Hip Hop Pioneer Too Short Forms a New Band-Talks About the Legacy & Influence of Funk

Bay Area Hip Hop Pioneers Richie Rich & Too Short talk about the importance of musicianship & live bands within Hip Hop

When we talk about Hip Hop, its important  to note that every city and region has its own unique histories and pioneering figures. In New York we give props to Hip Hop’s forefathers, DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. They did the first parties, formed the first groups and developed the first techniques throughout the 1970s that laid the groundwork for those who came after. Here out west, 3000 miles away in the San Francisco Bay Area, we pay homage to pioneering figures Todd Shaw aka Too ShortRichie Rich, Freddy B and E-40 to name a few. Like their New York predecessors they too did the first parties, formed the first groups and developed some of the first techniques throughout the 80s that would influence future generations both nationally and around the world.

One of their signature contributions was laying down important blueprints on creating, recording and distributing music independently. The other important contribution from these pioneering artists was the how they used funk music and live instruments to develop the early West Coast sound.

Yesterday we caught up with Too Short at a barbershop around the corner from Mexicali Rose restaurant on 7th and Clay in downtown Oakland. Here he, explained that from the very beginning West Coast Hip Hop had live instrumentation. He noted that when he did his first recordings at 75 Girls record label, like everyone else they had a drum machine but it was complimented with someone playing keyboards, guitars or bass. There was no such thing as sampling for many of the early artists, Short asserted.

Short noted that he was in the tradition of many of his fellow artists and producers like E-40Digital Underground and pioneering producers KhayreeAl Eaton, Studio Tone, Tommy Foster & Danny McElroy, and Ant Banks to name a few, in the sense that they all played in high school or college bands. Short went on to explain that he started out as a drummer who played in the band at Fremont High School. He said he was also a pretty good ‘one finger expert’ when it came to keyboards and guitar. He named off a string of records including Freaky TalesDope Fiend Beat and I Ain’t Tripping where he played the background instruments.

Short added that the use of live instruments allowed early artists to maintain a funk sound that was desired by those who came up either listening or being directly involved in the hundreds of 3-4 man garage bands that existed prior to Hip Hop showing up in the Bay Area. “It was all about musicianship”, he said. Short pointed out that within every Bay Area Hip Hop group there is someone in the fold who can really throw down on the musician tip. It’s part of Bay Area/West Coast culture and our legacy. Short talked about the influence that groups like Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone had on early Hip Hop in the Bay.

Shock G of Digital Underground started his group as a full fledge band with a drummer and him playing piano photo credit: ani yapundzhyan

If folks really look closely at Bay Area rap groups you will find that many of them deeply rooted in band culture. I recall early Digital Underground shows where DJ Fuze would battle long time drummer Chopmaster J while Shock G also an accomplished musician would rock the keyboards as one of his alter ego ‘Piano man‘.

MC Hammer had a lot of early production done by Felton Pilate of Con Funk Shun. Later he would have huge bands at his live shows which included the original horn players from Earth Wind and Fire.

Before Paris also an accomplished musician made his mark as a political rapper, he started out as an artist who was moving in the direction of Prince.

Today artists like Boots Riley of the Coup not only have their own band, but recently teamed up with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine to form Street Sweeper Social Club.

Again Bay Area Hip Hop is derived from the funk bands that proceeded them.

This was a point that was re-emphasized by Richie Rich.  He said that even though he doesn’t play instruments, he considers himself a musician because as an emcee he uses his voice and flows to play along with live instruments. He went on to add, that over the years he’s come to prefer rhyming with a live band because it allows him a lot of freedom to express himself and also be felt.

We spoke with both Too Short and Richie Rich about the new music venture that’s emerging from their camp. For those who don’t know, Too Short has teamed up with popular accomplished musicians Kev Choice and Martin Luther formerly of the Roots to form a band that has no official name as of yet. Also in the group is Silk E who many know as one of the Bay Area’s dope emcees, who often performs with Tony Toni Tone but as Short noted, she’s also an incredible singer.

During our interview Short talked about how the group has been able to bring such divergent sounds together and make it work. He pointed out Martin Luther‘s soul/neo sou/ and rock backgrounds. He talked about Kev Choice being a classically trained jazz musician who can ‘freestyle endlessly’.

‘He’s the exact opposite of me in the sense that he has super positive rhymes and spits rhymes about current events’  Short noted. But that’s what makes the group work.

Silk E rounds out the group  with her unique sound and approach

Dubbed Towne Business, their debut performance is scheduled this Saturday September 11th at the Mezzanine in San Francisco. Short noted this will be the first of many shows they plan to do in the Bay Area before taking it on the road.

Here our interviews with both Too Short & Richie Rich-click the links below

Interview w/ Too Short

Interview w/ Richie Rich

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August 11 1973 1520 Sedgwick Ave: We Celebrate the Birthday of Hip Hop-The Kool Herc Story

Here is the Kool Herc Story from the movie The History of Rap. Widely know as the Father of Hip Hop, Kool DJ Herc was the catalyst to a whole new movement called Hip Hop. The History of Rap Movie was Written and Produced by Kurtis Blow Walker. Co-Produced by Grandmaster Flash, DJ Hollywood and Lovebug Starksi. Directed by Tommy Sowards. Edited by Jochen Hasmanis and Kurtis Blow Walker. For your very own promo copy of the film email us at kbkrushgroove@aol.com.


DJ Kool Herc

Below are several other interviews and documentaries snippets that celebrate Hip Hop’s History.. Here’s one from the late Malcolm McCalren


We caught up w/ Cindy Campbell who we consider to be the first lady of Hip Hop. We talked to her about the work she’s done on behalf of her brother Hip Hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc. We talk to her about what took place August 11 1973 at 1520 Sedgwick Ave which was home to the first Hip Hop party.

Cindy explains that the party started out as a fundraiser for her to get some school clothes. She talked about how they actually had Old E 800 and Colt 45 being sold there and how it was a 25 cent for women and 50 cent for guys.. They made 500 bucks

She also explained how she herself brought slow jam records for her brother to spin..

Cindy also talks about other deals she’s done for her brother including how she talked Harry belafonte into making sure Herc’s character was positive in the movie Beat Street.


Here’s our 2005 landmark Breakdown FM interview we did with Kool Herc. He gives a brilliant history lesson on the early days of this culture..

http://www.swift.fm/mrdaveyd/song/56812/ pt1

Click HERE to listen to pt of our interview w/ Kool Herc

He gave us an indepth run down of Hip Hop in the early days. He speaks about the early party scene and talks about how he and sister Cindy made history when they threw a back to school party at 1520 Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx.

He talks about how he used to be a grafitti artist and how his sister had his back and sheilded him from the wrath of his strict father who would’ve whupped that butt if he knew his son was defacing New York City property.

Kool Herc also lets us know that Hip Hop did not start in the South Bronx as is often erroneously reported. Herc never lived in the South Bronx, he lived in the West bronx which is a totally different area.

In this interview Kool Herc talks about his Jamaican background. He talks about how he grew up in the same township as Bob Marley and he explains how and why Jamaican culture is an important root within Hip Hop.


Click HERE to listen to pt2 of Kool Herc

We continue our interview with Hip Hop’s Father-DJ Kool Herc. Here in part 2 he breaks down which legendary rappers would be on his all-time dream team.. One of the more interesting choices is Pebbly-Poo who was down with Masterdon and one of Hip Hop’s first dominating female figures. Herc also explained how Pebbly-Poo was so dope that he made her a part of the Herculoids.

Herc really goes into depth about the Sugar Hill Gang and the controversy surrounding group member Big Bank Hank. He talks about how Hank lived in the same neighborhood with him and that he tried not to get involved with the beef Grand Master Caz had with him over the rhymes Hank bit…

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A Recent Interview w/ Afrika Bambaataa: History, Influence & Direction


An Interview w/ Afrika Bambaataa

Bambaataa sent out this interview he recently did with East-3.com. There you’ll actually catch some audio and a some other cool interviews with Hip Hop pioneers.. I think it’s always important to peep what he says and contrast that with things he said over the years. One thing I like about Bam, he says a lot of things that eventually come to past. Some of it seems like common sense, some of it seems hard to phantom, but all of it eventually circles back…One of the things about Bam, he’s abrother that has deep love for this culture and its people..

1.  Name your inspirations & mentors that helped guide & mold you to become a Musician/Dj & role model for your community in the 70’s.

My inspirations & mentors are James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, George Clinton, Bootsy & Parliament Funkadelic, Every group at Motown Records, John Lennon & The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Gary Numan, John Carpenter, Aretha Fanklin, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross & the Supremes, The Jackson 5, Temptations, Mariam Makeba, Fela Kuti, Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Yellowman, Bob Marley, Isley Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, Willie Colon, Ray Baretto, & Fania All Stars.

All these groups because of their music, showmanship, & respect as serious artists help me on my musical Journey to become an artist in music.

On the Knowledge, I give all respect to The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Malcolm X, Minister Farrakhan, Khallid Muhammad, Ava Muhammad & The Nation of Islam, The Black Panther Party, Prophet Noble Drew Ali & The Moorish Science Temple, Al Saayid Imam Isa Al Mahdi Al Haadi (Dr, Malachi Z.York) & The Ansaaru Allah Community, Nubian Islamic Hebrews, Clarence 13x & The 5 % Percent Nation of Islam, The United States Government of structure from reading Books, All types of Books of Knowledge, Many Great Humans from all over Mother Earth from many different nationalities & so called races & religions, & of all my MOTHER & our Planet called Earth & the Universe; we be in space of The Supreme Force to whom is called by  many names.

2.How did you help mold & influence this culture in the 70’s to create a positive & creative outlet for the youth of South Bronx NYC?  Who assisted & co-organized this movement?

From my experience of being a Leader in The Street organization call The Black Spades & then being & witnessing many of the organizations & religious movements I mention above help me to mold & influence with discipline this culture known today as Hip Hop to create a positive & creative outlet for all people on our Great Planet so called Mother Earth.

The Great Brothers & Sisters who helped me in the early days are the 1st Zulu Kings Amad Henderson, Shaka Reed, Aziz Jackson, Kusa Stokes, Zambu Lenair, Little Beaver, Shaka Zulu King Wade & Zulu Queens Kenya (Amber), Makeba (Darcell), Olubayu (Sherry), Tamisha (Wanda), The Fly Five, Lisa Lee, Mrs. Khayan, & other Zulus like Jazzy Jay, Red Alert, Superman, Sinbad, DST, Malibu, Tricky Tee, Ikey C., Mr. Biggs, Pow Wow, Globe, Ice Ice, Chubby Chub, Busy Bee Starski, Love Bug Starski, Disco King Mario, Kool DJ Dee & Tyrone, Grand Wizard Theodore, Mean Gene & The L Brothers, DJ Breakout &Funky 4, Grandmaster Flash & Furious Five, Mercedez Ladies, Pebbly Poo, Force MDs & Dr. Rock, Crash Crew, Cold Crush Brothers, Kool DJ Herc, & the List goes on…

3.  In the Mid to late 70’s how did Hip Hop Culture come to be?  Were all the elements (Bboy’n – Mcee’n – Dj’n & Writing) all separate subcultures but tied together because of the demographic (Bronx NYC)? Please explain?

Let’s set the Record Straight:  each person whom I name above helped in some way to form this culture even though many did not know they were helping a movement but through the wisdom of Afrika Bambaataa & The Universal Zulu Nation, that Hip Hop was named as a culture & that The Universal Zulu Nation is the First (1st) Family World International Movement of Hip Hop Culture & from UZN all others recognize it all over the world as a Culture within other cultures throughout this Great planet so called Mother Earth.

It is Afrika Bambaataa to whom name & called each entity of BBoys/BGirls/DJaying/MCs/Aerosol Writing & adding The Most important Knowledge as the main Elements of Hip Hop Culture & Brother KRS One help to add more, with a few other as Plus Elements to the main Key elements of Hip Hop Culture. No one else never use or thought of naming each entity of the Culture an Element or to say that this Movement that we all are doing is called Hip Hop Culture or to recognize it as a World Movement. The Birth of this movement is The Bronx, New York City, New York Republic, but Rap is as Ancient as The creation of Humans it self.

4. Did Hip Hop have a name before it was labeled? Who Labeled it Hip Hop?  During the birth, Hip Hop was a wave of new & emerging trends in the Bronx that youths were involved  with & Hip Hop later developed into a culture or was the cultural aspect involved from the birth?

Hip Hop as a name was not used before Luv Bug Starski, Keith Cowboy, Afrika Bambaata, all members of The Black Spades,The Organization & UZN decided to use this name. We had other names we used to call it before Hip Hop, which is well documented, but as to name the Culture Hip Hop is was Afrika Bambaataa who could have called it many other things but came to call the whole culture & Movement Hip Hop which many follow after to called the culture that.

It was a method he use to so called Brainwash if you can use that term to put in everyone mind to call this culture Hip Hop. Hip Hop Culture came as a result of other Musical happenings like Reggae Dance Hall or Slackness, Toasting, Calypso, which was being done in Jamaica, Poetry like Last Poets, Watts Prophets, Gil Scott Heroin, Gary Byrd, Sly Stone, James Brown, Jocko, Murray The K, Cousin Brucie, Eddie O Jay, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Mother Goose & Funk Rock & Country & Western Music, which all had some type of raps in many of their respected songs but it was through Kool Dj Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, & Grandmaster Flash that all that came before was put into motion from these three to Birth This Cultural Movement called Hip Hop Today.

Hip Hop started in the Black Community & when I say Black Community I am talking about all the family of so called Latinos (Puerto Ricans, Dominicans all from The West Indies or Caribbean Islands of People) a better name to call all of them is Moors/Muurs if you truly study our History, our Original/Aboriginal Indigenous Native American of The so called Black man & Woman of The World.

5.  Describe the social climate during the 70’s during the birth of Hip Hop.  Was Hip Hop a product of the social & economical struggle within NYC?

The Social Climate during the 70’s were Revolutionary Groups, The Black Panthers, The Nation of Islam, The Young Lords Party, SNCC, The Ansaaru Allah Community, Street gangs, The Ku Klux Klan, The Weathermen, Soul Train, Fania All Stars, Funk, Rock, Salsa, Salsoul, Soca, Calypso, Hard workers in the communities, Drugs, Crime, Police, Police Brutality, Politicians, Pimps, Fires, Block Parties, Concerts, TV Shows like Batman, Dark Shadows, Green Hornet, Soap Operas, American Bandstand, Wolfman Jack, Frankie Crocker, The Midnight Special, Soul, The Bill Cosby Show, The Jefferson’s, Room 222, Welcome Back Kotter, Kojack, Death wish with Charles Bronson, Blacula, Abby, Superfly, Hell Up In Harlem, Black Cesar, Slaughter, The Price is Right, Lets Make a Deal, The Ed Sullivan Show, Johnny Carson, Five on The Black Hand Side, Putney Slope, Five Fingers of Death, Karate Movies, & the list goes on…6.  What are your thoughts of the current Hip Hop scene worldwide?  What would you like to see for the future of Hip Hop?

The current Hip Hop Scene: there are those who know the culture of Hip Hop Culture & there are many who do not & only follow rappers of Hip Hop who have a hit record. There is Hip Hop Culture that is controlled by corporations & The Luciferians & there is that small element of Hip Hop Culture that is not controlled by no one but their selves. There is the Pop or popular version of control Hip Hop & then there is the minority, not controlled Hip Hop. Hip Hop For the Future will be an Intergalactic Movement as we become Galactic space traveling Human Beings & Beyond this Solar System, Dimensions, Galaxies, & Subterranean Worlds. Mark my words This Will Happen & These will Be Facts…

7.  How important are the other facets of Hip Hop (Knowledge  – True History & current events) other than the 4 primary elements that everyone embraces & why?

Knowledge, Culture, Understanding, Inner-Standing, & Over-standing are the keys to everything in life. Information- out-formation. Sound Right Reasoning. Factology versus Beliefs.

8. Are there any Hip Hop Pioneers from your generation that never got the recognition & respect they deserve? Breakdown a little about them & their role in building the Culture.

When I do My Book… All will Know.

Afrika Bambaataa & Kool Herc

9.  What are your thoughts on 2012 & all the hype? What are your predictions?

We already passed 2012; it depends on which calendars you are using. There is is the Ancient of Ancient time & Time is & always was, but 2012 is nothing to what is really heading our way if we do not put LOVE back in the Universal atmosphere & if HUMANS keep causing HELL on the planet or Beyond the Planet as well as in the planet. You have not seen the wrath of The Supreme Force until you see The God Mother Nature do her thing on this planet as well as what the Subterranean beings will send from within the planet Earth & if we keep messing with the outside of our planet & think we as Humans is going to colonize another planet with the disrespect of the Beings of those respected planet then they to will be force to set WARS from beyond Mother Earth, within Mother Earth & on the core surface of Planet Earth.

We are not alone on this planet & in the many Universes & those who are sleeping watch & see. Mark my words: You Haven’t seen nothing yet. There are many Movies, warners & teachers on this planet today whom are trying to wake up all Humans in their Mistakes of the past & Now & we still have not learn our lessons from past mistakes & are heading into the same fate as Atlantis & Lemuria, but other Beings of Light are here to set the record straight & more UFOS, IFOS, SFOS will be seen more & more. Also the worst war of all Wars with be over a Clean glass of Drinking water & Food. AND IT GETS DEEPER THAN ALL WE JUST SPOKE ABOUT IN THIS SMALL ARTICLE…

original article: http://www.east-3.com/?p=271

I am also including a separate in-depth interview I did with Bambaataa where he expounds upon many of the topics he is speaking on..


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