Dienstag, 23. Dezember 2008

X-Mas Special: The ALPS Cru Story !!!

Wassup everybody ?

Another year is gone now and it´s time again to bless you with another X-Mas special on my Blog !!!

Since you ain´t getting much background info about those groups i´m presenting you in this Blog (mostly because there isn´t much info available) i´m more than happy now to be able to post the whole ALPS Cru story written by Alejan of The Concept Of ALPS for you !!!

Check it out:

I (Dj Alejan) lived in St.Louis, Missouri from 1985 to 1998. However, I went to college in New Orleans (XavierUniversity) from 1991 to 1995, and that's where I met P da wicked vocal. I had lived in Los Angeles and Little Rock Arkansas prior to St. Louis when I was a shorty. I was born in El Salvador and after moving to the States in 1981 I heard Planet Rock and that is what got me into hip hop. My brother and his friends had a b-boy crew in 1983 and 1984 and I would carry the radio and play the tunes for them. In St. Louis I came up listening to hip hop from both East and West Coasts. I started DJing in 1988 after hearing and seeing cats like Jazzy Jeff and Cash Money on TV. There were also some local DJ’s like G-Wiz, Charlie Chan, and Captain G that inspired me to start DJing. I got a break DJing parties at my high school and hooked up with another classmate named Rated R who rapped. In early 1991 we recorded a song in a low budget studio and that really got me interested in producing taking my music more seriously. I was heavily influenced early on by Marley Marl's production as well as Dr. Dre, the Bomb Squad, Sam Sever, Large professor and DJ Premier. I went to a Gangstarr show in 1990 or 1991 and when I saw Premo rip it up live, it totally changed the way I saw DJ ing in rap group. I graduated in 1991 and headed off to college where I would meet a lifelong friend. P da wicked Vocal was raised in New Jersey so he was an east coast head and had been part of YZ's ESD Posse along with B-Fyne and B-Chill. He had also been heavily influenced by the Native Tongues and brought that type of style to the table. He was an Art major and had a unique and witty rhyme style that was like nothing I had heard at that time. We immediately clicked when we met in an orientation group for school in August of 1991. We performed at a talent show at the end of the week and that was the beginning. We roomed together for three of the four years we were in school, so we really had a chance to gel and get to know each other, which I'm sure helped our music. After doing other shows our freshman year we decided to get serious and record some tracks. We recorded "The Concept" in October of 1992 in New Orleans. At the time, I was just working with my turntables, a little 8 second sampler, and a drum machine. I had also become very proficient at pause button beat making when I was in high school, so the pre-production was all pause button loops. I played the tape to the engineer who then re-sampled the record and arranged it according to my model. I still remember the engineer digging the fact that we were using a Steely Dan sample on that song. All of the songs on the Unknown EP followed this basic model and were recorded in 1993 and early 1994. I had not been around other producers when I was in high school or college so I really did not know much about equipment like the EMU SP1200 or Akai S950. I just loved the sound of great samples and scratched hooks with dope lyrics and we tried to get that sound with whatever tools we had. We decided to press the songs we had recorded on tapes so that we could sell them at shows and to our friends. However, being true hip hop heads, we knew that we needed to get some vinyl to be official and have our stuff played by DJ’s. As college students we did not have much money to work with but we were able to press 100 copies on vinyl and 1,000 on cassette. The official release of the EP was August of 1994. We sold most of the tapes at our school in New Orleans as we had a lot of people who dug our music there. The wax was given away mostly to radio and club DJ’s in St. Louis and New Orleans. Jeff B, who DJed the only underground hip hop show at Tulane University’s radio station gave us mad love along with Wild Wayne who was a commercial radio personality in New Orleans as well. One notable person who got a copy was DJ Premier. We opened for Gangstarr in the spring of 1993 and I asked him for his address to send our product to him, he also gave me his phone number. I called him after I had the vinyl and he actually answered and told me that he would listen to it. I later heard a Penalty Recordings promo mix tape were he used part of “The Wait” in the mix. At this time I also had a friend who worked at the source and we pushed him to try to get the record submitted for the unsigned hype column that Matty C did. Unfortunately, Matty did not think that record was that good citing that the Snoop (Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre) sound was the new sound to check for and ours just didn’t have it. We knew that we had something to offer so that did not hold us back but inspired us even more. During the summer of 1994 I was in New York trying to make connections and I purchased an Ensoniq ASR 10. At that point I finally felt like I had the tool to really go to the next level in my production. We spend the rest of 1994 promoting the EP while at the same time attending school. We did some notable shows opening for the likes of Craig Mack, Blacksheep, and Yah Supreme. In the spring of 1995 we went back into the studio and recorded “No Question”. It was our response to those who fronted on the EP and what we had to offer. At the same time we were looking for another MC to add to the group to give us another dynamic. Enter Rob da third. He was from Chicago and was a year behind us in school. He was part of another group on campus. However, after seeing that his group did not have a bigger vision than just doing shows here and there, it was obvious that he was looking for other opportunities to shine. P and I thought his style was cool and that his addition to the group would add variety and give P someone to tag team with. His first appearance came on the song “Nocturnal Illusions” which was a solo track that he and I worked on and recorded in New Orleans in spring of 1995. P and I graduated in May of that same year but we both decided to take some time off from seeking corporate “normal” careers in order to make a shot at this music thing. In late May, we recorded “Intensity” in St. Louis with Rob da third and P da wicked on vocals. I still remember making that beat and using the KRS ONE sample from Hip Hop vs. Rap. I don’t know what caused me to use it but it just had that hypnotic effect that really made the track different. We were very excited about the new songs we had and we sent them to press shortly thereafter and this time increased our vinyl amount to 300. The Intensity vinyl got more distribution because we had made more contacts after promoting our first EP. I remember going to ColumbiaU. in New York in 1995 and waiting for Bobbito to come in so that I could give him the “Intesity” record. He ended up playing the record that night near the end of the show (around 4am). We also had a lot more contacts in the West Coast due to a connection I made with Rob One, a mix tape DJ and at that time employee of EMI records. He and I met at the Jack the Rapper convention in Atlanta in ‘95. I gave him a copy of the Intensity maxi single on cassette and he called me the next day telling me that he was really feeling it and would help me promote it. He was a true hip hop head and would promote projects for other underground artists as well. I remember he was the first person to put me up on Frankenstein and Raw Produce. He also hooked me up with Cut Chemist, Numark, Babu, Rhettmatic, J Rocc, DJ Fingaz, DJ Ragz, Peanut Butter Wolf, Mike Nardone, Truly Odd and other DJ's out in California. We really hustled that record to death. P, who was then living in Detroit, was selling units at Proof’s “Hip Hop Shop” as well as on the streets and out of his car trunk. We took a trip to Chicago in late July of 1995 and sold mad tapes on the streets as well. We sent the tape to various labels and we actually came close to being signed to Payday records in 1995-1996. We were in communication with Dino Delvaille who was the A & R there at the time. However, another group that I don't remember was chosen instead of us. It was a really tough pill to swallow at that time as all we wanted to do was to get our music heard and get picked up by a label. In August of the same year we went back into the studio in St. Louis and recorded “Loudmouths”. We really did not like the studio where we recorded the track so we did not go back to do a clean edit for it. That track was never released but we did put it on dub plate (acetate) that has Check the status on the B-side. I went to LA in early 1996 to hook with Rob One who was going to take me to some radio shows and I needed something new for DJ's to play. Back then, you could not get any burn as a new group if you didn't have some kind of wax. Mike Nardone played the record on his show. I also played it at a San Diego station while I was there with Rob One. These contacts would prove to be vital in the success of the All Alone 12”.
In the spring of 1996 we went back in the studio and recorded Check da Status. This is the only track that has all three ALPS Cru MC’s on it. Rob III left the group shortly after recording that song. He wanted to pursue a career in Medicine and he informed us that his commitment to the group was no longer a top priority. We understood and wished him well. Shorty Live was a friend of another friend (Bird) we had in college who was from Brooklyn, NY. Bird is actually talking at the end of "Feelin' Satisfaction". He introduced me to Shorty in 1994 while I was in NY for the summer. He had that rugged NY style and was a very serious about recording. He was part of another crew in BK called UNF who had cut some demos here and there. After talking to him, P and I felt that he would be a great addition to the group. It would be two years before he would record with us. However, during that time he was getting beats from me in the mail and we would all communicate via phone to arrange the music. All three tracks for the All alone 12” were recorded in St. Louis in the spring of 1996. The chemistry between P and Shorty was especially ill, they really vibed off each other and the result was straight up dopeness. I felt that tracks were more rugged on this release than on previous ones. I had the Rufus/Chaka Khan sample from “All Alone” picked out for a couple of years but had not really done anything with it. When I finally put it together, P and Shorty were both all over it and suggested that we go with it. “Just Can’t Explain” uses a sample from “The Lettermen” and was a track that I really liked and tweaked for a few weeks. I thought that I would add a different sound in comparison to the other tracks that were both a little darker. The studio we used had the classic 2 inch analog tape machine and the sound was straight love. We were very pleased with the new songs and pressed either 300 or 500 (not sure) vinyl pieces. The 12” did pretty well as we got great feedback from both coasts on it as well as the Midwest. It was probably our most successful release because we had more support throughout the country and we had developed a small fan base as well.
After the All Alone 12" inch in 1996 we recorded one more track in St. Louis in July of1997 called "Avalanche". We had plans for another 12” with a couple of more tracks. Little did we know that it would be the last time that we would record together. With geographical challenges becoming more difficult (P was in graduate school in Georgia and Shorty living in NY, and me in St. Louis ), and other life responsibilities pulling at each of us we just gradually went our own way and pursued other aspirations. P recorded a solo project called Apparatus Addict in 1999 while living in Georgia. After 1998 P and I both lost total contact with Shorty. We have not heard from him since. I pursued a career in DJing and hip hop music marketing. I put a mix tape called “Originality iz a must” in the summer of 1997. I also competed in the DMC DJ competition and made it to the 1998 finals in New York.

I hope ya´ll enjoyed the read and wish ya´ll a merry X-Mas & a happy new year !!!

If you like the ALPS Cru sound and purchased the "Loudmouths" 12" make sure you check out their website:

in the first few months of 2009 for some more limited vinyl heat you def. don´t want to miss out !!!

Peace & One Love,

Bibow (TNR)