I had the opportunity to pick the mind of one of the Old School Hip Hop Pioneers, regarding his take on Hip Hop. As well as what has he been up to over the years and what can we expect to see from him in the near future. Spyder is in the process of making a strong and powerful come back. His drive and motivation to bring back true art form of hip hop is beyond words itself. Hip Hop is not only my passion; some would say that I base my entire life around it. Hip Hop is and will always be my culture, not only did Hip Hop saved me; I can honestly say that it raised me in so many ways. So it is a true pleasure as well as honor to have the opportunity to work with one of the Original Pioneers of the Original Hip Hop.
What keeps you passionate about Hip Hop music and the culture after all these years in the game?
Spyder: Hip Hop is who I am. It has been my way of life since I was a teenager. I explained the culture once to someone like this: “Kool DJ Red Alert, is Kool DJ Red Alert! It is not his nickname…It is who he is…from sun up to sundown.” From the moment he awakens, to the moment he closes his eyes, he is Kool DJ Red Alert.” That is how we live. It is not a fad, nor was it ever to us. I am a second generation rapper/MC, or WHATEVER TERMINOLOGY YOU WANT TO USE, but make no mistake; I am Hip Hop, 24/7. For my entire adult life, I have been “Spyder D”. So, to answer your question, what keeps me passionate is I have to be passionate about life and Hip Hop is my life! I eat, sleep, breathe and drink Hip Hop (Olde English 800)!
Seriously though…Hip Hop grabbed me at 16 when I used to go to whatever park jams broke out in Queens, whether it was our own Henderson Park, Liberty Park, Jamaica Park or where ever. Where there was Park Jams, there were women… Where there were women or girls at that time, I wasn’t going to be too far behind. Later on, after the release of Rappers Delight, and King Tim the 3rd on the Fatback Band album, I thought to myself, “I could do that!” By that I meant rhyme as a recording artist.
“I was serious about it then, and am just as serious about it today…”
What are your thoughts on the evolution of Hip Hop music from its beginning ’til now here in 2013?
Spyder: Evolution is evolution…Things change…what I feel about it is irrelevant to me. No matter what I feel or say, change is going to happen. Hip Hop may not be what we were used to, but that has been said about every form of music over the years…Traditional Gospel peeps frowned at Kirk Franklin when he came out with his brand of Gospel music, it was frowned upon in the same way some of these rappers are getting scoffed at by traditional Hip Hop heads. Me, myself, I don’t get too wound up in what is happening with where Hip Hop is today as opposed to where it used to be, and where it’s going. I make what I make. I experiment sometime, but my music is an extension of me. At Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers took off and flew for a hot minute. Now, you have space stations that orbit Earth for years!
Whether rap and the culture of Hip Hop is better or not in its evolution is a matter of opinion. My opinion on that is, I don’t care. I have better things to do than be a critic of every Tom, Dick and Harry or Harriett that grabs a microphone. It is all a competition and my critique of the competition is irrelevant. I want to contribute to Hip Hop, what I can contribute to Hip Hop. This newer generation has a better knowledge of the business because of the trials and tribulations of those that came before them like myself. I would like to think that the things that Scorpio and The Furious Five have been through, has helped these young cats today. I watch a cat like Lil Scrappy, who I met years ago when he was hot as Lil Jon’s protege, and I see he is on TV, but yet, he is not taking full advantage of that face time…I’d love to take the young brother under my wing, and help him take advantage of who he is. That is what Vaughan Mason did for me. He was a platinum artist with one of the hottest records out (“Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll”), and I was some non-descript former basketball player from the streets of Queens. He never the less,while he took me under his wing, he accelerated my career flight. I have always tried to live by that code. Take others under the wing… I see others doing that in Hip Hop and it is good to see. Hip Hop is dead is said a lot. Hip Hop is dead as we knew it…So is flight dead as we knew it….Evolution is inevitable…
“Be Proud Of Where You’re Going”
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-DMC and Public Enemy are the three representatives of Hip Hop music that are inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Who do you think is next to be enshrined?
Spyder: I would say do not forget the Beastie Boys in that group of honorees. I actually am going to start a campaign on Facebook to get Whodini nominated. I used to open for them for a brief time in 1983-84 and thought they made some incredible music during a stretch when rap grew its audience by leaps and bounds. Larry Smith, who produced their greatest works, and who also produced Run-DMC, Grandmaster Flash amongst others, was a great mentor to me after Russell Simmons introduced us, and is also a deserving musician that should be given serious consideration. I am almost positive Afrika Bambaata will be enshrined very soon. Unfortunately, like with most awards, it is fraught with infighting and politics so you never know. It is now open to public vote once you are nominated so that does help Hip Hop bands. I hate to sound like a stick in the mud but other than Larry Smith and Whodini, and of course my dude Chuck D and Public Enemy who just got in, really don’t care about awards and recognition of others except for those of the buying public, and the dj’s that spin the music. I read a YouTube review the other day, about the song I produced on Mr. Magic, “Magic’s Message”. One person related the story of how the message in the song “saved his life” as he realized “there’s got to be a better way”, as the song conveyed…
Saving a life, or changing a life is basically all the award I would ever need. I wrote the lyrics that saved one individuals life. That is Hall Of Fame to me. Although, I do not make light of those that receive these prestigious lifetime achievement awards, there are so many who deserve it and don’t or won’t get in.
What type of message does that send?
Spyder: Hip Hop will have several more inductees in the near future, but I don’t think that all that deserves to get in will get in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a huge honor, but there are always those that are left out of huge honors…always…..
Do you still keep in touch with your Hip Hop contemporaries from the 80s?
Spyder: I have never been one to be very sociable or conversational. I keep in touch with most people through social media. I email people like Scorpio and Raheim and Kidd Creole of The Furious 5. Salt from Salt N Peppa, MC Lyte when they’re in town and most contemporaries I email every now and then just to say hello. Who I stay in constant contact with are Davy DMX, Mikey D, Chuck D, Doug E Fresh and Marly Marl to name a few. I have recently run into Kangol Kid and through the wonder of Twitter and Facebook, I am able to reunite with cats like Jimmy Spicer and T La Rock and actually get acquainted with some people who I really need to meet. I keep in touch with most of the artists under Russell Simmons former umbrella, and especially the ones from Hollis like DJ Hurricane and LL and Cut Creator. I would like to know where E Love, LL’s former hype man is at. We were going to work together the last time I saw him and then we lost contact.
You recently released your new single on iTunes with the aforementioned Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Chuck D of Public Enemy, along with the son of the late, great David Ruffin of the Temptations – David Ruffin, Jr. How satisfied are you with the positive feedback you’ve received to this point?
Spyder: We are still in a pre-promotion stage with the project. As a small independent label owner, we have to take small baby steps in our promotional efforts regardless of the magnitude of the artist on the product. I have been pleased thus far with the feedback we have received…Enough so, that we will be moving forward with the remix contest for part two where we will move forward with the other members of the D Clan, which are Sparky D, Davy Dand Mikey D. It is what we call “Classic Hip Hop”. Meaning we are not considering this to be an “old school” project, or an attempt to gain “new school” followers. Just good old head nodding MC rhyme flows over a funky groove. David Ruffin Jr. added a soulful hook to broaden the perspective and keeping it from being “just another rap song”, and I am honored that he took the time out to be on the track. The same could be said for Chuck and my co-producer/engineer Anton Pukshansky. Everyone is involved in so many different projects individually; it is sometimes difficult in bringing everyone together on one project. I have known Anton since we were both at Power Play Studios and we had never gotten the chance to work together as he was in late at night mostly, while I would leave earlier, as a single parent, and wasn’t around by the time he came in to the studio. He has gone on to win Grammy’s since then, and he has always been a very knowledgeable, talented individual. David Jr and I met through his nephew, and were reacquainted through his Mom Genna, who I keep in touch with as she is in the Georgia area. Of course you know I’ve known Chuck for almost my entire adult life. He is the most humble and real superstar I have ever met, and I have been around superstars a lot in my career so that is saying a lot. I am humbled by Chuck’s friendship and support and that has always been the case for the past 30 years. “In Case You Didn’t Know” was made to remind people about what Hip Hop is, and what our job is…to get feet and bodies moving. Stimulate minds, and do it without being profane to do so. Just good clean rhymes and thought provoking lyrics. The single is the lead for my last Hip Hop album entitled “Spyder D’s Greatest Skits” and it is out via Reverb Nation where we are dedicating half of the proceeds to Love Hope Strength, a foundation dedicated to funding cancer research through music. It won’t be officially released on iTunes for a few more weeks now, sometime around Mid-August. We’re hoping to have the album ready for release on the first week of October.
”Never Forget Where You Come From”
What other projects can we anticipate from you as far as music is concerned?
Spyder: Other than the “Spyder D’s Greatest Skits”, I am looking to release other artists music through our Newtroit Records label, though I have a lot going on now besides the label…I am a sports agent and I have an internet TV show, so it is a little crowded in my schedule as far as trying to navigate the waters of more music projects. I like to give artists my undivided attention when it comes to their music and I don’t know if I can legitimately make that statement right this moment. However, in a perfect world, I’d like to release at least two or three artists per year on Newtroit, and help others that are not released through our label to at least develop and hone their skills until it is their turn. The problem with that is they all think they are ready the minute they write a song. There is so much more to it than that. If money is the sole motivator of one individual doing this, I can tell them they are probably in the wrong game. This is an art form that one can make a lot of money at, but, if they plan on having longevity, they have to embrace the “artist” part of this. There is a love that artists exhibit that transcends the money.
Besides the music, you’ve ventured into being an owner of a professional basketball franchise, correct?
Spyder: I had been an owner of a basketball franchise that began in the ABA in 2005 in Charlotte. I moved that franchise to Atlanta and turned over majority ownership to former C&C Music Factory’s Freedom Williams. However, the CBA, (Continental Basketball Association) went defunct the year after we entered. It has been a humbling experience to say the least. I have lost a ton of money and so has Freedom. We had an agreement to do a reality show around the team, but after the initial pilot was shot, that was it. a network deal never materialized. I have since become a sports agent and have And-1 street ball superstar “Hot Sauce” among other men and women basketball players as an agent/adviser with Sports Management World Wide. If I return to my previous status as a franchise owner, or I decide to coach, I will have to resign as an agent to avoid conflict of interest. If I go that route, (coaching), it will likely be overseas, and would make it hard to run Newtroit Records. That is one of the reasons I am looking for good people to work within my organization, so that I can rest assure that if I am away, the company will run smoothly. I have been in search of a manager, or management company that could help with all of these moving parts of my somewhat overly ambitious life. Basketball and music have been my entire life, and they have always somehow coexisted in my life, but owning a team and a label has proved to be both expensive and difficult to navigate. We will see what the very near future holds as I have received some overseas offers that I am mulling over now. I have to balance all of this against the backdrop of being an over aged father of a seven year old. Challenging and quite the balancing act. I rarely have time to breathe, and that’s on days when things go smoothly. On days when personal family issues crop up, or business snafus appear, it doubles my anxiety levels… But you know what, I must love it, because this is the life I have lead for over 35 years. I have made some money or I wouldn’t have been able to afford to purchase a basketball team but I have done this for 35 years because it is a part of me…I am Hip Hop
“There are producers, there are beat makers, and then there’s me!”