Mister Voodoo from Natural Elements
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
Where did you come up man?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Bed Stuy and Fort Greene.
What are your some of your early memories of Hip Hop culture in NYC?
NYC was ill. I remembered when Sugarhill Gang came out vividly. But the most impactful stuff for me was them Coldcrush Brother tapes man. Me and my lil homies would just sit and stare at the boom box in awe listening to these dudes. Then it was the movies like Wildstyle and Beat Street. NYC had all these little mom and pop record shops like Music Factory, Beat Street, Soul Shack where if you was lucky you would run into one of your idols, mc’s or dj’s while you were copping records. The block parties was scarey as hell because you never knew what could pop off but it was also fun as hell. NYC had culture, character, flavor. Now it’s so generic and watered down its sad.
When did you first start writing rhymes?
I started as a youngster in my teens around 13 yrs. just playing around. I was heavily influenced by Kool Moe Dee and the Treacherous Three. I was especially keen on T La Rock. I wanna also take the time to explain how important Slick Rick was in the early 80’s. Man that dude had a tape circulating before La Di Do Di with the whole routine he use to do with Dougie and that influence a lot of dudes at that time. You can hear traces of that in G.L.O.C.K too.
Set the scene for the material on the “Elusive Demos” project on Chopped Herring:
One of the things about these songs is that they are like a capsule of a moment or a zone I was in. See at the time I was just given the Source Magazine Hip Hop Quotable Lyrics of the Month. So it was my intent to prove that I was the baddest lil dude outta BK rapping. Sorta like maintaining the standard I set. Me and Char use to meet up at our man Vidal’s home studio. It would be like the whole click there. And he would eek out beats for every single one of the mc’s there. Most of the songs came about that way. Funny thing about G.L.O.C.K was we used this Space Ghost snippet from the Cartoon Network and he constructed the whole beat around it. I was heavily influenced by old school artists like T La Rock, Cold Crush, Fantastic Five, Treacherous Three. Not to mention Kane, KRS One, Kool G Rap as well as underground dudes like Divine Force and Lord Shafyq. What I tried to do was roll all those influences up into one package and keep it all in context with what I was seeing as a kid growing up in Bed Stuy and Fort Greene. “NY Straight Talk” is my theme song. It basically was built around me growing up in NYC early eighties talking about the culture in the city at that time and draws parallels to the present.
How did you originally meet Char?
I met Char thru a mutual friend. Dude named Dante. You may have heard him on some stuff like the Knick Knack Patty Wack remake we did. I met him in school and we use to kick rhymes to each other and he told me to come uptown to the BX. That’s when I met Char and he was like dumbfounded cause he never heard no one rhyming like I did. From there I started recording with him every week. That was a blessing cause it kept me out of trouble. My first time recording ever was with Char in the winter of ’90 I believe, after our initial meeting the week before. It was a song called “Voodoo” which later morphed to “Running From My Magic”.
Where are those recordings?
Uhh the early recordings are lost. I had them on tapes a long time ago. They were unique. I had this style which was a cross between like Brother J and like with vocabulary like T La Rock and just way out there. The real early stuff would be like close to G.L.O.C.K. I used to experiment with crazy styles. Vocal inflections triple entendres stop and start. Similar to what you hear on G.L.O.C.K.
How did you meet the other NE cats?:
L was a little kid then. He use to always come thru and just peep us older dudes. See L had a birdseye view of all the growth and development I went through as an artist, so our relationship is special. But he was like our little homie and he just out of nowhere started spitting and it was crazy because he was so young and had such a flow.
KA was a wild dude I knew from school also. We weren’t really cool until one day he had approached me and was like he never knew that I was rhyming like that. I had begun to make a name for myself being on the radio and stuff. So he told me he rhymed too. We started kicking it and that’s where the friendship began. I brought him to Char and that’s all she wrote. I always believed in him so everywhere I went I took him with me. On stage and everything.
You are known for your 90’s freestyles on various NY radio shows, how did you get yourself on the radio back in the day?
I was lucky enough to have a mentor. He knew I was a rapper and hooked me up with the program director of WBAI. He hooked me up with J Smooth of the Underground Railroad and that was where I started. I played it cool didn’t really let them know I rhymed. Then one day they were just playing around free styling and I kicked something and their eyes widened like yo wtf from then on I was known as the poet laureate and whenever they had guests come through they would line me up to freestyle with them. I met a lot of artists that way and also it gave me exposure. That was around ’92 or ’93 maybe.
Some artists are embarrassed of their early works – sounds like you are still proud of them – is that the case?