Bobbito - conducted by MC Hitman  


January 2000

These are the transcripts of an interview with Bobbito. The interview was conducted by MC Hitman on January 11th, 2000.

MVRemix: What were your influences, and what got you into being a radio host?

Bobbito: Let's do this one question at a time

MVRemix: Aight

Bobbito: Basically I got into Hip-Hop - essentially one figure, Craig Radick. I went to grammar school with him. Back in 1976 . '77, Craig introduced rhyming to me. Introduced breaking to me. And he was in the Zulu Nation, so he's the person that put me up on it. Graffiti in New York in the early 70's definitely got me open to the mentality that Hip-Hop bore, of...just grandness. As for the music I got into a lot of records. Stuff like Apache and The Mexican, like early like Hip-Hop classics. Before people were rhyming over them. Like break records. What was the next question?

MVRemix: Well, I'm gonna build off that actually.

Bobbito: Okay.

MVRemix: As you were growing up what were some of you favorite cuts that you heard, or favorite groups?

Bobbito: When I heard "The Mexican" by Babe Ruth that was definitely a record that affected me different than other records that I had heard up until that time. I had no idea that that was a Hip-Hop record. I would say that when rap first became on records, my first real favorite group was Treacherous 3. I would say that they were my favorite group up until Run-DMC in '83. So for the first 3 years songs like "Action" and "Body Rock." I mean to me the Treacherous 3 - no one could fuck with 'em. 'Cause they really were like the first lyricists. I mean even at that age, I was like 13 or 14 at that point. I was appreciating people that were different in the mic. Where everybody else was like "Yes ... yes y'all" and the Treacherous 3 were like the originators of style. In my information, I mean a lot of people point to Grandmaster Caz, unfortunately I didn't find out about Cold Crush Brothers and Fantastic until this decade of the 90's. When I went back and researched old school. But it was all about Treacherous 3... and when Run-DMC came a long it was all about Run-DMC. There were like bigger than anything you could imagine. There's a lot of kids that think Jay-Z is huge, but Run-DMC. They... well it's hard to compare how big they were. Because at that point there was no super-group with rap artists. All of a sudden they were really the first beyond like rocking a mic at a party. Word.

MVRemix: Moving along, how did you first get into doing the radio thing with Stretch Armstrong and what inspired you to do that?

Bobbito: The radio thing was an odd thing, because I went to Weselyn University in Connecticut. We had a great radio program there, but I never participated in it. I was working at Def Jam in '89. I worked at Def Jam from '89 to '93. And while I was there I meet Stretch, who back then was called DJ Skinny Bones. One day we were just fantasizing about being on the radio. Then, 3 months, "Boom!" We were there. It was really weird how fast our fantasy came true. As for what inspired me, I loved listening to Hip-Hop radio in New York. I mean Red Alert and Marley Marl. There were a lot of other lesser known shows there. Like the 91.5 Militia, and I mean there were all these smaller shows on stations, and you had the main ones like Red Alert. These were shows that I listened to religiously and would make my tapes dope. When we got on the radio, I kind of wanted the show to be in that same vein. Where kids would listen and want a tape. Play shit that no one else would have, so kids would want to make tapes.

MVRemix: Well, you definitely pulled that off. In the span of your show. You guys have had a lot of acts come by and then go on to blow up. You had both Nas and Wu-Tang drop by before they hit major success. How does that make you feel at the end of the night?

Bobbito: Well, I mean you really don't know that they're going to be huge when they're there. So when they came by we were just bugging to be witnessing some dope emcees. When they blow up, it's kid of gratifying. I feel they deserve to be huge and they are huge. There's a satisfaction knowing that you helped that process. Knowing that you helped the world appreciate something. I think that's been a motive for me to continue to focus on unsigned and up-and-coming artists with the radio show. Because hopefully those artists that.. The name of the new show is the C.M. Famalam show, me and Lord Sear. Stretch and I split up back in September of '98. So it's a new show, but I still want the The Mighty High-C and the Juggaknots of the world to those next huge artists. So that's what I'm giving my airplay to. Planet Asia and those kind of artists.

MVRemix: Up in the middle of the '90's it seems like there was a split in Hip-Hop. With the adoption of Hip-Hop music by mainstream culture it seems that most radio station have move on to playing only a certain style of Hip-Hop. How do you feel about that whole situation, where there's a split in Hip-Hop? Some amazing artists like Prince Paul are considered underground and other artists such as Jay-Z are perceived as mainstream?

Bobbito: Well, I don't think there's really a split in Hip-Hop. I would say that one vein is Hip-Hop and the other is rap music. To me like a characteristic for an artist is to be progressive. Hip-Hop bore out of a progressive mentality, and Hip-Hop has had rules to follow since it's conception. Number 1, you can't be wack. Number 2, you can't bite. And number 3 you got to be original. So when something's not that original, or when you're using a loop that five other emcees ripped, it's not Hip-Hop, it's a rap song. The motive has been to make money. Not to make incredible music. So it's like the psychology of a things that are called Hip-Hop. I don't necessarily consider it Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop to me is a more special label that I affix to special records. You know those artists that take the time to make their rhymes sharp and clever, and producers that took the time to make interesting beats. The only thing that alarms me about it is that now everyone is misusing the term and doesn't understand it's true meaning. That bothers me because someone could come up to me in a club and be like "You play some Hip-Hop" and I'll be like "What the fuck you talking about?" So that's alarming, but it happens.

We've got to talk about Fondle 'Em Records. With Fondle 'Em everything has been tight. I wouldn't say that everything has been classics, but it's always been...solid.

MVRemix: Yeah, exactly. So what's going on with the label? I know that MF Doom was the first album that you released on CD, which was an excellent move, but what can we look forward to in the future?

Bobbito: Well, Juggaknots supposedly has 9 songs finished. So maybe I'll do an album with them. This kid Jakki the Motamouth, which was featured on the last MHz single. May be coming out with a solo single. This kid named Yak Ballz that works at my store. He's been running around with Cage for a while. So I'm gonna try to get him to come out with something. Then, MF Grimm has been working on some new stuff. So essentially I have some things in the ropes. I think MF Doom's album was such a classic that I'm not going to put out anything. Unless it's on that level of like greatness.

MVRemix: Yeah the MF Doom album, even though a lot of the songs had been released before. Just the way that it was all brought together...

Bobbito: You got the interludes, plus he redid, remixed all the songs that had been released. That was like a special way for us to say that if you were up on us when you bought the 12". Save those and save those versions. Let people jump on the bandwagon now and they'll hear the different shit.

MVRemix: It was definitely a classic. Personally one of my favorites from '99. Let's talk real quick about how you started Fondle 'Em Records?

Bobbito: Fondle 'Em started in '95 under the great encouragement of a guy named Rich King. Who wound up working at Fat Beats distribution for a couple of years. But essentially Rich was a very rare person in that he worked in distribution, but he was a crazy Hip-Hop head. I think that a lot of people point to Fat Beats, and what they've done in terms of the independent vinyl resource. But a lot of people don't realize was that the store was one part of that. What the store did was become a distribution company and influence a lot of other companies to do that. Rich King in particular had a lot to do with that explosion as well. A lot of distribution companies didn't have a lot of people that understood Hip-Hop. But Rich King listened to the radio show with me, Stretch, and Lord Sear every week. He knew I had a lot of demos, so he called me and was like "Yo, you should put these out. There's a lot of people around the world that would love to have these on vinyl." It was interesting because the Cenobites for example, when they gave me these songs it was under the premise that they were for the radio show and were never being released. It was for the listeners, some special underground shit. But I had so many kids bothering me, "Yo I want the Cenobites, some Cenobites. So under Rich's encouragement and all the peoples encouragement I decided to finally put 'em out on vinyl. I'm glad I did cause it started a great venture for me. I dropped the Juggaknots album, people were bugging the fuck out. I put out the Arsonist's first single "The Session." I put out all these classic records. Classic underground records at least, and it really brought Fondle 'Em to the floor very quickly as a leader in the independent Hip-Hop market. I started before, as far as I know, Stones Throw. I definitely started before ABB. I think Rawkus started in '95 as well, but they didn't put out anything until the end of '96 with Company Flow. So you know - whatever, we were just an important independent Hip-Hop label for the end of the decade.

MVRemix: That's definitely an interesting story, but moving along what have you been listening to in your free time?

Bobbito: There's an album on Fallout Recordings by an artists named Celia Vaz and it's called "As In Flow" it's tremendous. It's like Brazilian, this Brazilian singer. She's fucking incredible. What else am I listening to? I recently got Hugh Masekelar's first album. I think that's tremendous. George Benson's album "In Flight."

MVRemix: A lot of people loved your appearance on the High & Mighty's "Hands On Experience." Are you planning on doing any more appearances like that?

Bobbito: I'm supposed to be on DJ Mr. Len's album he's doing an album on Matador.

MVRemix: You gonna kick a little rhyme on there.

Bobbito: Well, I'm supposed to do a whole song on with him.

MVRemix: For real?

Bobbito: Yeah, like two verses. That will be first, but I don't know if I'll be able to hold it.

MVRemix: I'm definitely looking forward to hearing that.

Bobbito: Thanks.

MVRemix: Since the Arsonists album dropped, I know a lot of kids that are curious about this. How did you come up with Cucumber Slice, and why the change from the Barber to Cucumber Slice?

Bobbito: My first DJ gig in New York, back in '95 I think. At this bar called Coney Island High. My homegirl hired me to spin. She was like "Yo we got to get you a DJ name." Then she start's laughing. She said Cucumber Slice, like the first thing she said. I was like "Yo that's it Cucumber Slice, I fucking love it." 'Cause it was hilarious, it was funny. I mean I take my music very seriously. I take rhyming very seriously when I'm rhyming, but I like to throw in some humor. That's when Cucumber Slice was born. As for going from Bobbito the Barber to Cucumber Slice. Well, I felt a lot people knew me as Bobbito the Barber. From the Stretch and Bobbito show, and when Stretch and I split up. I wanted to reinvent the show. That's why me and Lord Sear renamed it to the C.M. Famalam show. That way the listeners could identify it as different program, and it is a different program. Even tough we're on the same station, it's a very different program without Stretch. And umm my responsibilities on the show, well I was spinning when Stretch wasn't there. Now I'm spinning every single week. So I wanted to boost my identity as a DJ more so than just a host. 'Cause even like today people are like who's DJ'ing for you now. I'll be like "Nah I'm DJ'ing, people don't even know that I DJ." So that's why I've been pushing Cucumber Slice. I just think that the Barber had it's time. Now it's time for the Slice.

MVRemix: How do you feel about the Internet and Hip-Hop? As the Internet as expanded there have been more and more groups coming out on the net. Releasing MP3s and building a following there.

Bobbito: I think as long as there is some type of creative control it's fine. I mean, me personally, I think that if you're going to groom yourself as an emcee it's good to rhyme in front of your peers. Rhyme in ciphers and rhyme in open mic showcases. Some people don't have those things available to them in the cities they're coming from. It's like the Internet is acting as those ciphers or open mic events. But I think that the difference is that a people are simply writing rhymes in chat rooms. As opposed to seeing them on a mic. You can be a very intelligent person and write some amazing rhymes. But being an accomplished and well-rounded emcee takes vocal presence, cadence, delivery, intonation. You know a good voice, pronunciation. I mean there's so many things that go into a gifted emcee. On top of all that, ultimately it's either you're special or you're not. While the Internet is giving a great opportunity for people to come out, I don't know if it's giving people an opportunity to listen, but I really don't know what's coming out on the Internet.

MVRemix: What about as far as letting people hear stuff like the Juggaknots? I mean, in my area, the radio stations will only play the same 10 songs all day long.

Bobbito: I think the net has been helpful to that. I think that people look at the net like it's something that's never been there before. There was always a network of people. I mean how do you think people found out about records in 80s'? There was no Internet available, but people made tapes. People used to bootleg me and Stretch's show in 90's. With tape covers and everything. People find ways to find good music. If you want it bad enough. Plus in a way the less exercisable it the better it is for people that take the time to find it. It's more valuable and special to them. I mean with good music the more people that hear it the better. No secret society shit, but I don't know really I guess it's a good thing.

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