A Short Interview With D-Stroy:
I read that you started the Touch and D-story project in the 9th grade, so you were like 15 years old?
I was in the 9th grade just starting High School. I walked into a record store where he [DJ Tony Touch] worked in Bushwick called Music Hut (Evil Dee also worked there). I was a customer, heard him catching records. I told him I like to rhyme, I freestyled as he caught breaks. He said come tomorrow with some lyrics. I went home thought of an M.C. name. By chance I remembered tagging D-Stroy once and that the name Touch and D-Stroy had a ring to it. I get back to the store with new verses and a M.C. name set. I told him the verses everything started that day.
Did you do any talent shows at that time?
No I did talent shows before I met Tony and won ski trips for kids in the hood. It was weird but that was the prize. After meeting Tony, we were local heroes in Bushwick and instead of being in talent shows as acts, I was the Host and he was the DJ of the talent show. One notable talent show is where i met Freestyle, who I later introduced into Bushwick Bomb Squad.
So tell us more about how things progressed with Tony?
When he was only on his 9th Mixtape he asked me to feature on it. I am the 1st rapper to spit, maybe even the 1st person to talk on a Tony Touch mixtape and have done many more after that. My years in High school were VERY different. I was selling mixtapes in school, hosting clubs (I was too young to be in) while Tony was on the cut. Because of our m.c./d.j. act we were asked to open up and play music between sets for tours and there were many including Nas, Wu-Tang, Craig Mack, Naughty and more.
Tony was older than me and I always rolled with older dudes having a big brother who’s a Bushwick O.G. it was a lane I was comfortable with. He was and [still] is my big brother in this music industry. I learned a lot from rolling with him. Later on he kept saying we should have a crew. I was already rolling with a bunch of dudes called the Bushwick Bomb Squad (B.B.S.) which was a jack from Public Enemy’s “Bomb Squad” with Bushwick in front! As B.B.S. began to grow in popularity in the neighborhood and with Tony mentioning the crew idea, I decided to reshape the group into a whole new thing. I kicked out the knuckleheads that didn’t have anything to do with the 4 elements of hip hop. After that it was a pure M.C. click renamed Arsonists by a childhood friend and member Kinetic.
Now with a new hip hop crew to stand behind Touch and D-Stroy we were a machine. Touch and D-Stroy would record, Tony would DJ clubs, I would keep recording with Arsonists. Tony was a tastemaker in the industry as most dj’s were then so he took one of Arsonists 1st recorded songs “Session” to Stretch and Bobbito and that was hip hop’s introduction to Arsonists.
How did u first hook up with the Zulu Nation and the Rock Steady Crew?
Tony heard about the RSC anniversary at Rock Steady Park (98th Street and Amsterdam Avenue). He showed up and gave Crazy Legs a copy of his mixtape. Crazy legs would later invite us to Zulu meetings and involve us in shows. To be introduced on tour by Crazy Legs and rhyming with Rock Steady Legends Ken Swift, Wiggles and others dancing was special – being part of the movement was mind blowing.
When did you start writin graff? Were you more into bombing or creatin more sophisticated pieces?
I respect the element of Graffiti enough to say there’s a difference from what I was doing in comparison to Tats Crew. I wasn’t a “graffiti artist” or in a graffiti crew, but I did want people to know the name D-Stroy. I use to take Fat Markers (Pilots) and hit every wall of the shopping area because I knew a lot of people would pass it. I once was bombing a train and Swel (Arsonists) said Damn, D I see your name everywhere, both of us not knowing a cop was watching me the whole time. Then I had a white can and I went up Broadway in the Village about 3 miles of D-Stroy tags when I was with Freestyle (Arsonists) both of us not knowing undercover cops followed me the whole time. I later on helped on some sophisticated pieces out in London with Deal Real and Copenhagen with Sabe which were featured in the Arsonists “As The World Burns” album artwork.
So, regarding the ‘Palante Siempre Palante’ track. What does yr Puerto Rican heritage mean to you and how is it part of your life now? Have you any affiliation to the Young Lords, either intellectually/emotionally or by blood?
New York is the melting pot of all races, media/movies/commercials caters to a black and white america and its not only Puerto Ricans but all Latinos that struggle to have an identity in this country. I have family in Puerto Rico. However, the Young Lords organization was created in the U.S. by those who felt neglected by the government. My parents drove once a year to the White House to protest against the government in the 80’s at the time ‘Reaganomics’. When I was older, Crazy Legs told me and Tony to be part of a protest with Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo, Bobbito Garcia and others against Hollywood films that were using non-Latino actors to play Latinos. That was when I first learned of the Young Lords. It gave me strength and pride. Though they’re not as well known as the Black Panthers who I’d read about prior to that time, I was elated to discover a group of people united in going up against the government that kept them down. My heritage means a lot because its my identity. U.S. is built on capitalism, people think theres an “American Dream” but it’s an “American Struggle”. Outside of the U.S. family, well being and happiness reigns over money.