Before you were releasing music on your own label you were part of the late 80´s hip hop group Citi Heet and released three 12” inches on NBA legend Earl "The Pearl" Monroe´s In Your Face label. How did you get signed to his label? Did you perform outside New York?
"As the founding member of the group Citi Heet I was the lead singer of a 3-man rap trio. Along with lead rapper Russ Prez and beat box Steven Flagg, we performed at block parties, showcases and won lots of talent shows. This made us very popular on a street level. In an attempt to compete in a major NYC radio contest for high schools in which top prize was radio play and a live in studio interview. I produced and wrote the group’s first demo “Sally 45” and took the group to a local recording studio where I was honing my skills. We presented the demo to the radio station who were so impressed by the quality of the recording that they thought we were professional recording artists even though this was our first demo. Insisting that we were pros they decided to exclude us from the contest but still allowed us airplay of our track.
Taking it for what it was worth we used that opportunity to land a radio interview with community activist Richard Greene. Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, a supporter of show was tuned in and was impressed by the interview. Earl contacted me and we met in which I sang and danced for his attention. When “Begging Billy” was being created, Rus wrote the rap and Steven created his beat box and I sang the hook. When completed, this song catapulted us. I booked our first gig at Union Square, personally reaching out to DJ Red Alert who broke the record over the radio making it a Hip Hop classic till this day."
Let´s fast forward a few years, could you tell a bit about the recording of the track "Deep" in New York at the time (1990), how did the production come together? Was there ever a physical release of it?
"I wanted to expand my role as a singer and parted ways with Earl and Citi Heet. Being a B-Boy I was deeply involved with New York dance scene. It was only natural that my love for dancing lead me to sing on club and house instrumentals by improvising lyrics live at dance clubs & parties throughout the city of Manhattan. I retained my approach to house music with that of a mc by always seeking the microphone in the major clubs in the city. This made me incredibly popular and I met, worked and toured the city with DJ Moby for a couple of years. This made me sought after for recording vocals with various djs and producers. One of them was Eric Roache who produced my tribal house release “Power to the People” on Grey Morning Records. When it was time to work on a new track I was teamed with dj Joey Llanos who paired Arthur Crank Jr. aka X Man and myself we produced “Deep”. We recorded the finished track and video with Eric. I placed “Deep” in the hands of djs such as David Camacho & Paradise who put it into rotation in the clubs. It was never officially released but it felt like it as everyone loved hearing and requested it be played."
What initially sparked you to start your own label?
"Because of my extensive involvement with other djs, producers and performing in shows, I wanted to make Fantasy and all the music I was working on to be associated with myself. I was frustrated by producers wanting me to only record the tracks they made, giving tracks like “Deep” no attention. Through working on my own style as producer and songwriter I produced “Drop Zone” and premiered an upcoming DJ Kim Lightfoot on one of the mixes on Black Ball Records in 1995. It proved to be the right move causing Cisco (RIP), Japan’s largest music distributor to give me a distribution deal. The song was very successful shipping several thousand units."
What was the (house) scene like at the time in New York, early nineties?
"During this era it was time of lofts, warehouses and private clubs with strict membership only policies. There were lots of “official” clubs, bars and venues but they followed the “law”. The dance party space represented a true underground vibe by moving place to place such as someone’s loft party to ballet studios all throughout the city. The promotions were very simple and there was flexibility of clientele be it age, gender and sexual preference. There was also flexibility in dress code and the cost to get in."
What´s in store for Fantasy in the future?
"For the last several years I have been producing tracks and mixtapes for artists in Philadelphia. From working with and mentoring young artists in my production company Black Ball Productions, it sparked me wanting to return to songwriting, singing and performing. I plan to release more music and a take my stage show across the country and overseas on a world tour."
Thanks a lot for taking time to do this. Any final shout outs?
"Arthur Crank, Joey Llanos, Eric Roache, Brian Ellis, David Camacho (RIP), DJ Disciple, David Mancuso, DJ Lil Ray, Curt Mentor, M. Lewis, Nizer Saunders, Kim Lightfoot, Carlos Sanchez, Basil, Boyd Jarvis, Tyrone Francis, Herb Martin, DJ Paradise, my wife Portia and my children Aysha, Indigo, Laura and Siabrea. Thank them all for the continued support they give and inspiration."
Traveller Records presents "The Deep" 12" EP out October 17th.