January 14, 2004
Photos: The Last Days of D&D
In a few weeks we will hit the one-year anniversary of a sad day in hip-hop, the closing of the legendary D&D studios. I was lucky enough to visit D&D just before it closed, and got a few pictures for the scrapbook.
I'd gotten an invite to a listening session for Gangstarr's new album, and expected the usual routine with label execs playing a CD for a bunch of industry heads, with the artist possibly stopping by and sitting on the side. Instead I walked in to find nothing but Guru and a couple of his friends sitting on a couch, watching TV. Guru looked up and said "Watsup, glad you could make it! There's some food in back if you want." Way more intimate vibe than I expected! It was like I got invited to Gangstarr's house for a sleepover.
Walking towards the kitchen, it felt like every inch of this place was suffused with hip-hop history. The room with the couches and TV was lined with platinum plaques from Illmatic and just about every other classic album of the last 15 years. Each wall in the next room was plastered with classic album covers, surrounding a worn-out pool table that you just knew all your heroes had played on. Across from the soda machine was a photo gallery with candid shots from inside the studio (like the one of KRS and Primo below), dating back to the early 80s when they catered mostly to reggae artists like Dennis Brown.
We came back to the couches (I was with fellow WBAI host Andrea Clarke) and watched videos with Guru, while a few heads from Power 105 filtered in. I'd heard horror stories about Guru but he was totally chill and friendly with us (the horror stories involved him being drunk off his proverbial ass, which word is he doesn't do anymore), and told lots of cute stories about his kid, who loves to rap along to Nas' "I Can", then pauses and says "Hey daddy... WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT BOY!?" (#1 Stunna style)
Eventually Premier came in and gave everybody a pound, and we all crowded into a tiny studio where Primo started pulling DATs out of a Duane Reade shopping bag, each of which contained a song from the new album. He made a little speech before each song, describing how each track was made and then veering off into musings on hip-hop philosophy. Some of the tracks were so new that Guru hasn't heard the finished product yet, and he nodded excitedly "I like how that one came out!"
Just to recap, at this moment I AM SITTING INSIDE D&D, AND DJ PREMIER IS SITTING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, PLAYING HIS NEW SHIT FOR ME!!!! This was one of those times when it is incredibly cool to have a radio show.
Primo's friends were wandering in and out as it went on, and at one point we were sharing the space with Primo, Guru, Tony Touch, Craig G, Marley Marl, and Edwin "Rapper Dapper Snapper" Birdsong. The amount of hip-hop history cramped into this little room at that point was just insane.
I hate to sound like a Wonder Years voiceover, but sitting there with all these legends, listening to Primo speak of the traditions and "hip-hop codes" he strives to uphold, all the while knowing these hallowed halls were about to be closed down forever, it was hard not to feel like we were getting one final glimpse at hip-hop's golden age, before it faded into the sunset.
Anyway here are few pics: