In the forty plus years since the rise and explosion of the Hip Hop culture which of course includes the music itself, there have been many great artists. Many of them were quite well known in the early days of Hip Hop with legions of fans. They had many well attended shows and songs that played on the underground and later mainstream radio stations of the time and many were in fact female artists. Well before today’s hit makers like Nikki Minaj or Iggy Azealia even before artists like Lil Kim, Salt n Pepa or Mc Lyte they were out there heavy and doing it for real.
Unfortunately many of them are now relatively unknown and unsung. Today we have the pleasure of talking with legendary female MC, Sparky D. Blah Greeting Sparky D and welcome to the Dirty Basement.
Sparky D. >I’ve been with you in the Dirty Basement for 15 minutes now. What’s up baby? Alright,
I’m so sorry, we’re having all kind of problems here today. And like I said earlier, it always the shows where I’m expecting guests and I’ve got a lot going on. That my system decides that it wants to fail me. But it’s definitely a pleasure to have you in the building with us. Thank you so much for being so patient.
Sparky D. >That be alright with me.
No, that’s what we do. Alright, alright. That’s what’s up – for people who may be not aware, you definitely have a lot of history in the business. In the music business and the hip hop culture. I’m somebody who’s definitely aware of you, and Spyder-D and that whole era. But why don’t you introduce yourself, and talk about it a bit? And then we’ll of course bring it up to date.
Sparky D. >Okay, that’s what’s up. I go by the name of MC Sparky D. Born and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn. First battle rapper. Not first female rapper, but first battle rapper. I battled, Roxanne Shante. That was in 1985. When started out with a crew called, “The Play Girls.” And we had a song called, “The Battle.” I was Russell Simmons first female artist signed. It was Whoudini, Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Kool DJ Red Alert, and myself. Spyder-D, Davey D, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde. The list goes on. And I was the first female ever with an endorsement for Mountain Dew and Gwen Guthrie. Gwen Guthrie passed away – but she sang that song, “Ain’t Nothing going on but the Rent.” And I did do what I had to do in the business.
Well what was the introduction for you, and then what was the breakthrough that led to all of that, that led to the endorsement and that led to what ended up being your career?
Sparky D. >Okay, my introduction was with The Playgirls group. We was on Sutra Records. And the Fat Boys was on that label. Oh right, Sutra. I know Sutra.
That’s what’s up.
Sparky D. >And the name of that song was called, “Picture of a Man.” Three girls from Brownsville, we was young. We hung out with the best of the best. The names that I named. We wasn’t even signed yet. But when we got signed to Sutra – the record, ah – but they knew who we was. ‘Cause we was going around every boro and whatnot. And then before it became 1985, it was at midnight. It was New Year’s 1985, Mr Magic Rap Attack, for those who don’t know. Mr Magic Rap Attack really started hip hop in New York, on that radio station, him and Marley Marl, the Juice Crew. And he played Roxanne Shante’s record. I was laughing. “Ooh look at her little girl voice, she ain’t even rhyming. But her voice.” And just stood out. And he (Spyder D) said, “You’re going to answer that record.” So the next day, January 1st, the next day I went in the studio, answered that record. and a week later, it went gold, the rest is history.
Wow. Now for those that don’t know, that whole era in hip hop – that Roxanne era was a crazy time, but it was fun. I mean because there was so many records that came out. You had all kind of response records. You had this Roxanne, you had Roxanne’s grandmother… it just turned into a whole thing, but it was definitely done in a lot of fun. And I think that’s definitely something that’s missing from hip hop now. That just kinda – that kind of fun back and forth. Because then it kinda turned a different direction that definitely wasn’t good for the people that it impacted personally. And then of course the culture, the culture as a whole.
*** I definitely can relate to everything that you were talking about. I remember those days. And when people try to refer to you guys as old school, I’d rather say that you’re the true school of hip hop. Because that’s when everything was more authentic. Everything that came from behind that was more like something that they’ve seen. You guys were the originators that did that. So before that, you didn’t have nobody to say that – that’s who you looked up to. So they look up to you.
Sparky D. >That was the best time of my life. That’s what made me love hip hop until this very day. Doesn’t matter, even when you put me in a box, I’ll still be loving hip hop. I was just up in New York. Sunday I went to Cool V’s book signing, you know the Juice Crew. And there’s Big Daddy Kane, Roxanne Shante, Kool G Rap, myself, Pebblee Poo. And it was funny, because – excuse me – we only had 1 mic. So yeah, yeah in this party, whole bunch of people – true hip hip hop. Like parties used to be back in the days. And we’re passing around 1 microphone, man. So yeah, I understand what you’re saying. That’s, It was done for love, it was done for love. True hip hop, you’ll never get that again. You’ll never get that again. They can’t even fake the funk. Even having shows today for true hip hop. So, again, we thank you for supporting us.
Oh definitely. I usually ask the question,who is your top 5 dead or alive MC’s in the game? Man or woman, doesn’t matter.
Sparky D. >Roxanne Shante, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim , LL Cool J, and MC Shan.
What would you – if you had to implement anything from yesteryear to present year, to give it a better balance. What would you think that would be?
Sparky D. >God has a plan for each and every one of us. So first of all, I’m not going to knock them. I thank God for them for keeping it going. But one thing I do not like is cursing – or explaining that you passed a Molly or you passed a Percocet, or you want to twerk and she pulled her pants down. She did it, he did it like this. She opened up her legs and he licked it like this. We’re teaching our children how to have sex, how to do drugs. There’s some portraying that they’ve sold drugs and they’re Police officers, you feel me? So our kids are trying to be like them, and they’re not even doing those things. So it’s hurting our community. I don’t like them for the same, the forces that they have – but that’s already set in the plan for them. But it is hurting hip hop. And what they’re doing is not hip hop, that’s called rap. ‘Cause hip hop is a culture.
Just to get to talk to people that can relate to every feeling that I have myself, regardless of age. And sometimes you look and say, “Man, I wish I could go back and just reminisce a little more. But that’s the reason why we’ve got these old opportunities to go back and look at YouTube and listen to some of the great music, the things that you’ve done. People who never heard of you can Google you and really research and see the truth in hip hop that you did do what you did. And if it didn’t show up, then it wouldn’t be there. So I definitely salute you 105%.
Sparky D. >Thank you, thank you. We appreciate you. We appreciate you guys. Without you guys, I mean where would we be? So, again, we thank all of you guys – all of you. Even up and coming ones now, we thank you. What advise could you give for up and coming artists especially females? >Just stay focused. The entertainment business is nothing to play with, you got to stay focused. Hold your own. Just because you are female, sometimes we’ll be let down, you know what I mean? Or pushed to the side, kicked to the curb. But just stay focused. You stay focused, and let the microphone be your skill. Let the microphone be your skill. Let that be number 1, you know what I mean. Yeah we’re beautiful ladies, do what we do. We love to get dressed and be fly. But let the mic carry you, let you have some skills on that microphone. And stick at your study, and stay focused and you’ll go a long way. Blah Right, definitely. Because like a lot of the up and coming female rappers nowadays, they just let their beauty take them along. And they’re not really talking about anything. But I like old school hip hop, so I’m ready to hear the old school hip hop again, because like the music nowadays is not even music. I don’t even know what that is.
*** Now you said, your first solo record was the response to Roxanne? Was that your first solo record?
Sparky D. >Yeah that’s the first solo record I have.
That was produced by Spyder-D I would imagine.
Sparky D. >For sure, yes it was.
Okay now, and you met him because all of you guys were signed under Russell Simmons, correct?
Sparky D. >No, no actually The Playgirls – we were from Brooklyn, and our manager said, “Come on, we’re going to take you to the studio. And they said, “We’re going to let you meet Spyder-D.” Well I’m telling the two girls, Mo Ski and City Slim – I said, “Just because he’s Spyder-D and he made a record, don’t anybody going to be trying to like him,” and all that. You know how girls are. So I said, “Don’t be acting – just because he in a studio, he ain’t nothing. We’ve got it going on.” Put the music on – he put the music on, and we start rapping to him and Kurtis Blow begin to fight over us for a movie with Leon Isaac Kennedy. But Spyder-D won. We love Kurtis Blow, but I’m glad Spyder-D won. And then the rest was history – and the rest was history. Spyder loved us. He didn’t have to teach us how to rap. I mean we just had it together.
We also have Sparky D’s DJ in the building. Do you also do production?
Sparky D’s DJ>No, I just spin. I mean I’m just a baby brother that she just put on and we just make it happen. We just do what we do. Even though I’ve been doing this for a minute.
Okay, alright, that’s what it is. So how long have you actually been her DJ for shows and things like that?
Sparky D’s DJ>Well I think me and Sparky have been together about – what, about 5 months now Sparky?
Sparky D>Yeah about 5 months.
How long did you do this before me though?
Sparky D’s DJ>I’ve been on tour with Mike Epps, Katt Williams. I’ve done Bell Biv DeVoe, Charlie Wilson. I’ve done some more, Bruce Bruce. I did tours with all the big – Dougie Fresh, and I mean I opened up for Naughty By Nature. I’ve done like a whole lot of touring. I’ve been doing this since – like ’89 from the Bronx. Zulu Nation, Chapter One. I’ve been doing it in the big park, plugged up to the lamp poles. With the big earthquake speakers. So me and Sparky hooked up through a mutual friend of ours, which is her God Sister, who’s my road manager and who’s Sparky’s manager. So that kind of put together. So now we just generate – start setting the game back down the way she used to. Blah I heard mentioned a little bit earlier there’s some things that are coming back together.
So is there anything that you could tell us right now as far as any performances coming up for you guys?
Sparky D’s DJ>Yeah, I’ve got a – we’ve got a New York June 3rd. The Woman of Hip Hop. We have that with MC Sha-Rock. You know, for the historical museum, we’re working Cuba Gooding Sr we met in Texas. We’re getting dates, we’re getting dates. The dates are coming. Hopefully we’ll get on this tour. Still trying to work out a Canadian tour. We getting ready to do a college tour, we’re just pushing it out, pushing it out. Once they know that I’m back and doing what I do, for sure, they’ll pick me up. So right now, we’ve got a couple of dates. Things are working out, we just did Vegas at the Gospel Jubilee.
You have a new song out called “I’m Blessed”, can you talk about that a bit before you go?
Sparky D’s DJ>After I went through what I went through what I went through. Through drugs and different things in my life. I gave my life back to God. I was always with God, I gave my life back to God. I just keep it real, So 17 years of crack cocaine, prostitution, domestic violence and homelessness – I had to fall to my knees. I had to come back to the realization that God made me. My mother didn’t make me like this. So I just gave my life back to God, and he delivered me from everything that I said. And I do gospel hip hop. I’m an ordained Pastor as well. I’m in the schools on a daily basic, and just lifting up our community – and that’s just what I do. Blah Some real talk and some real music.
Sparky D its been a pleasure
Sparky D>Thank you