Before the 21st century hit us with corporate music acquisitions and Soundscan numbers, first week music sales didn't make or break artists. Artists worked hard to perfect their craft and music was made to be enjoyed by the people - not to be sold as a cellular ringtone. These harmful moves have lessened Hip-Hop making it difficult to return to its humble beginnings in New York's South Bronx. The only thing we have left to remind us of these simpler times is the records, some faded graffiti pieces and the movie, Wild Style.WAIT... THERE'S MORE STUFF
As the 25th anniversary of Wild Style's release is upon us, Charlie Chase, a founding member of the Cold Crush Brothers, takes us down memory lane with the hopes that it'll help save the future.
AllHipHop.Com: How did you get into deejaying?
Charlie Chase: I started in '75. I'm a musician. I started out in a band as a bass player. One of the guys in the band was also a DJ. I went to his house and I watched him on his turntables and that was it. The mechanics, the way the tables and the switches moved... I'm a techno geek anyway. Anything that involves man and machine working together, I'm into it. After that, I was doing it solo as a club DJ. One time I did a gig at Lehman College with my boys, Tom & Jerry, they were pretty well known from the Disco days. The place was packed and after a while, people kind of got tired of dancing to that s**t, you know how people just start clearing the floor, sitting down and leaning on the walls? So I got on and started playing my break-beats and then the floor got packed again. Soon as the floor got packed my boys came back and pushed me to the side and was like, "We got it from here." I did that for about a year, getting experience and learning the process, then I went out on my own. I was doing high schools, PALs, and park jams. And I was getting heat from both sides. That's when I met Tony Tone, who was the soundman for Funky 4 Plus 1 More. He and I decided to do our own thing.
AllHipHop.com: How did the Cold Crush Brothers come about?
Charlie Chase: Tone and I were having problems with our MCs, and I had always wanted to work with [Grandmaster] Caz. So I got Caz to join and he brought in JDL and I acquired Almighty K.G. and there's the beginning of Cold Crush.
AllHipHop.com: Being one of the first Latinos involved in Hip-Hop, how were you received?
Charlie Chase: In the beginning, it was crazy. I was getting heat from both sides. The Latinos were like, "What are you doing playing that jungle bunny music?" and the Brothers were like, "Aren't you supposed to be playing Salsa somewhere?" But I was so in love with the music that I kept going. I was like, "This is what I'm feeling; if anybody wants to fight, we can fight." And even after I was doing it for a while, I still wasn't getting my respect. People wouldn't even acknowledge I was Charlie Chase. They always thought Tony Tone was Charlie Chase because he's Black.
AllHipHop.com: The early stages of Hip-Hop consisted of graffiti artists, breakers, DJs, and MCs. Did you try anything else before settling on being a DJ?
Charlie Chase: I didn't break or anything. deejaying was pretty much it for me. I did have a chance to play AA baseball. I was really good, too. But I was spending more time deejaying than going to practice and after a while, it was only deejaying. I wonder sometimes what would've happened if I would've kept at it. But I love what I do. My million-dollar check is out there somewhere.
AllHipHop.com: How did you and the Cold Crush Brothers become involved in the Wild Style movie?
Charlie Chase: We had just started doing the Downtown scene. We were doing the Roxy because of the promoter, Cool Lady Blue. This particular promoter was known for bringing the Uptown scene Downtown. Back then, Hip-Hop was only Uptown. So when she got the Roxy, the door was kicked wide open. That's when Hip-Hop started to cross over. A lot of stars like Mick Jagger, Sean Penn, Madonna wanted to hang out and party with us. They saw how we danced and the way were rhyming and they thought that s**t was the hottest thing since peanutbutter. So we're mingling with all these people then one night we meet this guy named Charles Ahearn. He was known for doing Kung Fu flicks and really bad B-movies. He came up to us and said "I want to do a movie about Hip-Hop."
AllHipHop.com: What was it like being a young DJ from the Bronx and seeing yourself in a movie?
Charlie Chase: We all felt like we'd made it. Like we were there. Even before the movie even came out, we're like "Yeah, we're there."
AllHipHop.com: Though most of the early movies about Hip-Hop weren't taken seriously, do you think Hip-Hop would have made it this far without them?
Charlie Chase: When you look at the movie as a review, the movie sucks. The story was terrible, the lead actors were terrible, but the movie was great. The beauty of the movie was that it was the first one ever made and everyone in the movie did what they did. There were no actors playing the MCs or the DJs. You had Grandmaster Flash on the wheels of steel, Cold Crush was on stage, some of the most badass graffiti artists ever, and the Rock Steady Crew! The movie wasn't a box office smash. It didn't sell millions of tickets, but it was a cult classic. It's world-wide and it brought the culture to a lot of people who would've never seen it.
AllHipHop.com: Have you met people who've told you how that movie effected them?
Charlie Chase: All the time. DJs from everywhere. MCs like Fresh Prince, LL Cool J, Fat Joe, Kid Rock. Big Daddy Kane told me he used to get his ass whipped for sneaking out the house to come see our shows. We get a lot of respect from cats who we thought didn't know us. The newer guys may have heard of us, but most of the time, they don't know us. Like one time we were at a recording session with M.O.P. One of them asked another guy that was with their group if he knew who we were and he said, "Yeah, that's them old guys." Me and Caz was like "Damn."
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel when you come across guys who don't know, or care to know what Cold Crush means to Hip-Hop?
Charlie Chase: This is something we created. This is something that no one else can take credit for. We made this up from our struggles, having nothing better to do and just trying to get by. When guys just start saying rhymes and not knowing why they're able to do that, it's frustrating. How are you going to know where you're going if you don't know where you came from? It's a shame because we go overseas and White kids and Asian kids can break down the history like it's nothing. You need to know that people got arrested, people died for you to be able to do this.
AllHip-hop.com: Are there any MCs today who you feel capture what Cold Crush and Wild Style represents?
Charlie Chase: Oh man, Luda is my man. I love that dude. He can flip the script at will. He can get crunk and crazy then turn around and spit something meaningful. Another dude is Common. He's large. He's creative and always puts out s**t that's meaningful. He's about getting his message out.
MTS Centre, Winnipeg - May 26, 2008
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