(Original Release Post)
“What more can I say?”
What about, slept on? Or, exceptional lyrical talent?. Dope Production? Prolific? Freestyling? No-album-releasing! L-Swift, Mr Voodoo, KA and on the boards beat maker extraordinaire, Charlemagne? Jay Smooth’s ‘Underground Railroad’ show? Stretch and Bobbito’s WNYU show? The Def Jam demo! The Tommy Boy Demo! All the low quality Youtube rips of the demos!! The EP on Fortress. The Come off Hard 12″. Dope mic skills at the age of 15??? The Bronx. The Bootlegs. The B-Lines. Water, Air, Earth and Fire? Rumours. Cult followings. Unsigned contracts, Underrated talents and Unreleased bangers. Underground Hip Hop. Under-achieving? Un-til NOW….
Chopped Herring Records has the pleasure of crow-barring open the archives of THE greatest Hip Hop crew that the world never fully experienced. After much diggin’ we can now present the first part in a series of releases from these archives. Four of the following six joints appeared on the boys 1995 Def Jam Demo tape and ya know what, Russell’s loss is Herring’s gain! And the track ‘Puttin in Work’ featured on L-Swift’s solo demo tape from 1993. Soooooo, peep tha realness:
Natural Elements – The Lost Demos Vol 1
A2 Triple Team
A3 Every Day
B1 Life Ain’t Fair (Original)
B2 Mr Voodoo – Machine Gun Fire
B3 L-Swift – Puttin in Work (Demo Tape Version)
Tracks A1,A2,A3,B1 recorded 1995. B2 in 1999. B3 in 1993.
And here we go again…..
(Original release post)
Back to the most requested project we’ve had on Chopped Herring – the CHNE series!! Over the last year we’ve been exploring more avenues than a Google Earth van, following up more leads than Crufts and bothering more NYC Hip Hop luminaries than a blogger with a serious insecurity complex. It took us over a year to dig up the Lost Demos Vol 1 EP material last time – None of the group had any of the old tracks. I hassled them day and night – Did you ask him? Did he reply to your email? SHOW ME YOUR INBOX!!!! Then one day, AT LEAST a year after starting up the project, L-Swift told us that an ex-associate of the group had turned up some DATS at his mom’s house. When we heard them we FLIPPED. The resulting EP was fresh – 2 unheard, unleaked BOMBS and one of the most popular, never released NE joints ‘I Got Your Heart’ off the original studio DATS – BOOM! Soon after that we turned up an original L-Swift demo tape that had recently been given to L by an NYC head. We used the cassette for the ‘Puttin in Work’ track, the Mr Voodoo joint Machine Gun Prayer came directly from him and the rest were from the elusive DAT.
Now we have had the cassette joints re-mastered at a different facility than the last EP we did (always thought Puttin in Work couldve been better) and now we can proudly present 2 other tracks from that tape: ‘Relax’ and ‘Don’t Sleep’ both produced by Charlemagne in 1993. We can assure you that NO OTHER BETTER VERSIONS will ever come out on vinyl – the originals are LOST and all that remains is the demo tape, so if you hear the odd bit of vocal distortion sorry cats, but its the only surviving source!
We have also been given ‘Yes Yes Y’all’ by L which was a radio promo recorded in 1994 for DJ Mayhem’s show on 89.1 fm. That track was used to open the show for months and became an NYC underground Hip Hop radio show favourite, but was never released. We have also included the instrumentals to 3 of the tracks of our Lost Demo’s EP after lots of heads requested them: ‘I Got Your Heart’, ‘Life Aint Fair (Original) and ‘Every Day’.As this is pretty much an instrumental EP with 3 bonus demo tracks we are charging our instrumental price for it. Hope you dig it!!
Peep the tracks:
A1 L-Swift – Relax (Demo Tape Version)
A2 L-Swift – Don’t Sleep (Demo Tape Version)
A3 Yes Yes Y’all (Radio Version)
B1 I Got Your Heart (Instrumental)
B2 Life Aint Fair (Instrumental)
B3 Every Day (Instrumental)
And the 3rd NE release dropped in 2014
This release is the culmination of many years of flava-hunting. Herring has been looking for these tracks in best quality for over 5 years and several months ago a good Herring customer alerted us to a post on the excellent DWG forum. Someone was selling two cassettes he copped from a Natural Elements show in the late 90’s. The tapes contained demos, rare freestyles and unreleased NE joints dubbed from the [now lost] original sources [not radio versions]. Among the demos were the elusive, early Mr Voodoo tracks included on this release. The seller and owner of the tapes [who wishes to remain anonymous] said this, of these NY Underground Hip Hop artifacts:
“In 1999 or 2000 (I cannot remember which exactly) I went to see Natural Elements in Denmark. At the time, they had made a name for themselves from the Lyricist Lounge as well as their Tommy Boy 12” singles. Usually during shows like these back in those days, the artists would sell t-shirts and tapes. Primarily this would be an independent artist’s side business. Natural Elements would sell these two tapes, “Exclusives Vol. 1” and “Exclusives Vol. 2”. Both containing rare freestyles, radio promos, features and demos, many of which are still unreleased today.
I’ve kept these tapes in a shoebox for many years, and one day I came to think about them. I didn’t know if anyone would be interested, but I decided to post them for sale on DWG. One thing led to another, and Chopped Herring contacted me and wanted to check the tapes out to see if there were any demos that could be released. As Chopped Herring already had a relationshop with the guys in Natural Elements, it was only “natural” for the label to [attempt] to release some of these gems….”
The tapes were couriered across Europe to be transferred using a high end Nakamichi tape deck. Following transfer, the chosen tracks were mastered to a very high standard by Herring’s regular sound engineer and are now available on wax for the very first time. The original masters were lost many years ago….
These cassettes very rarely come up for sale/auction – but now, following the release of this project, we will be making both these ORIGINAL tapes available to PURCHASE – hit us up with your bid amount and in a few weeks, we will sell them [on behalf of our anonymous and most generous benefactor]…
That’s the story of the tapes….
Now let’s hear from the man, Mr Voodoo himself:
Where did you come up man?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Bed Stuy and Fort Greene.
What are your some of your early memories of Hip Hop culture in NYC?
NYC was ill. I remembered when Sugarhill Gang came out vividly. But the most impactful stuff for me was them Coldcrush Brother tapes man. Me and my lil homies would just sit and stare at the boom box in awe listening to these dudes. Then it was the movies like Wildstyle and Beat Street. NYC had all these little mom and pop record shops like Music Factory, Beat Street, Soul Shack where if you was lucky you would run into one of your idols, mc’s or dj’s while you were copping records. The block parties was scarey as hell because you never knew what could pop off but it was also fun as hell. NYC had culture, character, flavor. Now it’s so generic and watered down its sad.
When did you first start writing rhymes?
I started as a youngster in my teens around 13 yrs. just playing around. I was heavily influenced by Kool Moe Dee and the Treacherous Three. I was especially keen on T La Rock. I wanna also take the time to explain how important Slick Rick was in the early 80’s. Man that dude had a tape circulating before La Di Do Di with the whole routine he use to do with Dougie and that influence a lot of dudes at that time. You can hear traces of that in G.L.O.C.K too.
Set the scene for the material on the “Elusive Demos” project on Chopped Herring:
One of the things about these songs is that they are like a capsule of a moment or a zone I was in. See at the time I was just given the Source Magazine Hip Hop Quotable Lyrics of the Month. So it was my intent to prove that I was the baddest lil dude outta BK rapping. Sorta like maintaining the standard I set. Me and Char use to meet up at our man Vidal’s home studio. It would be like the whole click there. And he would eek out beats for every single one of the mc’s there. Most of the songs came about that way. Funny thing about G.L.O.C.K was we used this Space Ghost snippet from the Cartoon Network and he constructed the whole beat around it. I was heavily influenced by old school artists like T La Rock, Cold Crush, Fantastic Five, Treacherous Three. Not to mention Kane, KRS One, Kool G Rap as well as underground dudes like Divine Force and Lord Shafyq. What I tried to do was roll all those influences up into one package and keep it all in context with what I was seeing as a kid growing up in Bed Stuy and Fort Greene. “NY Straight Talk” is my theme song. It basically was built around me growing up in NYC early eighties talking about the culture in the city at that time and draws parallels to the present.
How did you originally meet Char?
I met Char thru a mutual friend. Dude named Dante. You may have heard him on some stuff like the Knick Knack Patty Wack remake we did. I met him in school and we use to kick rhymes to each other and he told me to come uptown to the BX. That’s when I met Char and he was like dumbfounded cause he never heard no one rhyming like I did. From there I started recording with him every week. That was a blessing cause it kept me out of trouble. My first time recording ever was with Char in the winter of ’90 I believe, after our initial meeting the week before. It was a song called “Voodoo” which later morphed to “Running From My Magic”.
Where are those recordings?
Uhh the early recordings are lost. I had them on tapes a long time ago. They were unique. I had this style which was a cross between like Brother J and like with vocabulary like T La Rock and just way out there. The real early stuff would be like close to G.L.O.C.K. I used to experiment with crazy styles. Vocal inflections triple entendres stop and start. Similar to what you hear on G.L.O.C.K.
How did you meet the other NE cats?:
L was a little kid then. He use to always come thru and just peep us older dudes. See L had a birdseye view of all the growth and development I went through as an artist, so our relationship is special. But he was like our little homie and he just out of nowhere started spitting and it was crazy because he was so young and had such a flow.
KA was a wild dude I knew from school also. We weren’t really cool until one day he had approached me and was like he never knew that I was rhyming like that. I had begun to make a name for myself being on the radio and stuff. So he told me he rhymed too. We started kicking it and that’s where the friendship began. I brought him to Char and that’s all she wrote. I always believed in him so everywhere I went I took him with me. On stage and everything.
You are known for your 90’s freestyles on various NY radio shows, how did you get yourself on the radio back in the day?
I was lucky enough to have a mentor. He knew I was a rapper and hooked me up with the program director of WBAI. He hooked me up with J Smooth of the Underground Railroad and that was where I started. I played it cool didn’t really let them know I rhymed. Then one day they were just playing around free styling and I kicked something and their eyes widened like yo wtf from then on I was known as the poet laureate and whenever they had guests come through they would line me up to freestyle with them. I met a lot of artists that way and also it gave me exposure. That was around ’92 or ’93 maybe.
Some artists are embarrassed of their early works – sounds like you are still proud of them – is that the case?
I’m actually proud of my early works simply because it represents a time of purity. Just that unadulterated unfiltered youthful rawness. I’m so happy the world will get a chance to see how visionary my stuff was. I was saying things they only now beginning to comprehend. So hats off to you my dude.
A1 New York Straight Talk
A3 Runnin From My Magic
B1 New York Straight Talk [Remix]
B2 Pen Hits The Paper
B3 I Come with Skills
B4 Betta Duck [Bonus Track]
All tracks produced by Charlemagne except B3 which is produced by DJ LDR Louie Ortiz.
All tracks recorded 1994-1995 except B3 recorded in 2001.
in 2017 we went in again with 3 more unheard Voo demos on 7″,