Monday, 25 February 2013

The Kool Skool Shucks One Interviews The Debonair Doctor Ice (U.T.F.O/Whodini)

 The Kool Skool Interviews The Debonair Doctor Ice (U.T.F.O/Whodini)

The Planet Brooklyn has brought us many of the Hip-Hop worlds most serious Hip Hop artists, Whodini and U.T.F.O. were early East New York pioneers that have a huge list of "Hip Hop 1st's".

The Debonair Doctor Ice started out as a B-Boy/Dancer, meeting his future Dance partner Kangol Kid in a local Brooklyn Pizza Shop. Becoming friends and hood celebrities, they soon joined with Doc Ice's older brother Jalil's successful record breaking rap group Whodini. The two joined Whodini as tour dancers and featured on the legendary U.S. National Fresh Fest Tour which Whodini headlined alongside Run DMC, LL Cool J, and The Fat Boys. The Tour put Hip Hop firmly on the map, and cemented Rap Music as a viable Commercial Genre, and most importantly a culture in its own right.

The on the job skills the duo learned under the Whodini tutelage, inspired them to create their own group Untouchable Force Organization or U.T.F.O. for short. The group consisted of Doctor Ice, Kangol Kid, The Educated Rapper EMD (originally from London) and Mixmaster Ice.

Untouchable Force Organization U.T.F.O.
right to left top: Doctor Ice & Mixmaster Ice
Bottom: The Educated Rapper & Kid Kangol

Some of U.T.F.O.'s many trailblazing accolades include:
  • 1st Rap Group to play at the legendary Apollo, (Doc Ice & Kangol) 
  • 1st Dancers for a Rap Group
  • 1st Rap/Breakdance Group
  • 1st Recorded Rap Beef
  • 1st Rappers to record a love song
  • 1st Rap Group to record Rap with Reggae (“Pick up the Pace”)

The B-Side wins again! "Roxanne Roxanne" B-Side to "Hanging Out"
U.T.F.O. Logo and artwork by RAC7 TNB 156

The astronomical success of their diss record of the imaginary "Skeezer" Roxanne - "Roxanne Roxanne" created the careers of two of the 1st female MC's, Roxanne Shante and The Real Roxanne, both of who responded on record. That led to them becoming the only recording artists to inspire over 25 answer records. Their influence on groups like Run DMC and LL Cool J is very evident and LL Cool J's "Roxanne Roxanne" flavoured “Dear Yvette” and E-Vette Money’s response "E-Vette's Revenge” then “Jane Doe” by Masta Ace, and perhaps even Tall Dark & Handsome's “Joyce” and E.P.M.D.'s Jane series. 

 LL Cool J “Dear Yvette”

The group were part of a sonic stable headed by Hip-Hop/R&B Ballad legends Full Force, which included Whodini, U.T.F.O., Lisa Lisa & (Kangol produced group) Whistle. Unfortunately, to many Hip-Hop heads of the Def Jam era, these groups and their softer The Force M.D.s style DooWop R&B ballads didn't reflect the harder sounds of the late 80's Hip-Hop style. Full Force, and later Teddy Riley and his work with fellow Park Jam era MC's like Kool Moe Dee, set the tone for the New Jack Swing split between R&B & Hip-Hop acts.

U.T.F.O. Skeezer Pleezer (1986)

U.T.F.O.'s Skeezer Pleezer is such a dope album, full of hard beats, excellent concept songs, humour, routines and Mixmaster ICE's serious turntable skills, whiched shaped this into a classic B-Boy album. Many of the cuts and samples have been cut time and again by Turntablists, and feature heavily on Q-Bert's Scratch Records, and the many copy's.

The group gained incredible pop hights, touring internationally with New Edition, and opened up for acts such as The Thompson Twins, Hall & Oates, and The Temptations, recording with heavy Metal group AnthraxThe group released 5 albums: UTFO (1985), Skeezer Pleezer (1986), Lethal (1987), Doin' It! (1989), Bag It & Bone It (1991), UTFO/Jive/RCA Records. Although Doctor Ice left the group in the late 80's U.T.F.O. continued to record without Doc and his absence is noticable on the "Free South Africa Hip Hop Against Apartheid" song.

Solo Doctor Ice & his new Crew

Doc released The Mic Stalker  on Jive Records in 1989, a strong label for Hip-Hop at the time, home to A Tribe Called Quest, Boogie Down Productions, Schoolly D, Kool Moe Dee, Steady B, Skinny Boys, D-Nice and of course Whodini. The album was a new direction for the Doctor, more in tune with Hip-Hop albums of the time, and features a harder style of production by Full Force and really show how versatile they are as producers. 

Doctor Ice - Word To The Wise

Doc Ice recorded another unreleased solo album, and has worked with Skee-Lo (Originally from New York) & Rappin’ 4-Tay, and has been involved in many music and T.V. projects. He still regularly tours with Whodini as a dancer, has featured in the Thirstin Howl the 3rd Skilluminati Promo Video and has very recently released "The Comeback", with more soon to come! 

Doc Ice "The Comeback"

Doc Ice kindly spared a minute to answer some questions with Shucks One about B-Boying, Brooklyn, humour in Rap (and lack of it today), the Musick industry, U.T.F.O. and its wide ranging influence on the hip hop culture and artists. And most important of all... the release of the incarcerated Crazy Yardman Dread Doc!!!!

Hi Doctor Ice, thanks very much for taking time out to be with The Kool Skool. I thought we could start with where you’re from.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn New York. 

Being from Brooklyn, is there something about the Borough that gives you a particular flavour or style? Jeru said it was something in the water!

Lol I think it’s the Diversity of Brooklyn as well as history of people like my dad, they walked and talked a way that people who weren’t from Brooklyn recognized.

Flavor Flav and Doctor Ice ""Brooklyn Freestyle"

Originally many of the original Hip-Hop artists were strictly from the Bronx. Then when people started to get proper record deals in the mid to late 80’s there seemed to be so many artists coming out of BK, Cut Master DC, Raven T & The Dis-Masters, Stetsasonic, Just-Ice, Big Daddy Kane, Masta Ace, Special Ed, MC Lyte, GZA Genius, Audio Two, to name just a few, then it kind of seemed to switch over to Queens. Do you think there was anything in particular that created those situations?

Well to be honest there were a lot of artist already in Brooklyn, that’s why there is still a controversy about where hip hop started. Hip hop artist like the original Baby Grand, Master Don and the Death Committee, the original E Z E, the Adidas dolls, Grand Master Flowers, the list is endless. So the point is Brooklyn has always been there, and the inevitable was bound to happen.

KingTim The Third (Live) by Fatback Band (The first recorded rap record)

Who were some of the original Brooklyn Hip-Hop people who inspired you early on to get involved?

I loved (Jimmy Spicer's) Super Rhymes, I definitely loved the Fatback Band that had the first rap record titled King Tim the 3rd, I liked a lot of different type music coming up in Brooklyn, especially my reggae.

I interviewed Doug E. Fresh and Kool DJ Red Alert and several other Foundation Hip-Hop Artists, and they mentioned their Caribbean Heritage. I know Kangol is Haitian, and you are of Jamaican heritage. In the African American Community, was Caribbean culture appreciated back then, and how important was it for you to represent that?

Well a small correction I am what Jamaicans call a Yankee bwoy, lol meaning I am full bred American. And back in the day any other culture had it rough, because as an American we crack jokes laugh at the dress and groom, as well as the accent, but in time we grew together as family and that’s what it is to this date, so I say I’m Jamerican, lol.

In the late 80’s there was a TV show in the UK that featured UK Reggae Toaster Daddy Freddy and Shinehead, and the Reggae scene in Brooklyn, and of course B.D.P. said, “The Dreads in Brooklyn were crazy”. Was Brooklyn more heavily populated with Jamaican people and culture than other parts of New York?

Yes, yes and yes again, I call Brooklyn little Jamaica.

"Freeee Dread Doooc!"

Where is Dread Doc still incarcerated or has he been deported “back-a-country”?

Dread pond di run mon, lol Dread doc is waiting to be released, just hoping to find the right production to compliment his style.

Are their any particular Brooklyn MC’s your feeling right now?

Sadly I have to say no.

I usually ask Foundation artists this question, are you a Jay-Z or Nas guy?

I’m a Busta Rhymes Ludacris kinda guy.

U.T.F.O. The Black Partridge Family


What was your first successful gig, and why was it so good?

My first successful gig was Popeye’s. Kangol and I came to the grand opening of the restaurant and people told the manager that we dance and were known around the neighbourhood for dancing, and he asked us to dance we said are you gonna give us some chicken he said yes we ran home got our little boom box and perform for our Popeye’s, lol.

As someone who was really instrumental in Hip-Hop’s move from the Underground to the Mainstream, can you give the Fans any particular examples of when you thought “Wow its really blowing up” “I’m a Star!”

When we took our first trip to London, my gosh the response was overwhelming, we worked everyday for 3 and a half months maybe had 5 days off and we packed the house every single night, that gave that sense of “Wow we’re Blowing up!”

When you first started to tour the world, and Hip-Hop was so new, what were some of the weirdest situations or shows you had to do?

We did so many underground places that put the fear of God in us, especially since we were 16 and 17 years old. One situation I recall, I forget the city, but the place held maybe 2,000 people when we got there it was only 20 people if that many. Well the promoter still wanted us to perform, he didn’t have our money, but he said he get it. I saw this beautiful Rolex watch on his arm, so I said "give us the watch and we’ll perform, and if you come back with the money I’ll give you the watch back." He pleaded with me not to keep it because he said he definitely had the money, so we performed, went back to the hotel and in the wee hours of the morning he came with the money. Also I must add those 20 people screamed and hollered like 2,000 people it was a great show.

Your brother is “The Rapper Jalil” from Whodini, and UTFO and Whodini really broke Hip-Hop to the world through your ground Breaking Huge Fresh Fest and International Tours and Hit Albums and Singles. How was that for you both, being Brothers and so successful? Your parents must have been really proud.

It was the best thing ever, traveling the world with hit records and being protected with your big bro, everybody was super happy.

Family Ties: Doc Ice's Big Brother "The Rapper Jalil"& Grandmaster Dee of Whodini,  DJ Grand Wizzard Theodore the creator of the scratch) &  Doc Ice

Was there a sense of friendly competition between the two groups?

That’s the nature of the game your always gonna have friendly competition even within your own group.

Why didn’t UTFO & Whodini ever do a collaboration record?

To this day I’m not happy about that, the only thing I can blame it on is time and situations.

Whodini - Grandmaster Dee, Ecstasy & "The Rapper Jalil"

One of the things I think of with UTFO is Versatility. You guys sung, danced, did harmonies, Slick routines and performances, had a dope DJ, had battle raps and positive messages, had a lot of humor and most importantly dealt with a variety of subjects. When you look at modern rappers, their images and messages and performances, what do see?

I see constant repetition, everybody sounding alike on purpose, where they do that at. lol

U.T.F.O. - Roxanne Roxanne ft The Real Roxanne

Roxanne Roxanne was an enormous hit, was it a shock to you?

It was a shock to all of us, especially since it was the B side of "Hanging Out", we didn’t think in a million years it was gonna do what it did, total shocker, but I’m happy, lol.

Did it get a bit annoying after a while with all the responses?

It definitely got out of hand, but it did one thing, it put us in line for the Guinness Book of World Records, for that record with the most responses ever. Nobody has toped that yet, so I don’t what Guinness is waiting for!!! Lol.

U.T.F.O. & The Real Roxanne 1985

Which were the best, and worst?

"Roxanne Roxanne" was the best, and I think "Roxanne’s Dog" Roxanne was one of the worst, lol.

Did you guys ever have any proper beef over that?

We use to do shows with Roxanne Shante and the beef was evident, we couldn’t stand her at the time.

Listening to the energy and vibe of UTFO albums, it always sounds like you guys were having fun. Is that just your professionalism, or was it a fun process for you guys?

It was and still is, a fun process, I respect the music industry on a whole, so when I’m blessed to go create my idea and bring it life through music, it’s special to me and I enjoy it at a high level.

Mixmaster Ice - "The Leader of The Pack"

Because Mixmaster Ice was such a dope DJ, and the way you guys worked so well as a group, do you think you set a new blueprint for some of those newer groups?

We definitely shared grand ideas to many groups by the way we performed, and weren’t afraid to try something different.

Are there any Artists in particular that you know were inspired by you?

Well when I met Wyclef Jean he expressed to me how much he loved “Split Personality”, and Ludacris said that when he heard it he knew that’s what he wanted to be a rapper. Someone told me when we performed at Madison square garden some years back, that Busta Rhymes was in the audience, saying the lyrics right along with me as animated as I was, lol! I love hearing things like that, it makes me appreciate getting into hip hop.

Many of the classic scratches like “Bite It”, and DJ’s like Q-Burt use a lot of UTFO samples for cutting and juggling. Did you know that UTFO has had such a huge impact on DJ’s and Turntablist culture?

I didn’t know how huge, but I can say that Mix Master Ice was, and still is an incredible DJ, that’s why we did “Leader of the Pack” he definitely deserved a record about him.


One of the things that really stands out about the UTFO albums and your solo album, was the element of Humor, Roxanne Roxanne, Split Personality, Bad Luck Barry, Just Watch, your Dread Doc Character. Was it important to add that humor to the mix?

Yes because people like to laugh, I believe I can make them laugh so it was important to make sure we kept funny as a part of the music.

Is that part of your character anyway?

For sure my kids think I’m the playground, we have a ball in this house.

In the group were you guys snapping on each other anyway, and the jokes and skits was an extension of that?

It was endless jokes and pranks all the time, it was “just so ridiculous”, lol.

UTFO - Leader of The Pack
Mixmaster Ice - "The man in the back, dressed in black!"


As a B-Boy what are some of you favourite Breaks to rock to?

Wow! “Looking for the Perfect Beat” Soulsonic Force, Art of Noise, “Trans Europe Express” Kraftwerk, so many.

Art of Noise - Close (To The Edit) Version 1 

What about MC to?

That’s hard for me because I have so many styles, I would just tell the DJ “give me what you got”, and then find a hot 16 for it.

To you is there a different attitude or approach you take to dancing and MCing?

For me I have a hard time separating the 2, maybe that’s a downfall for me, it doesn’t allow people to take me serious as a solo artist. But I can’t just walk around and rap all the time I have to find a way to give you a good show.

Doc Ice & Whodini Doc Ice & crew dancing - Legends of Hip Hop concert - Miami 2012 @ NSU arena!

As a dancer do you feel you have a better understanding of music and flows, than most Rapping “Wall flowers”?

I do feel that way, I feel like I see into a zone where a lot of MC’s don’t.

Does that help you when choosing tracks, and help you guy’s work together and blend your voices when creating songs?

I think having Full Force with us opened up a can of worms of ideas, the energy was bananas! That’s why I go by the name Doc ice aka The “Energy” coined by Grandmaster Caz, because everytime he see’s me he say’s, “OK!! The ENERGY is in the building now!!!!” lol

Full Force from Hip-Hop Ballads to Platinum Producers

The block party artists had to be on point with performances, and being an entertainer was extremely important, it’s how they got noticed and built their popularity. Do you feel that modern Hip-Hop is missing that craftsmanship?

For sure who does better, a trained soldier or a rookie, we both know the answer to that.

At one point in the late 80’s, almost every artist had their own crew of dancers, good examples are Big Daddy Kane’s Scoob & Scrap Lover, Masta Ace “A3” Dancers, Steady B’s “Thick and Thin” Dancers, do you feel that was a result of some of those artists seeing UTFO originally dancing for Whodini?

I would bet my life on it! We changed the game with that, so it was wise to follow good leaders, and I do believe that’s what we were.

Doc Ice (UTFO/WHODINI) interviews the legendary Doc Ice (UTFO/WHODINI) on the concept of Old school and then we began breaking it down on Doc Ice's new single 'Ghetto baby' Show more 


Do you regret as an artist, maybe not keeping up with the newer production styles favoured by next generation artists, producers like Marley Marl, Hurby "Luv Bug"& 45 King etc.

Most definitely, I feel cheated that we didn’t get a chance to work with some of those elite producer’s, I’ll say it was beyond my control at the time.

Could you see Hip-Hop changing from groups like UTFO, Whodini, Melle Mel & Furious 5, Cold Crush and Kurtis Blow for example, to groups like LL Cool J, Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane etc?

It’s hard to say. Was it a gradual thing, or an over night change? I would say gradually, to me, things that stick usually come from hard work and that takes time.

Many of the Foundation Artists are critical of the way in which the “Def Jam Era” artists dominate the history of Hip-Hop, some have accused people like Russell Simmons co-opting the real history, by blocking and controlling the history. Do you feel there is any truth in that? 

I plead the fifth, lol.

Doc Ice, Slick Rick &  Ecstasy

The Culture

How do you feel Hip-Hop history is dealt with?

I feel it’s not dealt with properly, I feel that greed has choked out talent and preservation of the history. For instance, why are we played musically at "old school time", they don’t do that in rock and roll. They play the old along with the new so that the children are educated, and have a deep respect for it and the forefathers.

One of the things a lot of True School Fans resent about modern Rap is the lack of Community. You get the impression that even the title Untouchable Force Organization & Full Force family, was actually meaning it was a proper unit and Family, as opposed to a title or a sales gimmick. Some Artists have suggested, the concept of a solo Rapper with no Dancers, interchangeable DJs and Hype Men has just turned Hip-Hop into a selfish game? Do you feel that the lack of community is a result of modern Social Media Networking, the Beefing for Attention, and Cash, or something more fundamental in Rap?

Doc Ice, Heavy D (R.I.P.) & friend

Definitely the devil is in full force creating a selfish egotistical money hungry industry. I have to say it’s a sad day in hip-hop.

As Hip-Hop became all about being “hard”, did it become more difficult to express human emotions, humor and your true nature?

Yes because if you didn’t go to jail, kill somebody or do something extremely stupid and get caught for it to show some type of credibility, you couldn’t make any hip hop records. How sad.

Do you think Hip-Hop now is constricting for artists? If so, in what way?

I choose to call todays Hip-Hop "Rap", because they are only using one element. With that being said, I definitely think that “Rapping” is constricting, because if you don’t sign a 360 deal contract or sound like one of these artist out today, you will get no support. It is a total dictatorship music business.

Why do you feel that its important for young Hip-Hop fans to hear what your saying, and know their Hip-Hop History? Why should they care?

Because, just as it is important for TV to make sure the kids know who created rock and roll and pop music, and the way they allow their kids to respect those artists, by continually promoting such groups, which in turn keeps them unified through their music. It is just as important for us to stay unified through our music. There is a place for all types of music, so where in the world would there be a better place for us to connect with our youth? Really these are our kids, and we should be better connected to them.

UTFO - Lethal

In the 80’s the concept of “No Sell-Out”, in a Commercial Sense and a Conscious Malcolm X way, was prevalent in Hip-Hop Culture, where as now it seems as if Hip-Hop or Rap is literally just about getting paid, forget the Art and your self respect. I’m not being critical of the positive effect that the Hip-Hop Business has had on Inner City Communities, but is there a danger of Hip-Hop loosing its very soul to Corporate interests, and more importantly Corporate mentalities and messages. Would you say there is any truth in that?

There is a whole lot of truth to that. Everything shouldn’t be about how much money you can make. If someone asked you to buy your wife, or mother, or sister for a trillion dollars, would you sell her? For me no, because I value something far greater than money. Simply, Money is Not My God!!!

Doc Ice & Harry Balz Flava Flav - Old School Ball


As someone who saw the world early on and can see how much Hip-Hop has influenced it, are you concerned of the way Rap is now representing the African American experience to the world?

Yes, my brother Jalil said something to so profound the other day, he said something is really wrong in the world when your at a club and the DJ throws on some Parliament and Funkadelic and the crowd sits down, he said baby bro their taking the soul out of our music. Wow!

Doc Ice Graffiti Piece (in Brixton, South London) 
by The Kool Skool's Shucks One ID/UZN/SDM

A lot of the early MC’s from the late 80’s were dropping 5% Wisdom into their rhymes, obviously Rakim, but particularly Brooklyn MC’s Big Daddy Kane, most of Stetsasonic and many others. A little while ago I noticed Jalil along side other 5% Musicians in a video, I think it was for the book "In The Name of Allah: A History of Clarence 13X and the Five Percenters" by Wakeel Allah. Are you down with the Gods too? If so what does that mean to you, and what is the legacy of the 5% on the African American community?

Well I’m not down with that, I am a Jehovah’s Witness, so my beliefs are different, and so I don’t know where they stand today.

Is there any particular reason why 5% is so prevalent in Brooklyn (Medina)?

I hear them say sometime that only 5% of people have real knowledge of God And Self, just what I heard, lol.

How important is it to you for MC’s to impart knowledge to the listener?

Well I think it’s more important to impart situations and stories that are relatable so that every generation can appreciate it, and that will keep us connected on some level.


Doctor Ice - The Mic Stalker

When you released your 1st solo album The Mic Stalker how was it perceived by your younger peers?

It was a mixed reaction because at the time the West Coast was bringing in the Gangster Rap, and that definitely changed the game.

The Mic Stalker was released on Jive Records a real powerhouse for early Hip-Hop. Now when you talk to a lot of the Foundation artists, they feel taken advantage of, or treated badly by the labels. Do you remember that as a good situation?

It was like Fantasia would say “Bitter Sweet”.

Late 80's West Coast Tour Poster

I remember hearing your track “Sue Me” when it came out on the radio, in it there is a skit where you are having a mock Press Conference with Jamaican Journalist “Barry Backhome” (ahahahaah!) and other Journalists criticizing you. Was that you responding to the wide spread post-N.W.A. Press criticism of Hip-Hop in general, or were you personally getting flack from the press?

On the real, I was just having a lot of fun with the words “Sue Me”. Because that’s what seemed to be going on everywhere! Nobody would try to work things out anymore, they would just say "I’m gonna sue you!" So I wanted to make light of that.

Sue me ! DOCTOR ICE 1989

Your song “I Ain’t Goin” was a funny anti-war song, was that aimed at the Gulf War? Why do you feel more MC’s nowadays don’t talk about political or conscious messages?

Simply they’re not politically Conscience. It’s all about self for them.


I didn’t know you released a second album Rely On Selph (1994), can you tell us more about that project?

Well I was trying my best to get a record deal, and as we said the game changed for the worst. I had a hard time trying to sign to a label, so I decided to do something I had done in 1988, I started my own label called “Selph Records”. I finished an album with Major Jam a.k.a. “Brothers and Sisters Ent. called “Rely On Selph”, and landed a distribution deal with Itchiban records. The album didn’t do great, but it was me taking the lead in showing that, we can do it without these labels who act like they are the talent.

Whodini - So So Def era press shot

Obviously you have history with Jermaine Dupri through the Fresh Fest Days, and Whodini worked with him in the 90’s. Was there ever any talk of UTFO doing a similar re-union project at any time, either with him at So So Def, or another label?

No talk at all.

I saw you have collaborated with West Coasters Skee-Lo (originally from New York) & Rappin’ 4-Tay. How did that work out? Do you live in L.A. or spend time out there now?

I go back and forth to L.A. but I met Skee-lo through my friend Mike Debarge, and it was him who worked it out for me and Skee to work together. I am proud of the work, and Skee-lo is a great dude.

Thirstin Howl The Third (middle) & Doc Ice at Lo-Life video shoot

I heard that Full Force are behind the Backstreet Boys or Nsync, is that true?

I know they were, I’m not sure of the situation now.

Your new single “The Comeback” is dope! Who produced it?

Brother’s and Sister’s Ent., the remix is produced by Dr Bob Tha Surgeon.

Are you planning to release a new Album too?

Yessirrr! I’m just fishing right now with a few singles, but I plan to drop a Mix CD hosted by my Dj, his name is DJ Cazz, he’s Italian from Pittsburg, and he is a beast.


Is there anything you would have done differently professionally?

The only thing I would have done differently is spent my money more wisely and made it work for me, so that in the long run I wouldn't have had to struggle, which I’m doing now. But as Kurtis Blow would say, “These are the Breaks”.

As a father, what are some of the positive tools you have learned through Hip-Hop culture that you will pass on to your children?

Balance, budget and always remember what you give, is what you get.

Have you any advice for up and coming Artists?

I do, “DO NOT SIGN NOBODY”S 360 DEAL!!!!!!!! And don’t forget your history, it’s what makes you valuable.