Streets is Talking: Just Ice

    While many media sources attribute the dawn of rap gangsterism strictly to the West Coast, are they not overlooking the pioneers of the East? Given his track record, swirled with rumors of shotgun-toting, record label office blasting, exec duffing, and keeping enemies in fear, Just Ice may’ve created the thug image that so much […]

    While many media sources attribute the dawn of rap gangsterism strictly to the West Coast, are they not overlooking the pioneers of the East? Given his track record, swirled with rumors of shotgun-toting, record label office blasting, exec duffing, and keeping enemies in fear, Just Ice may’ve created the thug image that so much rappers wear today as makeup.    He can spit too. Just released two (made available again recently) albums, along with guest work and twelve-inch singles that still remain crate staples. Presently working on a marketing project for Volswagen with Biz Markie DJ Cool V, Just Ice tells’s Streets is Talking some things, but lets other sleeping dogs lie. For 20 plus years, Just Ice wasn’t the rapper to test – and he still isn’t. How did you start our rapping?Just Ice: I was about nine or 10 years old, I would always hear when [Afrika] Bambaataa would play, when [Kool] Herc would play, [Grandmaster] Flash would play.  When I was a kid, I would always see them cats.  By me being big I always got in [the clubs].  I was mad young.  So that inspired me.  There was a guy in Castle Hill at that time named Glenn; he’s a correctional officer now in Riker’s [Island].  He wrote my very first rhyme for me, I was nine or 10 years old or some st like that.  He charged me three dollars.  That’s how I got my very first rhyme.  That was way back like ‘77 or ‘78, some st like that. How did you lock down your first recording deal at Sleeping Bag/Fresh Records?Just Ice: There used to be a club in New York called Danceteria, and on every floor there was a different DJ.  One night on the top floor Afrika Islam was up there playing from the Zulu Nation.  By me hanging out with [Bambaataa] and my cousins and aunts knowing Bam, he knew who I was.  He didn’t have any MC that night.  At one point he played something that was funky so just grabbed the mic and started rhyming.  And [Kurtis] Mantronik [of group Mantronix] who I didn’t know at the time, was standing right next to me; I didn’t even know it was him.  We started talking, he was like “Do you want a record deal?”  I said, “Yeah,” and he said, “Bring the demo in,” and gave me the address to Sleeping Bag Records.  So me and my man at the time we went to a recording studio on Myrtle Avenue [Brooklyn], because I lived in Fort Greene Projects.  We went up the block to Myrtle Avenue and I paid 22 dollars and something odd cents for one hour or some st like that.  We went in there banged “Latoya” out in like about 15 minutes.  Yo, to be honest, the first record I recorded in there was “Put The Record Back On.”  Then we had time left over then we did “Latoya.” What was it like making and promoting your first album Back To The Old School?Just Ice: It wasn’t no different than being on a mic in front of people which I was used to doing anyway.  It was that nobody was there this time when recording and if you messed up, you could go again [laughs].  That’s the only difference, because if you mess in the park you get booed the fk off the mic.  So it was cool, it wasn’t no outstanding feeling.  It was a new Why name it Back To The Old School at that time?Just Ice: Because if you listen to the record Back To The Old School, that’s a mixture of old original Hip-Hop records.  That’s what I meant because at that particular time everybody was coming out with references that it was some new st.  So I said I’m going to take this Hip-Hop thing to back where it came because I know where it came from.  So that’s why I named that album Back To The Old School because the records that are on there it’s a tribute to the true school of Hip-Hop. How did you get with KRS-One for your second album Kool & Deadly?  Just Ice: Me and Kris known each other for a long time.  We go back to the days of the shelter where Scott La Rock was our social worker.  He was doing his thing at the time.  What was that label he was on at the time, it wasn’t Jive/ I think you mean B-Boy Records where he dropped Criminal Minded?Just Ice: Well the first record he came out with was a group called 1241.  That was on B-Boy Records.  Nobody even knew BDP was on B-Boy Records because they didn’t use the name BDP.  They named themselves 1241 and the record that they made was “Success Was The Word.”   I came out after them.  We just knew each other for a while.  So I was like do you want to do this second album with me?  He was like yeah.  That was the same day Scott [La Rock] got killed, that same day we all signed the contracts.  Later on that night, Scott got killed. How did you guys take the death of Scott La Rock?Just Ice: I don’t even want to talk about that one, Okay, let’s move on.  Being that you are originally from Fort Greene can you touch upon how ill the ‘80s were in Brooklyn.  You had a lot of gangs like the Decepticons, the Lo-Lifes.  I heard a lot of crazy stories.  Just Ice: Them nas were nobody to us, man.  We Five Percenters, nobody don’t fk with us, straight up.  No matter what you wanted to call yourself because they know we come in numbers. I read Ronin Ro’s biography of Run-DMC and he mentioned that Jam Master Jay used to chase them out of parks because they were thought of as a gang.Just Ice: Well that was everyone’s perception.  Understand, within every organization there are a few bad apples to make everyone look bad.  It was a couple of motherfkers running under the name of the Five Percent acting like it was a gang, a crew, a sect or a click.  It’s more than 25,000 of us.  So we are more than a nation.  It’s millions of us.  At that time people couldn’t understand the concept of it because it wasn’t being taught or explained to them correctly and all they see out of the Five Percent were young Black brothers calling each other God and doing that every that’s wrong and to be the honest it was wrong.  But that’s not all of us, that’s just those who choose to do wrong. Did you feel good in a way or even proud when Wu-Tang really put the Five Percent knowledge on the map in Hip-Hop?Just Ice: They didn’t do anything that wasn’t done already; it didn’t do me any difference. I hear you got an extensive record collection especially with the breaks.  When did you start collecting?  Just Ice: Well yeah I have originals.  My record collection is predominantly Reggae music.  I have 70 crates of records, and three or four of them are American.  My record collection is basically all Yardie music.  The three or four crates that are American music are all original breaks.  No copies.  I don’t fk with those break compilations.  I have all original You ever get tempted to sell some of that stuff?Just Ice: Never, I still have those records.  They will die with me and when I do, they will go to my son. You were one of the first dudes to really kick the gangster stuff on wax.  Do you feel slighted that the general public attributes the gangster rap to N.W.A.?Just Ice: Hell no, I don’t feel slighted because anybody that knows Hip-Hop, they know I put out “Cold Getting Dumb” and everything like that, them nas were on the other side in L.A. fking with Atlantic Starr [sic].  Dr. Dre was the fking producer for Atlantic Starr.  Yella was out playing fking music for some motherfkers.  MC Ren was out there selling drugs, and Ice Cube was over there in Oakland [sic] being a little bh.  And they know I know.  So I don’t give a fk what the people say.  Because when it comes to the stage show, we’ll see what the fk is up. What was your problem with Mr. Magic?  Just Ice: Yeah it was some bullst.  It was just a misunderstanding, that’s I heard you wanted to get at him back in the day because he would be feeling himself too hard?Just Ice: Yeah, he was.  The guy was a radio personality and he’s deejaying Hip-Hop, so that could possibly turn into attitude and cockiness and st.  The na still alive, so it proves it wasn’t nothing.  He knew not to fk with How did you approach recording your third album The Desolate One?Just Ice: That was an album that I was under contract to do which I didn’t really want to do because I was going through a lot of personal st and that album took so long. [Points out wrestling trivia to his son in the background] You a big wrestling fan?Just Ice: Who is your favorite wrestler of all time?Just Ice: It’s really two.  Mil Mascaras is one of them and Bret Hart. The “Excellence Of Execution.”Just Ice: Yeah, Bret Hart was whooping Steve Austin’s ass at will. You don’t think Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig gave him a run for his money though?Just Ice: Mr. Perfect?  Apparently you only seen these matches on TV.  I used to go to wrestling matches for real.  I seen plenty of them, in a match that’s not on TV and not restricted to time Bret Hart can’t be I also heard you snuffed Lenny Fisherberg, who was the owner of Cold Chillin’ Records.Just Ice: Tyrone Williams was part of Prism.  The name of that record company was called Prism Records.  Cold Chillin’ Records was a subsidiary of it.  That’s when he had [The Juice Crew] and all of them on Cold Chillin’.  Me and Ty was mad cool.  Our record companies were right next to each other.  We were right next door to each other.  One night I told Tyrone that I was broke and needed some cash for my pocket.  So Tyrone said “Okay cool, meet me at the office around five o’clock and I’ll give you a couple hundred dollars.”  So I’m like, “Okay, cool.”  I went to the office the next day and I seen my man [D.J.] O.C. from the Fearless Four.  So me and O.C. was talking and here comes Lenny Fisherberg; he was Tyrone’s boss.  He comes to me and is like “Just Ice, what are you doing here?”  I’m like, “I’m waiting for Tyrone to come so we can take care of something, because I’m broke.”  I thought that was the end of that.  So Lenny is like “Just Ice, you’re not getting any money from Tyrone.”  I stood up and knocked him out.  He fell once, he got up. He fell again and got up again.  So I had to get out of there before the cops came. Did that make people not want to work with you?Just Ice: They still don’t want to fk with me, son.  When Epic Records were out and they had their Epic Street imprint they told me my st was too hard for them.  They were talking about that they like to fk with nas like Ghostface and Cappadonna and nas like that.  They said the st I brought to them was too hard.  I took that st to my man DJ Premier, my man lumpy.  Lumpy was like, “Just, that st is just too fking hard, man.”  And I still got that album, it was never released.  Nas is still scared, put it like that. Speaking of being scared, there were always rumors that preceded you, namely ones of you running up in record label offices toting burners.  Just Ice: I’m not even going to say nothing about that. How about you going to Queens Bridge projects with shotgun looking for MC Poet because he was talking greasy?Just Ice: Me and Poet agreed we wouldn’t talk about that anymore.  But me and Poet is Do you feel you paved the way for feared industry people and artists like Freddie Foxxx, Suge Knight, Willie D of the Geto Boys?Just Ice: All of them mutherfkers. Do you get their props from them when you see them?Just Ice: Always.  Even John Cena gave me props.  I know them cats. It was well documented that you beat a murder rap back in ‘87 in Washington D.C., speak on it.Just Ice: That’s on public record.  I mean the judge said I didn’t do it, so I didn’t do it. You almost didn’t make it on the “Self Destruction” record, what exactly happened?  Just Ice: Yeah, them nas didn’t really want me on there because I had a bad reputation and I was too violent.  But then they listened to Doug E. Fresh and everybody.  They said it would be good for Just Ice to get on the record.  So muthafkers who’s following him and listening to what he’s saying, it will catch another audience. Is true a lot of people on that record didn’t get paid?  Just Ice: Oh we are about to.  We have a big lawsuit that’s going to be settled August 6th of this year at ten o’clock.  The settlement is like for five hundred million or something like that.  And everyone that was on “Self Destruction” got contacted through the law firm.  And I already spoke to the lawyers and yes we are getting paid finally.  And we are getting paid for it this year.  This is the final one, because this has been going on for What’s been the hold up all this time?Just Ice: Motherfkers being greedy, taking your money, you know how that goes. Is true LL Cool J was playing high post about being on that record?Just Ice: Nah, that’s not true.  He was down the block at another studio.  And he was contractually bound to not be on that record.  It was a record company thing.  Same thing with Big Daddy Kane, that’s why you see Kane in the video with [MC] Lyte. What are you up to nowadays?Just Ice: in 2002, me and DJ Premier did a record.  One side is called “Gangsters Don’t Cry” and the other side is “Just Rhyming With Kane.”  In 2003 we did another record called “History” on one side and a freestyle on the other side.  Right now I just finished recording for Cool V, Biz Markie’s DJ.  We got something going with Volkswagen. What you think of the state of Hip-Hop now?Just Ice: It’s stagnant, real stagnant. You think it’s all the money?Just Ice: Yeah, it’s too much money involved.  Muthafkers who can’t even rhyme now making records.  It needs something to shake this b***h up. Why are you so edgy?Just Ice: Who’s edgy?  Because I’m really relaxed, I’m laying on my bed.  I’m calm as a mutherfker. Really?  You come off like you always ready to bust someone’s head at any moment.Just Ice: It can happen.Check out some classic videos by Just-Ice:“Going Way Back” featuring KRS-One

Just Ice Performance – “Latoya” & “Going Way Back”

“Self-Destruction” – The Stop the Violence Movement (with Just Ice)