Friday, 13 August 2010

'Tim, I Got It On Tape' : The Westwood Story. Part One...

The Brrrreak To The Beat. The Version Excursion.

Man, when Tim Westwood had the Capital Rap Show way back when, if you were real about hip hop and living in London you did nothing but listen to that show. Every Friday Night. Every Saturday night. Religiously. I can't begin to count the number of tapes I made from recording off that show. The exclusives. The freestyles. The interviews. Damn, even the jingles! (Ultramag MC's and Chubb Rock spring to mind for some reason). Please believe that I was an avid listener.

One particular Saturday night while tuning in, Tim launched into his legendary 'break to the beat' competition. In his words "This is where we play a break, and you've got to name the rap based on that break." Simple tings for me. I was, and still am, into breaks and samples and all things like that. So, Tim throws on 'Fat City Strut' by Mandrill (off the "Just Outside Of Town' album) and I hear these horns start blasting at me... My Jedi-like brain starts to match the horns to the hip hop and 0.5 seconds later I have the answer. I dial the number - whatever the hell it was - and I get through! I'm actually speaking to Tim Westwood! I pitch my answer to him... and it's the right one! Damn, it just keeps getting better. "Ahite den man" he says, "You're the winner. We gonna go live. Stay right there." I stay.
He puts me on hold and I can hear the show through the phone and through my radio. This is mad exciting! He comes back to me and I'm live on The Capital Rap Show! "What's your name and where you calling from?" he asks. Now, I can't quite remember what I said at this point due to the fact that Jeopardy was an emcee pseudonym I was messing around with and I may have used that instead of Big Ted. I actually have this moment on a D90 somewhere, and I will find it and post it one day. But anyway, I say whatever I say as my name and then Tim says "What's the answer my brrorr?" He spoke like that even back then! 'To The Listeners' by Eric B & Rakim I say, all breathless and excited! "Yeah man, that's the right answer, do you want to big up anyone?" Of course I did. I had my mentaI list of homeboy shoutouts all prepared. I start to name my crew Black Gold (Cuttin' K, T Hakeem & Knewborn) and my extended crew The Pryme Rhyme Masters (Sniper G The Assassin, FX, Charlie D & Principal Mark. Check out 'Discipline' on Kold Sweat Records. DOPE!) but I totally forgot to shout out my homeboy Phillip aka Taiweed! I'm so sorry bro. To this day I still feel kinda bad about that. Me and Phil used to talk hip hop to death back then when we worked at Savacentre. He even mentioned the fact that I didn't say his name to me at work!
Anyway, a few weeks later I got a package in the post with Public Enemy and LLCoolJ vhs video tapes. Proper tings with a case too. I still got 'em. (I think the LL one has an episode of the Cosby Show I taped on it though!)
Thanks Timothy.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Yo! Bumrush The Show! : The Free Ticket Story

The Def Jam Tour 1987

Public Enemy. LLCoolJ. Eric B & Rakim.
They were all coming to London. Hammersmith Odeon. Three of my favourite artists. Three nights in a row.
So, I had to have a plan. I tried asking the parents. NO! I tried asking my older brother to buy me a ticket. NO!
I'll have to get a job then. What job is going to take me on and pay me in time to get a ticket for this show...?
Step in my man Scott at number 9. He tells me that his brother Barry can get me a job at.... wait for it.... Hammersmith Odeon! No way! "Yeah man, he works there as an usher" What? Can you believe it? Where do I sign up? I went down there and sat through what I swear was the simplest interview I have ever had.
"Do you mind working late?" Nope. "Are you okay with talking to people and showing them to their seats?" Yep. "Do you mind clearing up the bar during the intervals?" No problem. "When can you start?" Today! Now!! "Congratulations. The job is yours!" To be honest if they asked me to shovel elephant dung til midnight I'd have said 'Hell yes'.

I went to work about 4 hours EARLY every day that the tour was on. I watched LLCoolJ sound checking. I watched dj Bobcat sit on his record box and polish his gold chains. I watched Eric B walk around in his Dapper Dan suit and a neckfull of jewellery. I sat with a small crowd and listened to Chuck D talk about life, the universe and everything. I got autographs from Flavour Flav and Terminator X. I was so gassed at just being there. I took pictures of the shows, especially when LL brought on his massive boom box. Flashing LED's and everything! I still got them somewhere. They will be posted eventually. The dopest part of it all, besides walking around the venue just before the doors opened and seeing hundreds of people dying to get in, was the the fact that I actually GOT PAID to watch a show - 3 times - that only weeks before I couldn't even afford a ticket for!
In fact, if you listen closely to the live show inserts on the 'Nation Of Millions' album, you'll hear me screaming 'I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'

Just Hangin' Out : The Large Professor Story

How should I start this? How should I begin?
Okay, for all you hip hop vinyl junkies like me, here's the one about how I got my hands on a copy of the 1st Main Source 12" 'Think'.
Back in 94/95 I was at Cutmaster Swift's house one evening, a bunch of us just chilling watching him practise and make beats. The phone rings and Swift starts talking away to somebody on the other end of the line, after a while he says "Dionne says wassup" I'm like, "Dionne?" Swifty says "Dee 2", Oh okay, I getcha. I jump on the phone "Hey Dee, how's it going out in NYC?" "It's cool, things are moving. A bit slow, but it's still better than being in the UK! I'm coming over for a visit soon though. I'm actually at Paul's house right now working on some music." "Paul who?" I ask. "Large Professor Paul" she says. I gotta admit I was little shocked at how casually she dropped that reference to the man who produced the classic Breaking Atoms! After being silent for the respectful amount of seconds, I get what alcholics often refer to as 'a moment of clarity' and ask her for a favour. "Dee, since your coming over (and I'm always looking for a way to get my hands on classic hip hop music) can you ask 'Paul' if he's got a couple copies of 'Think' spare?" I heard her call over to him and make my request and get a muted "word, no doubt" in reply. "Thanks for that Dee, see you soon, Peace." I swear, less than 6 weeks later I see Dionne coming towards me while I'm spinning at Flava Of The Month down at The Boderline and she hands me 2 sealed copies of 'Think'.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Hi, My Name Is... The Big Ted Story

"How'd you get the name Big Ted?"

I still get asked that question. Like I ain't been around long enough yet for that to not STILL be a real question anymore! No matter, I guess if folks are asking then they're interested. Well, here goes with the full truth and nothing but...

I take you back to south London in the 80's for this one. Battersea to be specific. Plough Road to be right and exact. I was headed there with Gary, one of my fellow hip hop enthusiasts and school bodypopping crew members. (man, I wonder what happened to the rest of Street Level???) He was taking me to meet some of his non schoolfriend hip hop heads. I can even remember my absolute favourite joint at the time was 'Hip Hop Beat' by The Rapologists. Dope!
Now, before I get into this part, I'd like to set the scene a little bit. This is the 8o's. Hip Hop is still pretty fresh over here. I knew I loved it, I knew it loved me. But I was still working on how to show it. So, at this point in my life my style was a little wack-ish! I had wanted the 'wet look' hair style but my Mum was NOT having it! She said I'm not allowed to spoil my hair with that. Instead, I had what back then was called a 'dry perm'. It was a treatment that came in a beautiful little glossy cardboard box with beautiful black people with beautiful black hair staring back at me on it. My mum performed the duties as hairdresser and turned my tight natural curls into a big floaty afro! Not what I wanted, but hey, you don't say that to a Jamaican mother if you value your lips!!!
Back to Plough Road. Gary and me roll up to a bunch guys laughing and joking on the street corner and he calls to one of them. Gary says to me "This is Michael." Michael looks me up and down for a split second (no doubt clocking the floaty 'fro) and then says "Wassup Big Ted!" The small crowd erupts in laughter! From that moment on I have been forever known in hip hop as Big Ted. The Michael who gave me this life changing rebranding would later become known to a generation of heads as MC Mello.
Michael, Moomin, Mello, you will ALWAYS be my hip hop father!
Gary, you get a big thank you too!

We Came Here Tonight To Get Started, To Col' Act Ill And Get Retarded...

"Teddy, you NEED to do a blog!"

That's all I've been hearing for years! So I've finally decided to heed the words of my brothers and now I present to you..... thisstuffisreallyfresh!

I got a LOT of stories! I've lived a long time in hip hop and done a mad amount of things. I been an 80's teen hugging the speakers of my boom box, ears magnatized for the next b boy classic to throw on my D90 tape! I been a hungry emcee waiting up all night for the dj to play my joint on the radio! I been a fan-turned-pro, nervous as hell that I gotta interview one of my idols live on the air! I been backstage with Mom's spaghetti on my shirt already, about to go onstage and tear it down for a crowd of fans! I ain't saying I've done everything, but I've done a lot and along the way I've collected a whole lot of experiences that make hip hop something special for me.

Truth is, I've been wanting to pop open my can of true hip hop stories and share them with the world for a long time, but you know how it goes with real life getting in the way of having fun. So from today I'm gonna try to get some of the stories, music, thoughts, photos, jokes, opinions and general tales from my life in hip hop onto thisstuffisreallyfresh and out to anybody who wants to hear them. They'll be in no particular order. When I think of them I'll write them! I should also point out that these tales are TRUE! I will swear on my Kool Herc business card (wait til you hear that one!) that what I write here at thisstuffisreallyfresh is strictly non-fiction. I'm a grown up. I've never had a want and never had a need to write nonsense and lies about myself or anybody else.

Let me let you know though, I'm a hip hop dude.

I think hip hop. I speak hip hop. I love hip hop. I live hip hop (mostly!)

So if hip hop ain't your thing...I can't do nuthin' for you man!

Now let me take a trip down memory lane...