House Hunting #43 - Kool Rock Steady

Aiden does some rack raiding recreation for his weekly dose of black crack...

House Hunting #43 - Kool Rock Steady

Aiden does some rack raiding recreation for his weekly dose of black crack...

As Tonya was away at her Mum’s last week I was home alone so what else am I gonna do but go on some rack raiding recreation for my weekly dose of black crack… Criminally I hadn’t been to my old haunt of Alan’s Records up the road in East Finchley all year (the two occasions jetted up there he’d been shut) so took a jaunt up there as my main man Miles had recently copped joints up there such as ‘Hot Music’ by Soho aka house hero Pal Joey plus a Razz record on Sunset Records Inc. featuring Matt Warren of AKA Dance Music fame and WBMX wizard Ralphi Rosario. So as it’s been a while I was confident that I was gonna unearth something – you always find a record in Alan’s on your house hitlist at a great price that’s a house hunting guarantee!

Upon entering I had a catch up with my fave vendor Alan and after talkin’ about you guessed it records, my diggin’ detector kicked into gear when I scoped the house racks had expanded and were overflowing – kid in a candy store flavour! On flickin’ through the crates choice clocks included a Wayne Gardiner 12” on Nervous under his Classic Man guise (the hard-to-find ‘Mellow’ record for £18), Chez Damier’s ‘Can You Feel It’ for £15 (first pressing with grey label and pink KMS logo complete in original KMS sleeve OCD overdrive!) and the ‘Beyond The Mix’ LP by “The Godfather Of House Music” Frankie Knuckles (Rest In Paradise…) which though beat up you can’t complain for a fiver – let’s get into all these here…

Though all fair prices and knowing Alan he’d probably cut me a deal, I was in the mood for a hardcore house hunt to unearth some bargain bin belters… After an hour or so on my rack rummage I found a Nu Groove 12” (the hip-house styling of ‘In The Pocket’ by Dynamic Duo) and a record by Scrappy of ‘Freeze’ fame on Trax subsidiary Housetime Records – nothing to shout about but with both in near mint condition and few quid a pop necessary additions to my Nu Groove and Housetime collections… I just copped them as I was jettin’ to Shoreditch the following day and I could deviate to a record shop or two when in the area…

So the next day as I comin’ from Moorgate Station I thought I’ll waltz through Spitalfields Market to grab a quick bite. Fortuitously there was a record fair on and then I suddenly remembered my G-Star shop regular Chris Energy has a stall there. For those who don’t know him Chris’ love affair with vinyl goes way back to the early 80s and has been collecting records for the best part of thirty years. His obsession with records lead him to start DJing and gettin’ involved in pirate radio, and as with many DJ’s he naturally progressed in producing tracks in the nineties also building a studio and releasing records under an armada of aliases – check out this 10” he released on collectable house imprint Music Is… (also home to Detroit kats Theo and Moodymann) back in ’98…

Not content with just hosting pirates, DJing and producing, in his teenage years with his Dad’s help he also opened a record shop! The shop was based in Walthamstow and was called ‘Hit’n’Run’ after Loleatta Holloway’s Salsoul classic that was his signature theme tune on his pirate shows in the 80s. The shop stocked rare groove and later specialised in the transatlantic house imports comin’ outta Chicago, New York, New Jersey and Detroit. Fast-forward a couple of decades later and now the shop has evolved into a warehouse in Walthamstow (which you can check out via an appointment) with Chris also representing at choice record fairs across the UK and Europe.

Anyway back to the house hunting and I scoped out the fair to see if he was about – Joe at Thunder copped an original pressing of Vincent Floyd’s ‘Cruising’ off him the other week for a decent £15 so there was definitely potential. I clocked him at the back of the fair and to the right of the stall there was a ‘Chicago Detroit New York’ section with the crates bustlin’ so I got down to it... I knew there’d be a serious selection but f**k me this was a goldmine of wax jewels and hallowed house hotplates. Flickin’ through there was an overflow of records from house institutions such as Trax, DJ International, Nu Groove, Underworld with multiple copies of Holy Grails from house heroes such as Armando and Bluejean – there was 3 copies of Bluejean’s Code Blue anthem ‘Untrue Affection’ in the racks! However, knowing Chris he ain’t cheap and whatever I’m gonna pull out it’ll be at a premium price… With all the Nu Groove’s (no joke there must have been about fifty-odd) even though it’d be a case of diggin’ déjà vu as I found one off the label the day before at Alan’s I had to cop one so I settled on a mint copy of the Nu Groove necessity ‘Shardé’ by The Vision aka Eddie Maduro which is a dedication to his daughter. A majestic masterpiece let’s get into this b-side bliss…

There were loads of Trax in their original Chicago Trax sleeves so as meeting house hunting OCD quota I had to snag one of those… One that screamed right at me was a distinctive green sleeve with ‘RAP TRAX’ emblazoned on the sleeve and I knew this was a Trax joint I’d been after for time – yeah that’s right it’s some that hip-house flavour by the late Kool Rock Steady. I gave Chris a heads up that our summer sale had just commenced at work so he cut me a deal resulting in a decent couple of days of crate crusading in London Town!

So let’s get to Kool Rock Steady aka Edward Rudolph… With his cousin being none other than Zulu chief Afrika Baambaata, it was only natural that he would follow his career path in the emerging hip-hop scene though like his visionary cousin he too would prove influential. Just as hip-hop was gaining more mainstream attention through the likes of Kurtis Blow and Run DMC, the primitive house productions comin’ outta Chicago continued to flourish so it was inevitable someone would have a brainwave and rap over a house joint. Combining the raps, rhymes and scratches of hip-hop with the melodies and rhythms of house, this evolved into rap house and club rap – giving birth to a whole new genre which is more became known as ‘Hip House’. Here’s a lil’ Chicago Hip House doc from ’89 giving you an insight into the scene…

Though the scene’s forefathers are considered to be Fast Eddie, Tyree and Kool Rock Steady, who created it is one of those contentious Chi-town issues like ‘who coined the term house’ and ‘who released the first house record’. Though Fast Eddie has labelled himself ‘the creator of hip house’, one could argue that its roots actually lay over the Atlantic. Back in ’87 The Beatmasters and Cookie Crew released ‘Rok Da House’ on Rhythm King Records and in riposte to Tyree and Kool Rock Steady’s claim that ‘Turn Up The Bass’ was the first hip house record released on vinyl, The Beatmasters released ‘Who’s In The House?’ which has the lyrics “Beatmasters stand to attention, hip house is your invention” and “Watch out Tyree, we come faster”. To further complicate matters out on the east coast in New Jersey KC Flight could also lay claim to the hip house crown with his Jersey jam ‘Let’s Get Jazzy’. I’ll let you have a listen and let you decide whether original hip house prototypes…

Though a lot of hip-hop heads initially weren’t feelin’ house, when the homeboys see the girls freakin’ to house in the clubs naturally they wanted a piece of the action so out goes those blingin’ dookie chains and sweat suits in favour of some acid house club couture. After becoming disillusioned with house to the point he retired from the scene in ’87, Fast Eddie reinvented himself a year later after DJ International approached him wanting a joint with some more jackin’ flavour. As he got really into hip-hop, he used this influence in his hit ‘Yo Yo Get Funky’ which mixed the house rhythms synonymous with Chicago with some hip hop styling coming courtesy of sampling Lynn Collins complete with his own fast-chat style of rapping. Check out this video of Rocky Jones and himself getting interviewed on the scene with him performing the track live – so HOUSE it hurts…

Whoever spawned the sub-genre, there’s no doubt that Tyree and Fast Eddie were instrumental in hip house gaining more commercial appeal and in Kool Rock Steady they had a hip house figurehead whose raps and rhymes would perfectly complement those Chicago house rhythms. When recording his hip house anthem ‘Turn Up The Bass’, Tyree wanted a rapper to lay down some rhymes but his first choice JMD was busy so he offered the gig to Kool Rock Steady whose rap rhymes and lucid lyrics like “Tyree Cooper, the producer, awesome super dooper trooper!” had a playful, childlike quality which would appeal to the masses. The track was released in ’88 on Rocky Jones’ Chicago House institution DJ International and became a worldwide hit, thrusting Kool Rock Steady on the global stage. Through the success of this release Kool Rock Steady was a mainstay on DJ International, hookin’ up with Tyree again on ‘Let’s Get Hyped’ and ‘Do That Dance’ collaborating with other Chicago house heroes such as Julian “Jumpin” Perez on ‘Ain’t We Funky Now’ plus showcasing his own production credentials on joints like ‘The Other Side Of Me’ and ‘You Ain’t Nobody’. Check out rare live footage of him performing ‘Turn Up The Bass’ and the ‘You Ain’t Nobody’ video here…

Though a lot of rappers embraced this new hybrid including MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane and EPMD, not all of the hip hop hierarchy were approving of this emerging scene. The legendary KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions as the time denounced hip house publicly and pointed out Kool Rock Steady in particular for “diluting the purity of hip hop with house”. In response, Kool Rock Steady lays down the following rhyme in the aforementioned ‘You Ain’t Nobody’: “You don’t like it because you got not taste. Then I bust out with ‘Let’s Get Hyped’ and from you, just stereotype.”

Fast-forward to the early-nineties and as well as guesting on Ralphi Rosario’s punishing house rhythm ‘Backstabbers’ on Razz Enterprises Inc. offshoot Gosa-Lo Recordings, over this period he hooked up with partner in crime and Chicago House hero Bad Boy Bill who together released ‘Back By Popular Demand’ on Razz.  They both branched out to the east coast by forming a hip house triptych under the guise of ‘Reality’ (bringing in Spero Pagos to the fold) and releasing a couple of records on NYC institution Strictly Rhythm including ‘Yolanda’ (with remixes by Erick “More” Morillo – what happened to him?!) and ‘Wanna Get Busy’ complete with an Armand Van Helden remix. Check out the video to ‘Back By Popular Demand’ here…

These productions would turn out to be the twilight of his career as he passed away in ’96 due to HIV-related complications. Though he made his transition too soon his short career has left a lasting legacy and he’ll always be part of the hip house hierarchy… Bringin’ it back to this week’s house hunting find and this Rap Trax 12” on Trax features the legendary Lidell Townsell on the production. If hip hop styling your thing then both mixes of ‘Power Move’ will definitely be your flavour but for me it’s all about the b-side bomb ‘I’ll Make You Dance’ with Kool Rock Steady rhymin’ over Lidell’s jackin’ 303-induced rhythm – proper warehouse acid action! Rest In Power Kool Rock Steady…

AIDEN d’ARAUJO

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