G (The Raw Deal/Wu Music Group) Interview

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News Stories - WuTang

By: Justin Weleski
(source/props to:
http://215hiphop.com/features/g-the-raw-dealwu-music-group-interview/)

*Interview was done in mid ’06 *

“Even now with satellite radio, a lot of DJ’s are getting cracked down on. The problem is money! Like right now hip hop radio is Payola, no matter how much they try to floss it over & cover it up, it’s payola!”-G


BDP, Wu-Tang Clan, Poor Righteous Teachers, Cypress Hill, Naughty By Nature. G was in the front lines seeing this music we now call Classic, become just that! The Raw Deal was one of the first college radio (Princeton) mix shows in Hip Hop, that left a very serious mark, in both Philly & the World! We got a chance to sit down with its former host & Wu-Tang Clans go to guy: “G”

215: Wasn’t much hip-hop radio going on in ’86. So how did The Raw Deal first come to life and how did you get involved. And who was the staff throughout its short run?

G: Well Raw Deal came kinda later, there was a show on 103.3 FM WPRB that was hosted by a couple of other guys that I used to listen to, on Thursday nights. In that time, I was up in New York one day and meet KRS-One outside of Union Square, and he gave me a tape with some early BDP stuff. From there I called up the station, just cause I liked it, and asked them to play some BDP, and they never heard of it before. I lived near the station, so they asked me to bring it by! So I went up and gave it to them, and during that time they needed someone to answer the phones, so I started doing that. Basically taking calls and doing shout-outs for the show. Then the guys graduated from Princeton and in that time there was a guy called Easy M, who had a show called Club Crush, and DJ’d mostly club music. He then decided to do ½ the show hip-hop then the 2nd half club music. So from there I started being the co-host on Club Crush, and myself & Easy M started to do that for a while. Then later on the show turned into the Raw Deal, then Tony D came on and Eazy M branched out, due to getting tired of hip-hop, and decided to do more house & club. So from there, since I wasn’t a student at Princeton and Eazy M left, the station put on another white guy from Michigan named: Fresh Jay and he was total suburban & trying to hard to be down, so that didn’t go over to well. So after a month or so of that they just totally let me handle it, and Tony D & producer of Poor Righteous Teachers was on board already, DJ Kam Who is in radio out here currently, came in as my co-host/DJ. So we had a big rotation of DJ’s throughout the years, we had DJ Jay-Ski’s first time being on the radio, there was a ‘lil crew with DJ Kam, DJ Swift, Reggie Reg, so the show had just evolved into the Raw Deal!

215: Now you just mentioned DJ Jay-Ski who is now looked upon as a Philly legend, what made you say, I want this guy on the show?

G: Jay was mad young! He was prolly like 15, and was down with Kam & Reg, they had a ‘lil DJ crew going on in Willingboro. So he was just like family and brought in by the crew. He wasn’t a big part of the show, but more as a guest DJ. We also had DJ Ran one time as a guest when Power 99 wasn’t letting him really talk on the air! He would DJ while Colby Colb hosted back then.

215: Now you guys did something that is not traditionally done any more in rap music (unless you’re a MTV VJ) which is break new records and artist. What was your process of choosing new records & artists to play?

G: That’s kinda funny, cause I just had this conversation with someone recently. I at that time, got to hear a lot of stuff early. The show was known for breaking artists, we were one of the first radio shows to play Cypress Hill! When “Pigs” first came out, we played it! No one really jumped on it till “How to Just Kill A Man” dropped, so we became the only east coast show really pumping Cypress Hill. Same goes for Naught By Nature O.P.P., Black Sheep “Choice is Yours”, we were playing that when everyone else was playing “Similac”. There’s really no formula to it, we were open to anything that came in, and I would listen to the full album itself, and listen to what people were telling me was hott! It was the same goes with Wu-Tang, when they came out they changed the industry so much by having 7 MC’s ,dirty and gritty production, and a lot of people fronted on Wu, when they first came out! I’ve known RZA since ’91 and he was playing me stuff, sitting out side club Mahorn’s (Cherry Hill NJ) in a Jetta in the middle of winter of ’92. Playing me beats for over an hour, “Take It Back Brooklyn” & all the early WU material, and I knew then it was going to be a hit. So there wasn’t any real formula, just shit I was feeling at the time

215: How, when, & why did The Raw Deal end? And were you there?

G: There was a lot of drama and politics, some real shady shit going on, but to make a long story short. I had gotten in trouble cause I kind of dissed PM Dawn on the show. And it wasn’t really a diss meant to him, I was just talking about the state of how people need to be aware of what they buy. We’re talking back when Timberland shoes had bunch of discrimination cases against them, but yet headz were still rocking “Tim’s” and how these companies would jump on a group like PM Dawn and have them Nike sponsored. I made some comments like how they couldn’t take an artist that was more athletic, and doing real hip hop , instead of taking PM Dawn who was more of a pop-hip hop artist at the time. So I just brought up how companies just look at who’s currently big instead of looking for a real artist out there, that could fit into the demographic better, like a KRS-One. I got suspended,so there was drama from that, a few other things that had always been issues with having a urban show on a “IVY League” college station. I won’t go into what caused it but,it ended that I was no longer welcome there, which was ok, because I just went onto other bigger things!

215: With the fall of such popular mix shows as Jay-Ski’s Pure Elementz on The Beat & most recently Friday Night Flavas in LA. What do you see as the future of independent mix-shows on the radio? And by Independent, I mean a DJ’s independence to play whatever he wants?

G: Radios’ dead for that!! Even with satellite radio a lot of DJ’s are getting cracked down on as far as what they can play. The problem is money! Like right now hip hop radio is Payola, no matter how much they try to floss it over & cover it up, it’s payola! You simply need money to get yourself played. And to me I feel radio people should play things they want to hear, and what they feel the public should hear, or wants to hear, and not be paid to play something! It’s like me paying you to be my friend, instead of us just wanting to be boys! It’s just how radio is, a huge business, and is why I kind of stepped out of the industry when I did. The rise of the internet, bootlegging, & burning cd’s becoming the new big thing, so obviously sales go down. Radio right now, I just don’t know anymore, it’s all about people wanting to get money in their pockets, and they don’t care about getting new artists out or playing what the people want to hear.

215: What was your most memorable interview & show?

G: This is a hard one! I had a really good interview with Kool G Rap, back when all the west coast-East coast thing was going on. And I remember G Rap saying “We don’t do drive-by’s in New York we walk up to you & shoot” And we were talking about how in L.A. you got gangs, and how you see things in Compton with nice lawns & houses, and in NY you got sky rises as projects and such, so that was really memorable. Then of course in June of ’91 when I meet RZA & Naughty By Nature, my boy from Tommy Boy Records brought them down. RZA, Treach, and Tony D did a 45 min. live freestyle on the air. We used to do Thursday night freestyles, it was pure hip-hop! So that was obviously memorable, and I just remember totally clicking with RZA when I met him in 91 at the show on music, kung-fu flicks, and a number of other things

215: Now you are also well known as being a crucial member of help launching the Wu-Tang movement. What was the initial marketing plan for a group that was 9 members deep, which was very un-heard of back then?

G: There wasn’t a marketing plan at all. They came together, put some money up, and put the record out them selves. I had already meet RZA a yr or so before that and kept in contact, so I helped them out by getting the word out on other mix-shows, industry publications that I dealt with, like Gavin , CMJ,and Hits magazines. So I helped get out word on the record “Protect Ya Neck”.There was also a guy named Mike McDonald down with Wu who was more on the promotions and radio end, but really, it was really a street movement. In Philly and NJ, I was hitting up Armands & Funk-O-Mart and other local record stores and putting the record on consignment. Later on they did the cassette singles and stickers so I was passing them out on South Street. And it was weird cause when I was passing this stuff out, especially on South Street people had no idea, and were like “What’s this a Chinese group” when I handed the product. It was definitely interesting seeing people’s reaction’s to it. I also tried going to Record labels such as Ruffhouse & other labels, and labels were like “ohh there’s 8 members, the sounds to grimey, production isn’t clear,etc”. Wu was just something I was confident in, that it was about to blow, and after a little while, it picked up. And if you look at the time we were in, it kind of resembles what we see today: a lot of floss & hip-pop being made. Then Wu came out, and it was so underground & grimey, if you ever see the “Protect Ya Neck” video, that was made and put out themselves. It was very dark, grimey, and raw video, but people jumped on it

215: The one thing I’ve noticed when WU first sparked was their large following of rock/metal fans as well as kids in the suburbs. Were these markets targeted on purpose or was it just a huge shock for everyone?

G: Well that jumped a little later, in the beginning it was straight hip hop headz, you go to shows and I was the only white dude there! Once the single blew and the album came out, it started to cross a little over. It’s just a culture change, back when I got into hip hop back in the early 80’s, you would go to hip hop clubs like After-Midnight out here, Roof Top, Red Zone, in NY, and there would only be a few white guys in there, and now it’s totally reversed. It’s also just a society change and things kind of emerge. Now you got white kids out there on MySpace using the “N” word and holding up guns, and half those kids don’t realize what it’s really like to live in the projects & have that life! But ya know, it’s mainstream now, hip hop isn’t like what it was before. You got kids going after whatever they see on TV, trying to dress like whoever they see in videos, rhyming like whoever, we even got white kids rocking grills. And the bugged part of grills is, New York was on that back in the day. Slick Rick with the gold teeth, Ol Dirty was rocking grills in his videos and album covers, it’s nothing new, but everyone thinks it is, cause there not aware of the culture before them

215: Playing such a large roll with Wu-Tang and with living in Philly, why did RZA want to focus so heavy on this city as oppose to staying heavy in N.Y. or hitting up a new market such as the west coast?

G: Well Wu Wear had Staten Island, Atlanta, so they were really just trying to branch out, on top of the fact that Philly was Wu’s 2nd biggest market! So it was just a natural, Philly I think to this day is the 4th biggest market of sales, so it was a given, and this was the first place that WU really got its love from outside of NYC!

215: How did you first get started on working with street teams and how popular & used were they back then?

G: It was kind of early back then and I basically learned it myself. RZA would print up posters, tapes, and stickers and have me come down to Philly and post up on South Street handing stuff out. Things kind of grew from there, I moved to Philly after leaving the radio show. RZA got me on the LOUD street team, which was the first big street team I was on. It then lead me to see how other people in other markets were doing their thing. Back then street teams just started, so we pioneered a lot of things used today, like I would go out on the highways, and post up posters. Back then street teams started to get big and every label had one, independent labels started getting them. So at one point I was working: Gee Street, LOUD, Tommy Boy, Step Son, Def Jam, so there was a bunch of labels that were paying me to do my thing. So now it’s become real corporate and mainstream that all those small labels are no longer around, even a label like Loud, which was a power-house back then isn’t around no more. So that’s the time when I stepped out of it, and I’ve seen the whole industry change through the internet ,and some of the smaller labels selling to the bigger ones. Look at Profile Records, they always had a bunch of dope stuff coming out, and where are they now? They had Run DMC, broke a lot of other artists, and had a lot of stuff on their roster, but are now gone!

215: How & why do think street teams have become such a used marketing strategy for corporate companies and other non-hip-hop related companies?

G: Because it’s in your face!! I always looked at street teams as making it as simple as possible. Having a sticker with all sorts of back ground pictures and stuff isn’t going to work unless you have someone who’s sitting down analyzing it. Keep it simple and recognizable! That’s why I did the black & white Ghostface “Ironman” stickers! Vertical 20 inches long, white font, “Ironman”, Ghostface logo, that’s it! It was something that when you walked by you see it, & easy to read.

215: It seems now a days that every Tom, Dick, & Harry has a Marketing Company or an artist management company. What’s some advice you could give to an up-coming artist of how to pick a good marketing/management company or street team to market & position their music?

G: Research really! Look into who they work with, yourself! If it’s in your area then you can go around to local retail stores, and ask the manager on who they see there the most (far as promoters). On the recent Wu reunion tour, I was in the front row during the show handing out posters and flyers, now I’m suppose to be the director & head of street team for WU, but yet I still get my hands dirty! That’s what I do! A few years ago street teams got to a level where you had people doing street teams who thought they were the star! They’re getting pay-checks, rolling with the artists, but were too good to be in the street actually doing the work. So do your research, ask retail & clubs and find out if these guys are in taking care of retail/DJ’s & hooking them up with product, and POP and so forth. If you got stores saying I never see him or that he never takes care of us, then you know the deal. You got cats who work hard and are hungry, then you have cats who don’t. I always looked at it as if I get product from a label for an artist, that in some way his future rests in my hands, so I work hard. It goes a long way, like when dealing with WU, they know I work hard & get my hands dirty, sometimes not even getting sleep, and goes a long way with them.

215: How and why did you come up with the marketing idea of combining Fox Clothing (which is a motor-cross clothing line) with a rap group such as Wu-Tang?

G: (G laughs) I always been into bikes I used to race BMX back in High School. When I worked up at Razor Sharp Records, I used to have my mountain bike while living in Staten Island. I used to ride my bike to the S.I. ferry, then to the office, and I wore these Fox gloves. Method Man used to always be up on me about them, and RZA also liked them! So I got tired of Meth jacking me for like 3-4 pair of gloves, so I finally tried calling FOX to see if they would send us some stuff. I made that connection, and I showed them pics of myself with the group, so they knew I was for real, and not a joke. From there Meth took a few photos and RZA appeared in The Source magazine with the whole outfit on. Then that kind of spearheaded the Fox/Wu thing. A magazine named ” Strength” did an interview with John Fox, who’s one of the sons of the owner, and he mentioned in the article of how I called him up! Then from there you have seen Def Jam & rapper DMX rocking Fox! So it was just something that kind of came from my past with riding bikes in High School, and the fact that Meth loved to wear gloves, so it just tied in. At one point FOX had actually did a design for a FOX/Wu-Tang jersey and glove, before they did the ruff riders stuff. At the time of the offer RZA and everyone was just doing there own thing w/solo albums and it just never happened.

215: Any comments of the rise & fall of Wu-Wear clothing as well as why other rappers have also failed on establishing their own clothing line?

G: It goes as: “When your hott, your hott!”
Especially in the fashion world!

215: What’s in the near future for both you and the Wu?

G: This year you’re going to see a re-emergence of Wu-Tang Clan! Now you got Ghost doing it, and Rae’s going to follow up with it very soon with, “Cuban Linx II”. Method Man has a LP coming, even RZA’s working on an album, GZA’s doing some side projects, Masta Killa is ready to drop bombs on people with his LP, so the crews definitely really hungry right now! Everybody’s kind of doing their own thing, and hopefully by the end of the year, they’ll be ready to do a bigger Wu tour, with bigger venue’s. With Wu-Tang and where I’m at, we never look towards having radio support! Radio has never given us daytime love from the beginning; it was always the mix-shows showing the support. Except for: “All I Need”, and Ghosts “Back Like That”, and a few other songs like C.R.E.A.M. . So it’s weird that 15yrs have gone by that I’ve’ known them, and young kids today still have no idea who they even are! You got kids today are shouting out this guys hott, and these rhymes are dope, but don’t even know bout: GZA. And this man, puts more thought into one song, than most artists do with their entire albums. Just listen to GZA’s “Fame”,”Animal Planet”, or “Labels”, and the lyrical complexity and the word flow. So hopefully real hip hop comes back soon! It’s showing some signs!

As far as me personally, I am working with the Wu Music group and seeing where that goes! I’m working with some of the Wu artists on solo stuff, as far as merchandising and the internet. I also handle a few of their MySpace pages as far as friend requests, bulletins, and saving messages the artists should look at and respond to .One thing I’m doing is trying to get each artist more involved with the internet, cause personally I see that’s where street teams are going in the future. You can be out in the streets and hand out a few stickers, which is always good. But now, I can just sit at home and send out a bulletin on myspace, through say GhostFace’s page, that hits 50,000 people, and it goes all over the world. So now you can reach so many different people at once through the internet. I am also coming on board soon with the Skratch Makaniks, by hosting their radio show on futureflavasonline.com , every Saturday night from 11-12am. So I got some stuff brewing with GZA, Masta Killa, pretty much everyone in WU. By dropping freestyles & exclusive WU music for the show. So definitely stay tuned to that!! Other than that, I may look into starting my own label, which is something I always wanted to do. But not looking to be a Wu-Tang label, it obviously would be affiliated. But not trying to exploit with what WU’s currently doing. Possible get some rock acts dancehall and so forth, that you wouldn’t associate with what WU does. So I got my hands involved with a few things!

215: Any crazy or favorite WU stories you would like to share?

G: (laughs) I got ones that I can’t share! But I would say prolly meeting RZA on the Raw Deal in ’91.

215: Okay, before we go, got two more question’s:
-What was your first show in Philly?

G: WOW, that’s going back! I think it was the Budweiser Super fest, I think it was Kurtis Blow & Run DMC, I can’t even say for sure cause it was so, so, long ago. BUT it was in Philly and was a big show! As far as a show I was apart of, I actually brought WU to the Trocodero back in the day, and it was Digable Planets & Poor Righteous Teachers on the bill! And actually WU showed up a little too late to even perform!

215: Who in Philly are you feeling right now?

G: Well of course you gotta love The Roots! But to be honest, I’ve really been so busy with going back and forth from Philly to NY, I’m kind of out of the loop, but I definitely feel what the Skratch Makaniks are doing! And also have to give respect to Bahamadia! I feel she definitely doesn’t get the credit she deserves!


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