Mikey D: Re-Settin’ It Off

Mikey D is a Queens legend dating back to 1982. Long before he was a Main Source frontman, Mikey “Destruction” was a notorious battle MC in the parks of his borough. Though he and LL Cool J had duo plans that never hatched, Mikey is one of the select few who was blessed to work extensively with late Hip-Hop production genius, Paul C. Numerous twelve-inch singles have been released, carrying Mikey through 1994 when he recorded F**k What U Think with Main Source.

Today, Mikey D still performs regularly. A recent mixtape, “The Best of Mikey D”, along with surfacing recordings with Paul C, as well as new material, may make 2006 his biggest year yet. AllHipHop.com joins Mikey to discuss the past, the future, and some of the most interesting stories previously untold. The Destruction is still taking place!

AllHipHop.com: Tell me what Jamaica Queens was like for an MC in the mid 1980’s…

Mikey D: It was all competitive. When you came out, you had to be on-point with your stuff. Somebody would step to you over whateva. I used to come out on the fun tip – just makin’ people laugh. T-La Rock came out with “It’s Yours,” I came out with some s**t called, “Your Drawers.” Whodini came out with “Big Mouth,” I came out with “Big Head.” I used to do that in the park. Then you had a couple of cats who was really rhymin’ who would try you. That’s when and why I stepped up my battle skills.

AllHipHop.com: At this time in Hip-Hop, there was the Bronx vs. Queens battles. We look at the Queensbridge era at Shan and Craig-G and Roxanne, but how was this treated in your ‘hood?

Mikey D: I was in Hip-Hop before that even happened. I was with a group called The Clientele Brothers, they was the hottest s**t in Queens – like the Cold Crush were in the Bronx. We was already in comparison to the Bronx [because of Cold Crush]. But it never came to no battle s**t like that. Now when the KRS and Shan thing occurred, it was crazy. With all due respect, I think KRS destroyed Shan. Actually, there was a show at USA Roller Rink out in Queens where they was supposed to battle. Shan didn’t even show up. But guess who stepped up to bat? I was like, “Aiight, I’ll battle KRS. I’m from Queens. S**t, he’s dissing Queens!” But, that never occurred. KRS and I became friends and s**t.

AllHipHop.com: What year do you think you and LL Cool J met?

Mikey D: S**t, I would say about ’83. It had to be a year and a half to two years before [the Def Jam deal].

AllHipHop.com: Whose idea was it that you two should perhaps be a duo?

Mikey D: It was his idea. The grounds that we met on was, he was the nicest MC from his school, Jackson High School. I was the nicest MC from my school, which was Springfield High School. There used to be a spot on Elmont, Long Island called Roller Castle. Flava Flav used to have used to promote shows there. That’s where me and L linked up. We were supposed to battle. But before we battled, we just compared notes – rhyme for rhyme. I was impressed with his style – his voice, it reminded me of myself and vice-versa. We didn’t even end up battling, we rocked together. He got the deal from Def Jam and they said we could be next the Run-DMC if we stuck together. I didn’t believe him because, Cool J was the type of person at the time where you couldn’t believe nothin’ he said. He wasn’t arrogant, he was spunky. You didn’t know what was the truth and what was a lie. When he said Def Jam, I had never heard of Def Jam at the time. Sure enough, a lil’ while after, we stopped hangin’ together ‘cause of business and whatever, he did the damn thing, man. “I Need a Beat.”

AllHipHop.com: We see that in your own area now with 50 Cent and Bang ‘Em Smurf. There will always be the, “what if” question.

Mikey D: Exactly. And at the particular time, I wasn’t as focused as Cool J was. I was already doing shows, I was doing big s**t. Cool J was just on the come-up. Our focus wasn’t there. His focus was there to where he would do anything to get to where he needed to be. I was the lazy one. I don’t blame him for anything he did. I blame myself for that.

AllHipHop.com: You released oodles of twelve-inch singles in the late 80’s. Back then, was it possible to eat off of a single?

Mikey D: Absolutely not. I don’t think so. At that time, it was all about having a record out and doing shows. But to eat off of a single, absolutely not.

AllHipHop.com: Artists today pass around mixtapes and expect listeners to care. Describe to me how people hustled to get discovered in your past…

Mikey D: It was all about street credibility – the street buzz, first. Don’t be a hustler one day, and the next day be a rapper ‘cause you got the money to go to the studio and think your s**t is hot. You don’t have no street cred. You can be nice, but who are you? N***as don’t give a f**k! You need to build your street credibility as far as being that rapper or MC – actually, f**k a rapper! – an MC. 50 Cent man, prime example. 50 is the best. He did it the best. Get the street on your side first, and then come out and bang. ‘Cause now you got a following. What I did was battle from corner to corner. I went to other cats’ hoods. I didn’t care where I was at – I battled the best n***a in any hood, and I’d be by myself! I need my name to float. I don’t just need my people to say I’m nice, I need your boys to say I’m nice.

AllHipHop.com: Paul C’s story is a true tragedy. You were in a group with Paul, what was it like to be with such a dude. What was his work ethic like?

Mikey D: Phenomenal! Paul brought the best outta me, B. I could come in there with rhymes and the way he would change it up and match the beat to it, it was like a hand in a glove, man.

AllHipHop.com: You would show your rhymes and he’d create?

Mikey D: He was a part of my L.A. Posse, not [LL Cool J’s production group, L.A. Posse] I’d come to the studio with my rhyme book. We’d sit down at the mix board, and I’d spit it to him. He would fiddle with that damn drum machine. Sure enough, I’d go to the store to buy a 40 ounce, and when I came back, he had a beat ready for that particular song, man. That’s how nice Paul was.

AllHipHop.com: Was Paul the L.A. Posse’s DJ?

Mikey D: He was a good DJ, but he was a better producer. Johnny Quest was my DJ. He was bananas. He still is bananas! Actually, he and I are gonna perform tonight.

AllHipHop.com: What was your reaction to Paul’s death?

Mikey D: I couldn’t believe it. It was just a shocker. This guy never bothered nobody. To hear the way he went out, it f**ked me up! Then, it was so crazy because police was comin’ to my motherf**kin’ house, man. Me, Paul, and Quest was recording an album for Sleeping Bag Records. Somehow the guy that owned 1212 Recording Studios charged Sleeping Bag like $15,000 or whatever. I went to Sleeping Bag for an advance. They said, “No, we owe the studio $15,000.” I know me, Quest, Paul worked late nights and didn’t get charged for the studio. And when they said all that, I said, “Well, I’mma kill Paul. I’mma kill him.” I was pissed off. Two days later, I hear Paul got murdered. [long pause] I was the last one to say some dumb s**t like that. That right there really f**ked me up.

AllHipHop.com: Let’s talk about Main Source for a second… how did they pick you to replace Large Professor like that?

Mikey D: I was in the studio working, and Jeff Red told me about a group, already established, that needed a rapper. He didn’t tell me the name of the group or whateva, just gave me an address and number to call. I went there the next day, soon as K-Cut answered the door, I knew who he was. “Oh, this Main Source.” These guys auditioned me. K-Cut was like, “You got the job.”

AllHipHop.com: How did Sir Scratch and K-Cut treat you coming in. It sounds like a warm reception…

Mikey D: It was cool ‘cause they knew who I was. It was cool till we got to Canada, man. These guys tried to change me into something I’m not. “Stay in the house, don’t have any women call here,” corny s**t. It wasn’t K-Cut, it was more Scratch. Cut liked my style, I brought that gangsta s**t to that whole s**t. They was mama’s boys, man. They mother was the manager. With [Large Professor], he was a young guy, so she treated him like a son. With me, I was a grown ass man. I was a groomed rapper. You’re not gonna change me!

AllHipHop.com: Were you included in the mention of a Main Source reunion a few years back?

Mikey D: Absolutely not! For the simple fact that these same two guys wanted me to disrespect Large Professor. I wouldn’t step to the bat and do that, ‘cause that’s my man! I don’t have beef with Paul. Y’all do! When they had that reunion, hell no!

AllHipHop.com: People don’t realize that through Paul C., you knew Large Professor from before Main Source…

Mikey D: That’s one thing I want to clarify – Paul and I don’t only have Main Source in common, we have Paul C. in common. Paul C. is the nucleus. I wanna clear the air with that one.

AllHipHop.com: Certainly though, some consider F**k What U Think to be a classic. It did bring The Lox onto wax for the first time with, “Set It Off.” You outshined everybody on that cut in my opinion. How did you find The Lox lost in Yonkers?

Mikey D: We had a meeting at a studio in the Bronx. Somebody mentioned these Warlock guys or whateva. When I meant them, we already had that chemistry. N***as didn’t give a f**k, they reminded me of myself. They was hot to def. I said, “I want ‘em on it.” I’m not gonna say I started their career. But remember where it all started, man. This was the first record you had. Plus, it was hot. The last time I spoke to Jada or Sheek was in the studio where we recorded “Set It Off.” I’m not mad at them.

AllHipHop.com: Ma Barker got her jump on that record too?

Mikey D: Ma Barker’s original Rap name was Shaqueen. She was the illest female MC I have ever heard in Queens! Up on Farmers Boulevard, I used to run up on there. Her moms used to have a beauty parlor or whatever. Shaqueen was just that chick! I promised her mother, whenever I made it, I’m taking your daughter with me. Boom, when I got that Main Source deal, I came right back.

AllHipHop.com: You recently released “Best of Mikey D” the mixtape. How was the reaction?

Mikey D: The streets picked it up like a newborn baby, man. A lot of the songs were old, a lot were new. My boys know the old songs. These young kids, they never heard of that s**t. It was like all-new music to these guys – and it was their boy.

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