Saturday, May 10, 2014

Giving DJ EZ Rock Back His Due

About two weeks ago, the world was shocked to learn about the passing of DJ EZ Rock. When I tweeted the sad news, I linked to the best article I could find about it, which happened to be from Rolling Stone. I paused, because I noticed some misinformation, but I decided to just let it slide. I mean, nobody looks to Rolling Stone for highly informed hip-hop coverage. And no one else had published anything better. At least they knew his partner was Rob Base and that they made that song from the Sandra Bullock movie.

So here's what Rolling Stone wrote that's wrong: "Bryce would not appear on Rob Base's 1989 follow-up The Incredible Base, but reunited with the rapper for 1994's Break of Dawn."

They probably just sourced that info from Wikipedia, which says, "DJ E-Z Rock also was forced to leave the group due to his own personal issues, so Rob Base was left to be a solo artist.[citation needed] He responded in 1989 with The Incredible Base, his debut solo album. It did not sell as well as It Takes Two. One song from the album hit the dance chart in late 1989: "Turn It Out (Go Base)," credited only to Rob Base. Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock had a reunion album in 1994."  Citation needed indeed.

I only blog about it now because it seems everybody is reporting this fact...

Billboard wrote that, "Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock would split soon after [It Takes Two] only to reunite in 1994." HipHopDX wrote, "While Rob Base followed up It Takes Two with a solo album of his own called The Incredible Base, the duo reunited six years later." Consequence of Sound wrote, "E-Z Rock was not featured on Rob Base’s 1989 record The Incredible Base." XXL wrote, "Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock would split after the success of It Takes Two for personal reasons," TheBoomBox.xom wrote, "After the success of that album, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock split up due to personal reasons, only to reunite in 1994 for their second album,‘Break of Dawn.’" The Huffington Post wrote, "E-Z Rock was not featured on Rob Base's 1989 album, 'The Incredible Base'..."  I could go on and on. There's tons more articles saying the same few sentences, all clearly having just copied the wikipedia or each other.

The Truth:

Yes, their first and third albums are credited to Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock, while the second album only lists Rob Base as the artist. That much is true. But Rob Base did not make The Incredible Base (or any other album) without EZ Rock. They made all their records together and none separately. EZ Rock is all over The Incredible Base; and it's impossible to miss for anybody who's ever actually listened to it.

Rob Base starts off the song "Get Up and Have a Good Time" by saying, "Now with the help of my man EZ Rock - and I'm Rob Base - we're getting ready to kick it off." Then, in the same song, he says, "EZ Rock in the back on the wheels." There's plenty of songs with cuts on them here (they're the only good part of the song "War"), and you certainly don't see anybody else credited with them.

Big Daddy Kane's albums are just credited to Big Daddy Kane, but that doesn't mean he broke up with Mister Cee right before every release. Cool V was still The Biz's DJ even though his name wasn't on the covers. Neither DJ K-La Boss or DJ Scratch's initials were part of EPMD, but they were still the group DJs. You get the point. DJs just typically weren't credited on hip-hop albums, especially as we moved into the 90s.

And since Rob Base's music was moving further in the direction of pop on The Incredible Base, it made even more sense not to have split the bill with his DJ. Like when MC Hammer dropped the "MC" from his name. And after that flopped due to the push-back against crossover rap, he decided to make a bid for hip-hop credibility again for his reunion comeback album in 1994, by returning to the old school style of crediting the DJ. Maybe there really were some "personal issues" between them around this time; but EZ Rock was definitely still on board for that middle album.

Hell, the man has his own solo song on The Incredible Base, called "Dope Mix." You know, one of those fresh DJ solo songs like "DJ Premier In Deep Concentration" or "Touch Of Jazz," where the spotlight is finally turned towards the man on the turntables? In fact, "Dope Mix" would make the perfect song to feature in a tribute article about him, much more appropriate than just "It Takes Two" again.

And see the photo at the top of this article? That's a screenshot of him doing the cuts in the official music video for their lead single, "Turn It Out," which they keep cutting back to. He was hardly hidden away. But because some random, uninformed internet user decided EZ Rock must have been uninvolved with The Incredible Bass, suddenly it's become the unquestioned history put forth by every music journalist who's never listened in the first place*. So call me nitpicky - I admit I might be going in a little hard here on what many would probably consider a negligible detail - but I just wanted to write this to let you guys know that this rumor you're reading everywhere** isn't really the truth, and to give EZ Rock his credit for this album.


*And how long will it be until somebody resolves that "Citation Needed" issue on the wiki article by linking to some of these articles that got this tidbit from the erroneous article, completing the circle of irony and "proving" the misinformation?

**They even wrote a song decrying rumors just like this on The Incredible Base. It's called "Rumors." :P


  1. Good article. Glad you dug into it all to give that man his just due. He was a good DJ; I saw them live once he definitely got down.

    One thing that seems out of place, though, is the Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, EPMD analogy, The thing about all three of these groups and the point you are trying to make is that none of them had a first (or any for that matter) album credited to the artist and the DJ. No Big Daddy Kane & Mister Cee, No Biz Markie & Cool V, No EPDM & whoever was DJing for them at the time. So you can see how media or casual listeners/fans might have gotten the impression that he was no longer in the group when his name was taken off the billing and there are no pictures of him on the cover. If memory serves correct, and it may not, I don't think he was credited much ...if at the CD either.

    None of this negates the point you were making, just that the examples aren't necessarily the best to get that point across.

  2. Their first track released on wax (Star Maker, 1986) shows a nice chemistry between cuts and rhymes:

    PS: No mention of EZ-Rock on this track either, although he´s the main force behind the track.

  3. No, you aren't nitpicky, Werner. It's an important detail that all of those sites shouldn't have got wrong. Kudos for correcting them and putting in the work to write this article.