Radio days

Will C.’s beyond-fresh Down the Dial comp
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  November 26, 2008

mr.magiccassette_inside.jpg

Will C was born 20 years too late and four skin tones too light. And in the wrong city. Still, Boston's 21-year-old rapper/producer/throwbackologist might be the planet's most enthusiastic hoarder of goods related to the infinitely inventive decade that followed hip-hop's late '70s inception. Fans of his previous archival mission, Commercial Rap, must have wondered where he scored authentic Billy D. Williams Colt 45 commercials. On Down the Dial he reveals his secret stash: old cassettes dubbed from Mr. Magic's Rap Attack show on NYC's WBLS between 1981 and 1989. With support from original hosts Magic and Fly Ty, Will revisits the legacy of hip-hop's all-time most influential show with a genius spread of lost originals, crafty blends, and contemporary tributes. If ever there was something that warranted obsessive hyping by compulsively nostalgic hipsters, it's this resounding homage to pre-Internet, pre-mixtape, pre-bullshit New York City boom-bap. Here are some highlights from its 31 tracks.

"New York Class"
This relaxed introductory joint was produced by Berklee hip-hop hero Raydar Ellis, and Will C the rapper uses it to illustrate Mr. Magic's airwave air raid. Any folks who are concerned about a Generation Jeezy white kid lacing Hip-Hop 101 lessons can relax: in the lead-up, Magic declares Will "the newest member of the Juice Crew." There is no higher honor.

"Two and a Half Yo-Yos"
Here goes another classic Will C blend — this time splicing MC Shy D's "Rap Will Never Die," which was plucked from an old Rap Attack show, with Bonnie Raitt's "Nick of Time," which was not. For hood measure, the mix also incorporates Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real," plus a masterfully selected mess of scratches, snares, and snippets.

"No Mardi Bells" feat. Biz Markie (extended version)
We asked Will C how he got the Biz to lace an original track for this project: "Me and Biz talk a lot and we trade stuff. I met him in college. I gave him a World's Famous Supreme Team radio show from 1982 and asked for him to mention my name and do a quick beatbox in a drop. But when I got it back, it was three and a half minutes over a beat that he produced. I had to cut it down for the album, but I'm down to leak the full version on the Phoenix Web site." Nice.

"Fornicate"
In rummaging through the boxes of tapes that he already owned plus the ones that Magic lent him for this project, Will dug hundreds of hilarious vintage commercials. But none compares to this 1988 PSA featuring Mike Tyson speaking on behalf of the New York Police Department. "The only person who can stop me is myself," Tyson boldly predicts in the ad. "It takes a special person to become a cop."

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