Tuesday, April 28, 2009

WATCH BLACK BISHOP TAKE WHITE KING

The first time I saw Troop 187 perform was at San Mateo City College at a rap contest that I had gone to because my Paly Alto rap mentor Def Emcee X (aka MD) had entered with the group he had at the time with his brother Style called Mad Africans. I forget who won that contest, but I vividly remember Troop 187. It was two dudes: one heavyset cat wearing a t-shirt and sweats that it looked like he’d slept in with a non-chalant style and a “could give a fuck” expression on his face, and another real serious, authoritative cat in a three-piece suit like an FOI calling himself the “The Bishop of Hip Hop.” They opened their set rocking a hard beat and ripping an American flag to shreds and lighting the pieces of it on fire. Being the young forty drainin’ anarchist I was, I loved that shit. I think the song was called “Torn on the 4th of July.”

Later, I met the Bishop (then known as Jason Parker) through a mutual friend of ours, music producer Jason Slater. Parker was always a real straight forward cat, extremely disciplined in his efforts with massive amounts of science to drop, but on the one-to-one he never seemed too heavy-handed about his devotions, he was just a regular cat doin’ his thing, always down to offer the knowledge he’d acquired from his firsthand experiences in the music industry and hip hop world with a delusional up-and-comer like myself. Jason Parker eventually changed his name to Adisa Banjoko ( I hope I’m spelling that right) when he was enlightened by Islam and went on to write for The Source, The Bomb, 4080, Rappages and many other well known hip-hop publications of the day under that name and also as the Bishop. I think he’s also written a few books of his own since then.

Sometime even later (this all occurred between like ’91-‘95ish ??? but I can’t remember exactly because I, like I said earlier, was a forty drainin’ anarchist): The t-shirt and sweats cat (sorry I don’t know his name, no disrespect, kid was nice with his) dropped out of the frame and Troop 187 was reborn as Cult of Isis (even thou they shout out “Troop 1-8-6 plus one” more than once on this tape) with my homie Jason Slater at the production helm. DJ Robski, a world reknowned forty drainer himself, joined the fold, and the Cult was known for performing with a militant mob of capuetta fighters in ninja-black going off around them. Back when shit was sick.

This Cult of Isis demo was recorded at Slater’s home studio in Cupertino down the block from Bateh Bros. liquor store at the intersection of Foothill and Stevens Creek, also the birthplace of pop pan-flashers Third Eye Blind who Slater was playing bass and writing songs for at the time as well (him getting screwed out of the publishing credit and money when that project went major label is a whole ‘notha story, but fuck it). The Bishop called in his underground hip hop favors and got Del and Boots from the Coup to guest star on a track each. Del actually came thru with shrooms and his own Sega Genesis and crashed at the crib for like two days while he tripped, wrote and recorded his verse. Slater said he never saw him write anything though or do any “rap work” over the entire 48 hour period. “He just ate shrooms and played Sega non-stop, and sometime on like the third day of him being there I finally said, ‘so you got something we can record?’” Del apparently said yeah walked into the bathroom/vocal booth and ripped his verses and then asked for a ride back to the East Bay. I think DJ Robski gave him that ride and did a little hip hop hustling of his own, because after that meeting, Robski became Del’s go-to live DJ and recording DJ for the Future Development album. I don't know why they stopped performing and recording together. Maybe 'cause Rob moved away. Who knows???

These Del and Boots verses are totally unknown to anybody who wasn’t directly handed one of these one-sided Cult of Isis tapes by Adisa himself, so consider this a first-time unearthed ROBME exclusive. Two overlooked gems by two great underground MCs in their primes, both subversive in their own ways, both totally B-A-Y—do or die.

But it’s not like the Bishop’s solo tracks are something to scoff at. They actually deserve repeated listens. Locked in the dopest time period, they come off like a veteran with skills honed in the original fire. Example: the final song of the four, actually the only track seemingly produced by Robski and not Slater (thou Slater may refute this; but Rob definitely did all the nice ass cuts&scratches on the tape), is called “64 Squares,” and in it Adisa Banjoko blends metaphors concerning his two loves besides almighty Allah: chess and old school hip hop, which happens to tie into the ‘where are they now?’ portion of this post. Because, currently Adisa is the founder and organizer of the Hip Hop Chess Federation (HHCF), which boasts a star-studded host of members and financial contributers including RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. From what I understand, HHCF puts on chess tournaments and like-events in the Bay and all over the country where famous and not so famous hiphoppers get their Bobby Fisher on to the beat. Martial Arts is included in there somewhere as well.

I wish the Bishop all the best; he was always cool as all hell to me.

But, does anybody know what happened to DJ Robski or the t-shirt and sweats cat?

Wait I just used Google and answered half that question myself.

Also, dude who does the intro at the top of the first track, is none other than underground Bay Area legend Bazooka Joe; that fool could rhyme his ass off. Where he at?

Sorry I can’t remember all the exact dates and particulars, but as usual the tape speaks for itself. Enjoy the demo.

Tracklisting:

Praying to the East

What You Know (Featuring Del)

Right Turn, Wrong Street (Featuring Boots)

64 Squares

>>>>


8 comments:

aliatron said...

how come when i show up and eat drugs and play sega for 3 days people just get mad? oh, right, because im not del. well, that was an interesting post with all the stories crossing, etc... impressive. thanks, and thanks.

aliatron said...

and ....seriously... chess and hip hop.... fuck this world does not cease to amaze me

Echo Leader said...

Man, this is cool as hell. So many blogs these days are just throwing shit up for cool points, with no story behind the tracks. I mean, yeah I get geeked when people post Mobb Deep demo tracks, but it'd be way cooler to actually hear about the bullshit that went on in the studio, et cetera.

Del, shrooms, and Sega Genesis...sounds like a weekend to me.

Thanks a lot for the stories and something to remember them by.

.t-im said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryn said...

sup eons, this stuff is dope as hell, right up my street. nice lil story too, keep dem hits comin money. peace from the u.k. bryn/manphat

Kevin Beacham said...

thanx for posting this up. This is a real nice demo. Much respect. You mentioned a few different dates (and not knowing some) but do you know the year of this demo being recorded?-Kevin Beacham

Smooth Triumph said...

The first song of the tape starts with the Bishop saying, "We in the house for the nine-quad." So I'm assuming '94 is when he passed it out, but it might've been recorded winter '93. Another guy named Tiff Cox who also lived in the house where the recording took place recently told me that he was so impressed with Del as a cool ass house guest and all around down to earth dude that he gave him his grandfather's leather bound copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. Wonder if Del still has it?

Kevin Beacham said...

cool thanx. I played a cut on my radio show a couple weeks ago and I'm sure to play more. I have some Del "house guest" stories from chicago. Perhaps there was a self message in "sleepin on my couch"....