Monday 5 January 2009

Shucks One The Kool Skool Interview with Dr. Butcher (DJ/X-Men/Producer)

Shucks One The Kool Skool Interview with Dr. Butcher (DJ/X-Men/Producer)

Hip hop history is a rocky word of mouth terrain, with many a foundation participant overlooked, or edited out of history. Dr. Butcher (not to be mistaken for producer Joe ‘the Butcher’ Nicolo) is just such an example. The Corona Queens native was born in the thick of the golden era amongst the best, LL Cool J, Kool G Rap, Large Professor, you name em’. Contrary to popular belief, it was the real Dr Butcher NOT DJ Polo that did most of G-Raps cuts, and his hand-skills won him a spot in the X-men (the original X-ecutioners). Not just handy at slashing up wax, over the years he’s also produced the Artifacts, Kool G Rap, Akinyele, MF Grimm, Coolio and several video games, commercials and movie scores, ‘New Jersey Drive’ being one.  

Tableturns“Hip hop on Wax” (remix)
Dr. Butcher, Akinyele, Rob Swift and Large Professor
Dope cover by Skam2

In 2004 he dropped the “Hip hop on Wax” (remix), a Queensboro’ who’s-who posse cut with Akinyele, Rob Swift and Large Professor on Tableturns Records. The good Doctor has a bunch of tricks in his blood-splattered apron, so we got an appointment and this is his diagnosis.

Shucks One: What was the early scene in Queens like?

Dr. Butcher: It was crazy! I was about 8 years old and had little contact with the Bronx scene. But with the music attacking your ears from every direction you were forced to take notice. My neighbours were DJ’s. From block parties to house parties every crew was trying to out do the others sound system. Being so young I wasn’t allowed to attend the block parties due the violence associated with the music. At home I created my own scene…. Hahahahah! I convinced my mother to buy me a Gemini mixer (no turntables) for Xmas and would pretend to be the world’s greatest DJ.

LL Cool J can't live without his Radio!

How long have you been Djing?

Minus the days of pretending… (Laughs), I would say about 20 years. I met some friends who had equipment and were looking to start a rap group. I figured it would give me access to the equipment and joined on as an MC. Whenever possible I would jump on the turntables until someone kicked me off…hahaha! Fortunate for me I was surrounded by a couple of excellent DJ’s for that time. One named Cutmaster Vinni Vince and the other was [LL Cool J’s DJ] the ORIGINAL Cut Creator, not the imposter! Just so happened that the original Cut Creator’s name was Phil and the LL Cool J imposter was named Philpot. So when LL says Cut Creator Philly Phil he is actually referring to the original, but due to professional differences they parted ways and the then road manager Philpot took over as the "new Cut Creator." The original Cut Creator actually laid the scratches for “I Need A Beat” and “Dangerous” [from LL’s 1st album ‘Radio’]. Everything thereafter was performed by Jazzy Jay and [another of LL Cool J's DJ's] Bobcat. That’s the original Jazzy Jay from the Zulu Nation. To my understanding Rick Rubin and him are good friends. He used to do a lot of Rick’s scratches hence, [T La Rock’s] "Its Yours".

The Original Jazzy J from the Zulu Nation and 

Did you go to school with LL Cool J and Kool G Rap?

I actually didn’t go to school with either. LL and I met at a talent show that my high school was sponsoring. I was 14 years old at the time. We hit it off well and after the show decided to form a group with another rapper named Royal Rich Little. The group was called the Extravagant-3. Man that sounds old school! Hahaha! LL is one of the best and most prolific writers that I have ever met. I was introduced to Kool G Rap through a mutual friend who was in a group with him called the Rapperteers. Both being from Corona, he and I quickly became neighbourhood favourites. Our relationship developed from there.

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - Road to The Riches

Is it true you did a lot (if not most of) the cuts on the first two Kool G Rap and Polo albums?

No. Marley did the scratches on the “Road to the Riches” album. I did mostly everything thereafter. “Wanted Dead or Alive” was my DJ debut. Funny thing was Kool G didn’t even know I could DJ. I remember talking to him about Jazzy Jeff one day and told him that I could also get busy. He thought it was a joke until the day he visited my crib and told me to show him something. He thought it would be a good idea for the group to have a rapper of his calibre team up with a DJ on the level of Jazzy-Jeff. Next thing I know, I was in the studio showcasing for Eric B. [Kool G Rap] told me that I was going to be the new Dr. Butcher and the rest is history.

How do you feel about not only getting no credits, but also no shout outs on the albums as they were both legendary?

G Rap and I are better than shout outs, so it never bothered me. Everyone knew me as Dr. Butcher so the shout outs meant little. He gave me recognition within the songs and that was good enough. It was all in the spirit of making good music. Most people don’t know but I am the ghost rapper on “Jive-Talk” [on ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’]. He, I and Large Pro were just having fun that night and they kept about a minute’s worth of my vocals at the end of the song.

Did you tour with G-Rap?

I performed with him a couple of times. For me, the most notable show was a performance at the Apollo featuring Ice Cube.

Was that the legendary night King Sun tried to get on stage and get Cube?

Not to my knowledge. The only drama that night was K-Solo getting booed off the stage... hahahahahaha. I remember Redman Djing for him and he kept saying to me "I can't wait ‘til my album drops". 

Hit Squad representer K-Solo

You met Large Professor while working on “Wanted Dead or Alive”, what was it like working with all of those guys?

The Extra P - Large Professor

Magic. Everyone was at the top of their game. Like [the Chicago Bulls] Pippen playing with Jordan. You had Large on the beats, G Rap on the mic and me and the tables. We never wanted to leave the studio. I was in college and Large was still in high school. Every session was an adventure. It felt like Def Comedy Jam most nights. Nothing but laughs. Having fun is how we created good music.

Rare Large Professor & Dr. Butcher in the Studio in the early 90's

Did you do a lot of production for people back in the day?

No. My production career started after the completion of “Wanted Dead or Alive”. Large and Polo suggested that I get involved on the production side of things since I had a natural ear. He (Large) let me borrow an SP-1200 until I was able to purchase my own. My solo production debut was the intro track for the Artifacts’ first album “Wrong side of the Tracks”.
I had previously collaborated with producer C4 on the LL Cool J song “Soul Survivor” from the “14 Shots To The Dome” LP. Things took off from there, including movie scores, video games and TV commercials. Large Pro and I teamed up after his departure from Main Source. When that ended due to his label woes, I hooked up with Akinyele. We toured together for about six years.

As an original member or the X-men [X-ecutioners], did you ever enter the seminars, DMC, ITF?

No. Looking back I probably would have done very well in those competitions, since I like to perform live. Battles are all about the unpredictable and being able to execute under pressure. I am at my best under pressure. A battle is like a boxing match. You have to be prepared to go 12 rounds. That’s how we (the X-Men) prepared for competitions.

Dr. Butcher tear up the wax at WKCR's Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito show.

Are you still a member of the X-men/X-Ecutioners?

No. Both crews have disbanded. At the end of the day we're [Akinyele’s original DJ] Rob-Swift, [1994/95 DMC US & World Champion] Roc-Raida, [1990 N.M.S. Superman DJ Champion] Steve-D, [1995 DMC East Coast Champion] Mister Sinister, [EPMD’s original DJ] Diamond-J, Total Eclipse, Johnny-Cash and Fatman-Scoop. We’re all still Xmen/X-ecutioners for life!

Total Eclipse, Mr Sinista Rock Raida R.I.P., Rob Swift

You’ve done production for Akinyele and MF Grimm. Can you talk about that?

M.F. Grimm 

They are both very easy to work with. They require little direction. You can give them tracks and they will give you songs. From a producer's standpoint it makes life easy. It allows you to be more creative as you feed from their ideas. After creating a track and listening to it a million times you get exhausted for ideas. Hearing something new in the form of a song gives the music new energy. I have been surrounded by talent my entire career. I guess that why I have such high standards when it comes to working with new artist. I want the artist to approach the music with the same intensity that I do. Never settle for less is my motto! If it can be better then make it better. You only get one first impression.

DR. Butcher at The Butcher Shop

What is your view on the state of hip hop?

Hip hop is no longer a state, it’s more like a country. I love it and look forward to working with artist from all parts of the globe and to continue working with new artists and release a few solo production projects independently. At this point in the game it’s all about building a catalogue. The first is “The Good Doctor presents” mixtape and “The Butcher Shop of Horror” album. Bottom line is you will be hearing something from me in the very near future...

New Dr. Butcher & Understanding "In This World" Digi-12 now available!

Fresh from the vault, Dr. Butcher and partner in rhyme Understanding come together to release their first digital single from the upcoming album "From the Vault". This material is truly classic; recorded during the 1990's and found just recently. Both tracks are produced by Dr. Butcher and featuring verses from Understanding, instrumentals included. Look out for the full length album later this year on Domination Recordings.

Peace Shucks One

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Originally posted on 25.08.06

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