Hip Hop SuperFriendz
Since its inception, hip hop has always had a fascination with crews. Your crew was who you were. If you or members of your crew were considered to be great, then you all were; if you or your crew were considered wack, then that spread across the crew as well, maybe faster. There was Deejaying, Graffiti writing, Break dancing (or B-boys and girls) and Emceeing (rapping), which combined into Hip-Hop. But the common thread all of these elements possess is The Battle, the most furious of these being the rap battle.
In the four basic elements of hip hop, rap is the youngest, but also carries the highest profile. In the thirty years plus, we have seen the highs and lows that come with such a high media profile. From The Sugar Hill Gang recording “Rapper’s Delight”, Kurtis Blow being the first hip hop artist to go gold, Run-DMC recording with Aerosmith and Jay-Z becoming the preeminent recording artist in the United States. And all of the MC battles in between.
But in Queensbridge Houses in 1984, the beginning of hip hop’s first dynasty came to fruition behind the production prowess of Marley Marl, the battle rap skills of Roxanne Shante (who was only 14 years old), manager Tyrone Williams (Fly Ty) and Mr. Magic (Sir Juice), the lead DJ on the influential radio show Rap Attack.
Due to UTFO not showing up for a scheduled appearance, Shante offered to diss the bubble gum rappers in a chance meeting with the trio. The culmination of this union was “Roxanne’s Revenge”, an answer and diss record aimed at UTFO’s “Roxanne, Roxanne”. The scathing diss record would go on to set off the “Roxanne Wars”, which according to Shante (still fine by the way), would have upwards of 50 records being exchanged between various artists like The Real Roxanne, UTFO and Sparky D amongst others.
This was our introduction to the Juice Crew.
December 17, 2008 on hiphopdx.com:
HHDX: Now there was another silent competition between you and another remarkably skilled spitter back then. What was your reaction when you first heard “Word to daddy, indeed” on Eric B & Rakim’s “Follow The Leader”? Oh, I thought he was talking about me. Growing up and like getting into Hip Hop, I always been a battle rapper. Throughout all my school days, that’s what I did, go up to other schools and battle rappers, go to other projects, park jams, whatever, and battle other rappers. So that’s always been my mentality. And even though I had done met dude, and we was cool – me and Eric B was real tight – when I heard that [line] I didn’t look at in a way of like, “Oh fuck that dude,” or like, “I’ma steal this muthafucka when I see him.” But you know, Ra [is] a little dude anyway. But it wasn’t nothing like that, it was just the type of thing where I’m like, “Oh okay, cool, well, now we gonna let the people see then.”
Big Daddy Kane:
HHDX: Wasn’t he just responding to “Set It Off” though? “Rap soloist, you don’t want none of this.” Wasn’t he justified in his response? Well, what happened was we spoke [after “Follow The Leader”]. He claimed that people was telling him, “Yo, he talking about you when he said ‘Rap soloist, you don’t want none of this.’” And I told him I thought he was talking about me with the “word to daddy.” He said that he wasn’t talking about me. And I explained to him that I wasn’t talking about him. I’m like, “Yeah on [‘Eric B Is President’] you said, ‘And you know that I’m the soloist.’” But I’m like, “Let’s just keep in mind, any rapper that rhyme’s alone is a soloist.” So on “Set It Off” what I’m referring to is myself, saying that I’m the rap soloist, [and the] competition don’t want none of this. I’m like, “Heavy D is a rap soloist. Kwame is a rap soloist. Anybody that rhyme’s alone is a soloist.” So I explained to dude, “Nah, you can’t hog the title [to] yourself.”
Big Daddy Kane:
HHDX: I understand [before that conversation] you had a diss record cocked and ready for the R?Yeah. I had something ready. And apparently he had something ready too. But what happened was Eric B’s brother, Ant Live, used to be my road manager. And some girl gave me a picture that said, “Dear Kane, I wanna set it off and get r-a-w, ain’t no half steppin’ ‘cause I’m gonna break your wrath in half.” And I asked her, “What did [you] mean by break the wrath in half?” And she said, “Rakim has a song called ‘Break The Wrath In Half.’” And when Eric B’s brother, Ant, heard this and saw how here’s somebody sitting here trying to speak on this – like they done heard this song and they know this is true – that’s when [he] was like, “Yo this shit going too far. Y’all need to talk.” So Ant called Ra and put me on the phone and we talked.
Big Daddy Kane:
This B-side to the single, “The Bridge”, would erupt one of the most savage lyrical battles in history. This time, the Juice Crew caught the ire of their Bronx neighbors Boogie Down Productions. Led by a fiery emcee named KRS-ONE and producer Scott LaRock, B.D.P. would release “South Bronx” as their response to Shan, whom they believed was crediting Queens as the birthplace of hip hop. “Kill That Noise” from Shan would follow and so would the B.D.P. classic “The Bridge Is Over”. Also adding to the feud was Mr. Magic’s rival, DJ Red Alert being B.D.P.’s DJ.
But the Juice Crew’s greatest contribution to hip hop other than “The Symphony”, the quintessential posse cut in hip hop history, was the line up of “New School” artists they discovered: Kool G. Rap and DJ Polo, Roxanne Shante, Masta Ace, The Intelligent Hoodlum (now known as Tragedy Khadafi), Craig G., Biz Markie, MC Shan and their most illustrious member, Big Daddy Kane.
With a line up assisting hip hop’s best producer at the time, they were ready to take on the world under the Cold Chillin’ imprint.
They would serve as the inspiration behind later groups such as the Wu-Tang Clan.
The star of the crew was Big Daddy Kane. Not only did he have the street dudes spittin’ his lyrics bar for bar, he had the girls feeling his swag. My man was “Raw“, as well as “The Smooth Operator“. He would eventually take the crown from MC Shan as the crew’s number one MC (big surprise, right?). And my man was from BROOKLYN! He was leading QB’s top rap crew with every verse as Poet Laureate. His live show was and is still remarkable. He would also help mentor another Brooklyn standout in 1994 on “Show and Prove” (ever heard of a guy named Jay-Z?)
In their prime, the Juice Crew would face down numerous MC’s and engage in numerous battles. No other rap crew can truly say they had as many rap wars and came out with as many victories. During the Bridge Wars, most of KRS-ONE’s venom was directed toward Marley and Shan, but Shante got it in with him too:
They would all go their separate ways in 1991, only to collaborate sparingly afterwards. Big Daddy Kane would go on to record numerous hits and continue to tour. Kool G. Rap would continue to record with mostly underground artists. The feud with B.D.P. died down in the 90’s, with BDK, Kool G. Rap and KRS-ONE all collaborating on a song for DJ Tony Touch’s album in 1997. The peace treaty was official when KRS-ONE and Marley Marl teamed up for 2007’s “Hip Hop Lives“, a take on Nas’ “Hip Hop Is Dead” album released the year before.
Film production began on The Vapors, a feature film biopic starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Marley Marl and KeKe Palmer as Roxanne Shante in 2008. Last I heard, they ran outta cash and the movie was scrapped. I was disappointed. I really wanted to see Tony Yayo portray KRS-ONE. Yeah, the same guy who holds 50’s Vitamin Water for a living. I wanted to see him make the transition from Fonzworth Bentley to Lawrence Kris Parker. It would have been the only time he would’ve been heard spittin’ ill bars. And CGJ could’ve redeemed himself after his stream of wackness in the theaters.
All in all, without the Juice Crew, the hip hop crew would continue to be a novelty idea at the street level. They made it a necessity to have a strong posse in the cutthroat hip hop music industry as well as started a label when there was hardly any urban radio and even less live show opportunities. They now walk among us as legends who still contribute to the masses such as Craig G. writing some battle raps opposite Eminem in 8 Mile. Their status in hip hop is now at mythical levels. They are the epitome of the current rap crew. Legendary.
speaking nothing but tha truth…