Rob Base Talks Old-School Party Rap and the Passing of DJ E-Z Rock
DJ EZ Rock (R.I.P.) and Rob Base.
Rob Base is a hip-hop pioneer whose hits with the late DJ E-Z Rock have sold so far out of this world that even aliens in outer space know that "it Takes 2 to make a thing go right."
He went from winning rap battles at nightclubs in the Bronx to passing out flyers on the streets of Harlem to signing with one of the most important early labels to launching through the stratosphere.
Today, Rob Base is still touring on the strength of all that hard work. And on June 13, he hits the stage at Magic City Casino alongside Debbie Deb and Lisette Melendez. Here's what he had to say about sampling records, crowd control, and "Joy and Pain."
See also: Rap and R&B's Worst '90s Ripoffs
Crossfade: Wasup, man. How's it goin'?
Rob Base: It's early for me. I'm a night person. Things good. I'm just here at home gettin' ready to come down to Miami.
First off, my condolences to EZ Rock, 1967 to 2014, R.I.P.
Did you guys ever play Miami together?
Oh, a lot, a lot. That was one of our main markets. The first show I can remember us doin' down there was when Luke Skkywalker brought us down there. It was one of them clubs he had, and we came down there. It was packed, and we had a great time. It's like a vacation every time we're there.
How was Puerto Rico?
It was off the chain out there in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
What equipment did you use to cut the sample for "It Takes 2?"
It's been so long ago. I would say the MPC, but I'm not even sure. I think it was the MPC. We was in the studio, we found the loop we liked, and the engineer actually helped us. We didn't know studio equipment, we knew turntables. He knew the equipment and that's how we got that together. His name was Dave Kowalski, and whatever we needed, he knew what to do. Last time I spoke to him, we laughed about the old days. He worked with groups like Guy and a lot of different groups. it was amazing.
How old were you back then?
I had to be my early 20s, like 21, 22.
What studio did you record it at?
It was Hillside Studios in New Jersey. We used to be in there from 8 o'clock at night to 6 or 7 in the morning. We spent a lot of time in there. We had a management deal with a company called World 2 World Records, and we were signed to them as an independent. This is before we signed to Profile.Our first song was "Make It Hot," and then "It Takes 2," and then we got signed to Profile Records.
How'd you get picked up by the management company?
I was a battle rapper back in the day doin' a lot of local competitions and things like that; performing in Harlem, and the Bronx, and areas like that. There was so many battles, and I was makin' a name in the Harlem scene. I was at every party. I was there in those, we used to call them city-wide battles. They were competitions where there could be like 15 groups at a time. They would pick the best three, and then the last two, and then there was only one. Like that.