Indelible Red: The Geto Boy’s DJ Ready Red Can’t Be Stopped

 

RC: Ok Ladies and gents, this is DJ rchecka, and on behalf of the Beat Junkies and myself, I’m honored to be talking with the Musical Enforcer, the legendary DJ Ready Red of the Geto Boys.  What’s up Ready Red!

RR: What’s going on DJ rchecka?  What’s happening my long time brother and Friend?!

RC: Sall good man, I’m very happy to be speaking with you.  I’ve been doing my homework, going through the archives and I dug up some good questions to drop on you!  So I hope you’re ready to go back to that time.

RR: Hey, Ready Red, comin at ya!

 

 

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RC: Haha, alright so we gotta start right at the beginning of course…  You were with the Geto Boys from I believe 87 to 1991, does that sound about right?

RR: About 1992 some say 93, I got released in 93 so let’s go with that.

Grand Wizard Ready Red Flyer
Old School Trenton Flyer Featuring Divine Sounds and “GW” Grand Wizard Ready Red

 

RC: Ok, so the story goes that back in 87, you were in Jersey and got a call from your sister to come down to Texas and help her out with some boyfriend problems, and that’s the phone call that basically got the ball rolling for you with the Geto Boys, can you elaborate on that?

RR: Yes, this would have been December 1986, she says “Hey, I need you to come somewhere with me.”  I said “What’s going on?”  “I need you to grab your stuff and come down here.”  So I said OK.

I planned on being gone at least a month.  So I got to Houston, and meet this guy she was still with.  We was cool for the first couple months then he started tripping out so I had to put some things on.  I had to whoop his ass.  And I just met James Smith the owner of Rap-A-Lot Records that same night.  Later on I asked him to loan me a couple of dollars to help me out, and that’s how I got down.  I got a thousand dollars to get down with the Geto Boys since he helped me get my sister out of a bad situation.

RC: So then after that did you have a DJ Battle in Houston that really got things rolling for you?

RR: I had a DJ battle down at the world famous Rhinestone Wrangler on Murworth, right up the street from the Astrodome off of Main.  So I went up there and I did my East Coast, Trenton, New Jersey style of DJing, which is pretty much our style of DJing, with a Philly Twist, and New Jersey Twist, being that I’m from Trenton, and there’s a world wind of culture there in Trenton between Philly and New York, so this was a whirlwind of techniques and ways that you can attack the art of turntablism.

 

 

Grand Wizard Ready Red
Grand Wizard Ready Red

 

RR: …So yes, I rocked them, and that’s when I met Jukebox and the late NC Trahan,  and that’s how I got down.

 

RC: So that’s how it started.  Just like that you were a part of the Beat Junkies, Err, whoops!  That will be edited… I mean a part of the Geto Boys.

RR: (Laughs) I wouldn’t mind being a part of the Beat Junkies, the Beat Junkies are pretty cool!  But yeah, that’s right when I came a part of the Geto Boys.

 

Geto Junkie Ready Red
DJ Ready Red, the Geto Junkie

 

 

Quote-1

 

RC: Ok.  Now you mentioned briefly NC Trahan, and like I said I did my homework and dug way back thru the archives, and back in the day, on oldschoolhiphop.com’s message board, you mentioned something that stuck with me.

“NC Trahan was big part of the GB early days before I came down to Houston he let us practice at his crib all day and nite never said a thing. In 1988 while shooting Raheem’s video for A&M Records, NC was killed at a gas station by a Punk Asss Bytch Mutha Fucker from what I hear it had been a knuckle up at the club and like a 1 hr later he was dead by a shotgun blast to the face!

RR: Yeah that was True.

RC: (Continues)  “I was back home in NJ around the holidays I got a call that he been killed!. Vicious Lee of the Def 4 got arrested that night for trying to get to NC.”

Then you mentioned… “Somebody always got killed during the making of a GB album! RIP Big C.”

That last line is pretty stunning if you think about it.  Can you build off that part?

RR: Well first person that I knew that was good people was Kenny Ray and he got shot and killed on the Making Trouble album, so we always used to wonder, if during the making of a Geto Boy’s album, “Who’s Next?”  I knew him very briefly but for the year to 6 months I knew him, I knew he was folks man.

RC: I see.  Well I’m looking at that “Grip It From That Other Level” cassette tape right now, and I see that Rest In Peace note you put on the cover of that.   So that album must have been dropped right after that happened.

RR: Yeah.  He was killed right before that.


 

RC: Yeah, ok.  Well let’s change gears a little bit.  You also briefly mentioned something about your early sampling of the movie Scarface, Were you the first person to sample that movie for a rap song?

RR: It’s been duly noted that I am the first person to touch that movie, Scarface, Al Pacino’s voice.  So yeah, I am.

Ready Red Firsts

 

RC: You are?  Ok, well that’s pretty damn cool.  Well I was just listening to that tape and I notice how you peppered his voice in that album a few times.

RR: It filled in the gaps.  When I started working with the Geto Boys they were already wrote half of “Making Trouble” and I was trying to come up with something that woke it up.  When Johnny C came along, I came up with “Assassins” with Johnny, and “You Ain’t Nothing.”

Then I was playing around, and Bushwick Bill came over, and I was watching Scarface, and I just made a bass beat on a TR-808.  And the part where Sosa is talking to Tony and he throws my man Omar my man out of the helicopter window…  Right around that part, that’s when Bill comes along and sat on my start and stop pedal, which basically recorded “All I have in this world is my balls and my word” and I heard something.

I was like “Oh Shit!” so I rewound my VCR, I got ready, punched it, and got “All I have in this world…”

I said, “Bill, did you hear that?” “He goes.  “No man, what are you talking about I didn’t hear anything.”

So I immediately went to work, sampled on the Studio 440 “All I have in this world, is my balls and my word” “and then I just started playing around with “All I have… All I have… All I have… in this world this world this world.” And that’s how I made Tony Montana, AKA Al Pacino start singing in rhythm to the 800 drum machine.

 

- Tony "Scarface" Montoya
– Tony “Scarface” Montoya

 

RC: Nice!  So on that same album you got the song “Gangster Love”.  Anyways there are 2 versions of that song, one sampling Steve Miller Band’s the Joker…

RR: Yeah one would be Johnny C and my version’s using Steve Miller, and when Rick Rubin wanted to do the song and remix it later, he chose Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” so Rubin’s version came later.

RC: Ok, I see.  So was it just sample clearance issues with Steve Miller Band or artistic differences or what was it that made you guys remix it like that?

RR: Well some bullshit I heard, that Steve Miller was trying to make a comeback, that he enjoyed the song but he didn’t want to be attached to the shit, so we had to give him some 250,000 dollars, I don’t know, it was some bullshit that he got all our money, I never saw any of that money.

Ghetto vs Geto

 

RC: Alright, let’s talk a little bit later on.  Eventually you guys hooked up with Rick Rubin.  Is it true that Rick Rubin respelled your name GETO?

RR: Yes, it was Ghetto, which is the common spelling, which is an old Jewish term, and he changed it more ghetto to the G-E-T-O.  So you know, being Rick Rubin, a man down with Def Jam, and Russel Simmons, and all the hip hop royalty, so what you gonna do?  I ain’t gonna argue with Rick.

Cuz after that, damn we hit it big, you know?

 

Ghetto Boys Touring with Public Enemy
Geto Boys Touring with Public Enemy

 

RC: Yeah, no kidding, that was a smart move.  I think some of the younger cats I talk to sometimes don’t realize there was a different spelling of the Geto Boys at one point.

RR: Yeah, so you got the old rare first press of that tape with that spelling.  That’s Ready Red with the sun shades on!    That right there is the first press, and if you notice, that’s Jazzy Jay rolling dice in the background!

 

Grip It! On That Other Level OG Tape
Grip It! On That Other Level OG Tape

 

 

RC: Hey, I was happy to land that tape for sure.  That one I have been looking that for a while!  I guess that album never got dropped on vinyl did it?

RR: No.  I only had about 4-5 special Rap-A-Lot party wax pieces of that.  There’s a few radio versions and a some dirty versions that I could spin for the shows.  So, if you see that Rap-A-Lot wax, with that on there, that’s Ready Red’s!

RC: Oh, ok so those are show vinyl versions?

RR: Yeah, just for my shows.

RC: Cool, I never even knew those existed.

 


 

RC: So let’s fast forward a bit, and talk about closer to the end of your years as one of the Geto Boys.  You became more aware of the greedy nature of your label Rap-A-Lot, and their lack of fair pay.

RR: For that I have to start at the album “Making Trouble” which was good enough to get us on the Fat Boys “Wipe Out” Tour.  We went out for days with Fat Boys, Salt N Pepa, Ice T,and we went thru about four or 5 cities, and we blew up.  Eventually I found out that we sold 100,000 copies, but I was told we only sold 20,000, and that was the start, being an upstart label from the South.

So I was able to get an apartment, and an SP1200 that’s when I started making “Grip It”.  Then the personnel change came right after we had a 12” out called “Be Down”.

Believe it or not, the owner and his helper went to LA for a meeting with some people and came back and said “Hey man, we’re gonna scrap this album that you’re working on, and we’re gonna become “Gangster Rappers” and we are gonna talk about some stuff, blow, this and that, blah blah blah, whoop, whoop, whoop…

And Johnny C says “Yo man, I’m not with this.”

So Box writes the first rhyme to “Mind of a Lunatic” “Paranoid, sitting in a deep sweat.  Thinking…”

That joint right there, but then in the middle of us recording it with Willie D and then finally Scarface, and Bill, Jukebox says to me “Yo man, this shit is crazy!  Man, I ain’t with this!” So he quit.

Then we became the Geto Boys with Willie D Scarface and Bushwick Bill and myself.

 

Willie D, Scarface DJ Ready Red and Bushwick Bill
Willie D, DJ Ready Red, Scarface, and Bushwick Bill

 

RR: So go down to Jay’s ranch in Praireview, and we put together the historic album called “Grip It On That Other Level” and that’s how we started touring, Detroit, Chicago, Down South, Memphis, we was going everywhere man.   This album really put some light to what was going on in Houston, so I’m proud, of everything before that and after that.

But, then I was like, “Yo man, where’s the money at.” Cuz we was getting peanuts and crumbs but where’s the money?  Cuz every time royalties come around we get nothing, so I started looking at the business end of this stuff, cuz I was like “You know what?  I been here for many years.  I’ve given this man everything he could ask for.  I’ve given him some of my best work and yet I’m not being compensated.

So I went to them with this, and challenged them, and they wanted to pay me in installments, but I needed all my money which was owed, and that was 29,000 dollars.

 

Quote2

 

RR: So anyways, Little Jay got mad, got pissed.

I hear, “Oh man, Little Jay is pissed” I say “well shit, I’m pissed too!”

And right around the time I just met my wife, future wife.  Well yeah, I was getting disillusioned anyway when we started working on the “We Can’t Be Stopped” album.

So Scarface come over and we was digging thru my crates, and I been trying to work with a song from the Tough Guys soundtrack, and I only bought it cuz it was Tony Williams on the cover and it was Isaac Hayes.

So I was like, Ok, so we played around, we found the joint called the jam.  So we started putting it together and during the time of that, and I was telling Face, “Yo, if you hear something, I can put it together.” So on that song we we did it.  During the time of that I became very disillusioned, I thought ,  “Yo I won’t be getting anything out of this”

So I called all the Geto Boys up and told em what was going on, and later on that night, Jermain comes in there with the Get Down Boys, which is his thugs and shit, and shit got kinda crazy, and I left that night, and I haven’t looked back ever since.

And I seen 20-30 years later, that nobody got nothing out of that.  They got famous, but this man got all the money.

So I’m glad I left.  I went through some changes, after I did leave, I didn’t get no credit on that album.

 

We Cant Be Stopped - Mind Playin Tricks On Me

Quote3

 

RR: And on that album, my friend got shot in his eye, and they put that shit on the cover!

I’m not gonna be on the album cover with my friend’s eye hanging out.  No matter what!  I just ain’t that fucked up.

And if I done sat down with you rchecka, I done met your mother and your family, and this and that, how I hell am I gonna explain “Oh yeah, Bill got shot in his eye, but yeah we needed an album picture.” You know?

And that shit was crazy to me, and it’s crazy now.

People come up to me and say “Don’t you be regretting not being on the album cover?” and I go “No, not at all!” and I’m gonna stick with that man.

RC: Of course, man.  Of course!  I can’t imagine that kind of anguish that night that you were feeling and for this guy to be like “Yeah just get in the picture” it’s basically just greed.

RR: Yeah.  I was freaking.  I been in between 2 guns pulled on me.  That night I’m like Yo this ain’t what I’m signed up for”

Fuck this.  Shit I don’t need it.  I’m from the real Hip Hop shit.  Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5, Afrika Bambaataa, Cold Crush Brothers, I’m from the Old School.  We don’t get down like this man.

RC: Right, but they never even put your credit anywhere on that album at all.  It was kind of a white wash.

RR: Cuz they knew doing that right there would lead to some better things for me.  But I took a downward spiral cuz every 5 minutes that record was being played.

And the way they spun it was like I left and all of the sudden they got a hit and I had nothing to do with it.

So everyone was thinking, “Hey, Ready Red leaves and the Geto Boys blew up!” “Man he ain’t do shit!”

 

 

RC: That wasn’t the worst of it either.  Let’s talk about Scarface’s album…  This was just after you left Rap-A-Lot Records, and they blacked out your face from that album cover.

Ready Red on Scarface Album

 

RC: I gotta know… What was it like the day you picked up that album and looked at it?

What were you thinking when you saw they just kind of old school Photoshop erased you from the cover photo?

RR: I started laughing and I said “Look at this shit right here!”

RC: (Laughs)

RR: Yeah, they tried to erase me out of their whole history.  But, I’m glad that the fans know the truth, and I’m glad the truth is finally out there.  All that because my man was mad cuz I said “Fuck him.”  Know what I’m saying?

RC: Yeah, that was just one more thing they tried to do to erase your history of everything you’ve given to the label.

RR: Yeah.

RC: Well they aren’t doing so hot right now.   I’ve read that recent article about Rap-A-Lot’s CEO James Prince.  That kind of business reputation he had didn’t fade.  Like you said, people still talk about that to this day.  They were just a corrupt business.

 

Quote4

 

RR: Right.  Well you know there’s a verse in the bible that says “What’s done in the dark will come to light.”  It might not be the next day or the next year, but eventually what you do will come to light.

So anyways, back then I started to believe that, that I was nothing, you know what I’m saying?  So I got into the darkness one night.  I ain’t never started to get another job, I was 26 years old, man.

I had to get myself together, R.  Now, I’m 15 years clean and sober.  And everything I lost has come back; my respect, my technique, and I look back and I owe it all to the Lord Jesus Christ.  You know, for helping me clean myself up.

Then I met you at the oldschoolhiphop.com me and you known each other before any of this business came back.  I think I went in there right around 2003, right after I lost my older sister to a car accident.   She was killed in a car.  Me and you have been friends ever since then.

RC: Yeah, that sounds about right.

RR: And you are definitely in my crates man!

RC: Aw thanks man!

RR: Dumpster Funk is definitely in my crates man!

RC: Hey man coming from you, that means a lot man, I appreciate that!

RR: Yeah, you good folks.  You’ve known me before any of this ever came back, since 2009 was when I really started my comeback.

 

 


 

 

zulu-sm

RC: So do you remember when you became an official member of the Zulu Nation?

RR: Right after 2006, I joined the Gateway Chapter, then I hooked up with the Zulu Brothers and sisters.  And there’s all tribes in San Francisco.  Back then I was blessed to meet Afrika Bambaataa and have my time with a one on one.  So that was like a dream come true I was in service.

RC: No kidding!  Hell yeah!

 

 


 

RC: Ok so let’s fast forward a little bit.  Right around March 8, 2008, apparently you got into a terrible car accident with your truck.  From what I remember you were driving up in the mountains and spotted some wolves? (Laughs) I can’t even make this shit up man!

The Aftermath
The Aftermath of dodging coyotes

 

RR: Here’s what happened.  I hooked up with my childhood sweetheart and I was on my way back home.  And at the 249 Highway marker in Nevada some Coyotes jumped in front of me I was able to avoid that pack, but at the 252 mile marker a bunch of them came out and I swerved and caught the soft shoulder, on the left hand side, and I went down the embankment and I flipped over 3 times.

Man, I broke 2 ribs, 2 fingers, collapsed lung, and contusions on my hip some other various parts that were hurting, and I remember bending down to pick up my phone but it was cracked.  I remember picking It up and passing out.

I woke up on my side, and I heard some people talking, and red and blue lights flashing.  I saw the flashlight go past me, and I heard one of the officers say “You think he’s dead?” “The other said, “the way his car looks he might be.”

But I put my hand  up to let them know I wasn’t dead.  And they agreed to come get my ass.

RC: (Laughing)

RR: (Laughing) Yeah, it’s funny now.  You know they wrote me a ticket for failure to stay on the highway??

RC: That doesn’t really surprise me.  So this is just one of the many times where you’ve seen some crazy shit and lived through to tell about it.  And now we can laugh about it.  But that was crazy, how long were you laid up in the hospital?

RR: About 2 weeks or so.

RC: Yeah, and you lost all your stuff in that truck rollover too, right?  All your records and your turntables and stuff?

RR: So the turntables made it.  My SP1200 got damaged, I was mad about that.

But you know what?  In all honesty, I was just glad to be living.

On March 21st I was on my way back home, I took the same route, and I set my foot back home march 25, 2002 I stepped foot in California.  Six years later, I’m back in Trenton New Jersey.  Six years later, I’m a lot better, I have a whole new life now.  March 25 is how I mark my sobriety time.  So on March 25 2016, I’m clean and sober 15 years sober now.

 

Quote5

 

RR: And as I look back on all that time, I lost my Grandfather, my sister, I lost my mother, my grandmother, and just recently my brother last year, my only brother.   I’m not looking back, I’m just looking forward, and I have good memories, cuz I tried to do more every year than I did the last year.

So if you are going thru some things, and you think you can’t do it, just gimmie a call, look at me, I used to think there was no hope too, you know, but I’m glad that God had a plan for me.   I been sticking with that plan and it’s been worth it.

RC: Yeah I hear you, I totally hear you.

 


 

Quote6

 

RC: So let’s back up just a hair…  Were you still injured from the wreck when you met DJ Q-Bert?  Or am I wrong about when you met him?

RR: Q-Bert gave me my first 1200 in the Bay Area.  He actually threw a party for me.   This is 2002, my first year out there.  Jasper Bradley told Q that I was in town, so Q called his DJ Friends, DJ Flare and Magic Mike, and a lot of other cats who have scratches named after them, and I went to the Octagon, and me and Q-Bert bonded instantly.

We became friends, we started talking and Q says “So what you up to?” “Well you know I’m out here for a fresh start, and my Grandfather just passed…” and before I left Q-Bert said, “I got something for you.”  So he put an SL-1200 in my hand and he told me to “Get busy again”.  Even though I never left them, I just didn’t have a pair, but I had 35 years of being a DJ at the time, but that really hit me.  On the way home I just held it in my lap and started playing with it, getting back into it, feeling it like it was a beautiful woman.

 

 


DJ Ready Red Official Stanton DJ
DJ Ready Red Official Stanton DJ

 

RR: But, I’m now a Stanton DJ, so I don’t really use 1200s, I use the Stanton STR8-150 since I been a Stanton DJ for 5 years.  So now when you see me, I play on the stuff that has my name attached to it now.

RC: Yeah, so how’d you hook up with Stanton then?  That’s interesting too.  Tell me how you got approached by Stanton.

RR: No, I approached Stanton.  My 1200s died on me, so I needed a new pair, so I ordered a pair of Stanton’s online.  And when I got them I was so impressed by them, I was like “Oh shit!” so I went to Stanton to tell them how much I enjoyed them, I saw a contact number, so I called them and left a voice mail.  About a week later, I get a call from a guy who says “Hi, my name is Dan I am the president of Stanton, and would you like to endorser our Stanton products.”

So I said, “You know what? Before you even approached me, I approached you and told you how I enjoyed the product, so, yes I would love to become a Stanton DJ.”

See, I bought them blindly before any of that ever happened.  That’s how much I believed in them.

RC: Hey, I feel you on that.  Cuz I’ve had my STR8-100s for about 20 years now, and I use them all the time, and they are still just tanks!

RR: Damn right!  I never thought that I would say in my lifetime that I could say that I found something better than the 1200s.  1200s are still good, they will always gonna be good, but once you get on the STR-150s and go back to the 1200, you’ll see how good things are with Stanton.  I’m sorry, but I like power now.

You can take a record and put it on a Stanton joint, and it will start and stop right on the beat, super fast.  I can backspin now on a Stanton and it spins right back up to speed right away so I’m straight now from now on.

RC: Yeah, it’s a totally different feel between the two brands.  I think people get accustomed to “that feel”.  It’s kind of like relearning how to spin if you switch back and forth between the brands, cuz  then you have to compensate one way or the other for the different torques.

RR: I had to relearn how to DJ when I first tried to got my first Technics 1200s, cuz I was on Technic SLB 101s.  They were belt drives, so you had to push them up while you was back spinning, to catch them up on time so they wouldn’t slow down.  That was a bad habit that I brought over from my belt drive, to a direct drive.  But with a 1200, you didn’t have to struggle like that.  That struggle was gone, when I got the 1200s.

 

 

 

 


 

RC: Right on, let’s talk about a couple of your heroes right now.  You look up to 2 very different people as your heroes, Bruce Lee and Grand Master Flash.  Why do you look up to these two guys?

RR: Well, being a red headed freckle face black kid of the 70s, really light skinned, I was chubby, I picked on a lot rchecka.  I was just meeting my father at 8 years old for the first time I remember, and he took me to go see the Chinese Connection in downtown Trenton.  And I was just like “Wow!”

 

Quote7

 

RR: See Bruce Lee is kind of quiet.  If you check out his roles in his films. Bruce Lee was kind of quiet, but he whooped your ass.

So shortly thereafter, my father left again, so my Grandfather took me to Karate School, cuz I was showing some interest in that.  I started studying Shotokan Karate, so soon, all the punishment that was inflected on me, I could stop that, cuz I learned how to defend myself, and only defend myself and others who I saw injustices being done to.

So it was Bruce Lee that gave me my confidence by not being afraid to fight.  I don’t care who you are, if you come my way and you disrespect me, put your hands on me and try to hurt me, I will get with you, but other than that, I tried to use the art of fighting without fighting.   So Bruce Lee has been an impact on me since I was 8 years old.  I’ll be 50 this year.

 

Bruce Lee and Ready Red

 

 

RR: I actually used some of his teachings to get my life together.  See if we go back, Lee himself had some issues.  He wasn’t a totally put together human being like most people think.   But if you really research him you’ll see that he was a proud individual like all of us.  He was just a hell of a fighter, but behind the arena he had weaknesses.

See like my arena was music behind the turntables, oh I’m super bad, but you take me out of that arena I may not be the most put together person, Know what I mean?  Cuz I’m out of my element.  So I had to learn how to be secure in front of the wheels and off the set.  See Bruce Lee taught me about that.

 

 


 

DJ Ready Red: Fan First
DJ Ready Red: Fan First

 

RR: Now Grandmaster Flash, is the Pinnacle of DJs.  See back in my day he was the litmus test of being a DJ.  And I share a special bond with my Grandfather who… my Grandmother reported that my Grandfather, whose name is George, “he stays in his room all day and all night making strange noises and I don’t know what he’s doing up there.”

So my grandfather comes upstairs and says “What’s going on up in here?”  So I show him, and he has a story from Jersey, and he tells me to come up, and he presents me a ticket for him and a ticket for me to go see Shannon, singer of “Let the Music Play” and Grand Master Flash and the Furious 5.

 

Quote8

 

So we sit there in the audience, we get thru Shannon, and out comes Grand Master Flash and he starts cutting up Good Times.

So my Grandfather sees that and says “Oh, is that what you are trying to do?” I said “Yeah!”  So I explained to him Kid Creole, Scorpio, Melle Mel, Rahim, the Late Great Cowboy, and I said “Yeah, those are great MCs, but Grand Master Flash, the guy standing behind, he just DJs!”

He said “Really?”  And he started to get really fascinated by it.  “And for all that he was just spinning records?” I said “Yeah!”

So after the show, we’re driving home, he started asking more questions.  When he started asking questions, it started getting interesting.  He said “What would you need to uh, you know, start doing that type of stuff?”   “Cuz the offer is this…  If you graduate from High School, I’ll get you a car.”  But I was soon to graduate High School but I didn’t want a car, I wanted some useful equipment, rchecka.

So I got a pair of 101 Technics belt drive turntables, a Gemini mixer, some records, tape decks, and some other stuff.  He says “You know what?  You’re the first guy I ever met who didn’t want a car!”  But it would soon pay off.   So that’s what I did man.

 

Quote10

 

RR:  In New Jersey and some greater cities they had what they called junk days where people throw out their junk, so I got pretty good at tinkering and putting stuff together, so I had some changers, you know changers is one of the best DJ turntable ever, you just gotta cut off the long spindle but once they get going, they get going.  They may scratch up your records on the other side, but those things was tough!

So I had 2 of them, I was good at cutting with knobs and stuff.

So um, the adventures of Grand Master Flash, I would play follow the leader.  It goes on “You say!  You say!” and before Flash would let the last “You Say!” go I would try to play like him.  “You Say one for the treble, 2 for the time, come on yall let’s rock that —-“  I would grab the record and try to get the timing that he had.  Cuz that record is like a teacher.

RC: “Yeah!  You’re right!”

RR: And I became fascinated with GMF, Joseph Sadler, he’s always been one of my heroes and always will be!   Just like Grandwizard Theodore, DJ Red Alert, there’s so many…like DJ Tony Tone, Charlie Chase… I hate to start naming all my heroes, cuz I’ll forget their names.  I love anybody from the true school foundation, know what I’m saying?  I love them because I am them, in a lot of ways man.

RC: Yeah, you are man, and I watched you recreate Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel, I mean you did it.  I saw it on YouTube.  That was kind of like a rite of passage for you to complete that wasn’t it.

 

 

 

 

RR: Well you know what, I did it on Serato on that Youtube vid.  I wish they would have shown me when I was young and I would do it on the wheels.   I used to have a cat who was passing off the records to me.  My cousin, B, My cousin Brian Lovett.  Passed off the records.  Anyways, I did it on Serato cuz you always hear “oh that was a studio produced joint.”   No it was not studio produced that was nothing but turntables man.

When they recorded it, to make the levels using limiters all go level across the boards you really had to know what you was doing back in the day.  But Flash was with that man.  Flash was the king.

As he says “I don’t care who’s better, Flash is forever.” “I’m the first one to do that”

RC:  Yeah I hear that!

 

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RR: See back then, Hip Hop was the up lifter.  It was invented by folks who saw a positivity for what Hip hop would come to.  Cuz you know, it was rough, and it comes from the gangs.

Bronx groups like Savage Skulls, Black Spades..They know we gonna get down on the streets with our Ghetto brothers.  And it had this rough status, but it became peace, unity, love and having fun.

That’s how the Zulu nation was born.  Along with the Godfather Kool Herc, who had a birthday party by the request of his sister Shelby.

So DJ Kool Herc came to play his block party and that started it all.  So that’s what I wanna focus on, that’s the only reason I got into this in the first place.

I’m glad I had these heroes that I could bring to my mother and grandparents and say this is what I wanna do.  But she wouldn’t hear that.

So I’d sit and listen to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five album with her or Kurtis Blow or the Fat Boys.

Cuz back then you could listen to it with your family.  But man, now?  Now, I’ll be like “DAMN!  What the hell are they saying?  I find it kind of shocking.

I don’t believe in censorship for the artist, but I believe the artist should be responsible for what comes out of he or she’s mouth because you have the gift of life or death in your speech.

One thing that I remember when Al Sharpton when he was doing James Brown’s Eulogy, he said “James Brown told me on his death bed to tell Michael Jackson and Prince to raise the music back up.”

Raise the music back up meaning that your parents, your grandparents, your kids, can all hear the positivity in the message man.  So that’s my mission, is to raise it up.  And I’m gonna raise it up man because we need it.

 

RC:  Yeah, we do!  We need to hear that.  Actually, yeah, that’s really what I want to talk about…  We wanna hear about that project you got going on with Johnny C and Jukebox!

 

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RR:  I got back with Johnny C and Jukebox of the Original Ghetto Boys and we are now the Old Young’nZ and we’re working on an album now.  We’ve just been putting together stuff and ideas, we are working on getting the sound that is ours.

That’s Johnny C and my sound, we had that sound in Trenton Jersey way back in the late 70s early 80s.  And we just coming up with good grooves and stuff.

We’re both 50 years old now, so we’re coming with Old Young’nZ a point of view, we’re not trying to compete with these youngsters.  We have to come up with some solutions to some of these problems.

We’re working on what they call peace, unity, love, and having fun which was an element of the DJ and MC that I don’t hear on records any more.

With some of the new stuff, and I still spin current stuff, cuz I get booked for a lot of parties, but I don’t hear party records any more.  I hear dreary, death and destruction that doesn’t really give you a lot to live for nowadays.

We’re putting this together out of love, and we won’t give it away, but we’ll put it out there.

So it might be a minute, we was trying for the Spring, but you know, things happen, so you know were’ working and trying to get at least 2 singles dropped, just to let the people know, hey, we’re doing our thing.

I’m also being constantly booked to do DJ joints or shows, so my time is you know, spread thin.

 

RC:  Well, you want it to be right, and you want it to be good…  So you are taking your time getting it right.  You got kind of a timeline on this?   Are you a perfectionist?

 

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RR: I would say yes, I am.  But back to the point of when it’ll get released.  it’s to the point where as a DJ, I could have put that away, or I could put this away.  Sometimes you gotta know when to stop and be like, take away, you know what I’m saying.  You got to know when to stop.

Sometimes you think, I could have used a better kick, or a I could have used a better snare.  When I listen to music I hear the high hat, I hear the kicks, and snare.  And I know when that kick and snare is gold.  There’s only a handful of artists that I can listen to and be like, “Ok, yeah, they jamming!”  But I never followed what a lot of other folks did, I always just did what I felt.

When I started making records, A guy named Steve Founier who was a radio DJ, said to me, “You know what you need Red?  When you start doing the process of recording, go get the hottest 2 records, and mix yours to the levels that these hot records are.”  Cuz at first when come to the club, and put our wax on, the levels would be so low, and this was one of the rookie mistakes that a lot of artists make.  Their levels are nowhere near the levels of the artists who were making it were.   You gotta get your kicks up and snares up to the level of these hot records.  You know, I’m giving you game now producers!  Go get the hottest 2 joints and listen to where everything is on there.  And set your mix accordingly so that way when you get to the club and you want the DJ to play it, he ain’t got to boost it all up.  See it’s already there.

I’m sure you know as a DJ know how some records are really low and some records are really high where they sound good, and you don’t need to do anything to the high joint.

RC: Absolutely.  Mixing highs and lows can be a pain.

 

 


 

 

RC: And speaking of DJs, let’s talk about the Hip Hop DJ in 2016…  In the past you talked about the changes of the DJ from year to year.  Nowadays we got controllers instead of decks, we got very advanced CD-Js that have been around forever…  What do you think is the cut-off point where someone is no longer a DJ based upon what they use or how they use it?

 

Quote13

 

RR: Man, you know what?   DJ Red Alert said it best….  rchecka, do you still have a rotary phone?

RC: No, like a lot of people I don’t even have a land line.

RR: There you go.  I stick with the times too..  My boy DJ Wiz told me when I was living in San Jose back in 2006-07 told me “Red, man, I’m using this Serato” and I asked him “What’s that man?” he said this device is just like spinning wax.  So I plugged it in, and I stayed on that damn thing for 10 hours, trying to get my heat on.  I was like “wow this is fascinating man!  You can leave the records on!”  See cuz as a Hip Hop DJ you always taking the records off.  Sometimes you’d catch me taking the control record off trying to put on the next record.  But yeah, you gotta stick with the times man.  So I stick with the times, and I try to employ the technology to how I wanna attack.

 

Quote15

 

See Grandmaster Flash said “If you was wack in the analog era, you gonna be wack in the digital era.”

Then again now there are these things on some of these controllers called sync, which is a sin!  To me, that’s like biting a rap.

Now, do I have virtual DJ?  You know what?  Yeah, I played with it when I was sitting here in my bedroom, cuz I think it’s kind of cool just to play around with it.  But I was just playing around cuz I’m always gonna be a wheels of steel guy.  Cuz that’s just me.

I remember a friend of mine named Swell, say “Yo Red.  I’m gonna get to the park in like an hour man.  And I already packed up my 12”s, so I hooked up with his stuff, and I kept reaching for the tone arm on his CD-Js.

That whole repetition over the years of grabbing that tone arm made that a reflex.  I’m not knocking people who use CD-Js or controllers, but to me turntables are a lot easier, you don’t have to worry about anything as long as the record is spinning in the groove.  It keeps me on my toes, it makes me aware of the music, cuz otherwise I get bored quick, and I’ll go to sleep.

 

 

Roland MV-8000
Roland MV-8000

 

RC:  So when you are working on your newer productions, are you using any newer tools or are you sticking to the classic gear?

RR: Well I use my MV-8000, which is a beast.  A lot of people sleep on it, cuz it’s not the instant gratification they are used to.  I tell people, you gotta get into your manual for this man.  But I been using this for about the past 6 years I use Logic, I use Fruity Loops, I use anything that will work for me.  I use modules that I sample into the machine or I’ll play.  I do whatever it takes man.  I use both worlds, analog and digital man.  I really like using analog over digital cuz it amps it up and it really has that dirty sound.  But for the basis of my work, I like to beat physically on the drum machine.  I don’t like beating on the keyboard.  Cuz it’s like (singing) “Flash is on the Beat Box!” it ain’t “Flash is on the Keyboard!”  See the beatbox is FOR Hip Hop man.

RC: No doubt, and it’s like riding a bike, you know how to get around once you do it, and you know how everything’s gonna turn out.

RR: Yeah.

 


 

RC: Alright, well let’s wrap things up, cuz I have one more question for you and it’s about your future.  Let’s assume you get this project out and you are happy with the results.  What’s next?  What do you have plans for further down the road?

RR: Keep on doing it.  Find some younger blood out here, just expand it, and it keep it going, cuz it’s not gonna stop.  If I was to get back to where I was, that’s a beautiful thing.  I have gotten to the point now where I could do it for a living again, or I could do it for a hobby.  You know I have to have a balance.

I’ll be 50 years old.  So I love it, and I’m always gonna do it, I don’t know on what platform, professional or being a veteran DJ again, but you know what?

At the end of the day Collins Adam Leysath is happy that DJ Ready Red can try every now and then and do something I love, you know what I’m saying?

I’ll be happy in my life as long as I stay true to that.

 

DJ Ready Red keeping it real in 1986
DJ Ready Red keeping it real since back in the day

 

 

-written by rchecka
Fb: @rchecka

 

 

We In This: Dilated Peoples at Rhymesayers 20th Homecoming

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It only took 20 years for this Hip Hop homecoming marathon to come together, and on December 4th 2015, I am pleased to say we were there with bells on.  My friend Judy Blum and I were geared up for 7 hours of non-stop Hip Hop.  To clarify, the Rhymesayers 20th tour included 29 acts crammed into 7 hours of play-time, all whilst surrounded by where ya from Hip Hop fans packed into the Target Center Arena in downtown Minneapolis.

 

The Players: (Alphabetically listed)

Abstract Rude, Aesop Rock, Atmosphere, Battlecats, BK One, Blueprint, Boom Bap Project, Brother Ali, deM atlaS, Dilated Peoples, DJ Abilities, Evidence, Felt, Freeway, Grayskul, Grieves, Hail Mary Mallon, I Self Devine, Jake One, K-Salaam, Los Nativos, Micranots, Mr. Dibbs, Musab, P.O.S, Prof, Soul Position, The Uncluded, and Toki Wright

 

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Unlike the last time we met to hit this town, the stars were somehow aligned perfectly. The aura was right, spirits were high, there was no curve balls, no drama, nothing but a diverse selection of Hip Hop acts and 8 dollar beers, and other than that insane expense denting the wallet, nothing could go wrong in this situation.

This time we were there to work, and having fun would only be the unavoidable byproduct of our “job” of documenting and recording this once in a lifetime event.

So that’s what we did; we worked. Photo after photo, with beer breaks only when we got thirsty.  We took it all in, soaked it up like a sponge and now it’s time to wring it out.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and we somehow got a thousand pictures, so it’s apparent this post is better without a thousand words.  For the universal love of eye candy and in the interest of keeping it short and sweet, this topic will be limited to the money shots (no porno) and verbiage will be nothing more than the essential need-to-know captions.

 

Highlights:

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The surprising and invigorating entrance of Los Nativos

 

 

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The crowd hushing poetic acapella opening of deM atlaS prior to his first beat drop.

 

 

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Grieves owning the crowd.

 

 

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I Self Devine’s shine time…

 

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Prof blowing up the spot rockin his ugly Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer socks.

 

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A calm yet commanding Aesop Rock as 1/2 of the Uncluded

 

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After a brief Rock\Hip Hop hybrid set, Mr. Dibbs reaches out to connect with his people.

 

 

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DJ Abilities blistering fast cuts and his touching tribute to the legendary spitter Eyedea.

 

 

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Blueprint’s short solo before being joined by RJD2…

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when Soul Position formed like Voltron…

 

 

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Finally, Dilated Peoples rears up, announcing that they “are back!”  What could this mean?  New album coming?

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DJ Babu tearing up the ones and twos through the haze…

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…in perfect form, seemingly undaunted by the lack of any kind of cable management system.

 

 

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Murs and Ant for Felt…  Like all of the good acts it seemed way too short.

 

 

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Towering master of ceremonies Brother Ali blew away the audience with a little help from his B-Boys and B-Girls.

 

^Here’s a short gif of that in action.

 

 

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Judy Blum was as giddy as a schoolgirl to see Slug of Atmosphere

 

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Apparently the feeling was mutual.   Slug was thrilled to see Judy in the press pit.

 

 

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“I own the Camaro and the mobile home, so where the fuck you gonna go?”

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At midnight, Slug was still at the top of his game, rousing the once fatigued crowd into a second-wind frenzy.

 

 

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End of the night: rchecka (L) and Judy Blum (R) in the press pit.

7 hours in, still professional as ever, still working hard to get the shots, but admittedly we were hammering the beers at this point.  I maintain that since we worked so hard we deserved it.  And hey, when it’s hammer time, it’s selfie time…

 

On a personal tip, I gotta say this is the hard part of the story…  Picking out pics for this was difficult, and a lot of deserving artists never got photographed or mentioned, but it’s hardest of all to sum up a night with this many unforgettable highlights.  Needless to say I am truly honored to have the opportunity to do so.

My only complaint about the entire homecoming is some well deserving incredible sets were cut short due to justifiable but regrettable time constraints.  Well, there’s that complaint and the fact that a epic event like this will never happen again in my lifetime.  Which brings me to my obligatory recommendation; if you get the opportunity to catch any of the artists that graced this tour, you need to find a way to make it happen.

…As luck has it, TONIGHT is your chance to do just that…  The Dilated Peoples along with other special guests are playing tonight at The House Of Blues in Anahiem, CA.  For more information check out our recent blog post.

 

-written by rchecka

photos: rchecka & Judy Blum

Fb: @rchecka

last

 

 

 

Went for Kraftwerk, Stayed for Rapedoor

“Look, it’s not like I am trying to get free tickets…”

It was the afternoon of the show. I couldn’t believe I was having this conversation this late in the day.

“I already got tickets. All I need to do is get close to the stage for a few songs so I can snap some decent pics of Kraftwerk and help them promote their 3D tour.” I insisted.

 

Obligatory rewind… Before this phone call, it was my best week ever. In the same few days I got handed the keys to my dream job of blogging for the best DJ crew on the planet, my friend Blum won 2 tickets to see Kraftwerk’s live 3D tour by the sheer virtue of being the 10th caller.

Now, these two rights cannot possibly make a wrong, so I planned on taking advantage of the alignment of my stars by combining the two and making my first write up a live concert review on the legendary beat smiths from Germany.

 

“I’m sorry, but please understand that it is not my decision.” The Publicity Director of the venue went on.

“I relayed your press pass request on to Kraftwerk’s people and unfortunately, they declined.   Apparently they only grant access to their own small group of people for publicity photos.”

 

Lesson one: Sometimes it doesn’t matter who you blog for or what name you drop, because sometimes they have “their own people.”  To quote Flava Flav in the aptly titled Can’t Do Nuttin’ For Ya Man, “That’s the way the ball bounces, Gee!”

Still, it surprised me. The Beat Junkies’ and Kraftwerk’s fans are in the same sphere of influence, so you would think it would be in their best interest to get free publicity photos that capture the scope of the show shared online.

Regardless, for the sake of my lifetime of sheer respect for Kraftwerk, I choose to believe that it was not a decision made by actual members of the group.  I’m sure I got a “no” from of one of their overpaid marketing yes-men instead.

 

“Hey, don’t worry about it man!” my boy JudY BlumE assured me.

“At least now we can let loose and you don’t have to be the nerdy, sober cameraman blocking everyone’s view.”

 

He was right, now I didn’t have to be the professional, I could just be myself, a fan of the music, and I could enjoy watching history unfold in front of me. After all, it’s not often I get a chance to see the living legends Kraftwerk performing live.

“Yeah, I know.” I sighed. “Except now there’s no chance of us hooking up with any 70 year old German Kraftwerk groupies.”

He snickered but I think he was a little disappointed about that. Blum (nicknamed Judy) is the kind of beer snob who has an unhealthy curiosity towards much older German women.

I added optimistically, “At least now I can see if maybe they will sign my 7″ Kraftwerk picture disc, and that would make it all worth it.”

 

So I hit the road to Blum’s apartment in the Twin Cities for a night of Kraftwerk, beer drinking and nightclubbing knowing the next day, as a bonus, I could hit up the local Minneapolis record stores for a little crate digging.

After a few craft beers with ironic names at Judy’s filthy bachelor pad, he hailed Uber, and we were off on the beginning of what would turn out to be a dramatic plot twist of an evening.

 

Who the hell is Kraftwerk?

 

“We’re going to see Kraftwerk tonight!  Can you believe that!?” I proudly announced to the Uber cabby.

“Who?” he asked.

We were almost at our destination, and there’s no short answer to that question. How does one describe Kraftwerk in a few words and do it justice to one unfamiliar with their indelible mark?

 

So I switched tactics. “Well, do you like Hip Hop?”

“Yes, of course! I really like Old School Hip Hop!” he answered.

“Well, then if you’ve heard Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock, you’ve basically heard Kraftwerk.”

“Who?” he asked.

“You can drop us off right here by this bar, thanks!” I answered.

I realize I sound like an elitist music-snob dick describing this conversation, but gimmie a friggen break already! You do not like old school Hip Hop if you don’t know Planet Rock. Sorry, but what it is.

 

“I’m not sure why you let that get to you man. Everyone I told about winning the tickets asked who Kraftwerk is.” Judy casually mentioned as we stepped inside the first bar of the evening.

“Unacceptable!” I glared. “This is why you need better friends.”

“Oh, you mean like you??” he sneered with his now punchable face.

 

Kraftwerk 3D from the Nosebleed Section

 

After a few Surly Furious brews we were finally at that happy medium state and we figured the opening band for Kraftwerk must be done playing by now, so we started walking to the venue.   We discovered this was yet another false presumption about the night; there was no opening act so we were inexcusably late to the show. By the time we opened the door to the balcony seating we immediately got the librarian glare from the usher as the song Autobahn had already started. It felt like walking in late to a packed funeral as the congregation turns to see the wrongdoers in unison.

We were informed with a harsh whisper, “You will have to wait until the music stops before seating yourselves.”

Apparently we were way up in the upper balcony. Upon the cue of applause we did our side-step shuffle of shame down the cow path of rudely interrupted fans, now forced to stand to let us get to our seats. We put on our 3D glasses and slumped into our seats high above the stage.

 

From there I labored to get a few good shots with my phone knowing cell phone photos would likely never be good enough to use in this blog post.

 

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The photos turned out ok, but I doubted there was a blogworthy story to tell at this point. There was nothing to really absorb about the performance from our distant vantage point.

That’s not to sell the experience short, because it was cool as hell to see Kraftwerk live surrounded by a throw-back 80s style 3D video show, but from our location we knew they were down there pressing knobs and levers, but we couldn’t really make out any details whatsoever. Still, we were both giddy with excitement for simply being present in front of our electronic gods.

 

One by one they advanced through all their quintessential hits. We watched in silence as the purposefully archaic 3D graphics danced in space above the four men as the synth-heavy bass and glitchy drums looped on. Despite the church-like atmosphere and subdued crowd, it was nice and loud so the crunchy drum loops and the low end pleasantly shook the building.

A mere 45 minutes after we arrived they left the stage, but it was just encore bait. After the first standing ovation the curtains drew again revealing not the members of Kraftwerk, but instead their animatronic mannequins.

 

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“We Are The Robots” came through the speakers as their plastic dummies jerked and rotated from side to side. As much as I love that song I was frankly pretty bored of that part of the show by about the 2 minute mark and it went on well beyond that.

 

Nearing the end of the show the quartet got to my favorite tracks from Electric Cafe and Radioactivity. By this point the 3D show was getting to be a little, I dunno, quaint? I get that it’s supposed to be throwback 80s effects, but after the 5th time of seeing this green line go in front of that green line the novelty was starting to wear off.

 

Now I’m not trying to detract from the Kraftwerk’s incomparable legacy, but it was at this point I realized I was probably watching the last time this group of now 60-70 year old men will ever tour again. It’s just that they are well past the pinnacle of their electronic music careers and sadly, every day from now on we are even more likely to hear “Who?” when you mention the name Kraftwerk.

As the last of the 4 members of Kraftwerk waved goodbye to the cheering audience and exited stage right I realized none of that mattered at this moment. It was time to make moves.

Time to Get My Picture Disc Autographed

 

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“Ok, you can try!” Blum said realistically.

I found a sympathetic rent-a-cop. I flashed him my 7″ picture disc and silver sharpie I had crammed into my coat pocket all night, and he quietly informed me how to get as close as the law would allow to the door separating “us” from “them.”  At that door there was one lone security guard, seemingly equally empathetic to my quest to get the names of Kraftwerk on my record.

Fan tip: All you gotta do is show a 7″ picture disc and a sharpie to a security guard and give them the “But I came all the way for this!” speech and sometimes the effort actually pays off.

 

Yet, (no spoiler alert necessary) as you can see by the pic, it never happened. The guard at the door told me to hold on and he went inside and disappeared completely.  A moment later, four large German security dudes came out wearing all black.

In my most pathetic voice possible I conjured up a lie that should have worked.

“Hi guys, I just drove all the way up from Chicago to get my heroes signature on this picture disc! It would mean EVERYTHING to me if I could get their autographs!”

They looked at me like I’m some jackass American tourist and laughed while one of them said

“What’s that, a really big CD?”

They snickered and immediately formed a no-fucking-way defensive line in front of the door.

 

“Look, I don’t have to see them if they don’t accept visits from fans. So maybe one of you can take it to them and ask them to sign it?”

They smugly put me into place with a rejection that seemingly made them feel better about the present state of their kraut eating roadie lives. “Kraftwerk does not just sign autographs for anyone. We can’t bother them.”

It was my turn to joke… “Ok, this picture discs doesn’t sound that good so I could care less about ink on the grooves. Maybe you could just go in there and sign it yourself with their names so then I can at least brag about getting signatures at a Kraftwerk show on Reddit. I want to see how long it will take for someone to call me out on having forged signatures on a record.”

They didn’t laugh, and it’s not because they didn’t understand I was being facetious. It’s in their job description to disappoint Kraftwerk fans, and now they were clearly bored of it.  They said something in German, chuckled amongst themselves and basically told me to get lost.

 

I looked at Judy with a “fuck that shit” look, and got the “Well at least you tried.”  consolation.

“Eh, forget about it. The night is young, let’s go.”

Now don’t tell him that; but Blum was right again. Even though I got no decent photos and didn’t score an autograph after wasting all that time debating with the blonde Hanzels, it was time to let off some steam.

 

“No, not Rape Dwarf, Rapedoor!”

 

It was at this point that the night threw us a wicked curve ball.  After a little debate and reading the online reviews we worked our way over to a special little bar in the area called the Kitty Cat Klub. Blum and I both love punk music so this was our only sensible destination.

The moment we walked through the door we instantly knew we were going to find some compelling culture. Once you step over the threshold you are basically tripping balls. I don’t know if they pump airborne drugs thru the ventilation system or if it’s the deer head with Christmas lights on it or if it’s the drug induced honesty of everyone around us, but this place was a fucking trip.

This is the kind of place where women come up to you at the bar and ask you…

“Excuse me, but would you be offended if I asked you if you ever wear assless chaps?”

Imagine how hard it is not to laugh at that question and somehow check it at a restrained grin when you realize she isn’t even smiling. At the Kitty Cat Klub, this is a dead fucking serious question, so be ready for it. I didn’t really know how to answer the question, and while it was entertaining we opted to carefully back away from that conversation towards even deeper insanity.

 

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JudY BlumE on left, rchecka on right at the Kitty Cat Klub in Minneapolis, MN

 

“What’s the name of the band that’s playing tonight!?” I yelled over the loud music to the bartender.

“Rape d—ph” he yells back.

“Rape Dwarf??” I couldn’t believe my ears. “Hey Judy, we gotta stick around for Rape Dwarf, I have a good feeling about that!”

He corrected me, “No, Rapedoor!”

“Oh! Well good!” I smiled “Maybe the name Rape Dwarf is still available when I start my punk band.”

 

We made our way over to the stage area to find an intimate but extremely lively crowd, apparently consisting of quite a few Rapedoor groupies. All of them were fired up to see the headliner.

Rapedoor came on and before they even warmed up I could tell they were on some serious shit. I don’t know what kind of drugs they had in them but they were easily ten levels above me.

 

Before I go any further about Rapedoor, allow me just humbly add, anything I write about this band’s live performance from here onward will not do it justice. This was easily one of the best metal\punk shows I have ever experienced. These guys are true professionals in the entertainment business and I was completely blown out of the water over the amount of ass kicking they did.

 

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Rapedoor rocking at the Kitty Cat Klub

 

They ride a gradient between punk, metal and hard rock, so you can’t exactly put them into a neat little box. According to their own-damn-selves, the genre they play is “bananas” and that’s nail on head.

Rapedoor is a 3 man and 1 woman clusterfuck of glorious noise generated by Ron .Q. Rudlong (guitar and vocals) Nicole Rode (drums and vocals) Odi “Black Jesus” (bass and vocals) and Jake Sweet (drums).

By the time they started the first song I was already at that peak high that only goes downhill if you start drinking too much more alcohol, so to maintain that as long as possible I slowly nursed the Day Tripper beer in my hand.

“This shit is fucking great man!” I yelled at Blum.

He didn’t hear me but he nodded anyways because that’s what you do when it’s this fucking loud and crazy.

It was early in the set and the band was already spot on. The impressive female drummer on the first song punished the drum kit. Like all Beat Junkies junkies, I couldn’t help but zone in on the rhythm she laid down. Her timing, presence, and impromptu fills were impeccable.

“Oh my GOD that chick is an incredible drummer!” I yelled at Blum.

Soon after the first song was over, she got up and switched places with the guy who I thought was the singer. In her new role as singer she conveniently lost her white fuzzy overcoat and rocked the rest of the night wearing just a bra and panties. Meanwhile, behind the facade of this innocent looking bookstore, the singer, who was actually the drummer picked up where she left off and blew my mind with the kind of intense ferocity that only a metal drummer with a bad childhood could have.

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Nicole Rode of Rapedoor energizing the crowd

 

Midway through her first song as singer, she somehow clawed her way to the top of a speaker taller than she was, and proceeded to do a flying karate kick jump that would have put Ralph Macchio circa Karate Kid 2 to shame.   The crowd was absolutely eating it up; everyone was going bananas watching her feed off the energy in the room. But that was nothing, she was just getting started.

On the next song, I shit you not, right in the middle of the refrain she leaped off the stage on top of some dude in the audience. She tackled the guy to the floor and proceeded to finish the refrain as she rolled around on the dirty floor with this stranger like pigs in the mud without losing a beat. For what seemed like an eternity she rolled herself and her microphone cord back and forth with him while scream-singing without getting breathless until she finally jumped up and stepped on him essentially using him as a human stair to get back on the stage.   The guy was not pissed at all. On the contrary, it looked like he died and went to heaven.

From then on she owned the crowd.  As the guitarists and bass players soaked up that energy I witnessed them transform into a synchronized hive mind of unsurpassable punk. At this point the energy level and raw power and polished rock presence of the band was in perfect phase. They had somehow turned the Kitty Cat Klub into a dissonant utopia.

 

From this point onward the details of the night are hazy. I vaguely remember being in awe and that much I am sure of. I definitely remember the singer handing me the microphone at one point and yelling at me to…

“Sing fucker!”

 

So I sang. I think it was more of a bellowing drunken-rage scream type of a singing but I’m almost positive I was on key and sang something appropriate, even though Blum looked at me half way thru my performance and yelled…

“DUDE!!! STOP NOW!!!”

So I dropped the mic on the stage only to turn around and see the singer had now somehow scaled the back wall behind the crowd. When I wasn’t looking she must have done that Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon move springing, not from treetop to treetop, but from banging head to banging head.

 

Damn. What a fateful change of events. This local band I’ve never heard of called Rapedoor managed to somehow turn my lemons into lemonade and eventually into urine.  It was strange but genuine serendipity; because now I had my blog post given back to me.  Sure, it is some kind of non-linear mind fuck version of a story, but it was all so real. I knew at that point for that reason alone it had to be told. I picked this moment to tell Blum I couldn’t ever remember having such a great time watching ANY live music.

 

Then, just like that, feedback turned to into silence. It was over. I had officially forgotten about Kraftwerk, the reason I came, and concentrated instead on my new found favorite local band Rapedoor. As they casually tore down their instruments I groupied up to them and I asked them where I could buy their records.

“We don’t have any records yet, they are a little too expensive to produce, but we do have CDs.” The guitarist told me.

I get it, they are in fact way harder to fund than CDs, and that was good enough for me. The singer Nichole came over and joked with me…

“Hey thanks for singing. That was pretty good!” she smiled.

“Nice! Did you hear that Judy?!”

I was still a bit awestruck so I groveled, “You guys fucking rock so much!  You have no idea how much you made my night. Can I please get my picture with you for my blog post?”

“Yeah, no problem!”

She gathered her bandmates and we posed for the shot as an extremely drunk Blum snapped a few blurry pics.

 

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She disappeared and reappeared with 2 of their CDs for me and handed them over to me.

“You can have these, I hope you like them!” she added. “Please send me a link when you’re done with the write up!”

As corny as this is gonna sound, this is why I love this gig. I genuinely believe it’s my honor to write about real music like this. I don’t care what genre of music it is, when a band is capable of that kind of life enriching stress reduction, even if it’s just for one memorable night, that’s what it’s all about.

TLDR: If you get a chance to see Kraftwerk’s 2015 live 3D show, I recommend you get there early and get seats as close as possible. They are true music legends in every sense of the word, so don’t bother trying to get their autograph, even if you bring a picture disc, because they don’t do that.

Above all, if you ever get a chance to see Rapedoor, drop what you are doing and go. They will leave your ears ringing in a therapeutic way with the unique mixed emotion of being both pleasantly appalled and hungry for more. They typically play small venues in the Twin Cities, they put on a high energy crowd participatory performance, and press passes are never necessary.

 

-written by rchecka
Fb: @rchecka

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Related Links:  Follow Rapedoor on their Facebook Page, Read more about Rapedoor at Reverb Nation, or buy Rapedoor’s albums and EPs at their Bandcamp Page.