Tee Ski Valley - Creator Of The Legendary Record Catch The Beat

 

Summer of 2006

By Troy L. Smith

 

  Alright my brother where were you born and raised?

 

I was born in the Bronx at Jacoby Hospital, but my family lived in Harlem. Taft projects in Harlem over on 115th street and 5th avenue. I lived there until I was 2 years old. Then we moved to the Valley in the Bronx. My moms grew up on White Plains road on 219th street, so we always had a house over there. The house we had in the Valley was on Bruner Avenue.

 

How was it growing up over there for you?

 

It was cool and the gang because over there in the Valley it was like farm land. Co-op city wasn’t even built yet.

 

Why do they call it the Valley?

 

Well because you had to go down hill to get to it.

 

What would be down in that Valley it self?

 

The Valley was Haffen Park, which wasn’t a park at the time just woods. But they turned it into a park and put a pool in it. Everybody in that little circle in the Valley knew each other. You had Timmy Hall down there, the Come Off Crew.  Johnny Gee was also down there. Freelance from Entouch is from down there. You had a lot of guys down there and a lot of criminals too. (We both laugh lightly.)

 

So was it basically a park in the Valley along with projects or apartment buildings?

 

No, it was all private homes.

 

Co-op city was later built around it?

 

Co-op City was built on the other side of the highway. Co-op city originally was a garbage dump. It was a land fill. That’s where they used to dump the garbage. They built Co-op city on top of that. Before that it was an amusement park called Freedom Land. I was young when all this was going on but I remember it. Do you remember Palisades?

 

 

Yes another amusement park back in the days that was right across the river in New Jersey. So both your mother and Father were at home with you?

Right my father was a New York City Police officer in Harlem. He also was a singer along with my uncle in a group called the Cadillac’s. My uncle Earls nick name was Speedo. The Temptations got a lot of their moves from them. Along with my mother and father we attended a church right on 123rd street and Lenox Avenue. My parents also got married there back in 1959. One day it caught fire and lost its steeple. If you look on top today the steeple is gone.

 

Alright back to the Valley, you said they built a park in there but before the park it was just woods!?

 

It was woods first, and then they built basketball courts and then a pool which they named Haffen pool. Later on they built a stage down there. Break Out and Baron were first to come down there. I was still going to Michael Angelo which was I.S. 144. Back then you didn’t need park permits to do your thing; you would just take a chance. The police really didn’t run through there.

 

So this is why the Funky 4 was always in the Valley because of the stage?

 

Right Funky 4 was rocking there, but I gave one of the biggest parties down there when I was down with the Erotic Disco Brothers. I still have the flyer for that. I had Funky 4, Cold Crush and I think Fantastic 5. We packed it that night, it was jammed.

 

When did your crew the Erotic Disco Brothers get together?

 

We started back in 1976.

 

Who was first in the Valley?

 

Break Out and the Together Brothers.

 

Who were in the Together Brothers?

 

Well it was two guys that rode around in a Volkswagon van, and they had it in a militant type style. They were some militant type dudes.

 

Did they play hip hop or mostly disco?

 

They played Hip hop and Disco. They were the first people I heard play the record Bra by Cymande. They were two D.J.s that had no emcees. They used to play in 21 Park a lot. That park was on 225th street between Bonds and White Plains. It was a school right there. There were a lot of guys that were out, but weren’t known all over, but very talented. Like say the group Chaos or my man Geronimo, he was one of the nicest emcees out at the time, along with Timmy Hall.

 

Ok but were they really emcee’s like say a Caz or Moe Dee?

 

Timmy Hall was more like a Hollywood type.

 

Right a more Disco type emcee.

 

Right but he had Baritone. Geronimo was more street but he had a beautiful voice. He had a Moe Dee type style. He used the echo chamber a lot when it was out.

 

Did he have any D.J.?

 

Yeah a cat name D.J. Steel.    

 

Who was the first person you actually heard doing hip hop that made you want to be part of this culture?

 

Nobody really influenced me, I always loved music and I was a D.J. before I was an emcee. If my partner Prince didn’t show up then I would get on the mic. He was also the D.J. so I started to emcee more. What really inspired me to do a record was Spoonie Gee!

 

What was the name you went under before you acquired the name you have today?

 

T- Skidoo, T- Skidoo the man you ought to know.

 

Where were your main spots or home bases as a performer?

 

Tracy Towers and Bronx Park was mostly my home. During this time of the early days I had a battery powered mixer, which held a 9 volt. We didn’t need an a.c. cord. We had some nice speakers for young guys. We had Earth Columns. We had the tall columns but we didn’t have the bass bottoms, we couldn’t hang with Bam and them but we could rock our own little park. We got the bass bottoms once we got those summer jobs as counselor’s and put our checks together. We went to Brauns Music on Fordham road to get our equipment. I was 15 at this time.

 

So this was around 1977?

 

Right.

 

So why did your name change to T- Ski Valley?

 

I changed it to T- Ski because everybody was using that name Ski. You had Ski Jump, I even thought about calling my self La Rock because people used that name also. I used the Ski thing because T is for Tyrone. S for Sensation, K is for Koolest in the Nation, I is for Inspiration. Valley is where I came from. Brad put the Valley in there.

 

Who is Brad?

 

Brad is the one that started Grand Groove with me. He was killed later on after the record. The murder was never solved.

 

I am terribly sorry to hear about your partner. I don’t want to go too fast, what other crews you ran with after you left Erotic?

 

Actually Erotic cut me off. They said I was showing off. The way the crew ran was if you bought a record first you spun the record first at a party. So what happened being as I worked at a record shop I always got the first record! I worked at Brads Record shop. I had all the jams, Over like a Fat Rat, both Dance to the Drummers beat, one with the whistle one with out, Catch a Groove etc. I used to break dance with Charlie Rock; we were in the same boys club together. He taught me how to break dance, we used to go in the bath room and practice. Before every party we used to go to this store on Fordham road called Onyx I believe and get a pair of Lee’s jeans. Starch them down and come out there and break dance. In Tracy Towers I would be rapping and mixing the same thing Love Bug Star Ski or Hollywood would be doing. I didn’t really know about Hollywood but I knew Star Ski because he was from the area. So I tried to take that type of style. So one day when the crowd was going crazy, one of the guys in the group wrote on a fogged up window that I was sucker and out of the group. I then went to the Herculords and rocked with them. We were called the Fly Force emcees. This was Shambu, Mercury (Not of the Force M.C.’s), Mr. Bee and I.

 

Hold up you were running with Herc and ya’ll were called the Fly Force Emcees? So what happened to the name Herculords?

Estelle aka Sweet and Sour was gone; I don’t know where she went. That was really the only emcee he had by this time. He had more D.j.s as far as Clark Kent, and when he left Herc had Whiz Kid.

 

What about Imperial J.C.?

 

J.C. was still there that was how I met him. That was how J.C. became a Grand Groove artist. Me and him are still tight, he is about to get married soon and I will be there.

 

Where was Coke La Rock at at that time?

 

Oh I don’t know.

 

So how did you get with Herc and when?

 

I got with Herc around 1978 to 1979.

 

So you were down with Herc but went under another name?

 

We were Herculords, but he wasn’t sure of us as rappers so he put us down as the Fly Force emcees.

 

So you came after Busy Bee and Whipper Whip?

 

Yes after them, in fact Busy got down with A.J. after he left from Herc. How I got with Herc was giving out flyers. I kept telling him I could rap and he was skeptical but he gave me a shot at the T- Connection. So when we got up to the mic we had our routines tight. He liked us so he let us get on again, and then again. One of the guys Mercury, died suddenly. It was just Shambu, Mr. Bee and me now. Shambu later started rocking with Mark the 45 King and the Flavor unit. Then it got back down to just me, I wasn’t comfortable because I was used to doing routines, unless of course I was mixing and rhyming. Herc didn’t really let me go, but A.J. came the same time we were at the T- Connection. I respect Herc a great deal; to this day I call him at least twice a week to see what’s going on. He is the Father of this. But A.J. didn’t really offer me more money but he was doing more parties. So once I got down with A.J. I started going to the Ecstasy Garage and places like Jerome skating ring. (Later changed to Skate Fever.)

 

When you started running with Busy Bee and A.J. would you come on before or after Busy Bee, what was the format, and was there any other emcee performing?

 

I would come on before Busy; I was like a warm up. Busy would come on and he was like a crowd pleaser.

 

Your record had not come out yet?

 

No not yet.

 

This is pain in my ass because I don’t have any tapes on you before you did your record Catch the Beat!

 

A.J. will tell you I was down with him. I did Audubon and so many other places. I did at least 50 shows with A.J.

 

Was there any one else with ya’ll?

 

Jazzy Dee he was a D.J. he really was like a record boy that loved hanging out with us, and everybody liked him, but he was also a very good d.j... So when ever A.J. would get tired they would let him spin. No other emcee but me and Busy. After I broke out A.J. D.J. Smalls and Busy made a record.

 

I remember that. Now you said Spoonie was the reason you made your first record?

 

I dug the beat to Spoonin Rap but he wasn’t really free styling but it was a story, and he kept me interested in his story. I followed Spoonie in everything he did. The Big Beat and Take it off, and just about everything else had me. So that’s how I felt I want to write some stories.

 

I see you dug Spoonie’s cut ,but how did you feel about Rappers Delight, Super Rapping and other joints?

 

Rappers Delight was tight I loved that. The only reason why I didn’t like the Sugar Hill Gang was because my girl fell in love with those dudes. I was like I am better than them. It really wasn’t even the whole gang. Everybody liked Master Gee’s part, like they liked G- Man’s part from the Crash Crew’s High Powered Rap. I am the M- A- S- the T- E- R- they just loved that part. Then it grew on me that I liked it. The damn record was 12 minutes long and then the flip side.

 

So how did you get on with Grand Groove records?

 

I knew Brad the owner of the store had that record label, but it was called Clock Tower. He only did reggae music. The stores name was Brad’s Record Audio Den.

 

Was he Jamaican him self?

 

He was. But as far as I know he was born here.

 

Was that your man from when ya’ll were little boys?

 

Nah, he was older than me, he was like a father figure. I used to come home from school; I was going to Evander High and knock on the window of his store. I would put my hands up gesturing “what’s up.” Letting him know I want to put a record out. He would tell me to come in the store and then say “you ain’t ready yet”! See he was doing pre recording in his store upstairs.

 

Just with the Jamaican descent?

 

Right, I tried to get him to cross over.

 

When your first record came out were you still going to Evander?

 

No I had graduated when the record came out, that’s how long it took me.  

 

Where did the name Grand Groove come from?

 

His real name is Glenn, that’s where the G came from. We were going to call it G G Funk Records. But it didn’t have the ring to it. So the guy who put the logo together for us thought about a popular saying during that time “we keep people in the groove”. So they were on some let’s just call it Grand Groove. He then puts a big check on the original album cover to make it like a groove. It didn’t look right, but it was all right when it came out. The check was supposed to look like the groove in a record. It didn’t come out right but we went along with it. The logo was kind of tight so we stuck with it.

 

How did you finally influence your man Brad to allow you to do your thing?

 

I kept bothering him; he finally took me up stairs and asked me to rap over a reggae track. So I started rapping over the track and he was like “yo I am going to find a better studio and do this with you.” One of the best ones at the time for us was this guy Bob Blank (His son was Kenny Blank that played in Parent Hood and the Super.) who put out Fonda Ray’s Over like a Fat Rat, Blondie’s Rapture, Skyy, Brass Construction. So we went down to his studio which was down on 23rd street.

 

So it took one session and Brad dug you off the top?

 

It took me two years to get on the mic. He actually let me work in the store with him before he let me touch the mic. He let me get the job because I kept bothering him. He used to have a lot of reggae artist coming around. Dennis Brown, who did a production called Home Sweet Home. Eek a Mouse, Yellow Man. John Hope, The Up Setters, Bunny Lee, Johnny Clark, Long Ranger who made a joint called Love Bump. It was hot; it was a smoker when it came out.

 

What about Jimmy Cliff?

 

He did some work with him as well as Barrington Levy. Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones came up there. That was one of Brad’s homies.

 

Ain’t that something? Your man Brad must been a real cool brother.

 

While he had me working in the store he said, “Since you are a D.J. and you know the beats let’s start selling the beats.” So we were the number one record shop selling beats in the city, beside down stairs record shop where Elroy was working. If you came up town you came to Brad’s because we had it. He used to give me records to take home and I would sit down and listen to them, what ever it was, even Gospel. If I heard a break on it I tell him we had to order more of this or that and I am going to rock it at a party. I have stuff people don’t have; maybe Bam might have it because he used to come through there. Bam, J.C. etc. all the known D.J.s would come through. Ritchie Tee couldn’t touch Brad’s!

 

How far was Ritchie Tee from Brad’s?

 

We were on White Plains Road; Ritchie Tee was past Fordham Road on Tremont.

 

Where did you get the concept to make the record Catch the Beat?

 

Colt 45 Beer!

 

I remember you telling me about that. Tell me about the Colt 45 situation. (As we both start laughing.)

 

Colt 45, the same thing that got Billy Dee inspired. We were sitting in the studio down on 23rd street with the musicians, Wynn Brattway, who has passed on now. I believe this other guys name was J.T. Thomas. Then there was Blinky Brice, and Barry Eastman who wrote “You are my Lady” and “Rock me Tonight” for Freddie Jackson. Barry was the Key board player, Wynne was the bass player, J.T. was the drummer and Blinky was the lead guitar player. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, we had no idea. So I went over to Wynne, and I love Bass, so I started humming a baseline to him. My buddy Paris is from the Whole Darn Family he did “7 Minutes Of Funk”. That’s my partner. (T-Ski starts humming different beats as well as the 7 minutes of Funk beat.) I tried to get an off set to the record Heart Beat because Heart Beat was hot at the time, and everybody was coming out with a Heart Beat at that time. You had Treacherous Three come out with one, and then those kids in Queens had Earth Beat. Then you had Sweet Gee come out with one. Everybody had a Heart Beat. To be honest I really wanted Pumpkin who was from the neighborhood, I asked him but he was locked into Enjoy records so I couldn’t mess with him. So I hummed the beat as the Bass was going, the drummer just started playing. I was feeling it and it became a free style right there. Catch the Beat was actually a free style. I felt I did some things wrong on the records but nobody really knew. I spelled Groove wrong. I said the G R O the V the E. it was suppose to be the G R double O the V the E. but I forgot, once I did it we just left it alone.

 

Ain’t that something!

 

In order for it to get played I said “I melt like butter when they see slick Crocker.” I was trying to make them think about Frankie Crocker. I said “Frankie never see one greater”. Frankie Crocker didn’t want to jump on the record.

 

Did you meet him personally to talk about this?

 

Yes me and Brad met him. WBLS was in the Crystal building down on I think 43rd or 44th street. I talked to him he said “first of all we should not have had his name in the record”. We were supposed to consult with him first, such and such. So he really shot us down. We had to go with plan B which was WLIB, Mr. Magic’s station. He at first didn’t want to get involved so we had to give him money. What we ended up doing was putting Catch the Beat in a commercial. We had to advertise Brad’s store on the radio station. When ever they played Brad’s commercial you would hear Catch the Beat in the back ground. Then we had everybody in the neighborhood flood WLIB with calls. Having all our friends ask “yo what’s the name of that song you playing in the back ground”…..

 

(Troy busts out laughing.) Yeah?

 

“Yeah you need to play that.” Mr. Magic came up to Brad later and said “look we will play the song but…” so we paid him for the commercial but he was getting paid. Put it that way. He started playing it and before you know it I was getting invited to Disco Fever.

 

Oh o.k...

 

Me and June Bug took off, we became real tight. That was my man. Catch the Beat just blew up. I used to sit in the Fever with Russell Simmons, A.J.& Mel used to come up there. I just had a hot song. Some times they used to look at me and say that’s that same little n----- that use to be running around giving out those flyers, now he got a hot track. I started to feel the heat from a lot of rappers.

 

What does that mean?

 

It just felt like damn…….Kool Kyle one day said “yo Tee that should have been my record.”

 

That was your man, am I right?

 

Yes, but even now I tried to put my man Kyle on with me with what I am trying to do. I want to get a group together with me him and another person and call our selves OSP; Old School Players. I have a lot of tracks. But it’s the same thing like back in the days; I am going to have to do this by myself. The whole thing about Catch the Beat is I didn’t want to sample anything, even though we didn’t sample back then. But that beat was something people loved. It got to the point Brad said “yo if they are going to make it sound like Heart Beat put your heart beat on it.” So we had that boo, boo – boo boo thing. That was actually my heart, but we sped it up.

 

So you put the mic to your chest.

 

I put the mic to my chest and recorded it. We recorded it silent and then we put it to the music.

 

Damn you blew my mind on that one. So the record really has nothing to do with Mrs. Gardners Heart Beat?

 

It had nothing to do with it.

 

So you didn’t tell the musicians get close to the beat of the record Heart Beat? So why do people get it mixed up that that is Heart Beat slowed down or sped up? To be honest I never thought that. Some one told me that and it left me scratching my head, so I figured it was and left it at that.

 

Being a D.J there were certain records I used to mix that blend right into each other but have no significance with each other. Being as Heart Beat was a hot record I had to have something that was going to mix with a hot record. But I didn’t think it was going to come off the way it did. I was just looking for something under ground. It just went a little further. When I came out with the record they said “somebody is using your name.” I said “that’s me.” Nobody believed it was me!

 

(Troy starts laughing.) 

 

Nobody!

 

I hear you kid; somebody else is using your name! Ain’t that something!

 

My first show I did off of Catch the Beat I did free. I did it for the muscular dystrophy benefit at the Skate Key with Mary Thomas. I think at that time she was with KISS or WKTU. I did a free show for her. When ever anybody came they were like “dam that’s him.” I was like “I told ya’ll.” After that they asked me “so where you going to be at next.” Next was Hotel Diplomat. They was like “can you let me in.” “Nope!” “Since it ain’t me.” You know what I mean? Then me and Busy Bee started doing shows again. I got to give props to my man Moe Dee. He was a quiet dude. But when ever the Treacherous Three played people went to see them, because their routines were so hot. But they were like a rare commodity. Example, if some one was giving a party say Herc, A.J. anybody giving a party, you would be like o.k. I am going. But if you say Treacherous Three playing here, brothers are going to see Treacherous 3. That’s just the way it was. I don’t care about what know other emcee or D.J said they were going to see Treacherous Three! And these guys never really came up to the Bronx too much, they were Harlem rappers. Just like Rayvon and them. The Disco Twins used to hold me down out there in Queens. Like I said I branch out all over, I like to chase skirts. Queens had some beautiful women. I used to do a lot of my shopping on Jamaica Avenue. That’s how I hooked up with them. After a while A.J. hooked me up with Jimmy Spicer.

 

Did ya’ll do any shows together?

 

Yes he had his Super Rhymes. We did a show up in the T- Connection together.

 

You told me you wore a Tuxedo when you were touring Germany.

 

Yeah but I don’t like to talk about that because my moms made me wear that!

 

What?

 

She was my manager.

 

(Troy starts laughing.) You something else kid!

 

I had to fire my moms.

 

You is a funny brother.

 

It was a terrible thing.

 

Why you had to fire your moms.

 

Look be, my moms when you are supposed to be my moms. You can’t be my moms at home and at the show.

 

(Troy is laughing again.) I hear you kid

 

She threw a record at me one time.

 

(Troy is still laughing.) Let me ask you something. Back in the days say mid eighty’s, let me know if you ever seen this. I was watching TV one night and two boxers were fighting and this dude was getting his butt kicked and……..

 

And his moms jumped in the ring and beat the other guy with a shoe!

 

Moms jumped in the ring, yes and beat the other guy with a shoe.

 

That’s my mom’s right there!

 

(We both start laughing.)

 

I felt for that brother man. For real I am not saying he should have TKO’d his mom’s man, but…. (Still laughing.)…he should have given her a standing 8 count, or something.

 

How’s your mother doing today?

 

My mother passed three years now. My pops gone and my moms gone, it’s just me and my two brothers.

 

Same here my beautiful mother passed also, God bless them. But you and your mother broke bread before she passed?

 

Me and my mother were real tight. I called her everyday. She called me “number one” because I was her first born. I said “look ma I am about to get back in this music.” She would say “oh no, are you going to get paid this time?”

 

(Troy starts laughing again.)

 

“Are you going to get paid this time or are you just traveling for the fun of it!”

 

Take me back to when you said the Colt 45 inspired you to do the record Catch the Beat. You said there was a soda machine at the studio that was giving you beer instead of soda!

 

It was a soda machine but when I would put my fifty cent in the machine Colt 45 beer came down. If fact two came down. I told my man so we tried it again and another Colt 45 came down along with a coca cola this time. We went and sat to the side sipping on that Malt Liquor and I am supposed to be writing something down on paper. But instead I told them I was ready. I had nothing on the paper. All I had was good evening everybody. That was it. Then I went up to the mic like I was reading a paper. I said some lines off the top of my head, then I just came out with the words Catch the Beat, and then I said so sweet, so unique. Then I started spelling it, because I had nothing to do. I started spelling it forward then backward. The T- A- E- the B the E no matter how you spell it you still got me!

 

You did this all on one set?

 

One set, one take.

 

And you were drunk, half way drunk I should say.

 

Half way drunk and when we left there we got more drinks.

 

Damn kid! And the world really doesn’t know this?

 

I spelled Groove wrong. Nobody caught it until we pressed it. Then somebody said yo that is spelled with two O’s. Somebody said just leave it alone. So we said alright, because Herb Powers already mastered it and everything was done. So we said hell with it, its already good.

 

Anything else because I remember you had a little laugh in there?

 

It was funny because one of my boys was there and he was holding up the beer and I would just go huh ha ha ha. Billy Dee Williams had a little laugh like that.

 

Damn kid.

 

A significant part is this guy named Glenn Adams keeps saying he wrote the music to Catch the Beat.

 

Who is Glenn Adams?

 

He used to be one of the Up Setters, he also was a musician for Bob Marley and the Whalers. He came to the studio after the stuff was over and he played the organ part, “erhna”, “ernha” (Tee is mimicking the sound from the record.) which you would hear way towards the end. That’s all he did, he was a paid musician. After Brad died and I wasn’t around when all this royalty stuff was going down he figured he could jump in there. He didn’t write anything I want to make that known. We told him before he tried to collect my royalties, that he didn’t write anything.

 

So did the time come when you got your royalties?

 

Yes. J- Lo sent me a check two years ago. She did it off her cut called You belong to me.

 

How many people used your record?

 

Prince Marky Dee, Lyrics to the Rhythm by Essence, produced by Flash. That was on the New Jack City Sound Track. “You Called And Told Me” by Jeff Redd which was on the Strictly Business soundtrack. The record also was used on the sound track to the movie Fresh. Kwame used it. Malcolm Mclaren used it for Buffalo Gals. There is a bunch.

 

What was the deal with you and Jeff Redd?

 

I think that was the reason Uptown records were shout down. Andre Harrell as you know was the top man at Uptown Records. Andre knows me, I know him from Jeckle and Hyde days. Jeff Redd is from Mount Vernon. Somebody told Jeff Redd to get in contact with me because I be right out there on 219th street. But he took it upon him self to go out there and put this record out there with out acknowledgement of any attorneys, with out any clearance or anything. When it got back to my attorney Phil Kernop that it was out, more or less they told us our pockets weren’t deep enough to mess with them in court. My thing was “what ever we get Phil you don’t have to take a percentage you take half!” So Phil went full force at it.

 

I see.

 

I think he locked up their records, and at that time Puffy was running with them and he had that young dude under his wing that is famous now, Usher. They had Woody Rock, Marley Marl. The last song they did was Uptown kicking it. After that Phil Kernop told me I would not see Strictly Business on the market no more. Every time I go to some type of record store I can’t find Strictly Business. I guess he locked it down because litigations dragged on and on.

 

So did you end up winning?

 

Let’s put it like this it was a stale mate. They don’t have any company, I don’t have any money.

 

Did any of them ever come to you and say stuff like “yo can you stop it please!” “Or what the hell is wrong with you?”

 

(A short pause) No.

 

I hear that but did anybody come to you and say “can you please let this go?”

 

No, the only person that came to me that didn’t want to give me money was Flash, and we settled that in front on my steps. See I call these guys by their names. I be like “Jay!” I don’t call him Flash. If I see them in public then I will say Flash, but I will call him Joseph also. His uncle was my school teacher. He was a typing teacher.

 

You know they still play Jeff Redds record on the radio?

 

You can play it on the radio! That’s only two cents every time they play it.

 

Damn, two cents!

 

It might have gone up to 4 cent. That’s promotion for you. They are not going to pay you to play your record. But you can’t find that C.D. in the store. That’s where the bulk of the money is at.

 

How did Catch the Beat do for you when you first put it out?

 

When it first dropped it didn’t do Jack! I dropped it in July and it didn’t start kicking until the next year.

 

Yeah o.k. kid that’s what you think, I live in Harlem right on 125th street, when that came out in the summer them n------ was loving it. I loved it.

 

Man that was a year later. Believe me. I was on 42nd street before the hoes got up, with my little court pulling a hundred and fifty records out there. I would go into the record shop with the group’s albums, The Just 4, Chapter 3 and my record. They would say “give me 50 Chapter 3 and 50 Just 4!” I then would say “what about the Catch the Beat?” “I don’t want that!”

 

Right.

 

I would pull them back home. Brad would be like “I told you you ain’t no rapper!”

 

Damn I can’t believe you said it took a year for the record to start rocking.

 

Yep a year!

 

So when you were in the studio did you say yeah this is a hit right off the back, or just tell me how did you and the rest of the guys feel about the record the first time they played it back after you first dropped the lines?

 

We all loved it! We took it to the best people, Herb Powers to get it mastered. When it got played for some reason nobody was feeling it. The only person that was showing me love when it came out was June Bug. June Bug and A.J. loved it. He was like yo this is going to do something. I got tired of it myself. I got tired of getting on the train in the morning pulling those dam records downtown! How I look hoping the train with 150 records.

 

So you were selling your self?

 

I had to. I don’t know if you know Jerry Stiller that’s Ben Stiller’s father. I think he plays on everybody loves Raymond. He’s a white dude that played on Dick Van Dyke show back in the days. I ran into him and Nick Ashford, and gave them a copy. He asked was this anything like a Glenn Campbell joint? I said nah! I hit them back for a response and they liked it. I had white people liking it. Then what I did was send the record over seas and they loved it. Everybody loved the import back then.

 

Who did you know to send it over seas?

 

Man, they had everybody over seas that wanted something from here. All you had to do was get a record company.

 

But how did you know to send it over there?

 

Because of all the imports that I had over here, you had Eye Level; they made “Give Me What You Can’t Give Back”.

 

Oh you knew this because you worked in the record store?

 

Right, I would look for imports, they had soft jackets. I would get the numbers off of them, there weren’t any fax machines, it was Tel Ex. So I would Tel Ex them and they would send the record over. Then I would have my home boys calling and girls calling Mr. Magic and I had a group called the Joint Ski Crew. It was an all girl crew like Kyle had the Disco Dolls. So they would call and he had no other choice but to play it because it was requested. That’s still how I work today. I used to go down town to the post office and get those priority mail envelopes and put my record in there or the cassette tape and go down there, and I would know who the A&R person was because my buddy had a book with all the A&R people all over the country. I would go down to the office and ask for mister such and such, and say I have a special delivery for him and drop it off. If they were to look at it was never any postage stamp on the envelope. I would just drop it there because mine would be seen before anybody else with a cassette tape or record!

 

Right.

 

But they still didn’t jump on it.

 

So what do you think made it popular after a year?

 

That’s when people were saying to me “yo somebody is using your name, but he also uses Valley.” I said “that’s me.” He said “man come on Tee!”

 

Do you remember who said that to you?

 

Everybody in the neighborhood.

 

You had the record out for a whole year and the whole neighborhood didn’t know about it?

 

Nope, I even gave the record away. One time I gave Chuck Chill Out a copy and you know what he did with it?

 

Threw it?

 

Threw it! He said don’t nobody want this s---, and then threw it.

 

Ain’t that something?

 

He threw it and it made me more determined to hit the trains. Me and Chuck see each other now but we not that tight, even though we are from the same neighborhood. I don’t try and hold no grudge but I am not going to try and blow you up because I am up.

 

Right.

 

If I am down, then you need to hold me down because I am down, because you up here now. He was on the radio at that time. He was working with Vincent Davis at the time who had Keith Sweet, Cool Chip and Chuck. They had that Two Three Break at the time. Vincent had that Vintertainment. He called me the other day. He wanted me to get down with him but his contract looked like a damn phone book. I said I can’t read all this, I can’t do it. Then he wanted my publishing, I said “I can’t do it.”

 

Exactly. So once that year went by your record started selling like madness?

                       

Yeah I started getting $1800 every two weeks from Brad. It started selling so good we couldn’t press enough. We had S&J distributors and we couldn’t press enough. June of the following year it just took off, where I was like I need a hundred records here; I need five hundred records over there. Before it jumped off Brad would press them up and give them out on consignment just to get rid of them. Then there was Sunshine records, they owed us a lot of money. Sunshine used to deal with Sugar Hill and they were promoting their thing. So we went to Sunshine because we figured if they could handle the volume of Sugar Hills popular records then they could handle ours as well. But we would give them stuff on consignment and we never got paid for it. But we kept hustling and hustling and spending money. My mother is getting on my nerves, Brads wife is getting on him. It was just nerve wrecking at the time. Then Frankie Smiths Double Dutch Bus came out with his jam and he was hot but he never got paid either.

 

Why is that?

 

The story behind him was Larry Levin a dentist that took over his company WMOT was the name of the record label. He allegedly started dealing drugs, and never paid Frankie off. That’s on television right now. It’s either Cold Case or Forensic File or some s--- like that. He never got a dime. I didn’t feel bad because he had a bigger hit then me.

 

Right.

 

So I knew I had to start doing shows. At first I was getting three hundred dollars a show and once the record started doing well it went up to six hundred dollars.

 

Did you remember it going gold?

 

Yes it went Gold, Gold was easy to get! It took about a year and a half after it blew up. It was an underground record.

 

So you ended up getting that Plaque saying it was Gold?

 

Brads wife still has my Plaque to this day. I want it because it is my resume, so I am trying to figure how I can get another one.

 

How did the jam “Cuts It Up” do?

 

It did real well; the concept was about my D.J. who was named D.J. Warlock! I like Clint Eastwood and we just so happened to be watching The Good the Bad and the Ugly. I took that same sound that Eddie Murphy used in his second classic record Delirious and put it on to my record. Not from Eddie but from Clint.

 

I got you.

 

I put that in there with the record Scratching, and I just talked about my D.J. that did great. 

 

What was up with the joint you did called Billie Jean and you getting permission from Michael Jackson to do it, and once it started doing good, they changed their minds and you had to stop performing it?

 

Billie Jean and Sexual Rapping were done under Capital Records with Glenn Adams. We did get clearance from Michael Jackson’s camp and then once it started selling they shut us down. I couldn’t afford any law suit. My attorney at the time was Kendall Minter his main group was Musical Youth

 

I remember them they had the joint called Pass the Dutchie!

 

Right, well his group was hot, so he more or less had kept more focus on them. But it was doing great over seas, before it got shut down! It was also a popular dance over there. It was a dance I made up called Valley style. It didn’t do well in America and that was mostly because I wasn’t concentrating on America any more. Over seas was the money, over there the dollar was greater.

 

You started to live over there?

 

I stayed in Frankfurt Germany for a year.

 

So what made you come back over seas America?

 

Well Glenn Adams was kind of shady with my money so I came back. I hooked up with Coxsin from Studio 1 records. He was the Berry Gordy of Reggae. If you look at Hercs documentary you will see Coxsin on there. I did that, and then I did Brentford All-star’s that song Jack of Spades. I did it first. It was called Greedy Jeetey. It is the only record that I don’t have and I am trying to find that one.

 

My partner Jayquan could probably help you find that one because he has an enormous record collection. How many records did you do collectively?

 

I would say about 17 to 18!

 

Damn so have you though about making a greatest hits?

 

Yes actually I just got off the phone with Brads Wife and figured out that I have at least 14 records that I didn’t release. I had some stuff off of Mr. Magic, you know Grover Washington’s joint.

 

Right.

 

I have Catch the Beat in a Jazz version also.

 

I really would like to hear that.

 

Yo it is so tight!

 

When ever I heard that record growing up I always thought of it in a Jazz concept. Like it was more sophisticated then the other hip hop records.

 

Well when you hear this it’s going to blow your mind. But yo Troy if you talk to P Diddy please tell him to sample some of my stuff!

 

You are a funny brother.

 

I got a new rapper I am coming out with soon named G Supreme and I still write tracks today. Also I have my own cable company under Com Cast, Time Warner and Charter. I am a contractor.  

 

Thank you for the story T- Ski Valley.

 

Thank you also.

 

Peace

 

I would like to thank my man Reverend Steve from Harlem and the Bronx for helping me get in contact with T- Ski Valley. Peace

 

Praise God and God bless you.

From me and my two son’s Shemar and Troy Jr.

 

 

 

 

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