Sunday, September 16, 2012

Royal Renegades Week, Day 1

On "Through the Years," a song he liked so much, he included it on at least four of his albums, DJ Magic Mike breaks down his musical history, and talks about the extensive line-up of his crew, The Royal Posse, saying:

"I started my own crew,
I called it Royal Posse, and I start with twenty-two.*
Now the posse's on - dope DJs and rappers, G;
Finally made a name, but we're only known locally.
How many obstacles do I have to face?
My only solution was to head for Miami bass.
Everything I touched was a number one pick;
But wouldn't you know, I had to get the shitty end of the stick?
But I wasn't gonna let it stop me;
Back to Orlando to unite with the Posse.
But as time passes, people change like the seasons
And most of the posse changed for the wrong reasons
Everybody ain't true, everybody ain't straight;
I had to bring the posse down from twenty-two to eight."

Now, The Royal Posse's line-up was ever-shifting (MC Madness had a skit on his second album saying he'd send you on an all expense paid trip if you could name two albums where the personnel was exactly the same), but the biggest change happened essentially all at once, when a bunch of members openly broke it off and struck out on their own, most notably his best known partner, MC Madness. They were pissed at Magic for wanting to do solo projects after Madness started to get cornier, and at Cheetah Records over payment issues (Mike was vice-president of the label, and Cheetah's president, Tom Reich, was also Mike's manager and executive produced all their stuff... so the pair probably seemed pretty inextricable to the guys, even though Mike wound up leaving Cheetah and forming Magic Records a few years later), so they went off as a unit to the freshly formed Ocean Records.

So, just who went? Well, MC Madness, of course. He released his debut solo album, Come Get This $ Honey for them in 1993, saying in his first song, "I got side-tracked by a bogus brother: DJ M&M, that punk motherfucker. Now I'm back, the game I'm gonna win." In the Special Thankx[sic.] of their biggest album together, Ain't No Doubt About It, Magic Mike wrote to Madness, "YOU'RE MY BOY TILL THE END. FUNNY HOW I CAN'T SEE THE END. DAMN SURE COULDN'T TELL THIS 4 YEARS AGO. GOD WORKS IN MYSTE-RIOUS WAYS." That was in 1992 - things sure changed quick.

Now, the only other album Ocean put out was another Royal Posse exile: MC Boo and the Crew's Back To Bass-ics (though Madness and Boo also dropped a single each off of their albums). Among other things, MC Boo is the MC on the original "Drop the Bass" on the debut DJ Magic Mike and the Royal Posse album in 1989 (where he also has the intriguing credit of being the "Rap Consultant"). Also, the liner notes are incomplete so he's not credited, but he did that incredible track, "We're On a Mission."

So that's two core rappers out. But who else left? Well, DJ Lace, the other half of Vicious Base, stepped off around this time. He went on to do a lot of stuff - both in Miami bass, and more in clubby techno kinda music - but didn't seem to get too caught up in the drama - though he did record an album with DJ Fury, the guy responsible for "Magic Dike" and all that other anti-Magic Mike stuff.  Mike dissed Fury pretty hard with "Fury Who?" on This Is How It Should Be Done.  Anyway, Lace didn't follow the guys to Ocean Records, though Madness does shout him out in the liner notes of his solo joint, suggesting who he sided with in the split; and I don't believe he ever worked with Magic or Cheetah again.  And I've just recently blogged about what Magic Mike did with the Vicious Base name years later.  Mike did diss him in the liner notes of his 20 Degrees Below Zero EP, though, for forming 2BMF with producer Beat Master Wizzy, who produced a couple early Royal Posse songs and was actually down with Vicious Base before the Royal Posse album, then left earlier on (I guess around the time Boo left). But they never recorded a Magic Mike diss or anything.

Another big drop out, though, was definitely T. Isaam. He was the new member of the crew on 1990's Bass Is the Name of the Game, and contributed to all the other albums before his parting. In fact, he was the only other Royal Posse member to get a full album with Mike: 1991's Southern Hospitality. The other core members, guys who were down for years and years, still never had the shot to put out any albums they could call their own, just verses on all of Mike's albums.  T. Isaam never put out an album of his own again, but was a major writer and producer on Madness and Boo's albums.

Also, perhaps less obvious to us hip-hop fans, but a major player to go was Jan Hrkach. Jan was a member of pretty much the only notable act on Cheetah Records besides Magic Mike (i.e. the only other ones to drop multiple releases), the techno group called Radioactive Goldfish. Jan was a big behind-the-scenes guy at Cheetah, engineering, mixing and even occasionally producing a song for Mike's albums. Well, he became president of Ocean Records... which certainly explains why Radioactive Goldfish stopped putting out records on Cheetah after 1992, and the label really became nothing but Mike's vehicle. Jan also did the mixing, engineering and some "electric bass" instrumentation on Boo's album.

Other members quietly drifted in and out of the Posse at different times, but this was the big rift. And we're gonna study it for the rest of the week.  It's been a while since I've done a "week." 8)

*Here's a fun trivia challenge: try to name all twenty-two!

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