Breakin’ In Space #4: Cosmic Blast – Captain Rock


While a lot of the early electro music sounded like it came from outer space, some of it was implicitly about spaceships, aliens and all that cosmic jazz. Cosmic Blast was one of three quasi-hit records that Ronnie Green aka Captain Rock recorded for Taharqa and Tunde-ra Aleem's Harlem-based Nia Records, and definitely the best. Green started out as the DJ for rap pioneers Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde from their period in the Harlem World Crew (who recorded an early rap single, Rappers Convention, in 1980). The concept of Captain Rock was the brainchild of the Aleems and they already had somebody in mind for the role. But when Green auditioned, he fully inhabited the Captain Rock persona and, as Simon Cowell would say, made it his own – he was hired on the spot.


The three previous tracks for this column have been predominantly instrumental, but this is the first to feature a full vocal. Cosmic Blast, released in 1984, incorporated the futuristic production of electro with the live, funky feelgood vibes of the block-party jams of the time, with rapping spaceman Captain Rock blasting off in his “silver dip ship” to start a party in the hood. Cosmic Blast was the only record that Green wrote the lyrics for. The Cosmic Crew mentioned in the singsong hook were the Aleems, Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, DJ Darryl D and the mighty Marley Marl (then a studio intern for the Aleems, who provided the final mix). They served up a funky instrumental, with a big, fat synth bassline, some hard-hitting snares and a chunky bass drum, a lovely, melodic synthesiser line that gave it the electro flavour and a judicious sample from the live version of Rocket in the Pocket by French disco drummer Cerrone. As a kid, the Holy Grail for me was a track that had scratching AND human beatbox, and Cosmic Blast delivered, with boombastic beatboxing from Richie Rich and some precise cuts from Darryl D.
Following the release of Cosmic Blast, Green was “burned out” after years of touring, DJ’ing and promoting. His next single House of Rock b/w You Stink, was a flop and he never recorded an album. But all his classic singles were featured on the Streetsounds Electro compilations, and he had a huge following in the UK, something that Green only discovered when he came over to make a memorable appearance at UK Fresh ’86 (still the biggest live hip-hop event held in the UK to this day) at Wembley Arena. Ever the showman, Green allegedly stripped down to just a thong! The whole concert was recorded for Mike Allen’s Capital Radio show, and you can hear the live version of Cosmic Blast below.