featured interview

AJ-Rok (J.V.C. Force) Doin' damage from Strong Island to Atlanta The golden era! When discussing it with fellow-cratediggers, the name J.V.C. Force often pops up. B-Boy Record's revelation trio treated us with two brilliant records; 'Doin Damage' in 1988 and 'Force Field' in 1990, or was there more? AJ Rok aka AJ Woodson, rapper of the group that vanished from the scene around 1992 and now full-time journalist and promoter, will tell.

Wassup AJ' First of all, for a few who dare to confuse, what does J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E. stand for?

Justified BY Virtue For Obvious Reasons Concerning Entertainment.

Who came up with the name and why?

Curt, the letters didn't actually stand for anything in the beginning. JVC was the name of Curt's crew I believe. B-Boy thought we might get sued by JVC Electronics so our first release has the named spelled J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E.

So did you really have to put dots between the letters in order to avoid legal issues?

Turned out we didn't. They couldn't sue us unless we started making or selling electronics with that name so we dropped the dots early on.

How did you meet?

We all lived a block apart. Bluv the block behind me, Curt the block in front of me.

J.V.C was signed to B-Boy Records, how did that happen?

Like many others, we looked at the address on the back of our favourite rap records and mailed in our demo.

Actually they turned out to be pretty shady...

Yeah, they have a lot more of our money then we do!

What exactly happened with Bill Kamarra?

He left. Moved down South and started a knock-off label that never went anywhere...

KRS-One was never ever actually signed to B-Boy, right?

Correct. From my understanding he was signed to Scott (La Rock, ed.), who formed the label B-Boy as a joint venture between himself and Rock Candy Records. But like many deals today the label lets you put your name and logo on the label but it's never a true joint venture.

Some B-Boy Records albums have been re-issued recently, did Landspeed re-issue everything?

Yes, Landspeed, the modern day B-Boy type of label, acquired the rights and then ripped B-Boy Records off. Bob Perry, the owner, probably is as crooked and corrupt as Jack Allen and B-Boy Records. Bob took what they used to do back then to another level. Word is he owes every artist who ever put anything out including 50 Cent.

So you ain't seein nuthin of that?

We saw some but none of what we should have.

There are a lot of J.V.C. Force singles on compilations here and there, did you earn of that?

None.

What do you think when you see the prices of 'Strong Island - Blue Mix' go sky-high on Ebay' The same goes for the 'Doin Damage' album by the way...

I'm glad there is a demand. I'm not seeing anything from those sales, maybe I will bootleg my own stuff and really flood the Ebay and overseas market.

'Doin Damage' is considered a classic. Do you still get many reactions on that album?

Yes we do, I surprised when people talk about it the way they do...

You guys had some dancers too: Chaos & Mayhem. Were they officially a part of J.V.C.?

They were our dancers I believe they got down with us on the second album.

Do you remember Positive Image and/or Soul Dimension' They were pretty great too.

Soul Dimension, we did mad shows with them! They were mad cool!

And Tall, Dark & Handsome?

Tall Dark and Handsome were tight too, one of the members ended up performing with Cold Crush before he died, he performed in JDL's place, who was incarcerated at the time.

How come B-Boy Records decided to release a split album 'B-Boy Posse' with both T,D & H and your album on it, how did that come together?

The B-Boy Posse shit was some fictitious creation to sell records, we were never past of a B-Boy Posse.

Any idea why the 'Force Field' album was/is so underrated?

Idlers/Warlock never really promoted us, B-Boy were crooks but they knew how to promote.

Tony D was on there too, how did you connect?

Tony D is Tony Dick or Anthony Dick (real last name) the owner of the label, he probably had a wack record out as an artist as well, for all I know.

There was a third, never-released JVC album recorded for Big Beat in 1992... What happened there?

Creative differences... I left the group. Some will say I was kicked out but bottom line; me and Curt and BLuv weren't on the same page anymore. They were eventually released from the label after that. So the third album which I truly believe was our best never was released.

Damn, so any chance on an eventual release?

Don't know if the other guys have plans to release it at any point, who knows, there are copies of it out there!

The last J.V.C. Force single 'Big Trax b/w 6 Feet Back On The Map' issued on Big Beat. Were those songs supposed to be on the 'Creative Differences' album?

Yes, they were.

So how did you get on the Big Beat label?

Stretch Armstrong who was a fan and a dope DJ used to play us all the time on his show, he was an A&R or something at Big Beat and convinced them to sign us.

You were one of the first acts of the label right?

We weren't the first but we were there in the early days and were part of the deal when Atlantic Records bought Big Beat and Craig Kellman, the owner of Big Beat, became VP at Atlantic.

What are some of your favourite J.V.C. songs and what's your favourite J.V.C. album?

The last album was my favourite, 'Tear The Show up' is my all-time favourite song I think possibly my best performance on wax.

Can you tell something more about your main activities now?

Been writing professionally since 1993 for a lot of publications including The Source, Vibe, blaze and Village Voice and many others, just started my own on-line mag Heavy Rotation Mag - the Total Urban Experience; www.heavyrotationmag.com. Also I've been doin college radio promo.

Being a music journalist...what interviews are engraved in your memory?

Pam Grier, and the girls from the movie 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love', Vivica, Lalah and Halle, all at one table I was trying hard not to drool.

You used to write for The Source how do you feel about the recent developments and the departure of Benzino?

Can't call it, wonder if they really got rid of them, don't see Dave and Zino goin down easy. I will say this and you can't blame this a lot on Benzino, but the Source while it's bigger isn't what it used to be and I don't think many will disagree. I was there in the beginning and saw the whole thing unfold. I was an artist then but was really cool with Dave and the crew.

You have a blog too. What do you think of the abundance of blogs on the Internet. A good thing or a bad thing for journalism?

Blogs are a good thing. Or writers like myself we can truly get info out we think needs to get out speak of things saying things that need to be said, promote projects we think are relevant that are not getting exposure. I personally tried out a lot of material that will end up in my book on hip hop and some of flava that will be in Heavy Rotation Mag.

You're currently living in Atlanta. Are you doin extra efforts to promote the local scene in your promotion work/journalism?

Still getting myself acclimated to the area. I have to shout out Crunk Magazine, I wrote that cover story of Mike Jones on the issue one of the characters in the movie ATL holds up. I have been involved in promoting local groups Vintage Imperial and Mars ILL, two dope groups that haven't gotten the exposure they deserve.

Oh Mars Ill, so how did you connect with them?

Mars Ill, Mr Complex, Grand Agent and Vintage Imperial all have the same manager, Mark Madison, with whom I have had a long business relationship, gettin exposure for all of them, be it College and Internet radio or publicity. I actually met him when the Source sent me to Philly to do the 'In The Hood' piece of Philadelphia, he was sort of my ghetto tour guide. We linked back up at Groove Attack when I started working with his artist Grand Agent. We have been really good friends ever since.

How did you get with the Groove Attack label?

I was called in to work Phife Dawgs first solo album when others they were payin had dropped the ball. Then I ended up doin all their college and radio promotions for the US releases and worked out of their New York office with my partner in promotions, Reality, my homegirl for life.

You hooked up with Vance Wright for the clothing line Conscious Brothers. How did you hook up' Did you know him from the Slick Rick days?

Nah, didn't know him back then but was always a fan. I met him cause my brother Big Myk and I were promoting a big party at a local club in New Rochelle. I met Vance's cousin while out promoting the function and invited him as well as all the other local celebrities, like Grand Puba,...they draw others. Anyway, he told me about 'Conscious Brothers' and I had a video show called 'Street Vibes' at the time and he blessed us with some clothes, I wore them in the show and brought them copies of the shows. He introduced me to his partner Brian Marable and they liked how I got down and put me down.

What about Urban Soul Entertainment, is that in full effect now?

Actually yes, Urban Soul Ent is a collective effort between a few cats in the area who pulled our resources together. Again it was me and Brian Marable and my partner in crime, Damon Jones. You can check out their new artists on their myspace page http://www.myspace.com/urbansoulentertainment. I'm still down with them and support everything they do, but I've been concentrating on Heavy Rotation...

Could you tell us more about Poepan...

One of the dopest emcees! The world never got a chance to properly hear him, I was managing him for a while and will always be down with anything he does. It's not just business with us. That's my boy.

What albums do you have in your CD-changer/iPod/turntables right now?

Little Brother. De la Soul 'The Grind Date'. Mary J and Jamie Foxx's new albums. Just to name a few...

You have an ASR... do you often make beats' Can we expect some production work from you maybe?

Nah, I don't do beats. That was Curt's world and B Luv did and still does promotions and makes beats here in Atlanta. Look out for my young homie DJ JTK and Atlanta cat DJ Pocket, I am a fan of both of them and if they get that break they will do the damn thing.

Curt Cazal never stopped producing, what do you think of the path he has walked, from J.V.C. to Jaz-O to D&D Studios' Could you tell back in the days that he would make a career out of it?

Yes, when Curt is focused he is one of the dopest producers to ever get behind the mixing board. He reminds me a lot of Premo, someone I personally have mad respect for. They way they go about doing what they do is crazy.

How did the QNC project come together' Were you ever involved?

No I was never involved, Both Curt and BLuv are a few years younger, and Mike (Q Ball) is around their age and really started hanging with Curt towards the end of J.V.C.
Any chance on a J.V.C. Force reunion or collabo with one of the other two members'
Me and BLuv have discussed it a few times, I can't speak for Curt, and can't rule anything out. But I can't see me getting in the studio anymore personally.

Last question: what's hip-hop missing these days?

Originality! Cats always talk about the golden era but back then all the artists had their own sound. When you heard Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, KRS, EPMD, NWA, Chubb Rock, Special Ed, Ice T and too many others to name, you knew it was them. I'm in Atlanta now and sometimes I can't tell one new group from the other in the beginning. Before I left NY, I was listening to Hot 97 and heard six groups that sounded like the Lox as far as style and delivery and none of them was the Lox and most were nowhere as good. Labels sign five of whoever is doin, every label was looking for a 50 Cent when he blew. Not enough originality and there are no more three-dimensional artists anymore, me and Poepan always talked about this. Everyone is all one way, all hard all ghetto. No one is gangster 24/7. If the hardest cat's mom or daughter is dying, you will see a man cry, if you threaten his family, the softest cat might kill you. No one is all one way in real life. The really successful ones show all different sides and tell many different stories.

 

POSTED 06|21|2006
conducted by cpf

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