Harlem World & T- Connection from Troy L. Smith and L.A. Sunshine
Troy L. When was the first time you played Harlem World?
L A. The first time I came to Harlem World I was a spectator and it was a disco or r&b group.
Troy L. What about T- Connection?
L.A. I don’t really remember the first show we did there, but we did about 5 or 6 shows total. Harlem world was really our haven. Don’t get me wrong T- connection was on and poppin, but Harlem World was our home so we didn’t have to venture up to the Bx. Back in the days a lot of cats were not shook or scared but the Bx. was off the hook and you know guys like the Casanova’s and other brothers were buck wild. However, once we made ourselves known we got a lot of love from the T- Connection. They were not receptive in the beginning. They watched us very close. Since they started this thing we call Hip Hop, they had no faith in us brothers from Manhattan. So they was like y’all better rock this. However, once we did “Body Rock” and “At the Party” they gave us our props.
Troy L. What is the difference between the two clubs?
L.A. Harlem World was more Disco, club, party atmosphere. T- Connection was more of a B-Boy party with breaks. Not for nothing, I like Harlem World more then T- Connection cause it was my house. The crew and me would be there every weekend once we became prominent. Even on some weekends when we were not performing the majority of time, we were hanging out Harlem World. Then I would go up to the Fever a lot solo.
Troy L. I have a few tapes were you were rocking with out the crew.
L.A. That’s what I be trying to tell these young cats I did my thing. I party enough for cats 60 years old.
Troy L. Which of the 2 was bigger?
L.A. Harlem World was bigger because it had three levels. With balcony main floor and a disco room set up like a club.
Troy L. So the music on the main floor was was shot down to the basement?
L.A. No a different sound was going on down there so two different parties were going on at the same time. People would come in the entrance of Harlem World, pay what ever you had to pay that night and you could stay on the main floor or go to the basement where reggae is being played.
Troy L. That is what I was about to ask you when a Hip Hop show is going on, on the main floor was another show or music being played in the basement.
L.A. No they would turn the music off in the basement. Everyone would come up stairs to watch the show.
Troy L Was there any other club as popular as Harlem World and the T- Connection?
L.A. Yes the Fever. Randy’s place, which was a bingo club when we were not partying in it. Which had nothing to do with D.J. Randy, was a popular place. The P.A.L.s in the Bx. and Harlem had a following and we would rock them until somebody had a fight and we all would be barred for about 6 months before they let us back in. These places had their time or moment and it was hot to do a party at these spots.
Troy L. Did you know who owned Harlem World?
L.A. Not the owner I forgot his name, cause he was never visible, but the crew that ran it was called “The Harlem World Crew” and the players were Randy who was a promoter and the house D.J. as well as the D.J. and leader of the crew then there is m.c.s Son of Sam, Charlie Rock and D.J. Tystick.
Troy L. So, what was your relationship with Randy?
L.A. We were kool with the whole crew. Randy was laid back quiet kool. Especially with me personally cause I did a lot of dolo stuff with them.
Troy L. What you saying in an emergency he used to use you when he needed a performer right away and he hit you back in kind?
L.A. Exactly, I even remember hosting a couple of joints just on a whim. It wasn’t planned nothing like that. That’s why it was like my home.
Troy L. What was your relationship with Ritchie Tee?
L.A. Business! And he was kool I just never really got to know him. I mostly performed there and got out of there to do shows other places.
Troy L. What was your best show you did at Harlem World?
L.A. So many. I don’t know if I can point out one, cause I told you that was like my home. Maybe the first anniversary.
Troy L. So the first anniversary is better then the second one.
L.A. I don’t really remember which was better. But I know with the first one, I had that anticipation, that anxiety. They just showed us mad love. It was jammed and I felt we had finally arrived. People were feeling us.
Troy L. Bust it on the second anniversary how did the crowd respond to you. Especially when y’all did the call out to the Furious Five in your routine, asking them for a battle?
L.A. The fans blow up. In addition, people were egging that on for a while to battle Furious. There were a few girls there in the beginning of party who where saying, “nah no way Y’all can beat Furious”.”Y’all is wack”. But by the end of the routine, we ask them for a battle, when we got to “will turn yall out” and the crowd lost thier minds, these chicks was like “oh ----“ they is bad.
Troy L. Once y’all blew up were you treated like pure superstars?
L.A. Once we got to superstar status, it was limos and back doors. But Harlem World never had a back door. So there where other times we be in D.J. Lee’s caddy, park it and go through. Sometimes we had to have someone who wasn’t in the crew to go out first to open up the crowd for us. Cause it be so crowded and they run inside to let them know we here so 2 or 3 body guards could come; not cause any beef but just to clear a path. Moreover, I never really considered myself a superstar. There was times I would come out my house on 129th st. and Convent, jump in a cab and take a 5 minute ride over to Harlem World which was only on 116th st. and Lenox ave. There would be a big crowd, of course I don’t have to wait on line but I be like yo “what’s up”, and mingle with people cause I knew the majority of the party goer’s by names.
Troy L. In the beginning, was it a struggle to get bookings at Harlem World?
L.A. No. We were doing shows before we made records. So we were already making noise at Randy’s place and other spot’s before Harlem World was even started. Once we made records we still did not go in Harlem World cause it was a disco spot at that time. But once a lot of hip hop records came out that’s when bookings started cause that was only way a group got play, was if they had a record. Therefore, it might be “Funky Four” and us along with “Secret Weapon” and some other soul or disco group.
Troy L. What? A disco or soul group playing before or after y’all?
L.A. Yes. You could not get a booking if you had a street name, you had to have a record, but after a while, hip-hop took over.
Troy L Do you remember how much you started out with money wise and how much y’all finished with.
L.A. Well long before Harlem World we first started out we were getting pizza money. By the time we got to Harlem World, I believe our going rate was $1200 a show.
Troy L. So you would split the money 4 ways? What about the roadies?
L.A. We didn’t really have no roadies or some times maybe the boys from the hill we were playing basketball with that morning would help out ; but mostly we did it our selves.
Troy L. Do you remember how much you were getting by the record “Heartbeat”?
L.A. Man it went from I think like from $800 to $1200 to $1500 to $3000. The hotter we got the more we made.
Troy L. Y’all did shows at Harlem World every night, Thurs, Fri., and Sat.
L.A. Nah once a week but we would still be upstate, Long Island and other places on those 3 days.
Troy L. I see y’all did many shows with Cold Crush and Dougie Fresh ; But not the Furious 5!
L. A. The Crush and Doug were like our adopted family. It was very easy to book us together and the Cold Crush got more love from Harlem than any other crew from the Bronx. As far as the Furious 5, we were not even on speaking terms with them. Fantastic had a little air about them selves, they thought they were baby Furious or what ever but they never had no real record juice but we were basically cool with them. But every other group we did shows a long side them with no problems.
Thank you my brother Jayquan-
Spring of 2003
Troy L. Smith from the Grant projects in HARLEM
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