When you say pioneer with regard to this Hip Hop shit, make sure say you this man’s fucking name. And with respect. Graffiti artist who ran with the legends Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lee Quinones and Keith Haring, featured in the seminal early ’80′s New York movie “Downtown 81“, producer of the classic “Wild Style” flick, shouted out by Blondie on the underground pop smash “Rapture”, the first effin’ Hip Hop VJ on MTV’s ground breaking “Yo! MTV Raps”, director of my favorite Hip Hop video ever, whew, this man put in work!!! I met Freddy when I was working at MTV a coupla’ years ago and we’ve been building ever since. Last Friday afternoon, we were chopping it up about mad topics like me helping him get his twitter game on track, when we somehow got to the subject of XXL Magazine’s recent feature “Still Ill” where they go back 15 years ago into the making of Nas’ first album masterpiece “Illmatic”. As me and Fab are talking, we start discussing how MC Serch, interviewed for the XXL piece, says some kinda flagrant sideways shit about Fab, his involvement in “Illmatic” and how he allegedly made the completion of said classic album very difficult. Quote:
“The most difficult sample [to clear] was with [Wild Style director] Charlie Ahearn, believe it or not. We had made a deal with Charlie, and then Fab 5 Freddy got into the mix and started getting into Charlie’s ear like, “Nah, you didn’t get enough [money].” The funny thing was, Fab 5 Freddy was about to direct the “One Love” video. So I’m calling Freddy like, “What are you telling your man? I’m about to cut you a check. You’re about to direct a video. Get on the same page.” [Freddy said,] “Are you threatening me?” I’m like, “Nah, it’s not a threat. I’m just saying, you don’t take care of this, you’re not gonna be directing no video.” I haven’t spoke to Fab 5 Freddy since.”
I myself have never had any beef with Serch. I even bumped the 3rd Bass albums kinda hard back then. Shit, I even caught a cameo as the bald dude who gives the gas face as my Afro wig is yanked off in their video “Gas Face”. I do also remember however, when I used to work at Def Jam, and when 3rd Bass was Russell Simmons’ new artist, how Serch used to be up in the building dropping the word “Nigger” in my presence like it was going outta style. Man, I used to hate that shit, especially since I was a new employee and Russell had given Serch a mad “pass” in terms of his clout as a new artist. Didn’t know if I was madder at Serch for being so ignorant in his use of the word or at Russell who thought that having his white saying that shit was mad cool. But as I was just starting out in the game, Serch had more juice than me, so I stayed with my work and kept it moving.
So me and Fab are speaking on the XXL joint, and how he feels Serch is kinda talking sideways. Fab makes it real clear that as long as he’s been in the game, he’s NEVER had any beef with ANYONE, however he wasn’t really feeling Serch’s comments. I asked Fab what really went on in connection with “Illmatic”. Being that I like hearing all sides to a story, Fab shared, and his response went like this:
“Nas was an incredible young emcee who made it a point to pay homage to the classics like “Wild Style”. When I met him, he told me how much he dug my work and actually requested that I direct his video “One Love”. Told me it would be an honor. So we went ahead and locked that project in. Afterwards, right before the album dropped, when I heard that they were using the Wild Style sample as the opening theme for “Illmatic”, basically the theme for the album as a whole, I was like, “whoah, that’s major!” As I was producer of “Wild Style” and Charlie Ahearn was the director, I really didn’t have that much of a say in the clearance of that sample. That was Charlie’s lane. What I do know is that Charlie, being the shrewd business man that he is, made sure that he negotiated hard to get what he deserved, what anybody else was getting paid for samples. I never got in Charlie’s ear about how to handle his business and I don’t know what the fuck Serch is talking about. What I do know is that this ain’t the first time Serch said some sideways shit about me. Recently, as I was working on VH1′s Hip Hop Honors and he had his little “White Rapper” show, I remember him talking slick, questioning my credibility as an O.G. of this culture, like I had no business being involved with the Hip Hop Honors. I’m like, “where is that coming from?” Like I said, I never had no beef with no one, but seems like dude likes to keep my name in his mouth, like he’s hating on me or some shit. I remember back in the day, before he even knew who the fuck I was, when real wolf like niggas I knew gave Serch a pass in clubs like Latin Quarters or Union Square, seeing him in the clubs, all up in the piece dancing with the hi-top and shit, I always gave dude his props. Like I said, I never had no beef with no one, but seems like dude likes to keep my name in his mouth, like he’s hating on me or some shit. Whatever.”
As we moved on to the next topic, we both laughed about how Serch tended to fall into that classic role where, once given a pass or ghetto card, certain white, super ecstatic to be down, ball til they fall, not realizing that they killed their own pass status with kniccas that don’t easily honor they so called pass status. Didn’t Serch almost get murked for talking shit about MC Hammer’s momma? Not for nothing, but I’m just calling it like I see it. I do wanna give Serch a direct shout in helping to bless the world with the “Illmatic” gem, shit remains in steady rotation to this day. 3rd Bass? Not so much. No stray shots though.
Meanwhile, the homie Fab, on top of a whole slew of projects, is currently dropping art pieces again and his latest work can be seen at BETTER HISTORY, located at 169 10th Avenue and 20th Street in Chelsea, NYC. Go head, check that shit out, get that culture art swag popping. To my white out there, and you know that CJ keeps love for youse all, let’s stay keeping shit in proper perspective.
UPDATE: Fab just hit me to clarify that the album didn’t just use a sample, it lifted a whole scene from the “Wild Style” movie. ALSO, they tried to clear the sample AFTER the record had dropped, hence the higher price in clearances. Makes a whole lotta sense to me.