Kid Capri: Legendary Status

When Kid Capri speaks, the initial Hip-Hop excitement is still in his voice. Mostly though, The Bronx native is known for speaking with his hands as a legendary DJ and a producer for everyone from Heavy D to Styles P. Currently getting his own label, No Kid’N, up and running, Kid is slated to release a new mixtape with Budda Early entitled The Treatment on September 16th as well as a solo album called The Whole World’s Behind David Love later in the fall. In the meantime, the World’s Greatest D.J. is touring with Rakim and working on a biographical film called The Craziest Kid. As someone who goes back to zodiac signs and sweatshirts but never lost a step, Kid is one of Hip-Hop’s greatest ambassadors. Take notes. Sorry to start on a down note but Bernie Mac recently passed away. Having worked with him on Def Comedy Jam, did you get to know him at all and is there anything you can share about him?Kid Capri: Bernie Mac came from Def Comedy Jam and the first time he came out he did good but he became the icon the second time when me and him was doing a routine called “Kick It” that we made up right on the spot. We didn’t rehearse it or anything and it became real legendary for him. When we took Def Comedy Jam on the road with that routine, people was lovin’ it so much. We would perform and it got so crazy that we was just doing different routines and spontaneous things and it would just get more hot. People liked that that it was just ‘all of a sudden.’ We used to be on the tour bus and Bernie would put his stocking cap on and grab a Heinekin and be funnier off stage than he’d be on stage. He’d be on the bus all night just telling jokes. We’d be on the floor, balled up and couldn’t take no more. By the time we go to sleep he was telling jokes to the bus driver. He was one of those dudes. He was like an uncle. Real humble and we would tear the stage down every night it didn’t matter where it was, or if different comedians before us wasn’t good or made the crowd feel a certain way, he would come in and make things right, fix it and leave it better than before he got You have a new label and mixtape coming out, but to take it back to the past and essence of Kid Capri, you obviously love music to death and have dedicated your life to it. Was there a particular record or a moment or something like that when you knew this was what you wanted to do?Kid Capri: Actually, my father when I was younger, watching him on stage performing, he was a singer and my grandfather played trumpet for Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie and Miles Davis and them dudes. My father was singing he had a couple of hit records out in the 70s and seeing him on stage growing up and watching him that right there let me know that I wanted to be on stage. I was always around music, the DJing thing wasn’t out yet but I knew that I would do something in it. I didn’t know what I was gonna be big in but that’s what I wanted to do.Then when the DJing thing came out, I was on my block and this kid, my man Joe, he was throwin’ some dice on the wall and he was like “Yes yes y’all to the beat y’all freak freak y’all,” and I’m looking at him like, What the hell is he saying, what the hell is he talking about? That week they had a party in the community center with these kids called Rockwell Inc.-DJ B Ward, MC Cool C, Smooth B, Crazy B, they used to have parties at Marble Hill Community center for a dollar, two dollars. I was down there watching B Ward deejay and I ain’t never seen that. I didn’t go to the bathroom, I didn’t talk to no kids, I didn’t dance, I just watched this kid playing. This one time he was cutting this record called “Conga” [Lafayette Afro Rock Band] and he was cutting it so crazy I ran home and told my moms this is what I wanna do, I wanna be a DJ and she said a DJ, what’s that? I said I want a turntable, I want this I want that, moms didn’t have a lot of money so she bought me a mixer that had no headphones. That’s how I got nice cuz I had to guess those spots on the records. So the older dudes that was around at the time, deejays on my block, they were like How is this eight-year-old kid bustin’ they ass? It’s because I didn’t have headphones. My name was DJ Doctor Spank [laughs].I started talking to this girl in the neighborhood named Barbara Carter; me and her was in the same class we started goin’ together for a little while and we was walking into the classroom and she said Kid Capri sounds like a good name for a DJ you should try it. I tried it put the name on the sweatshirt and next thing you know I was Kid Capri. Two months later she was shot, a stray bullet killed her so that’s why I kept the name. But to answer your question, when I heard B Ward cut that “Conga” record that’s when I knew what I wanted to do. My first single on my first album [The Tape] was “The Apollo” and that’s on the other side of that “Conga” record, it’s on the same album. Public Enemy used those horns and later there was “Rumpshaker” and “Show Me What You Got” with Jay-Z. I was the first that used Debarge [hums “One More Chance”] before Biggie on the first album. I had a lot of beats that were in the future before dudes was really getting at it. Kid Capri "Apollo" As far as studio work, where do production and deejaying overlap?Kid Capri: The best producers are the ones who are the DJs because they’re out there playing records for people to dance to. You have dudes like Premier, Pete Rock, new dudes like Polow Da Don, dudes like Jermaine Dupri he was a DJ before he was a producer. Cats like them that know those beats that know those records to keep. The best producers that I’ve known in Hip-Hop have been DJs first. Now every producer can’t be a DJ, every DJ can’t be producer, everyone has a job to do. But Swizz, Scratch, they were DJs before they became producers. As far as emceeing goes and having seen so many eras, what are your standards for an MC? Kid Capri: A dope MC is when you can get on a record and be hot and then not be selfish to the point that you don’t know how to make a song. Even more of a dope emcee is when he can get on stage and not only have to worry about his single but he can get on stage and make you believe in him where you don’t even care about his record cuz he was so dope. Perfect example is the Fugees’ first album. In my opinion the first Fugees album was trash, it ain’t like it’s a secret it ain’t disrespect, it wasn’t a good album. But when you see them on stage you didn’t see them performing those records because they knew it wasn’t a good album it wasn’t selling but they would use other music and their show would be so incredible that you had to respect them. Next thing you know their next album sold 17 million or some crazy number. A lot of dudes don’t realize that you make that single but when you get on stage people are coming to see what you’re gonna do. If you have a hot record that’s great if you have a list of hot records even better. But after that you wanna make sure that this show is something people are gonna believe in, that people wanna pay for a ticket to see you again and a promoter will take a chance on you coming back. Understand that you’re not doing anyone a favor everyone’s doing you one. Do you think the art of the live performance is something that’s been lost?Kid Capri: I don’t think it’s a lost art but dudes are not puttin’ in the work that they’re supposed to be puttin’ in. You could get a list of dudes that have a hit record and put ‘em on stage and they do their record and do a buncha other s**t that nobody else knows and it’s really not that interesting. If it is then that’s beautiful but that’s what being a showman is about it’s knowing how to manipulate that stage so people will believe in what you’re doing. You can put that person up against dudes that have a whole category of hot records like the dudes that I’m out with now on Rock the Bells—Rakim, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Mos Def—who can bang you on the head with 13 or 14 records and its hard to come after that. That’s when it’s not about being someone who’s just a studio MC. You have to take that studio record to the world on that stage. They gonna come to see how you execute that record on stage and if that show ain’t popping word’s gonna spread and next thing you know you ain’t booked.Go Crazy f/ Kid Capri - Kid Capri & Budda Early

 “People were walking up saying, Who are you, why should I buy a tape for twenty dollars? I told them take my tape put it in your car and listen to the intro, I guarantee you’re gonna come back and buy the rest of the joints... Next thing you know every car that’s goin’ by, from the police cars to regular people, every car had a Kid Capri tape. That’s how I got hot to where I got my first

album deal.” Your upcoming release, The Treatment, is billed as a mixtape. Everything in the game now is mixtape this and mixtape that. What is the true history of the mixtape and what was Kid Capri’s hand in that?Kid Capri: First off before we go there I don’t like calling this joint a mixtape that’s not really what it is. A mixtape is not taking a bunch of records and putting it out there on a joint. We call it that, but it’s not. A mixtape is when you’re deejaying and doing it all at one time playing records, there aint no computer involved there aint no stopping the record pausing it; that’s what I always knew a mixtape to be. But I guess this coincided with the ones we have out now so we calling it a mixtape. But really it was dudes doing an album and some of it may be other people’s music they’re still put together as though it was their album. What it does it gives you a chance to be heard the same way I used to do it.My contribution was that before me you had Starchild, Hollywood, Brucie B, Lovebug Starski, when I came in I started playing with Starchild, me and him was making tapes together and they did good. People would come to the S & S Club a lot of younger dudes and old timers in-crowd people they would come get ‘em so we was out. I did that for a year I was with Starchild for a year at S & S and the Zodiac Club. After that, Red Alert got me a job at Studio 54 I started playing there and it became pandemonium, it got so crazy I had to stop it. People were getting hurt, a lot of fights breaking out, a lot of folks was getting rushed it was overcapacitated I had to stop it. Between that I was doing little parties here and there in Virginia and I’d come back and do my New York thing, the Castle, Powerhouse, all that. But I said what am I gonna do now? I bought me a hundred tapes and sat in my crib and I made five or six different mixes that I had and I sat down on the street corner and I sold them tapes for twenty dollars. People were walking up saying, Who are you, why should I buy a tape for twenty dollars? I told them take my tape put it in your car and listen to the intro, I guarantee you’re gonna come back and buy the rest of the joints. They’ll take it, put it in their car, hear the intro come back and buy everything. It got so crazy that they’d come back, buy a tape that cost twenty dollars and then give me a hundred dollar tip. Next thing you know every car that’s goin’ by, from the police cars to regular people, every car had a Kid Capri tape and they’d be shouting it all over the street. That’s how I got hot to where I got my first album deal. That right there opened the door for other DJs to come in. After me came Ron G, Triple C, Doo Wop, they developed the same type of style the way I would talk on the tape, the things I would say on the mic. The way my mixtape got so big was cuz of the type of music I would play that people forgot about, the information I gave and how I said it. They felt my swagger by listening to the tape. You felt like you was there when you heard it. Even if it was made in my house it felt like it was made in a stadium. The Old School 1, the Old School 2, the James Brown, all those joints became classics. Magazines started saying I was making millions off the mixtapes, that wasn’t true. I was getting known from people copying the tapes but I wasn’t seeing all that money. The only way to get out of that was to stop it all together

 “How could any stupid person say the DJ’s obsolete? Where does your record get played on a mixtape or on the radio or in the club without the DJ playin’ it? Who else is gonna play it? The artist?” There’s been some talk dissing DJs lately like maybe they’re even obsolete. What’s your take on that and what’s the DJ’s role at this point in time?Kid Capri: How could any stupid person say the DJ’s obsolete? Where does your record get played on a mixtape or on the radio or in the club without the DJ playin’ it? Who else is gonna play it? The artist? The artist is gonna go in the club, turn on the turntable and play the goddamned record? No. And he’s sending his man which is some f****t s**t he’s sending his man to give him a shout-out and let people know he’s in the building instead of him coming to see the DJ. Sit back get your ego together and see the DJ and say “I appreciate you playin’ my s**t, B, and I need you and I love you for playin’ my s**t, you don’t have to play my s**t and I thank you.” Do that to me? Any one of them n****s know you see me you come to my joint you send your man to come say something to me, n***a it’s like you didn’t say s**t at all. You better come see me. “Kid, what’s up? I’m in the building.” People know that from me for years, that ain’t no new story. You’re a f**king star well I’m a star without you. I may not have the millions you have but I’m a star at what I do. You gonna respect what I do not for the fact of me being a DJ but for me being a man period. And then you’re going respect me for what I do. It’s just a matter of Where do you think that mutual respect got lost? Is it when people started to see a lot of money out of this?Kid Capri: That’s what it is, man. Being humble is not a hard thing to do. Everyone loves somebody that’s cool man. People wanna f**k with you, people wanna be around you, people wanna be you by you bein’ cool. If you’re walking around with an attitude cause you got a little money now. cause you a rock star or a rap star that s**t comes and goes. Be a Kid Capri. Be somebody that’s been here from the beginning and is still here. Be that. Don’t be somebody that blew up and you the man and then you fell the f**k off because of the way you treated people and now you wanna get back and you mad cause nobody wanna help you

“My television presence on Def Comedy Jam you only saw me for a split second on there. Nobody really got what Kid Capri was all about on that show… What I did on Hip-Hop Honors and the BET Awards shows and all that was cool, that was a little display, but there’s so much more that people don’t even know.” When you look at that history that goes so far back, what really stands out for you personally as a moment?Kid Capri: The one thing that made me real proud and let me know that I really landed was when I got on stage at [Madison Square] Garden for Aaliyah. From what I hear there’s never been any pandemonium like that in the Garden that I created for that ten minutes or fifteen minutes. I’ve had people tell me that they’ve never seen a show like that, that they’d never seen a crowd reaction like the way I had them in the Garden. It was because I did it with just turntables. I did it as a DJ. I wasn’t a rock star, I had no records out, there wasn’t no iconic figure I was just a dude that made it doing it with turntables bigger than anybody else. To get the same reaction or a bigger reaction than an R. Kelly or anyone of these pop people or platinum people that I was able to do that was one of my proudest moments. Out of thousands of shows or parties that was the one that let me know I made it and that people really respect what I do and they understand. From there, being the first dude who owns a tour bus in Hip-Hop, being in all the television shows as a DJ, that let me know that I put the work in and I opened doors. Anytime somebody rolls up on me in a mall or on the street or at one of my shows and they say Kid it’s because of you I ain’t killin’ nobody right now, I ain’t robbin’ nobody’s house, it’s cause of you I changed my life it’s because of you I started deejaying and I’m able to take care of my family. Every time I hear it that s**t makes me feel better than anything because I know I made a difference to people and I didn’t have no records to do it, I didn’t have no strong television presence. My television presence on Def Comedy Jam you only saw me for a split second on there. Nobody really got what Kid Capri was all about on that show. That’s a conversation I just had with Doug E. Fresh. When people get a chance to see what I really do on the road, when they got a chance to see that that’s gonna be a whole other level. What I did on Hip-Hop Honors and the BET Awards shows and all that was cool, that was a little display, but there’s so much more that people don’t even know. When they get a chance to see that’s gonna really let people know that there’s no DJ on earth that does what this dude does. That’s not a cocky statement that’s not a bragging statement, that’s a fact. The reason is because I come from the Kool Herc days, Grandmaster Flash, Theodore, Breakout all these dudes from back then I was watching as a little kid all the way up until now. I put all those things together and that’s a much bigger look than someone who came in the business five years ago ten years ago. You’re talking about someone who’s been in the business 32 years. Hip-Hop is 32 years old, I’ve been there for 32 years. I can go out with Rakim, KRS, different people. I go back to the old school people and then I can go to the new people. I can rock with anybody. I didn’t [get] sucked into the timeline. I can rock with anybody, that’s a great One last question: what’s your number one record of all time?Kid Capri: Number one record of all time? [pauses to think]. To me, “The 900 Number.” Any reason?Kid Capri: It doesn’t matter where you’re at, what age it is, everybody knows that record. That s**t the 45 King put together, that shit goes [hums saxophone line], no hook no rap, everybody knows that shit. White people, Chinese people. Everybody knows that record. That’s one of the all time greats.