Tuesday, March 17, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Fab 5 Freddy Sets The Record Straight!

When you say pioneer with regard to this Hip Hop shit, make sure say you this man's fucking name. And with respect. Graffiti artist who ran with the legends Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lee Quinones and Keith Haring, featured in the seminal early '80's New York movie "Downtown 81", producer of the classic "Wild Style" flick, shouted out by Blondie on the underground pop smash "Rapture", the first effin' Hip Hop VJ on MTV's ground breaking "Yo! MTV Raps", director of my favorite Hip Hop video ever, whew, this man put in work!!! I met Freddy when I was working at MTV a coupla' years ago and we've been building ever since. Last Friday afternoon, we were chopping it up about mad topics like me helping him get his twitter game on track, when we somehow got to the subject of XXL Magazine's recent feature "Still Ill" where they go back 15 years ago into the making of Nas' first album masterpiece "Illmatic". As me and Fab are talking, we start discussing how MC Serch, interviewed for the XXL piece, says some kinda flagrant sideways shit about Fab, his involvement in "Illmatic" and how he allegedly made the completion of said classic album very difficult. Quote:


"The most difficult sample [to clear] was with [Wild Style director] Charlie Ahearn, believe it or not. We had made a deal with Charlie, and then Fab 5 Freddy got into the mix and started getting into Charlie’s ear like, “Nah, you didn’t get enough [money].” The funny thing was, Fab 5 Freddy was about to direct the “One Love” video. So I’m calling Freddy like, “What are you telling your man? I’m about to cut you a check. You’re about to direct a video. Get on the same page.” [Freddy said,] “Are you threatening me?” I’m like, “Nah, it’s not a threat. I’m just saying, you don’t take care of this, you’re not gonna be directing no video.” I haven’t spoke to Fab 5 Freddy since."

I myself have never had any beef with Serch. I even bumped the 3rd Bass albums kinda hard back then. Shit, I even caught a cameo as the bald dude who gives the gas face as my Afro wig is yanked off in their video "Gas Face". I do also remember however, when I used to work at Def Jam, and when 3rd Bass was Russell Simmons' new artist, how Serch used to be up in the building dropping the word "Nigger" in my presence like it was going outta style. Man, I used to hate that shit, especially since I was a new employee and Russell had given Serch a mad "pass" in terms of his clout as a new artist. Didn't know if I was madder at Serch for being so ignorant in his use of the word or at Russell who thought that having his white saying that shit was mad cool. But as I was just starting out in the game, Serch had more juice than me, so I stayed with my work and kept it moving.

So me and Fab are speaking on the XXL joint, and how he feels Serch is kinda talking sideways. Fab makes it real clear that as long as he's been in the game, he's NEVER had any beef with ANYONE, however he wasn't really feeling Serch's comments. I asked Fab what really went on in connection with "Illmatic". Being that I like hearing all sides to a story, Fab shared, and his response went like this:


"Nas was an incredible young emcee who made it a point to pay homage to the classics like "Wild Style". When I met him, he told me how much he dug my work and actually requested that I direct his video "One Love". Told me it would be an honor. So we went ahead and locked that project in. Afterwards, right before the album dropped, when I heard that they were using the Wild Style sample as the opening theme for "Illmatic", basically the theme for the album as a whole, I was like, "whoah, that's major!" As I was producer of "Wild Style" and Charlie Ahearn was the director, I really didn't have that much of a say in the clearance of that sample. That was Charlie's lane. What I do know is that Charlie, being the shrewd business man that he is, made sure that he negotiated hard to get what he deserved, what anybody else was getting paid for samples. I never got in Charlie's ear about how to handle his business and I don't know what the fuck Serch is talking about. What I do know is that this ain't the first time Serch said some sideways shit about me. Recently, as I was working on VH1's Hip Hop Honors and he had his little "White Rapper" show, I remember him talking slick, questioning my credibility as an O.G. of this culture, like I had no business being involved with the Hip Hop Honors. I'm like, "where is that coming from?" Like I said, I never had no beef with no one, but seems like dude likes to keep my name in his mouth, like he's hating on me or some shit. I remember back in the day, before he even knew who the fuck I was, when real wolf like niggas I knew gave Serch a pass in clubs like Latin Quarters or Union Square, seeing him in the clubs, all up in the piece dancing with the hi-top and shit, I always gave dude his props. Like I said, I never had no beef with no one, but seems like dude likes to keep my name in his mouth, like he's hating on me or some shit. Whatever."

As we moved on to the next topic, we both laughed about how Serch tended to fall into that classic role where, once given a pass or ghetto card, certain white, super ecstatic to be down, ball til they fall, not realizing that they killed their own pass status with kniccas that don't easily honor they so called pass status. Didn't Serch almost get murked for talking shit about MC Hammer's momma? Not for nothing, but I'm just calling it like I see it. I do wanna give Serch a direct shout in helping to bless the world with the "Illmatic" gem, shit remains in steady rotation to this day. 3rd Bass? Not so much. No stray shots though.

Meanwhile, the homie Fab, on top of a whole slew of projects, is currently dropping art pieces again and his latest work can be seen at BETTER HISTORY, located at 169 10th Avenue and 20th Street in Chelsea, NYC. Go head, check that shit out, get that culture art swag popping. To my white out there, and you know that CJ keeps love for youse all, let's stay keeping shit in proper perspective.

One Love!

UPDATE: Fab just hit me to clarify that the album didn't just use a sample, it lifted a whole scene from the "Wild Style" movie. ALSO, they tried to clear the sample AFTER the record had dropped, hence the higher price in clearances. Makes a whole lotta sense to me.


  1. just off the XXL mag link alone... the online version only covers 5 tracks, and Serch is in there talking shit about TWO legends? get the fuck outta here with that shit...

    and then he's gonna do that white rapper/hiphop diva shit, like its on some real shit?

    now its been confirmed why I always liked Pete Nice better (pause)

  2. ^ "Serch is in there talking shit about TWO legends? get the fuck outta here with that shit..."

    I'm sayin. Ballin' outta control.

  3. typical white cat trying to be down but was accepted. so much accepted that isnt his wife black? we should have never accepted that clown in hiphop. hiphop should of stayed black. maybe things would be different instead the hidden gentrification of whites in hiphop.

  4. CJ,
    One thing I notice often when it comes to emcees or personalities from yesteryears is that many people think they're legendary, relevant, or a pioneer just because they came from that particular time.
    For instance many cats came well before or during the time of LL Cool J, but that doesn't make them more of a legend than LL. Example, Kool Moe D. He had earlier success in a group and as a solo artist. But in my opinion, pioneering legend is more applicable to Mr. Smith.
    De La is an act that pioneered the way CDs were package and presented not to mention their whole visual style and how hip hop was presented and accepted well before commercially viable acts like Outkast and Kanye West.

    Yeah, 3rd Bass was definitely tight back then. But that's where it stops. Hammer has way more relevance in terms of bringin innovation to hip hop, in retrospect.
    There's no question concerning Fab's cultural impact on the global hip hop scene.

  5. Questioning in public, if at all, by talking greasy about a cat with the pedigree of one Fab 5 Freddy is an automatic FAIL. Period.

  6. first, anybody and everybody that has anything to do with hip-hop should know who Fab 5 Freddy is, period. with that being said, Serch's shady business tactics are well known if you're in the right circles. i mean, ask the legendary producer T-Ray about Illmatic and Nas. According to him Serch wasn't even interested in signing Nas until, according to T-Ray, he kept telling Serch how dope this kid was. to the point, T-Ray was looking to get Nas a deal, as soon as Serch caught wind he magically got Nas on Columbia. and in the words of Hov, "i know who i paid God, Serchlight publishing." i don't have any problem with Serch, never met the guy, but talking about Fab 5, who's still completely relevant across the board. get the fuck outta here! that's my 2 cents.


  7. Co-sign on this whole post but you're buggin when you say you're not feeling the 3rd bass albums - both of them are classic NYC hip hop late 80s dont sleep

  8. I liked 3rd Bass alot back then. The second LP was an underground hit over here in Germany back in 1992. But I always considered MC Serch kind of a total douche with his fake hi-top-jew-fro-fade and his totally corny Kid'N'Play dance moves. And now shit talkin' about a true pioneer and legend and btw totally cool dude like Fab 5 Freddy??? WTF!!!??? I mean does Blondie sing about Serch? The fuck no! Wild Style? No nerd like looking dance-bear-black-hair-styles-simulating douche bags in this movie... Fab 5 Freddy! Yes. Yo! MTV Raps etc., etc. worse case of Wiggaritis

  9. Not that it really matters, but damn! He was throwing the "er" on it like that? Not even settling for the "a" huh? Crazy. You're better than me. I woulda gotten fired for puttin' my hands on him. How ill is it that he was doing that back in the day and nobody checked him? That's the kind of thing you'd expect to happen now, not then. I guess Russell has had that kind of pull for a minute, huh? Definitely gotta blame him first. My opinion of him was pretty low before I read this drop. Now? Sheeeeeit. What a fuckin' clown.

  10. ^ Nah, not with the "er" on it, but still foul nonetheless.

  11. Don't eva,eva,eva,eva,eva,eva,eva in ya life quetion Fab Five's legendary status in Hip Hop culture...eva!!!!! "Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids!" Peace to Oran "Juice" Jones

  12. CJ, do you know who were the "exec producer(s)" that picked the beats on Illmatic? Whomever that was did a great job, & Nas should use them again for the next album, after the meh beats from N-bomb album.

  13. I KNEW you looked familiar! LMAO. I loved that video. I read the XXL issue. Great bookend to the piece. CJ comes through again. Props given.


    I always thought Serch was trying a little too hard to appear entirely apologetic. Giving the Gas Face to PW Botha? Really?

    Maybe Serch should have made a porno with Botha's ex.

  14. Anyone who ran with Basquiat and didn't contribute to the habit that put him in the grave deserves respect.

  15. There's so much PU~ in this drop that I dn't know where to begin.

    First, I am sad to hear that Serch was a dewsh. I always liked son and I would have lit a candle if Hammer's goons merc'ked him.

    Second, XXL stays losing by subjugating the great history of the genre to page 6 status. A cover of Cam'Ron?

    I met Fab 5 ten million years ago during my graffiti days at this spot in lower Manhattan off Nassau Street. It was called ICRY and that stood for Inner City Roundtable of Youth. It was a non-profit office that was a hangout for writers. They would have the kids do murals and other type art shit.

    I have NEVER, NEVER, EVER seen Freddy without a pair of shades on either

  16. LMBAO@I have NEVER, NEVER, EVER seen Freddy without a pair of shades on either


  17. t-ray was the one that put mc serch on to nas. t-ray should get credit
    for convincing serch to get nas a deal. courtesy of unkut.com check the story out.

  18. Funny that Serch was the one caught flack for the diss of Hammer's mom, when it was Pete Nice who dropped the lyrics

    "a household tool and a stank ho/ the cactus turned Hammer's mother out".

    I respected Serch's skills on the mic (Pete lyrics were more ill), but he was one corny motherfucker, and his try hard antics got old fast.

    Stories like this confirm that dude was not cool.

  19. Fab 5 wasn't the only Hip-hop legend that Serch was way out of line with, Hammer almost had had killed and he tried to come at me on Funk Flex's show 2 years ago:

    Blueprints from Paradise The Arkitech - X-Clan + MC Hammer = Serch Almost Killed?

    Thieves in the Temple Of Hip-hop - Bamboozled Again!

    Paradise Gray - X-Clan

  20. Clarity is Sexy. Keep pushing it Combat Jack! I've enjoyed your mind...on this HIP HOP Grind.