One Nation, Invisible

The untold story of local hip hop: 1981 to 1996

Kel C: When we were young, we blamed a lot of things on Charles, and we shouldn't have. Charles gave a whole lot to our group. He invested a whole lot of time, a whole lot of money. He could have potentially broke his whole family up, his real family for his rap family. He just didn't know about the music business at the time.

Charles Lockhart: Billy didn't have a place to live. He was living with me at my house in south Minneapolis. My wife was complaining, and I said, "Look, I'm going to take care of the kid." He moved in with me, the whole nine. He said to me, "You know, Charles, I'm going to become Truth Maze. That's my name. I'm going to go on my own. I'm going to be independent."

Kel C: Even though we hadn't really blown up, we were ghetto famous here in Minnesota. We felt it. I got burnt out with the women and doing certain things that go along with the music business, and I'm sure everyone knows those type of things. So I left the group and went to church.

Charles Lockhart: Kel C said to me, "I'm not interested in doing it anymore." I'm going to be real straight with you. Back in that day I was smoking weed. I was bummed out because of what K-tel did to me. I kept my printing job, but I was bummed out because I took the wrong move signing with those turkeys, instead of sticking with the program of being independent the way Brent [Sayers, a.k.a. Siddiq of Rhymesayers Entertainment] did.

 

Siddiq: At the time, for me, hip hop wasn't that calculated. I was more submersed in just being there than I was in doing anything. I wasn't concerned with the business aspect of it. I was like, "Oh, that's dope, DMG's on a Scarface album."

Brother Jules: DMG [Detrimental Gangxter] was a St. Paul cat that went and signed with Rap-A-Lot Records out of Houston.

Verb X: I actually went to school with DMG, and did a couple tracks on his first demo. I remember that was just a big deal around our high school: "Dude, Harold got signed!"

Jason of the Fila Crew, MC/producer: They had a rap contest at Glam Slam in '91, and one of the judges was Scarface of the Geto Boys. DMG didn't win the contest, but I guess Scarface liked his style.

DMG, MC: Scarface gave me his number and told me he'd get back with me in three days. To be honest with you, I thought he was lying. But three days later he called and asked me could I come out to Houston. And I was like, "Hell, yeah."

Carnage, MC: I liked the DMG tape. I would never have guessed that this dude was from St. Paul. It was one of the better Rap-A-Lot albums to come out around that time.

Stage One, graffiti writer/DJ: DMG was one of the first real artists that could have a face and a name, wasn't a cartoon or nothing, and was signed to a real hip-hop record label that really did something.

Before that was MC Skat Kat. Remember Paula Abdul when she had that little cartoon cat? That was Delite, man. He was from here.

Tim Wilson: Before he became MC Skat Kat, Derrick Stevens was in a group called Soul Purpose with Danny Young, who still DJs around town as Dan Speak. I put them out on Jerry Sylvers's label, Wide Angle Records.

Dan Speak, DJ/MC: Wide Angle's fame was in the dance scene, because their biggest meal ticket was Information Society, with Paul Robb. That group went on to sign with Tommy Boy.

Delite: We came out with the Soul Purpose single in 1989, and it was because of that record that I got to work with Paula Abdul. Her producer was in town, and he heard the record on KMOJ. He called up the station and said, "The DJ just said that was hometown talent. Can you tell me who this guy is?"

Tim Wilson: They went into a studio here and cut the rhyme for "Opposites Attract."

Delite: The video came out, and it was different. Just seeing the animation, him moving his lips to my vocals, that was really weird. But I thought it was a great video.

I didn't meet Paula Abdul until after that record had been released. They wanted to do an album after the success of the single, and I remember sitting up in this executive meeting. Here I was, this 20-year-old kid not knowing too much about the music business, but I remember telling them, "The way you guys want to market this is probably wrong." They wanted to market the cat to Paula's audience, and I told them, "What you have to understand is, a good percentage of Paula's audience might not even be into rap music."

Tim Wilson: The MC Skat Kat record came out and flopped. Derrick spent two, three months out in L.A., and next thing you know, he's back, and blew through the advance. He went on to KMOJ and B96 (FM 96.3).

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