The first time Russell Simmons saw the “world famous” Eddie Cheba perform at the Harlem club Charles Gallery, it was 1977. That night inspired Simmons to pursue a career in Hip-Hop, and it wouldn’t be long before both Rush Communications and Def Jam Recordings became a reality. Cheba was known as one of the best DJs in the city alongside DJ Hollywood and Luv Bug Starski. He would rap along to the music and get the crowd going, something not every DJ could necessarily do.
But now, Cheba isn’t doing so well. On Thursday (October 5), Simmons shared an Instagram post indicating Eddie Cheba had been hospitalized. AllHipHop.com reached out to the Def Jam co-founder and discovered Cheba had suffered a stroke. But the following day, Cheba’s condition worsened. As Simmons tells us, “Eddie suffered his third stroke. He’s stable but having issues with memory. We are praying for his full recovery.”
He continues, “The original prince of Hip-Hop, Eddie Cheba, suffered a stroke and is in the hospital recovering. We should all pray for this man because we stand on his shoulders. As a hustler or promoter of Hip-Hop culture, getting Eddie Cheba to play your party ensured a huge turnout of people who would not only pay $6.50 to get in but would also drink away the cost of the ballroom rental, which most times was a bar guarantee). There was absolutely no one—except DJ Hollywood—who could sell more tickets and make us more money.
“The only other group who could sell that many tickets, maybe even more, was the great Grandmaster Flash, but his crowd was younger and the ticket prices mostly had to be lower. The bar guarantee was an obstacle because most of the crowd was too young to get in that kind of venue and also, you were very likely to have a shootout at the party. Let’s pray for the great Eddie Cheba.”
Eddie Cheba’s contributions to Hip-Hop culture have been somewhat understated over the years. Even as Hip-Hop celebrates its 50th anniversary, he, DJ Hollywood and Luv Bug Starski are often left out of the conversation. As Chuck D told Wax Poetics in 2020, “Eddie Cheba was as important to Hip-Hop/rap as Ike Turner was to rock and roll. Nowhere does he get his due credit for spreading it from the BX [the Bronx] to [make it more] accessible.”
Needless to say, Simmons understands just how impactful Cheba was and makes it a point to mention it every chance he gets.
“The great Eddie Cheba is in the hospital,” he wrote in his original post. “For all of you reporters, YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS. The absolute facts are as follows: if you couldn’t get DJ Hollywood, you got Cheba. If you couldn’t get Cheba, you got Love Bug Starski (RIP). Again, this is actual facts. If you got all three, the number of tickets would skyrocket and you could also pay the bar guarantee. They were the rap STARS and the biggest money makers and draws.
“As a promoter who worked all the boroughs (except Staten Island), THIS IS THE FACT THE ONLY OTHER DRAW OF THIS MAGNITUDE WAS GRANDMASTER FLASH and he had a younger crowd ALMOST EVERY TIME I BOOKED HIM IT WAS A SHOOT OUT. But he was in their league in terms of tickets sales and celebrity status. If you are writing something else go to the Bronx or Harlem and ask any 65-70 year old. The history is the history misrepresentation of it is criminal. These n###as ain’t even dead and f###ing up the history. RIP Love Bug Starski.”
AllHipHop wishes Eddie Cheba a speedy recovery.