The History Of Sacramento Rap
Written By First Degree The D.E. & Jimmy Blog For Fahrenheit Insight
Note: Sacramento rap history. After talking with Sacramento’s real rap pioneers, First Degree The D.E. and Fahrenheit columnist Jimmy Blog document the truth about the history of the Sacramento rap game for Fahrenheit Insight in this three part series. For the people!
Sacramento Rap History, Part One
Break dancing was the first Sacramento urban hip hop expression
First there was dance, then there was rap.
In the late 70’s, early 80’s, when hip hop as being created at block parties in Brooklyn, New York, Sacramento had break dancers. This was a time that created funky-fresh clothing, break dancing, electric keyboards, boom boxes, heavy drum tracks, and other roots of the hip hop culture. This era gave eventually gave birth to the “Breakin’” movie series, “Krush Groove”, and many more. To be the king of Sacramento in those days, you had to not only know how to pop, but survive and control a dance battle. The main DJ in town was DJ Darryl Dennis, pumping up local events. DJ Darryl was the local star, that was until The Triple Threat Three, which was DC Ray, Mike C and Captain K hit the scene. They were rappin’.
DJ Darryl Dennis & Captain K’s dance single “Sweat”. Check it out here
For the record, DC Ray was the first Sacramento rapper, and The Triple Threat Three was the first Sacramento rap group.
Around 1980ish, East Coast pioneers like The Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and Run DMC were creating a genre, defining a culture. Their messages were about fun, respect, and what was going on in the hood. DC Ray and The Triple Threat Three started around this time. As there was high school dance battles, South Sacramento became known for intense rap battles as well. “Burbank was the main battle spot, then MCs from everywhere started comin down,” reflects DC Ray on Fahrenheit Radio’s Fahrenheit Hour Urban Talk Show. Eventually, Sacramento’s unique hip hop style was on display in alleys, house parties, DJ parties, high schools, and dance clubs in the form of freestyle rap. It was pure, urban expression. It was the stuff that created what Sacramento is now known for; hard edged, in your face reality. When the dust settled, DC Ray and the Triple Threat Three became our Sactown representatives. They were 16.
Fahrenheit graphic artist E-Moe getting down with DC Ray in Sacramento
During DC Ray’s recent appearance on Fahrenheit Radio’s “Fahrenheit Hour”, First Degree The D.E. mentioned the Rakim show and story they were writing for Fahrenheit Insight. “I was before Rakim!” includes DC Ray. Wow. “Back then, you had to sell your music out the trunk like Too Short,” remembers DC Ray.
Sacramento Rap History, Part Two
Once DC Ray became the King Of Urban Sac, the buzz exploded past our Sacramento borders and reached the Bay area and eventually, Los Angeles and New York. It was at this time that Russell Simmons’ Def Jam Records and new rap group Run DMC were blowing up on the East Coast. Run DMC decided to take their block party on the road. That road lead to Sacramento, and in 1983, The Triple Threat Three, Whodini, and Run DMC did a show at The 2nd Level in Sacramento. It was Sacramento’s first big rap show. A 13-year-old Kevin Mann (Brotha Lynch Hung) was front row, and all the local up-and-coming MCs were in the building. The Triple Threat Three turned the party out, getting the attention of Russell Simmons. After the show, Russell Simmons told The Triple Threat Three crew about their new label, Def Jam Records. Russell Simmons offered them a contract with one catch, they had to move to New York. Two of the Triple Threat Three were in, one was out, citing the mystery of Def Jam Records. At the time, Def Jam was still an up-coming label from a coast far away. Since the members of the Triple Threat Three were a group, they stuck together and declined Def Jam’s offer. On the Fahrenheit Hour, First Degree and DC Ray reflect on how the Sacramento rap game could have been much more had they gone to New York.
Russell Simmons brought his Def Jam crew to Sacramento in 1983 in rap’s beginnings, also offering Sactown’s Triple Threat Three a contract
Run DMC, Whodini, and The Triple Threat Three set the Sactown rap scene ablaze with Sacramento’s first big rap show.
In time, DC Ray and The Triple Threat Three’s battle-proven style, grit, and lyrical emphasis had made its way to Cletus Anderson and Saturn Records in Los Angeles. Saturn Records signed The Triple Threat Three and released “Scratch Motion”. Scratch Motion was Sacramento’s first official single in stores! It was 1984. An up-and-coming DJ named Dr. Dre was on the scratch! Yes, THE Dr. Dre scratches on Sacramento’s first rap record, Scratch Motion. There were records, and they were in stores. Sacramento had a hero, much earlier in the rap game than many are aware of.
Sacramento’s first rap song, Triple Threat Three’s “Scratch Motion” You can hear it on Youtube here
Dr. Dre of the World Class Wreckin Crew scratched on Sacramento’s first single, “Scratch Motion”
On the Fahrenheit Hour episode with DC Ray, First Degree offers, “If you ever get Brotha Lynch real drunk, he’ll tell you the story about how the Triple Threat Three/Run DMC show got him in the rap game for real! Haha. He was in the front row, yada yada yada, he fell in love with the rap game”
“I remember when he was Kevin Ice Cold, what he was going by at the time. C-Bo was just comin up, he’s always been reppin’ that name.” DC Ray recognizes. “I like Brotha Lynch cuz he always gives props bout where it all came from. Its good that there are people like yourself, D.E., to document our history.”
Sacramento Rap History, Part Three
After rocking Scratch Motion for a couple years in clubs in town and on the road, the Triple Threat Three crew needed another single. They hit the studio and created a tribute to Marvin Gaye called “We Love You Martin”. It was 1985, and The Triple Threat Three was traveling the coast, turning out shows. Other Sacramento MCs, like Oak Park’s Homicide, The Godfather, Bad Mouth C, and Young Dre D were making names for themselves as well. By this time, the hip hop culture had taken over the city. The hero of the city was on records in stores. DC Ray also had a TV show on Public Access, interviewing stars.
While DC Ray was expanding expectations with his TV show, the next generation of rappers was chiseling their rap skills at the local high schools and street corners. This time, the young generation was mainly battling at Kennedy High in South Sacramento, aka The K-House. As with the generation before it, this next breed of rap battlers would engage after school and the best from other schools would come to test their skills in the arena. Familiar names like Brotha Lynch Hung, C-Bo, Triple Sicx, Luni, Marvaless, First Degree The D.E., Be Gee, AK47, and many more were free-styling their way into Sacramento notoriety.
Sacramento’s Luni Coleone pays respect to DC Ray at a local event
The main hoods contributing to the new underground rap movement was Meadowview, The Garden Blocc (Florin Road), Greenhaven, Oak Park, Del Paso Heights, and Freeport. The Freeport area became a serious rap proving ground. Sac pioneer Ace Mak (Ace Of Spades at the time) was a producer and influenced many of the household names you know of today. “Ace Mak taught me to make beats,” First Degree exclaims. Freeport groups like Black Rage (Ace, AK, and Marvaless) and The Wicked lead the new generation rap underground. The town had something special on the bubble, their own sound, their own buzz, their own chip.
Sacramento Rap History, Part Four
In the late 80’s, DC Ray was introduced to Cedric Singleton, a young strategist from Ohio, equally hungry for the game. “Ced Sing” was starting a new label with Robert Foster called Black Market Records. DC Ray and Black Market Records came together and released Black Market’s first single, DC Ray’s “What’s The Matter With Your Life?”. At this time, DC Ray was still the only Sac rapper in stores. Black Market and DC Ray’s relationship eventually got complicated and the two moved on. To this day, there are a few things DC Ray would like to hear Ced Sing say.
Black Market’s first single was DC Ray’s “What’s The Matter With Your Life?”
During the recording of The Fahrenheit Hour, DC Ray states that he would like Ced to clean up the mess he made, admit some of his wrongs, and move forward. “I can see he is trying to make everything right now,” DC Ray defends. “But I could have signed with Atlantic Records!” He then goes on stating that Atlantic Records was interested in him. Atlantic was told DC Ray wasn’t interested. DC Ray suspects someone at Black Market told Atlantic that he wasn’t interested. “We could have done a better job with ‘What’s The Matter With Your Life’,” DC Ray also realizes out loud.
By the early 1990’s, Black Market Records was preparing a take over, They released Homicide and was building their brand. It was then that a young Dalvin Pipkins (eventual owner of Death Trap Records) walked newbies X-Raided and Brotha Lynch Hung into the Black Market office. Also during this time, Bobby T and C-Bo, affiliates with Vallejo underground up-comers E-40 and The Click, were getting their situation together and had big plans of their own. Dalvin, Be Gee, First Degree The D.E., Young Joker, and Phonk Beta were on the verge of making history as well. Colossal things were on the horizon for these rap pioneers and the city of Sacramento.
The actions of these young trailblazers later started the Sacramento rap era you think you know. Do you really know? Find out on part two of “The History Of Sactown Rap”, here on Fahrenheit Insight!
You can hear this interview with DC Ray in its entirety soon on Fahrenheit Radio and Youtube.
First Degree The D.E.
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