Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Interview with Hip Hop Pioneer: Grandmaster Caz


Watch the video

Sometimes I get the rare and great opportunity to interview one of the true Legends of Hip Hop. This time I was able to talk with Hip Hop Pioneer: Grandmaster Caz of The Cold Crush Brothers fame. This interview was shot in the South Bronx area known as the infamous Hunt's Point which was made famous in the HBO Documentary: "Pimps Up, Hos Down". This is a small clip from a larger interview that was shot for the upcoming issue of SKILLZ DVD Magazine that I am producing along with friend and fellow filmmaker, Javier Goin. A little more about the legendary Grandmaster Caz before we get into the video:

Grandmaster Caz, AKA Grandmaster Casanova Fly, whose real name is Curtis Fisher was born in the Bronx, New York and was a part of the hip hop group The Cold Crush Brothers. After seeing Kool Herc play at a party in the Bronx for the first time in 1974 he decided that was what he wanted to be doing and bought DJ equipment the very next day. Grandmaster Caz started by teaming up with his best friend DJ Disco Wiz (Luis Cedeno). He later would team up with JDL (Jerry Dee Lewis) and form The Notorious Two. Caz began incorporating rhymes in with his DJing and become known for being the first DJ to do both simultaneously. In 1978 he formed a group called the Mighty Force with Whipper Whip (James Whipper) and Dot-A-Rock (Darryl Mason). In 1979 DJ Charlie Chase (Carlos Mandes) from The Cold Crush Brothers asked Caz to help audtion MCs for his group which was really a way for Charlie Chase to trick Caz into joining the Cold Crush Brothers. JDL, Whipper Whip, and Dot-A-Rock were also part of The Cold Crush Brothers before Whipper Whip and Dot-A-Rock left to join The Fantastic Five.
The Cold Crush Brothers began gaining a reputation in the burgeoning hip hop scene in New York for their routines, most of which Caz was responsible for. Grandmaster Caz, who became known as the captain of the Cold Crush, also became well known for his lyrical ability. Around this time, Sylvia Robinson, who went on to found Sugar Hill Records, happened to hear part-time club bouncer and manager of the Cold Crush Brothers, Big Bank Hank (Henry Jackson) rapping to a tape of Grandmaster Caz while working at a Pizzeria. She asked him be the third member of a group that she was putting together called the Sugar Hill Gang. Hank accepted and, since he wasn't an MC himself, he went to Grandmaster Caz and asked him to borrow his book of rhymes which Caz gave to him, no questions asked. Caz figured that if Hank got put on, then he would put Caz and the Cold Crush on. Hank would use Caz's lyrics in the song "Rapper's Delight" which would become a huge hit in 1979 and is the first hip hop single to land on the top 40 charts. This was also the first time the term rapper was used to describe a person who is rhyming to music on the mic, who had previously been known only as an MC to everyone who was actually part of the hip hop scene at the time. Caz would never receive any credit or compensation for the rhymes that he contributed.
In 1982, The Cold Crush Brothers were featured in the movie Wild Style and would also be on the soundtrack with Grandmaster Caz doing the movie theme song. Caz released some records as a solo artist in the late 80's. He also released the song "MC Delight" in 2000 which finally sets the record straight about the disputed verse on "Rapper's Delight."
His latest Release is the 12"Single: "Move the Crowd" produced by his friend Torch aka DJ Haitian Star. (360°-Records/Roughtrade, Germany)

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