“Golden era” of hip-hop — not rap — can be defined (as an era) by three distinct things: scratch hooks, anthems and albums. In an era where the DJ was seen as equal group member with the emcee, labels really took chances and spent the money to ensure entire projects were successful. Sometimes they were and sometimes, in hindsight, they’ve provided more long-term intrinsic value within the building blocks of our culture than monetary value to the labels. Any hip-hop head will tell you though, it’s about the anthems. The timeless joints that bring you back to that era. The songs that seem just as fresh and relevant today as they did the first time you heard them — think OPP, Juicy, One Love and Mass Appeal. You know the joints any hip-hop DJ can drop today, in some cases 20 years after the fact, and get the same reaction.
It’s impossible to deny that from the first scratch of “when the east is in the house…oh my god, god, god…” you’re open. That’s the legacy that MC Outloud and DJ PF Cuttin’ have. One of the most recognizable joints from the era, and a piece of a puzzle that went by the name “Blah Blah Blah”, which was the sole full length release from the group Blahzay Blahzay. PF Cuttin produced the entire project. In fact over the years he’s produced for numerous hip-hop artists like Action Bronson (buy) and Labba. He’s released 100+ mixtapes since 1994, and has DJ’d all over the world.
Recently I was lucky enough to interview DJ PF Cuttin, who recounted the creation of the classic hip-hop staple Danger, details why they never released a follow up (as Blahzay Blahzay) and talks NY hip hop.
Oh my god…god…god…
You put in a lot of work prior to ‘95, can you give us some of your background? Who have you produced for?
Prior to 95, I had played drums on a record for an artist that was signed to Bodyrock, a sub-label of Tommy Boy, named Mc Watchout. He was a friend of mine, so he asked me to play live drums while he rapped on it — it (the song) was called Drop the Bass, which was a b-side to his single. I also programmed drums for an Mc Shan single called Time For Us To Defend Ourselves. Of course, I was also working on music with Mc Outloud (BLAHZAY).
How did you first link up with Outloud?
We were (and still are) friends. Since childhood. You know: wiffleball, two-hand touch, skelly and hiphop.
Do you remember the session when you guys recorded “Danger”? Do you remember banging the beat out? Did you know the song would become such a big deal?
Yep, sure do. The original Danger, and mostly all our music, was recorded in Laughing Dog Studios on Staten Island – shout out my dude Bill, a longtime friend and engineer – this was our home for recording,(88-94). We would drive up there almost every weekend, pay the verazano toll which was $5 (now $15) and just lay ideas down to two-inch reel. I remember us working on our demo to shop to labels and I had this one track, Outloud had the lyrics and I already had the scratch idea. Once the song was done, after a second listen, I wasn’t content with the music I created, so I went back to the lab with a mix of the song with just the scratch chorus, lyrics and beat (but no music) so I could change the main sample but keep everything the same. The minute I hit the pad on my drum machine with my new idea, and mixed it with what I had on cassette tape, I felt/heard the dopeness coming out of my speakers. I immediately called Outloud played it over the phone, then called Bill and booked time so I could lay down what I had. The rest was history.
I kind of knew and felt in my soul that this track was better than anything I ever heard or created.
What was your favorite song on the album, and why?
I loved every song on that album, we put our heart and soul in creating that album. It was a vision we had as teenagers that manifested itself in front of our eyes. It was a lot of work, very little luck involved, countless hours of recording and sharping our skills and being in love with hip hop. All this combined created that album.
Do you have any standout hip-hop moments from your career thus far? Like meeting an idol, etc.
To be honest, not really. We weren’t star stuck as youngsters. I ran around with Daddy-O of Stetsasonic, Professor X of the X Clan, who was a friend of mine at an early age and Positive K. Always around hip hop legends or soon to be legends. Outloud hung out with Biggie, Mr Cee, Craig G and tons of others. We had these type of friends before the record deal.
Why did you guys not release an official follow-up?
We signed for three albums and delivered one. After we did the Blah Blah Blah album run, we were being forced to sign with Violator Management, but we wanted our friends to earn their keep and manage us. It turned out that who ever was signed to Violator was going over to Universal, so if you didn’t sign you was lost in the mix.
Eventually Fader Mercury would be no more. Once we lost our home, it was very difficult to land a new deal, we had material ready, but no major backing or distribution. We later put out the FRN’Z ep with Game records which were songs for our 2nd album.
NYC hip-hop has undergone a lot of changes, and seems to be heavily influenced by other regions. EVERYONE seems to have opinions on this. As someone who was so influential during a pivotal time in hip-hop history. What is your take on the East Coast scene?
I think the east coast scene is still strong and there’s a lot of good, dope, original hip hop out there. Except now it doesn’t’ get any major radio play. On the radio all you hear is stripper music all day.
What are you currently playing?
I have a Ustream radio show called East New York Radio. It comes on every tues. 8-10pm and thur. 10pm-12am, co-hosted by Sean Price and DJ Millz Murda. On the show I play everything that’s current eastcoast or sounds like 90’s hiphop. No trip or trap music on here. I’ve had (as guests) and played artists like Sean P, Maffew Ragazino, Roc Marciano, Action Bronson, Meyhem Lauren, AG the Coroner, Troy Ave, Bodega Bamz, Spit Gemz, Starvin B, Beatnuts, Tony Touch, Guilty Simpson, Blackmilk, Timeless Truth, Labba, Masta Killa, Raekwon, Ghostface, Wu-Tang, Agallah, JLove, Outdoorsman, Statik Selectah, Marco Polo, DJ Skizz, Scram Jones, Brown 13 … anything that resembles what I grew up on and is current, gets played. Here’s the link to the show, and my website.
What advice do you have for up and coming producers?
Stay true to the game, do your homework, know the history of this music. Don’t be afraid to sample, that’s what made hip-hop what it is. Follow your dreams, invest in yourself, practice, stay humble and love your family.
Tell us about PF in 2014. What do you do? Where can people find you?
In 2014 you can catch me live, when I’m not on tour, every Tuesday 8-10 & Thurs 10 -12 on EastNYRadio http://www.ustream.tv/channel/pf-cuttin-s-eastnyradio.
I’m still DJ’ing clubs and bar lounges around the universe, spinning for Sean Price. I’m also running my studio as a master engineer and STILL producing those bangers. I got a dope website were you can listen to me live, download a shit load of my music for free and/or purchase some of my new stuff, PFCUTTIN.com.
I got projects I’m working on with Sean Price, Labba, Masta Killa, Blahzay and, as well, my new album. I’m also breaking some new artists. You need to reach me, hit me on twitter @pfcuttin, and facebook pfcuttin. Love is love, thank you.