Friday, June 19, 2020

Soul Kingz ‎- Catch Wreck / Trace Ya Stepz - 1994

12" - 1994 - Klockwerk Recordz  

Here is an other wax highly recommended for your hip-hop record collection... It was released in 1994 by the New Jersey-based group Soul Kingz, consisted of Chris Bonaparte aka Nicky Dee the Soulking, Hassan Coombs aka MC Hasskills, Tony Williams aka LevelOne, Tracy Ellis aka TNL, The Master Mike Saunders aka DJ Mike S and Michelle aka DJ Mish.

Promo photo courtesy of Chris Bonaparte 

For the story if you're not familiar with Soul Kingz, you need to know that in 1990 Nicky Dee and the Soul Kings appeared in the Unsigned Hype section of The Source magazine for the review of a 6-Track Demo Tape.   

From The Source - Summer 1990 - Scan courtesy of Steph Freshnews

After the unsigned hype review, Nicky Dee The Soulking got a record deal and was signed by Big City Records, and released his first album on tape only... 

Photo courtesy of Chris Bonaparte

A1 - Trouble With Us
A2 - Make Room On the Dance Floor
A3 - Just Do'n My Thang
A4 - You Know How
A5 - Slippin In To Darkness
B1 - Ugly As Hell
B2 - Samplin
B3 - It's My House
B4 - Nobody Else Does It Like We Can
B5 - Money always Rules (M.A.R.Y)
B6 - Soul King Theme

Photo courtesy of Chris Bonaparte 

Nicky Dee : "The first album was self titled "Soulking" featuring tracks like "Rap So Hot", "It Will Make You Sweat"... The album cover art was an ode to the Ohio players... The main joint was "Trouble With Us" which is what I submitted to The Source in demo form. This was an album the label sat in for a year before they released it which is why I wrote the Entertainer about the industry. I wrote "Trouble With Us" on napkin paper while walking home during a snow storm ... lol... it was crazy back then !!"

Three years later, Nicky Dee was back with the crew under the name of Soul King Productions, with a brand new project titled "Trace Ya Stepz". The album composed of 16 tracks is dope from the beginning 'til the end. It was released on tape on Klockwerk Recordz, a record label managed by Nicky Dee himself. This tape became a very rare item and most of the hip-hop tape collectors are looking for it nowadays.

Fortunately 9 tracks of this album were released on vinyl by the famous Milwaukee-based label Dope Folks Records in 2016, but the tracks "Catch Wreck" and "Trace Ya Stepz" weren't on this reissue, so this 12" from 1994 is the only way for you to get these tracks on vinyl...

Promo photo courtesy of Chris Bonaparte 

Nicky Dee, How did the connection happen between all the members of the group ? 

Nicky Dee : "I did an album in 89/90 on a label called  Big City Records a small indie which had another local Artist MC Cheese  on it (the brother of DJ Cheese). So upon hooking up with them I met Mike Kirsch aka Frazzle a studio owner and artist, we became quick friends. After the album was released I was doing some touring when I met an up and coming rapper named Hassan from Newark, NJ, he was tight with Twin Hype who did that joint "Do It To The Crowd". We talked and decided to link up. When I left the label about a year later I called him and we linked up. Tracy and I met when I heard there was some kid that could rhyme when I moved to Piscataway. He was from Plainfield on the others side of town so I rode my bike over there to challenge him. I wasn't sure where he was but I heard they hung out behind a school and that's where I found him and the battle happened behind Clinton Ave School. We've been friends ever since...of course I won lol ...but I told him I would teach him and that was end of 80 into 81. Mike I met playing football in what is called the Heights where we lived his brother was a DJ and Mike took it up as well we did party's together as well as were part of The FunkyForce, a much larger crew that I and 3 other friends from NY living in Piscataway  created. Tony was a friend from school, the pretty boy who the girls liked and we formed a singing group together Mellow Madness with 2 other members Myron and Shirlene guess we were gonna be the next Cameo or something lol ... you have to understand Funk was really big in this area before hip-hop via the George Clinton Sly Stone Cameo connection. Tony was into Keyboards and was down with me on my first album so he had been around for a while. Michelle, I met at a Club I used to DJ at called Pier 18 in Perth Amboy, NJ. She was watching us spin and I noticed how fun she was so I approached her about joining the Soulkings, she accepted and became a very important part of the group."

Who did the productions exactly for the 12" ? 

Nicky Dee : "Me hahaha I did the pre production at my crib on this  Numark 4 sec sampler, we later added the 808 and other stuff at my man Frazzles studio which was on 86th and Central Park West. I didn't have access to many drum machines back then so I used what I had, went with some familiar stuff cause of course we were trying to sell records lol ... most of the cuts I did as well and a few other DJs that are from this area did the rest like Jerome Walker aka JC Rock who I put on at the age of 12 to be my DJ, George Calloway aka DJ Cuttin C and John McLaurin aka DJ Johnny M the Urban Assassin...yup I am the Soulking but I put other people down as well."

In terms of production, what were your hip-hop influences at that time ?

Nicky Dee : "EPMD, Bomb Squad, Pete Rock, Premier, Diamond D and of course the Beatnuts..."

Why is there no more material released after the 12" in 1994 ?

Nicky Dee : "I decided to learn how to produce and record my own music around that time so acquiring equipment became my passion. I still rhyme... lol... that never leaves but I was also enjoying success as a dj as well... I'm probably the only one from this area that has all of the records of the local rappers and who had a hand in influencing them all including DJ Cheese who didn't know the breaks until my dude Tracy let him borrow mine and that was before he won the DMC... and back in 82 we lived next door in the same building for a brief time...The only joint I don't have yet is by these girls lite and lively and I taught one of them (Vicky) how to rap, even my dude Sharief Hobley a world Famous musician came outta my camp. 
They call me a legend but I'm just Chris and was blessed to bring what I learned from NY with me to NJ and pass it on..."

Mad Props to Chris Bonaparte aka Nicky Dee. Thanks for your time. 

1 comment:

  1. Great read! I was always wonder if they had more demo material.