Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mr. Magic Week # 4 (Thursday) - "The Real Story Behind The 'Magic's Message' Record"

Mr. Magic... a rapper? Not exactly. The man himself was dubbed "The Official Voice of Hip Hop" for his dominating presence on radio waves, not because of his superb lyrical abilities. Then why is it that he managed to have his own 12" release on Posse Records in 1984 where he's kicking the truth to the young black youth? How did this happen?

Mr. Magic- "Magic's Message (The Has To Be A Better Way) (Vocal Version)

Upon taking a glance at the credits on the 12" label, it becomes clear that Duane Hughes is the actual writer for this release. So Magic didn't write the lyrics? Who's Duane Hughes?

Spyder-D, motherfucker...

I don't know why I just felt the need to swear about that. However, you can see Spyder-D performing above with an onlooking plaid-jacket-wearing Run in the background (pretty badass). Mr. Hughes is also the producer of this fine release. One day when I was kicking it with Magic and his partner in crime, Fly Ty, I decided to ask them about this mystery record. Oh yeah, and I decided to record it as well, 'cause I do odd things like that. You can check out the audio from the interview below, as well as a transcript of what was said in case you miss anything.

Interview with Mr. Magic and Fly Ty on "Magic's Message" Origin

[Fly Ty]: "A Better Way," Spyder D wrote that.

[Mr. Magic]: Right

[Fly Ty]: Right, that's when we had just got... 'BLS had just dogged us, we was off 'BLS, right. So Spyder D came and said "Yo Magic, I got this record you could do." Magic did the record. Basically he told him "You could make some money."

...Magic would never do that record in New York.

[Will C.]: No?

[Mr. Magic]: (Attempts to interject)

[Fly Ty]: Let me tell you... no... in the beginning, I remember we had a BIG show at the Roxy, 'cause my artists were: Roxanne Shante, Fearless, Stetsasonic, and Debbie D and the US Girls. So we had this show at the Roxy. So umm... the whole thing was Magic was supposed to perform "Magic's Message" for the first time...* (starts laughing), hold up.

[Will C.]: (For no reason starts humming the melody to "Magic's Message," like an idiot)

[Fly Ty]: Magic kept putting off everything! Magic was bringing people out the audience to rap
(everyone laughs).

(Ty imitates Magic that night)

So after awhile I peeked... I could tell Magic was calmer. I knew he didn't really wanna do it 'cause there
were rappers there, and Magic wasn't a rapper, he didn't wanna chump himself at the Roxy.
So then I went to Roman... he was like the DJ, the house DJ. I said "Yo man, we gotta figure out a way..."
'Cause it was like... 4 o'clock in the morning by now anyway.

So he said, "I know what to do." He came and told everybody, "We gotta shut down... fire department
says we gotta shut down." AND this is what Magic does...


(everyone laughs)

[Mr. Magic]: So now years later it's coming out. But I'm cool with it though.

[Fly Ty]: Right, but what I'm saying is... when we went on tour with it, alright, and by the time we got back to New York, he was ready to do it. 'Cause it's all a part of the show.
'cause, let me tell you how we did it...

We never committed to one tour...

[Mr. Magic]: Right, it was always the "Rap Attack" World Tour.

[Fly Ty]: It was always the "Rap Attack" World Tour no matter whose tour we was on...

So, there you have it, that clears it up (not that anybody asked haha). At the beginning, when Ty says that 'BLS had dogged them, he is referring the the era of the Rap Attack where WBLS wanted to move away from rap and asked Magic to do the new R&B show called The Quiet Storm. When Magic refused, he was let go, and the Rap Attack returned to the smaller independent station, WHBI, where you had to pay I believe $75 / hour to broadcast. However, the Rap Attack continued to grow in popularity. Over at "Magic 106 FM," Sir Juice helped break the monster record "Roxanne, Roxanne" by UTFO, and shortly after would help orchestrate the phenomenon which is now referred to as the "Roxanne Wars."

WBLS realized they needed a jock to compete with DJ Red Alert at 98.7 KISS FM. It didn't take long for them to bring Mr. Magic back.

But anyways, back to the subject at hand...

The instrumental to "Magic's Messsage" would constantly be played as background music for years to come on the Rap Attack while Sir Juice would do the shouts to super listeners on the check in, etc. Peep the Bonus Beat mix:

Magic's Message (Bonus Beat Mix by Davey DMX & DJ Marley-Marl

There were actually a lot of good people involved in this obscure 12". We got, as mentioned above, Mr. "One For The Treble" himself, Davy D, alongside an early Marley Marl appearance. Unfortunately though, there's no cutting or anything added by them. Actually, what the hell did they do? Sequencing? Hard to tell, labels aren't liners.

Steve Rifkind, founder of the legendary Loud Records and SRC Records, is an executive producer on this record. Rifkind is the son of Spring Records' Jules Rifkind.

Also, on the mix and edit tip with Spyder is musical legend Patrick Adams. P&P Records affiliate Patrick Adams has won the ASCAP Songwriter of the Year award at least three times, but his drum programming on Eric B and Rakim's "I Ain't No Joke" ALONE is enough to make him a legend in my book.

Patrick has worked with artists including Dana Dane, Salt 'N' Pepa, Heavy D and the Boys, Sister Sledge, Loleatta Holloway, Main Ingredient, Shannon, Spinners, Gladys Knight, Candi Staton, Eddie Kendricks, Herbie Mann, Rick James, Keith Sweat, Teddy Riley, Black Ivory, and R. Kelly. If you haven't already, check out the 2006 compilation "The Master of the Masterpiece: The Very Best of Mr. Patrick Adams," which features two discs of some of his dance, R&B, and disco classics.

Alright, I'm getting sidetracked, so that about does it for today's entry. Check back tomorrow for Day 5 of Mr. Magic Week.


  1. Yet another Rakim track that we discover Eric B had largely no part in 'producing' (laugh).

  2. This is Spyder D. Thanks for the mention. For the record, Patrick Adams played all keyboards that I didn't on this track. I programmed the drums, and did the original vocals as it was supposed to be my single. Profile, for some inexplicable reason, turned it down. (A sring of beefs I had with them), so I went to Juice since I knew he was not at BLS at the time. He and Ty thought it might help get them back on top, and I believe it had a lot to do with him getting his gig back, since rival Kiss FM started playing this single immediatley.

  3. Spyder D, it is an honor to have you visit this blog and to drop some serious knowledge about the "Magic's Message" record! It's interesting for me to hear a story behind a 12" I enjoy straight from the source, and I'm sure it will be for the readers as well. I'll do a post about your new info today. Take care!