hip hop music

April 10, 2008

Charlie Chase: Tampa's Adopted Hip-Hop Hero

Good to hear some legends are out there carving out a good space for themselves:

Hip-Hop Hero Calls Tampa Home link

Mention Charlie Chase to a fan of Top 40 hip hop, and you'll likely draw a blank stare.

Mention Chase to a hip-hop head who knows the music's history, and you'll get an immediate smile of recognition and, probably, a few gushing quotes.

"He's definitely a legend," says Sandman, a Tampa DJ who spins Saturday nights on 95.7 The Beat and runs tampahiphop.com, a Web site that covers the Bay area hip-hop scene.

"He's one of the forefathers of the movement. He's a living part of history," says Idris Faruq, who runs Tampa hip-hop label Substantial Records and is a member of of Tampa hip-hop outfit the Villanz.

And now, the legend calls Tampa home...

As Memphis is to rock 'n' roll, the South Bronx is to hip hop: its birthplace.

Chase, 49, was a teenager growing up in the South Bronx in the '70s, then considered one of the most impoverished and dangerous areas in the United States.

Hip hop was born out of this desolation. DJs and MCs plugged their gear into public power supplies and threw impromptu parties anywhere they could draw a crowd.

"In the Bronx, you either had to be constructive or be destructive," Chase says. "Hip hop was a way for us to be constructive, to get away from all the everyday hassles as a teenager — dealing with gangs, dealing with drugs. It was an outlet for us. It was a beautiful thing."

Chase, Tony Tone, Grandmaster Caz, Hut Maker JDL, Almighty KG and Easy AD formed the Cold Crush Brothers, a group whose legacy far outweighs its commercial success or scant recorded output.

Chase, of Puerto Rican descent, says he took flak from fellow Puerto Ricans and some African-Americans for his involvement in a predominantly black genre.

But Chase's skills were enough to silence most critics.

In conversation, Chase is humble about his contributions to the art of DJing, deferring originator status to turntable greats such as Grandmaster Flash, Grand Wizard Theodore and DJ Kool Herc, all of whom he performed with.

But there's no denying Chase's skills on the wheels of steel. He's a master at finding and blending beats, flowing a current rap hit into a classic rock snippet or cutting in some salsa and old-school beats.

Listening to him create an hour-plus mix live on WMNF, 88.5 FM, is to witness a truly spontaneous art form.

Chase appears the first Saturday of each month on WMNF's "Saturday Night Shutdown." At the moment, it's Chase's one regular gig in Tampa, to which he relocated two years ago.

Posted by jsmooth995 at April 10, 2008 12:45 AM

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