Pete Rock & CL Smooth Re-United and threw down in Oakland
We caught up w/ legendary Hip Hop figures Pete Rock and CL Smooth who have recently re-united and are currently on tour.
It’s been 8 years since we’ve seen the pair together here in the Bay Area, although both have been here numerous times separately. They came to support the Green For All activities that were taking place at Laney College in Oakland.
CL came on stage and gave a 15 minute speech about the importance of healthy living and going Green. Later on him and Pete came on stage and got busy for a good half hour. They rocked classics like Straighten Out and TROY. Later that night they performed at the Mezzanine in SF where they ran through all their hits.
During our interview Pete talked to us about his producing outlook. He told us who he’s feeling, what he’s learned from others as well as what he feels he contributed to the game… He talked about the Bomb Squad and what he learned from working with them.. He also talked about who would be on his all star team of producers and rappers if he had to put together the ultimate album
CL talked about how he maintains his healthy outlook and spirit. He also talked about what its taken for him and Pete to come back together and work together. He says its like a marriage that requires one to pay close attention and care everyday…CL also talked about how he stays relevant with this new crop of emcees.
Just got word this morning that yesterday one of the key architects and pillars for West Coast Hip Hop passed away.. We’re talking about Roger Clayton aka Mr Prinze of the pioneering legendary crew Uncle Jamms Army. This is the 4th pioneering figure the West Coast has lost in the past few years. It was just last week folks buried Danny ‘Fut’ James who ran the influential Impact Record pool dating back to 1982. We lost Michael Mixxing Moore and Skeeter Rabbit within a month of each other 2 years ago. We also lost Mixmaster Spade. Here in the Bay we just lost Mr Fantastic aka Melvin to a heart attack. It’s a shame that these important figures were never honored before their passing outside of LA.
Losing Clayton is major. It like losing one of NY’s main architects for this culture. It would be like NY losing Afrika Bambaataa.. Not only did Clayton and Uncle Jamms Army bring a unique West Coast sound and style to the game, because they were also party promoters who did those legendary dances at the LA Sports Arena, they were also responsible for turning LA folks onto the emerging rap from NY..They used to also bring out acts like Run DMC, Kurtis Blow and LL Cool J to name a few..
One of the things I think has never truly been appreciated and acknowledged about West Coast Hip Hop was the Mobile DJ Culture that was its cornerstone.. Many like to think that folks out here picked up the game from New York. Such is not the case. Cats were hustling and doing jams with massive sound systems all throughout the 70s.. from LA to the Bay it was not usual to see DJ crews with comic book cartoon like names. In the case of Uncle Jamms Army they were inspired by Parliament and George Clinton.. Their roots were funk music and the crew included legendary folks like Bobcat, Egyptian Lover, DJ Pooh. Battle Cat, Joe Coooly, Chris the Glove, Alonzo Williams and the groups only female member Silky D. Before Uncle Jamms Army there was an earlier crew formed in 1978 called Unique Dreams Entertainment which included Clayton and childhood friend Gid Martin.
These cats early one were known for rocking 4 turntables at a time and mixing records flawlessly while executing what eventually became known as LA’s fast scratch. Uncle Jamms army proceeded the Beat Junkies, KDAY Mixmasters and other better known West Coast DJ Crews.. These were the architects.
As Clayton’s partner Egyptian Lover once explained to me, they had been listening to Prince, Kraftwerk and Parliament and that’s what got them off and running.. Later on they came upon what was cracking in New York and naturally incorporated it and upheld it..The fact that Uncle Jamms Army was able to pull off these massive parties from all over a gang infested city and keep the peace needs to be celebrated the same way we look at the early Kool Herc and Bambaataa parties as being able to do the same thing..
The fact that Clayton and Fut died within a month of each other should not be lost of folks.. Fut with his record pool was main reason folks in LA introduced to music from all over.. Fut was the supplier, Clayton was the presenter.They will be missed..