Archive for March, 2009

50 Cent Is Not A Rapper

March 30, 2009

I first heard about the rapper 50 Cent back in 1999, when my dude and former client Deric “D-Dot Angelettie, p/k/a The Madd Rapper produced and was featured on 50’s 1st single “How To Rob”. “How To Rob” was that perfect single for a rapper trying to get noticed in a market then flooded by Hip Hop superstars. On the debut single, 50 jokingly rapped about robbing several rap stars and entertainers from a hungry rapper’s perspective. Deric’s Madd Rapper ad-libs added to that desperate “I gotta get mine from these industry cats” vibe, egging 50 on from the background. The single also had legs on the radio, at least here in New York. Unfortunately some rappers named in “How To Rob” took offense, I guess they didn’t find it as funny as the fans did. Some even responded with shots at the new rapper. Regardless, it was clear that the new rapper called 50 Cent had a shot at making a name for himself.

The next time I heard about 50 was in March of 2000. I received a call from one of my clients who was hired to produce a track for 5o in connection with his first album “Power Of The Dollar”. That March, he and some members of his production team were in the famed Hit Factory recording studios with 50 Cent, in one of the smaller rooms. The Hit Factory was a enormous studio with state of the art equipment and many recording rooms, some large enough to fit an entire orchestra. On this particular evening, 50’s rivals, members of the famed Murder Inc. were also booked in The Hit Factory, in a different room. 50’s beef with Murder Inc. had been going on for some time, particularly with Ja Rule. Apparently, some members of the Inc. had peeped 50 in the building and decided they would roll up in his session and ride on who ever was present. Right in the middle of recording, 50’s session was interrupted by what seemed like at least more than 5 crew members of the Inc. As the goons rushed the room, they decided to cut off the lights in an attempt to further “shock and awe” 50 and his companions. Shit got real hectic with the producers and 50 going for theirs in defense against their attackers. When it was over, 50 Cent the rapper realized that his beef with Murder Inc. had just escalated to a whole new level. Niggas was really coming for him, and not just on wax.

The third time I heard about 50 Cent was on May 24, 2000, when he was shot nine times and left for dead, lying in a pool of his own blood. The shooting was allegedly in connection with 50’s beef with the Inc. Miraculously, Curtis James Jackson, III survived the shooting. In one fell swoop, he beat out Tupac Shakur in legendary street cred status, ‘Pac having survived getting hit with “only” 5 bullets. All this and with only one single recorded. Still, even though Curtis Jackson survived that shooting it seemed that the rapper who was 50 Cent was killed or at least his career was. Severely wounded and now without a deal, 50 Cent the rapper was left to die.

Two years later, after the industry and fans alike had ample opportunity to forget about him, 50 dropped the mixtape “Guess Whose Back?” Having been blacklisted by most record execs, unable to find a studio that would allow him to record, 50 was forced to travel to Canada in order to compile “Guess Whose Back”. Shit was unlike any mixtape ever heard. Containing some tracks intended for his unreleased “Power Of The Dollar” album for Columbia, along with some new tracks aimed at his foes connected with the Inc., the cd played like a concept album. In addition, the rumor was that the jewelry piece 50 was brazenly showcasing on the album cover, wrapped around his gun was actually a piece that once belonged to Ja Rule. The story was that 50 and Ja had gotten into a scuffle and the scuffle ended with 50 walking away with Ja’s chain and diamond studded cross. Regardless if said story was fact or fiction, 50’s buzz hit like a bomb. Industry cats once again started talking about the mixtape, about how hot 50 was. Kniccas in the streets and in the barber shops were also talking.

Dino, my boy who was an A&R at Universal and was the dude responsible for signing the Cash Money Millionaires had seen the opportunity and was the first exec willing to stick his neck out to sign 50. Dino wanted to lock 50 down with the quickness and 50 needed a lawyer so he called me, asked me if I was interested in meeting 50, or if I was scared, shook like a lot of our fellow industry colleagues on account of 50’s beef. I told Dino I wouldn’t mind working with 50, especially since the mixtape was fuego. Dino knew that if hired by 50, I would make the deal happen unlike some other attorneys who had a rep for drawing deals out, making things difficult for all parties involved. Fifty called me shortly after. We arranged a meeting to break bread and discuss whether we could establish a working relationship. On the day of our meeting 50 showed up promptly to my office. Most rappers feel that showing up late for meetings must be some kind of cool. Even though he had “taken some time off” to heal and recuperate, niggas was still out in the streets gunning for him. Because of that, he was rocking a fresh bullet proof vest, accompanied by his manager Sha Money XL and one other dude who mos def looked like he was a shooter. Me and one of my law partners sat down with 50 and we began to build.

Curtis was incredibly focused. Perhaps the most focused person I had ever met during my time on this planet. Calmly, the man spoke with incredible clarity as to his immediate and future plans, how he was going to get his family out the hood, how he would put together an album that wouldn’t just shock the world but would also make him very rich. How with his newfound wealth, he would put himself in a position of power and build an army to take care of all his rivals who placed him in his current position, a position of having to move quietly, carefully, of having to constantly watch his back. With very little emotion, but with the charisma of a star, Mr. Jackson explained how in a short period of time, the tables would be turned and how he would be sitting on top of an empire that would extend far beyond any record deal. No bravado, none of that “nah’mean” swagger lingo that so many rappers brandish when inflating their infantile images to the public, just methodical well thought out step by step plans that would ensure the success of his goals. Curtis conducted the entire meeting looking both me and my partner dead in our eyes, but it was apparent to me that he was looking through us, beyond the here and now.

Dude saw the future, not just the end result, but every effin brick he would have to lay in order to transform his visions, his dreams into reality. Curtis was also very forthcoming about a possible deal with Eminem, with Dr. Dre, Shady, Aftermath and Interscope. Told me that Em’s people, including Em’s lawyer reached out to him. Curtis was extremely respectful in taking the time to meet with me, respectful in maintaining a good relationship with Dino but explained that he might not take the Universal deal on account of how it wasn’t in his benefit to replay the role of a solo artist left out in the cold to defend himself against his enemies who were Goliath like in stature. How Em and Dre might just could put him in a position of power and how he most likely would rock with Em’s lawyer. We concluded the meeting. After Curtis Jackson, Sha and their shooter left the building, me and my partner were quiet, in awe at the meeting that had just taken place. We knew immediately, that whatever endeavor he set out to accomplish, Curtis Jackson would be incredibly successful. I also realized, at that moment, that two years earlier, on May 24, 2000, the rapper who was 50 Cent was shot nine times, died while lying in a pool of his own blood. What was left in place of the slain rapper was a man reborn with the intimate knowledge of the relationship between life and death, who knew first hand the meaning of war, of strategy, of alliances, of power and how he would claim his power. It was also evident that once 50 claimed the power he so desperately needed, he would never relinquish an inch of it.

Six years after the release of his first album”Get Rich Or Die Tryin'”, 50 Cent continues to remain relevant, remains in full control of his power. He also continues to manipulate the media and the masses to believe only what he wants them to believe. That thing with Kanye and their album beef? So clear that 50 was playing with us all. The jabs at Diddy, at Wayne, at damn near anyone that might could even resemble a future threat, just pawn moves in his ever evolving chess game with the world. Recently, I’ve been most entertained with his relentless and ruthless public flogging of the former CO turned rapper Rick Ross. I’m also amused when people complain about how he no longer releases quality music, how all his posturing and beefs have all but destroyed his career as a rapper, how his endeavors in acting and in video games have cheapened his street cred, how his vast amount of public beefs have killed his record career. I’m so amazed at how the man Curtis Jackson p/k/a 50 Cent continues to pull the wool over so many people’s eyes so concerned about him as a rapper. True he can go back into his past life and pull out rhymes, songs and even albums, but 5o Cent is many many things, a rapper he is not. I keep wondering when all these other rappers will realize that 5o Cent the rapper left the building years ago, so many years in fact that no matter how prolific and masterful they are with their word play, their rap battles exist on an entirely different plane, a completely different playing field than 50’s, and as these rappers continue to swing at shadows while 50 lands critical blows from afar, in an arena much broader and far more complex I’m asking myself, “why did these niggas do it to themselves?”

And as long as he continues to be everything but a rapper, I will continue to enjoy the ever continuing saga that is the 50 Cent show. 50 Cent the rapper is dead, long live 50 Cent, the world’s smartest entertainer.

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Russell Simmons vs. Combat Jack – Stray Shots?

March 26, 2009

Two nights ago I posted a piece on Damon Dash. It was a well received piece that I thought, in my opinion, was a very objective view on the man, his history, his current woes and most importantly, his likely chances of coming out of all of this b.s. and landing on top. You might have seen it. Anyways, just a few moments ago, I happened to come across this drop over at Global Grind entitled “Ain’t No N***a Like Damon Dash” written by none other than Russell Simmons, my former employer at Def Jam and without question, one of the original architects of this thing we call the Hop Hop Industry. In this drop, Russell comments on how great the off Broadway play “Hip-Hop Monologues: the Life and the Mind of Jim Jones” produced by Damon is. He even goes on to say how said play “takes hip-hop culture to another significant level of accomplishment.” That shit is cool right there, I’m all about evolution, especially when it comes to the advancement not only of my peoples and peoples the world throughout, but also when it’s specifically concerning the evolution of Hip Hop culture, which I am so much a part of and which I love so much. Bravo Damon and thank you Russell.

However, that’s not what caught my eye. See, in his drop, Russell goes on to say:

“Hate spreads. But like Tony Montana in “Scarface” said, “two qualudes ….. And they gonna love him again.” So haters, it really doesn’t matter about your blogs from the sidelines. Dame’s gonna help heat the economy again!!”

Hmmm. Haters hating through their blogs from the sidelines. Was that Russell firing a stray shot my way in connection with my piece? Coinkydink? That seems a little too close for my liking. The way I read it, some peoples caught some feelings in me sharing some real honest shit about Damon and Russell decided he’d come down from the mountain top like Al Sharpton or Louis Farrakhan in order to drop a speach and set shit straight. You know, like he’s supposed to do. Only thing is I never actually dissed Damon but Russell in damning my piece as hate and labeling me as a hater firing blog shots from the sidelines is an obvious diss. Or let’s just say I’ma take that as an obvious diss.

Sooooooooooo, for the record, and this is no side ways, cat fighting sneak shit:

Russell, please feel free to read my piece in it’s entirety, not through some word of mouth delivery through one of your employees, lackeys or interns. Once read, you’re most definitely welcome to your opinions, and if you feel that I dissed your boy Damon in any way, then so be it, we’re all entitled to our own interpretations. Now I am 100% appreciative of you giving me my first shot in the game, on top of this whole hip hop industry thing that you’ve been instrumental in building, the very same industry that has allowed me to make a living from, to make a name from, in addition to enjoying all the beautiful things birthed from the industry. Thank you for that. From the heart. I can never ever even conceive of how I could ever repay you for creating the very ground that I walk on.

But, if you ever effin call me a hater again, if you so much as fire any types of disrespectful shots my way, direct or indirect, I WILL BODY YOU! And just for fun. I do what I do out of passion, without so much as a check coming my way in connection with my daily blog posts. I do it for the love of hip hop and I do it for the love of this culture. And because I do it out of love and passion, and in keeping with the original combative and competitive nature that is the ESSENCE of hip hop, of rap, break dancing, deejaying, graffiti writing, poetry slamming, record sales what have you, I WILL NOT TAKE ANY DISSES FLOWN MY WAY LIGHTLY.

No doubt you have an empire behind you, and you most definitely have the physical arsenal to try and squash me with whatever you send my way, but you won’t win in this lane dunny. Not here, not now, not ever. I’m small to you dude, so small in fact that I’m way too hard to pin point, to hit, I make one of the hardest of targets. You, I can set up a special blog solely in honor of you and bomb on your ass and daily, to the point where Sharpton, Farrakhan AND Chavis might just have to intervene and call for a cease fire. This is guerilla warfare my dude, and I AM COMBAT JACK. I LIVE FOR THIS!!! Cut it out and right now son. Keep my shit out your mouth old man. Please don’t have me declare war on you. Only because I’m impatiently waiting for that. And please believe that my gunshots will make you levitate.

You have been respectfully and formally warned!!!

Combat Jack

And that my friends is that. On to our regularly scheduled program.

Combat Jack Throwback: Tupac Shakur Stayed Having The BEST Weed!

March 26, 2009


All good things come to an end and the kids go back to school next week. Being that I’m headed outta town,
as promised, here’s a throwback of my world famous, award winning blog series recapturing my Top 5 gulliest moments I experienced first hand in the music industry, shit you won’t hear about anywhere else on the whole effin planet but here!

PREVIOUSLY: #5, #4, #3, #2

Courtesy of Byron Crawford

#1. The Time I Smoked A Blunt With Tupac ([||] and sorta)

Back in the early 1990’s, I was working with some more gully Mount Vernon niggas. One’a my former clients, Kenny Smoove landed a label deal with Atlantic Records because of his hit production on the group “Intro”. He discovered and broke the group “Changing Faces” with their smash hit single “Stroke You Up” produced by and featuring R. Kelly (no Michael Jackson pederast). Shit was looking extra good for Kenny. His next project was a rap group called “Ground Zero” who were supposed to be like the East Coast version of NWA. Don’t worry if you don’t recall hearing about them though, they were dropped from the label like about a week after this story took place, but I’m telling you, these negroes were really crazy, like, not right in the head.

They were all cousins (I think maybe inbred) and when they weren’t rhyming or writing “hot shit”, they’d get all smoked out and drunk and start fighting each other for real. Bare fists and knuckles real. Dudes were so crazy even, and if I’m lying, I’m dying, that there was this one incident when, in the midst of a drunken spell, they started fighting amongst each other in middle of the street, said fight eventually escalating into a “friendly” game of gun play where one of ‘em shot another one either in the arm or the leg. Real shits and giggles these guys. Believe me when I say these cats were effin idjits!!! Good dudes though, just not too mentally balanced. Anyways, they had a “road manager” who went by the name of “Easy Lee.” Easy was one of those pretty boy [||] type of dudes with a million dollar smile who was in all actuality, real grimy, so much so that that you wouldn’t wanna trust him near your cash, your girl, your moms, your kids, your video games, your gear, you flat out couldn’t trust this fucker. I wonder why he didn’t just call himself Greezy Lee.

Anyways, Ground Zero stayed producing joints in the studio with Kenny, shit started gelling, sounding mad proper and eventually they ended up getting a gig to perform way out in this ghetto ass club in Queens, New York. It was a promotional date and they were one of many acts opening up for the legendary, late, great Tupac Shakur. This was around the time that ‘Pac was starting to establish his name on the fact that he just made his acting debut in the film “Juice”. I’m thinking “Above The Rim’ also. So on the night of the scheduled performance, Me, “Greezy”, Kenny, Ground Zero, and a few other cats drove out to the club. When we got there, the place was packed with a line going around the entire block. To make matters worse, this was like the coldest night I ever experienced in my life!!! I’m talking a few years before this global warming thing, where it was seriously 2 degrees with a wind chill factor of like negative 25! Some real BRICK shit. Outside, there were hundreds of chicks waiting to get in, hoping, praying to catch a glimpse of Tupac. I gotta give it to them ’cause they was out there dressed in the skimpiest of halter-tops and opened toed shoes. I didn’t get it because I was wearing like three pairs of socks and a pair of 40 Below Timberland boots and being that it was so cold, my toes felt like they were being sliced and diced with razor blades.

To make shit even more horrific, the bouncers at the door didn’t give a rat’s ass who the eff me, Kenny Smoove or Ground Zero were and most definitely were not letting us in. After waiting for like an hour, Tupac shows up with his crew (including the future G.O.A.T., Biggie Smalls, who at the time was content playing his position as one of ‘Pac’s weed carriers). To this day, I’ll never figure out how, but Greezy Lee somehow managed to slip into Tupac’s entourage and disappeared inside the club alongside them. Five minutes go by, I know for sure that my feet are frostbitten and that I’ll probably have to have one of ‘em surgically removed thus becoming gimped up, Ground Zero start getting antsy, cussing at each other, shoving and looking like they’re about to start fighting, shooting in the crowd and at each other when Greezy pops out the club with out his million dollar smile and a bouncer, points in our direction and tells dude to let the us in. Me, Kenny and Ground Zero gets escorted in and right as we’re about to pass security, this other bouncer let’s everybody else in and cuts the flow by sticking his meaty ass hand in my chest, thus blocking my entry. Freezing, stuck and knowing that I just blew my last shot at getting into the ghetto ass club with the name I forgot, I sadly watch the posse enter, doors closing behind them.

So here I am, stuck out in the frozen tundra, toes all blue, with about 500 ghetto ass, open toed shoe wearing half dressed 2pac crazy bitches, with no ride home and no opportunity to see my group perform. Fortunately, I had the keys to the group’s vehicle, so I hop in the whip, turn on the heat and wait for like 2-3 hours for the crew to get back. Around four in the a.m., Greezy, his smile, Kenny and Ground Zero wake me up from out of my slumber by knocking on the window and we all head back to Mount Vernon. They inform me that although the bouncer allowed the group into the club, the promoter took one look at them and said there was no way in hell he’d allow those crazy niggas to get up on stage and perform. They did decide to remain inside (and at my expense) in order to watch Tupac (and Biggie’s) performance. That evening was a wrap.

Anyways, we drive back to Mount Vernon, get to Kenny’s crib when Greezy proudly announces that while he was “backstage” (how the fuck did he manage to get backstage?), he started “going for his” by grabbing all types of shit – others people’s belongings and stuff – until he came upon this real plush looking black leather Pelle Pelle jacket with an image of a black stallion embroidered on the back. Realizing he “just had to have it,” Greezy slipped it on under his coat while Tupac and crew were performing and then casually blended back into the audience. So dude takes out the jacket and I’m like “Yo man, that’s really fucked up, I don’t get down like that!!! ….. Um, what’s in the pockets?” Greezy then goes all up in the pockets and produces a wallet containing none other than Tupac Shakur’s driver’s license! That’s when we all recognize the jacket because ‘Pac had done a lot of promotional shit for “Juice” rocking the same jacket. We all remain silent, not believing that Greezy just jacked “Bishop” when from the other pocket, he pulls out the largest, ripest, pungent most beautifullest pillow sack of Chronic weed I had ever seen in my life. We were all in awe because in New York and around that time, most of us still wasn’t privy to Chronic other than what Snoop, Dre and Nate Dogg over on the West Coast were rapping and sanging about.

As we lounged back and smoked the Chronic, Greezy and his smile was like our hero for a coupla hours, and I, for the life of me, couldn’t get out of my mind the image of ‘Pac’s tiny ass [||] being ushered out of the club, wrapped all up in blankets and sheets, just in order to keep warm, with no coat on and no weed to smoke, middle finger pointed high in the sky for the niggas that ganked him, his wallet, his drivers license and his smoke. I don’t know what Greezy ended up doing with the jacket, and ‘Pac’s license, I just don’t fuck with cats like that anymore. I think I remember something about how he made mad money selling off the rest of that bomb ass weed though. I just hope that this incident wasn’t the camel’s straw that eventually triggered that crazy ass nigga Tupac to go off the deep end, resulting in him hating B.I.G., Puffy and just about anything else East Coast related. On the real though, good looking out for that solid ‘Pac, Thug Life and all that my nigga! R.I.P. You mos def kept some of the best weed I ever had in my life!

Combat Jack On Damon Dash

March 25, 2009

Damon Dash. I repped him from 1991 – 1997. My most difficult client ever. There’s a lot of shit I can write about dude, but because of client/attorney privilege, I’m legally precluded from doing so. He started out as a manager with his cousin, Darien Dash. Another effin “winner”. Brilliant dudes though. Both in their teens. They came in the music game with two acts, “Original Flavor” and “The Future Sound”. Upon the Dash’s first shot, they landed both those acts deals with the now defunct East/West Records, a part of the Atlantic record family. The Dash’s must’ve netted over 150k for those deals. Imagine sitting on at least 50 – 75 k in your pocket, in your teens, in the music game. And not as an artist, but as managers, executives.

One of the best things that came outta me effin with Dame was him introducing me to fellow Brooklynite DJ/ Producer/ Sneaker God Clark Kent. Clark remains one of my closest friends from the music game today. Clark was A&R at East/West and gave the Dash’s the co-sign. He also came to the table with the then unknown artist Jay-Z, introducing Jay to Dame. Even tried to sign him to East/West, but back then NO ONE was feeling Jay, not even Clark’s then boss, Sylvia Rhone. Clark did manage to squeeze Jay a cameo on Original Flavor’s first single, “Can I Get Open”. That shit right there rocked and it felt great to bang a single that I was proudly associated with. Jay did murder them on they own shit though.

A coupla years passed, Original Flavor and The Future Sound came and went. So did the cash. The IRS came knocking and hard. Dame’s accountant kinda eff’d up, didn’t give the teens the proper financial advice and guidance they needed. Niggas had to turn in the Pathfinder jeeps they were so proudly rocking throughout NYC. Clark and Dame went into overdrive to get Jay-Z a deal. They had me up in all types of meetings, selling, pushing, damn near begging the record execs to give Jay a deal. Nada. One exec even told me “why the fuck should I sign Jay-Z, I have Black Sheep on our roster, Jay ain’t fucking with them”. Shit was rough on the cousins Dash. Eventually Darien, who had just graduated from college, caught on to the whole digital revolution. Saw the internet coming from miles away. Started a dot com start up company called Digital Mafia. Made a shit load of money even. One thing the cousins always had was mad smarts on their side. Brilliant.

Dame started borrowing a coupla dollars from me. Not that he needed it, but as he explained it, “there was no way niggas Uptown is EVER gonna see me walking out the subway. I’m too fresh for that. Niggas need to stay seeing me stepping outta cabs. Fuck that plebe shit.” So I lent him money for cab fare. Thought he was being x-tra, still, had to admire that sense of pride. Shit like that kinda ensures your financial success. That, and/or financial demise. He was also going through mad baby momma drama at the time with the mother of his first son Boogie. Shit was so bad, he even got into a physical fight with her father, brother and uncle. At the same time. From what I remember, he knocked all three of them out and on they asses during that same encounter. I think I even remember them pressing charges against Damon for the ass whuppin. Funny shit. We laughed loudly behind that one.

Shit looked dire for the team. You heard it right there on the song. West Coast blew up, Nas stunned the world with “Illmatic”, Puff and Bad Boy started killing it here in New York with that “Big Mack” one two punch (Craig Mack’s “Flavor In Your Ear” and Biggie Smalls set up the momentum for Bad Boy Records forever and just right). I soon started repping Jaz-O who was an extended member of the original “Team Roc”. Biggs wasn’t yet down. Jay, Dame, Clark, them kniccas went in. Like 24/7, they was producing records left and right outta Clark’s crib, on Carroll Street, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. We also had Ski Beatz producing fiyah as well. Ski was a member and the sound behind Original Flavor. Between him and Clark, Jay was swimming in a pool of beats to sharpen his rhyme play. Jay soon began evolving, slowing down his rapid fire tempo, stretching out his words, dumbing down his delivery to a point where shit sounded simple to the casual listener, but somehow would stuff so many layers upon layers of metaphors and double, triple, quadruple entendres in his shit, so much so that it still takes years for me to catch the full meaning of shit he dropped back in ’96, ’97, ’98. Hard times and financial pressure made him forge his skills into the sharpest of blades.

Damon kept that whole shit together though. Never lost sight, never gave in a bit. Eventually he landed a measly ass deal with a small label, Pay Day Records. Deal was like less than 30k. Still, Dame took it, they was the only label on the block biting. They released Jay’s first single ever, “In My Lifetime”. A dope laid back underground New York state of mind record. Sold wood. Pay Day dropped Jay and Dame shortly after. By then they had hooked up with Biggs. They pooled their collective monies and decided to swing for the fences.

Niggas had me working overtime as well, doing producer agreements night after night with Ski, Clark, Jaz-O, Preemo. They actually went in and produced the majority of “Reasonable Doubt” on their own, on the strength of relationships and hard cash. Because Dame “dated” Mary J. Blige briefly, right before she blew up, she did him a solid and dropped her cameo on “Can’t Knock The Hustle”. Jay’s relationship with B.I.G. and Clark’s relationship with Puff resulted in “Brooklyn’s Finest”. Dope shit was being cooked up, just didn’t see where that shit was going. Eventually, we landed a modest label deal with Moon Roof, a label under Priority. No lie, that was a bullshit deal. But the only one we could find at the time. The album was solid no doubt, but was missing that one joint, that one commercial single that would push that album from being ai’ight to becoming certified classic status.

Boom! Clark’s baby cousin Inga Marchand, p/k/a “Foxy Brown” made some noise and started a bidding war between Def Jam, Bad Boy, Elektra and a bunch of other labels. On the strength, they snatched her yung ass up for what would end up being the monster single “Ain’t No Nigga”. Damon played that single for me in his new offices, then located in the Wall Street area. Nigga was doing that goofy “Dame dance” with the mock dice roll even then. That record was a monster!!! Inga single handedly, in my opinion, saved Jay-Z’s career. Without her on that record, and Reasonable Doubt being Jay’s last shot, the world at large might have never heard of Shawn Carter. (Niggas don’t really put 2 and 2 together, realizing that Jay had been trying to get on since like 1987, ’88, damn near close to 10 years before Reasonable Doubt!!!)

Reasonable Doubt dropped and sold gold out the gate. 500,000 units. Priority never expected that. Owed Dame $1,000,000.00 but couldn’t, wouldn’t pay up. Enter Irv Gotti, who snatched up the “Ain’t No Nigga” single for the “Nutty Professor” soundtrack. That led to Roc-a-fella eventually landing at Def Jam. The rest, as they say, is history. Let me set the record straight, here, and once and for all. Without Dame, there would be no Jay-Z. I know it. I said it. And I said it here.

I write this all to say that as brilliant as Damon Dash is, his strongest suit, the thing that made him so extremely successful is that the man is one of the world’s biggest assholes. Always was. I guess it’s a good thing that dude never changed once he made money. I credit him for definitely taking great care of his artists and his peoples, but if you weren’t on what he considered to be his team, he would be incredibly disrespectful. Burned a lotta bridges too. Too many. I once argued with him on just that, on how I felt he was hurting us, hurting himself by burning too many bridges unnecessarily. Told me he didn’t need any bridges to blow up, to make paper. Cool. Confidence is one thing, arrogance is another, and Dame had arrogance in abundance. Throughout my years of association with him, I’ve seen him shit on so many people. So. many. people. Not that the music industry is full of saints, that business breeds dicks by the bundles [||], but when it comes to assholes, Dame remains king.

So now the media is clowning dude for supposedly being broke, for going through a divorce with his wife. I would never pray for that type of public humiliation on anyone, anywhere. Humiliation in spades. However, I confess, when it comes to Damon Dash, I set my watch like 13 years ago, waiting to see when shit like this would happen to him. Not outta hate though, not outta jealousy even, shit I owe dude for helping me in building my business, in helping me to establish a solid reputation in the game, in becoming the person that I am today. The reason I set my watch is because I’ve seen him humiliate and disgrace so many people, throw so many souls under the proverbial bus that even then, I knew that the shit he’s publicly suffering through now was coming, inevitable, only a matter of time. I seen it coming years ago. Only because karma can be a mean bitch, and she is mos def getting it in on dude.

If I were a betting man, after all this shit dies down, and the papers and websites and blogs have had their way with him, I’d say that outta them all, Damon Dash might just could come back and land on top again. He’s brilliant like that, and being an asshole is his strongest suit. But before that time comes, there’s a whole lotta hell for him to pay. And in this lifetime.

Combat Jack Throw Back: Tragedy Khadafi likes his Cris warm

March 24, 2009

I’m still on Spring Break Bitches!!! However, and as promised, here’s a throwback of my world famous, award winning blog series recapturing my Top 5 gulliest moments I experienced first hand in the music industry, shit you won’t hear about anywhere else on the whole effin planet but here!
PREVIOUSLY: #5, #4, #3

Courtesy of Byron Crawford

Tragedy Khadafi is a good dude [||]. He doesn’t, however, get the recognition he deserves. He was a junior member of the legendary Juice Crew, he mentored and actually named Havoc (of “Mobb Deep” fame), he discovered CNN (Capone –N- Noriega) and was fully responsible for their classic underground LP The War Report. He was also featured on the only diss record fired back against 2pac and the Dogg Pound during the East-West coast beef (“LA, LA,” also featuring Mobb Deep and C-N-N).

So the year is 1999 and Trag is feeling a bit down (cause life has a way of kicking a nigga’s ass every now and then). To cheer him up, I suggest that we head to a party that Gorilla Pimp Sean Combs is throwing cross-town. We get to the joint and are ushered into the V.I.P. section which looked great. The walls were draped with some velvety red curtains and the chicks were definitely on some video ho pop off material. Around midnight, Diddy steps in the club and decides to open up the bar in our section. Trag and I go apeshit and start throwing drinks back like we had been stranded in the Sahara desert for 15 days with no canteen in sight.

After an hour of doing some serious man-style drinking, Puff ups the ante (along with some other baller crews chilling in the cut) and decides its time to treat the crowd to bottles of Cristal. This was a few years before Jay-Z said it wasn’t cool to drank Cristal no no’. Word. The wait staff starts bringing out mad ice buckets stocked with yellow bottles and it’s on. Almost everyone in the area has access to at least 2.5 of their own bottles of the fine bubbly. Everything is going real perfecto, chicks looking and smelling good, dancing, trees is burning, niggas is all types of happy with no types of gun talk in the air, the dj (I think it was Flex) is spinning hit after hit after blood clot hit, we’re partying like it’s, well, um, 1999 and Trag is smiling [||].

Anyways, after downing our respective second bottles of Cris, Trag pulls me to the side with a real serious and concerned look in his eye and asks me where the men’s room is. [||]. In my blissfully drunken state, I explain that it’s past the V.I.P. ropes, through the dance floor (jam packed with about 700 sweaty dancing patrons), up the crowded narrow ass stairs, right behind the capacity filled lounge, where finally, there’s probably a line with a wait time of about 10-15 minutes. He processes the information and says “cool.” A few minutes later, there’s like one unattended bottle of Cris left, and from the corner of my eye, I spot Trag grabbing it along with the effin ice bucket, greedy ass motherfucker!

I think nothing of it, but I soon start craving for some more of that free elixir so I make my way to said last bottle that Trag placed back in its bucket. I reach for the bottle and out of nowhere, Trag grabs my wrist and says all stern like, “Dude, chill, you had enough.” I’m getting pissed now cause it aint right to cock block a free bottle of Cris. “Yo, why you hoggin the bottle dude?” I ask, and he pulls me to the side and explains, “I just took the ice bucket behind one’a these velvety red curtain-like drapes and pissed like a gallon’s worth in it!”

Minutes later, as some fine ass Latin mommies make their way to the bottle and start going to town on its contents like it’s going out of style, cute ass brown hands all up in the pissy warm ice bucket and guzzling like it ain’t nobody’s business, I wonder if they even realize that their bubbly was a tad bit warm.

Btw, my man Trag is currently upstate doing a bid on some nonesenical shit. My knicca, hold yer head high man, there’s more bottles waiting out here for you on the get out.

Auto Tune Oversaturation?

March 23, 2009


Auto Tuning from Casey D on Vimeo.

Funny ass video about Auto Tune and it’s presence everywhere.

Combat Jack Throwback: Diddy Will Kick Your Ass On Ptwitty TV Live!

March 20, 2009

It’s Spring time Bitches!!! As promised, here’s a throwback of my world famous, award winning blog series recapturing my Top 5 gulliest moments I experienced first hand in the music industry, shit you won’t hear about anywhere else on the whole effin planet but here!

PREVIOUSLY: #5, #4

#3. P. Diddy Is A Gorilla Pimp

Let’s take it back to Spring 1995, New York City. Bad Boy Entertainment is hip hop’s number 1 label on the East Coast and the G.O.A.T. Biggie Smalls was still alive. Jessica Rosenbaum (this Jewish chick who promotes hip hop functions) threw a weekly dinner dance event at a club called Esso’s where all the “beautiful” hip hop industry folks could gather, talk mad shit and waste ungodly amounts of money on liquor, party and bullshit.

In addition to his growing record empire, Diddy was making his name as a producer and one of the many artists he produced a song for at the time (I don’t think I ever heard it) was Brooklyn rapper Positive K. K seemed like a cool dude, ran with Audio Two and MC Lyte and even scored a nationwide hit with a single called “I Gotta Man.” Anyways, I’m sitting at a table with my folks and Diddy and his weed carrying entourage make a grand entrance. Shortly thereafter, Positive K walks in dolo. Diddy sees K and approaches him. Apparently, Positive K (or, more specifically, his record label) hadn’t gotten around to paying Diddy his producer fee (which was something like 5 thousand dollars) and Diddy was heated.

In addition, I heard that both Diddy and K were in Los Angeles a week earlier and when Diddy stepped to K about his dough, K was like “You? Nigga please, I’ll get atcha when I get at ya, Bitch!” So, at Club Esso’s, when Diddy steps to K again, he asks “Yo nigga, you got my money?” K looks at Diddy like “whatever nigga” and starts to walk away when Diddy whips out his cell phone (phones at the time were about the size of a brick) and starts whupping on K’s head like it was a Dora the Explorer piñata at a 6 year old’s birthday party!

So the place goes crazy, chicks are screaming, folks are scrambling around and Positive K is steady getting his head pounded out by Diddy and his cell phone. Shit was hectic B.

So, after Diddy feels like K had enough and asks him “whose my bitch, K, WHOSE MY BITCH?!!!” K wimpers out “uncle” through some broken and bloody teeth. Diddy then steps away from K’s crumpled up body and Diddy’s bodyguards (he only had like two at the time), each scoop K up by his armpits and tosses his broken ass out the club and onto the sidewalk. The party resumes, we all get pissy drunk and that’s the last time I heard anything about Positive K (if anyone knows what he’s up to these days, please let me know what’s good with dude).

Now I know Diddy has moved on to become an international star, known and loved by millions. I even caught dude live last night on his Ptwitty TV Live telecast last night. I would love to see some unlucky fellow like 50 Cent or Soulja Boy mouth off to Sean Combs, just to get their effin asses beat like a broke ho’ in front of millions and live on Ptwitty TV. That would be mighty special.

Courtesy of Byron Crawford

Children Are The Future

March 20, 2009

The lil’ rug rat on the right has a bright future ahead of him.

Courtesy of H8torade

Combat Jack Throwback: Pete Rock Is Not A Snitch!

March 18, 2009












Still spring cleaning. So in the meantime, and as promised, here’s a throwback of my world famous, award winning blog series recapturing my Top 5 gulliest moments I experienced first hand in the music industry, shit you won’t hear about anywhere else on the whole effin planet but here!

#4. Pete Rock Is Not A Snitch (Prior, #5)

Back around 1993, Pete Rock was a producer God in the greater New York City area. Shit, dude was God worldwide! He also happened to be in one of the hottest rap groups (Pete Rock & CL Smooth (although I never understood what the eff CL was saying). His remixes for legends like RUN-DMC and Public Enemy further cemented his status as a legend in this Hip Hop game.

Around that time, a lot of of music industry players hailed from the Northern town of Mount Vernon (Puffy, Heavy D and the Boyz, Pete and CL). Anyways, Pete, being the good hardworking and industrious dude that he is, was trying to put a local rap group called the the YG’z (short for “Young Gunz”) on. He provided these dudes with a lil’ cash, supplied them with ample beats and even got them a record deal with I think either Uptown or MCA. Problem was these cats were really turrible. Kinda like Big Shug and Group Home status when they got hooked up by the homie Premier. In addition, word on the street was that these cats were all like ex-cons, stick-up men or professional crooks or some other shit like that and everyone who knew them knew damn well that they had no effin business being in the music industry other than the fact that they knew Pete. They even had a single or something called that come out and it stank like cabbage and chitlins stew. Cutting losses, the label dropped them. Back on the street, slanging, purse snatching and what not, they started leaning on Pete. Hard too. I guess they figured Pete was gonna continue funding them, “riding” with them or whatever the fuck real thugs think they man’s an ’em is supposed to do. Pete, however, realized that these cats were a bad investment of time and energy and tried his damned best to cut these bad news bears off.

That summer, I attended a Mt. Vernon “family day” kinda picnic. It was one of those picturesque days, like in a Dr. Dre or Fresh Prince music video, and everyone was there enjoying Heavy D’s special barbeque chicken and ribs. Pete, with chicken in hand, was posted up in the piece, rapping to some dime pieces on a huge ass picnic blanket when the YG’z show up. Once dudes got there, shit kinda got tense, music turned down low, you know how dramatic thug life be. So one of the YG fellows request Pete’s attention. As Pete promptly got up to talk, the YG sneak swings and knocks Pete Rock in the jaw with an uppercut, catapult launching dude clean over the huge ass picnic blanket spread. The chicks is screaming, cats are scrambling to get out of there, kids is crying, Pete is convulsing on the ground with barbeque sauce all over his bright yellow Cross Colours jersey on account of how his brain got shut down cause he was knocked the fuck out and the YG’z are steady and dilligently rifling through his pockets Debo style. Heav and the rest of the “Mt. Vernon” crew don’t really say shit, looking in each and every direction except Pete’s (I guesss because the YG’z were really that gully). Eventually, Pete gets up, makes it to his feet, dusts hisself off, recovers, immediately realizes what just took place and automatically jumps into a sprint OJ-style Hertz car rental commercial style, across the picnic grounds with the YG’z hot on his tail. [||].

From what I understand, this extortion shit went on for quite some time. A few months later, like around winter time, I was on my way to attend some music industry black tie event in Manhattan. When I get to the venue, I see Pete running the fuck my way in a tuxedo, knees to chest. Doing my best not to get bowled over, I move out of his way. A few seconds later, I see the YG’z (not in tuxedo) running after him, also kness to chest style. Where I’m going with this is that during the entire time that dudes are hazing Pete (let’s say a period of like 9 months), Pete never ever contacted the authorities. He took his multiple beatdowns and terrorizings like a man. Pete might even be on some additional legendary shit as he might have actually been the pioneer of this whole current “stop snitching” movement that’s become the ghetto code from hood to hood. I really respect that. He may be a lot of things, but one thing no one can ever say about the man is that the Soul Brother #1 ain’t nevah snitch.

Courtesy of the homie Byron Crawford.

EXCLUSIVE: Fab 5 Freddy Sets The Record Straight!

March 17, 2009

When you say pioneer with regard to this Hip Hop shit, make sure say you this man’s fucking name. And with respect. Graffiti artist who ran with the legends Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lee Quinones and Keith Haring, featured in the seminal early ’80’s New York movie “Downtown 81“, producer of the classic “Wild Style” flick, shouted out by Blondie on the underground pop smash “Rapture”, the first effin’ Hip Hop VJ on MTV’s ground breaking “Yo! MTV Raps”, director of my favorite Hip Hop video ever, whew, this man put in work!!! I met Freddy when I was working at MTV a coupla’ years ago and we’ve been building ever since. Last Friday afternoon, we were chopping it up about mad topics like me helping him get his twitter game on track, when we somehow got to the subject of XXL Magazine’s recent feature “Still Ill” where they go back 15 years ago into the making of Nas’ first album masterpiece “Illmatic”. As me and Fab are talking, we start discussing how MC Serch, interviewed for the XXL piece, says some kinda flagrant sideways shit about Fab, his involvement in “Illmatic” and how he allegedly made the completion of said classic album very difficult. Quote:

Serch:

“The most difficult sample [to clear] was with [Wild Style director] Charlie Ahearn, believe it or not. We had made a deal with Charlie, and then Fab 5 Freddy got into the mix and started getting into Charlie’s ear like, “Nah, you didn’t get enough [money].” The funny thing was, Fab 5 Freddy was about to direct the “One Love” video. So I’m calling Freddy like, “What are you telling your man? I’m about to cut you a check. You’re about to direct a video. Get on the same page.” [Freddy said,] “Are you threatening me?” I’m like, “Nah, it’s not a threat. I’m just saying, you don’t take care of this, you’re not gonna be directing no video.” I haven’t spoke to Fab 5 Freddy since.”

I myself have never had any beef with Serch. I even bumped the 3rd Bass albums kinda hard back then. Shit, I even caught a cameo as the bald dude who gives the gas face as my Afro wig is yanked off in their video “Gas Face”. I do also remember however, when I used to work at Def Jam, and when 3rd Bass was Russell Simmons’ new artist, how Serch used to be up in the building dropping the word “Nigger” in my presence like it was going outta style. Man, I used to hate that shit, especially since I was a new employee and Russell had given Serch a mad “pass” in terms of his clout as a new artist. Didn’t know if I was madder at Serch for being so ignorant in his use of the word or at Russell who thought that having his white saying that shit was mad cool. But as I was just starting out in the game, Serch had more juice than me, so I stayed with my work and kept it moving.

So me and Fab are speaking on the XXL joint, and how he feels Serch is kinda talking sideways. Fab makes it real clear that as long as he’s been in the game, he’s NEVER had any beef with ANYONE, however he wasn’t really feeling Serch’s comments. I asked Fab what really went on in connection with “Illmatic”. Being that I like hearing all sides to a story, Fab shared, and his response went like this:

Fab:

“Nas was an incredible young emcee who made it a point to pay homage to the classics like “Wild Style”. When I met him, he told me how much he dug my work and actually requested that I direct his video “One Love”. Told me it would be an honor. So we went ahead and locked that project in. Afterwards, right before the album dropped, when I heard that they were using the Wild Style sample as the opening theme for “Illmatic”, basically the theme for the album as a whole, I was like, “whoah, that’s major!” As I was producer of “Wild Style” and Charlie Ahearn was the director, I really didn’t have that much of a say in the clearance of that sample. That was Charlie’s lane. What I do know is that Charlie, being the shrewd business man that he is, made sure that he negotiated hard to get what he deserved, what anybody else was getting paid for samples. I never got in Charlie’s ear about how to handle his business and I don’t know what the fuck Serch is talking about. What I do know is that this ain’t the first time Serch said some sideways shit about me. Recently, as I was working on VH1’s Hip Hop Honors and he had his little “White Rapper” show, I remember him talking slick, questioning my credibility as an O.G. of this culture, like I had no business being involved with the Hip Hop Honors. I’m like, “where is that coming from?” Like I said, I never had no beef with no one, but seems like dude likes to keep my name in his mouth, like he’s hating on me or some shit. I remember back in the day, before he even knew who the fuck I was, when real wolf like niggas I knew gave Serch a pass in clubs like Latin Quarters or Union Square, seeing him in the clubs, all up in the piece dancing with the hi-top and shit, I always gave dude his props. Like I said, I never had no beef with no one, but seems like dude likes to keep my name in his mouth, like he’s hating on me or some shit. Whatever.”

As we moved on to the next topic, we both laughed about how Serch tended to fall into that classic role where, once given a pass or ghetto card, certain white, super ecstatic to be down, ball til they fall, not realizing that they killed their own pass status with kniccas that don’t easily honor they so called pass status. Didn’t Serch almost get murked for talking shit about MC Hammer’s momma? Not for nothing, but I’m just calling it like I see it. I do wanna give Serch a direct shout in helping to bless the world with the “Illmatic” gem, shit remains in steady rotation to this day. 3rd Bass? Not so much. No stray shots though.

Meanwhile, the homie Fab, on top of a whole slew of projects, is currently dropping art pieces again and his latest work can be seen at BETTER HISTORY, located at 169 10th Avenue and 20th Street in Chelsea, NYC. Go head, check that shit out, get that culture art swag popping. To my white out there, and you know that CJ keeps love for youse all, let’s stay keeping shit in proper perspective.

One Love!

UPDATE: Fab just hit me to clarify that the album didn’t just use a sample, it lifted a whole scene from the “Wild Style” movie. ALSO, they tried to clear the sample AFTER the record had dropped, hence the higher price in clearances. Makes a whole lotta sense to me.