Mixmaster Spade

Real Name: (unknown by author)
D.O.B.: (unknown by author) Died: 14th March, 2005

Self-proclaimed Mixmaster Spade, OG Compton Godfather of Rap put this hip-hop fad down first in Los Angeles. Spade made the first spark to ignite the uprising of Compton reality-rap. He spent his teenage years in New York witnessing first-hand the legendary Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa and Theodore at DJ battles. From pop-locking to mixing on turntables to rapping on the mic, Spade epitomises the fundamentals of west coast hip-hop. From all angles of the game, Spade was a pioneering architect of the contemporary art form. In Compton he was Gangsta Rap’s O-G Mixmaster Spade.

Spade had grown up on 156th and Wilmington, underneath Compton’s two-stripped airport flight path. He showed early interest in the early foundations of the hip-hop movement, born in the era of James Brown’s Funk he took on dancing and evolved his style with the trend of urban-anthems. He soon got into Pop-Locking, a local Compton-bred dance started by The Campbellocks. He travelled to and from New York dancing with crews at various DJ battles and parties. One battle in particular in New York set the stage for a session from the leaders of the hip-hop culture, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Hollywood and Grandwizzard Theodore. Spade was in a room dancing with his crew when he left to witness a performance by Grandmaster Flash upstairs rocking one turntable with a beat machine. He and a local DJ from the neighbourhood would take their mixers and turntables into the park and practise on weekends (this was between 1977-’78.) He took to it like a duck to water.

He embraced the New York movement and took the energy back to California as he resumed his senior high school years. He started spending long hours at a friend’s house who had two turntables and a mixer set up. He demonstrated to the west the ground- breaking techniques of an embryonic pop-genre from New York’s South Bronx DJs about to encapsulate the climate of a generation’s social frustrations. He would regularly show off his new tricks of scratching and mixing on the decks. Spade finally asked to borrow the equipment for one day, a month later he was still practising on it. Eventually after receiving money from his grandmother he bought a turntable and a mixer and a new wardrobe of clothes. He was dressed fly and seem to represent the emerging rap culture of Compton like as if the fate of Gangsta Rap laid on his shoulders.

He seemed to put a lot of time into learning the engineering of the equipment or instruments. He introduced an influence in soul music as his lyrics when rapped for be often sung in harmony. This skill of harmonized rap helped market his performances. By around 1984 he recorded himself on a tape deck performing and in front of homeboys who stole his tapes and went about selling them. They were getting $20 each tape so Spade started producing and selling mixtapes. Spade held a show out in Watts at a house party, but due to a friend not bringing in record crates, he had limited records to entertain the party of thugs and volatile gangbangers. In the kitchen with some experimenting, he enthralled the audience with a dexterous performance of scratching off a Roger Troutman, ‘So Ruff, So Tuff’ special. Mixmaster Spade was born. His name and reputation took over and his recordings held the latest curb appeal. He met a crew of drug dealers and convinced them to invest in a shoebox full of tapes for resale. He was on a mission to be heard as loud as his tapes would carry him. As soon as they heard the tapes they were customers forever to use Spade’s words.

“Man dude I been looking for you man. How many you got? I said I got about 3 or 4 different ones. He said naw how many you got? I said I got about 30 something. He said give me all of them. Give you all of them? I said man you ain't got no money to pay for all of these do you? He said man give me all of them and pulled out a big wad like this. He said now make me some more and gave me a deposit. I said oh it's on.”

Spade went to work seeing the light at the end of his hustle. He produced numerous various recordings which crowned him a local legend at house parties from Compton to Watts to Long Beach. Spade held sessions like in a workshop fashion of spreading the techniques of mixing to young aspiring artists of our next generation continuing the west coast hip-hop legacy. Future household names were Coolio, King Tee, DJ Pooh, J-Ro, DJ Aladdin, Dr Dre and Toddy-Tee who assembled together to call themselves the Compton Posse. By 1985 a young nineteen year-old protégée Toddy Tee was ready to record a track he called ‘Batterram’. The song was devised in Tee’s bedroom and produced predominantly by Dr Dre. This became the hottest cassette on the street, a top KDAY request. It would become South Central’s first real anthem. Spade soon recorded ‘Just Say No’ which was also produced by Dr Dre and became a hotcake on KDAY’s air-time. The Compton Posse would travel with their performances across the west coast and occasionally over to the east mainly in Oakland and across to Texas. They did a show with 2 Live Crew and Public Enemy in an east v west battle in Denver.

Young dogs DJ Pooh and Tila were persisting Spade to contribute to a record with them. ‘You Better Bring a Gun’ was a track accomplished from Tila, Pooh, King Tee and Spade coming together in the studio for two days. Dre and Pooh worked together again on the beats. Spade asked for their support in his next record, ‘Genius is Back’ and the Posse came out again with another anthem for the hood which was again a co-produced record by Dre and DJ Pooh and released on LA Posse Records. Spade, Scotty D and CJ Mack had been running a drug-related operation from the site and some young cats in the neighbourhood were recruited as dealers. This garage-turned recording studio was some what of a front to an illegal operation. There was no money for their efforts in the studio but for the change made from street cassette sales.

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