Grant projects with him holding that mic stand.
Dam that’s like a twenty to thirty minute walk from Grant!
Now with Joe Grants place that was the owners name but were you cool with him too?
Yeah he was a Jamaican and he wasn’t a big talker, real quiet brother, but he was a hustler also. His son was down with him, he D.J.ed in there. But Joe Grant was about his money. Joe Grant let me get on the mic because he liked me, but I never got paid for doing it. I just wanted to rock the mic, that was my pay. It was a place for me to try out new ideas and hone my skills. It was a nice quiet spot when I first got there but then it started to get packed. As crowded as it got, there never was beef because the security would be right at the door.
I know the place would be off the hook and crazy felons would be up in there because when it would be time to go as the sun would be coming up the cops would be outside and I mostly attributed that to the cops waiting for dudes that were hot with warrants. Because like you said there never really was any fights, but the cops would be waiting and watching everybody.
Well this is true because this was all the way an after hour spot filled with thugs, because you might be on the block hustling till two, three in the morning and you say, “come on lets close it up and go hang out in Joe Grants” and believe it or not the spot would be jumping at 3or 4 in the morning with no thoughts of closing up. Joe Grants was my house but I wouldn’t get there till about one in the morning. Joe later moved two blocks up to a bigger place and the girls started coming.
But brothers would invite me to other places. Like D.J. Spivey of The Magnificent 7 with Rayvon and Johnny Wa would invite me to a spot over where he lived (Shomberg Plaze on 110th street and 5th avenue across from Central Park North East.) and it was down in the basement. D.J. Andre of The Untouchables would invite me to his community Center in Douglas Projects. Also there was the P.A.L. or Manhattanville Community centers. There were so many places.
So did you met L.L. Cool J before Manhattanville records or after.
I met L. L. at Manhattanville records. Manhattanville Records was a record shop it had nothing to do with making records. We actually recorded with Specific Records. The cats from Divine Sounds that made What People do for Money was on that label. Julio Guina who owned the record shop also had a club around the corner on 133rd street and Amsterdam Avenue called The Family.
What about C.C.L. Records?
That stands for Chico, Charlie and Larry. This guy Julio Guina nick named Chico, he is the one that put up money for us to go in to the studio and do It’s your Rock as far as manufacture it and put it out there and all that. The next record we did was called Biters in the City. That also came out on C.C.L. Records. I didn’t have any money at the time, I just wanted to record and put my sound out there. I was working with Pumpkin and I had The Master O.C. in my corner. Tito put me, Charlie and Larry together.
So how did you get Pumpkin when he was running with either Enjoy or Profile Records at the time?
We just hired him. Rather Chico hired him, but me and Pumpkin were working hand and hand in the studio.
So who had the thought for that beat?
That was in my head and Pumpkin played it. I told him what I wanted. See I did a lot of walking during that time of my life, and where ever or what ever I did I thought of rhymes and every time I rhymed I would think of a beat to rhyme to. As I rhymed my pace of walk was to this beat in my head. Also in my crib I had a piano and I am tapping the melody that you now hear in It’s your rock. But at that time I was tapping that melody on the piano and I was like, “yeah I like that!”
Plus I studied music and I played steel drums since I was 8 years old so I had a lot of music up in my head. I felt like damn if I could get this music out of my head and get somebody to play it for me I would have a winner. Man after awhile I said to hell with it I was going to play it myself. So I told them when we get into the studio give me the drum set and put the key board next to me. But once they hired Pumpkin I said, “good, I am cool” because we all know Pumpkin was very talented with the skills that he had. He was the one that made that Love Rap beat that everyone was listening to and all the d.J.s were using at the parties. I was very happy to work with Pumpkin.
So Pumpkin is now listening to what I have in my head. First I told him what the drum beat was and he played it on the drums. Then I showed him what the keyboard sound in my head was, and then he got on the Bass. I played the melody part on the keyboard that everyone was familiar with and it wasn’t a sample, I played it all the way through the song. Pumpkin played the drums all the way through also.
Where was this recorded at?
Polygon down on I think 47th street and we did it late night.
Who was in the studio with you at that time?
Chico, Larry, Charlie, O.C., Crazy Eddie, Pumpkin some white engineer I don’t remember his name and Tito were at the studio with us but they were just watching. Nobody was critiquing what I was doing they were just observing and saying yeah. They were feeling it. Now as far as Pumpkin he was a real professional dude and I am sorry to say I only did one record with him. See I knew what I wanted with It’s your Rock. I knew how many beats I wanted per a minute. I wanted it at 110 rpm’s. I knew what drum beats I wanted. Charlie and Chico didn’t trust me to play the beats, they was like, “I know you said you can play it but…” so Tito or O,C, said yo we can get Pumpkin to work on it. They said this is how much it is going to cost you.
So they had to now convince Chico to put the money up for Pumpkin because he didn’t really know about the music. So we got him and he was real good to work with because he was humble. He was a big tall heavy dude. But a real nice guy and really good at what he was doing. All though he probably got paid in advanced what I really dug about him was he took his time on making the track. Also he listened to what my ideas were. Pumpkin said, “what ever your idea is we are going to do it and if you want to add something to it just let me know.” What ever Pumpkin wanted to add he would say, “what about if I do this.” So whenever we would do the bass line he would just add his riff in there and I would say, “yeah that’s good.” He would let me hear everything before we recorded.
Back to the label what happened with Specific?
We broke away from that label because they were jerking us with our money. We bum rushed them in their office and started flinging them around. See we originally were trying to do It’s your Rock as a demo for Enjoy Records. Specific was a Indie label that just starting out. Our first demo sounded terrible and we all felt we weren’t doing it right and it didn’t sound good. We did it in some other studio on an 8 or 12 track studio. When we made it instead of putting it on to a Master or separate tracks it went straight from that to a tape. It was weak. We had some unknown cats doing the beat for us and we felt they didn’t have the experience to do it the way we wanted it. They didn’t separate anything, it was like a band playing. They just wanted to take our money basically. That’s when I said I can do this myself. So we felt we had to go to another studio and do it really professional.
How long did that take to do that demo with Pumpkin?
That took a little while but we laid it down that night. The beat was done, everything else like the mixing was done through the engineer. This was more professionally done through a 24 track type stuff. See I don’t know how to record so I didn’t know that instruments are to be recorded separately or it would breathe into each other. Or that the voices needed to be recorded on separate lines or else you are going to hear him and me and it should be on separate tracks. I didn’t know all that. So I was like now we are in a professional recording studio with a professional making a professional sound. Also we had O.C. helping us to do production on it too. So now we are doing it the right way.
What was out for the Fearless Four at that time?
Rockin It! As I was writing I was inspired by listening to the record.
So do you think your beat was inspired by Rockin It’s beat?
It could have been, anything is possible. (Silver Fox starts to laugh.) But you know what that tempo, the same RPM’s that’s what would have influenced me. If I am writing something to a beat the whole tempo of that beat is going to influence me.
So how long did it take to the streets and start blazing?
It took a little while. But when I got the D.J. copy or the demo, it was like, “Oh wow”! I started to pass it out to friends and family. We were giving out to the clubs. We had to do the leg work once we got the record. Radio stations were being paid off to play our record even Mr. Magic got a couple hundred. Even some of the clubs had to get paid but after awhile all it took was for people to hear it before they finally said, “yeah I like this” and then they started to request it. Next thing I know we are doing shows with Doug E. Fresh, The Fearless Four, RUNDMC, Flash and The Furious. It got to a point where we were being requested. Oh and the Billboard rating thing was a farce because they were all about how much are you going to pay to put your record in there and where do you want it to be.
Also I can’t forget to mention O.C. did a phenomenal job on the B side. It started with the Thundering sound and then O.C. did the mix down. It became like a street anthem.
Freeze for a moment when did this situation come about when Darrell C or Sylvia Robinson allegedly took your master or beat for It’s your Rock and used it for the Crash crew record (On The Radio). How did that go down?
Now that ,I don’t even know how that went down. All I know is one night we were sitting on the park bench in front of my building with the fellas rocking the radio, and boom The Crash Crews version comes on and I am like, “Oh Shit, nah nah that sounds like my joint, turn that up!” Now I am fuming… see I know the beat, I know that music like it is imbedded in me and I know every part of it. But I don’t know how they got it. See Chico had the Master and we got it from Specific who was trying to keep it. It was a whole lot with that where we had to bum rush them with that and take our stuff. So for Darrell Cor Sylvia Robinson to have access to that beat they had to go through Chico, and they had to pay him something to use it.
So you thought something was fishy with the situation?
Yeah I thought the whole thing was fishy, I blamed Chico and Charlie. I was like that. I thought everybody was suspect on that. These were exact notes being played as well as the drums. I listened to the Crash Crew beat over and over again. Do you have any idea how many times I listened to my own joint? Over and over again just sitting there listening to it trying to scrutinize it and checking for any defects. So do you think I am not going to know my own music.
So did their record come out first?
No ours was first, we were out months before they were out.
See this is what I got from the streets is two different stories, First one Darrell C was in the studio one night and he got it from whoever in your crew that was there that night by snatching it and Darrell C was in the wind! And the second story is Sylvia Robinson gave it to the Crash Crew, how she got it I don’t know but because Chico didn’t copyright it fast enough Sylvia was able to get the Crash Crew in the studio fast to record their version!.
Do you know that if I knew that then I would have tracked him or her down, I would have ran up in Lincoln Projects to get that from him. Or New Jersey to them Sugar Hill n------! I was off the meter at that time, there was no way somebody was going to take my music. (Silver Fox is laughing.)
So how long did it take before you started to challenge The Crash Crew for a battle?
Soon as I heard it, but first I was so mad I was stomping through the streets. I didn’t know where they were from at that time so I would challenge them over the radio. I went to WHBI, 98.7 I went to BLS. When we were on with Mr. Magic I started calling them the Trash Crew! So then they started to negotiate with us for a battle. They got with our management because I was too pissed to talk to them my self. So my management set up the battle to be at Broadway International. There were posters all over the place called the War of 84! Now to be honest, prior to that I liked their music. (Silver Fox starts laughing.) Plus they were Harlem, so they were like us. In our area everything sounded alike although we had our own style. Like in the Bronx they had there own style.
Now you told me when that night came to battle the Crash Crew the other two emcees in your Crew Charlie Rock and Larry Dee didn’t want to get on the mic!
Right and that was because they really didn’t have any rhymes.
So if they didn’t have any rhymes how did the Fantasy 3 get together?
Tito came to me and said these guys wanted to make a record and they had the money. They didn’t have a name in the streets, neither one of them have ever rapped before. They didn’t know about The Fever or any other hip hop club. They were both Spanish, Charlie was from 135th and Amsterdam avenue and Larry was from 125th and Old Broadway. So at that time I was solo and I thought o.k. maybe I can do this because this is a stepping stone to where I want to go. So they sat down with me and I told them I would write it and I put them under my wing and started writing what was going to be It’s your Rock.
So tell me about that night of the battle.
Well we were getting paid to perform and we did our record It’s your Rock plus we were coming out with the new joint Biters in the City which was for the Crash Crew. It was packed because the whole neighborhood was there. Broadway International (146th street and Broadway.) was not that far from Grant and Manhattanville projects so we had a lot of people cheering for us. Plus O.C. was our D.J. for that night. I requested for him to be there. O.C. said sure because he was just as mad as I was about them taking our music. Fearless Four was there, Treacherous 3 was up in the balcony.
So who hosted the show?
Doug E. Fresh, because at that time Doug was Mr. Broadway International, which was his house. I don’t know who went on first but we both performed our songs. Then it was time for the battle. Because we were the challengers we had to go first but my other two emcees didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t see chickening out.
I can’t believe they got all the way up there and they didn’t want to get on the mic.
Well they had almost a month and some change to prepare with some free style rhymes. I told them they had to write for these guys we about to see. We would rehearse in the record shop getting prepared, practicing what we were going to do and how we were going to do it.
So Charlie and Larry had rhymes that night?
They had rhymes but they couldn’t memorize them. They were more into trying to memorize dance steps for songs I’m like forget all that dancing, we can do something in unison but I ain’t trying to do any dancing on stage like we New Edition or something. See we had a lot of artistic differences and me and Charlie used to beef about that all the time.
So now you have to battle 5 emcee’s?
Yeah and I didn’t care I was like “Oh well, I’d rather battle and lose then not say anything and have to walk back to my hood, after that I would have to battle for ever”! I would never be able to live it down and that would be food for them. That’s like giving food to the sharks. (Silver Fox starts laughing.) So I got on the stage and started ripping. I knew what I was going to do and started ripping on them one by one. I got into there ass, Reggie Reg first. I did a lot of freestyle on them and a lot I wrote down specifically for them. I got on them about biting our music and just ate their asses up.
So when you finished how did they come back at you?
They didn’t! (Fox busts out laughing.)
They didn’t come back at you at all?
Nah they didn’t come back, they wanted to fight.
Yeah there was a fight, we fought right after I threw those rhymes at them.
So right after you said what you said they came right up on the stage and tried to bring it to you?
Now they didn’t come up on the stage, soon as I finished saying what I said I slammed the mic down and walked off the stage. I then started walking through the crowd saying, “What, What!!!” I walked to the back of the party because I wanted to see what they were going to do. But they wasn’t going to do anything on the mic, they started coming at me. And I said, “oh that’s how it is going to be?” I started to pull my belt off with my Fox buckle and it was time to go to war and we started fighting. I swung my belt buckle and hit one of them in the face, I don’t really know which one. Plus I was into the martial arts and I felt no fear once it came to protecting my self. But that was how the party ended, but it wasn’t over because all hell broke loose after that. (Fox is laughing.)
So did Charlie and Larry get down with you on this fight?
Oh those boys will fight. Charlie is good too; he is into the Martial arts as well. First it was me, but then they got into it as well and then it got so crazy people from the party coming to hang out are throwing down too!
What about Tito, O.C. or Peso, any of the Fearless Four got down with you?
I really don’t know because so much was going on. Plus Broadway International had a balcony type thing were you can look down on to the stage. Most of all the group members were upstairs and not downstairs with the people. It probably was one of those V.I.P. type things. When the fight was over me and my people all left together feeling very victorious. The next day I went to our little social club we had called La Familia around the corner from the record shop. They gave me champagne and other pleasantries and we had a party. I heard it from Grant, Manhattanville and Douglas Projects the love for the night before! I was overjoyed. Tito and the boys gave me props. Plus people seen things I didn’t see that night. But it still didn’t solve anything because they still had our music. I was so pissed off about that situation that I didn’t even want to listen to the radio because I might hear their song because it was in heavy rotation. It was like every time I turned on the radio “Crash Crew is Rocking on your Radio.” It just made me want to shoot a radio.
So now you told me L.L. came looking for you once your record blew up.
Right he was trying to get on my label. It wasn’t me specifically he was trying to find, he was trying to find any one connected to the label. But it was me that he found. The address to the record shop Manhattanville Records was right on the record. We put that address on there because that was the best way to get in contact with us for booking shows etc. We did the manufacturing and distribution. Instead of working out of a trunk we worked out of the record shop. In the back of the shop we had boxes and boxes of records.
Did you come off financially from the record?
Not really I get royalties today but back then I got a lump sum to make the record and then I really got paid doing the shows for the records. I didn’t get paid from the manufacturing or the selling of the record. So I really got jerked around as far as the record deal. Chico got the majority of that money. He passed away later on.
With L.L. he came right to the record shop in 1983 right after It’s your Rock blew up. That was how him and I met. He introduced him self as L.L. Cool J. I said what does that mean? He said Ladies love Cool J. I said oh yeah that’s too long. (Fox starts laughing.) I said, “I am going to call you C.J., all right?” After that we talked awhile about rap. Then I asked him was he good, can he rap! He then started to rhyme and he kept going and I was like, “oh man that’s pretty good.” Then we started going back and forth rhyming. He was real cocky and he thought he was the man, but then he can be very humble and polite as well. He didn’t smoke cigarettes or weed, he was pretty clean cut around me. I also have to say he was very articulate and he was very smart. He then let me know that he just wanted to get on and he came here on the train all the way from Queens to see us! He told me that everybody he talked to kept directing him to me.
After we finally met he didn’t come up everyday but he came up often. At this time he was with his grand mother. He would be around me so much that he would even come to my house and chill, eat or whatever. I wanted to sign L.L. but they didn’t want to. I took him to different spots such Joe Grants, Diamond Jay’s Lounge in White Plains upstate some outside jams. He was pretty good and he some what emulated a lot of my ways and so we would bounce off of each other and go on for days rhyming. He was a cool brother to hangout with, and he had to be about 15 or 16 years old. And the thing was it was his time and I knew it. I said it was time for a new resurgent. The old crews were just that, old crews! So it was time for a new thing to come in- a new face. I took him over to O.C.s house one day. Kool Moe Dee was there and he didn’t want me and L.L. there because he was recording. By this time I was hunting Moe down for a battle but he kept avoiding me. I was trying to get at him way back. See nobody would take on Moe, so I was like the great white hope or something. Moe was avoiding me like I had the flu!
What’s that all about, why would you want to try and challenge Moe Dee?
Well Moe was the best at battling everybody. But I felt I could take him and I had people up in Grant down for it. Tito will tell you I was like a Moe Dee hunter. I even went up to Convent to the basketball courts trying to find him, but he would continue ducking me.
How do you know he was ducking you?
Because he would never want to set it up. Troy I am telling Crazy Eddie, O.C., so of course they are getting the word back to Moe.
So what happened when you went up on the hill to the basketball courts looking for him?
I kept going up there on Convent, finally we seen each other and I stepped to him and he laughed that sarcastic laugh he has. (We both laughed.) There wasn’t any music playing out there but he was out there chilling with his boys and L.A. was there too trying to gas it up and sarcastic as well. You know L.A. always got jokes.
That sounds just like them.
Moe laughed Troy! I’m like come on man lets battle! Troy that would have put me on the map if he would have given me that battle! I knew that, that was why I kept trying to get at him. Just like Moe went off to college, I too was in college. I went to City College which was only blocks away from where Moe and the rest of his crew were from. (Special K was from The Bronx but his mother taught in the public school across from Nappy Red. And Mrs. Keaton taught D.L.B, L.A. Sunshine and so many others with love and pure discipline!) Soon as class was over I would walk right down the block looking for him.
Another emcee I went at but it was almost on some guns and fisticuffs was Spoonie Gee! One day I was on the mic in The Grant projects park Jam and Crazy Eddie was the D.J. Me and Spoonie Gee almost went at it hand to hand because he said I said a rhyme that he thought was someone else’s. I told him he was bugging and he better back up off of me. He had some dudes with him and they looked like they had something, so I pulled out my pistol and my wife pulled out hers and it was real dark behind those turntables but we made it out of there with no problems once they seen we had burners too. I know it had to look wild a man and his woman with pistols out and we both pointing them at precise people. But the park cleared out and the Jam was over for a minute, but right while my situation was going on Crazy Eddie and a lot of the brothers from the Grant Projects were stomping out this dude for feeling Crazy Eddies girls butt!
I remember that night, I wasn’t standing next to your situation but I did see Crazy Eddie come off the turntables take the quart of beer that was sitting on the table and crash it over this guys head. As the guy started backing up to run, Big Tone Long tripped him and that was all she wrote. About 20 cats from the projects started putting it on homeboy. That was the night I first seen your man Andre and The Untouchables, with that mean system built into a wood console.
So lets get back to when you were at O.C.’s house and Moe didn’t want you and L.L. there.
Right he didn’t want us there because he was laying down a track or practicing on something.. But usually when anybody else is there like Tito or other Fearless Four members are up in there practicing or rehearsing I can sit in even though they are sitting there making mistakes. But Moe is like one of those where he doesn’t want anybodyto see him make a mistake. He don’t want anybody to see him vulnerable while he is creating something.
So it wasn’t really anything personal between the two of you he just didn’t want any one in there!
Nah it wasn’t personal but L took it thatway.. He was like, “yo what’s wrong with that dude, he act like he got a problem with you.” I had to tell L.L. not to worry about that, its not that big of a deal. But L held on to that for a while.
How did you and L.L. end up separating?
He got on Def Jam because all the while while we were hanging out he was looking for a label and Rick Rubin scooped him up. He told me he was going to do something with Def Jam when we were sitting in the record shop. So we sat down and listened to T La Rocks Its Yours and started writing right there in the record shop. I was checking his stuff out and he started writing I need A Beat.
Which sounds similar to T La Rocks It’s Yours?
Yeah it does, but it had to be because that was what he was listening to when he started writing. So you figure It’s Your started off, “Commentating, illustrating, description giving adjective expert” But L’s thing was, “myscenario for your stereo, beats on the rhyme, zero is the ratio(fromDangerous)......See he articulated and used words that other dudes weren’t using when they are going Yes Yes Yall. So I’m telling L cats ain’t going to understand that, he’s like, “they will understand, I’ll put it to a beat and they will understand it.” I said, “yeah alright”.
So once he got on with Def Jam did he try and get you in?
Nah, and on the low everyone that I knew that was doing anything in the business was like yo L.L. sounds like Fox!
And they knew he was with me because many people knew I was taking him around. Even the Candy Jam and the way I dress that was my style. Even some of his beats were similar to what we used for our record Its your Rock.
It seemed like everybody wanted a piece of that.
Yeah even The Fat Boys. I was a judge over there when they got their contract with Sutra Records. But L. was still cool people with me and I put him on to Tito and Crazy Eddie and the rest of the Four, they were all cool with each other. They didn’t know him, he was just somebody from Queens.
Who else was on that label?
Well there was a group name Magnificent 3 I think and they had a girl in the group. I took a few other people to the label like your boys Johnny Wa and Rayvon, and Julio didn’t want to sign them either. In fact anybody I bought there he wouldn’t sign and I was supposed to be the A&R guy. I guess it was because he really didn’t know hip hop. See Tito put me and Charlie Rock together and we shopped the record around but we didn’t have any takers and that is when Charlie went to his guy Julio G, and Julio was your neighborhood drug dealer basically. He had a club up the hill that was basically a front for his hustle. We only stayed together for about two years maybe because no real money was coming in. I remember we did a show at Roxy’s and it was packed and RUNDMC was there with us and we got like a $1000 to split amongst the 3 of us, and this record at the time was big as hell. That wasn’t any money. Come on you want us to get a limo buy some new gear. It was like we were doing shows for free because the money we got for doing the shows would pay for what we spent. Then we were doing free shows for people like 98.7 and etc and I couldn’t stand it any longer.
We did two more records after Biters of the City: Summer and The Buck stops Here. After while I was getting tired of dealing with my own crew because they wanted to do places like the Fun House and The Garage and I’m trying to hit The Fever and Harlem World, but these boys aren’t feeling that. So after awhile I wanted to branch out and do my own thing but Julio didn’t want me to do my own album and I’m like you got to be joking I’m the one writing all of this. So we started to bump heads. Me and Charlie used to argue all the time to the point where we were ready to fight. I told Julio the record is very big we need to get other distributors. He wasn’t hearing it. Another label wanted to pick us up, PolyGram as a matter of fact and Julio held us back.
He wanted to keep us under contract and they were ready to buy him out.
How long was your contract to Julio
So how did you get out if , you left after two years?
Just stopped making records. The loopholewas it did not state how many records I had to make. So for the next three years I didn’t make any more music. I just went back to the club scene making money rocking the mic by myself. By 1986 I was done with New York. Pissed, I moved to Atlantic City in 1986 Where I continued to perform in the YATCH CLUB, CLUB HARLEM and various other venues I joined the All Powerful Jam Masters 1987-91 we did it all we had four turntables, a host of dancers two D.J.s and one MC (ME).. Taking on all that wanted to test my skills. Between 1991 and 96 I kind of chilled from hip hop to raise my oldest Daughter AMBER HOBDY Whom I took from White Plains To New Jersey.
I joined DA ENTERPRISE in 1998 which included groups like TREY DEEP, SELF CONTAINED BIG DOC, RAZE, BIG D, and CHEY DRASTIC the producer. I made THE NEW MELENIUM ALBUM in 1999, one side was SILVER FOX the other BIG DOC. the sales went really well over 2,00 tapes at 10$ a pop and this was in the first month.. My last project was with my youngest brother KENYATTA MOHONDAS called EL GUAPO CON SILVER FOX.. I moved to the South To SAVANNAH GA in 2001 I did a few clubs, some street battles and of course I keep the skills tight.... I decided to dissolve into the mist from whence I came....... SILVER FOX 125 HARLEM
Thank you Silver Fox for taking us back. I want to thank my man Kevin Shepard aka Kev Ski, Big Kev, Water Bed Kev, Fat Kev, from the Grant Projects for putting me in contact with Silver Fox. Peace
Thank you Lord for my two sons Shemar and Troy Jr. Praise God and God Bless you all.