Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Golden Voice - Interview with GV of Partners In Kryme

After a long time of searching and getting nowhere, I finally found a way to get in contact with The Partners In Kryme, one of the interviews I always wanted to do since way back in my very first Source days. I'm sure you remember them as the guys that did the "Turtle Power" song back in 1990. So I was finally able to have a good, long conversation with GV, the MC of Partners in Kryme (his partner was DJ Keymaster Snow) and ask him all the questions I'd been dying to asking since I was a kid, including the unreleased album (there was actually two!), the infamous Raphael lyric, a third member of Partners in Kryme and so much more. Did you guys know he was also a part of the early rap group Chapter Three, that put out records back in '82-'83 with T-Ski Valley (both of which made Ego Trip's Greatest Singles list)? But enough intro, I'll let you read it all for yourselves:

To start out with, tell me about your first group, Chapter Three.

Yeah, I really got my rap career started in my high school years, like around sophomore year. And that's about the time that hip-hop was beginning in The Bronx, and I grew up in North East Bronx. So the age that I was.... the guys that were doing it: Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash - those were older teens. Getting out of grammar school and getting into high school, they were the older teenagers already doing it.

So, this was before Flash and them were on Sugarhill?

Yeah, this was before Sugarhill. In fact, before Sugarhill they were on Enjoy. So we checked them out before they got their little deal with Enjoy, and then shortly thereafter they joined with Sugarhill.

So we'd hear about the happenings, and of course when you're that age, you want to know what the older kids are doing. And they would collect at parks in the summertime. You would see these groups outside, and so one of my best friends, who was in the group Chapter Three, was telling me he knew where they would go. One of the big places was The Valley, in The Bronx, and we used to go check them out. So, when I first got to see them doing it live - Flash, and a lot of the groups coming out then in The Bronx - I just loved it. I was intrigued from the beginning: I loved the showmanship and the charisma that they displayed. I just thought it was great. And I thought: I think I can do this. You know, I loved music, and I loved writing... I just thought I could do it.

So it was a group of us: another gentleman that I went to high school with; and we formed a rap group with a local DJ. So we had our group that we started out in The Bronx as the Treacherous Three MCs. And we had a DJ in The Bronx...

The Treacherous Three? Did you wind up changing your name because of Kool Moe Dee's group?

Oh, it was The Treacherous Crew; sorry. At that time, "treacherous" was the word that meant hot. It meant hot, it meant def, it meant cool... it meant all those things. "Yo, that's treach!" or "Yo, that's treacherous." Everybody was Treach this or Treach that... so The Treacherous Crew I should say. But then we did change it... since we were The Treacherous Crew and they came out with the Treacherous Three, that's when we made a conscious effort to want to change the name, so we wouldn't be so close to those guys who were doing their thing. And who were awesome. You know, we loved listening to them. We even had one venue where we were possibly gonna battle them - I forget where it was. It wasn't the Autobahn... there were a lot of different clubs in The Bronx at that time. But we were almost scheduled to go on and perform that same night, but something happened and we didn't get to perform. We were pretty nervous about it, actually; so maybe it worked out for the best.

So we had this DJ; he had all the equipment. Back then, that was how you got to be the DJ. Whether you were super good or not, if you could afford the equipment...!

We used to practice in his garage. He also alright; he was ok as a DJ. But what was nice was just the bonding that we all had together. And the fun thing, back then, was all the MCs, when they weren't acting as MCs, they wanted to DJ. And all the DJs, when they weren't DJing, they wanted to rap. So we used to do that, which was a lot of fun - we used to just trade roles. I heard - I didn't know this for a long time, but Run DMC used to do that. Run used to be DJ Run and did the same thing. He would start out DJing and then mess around rapping and found he had some talent for it.

We also used to play outside a lot, in those days. Like the older crews of that time, we would rock a park... find a street lamp and hook up our equipment to it and rock. And battle - but battling in those days was different from what you see now, which I don't really love. You know, where one rapper goes up another freestyling and talks about the guy's looks or personal attacks. In the early days, which I hope they'll get back to, you just came out and gave your showmanship. What the original battles were about is you would do your best things, and the audience could see who rocked the best. If Flash went against the Funky Four they didn't spend all their time ripping each other, and that also leads to violence in crews, and somebody needs to get somebody later and somebody gets shot. And they need to get away from that.

So how did Chapter Three link up with T-Ski Valley?

But back to this: we did our thing locally in The Bronx. And what had happened is that my bro Barry - he was in the group; he was Chapter #1 - he had hooked up with The Erotic Disco Brothers. They were in the Tracy Towers section of The Bronx, by Jerome Avenue. And those guys were really doing their thing on a slightly bigger scale, and they had connections with a lot of the other early hip-hop groups that were coming up. So, T-Ski Valley was one of the DJs of The Erotic Disco Brothers. There was us, there was Disco Prince, and a couple other groups and guys that were off-shoots of that. So he was a DJ back then in our group - we had a lot of fun - and that's when we really formed The Chapter Three, when we were with them.

And, so what about the label you signed to back then as Chapter Three?

Yeah, that was Grand Groove Records. The history there is pretty cool, and T-Ski stayed on to work with the owner at the time, Brad Osborne and did even more work with him. But we got to Brad because he owned a record shop not far from where a number of us lived. A popular record store in The Bronx on 219th St. called Brad's Record Stand. And that was just the local spot where even if you were working with DJs or anything back then, he had all the 12" singles coming in, so you would go there every week so you could rock at the parties or find the disco breaks to do your thing with. So he had just one of the key record shops back then in The Bronx that brought all the early hip-hop music in. He was a very cool guy: Jamaican born and raised who was living in that area in the Bronx and opened his own record shop and was doing his thing. And I think T-Ski gave us the connection to him. I'm pretty sure they were talking about doing some recordings, and it was him that referred Brad to us.

And that label had it's own band? I know if you look at the credits...

You don't see the band.

Right, but I think there was a Grand Groove...

The Grand Groove Bunch! Yeah. And the cool thing about the Grand Groove Bunch was that Brad had a couple of connections in the music industry with a couple of cats that knew some guys from Brass Construction, which was an awesome, awesome old school R&B/ funk band. Also Tom Browne of "Funkin' for Jamaica." So he knew actual musicians from those groups, and a few different members would session in and do the tracks live for us, record them, and then let us hear them. So when Brad would do a track, the first thing that we did our record to was a track to Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real." It was a variation of it by The Grand Groove Bunch, which was those session guys. And that was our first single, "Real Rocking Groove." And we loved the record, it was a great track to come out on. We'd already been doing... actually, they asked us if we had any ideas of some tracks we wanted to do some stuff to. And we told them one of the ones we did routine-wise was Cheryl Lynn's "To Be Real."

And at that time, we ended up on Mr. Magic's radio show after we had done that single. And that was huge for us. He was the only guy in New York... it was Thursday nights, starting maybe 11 or midnight you could catch his rap show. He was about the only person back then really playing rap music. And so we got to go on the show, promote the record and do everything on it, which was really great.

And another story about that time is with T-Ski... The popular record out about that time was "Heartbeat" by Taana Gardner, and we were looking to do our next record. And T-Ski always had a great personality... he could mess around, had a great voice. So apparently he had heard the track and got to Brad and was like, "yo, let me cut some stuff to it." And that's what turned into being the record "Catch the Beat," which was big for him all over the world. It was funny, we were like yo, how you gonna steal that record from us: we were gonna do that as our next single. We gave him crap for it, but we were really happy for him. And he did a great job on it.

So, now there's obviously a large gap between your Chapter Three records and Partners In Kryme.

Right. Well, about that time me Chapter #1, Barry, we were going into our college years. And I went out to Syracuse, and my buddy went out to University of Maryland. And our third member, CJ; he stayed home locally in the city. We went separate ways to further our education. We stayed in touch... we tried a little bit to get together, but obviously when you're doing your school stuff, that's what takes your focus. Although, when I went to Syracuse, later in my freshman year, I actually had the guys come up and we did an event for one of the fraternities, because they knew about us, knew we had some records out. Because we also had another record out, "Smurf Trek" like the animated show, which was a popular dance at the time. A lot of records had the title Smurf.

So that's what split us up. But I kept active in it. I started to DJ more, from back in those first early days when I started catching a love for it. So I also took my interests in school towards radio and communications. They had a program at that time which was the four thirties, which let you take thirty credits in your major, thirty arts and sciences, thirty in the concentration in the Newhouse School of Public Communications, which is where I did the radio and film, and thirty electives. That was a great program; I don't think they're offering it anymore for anyone who was right in that niche. So I started to work on the radio, for both school stations, and by my sophmore year I started to work professionally in Syracuse radio.

Were you on-air then?

Yeah, it was on-air. What happened was there was a small AM station, WOLF AM, and they were changing formats to R&B/ dance/ hip-hop; and I just stayed up there. I didn't even go home like most kids did on summer break, I stayed there, got a job and did a shift on-air on weekends while I attended school. So I did my own rap radio show, I hosted it and did my own rap promos, and I just stayed real active in that because that was my passion. And the guys I Worked with also worked with a local cable station that used to work with community access channels, and had a rap/ dance video show. And I became a host. It was called Syracuse Soul, and then it also became slash Club Beats Videos when the local FM picked up and simulcast our video show.

And when you were doing stuff, were you still going by GV back then?

I was. GV stuck! Even now if I run into any of my buddies from college or high school early rap days, they'll still call me GV. It's GV for Golden Voice.

Yeah, that makes sense and it makes sense when I found out you were doing voice acting.


And it also made sense on another level, because when you listen to your Partners in Kryme material, your vocals have a very actorly delivery to it.

Thanks; I appreciate that! You say like an actor's delivery?

Yeah, like an actorly delivery the way you say the lyrics, where you're not just rocking the rhythm with an even cadence to the music, but expressing the meaning of the lyrics and the message behind what's being said.

I used to pride myself on trying to do that with my style. I appreciate that. I loved to give color to the words and phrases I was saying.

Yeah, that's what you can really hear in Will Smith's Fresh Prince stuff; you could really hear how he expressed the emotions in the words, and I think that was the element hat he really blew up with.

I think absolutely. And going from the old school guys to the next wave of artists who blew me away in that way, in the new school, was Biggie. In storytelling, the way he'd write, and he could use tonality and his command of the language to give the listener the ability to envision what he was talking about and really feel it; I thought he stood out. I loved it.

Ok, so now how did you form The Partners in Kryme?

Ok, yes. So now you had me, guy coming from The Bronx, in Syracuse University... people know about me a little bit from New York, heard I had a record out... and what happened is I'd go to parties that the black fraternities and sororities were having. And I'd introduce myself to the DJs and I'd ask "can I get on the mic?" So I would rock the parties. And again, you're talking the early eighties, so to be up in Syracuse at that time, rap was still fairly new for us upstate.

And I'm at a party and I hear the DJ cutting it up, and I was like, "he's got some skills, sounds like he's from the Bronx or something... I wonder who that is?" I make my way through the crowd to see who the DJ is and I see this white guy, cutting and scratching and doing his thing. And not just any white guy, he looked very much like David Byrne from Talking Heads, which cracks me up. He doesn't really love the reference, but he could be David Byrne's son!

So I was amazed because in those days you didn't see white guys cutting and scratching... let alone Jewish, which was his background. And right away, when I heard him, I said yo, you're good. And he had also heard me around the way or at the same party, and that's when our alliance was formed. I said we need to hook up. And it turned out, besides being a great DJ, he had a talent for music production and could play keyboards. And that was great, because my background was more from the street or straight rapping. I had no formalized musical training except the basic stuff you got in grammar school. But I always had a great ear for it, and I could hear what sounded right or off, so long as I could work with a musician who knew those things.

So Jim had those elements that I didn't have and I had some of the elements that he didn't have. So we started to work together. So I would go to to his place when we could after classes; because he lived in Syracuse and was also attending there. And we would rehearse and work out tracks. And that's when we met our third partner. I don't know if you know, there was a little-known third Partner in Kryme...

Would that be Shane Faber?

No, no! Shane comes later. Shane was a producer who we met back in New York when we started doing the record deal. He was introduced to us by people from the label, SBK & EMI. He was good, though. A couple years later, he asked me to consult on a project. For whatever reason, it didn't happen - I was busy with something else and we didn't get down. That project turned out to be Digable Planets' debut - imagine having the opportunity to contribute to that! But I'm happy for him. He got a Grammy out of that.

Anyway, no, the other Partner's name would be very hard to find. He would be like the fifth Beatle. His name was Nader[a.k.a. MC Phantom Rock]; very cool guy. He lived in Syracuse; his family owned a Middle Eastern restaurant just off campus. I think he approached us at a party with something we were doing and we got to hear him rap a little bit. He had a great voice and some style, although not as smooth. He had some skills but was still trying to learn his style. But he liked what we did and we formed into the original Partners in Kryme in Syracuse. It was three of us and now he's Middle Eastern, Jim's Jewish and I'm black - we had the whole united colors right there. And it was cool; it was really fun.

And the three of us really started going into demos. Jim and I had started to do some things, but the three of us really hit demos hard.

So how did you go from demos to a major deal?

Ok, good question. Here we were, just demoing. We were also just feeling each other out, I guess, learning, and finding your niche amongst yourselves. And what had happened was he put out an independent record with a record store owner in Syracuse. I can't remember the label name, but it was similar to what we did in The Bronx.

In that era, a lot of record stores were some of your earliest labels, who would either get some of recording booth going where they were at or they had a connection to make a little record. Because it made sense for them. If they could get a little 12" out, they could sell it right out of their shop and work out the rest later. They worked with distributors already, who were coming to sell them other records.

So we did something, a two-sided 12". "Hefty" b/w "One Two, One Two;" I don't remember the name of the label. You'd be hard pressed to find one now! And mine would be somewhere buried. It was some cool tracks, but what I remember most is that the production value, when it was finished, with whoever we went to to press it, was not good. It was not a good production press when it came out; it sounded muddy. The EQ, the Dolby, whatever they had on it sounded pretty muddy and it wasn't working. So that was a lesson coming up.

But what got us to the next level was, coming out of college, I wanted to go to work right away. I didn't want to go to school anymore. A lot of peers were going for their Master's, but I had enough of schooling - my head was gonna explode. So what I ended up doing was that summer, when I was leaving school, I took an internship at WBLS radio in New York. So I worked there as an engineer, then got a job in the continuity department writing copy for commercials.

So, here's where the fifth Beatle thing comes in. Leaving Syracuse, I said to the guys, if we're gonna take a shot to go further with this, then New York is where we gotta be. Because I think we've got the talent to do it. So Jim was on board. He was committed... he was like, "You know what? I'm down; let's do it." But Nader was very much still tied to family and the family business there and was less confident about making the jump to New York. So he stayed, but we made the move.

Jim moved to New Jersey, moved to Jersey City; and I was in Brooklyn. Then the two of us kept plugging away on demos and shopped a lot. One of my fraternity brothers would always joke, because we had tons of stuff that we cut that never went anywhere, so he would always say, "you guys are gonna have a greatest hits album before you have a frikken' deal!" But that was the way we did work, our work ethic. Every two weeks, I'd have a new track for him to listen to.

And I just kept shopping demos. Years later, when Jim and I were both in New York, I was outside a popular club in New York with some friends. In fact, it was one of the guys from Chapter Three. And we were in my vehicle listening to some demos and Russell Simmons was standing outside - it was The Red Parrot Club. And my boy was like, "yo, I think that's Russell over there!" and I was like, I wish he could hear this stuff playing in my car. And he was like, I'm gonna go over there and get him; bring him over. I was like "are you kidding me?" He actually went over there and got him. And Russell listened a little bit, I told him who we were, about the group... we got a black guy, a white guy, a good look. He was like, "I like it; I like it." So he gave me his number like yo, call me. And I was like wow, this is it! This is great! ...But man, John, let me tell you. When I got that card, it must have been that back room card. Because that phone just rang and rang. The "no one ever pick that line up" phone! It's funny to look back, it was hilarious. LATER, it was hilarious, not at the time.

But later I kept shopping demos, and a friend at WBLS had a connection through a friend of hers at SBK/EMI. And they took the demo, and that's when it started. They were just getting started and were looking for rap artists. And we're talking about '89 going into the 90's, and the music scene had that whole Young MC have fun vibe. Happy rap and dance mixed together; it was a fun time for music at that time. And our demo was not necessarily as fun as that, because I had a lot of stuff closer to like Public Enemy-influenced with more of an edge. Because I was coming from my old school Bronx rap days which a lot of people didn't know, or if you looked at me you wouldn't know. Like, if you remember guys like Jekyll and Hyde, that was more my style - more like people who looked like accountants then rappers. So more of an edge, but I should say, never played the gangster thug role... that wasn't who we were.

So SBK liked our stuff right off the bat. One of their A&Rs, Peter Ganbarg, gave me a call at work saying he had heard our stuff and he really liked it. After many years of demos, finally. So Pete says, I love what I heard on your demos, I like your style, you've got talent, I dig your sound. But here's what I've got goin'. We've got a brand new movie comin' out. It's based on a popular kids' comic book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; I don't know if you've ever heard of it. I said I heard of it, but I never read a whole comic book of it. So he says I'll give you a call later and give you some background on it. What I need is a great single to put in this film. And I need it to talk about these characters, the movie. So when I got that call, it was on Friday afternoon, I think. He was like, I need this yesterday; how fast can you have it? I said I don't know, but I'll start working on it immediately. We worked on it all weekend, and gave it to him on late Monday.

Yeah, because the song's really specific... it outlines the characters, talks about the plot.

Yes. So he called me back later, on a phone conference, and he ran down for me the plot points and the characters. I remember thinking Mutant Turtles wasn't enough? Ninja Turtles wasn't enough? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it was creative, stuck in your head. So I was like ok, I'll do it. But even coming out after all those years, and with the early records and my history, which a lot of people didn't know about because we were about to come out with a commercial record...

Right. I was thinking it's surprising they gave such a big record for a major film to virtual unknowns.

Exactly. But here's the thing, you've gotta look at the whole soundtrack and who was on there. MC Hammer! So they were thinking that was the big artist on there. But when we gave them our record, with us talking about the movie and how it sounded, then it was just obvious that was going to be the single.

So ok; here's something of Turtle lore... You know, there's a lyric in the song, where I talk about the leader of the turtles.

Yeah! I was gonna ask you about that!

Oh, you were. Yeah, that's something that's stood out to a lot of the fans.
Here's the actual verse from the song:
"Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello
Make up the group with one other fellow:

Raphael. He's the leader of the group
Transformed from the norm by the nuclear goop."
See, that's the way it was read to me by the A&R. Because I guess he hadn't read the comics either; he'd just read the script. Because Leonardo was the actual leader, right?

Yeah, Raphael was the angry one.

Right, he wore red. Michelangelo was the funny one in orange. Leonardo wore blue and... who's the last one? oh, Donatello, purple. See, I still know my guys.

But here's the thing. if you watch the movie - just the movie, without already knowing them from the comics, Raphael could kind of be seen as the leader. Just in that story, Raphael is sort of taking charge, and he kind of draws the plot. Obviously, if you're a fan you know; but in the movie, they didn't really say that Leonardo was the leader. I don't think they really came out and established that until maybe part 2. The fans were really against it. But that's the way the A&R read it to me.

And let me ask you, was that you on the vocoder in that song?

Well, which part are you thinking about it. Most of it, the spelling, the "Teenage, Mutant Ninja" that was all James. I did a bit; I was on there a little; but Jim is the vocoder guy.

So tell us about the "Turtle Power" music video.

Ah yes, the video! Ok. That was filmed under a bridge and we filmed all night. Like, say we got there around 2 in the afternoon, we filmed until 4, 5 in the morning.

Did you have any say in the concept of the video?

No, we had no control over the concept. That was all the director.

And is that KS in the scene standing with the mayor (with the shoulderstrap keyboard)?

Oh, you went back and watched it, huh? You did your research! Yeah, that was James. Again, I didn't have any control over how little you see him in it. I guess they had to get a lot in with the turtles, and they used me because I'm narrating; but that was all the director.

And you're actually there with the turtles. It looks like the full, proper suits from the movie. Was the shooting difficult because of working with those suits?

Yeah, I think it was the same actors from the movie, too. These Asian guys who did the stunts from the film. The suits weren't really a hold-up because they didn't speak. They did the fighting and dancing, but that didn't take too long. If they had them talking like in the movie, with the animatronics; that would've taken forever.

They did a good job matching the film clips with the new footage, though. There are a few points where the turtles are fighting and you can't really tell if it's from the movie or the video.

Yeah, they did a good job with that. They took their time, and also put some effort into finding dark locations that matched with the movie. It was a fun shoot. Kids had started gathering around to watch us shoot because they saw the turtles. They started coming, like ten to twelve years old. And they were all races, which was cool; gathered there. And I was performing and they started to yell. And I couldn't hear what they kept yelling about. So finally, after we finished, I went to talk to them and I asked them, what were you yelling about? And it was because they'd heard me say that line about Raphael; they were all shouting "no! You said Raphael was the leader! He's not!" So I knew back then. I was like, it's too late to change it, the record was cut. If i knew at the time, before I recorded it, I would've said, that's wrong, I'm not gonna rap it that way, but it was too late. But fortunately the record was a hit anyway.

Ok, now let's get to your second single, "Undercover."

"Undercover." That was a song we did not want to do, John. After "Turtle Power," we got invited to a party. It was Charles Koppelman, the K in SBK Records, holding a giant mansion party for everybody. It was one of those huge places, you've got to enter through the big gates, and he had his tennis courts, everything. And he had this idea. Because at that time, the Dick Tracy movie was coming out, which everybody thought was going to be a huge deal. So he wanted us to do this song to tie in with that. But we didn't want to do it. Because for one thing, it wasn't our movie! SBK didn't own it; they just wanted to cash in on it. And also we didn't want to become known as the movie song guys. So we didn't want to do it, but we eventually agreed. We thought we'll just get through it, and then takes what comes next. Besides, you basically have two choices: you can either play along, or just refuse, stick to artistic integrity, and eventually just get stuck someplace, shelved, and they'll find somebody else.

But that happened anyway. The album was never released.

Right. Well, that was really because of Vanilla Ice...

Yeah, that's what I would've guessed.... SBK kind of turned into the Vanilla Ice machine.

Exactly; they became the Vanilla Ice machine. Everybody else got pushed aside.

Did you know Fifth Platoon? They were another dope group that got dropped when Vanilla Ice blew up.

Were those the guys from Lean On Me? I met them. Or, no, that was Riff; I met them.

Yeah, I remember Riff too, the R&B group; but I didn't realize they were in Lean On Me.

Yeah, they were the group singing in the movie. That's what they got signed off of. But they still died the same watery death!

It's interesting; I was a big of "Undercover" when it came out, and I remember seeing Dick Tracy when it came out and all the hype around it; but I never made the connection.

Well, I mentioned him in the lyric.

You mention a ton of detectives, though. You name all the great detectives, basically, and he's just in that list.

That's true! Well, we tried not to make it too obvious. We tried everything in our talents to make it different, so I'm glad to hear you say that. Because we really didn't want to do that. Kopplemen then came to us with another idea; he wanted us to do a song of "Back To School." But that's where we drew the line, we didn't make that song.

That's funny, because "Back To School" was a Fifth Platoon record! It was on the soundtrack to Turtles 2.

Oh, ok. Yeah, they just had somebody else do it.

Was there ever going to be a video for "Undercover?"

Yes. There was a video for it, but I don't think you can Youtube it. But it was made. It was black and white, in the style of the period detective movies. Have you seen the cover for the "Undercover" single? It looks like that, that was how we were dressed. You saw a lot more of James in that one; I remember it worked out for him, because he looked cool in the fedora and all. The director for that was good, I liked him. I saw recently that he did an episode or two of The Wire on HBO. That was good to see; I'm glad to see someone still making it doing what they love all these years later. I remember there was one thing, though; the only time we didn't totally get along. He wanted me hold up this magnfying glass, you know, like keeping with the detective thing. He wanted to shoot my lips through the magnifying glass. I just refused to do that. He was coming from Europe, so I don't know if he realized that's the stereotype with black people and our lips. He kept saying what's the big deal, just do it, but I wouldn't do that. But that was the only thing; he was a good director and I'm glad he's still doing his thing.

And so, just to clarify... apart from all the demo tracks and stuff, was the official SBK album [according to the back of the "Undercover" single, it was taken from the self-titled Partners In Kryme album] completed? Like is there a totally "official" version sitting on a shelf somewhere?

Yes, there is. It's finished and they just never put it out, although we got paid for it, which is ok. But it's a shame people never got to hear what we had.

And then after "Undercover," you had one other song: "Love 2 Love U" with Debbie Cole.

Yeah, I don't know if you know, but that was a hit in Europe. It came in on the charts, I think we knocked out like Elton John. That's the thing, if you have a hit record, even if it's like sort of a novelty song; you still get all that... we were touring over there, and we met Chuck D, Public Enemy. They'd just come from Germany, we were in Heathrow Airport. And they were excited to see us, which was an honor that Public Enemy being who they were, appreciated what we were doing. Chuck said, "have you been to Germany? They're playing your stuff to death in Germany." I said, "well, they're playing yours to death everywhere else in the world!" But they loved our stuff; it was nice.

We also performed for Royalty in England. We did a birthday party for one of the Sultan of Brunei's sons, Prince Akbar, in the early 90's. At that time we were also working on our second album. While the first one was done and SBK had it, we didn't know what was going to happen with that, so we just started working on our second. It was called New 4 92; an EP, which also went unreleased. One song was called "Beatnik" - they loved the vibe of this track in England!

Well, speaking of shows, I actually saw you guys live...

Oh, you did? You saw us?

Yeah, it was in Jackson, NJ: Great Adventure.

Oh, ok; I do remember that show.

Yeah, it was you, Mr. Lee, and somebody else, I forget... you guys were last. I remember you played a song, which I guess from the hook would be called "Why Can't We Be Friends?"

That's right! Did you like that song?

Yeah, I was psyched... waiting for the album to drop and it never came.

That was a song we recorded for the second version of album. We had already finished the album, but after "Turtle Power," we added a few more songs in line with what people who were fans of "Turtle Power" would've expected. "Undercover" was one of those. We also upped the production on the older songs, bringing it into 64 track. So those were a little more kid-friendly.

In fact, we later did a children's television program, for Scholastic. We performed a new kids' song every week. That was more ok, doing that kind of thing within that context. In fact, we even used "Why Can't We Be Friends," but a shortened version of it.

Finally, before we end this, let's just talk a but about what you've been doing since Partners in Kryme - I know you've done some voice acting and different things.

Right. Well, I wound up working with an urban communications company, Mee Productions, as creative director. I was doing music productions with Jim, and his wife got a job which precipitated his moving to Indiana. I kept doing soundtracks. Then I got into voicing commercials and even directing commercials.

One of the cool things I did was with this band, My Brother's Dream, a cool band in New York. You know that show 3rd Rock from the Sun? That show was getting syndicated, the reruns, and the network wanted to promote the show to more urban audiences, which is a big market. And the president of marketing was really into Parliament Funkadelic. And so I thought about it, how they're into aliens and everything, and came up with a campaign. It was great. They let me go through all of their episodes and pick out anything for what clips I wanted to use of John Lithgow, etc. I hunted down George Clinton for the rights, and we recorded this "Make My Rock the 3rd Rock." It was a success, the ratings definitely went up in that market.

Unfortunately, there's no myspace or anything to link for GV or Partners In Kryme (though he says maybe someday because there's still a fan following out there), but hopefully this interview has satisfied you, at least for a while. It was certainly a thrill for me.
REMEMBER: Keep Rhythm Your Motivating Energy


  1. Great interview John! ; )
    Anyone interested in contacting GV of Chapter Three/Partners In Kryme can send an e-mail to:

    Peace 2u,

  2. Turtle Power came out when I was a 10 year old kid, and I can still remember all the lyrics. I must say that even now I think those lyrics are fantastic -- very well put together. Thanks.