Interview with Grandmaster Caz

grandmaster caz
Grandmaster Caz

Interview by Scott Preston

Caz’s start began when, in 1974, he witnessed one of Kool Herc’s legendary block parties. He was so inspired that he got DJ equipment the very next day! ‘I wanted to be the one to make people dance.’ He titled himself “Cassanova Fly” and eventually teamed up with Disco Wiz.

Caz teamed up with crew member, JDL, became “The Notorious 2”. During this time period, Caz took his DJ skills to another level and incorporated rhyme skills. Caz is the first DJ to rhyme and cut simultaneously.

In 1979, DJ Charlie Chase of the Cold Crush Crew had asked Caz to help him audition MCs for his group, the Cold Crush Brothers. ‘Charlie was tricking me into joining the crew…I didn’t realize it at the time.’ Thus the Cold Crush Brothers, as they are known today, were formed with members: AD, GrandMaster Caz, JDL, Kay Gee, and founders Tony Tone and Charlie Chase.

With their appearance in the Hip Hop cult classic, “Wild Style” their popularity soared.

As captain of the Cold Crush Bros., Caz led the crew to new heights. Together the crew fostered a style and sound that has inspired many of today most famous MCs, including KRS-1, Will Smith, Big Daddy Kane and Slick Rick.

Caz also enjoyed a solo career. He released several songs on the Tuff City label. His writing abilities made him a much sought after lyricist. He has collaborated with many artists, including: Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, and KRS-1 among others.

In 1998, Caz was listed #11 out of Blaze Magazine’s Top 50 MCs of all Time. In an interview for NY’s Video Explosion, Caz explained, ‘I MC with the mind of a DJ and I DJ with the mind of an MC and B-Boy. I feel the essence of Hip Hop. It is what I do. It is who I am.’

Caz was inducted into the Technics DJ Hall of Fame in 1999. He was also invited to serve as an panelist and perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Hip Hop Conference in 1999. In the following year, when the exhibit traveled to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, he taught the MC Master Class as well as represented on one of the the panels. (1)

Cincy Groove: What made you want to be a DJ?

Grandmaster Caz: It happened when I went to see DJ Kool Herc at a party in The Bronx. Not long after that I went out and bought my first set. Before that I was dancing, I was a B Boy. We were just going from party to party dancing to the music.

Cincy Groove: Didn’t The Cold Crush Brothers in a way trick you into joining them?

Grandmaster Caz: Well in a way, but they wanted me in the group the whole time. Charlie Chase, the main DJ, we were friends before Cold Crush. He had asked me to come over to one of the auditions they were having for a new MC. I helped him pick out a few MC’s, because he respected me as one of the best MC’s out there. So I came to the auditions and there were only 2 MC’s there, I suggested he keep KG who wound up becoming the fourth member of the group. The whole time he was trying to recruit me into the group. Finally Charlie just came up to me and said “I want you to be down with me”. I was free styling myself, I had just got out of a group that I headed when Hank was helping to manage us. After that experience I just wanted to do my own thing and freestyle around. I was doing solo shows by myself and performing with JDL. We were known as the Notorious Two, we were the only 2 left from the original group. But eventually I came to be down with Cold Crush.

Cincy Groove: I know the members of Cold Crush are kind of doing their own thing, but does the group get back together from time to time?

Grandmaster Caz: In the past couple years we have done a few things. We did a Wild Style reunion show, Central Park Summer Stage, just a few things. I’m probably the most active member of the group.

Cincy Groove: Didn’t you perform with Ice-T recently?

Grandmaster Caz: I was supposed to, Ice-T ended up missing his flight. We were doing this TNA Wrestling Hard Justice on pay per view. We opened up the show, they were using one of my songs that I had wrote for my man Filthee called Ayayaya. The wrestlers were using it when they would come out. Even though Ice-T wasn’t there we went out anyway, we had Melle Mel there, Filthee, it went over well.

Cincy Groove: Are you working on any new projects?

Grandmaster Caz: I’m always working on something. Right now I’m doing these Hush Hip Hop site seeing tours which we do every week here in New York City. I do some guest spots at the Scratch Academy here in NYC. I help teach the beginner classes. Basically still performing, still Dj-ing, still speaking. Cold Crush has a gig up at Cornell University on Oct 31 where we will be doing a hip hop lecture and performance.

Cincy Groove: Are there any groups, say in the last 10 years that impress you?

Grandmaster Caz: The Roots continue to impress me. The have a musical knowledge and influence that stretches beyond hip hop. Black Thought is one of the baddest MC’s out there. Then of course there’s my boy Naz, Busta Rhymes, Cassidy, and Ludicrous.

Cincy Groove: What do you think about the internet and how it has affected how business is being done in music?

Grandmaster Caz: The internet and hip hop, name 2 things on the Earth that have that much of a widespread effect and influence on the planet. The information that is available, that in itself is a boom. Not only to hip hop but to everything. When you have that kind of information at your finger tips it adds to whatever you are doing. It enables the average guy to get his music out there and get it heard. Now you really don’t need a manager, record company to get known, you can do it yourself.

Cincy Groove: How would you compare the current state of hip hop to how it was back in the beginning?

Grandmaster Caz: Times were just as bad back then when we were doing hip hop. Back then we were looking for alternatives to what was bad and to what wasn’t good to talk about. Plus we didn’t have the same agenda as todays hip hop artists. We were doing hip hop for the sake of doing hip hop. Today these guys are doing it because they have to eat, feed their families. When you have a different agenda for doing something, the outcome is going to be different. The difference between hip hop back then and today is that there is a bigger machine behind it. Hip hop is fueled by that machine. Back then hip hop was fueled by us. The first hip hop record came out in 1979 and hip hop started in 1973. So for those 6 years it was just pure hip hop. Hip hop today is just as good, it just comes from a different place than it did back in the beginning.

Cincy Groove: Who were you listening to when you were growing up?

Grandmaster Caz: Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Simon and Garfunkle, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Three Dog Night, Elvis, The Osmond Brothers, The Temptations, The Jackson 5, AL Green, James Brown. I listened to everything. When I was growing up there was one radio station and they played it all. Now music is separated. I have an appreciation for music period, not just black music. I’m like the hip hop Carlton Banks (laughing).

The Cold Crush Brothers next show:
October 31, 2008
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
A. Bambaataa, DJ Tony tone, Grandmaster Caz, Grand Wizard Theodore, Disco Wiz, Joe Conzo( Born in the Bronx) DJ JRoc

Source #1 –