Wednesday, February 06, 2002

the i-power story

I-Power is a hip hop crew from Westbury, New York. Crew members are P.S. a.k.a. Pure Sound a.k.a. Da Supervisor, Allceein a.k.a. All a.k.a. Solutions, and Melodious Fonk a.k.a. Mo'Funk aka Modini. We are friends who grew up on hip hop in the 80's. All of us used to break-dance and draw graffiti back then. Anyway, I guess our major influence was being in New York. New York City in the 80’s was crazy. Hip Hop was everywhere. We used to take the bus to Jamaica Avenue in Queens to buy records and sneakers etc. In Queens, we would see the latest gear and hear the latest songs. On weekends, we would go to the roller-skating rings to break-dance or we would just hang out and listen to the radio. We listened to show’s by Mr. Magic, Kool DJ Red Alert, Chuck Chill Out, Hank Love and DNA, The Awesome 2, P-Fine, and Dr. Dre’s Operating Room. I remember when All saw the movie Wild Style in 1982 and how it changed him. He has had his book out ever since and P.S. has been rhyming just as long if not longer.

I started djing in 1984. Back then, All and I were in a crew called A Force Beyond Control or F.B.C with our man Freddie D. We performed at local talent shows and radio stations like WBAU in Long Island. Guys like Flavor Flav and Jam Master Jay hosted our local talent shows so we got a first hand education in real Hip Hop from the start. Dr. Dre and his crew The Original Concept were from Westbury as well so we would see them at shows and they inspired us. They were on Def Jam and Red Alert and Marley Marl were playing their songs on the radio. Their DJ EZ G. Rockwell was the first DMC World Champion. Their bass player Mike eventually became our first manager after he heard our demo tape which we produced with a 4 track, a Casio SK-1, and Roland TR505 which was my first drum machine. He was the first person to bring us to a real recording studio. Everything was moving fine until our manager got Freddie D. a solo deal with Sleeping Bag Records. He jerked us because they felt it would be a better look to drop the black kids (think Beastie Boys) but that’s another story.

Anyway, P.S. was in another crew called Universal Sounds. I remember going to the studio with him when he recorded his early demos in 1988. He was even good back then. By 1989, we were all in college. PS and Allceein moved to Philadelphia and I went to Minnesota.

In summer of 1992, I came back to New York. I linked back up with P.S. At the time, I had a group in Minneapolis with my man Brother B. called Egghead and P.S. was working on his solo project under the name First Eye. Before this he was in a crew called Now & Laters with Sha Now The Remedy Man who later was in a group called Rumpletilskinz. Anyway, P.S. loved my Egghead demo and asked me to produce songs for his First Eye demo. So we went to the studio and started to work. At First, we were local recording at our man D’s studio and then we started to travel. We never had our own equipment back then but D showed me how to use the MPC 60II.

P.S. and I officially started recording songs as I-Power in fall 1993 after my man Brother B. from Egghead got shot. We got the name from our favorite restaurant in Brooklyn which closed down. It was a Rasta ital spot. We figured First Eye and I-Power meant the same thing. So I-Power we became. At the time, Allceein was still in school. He joined the crew a year later. I remember opening up for Leaders of the New School and H2O at Crystal’s in Queens and Redman, The Beatnuts, and Common at Nassau Community College. We also did shows like Cream which was a spin off of the Lyricist Lounge and shared the stage with artist like Talib Kweli, Half-A-Mil, Da Ranjahz, The Jigmasters, A.L. Skills etc. We continued making songs at D’s.

By 1996, we were doing paid college shows. We still didn’t have our own studio yet but the money from the shows we used to pay for our studio expenses. This is the pre MPC 2000 era and MPC' 3000’s were like $3500 back then so we would go to the studio and make the beats live. Then our friend Greg bought an MPC 3000 so we would visit him in Philly. It worked because we would travel down to Philly to make beats and those same beats we made songs out of later. We decided to make a 12” next.

We released our independent 12" titled “I-POWER” in spring of 1997. It featured 3 songs; Under Da Sun, Da Breakthrough, and Da Madness. We recorded the songs at Sample Kings Studio's in summer of 1996. The mix engineers were Doc and PM. We also recorded other songs in this period including Seen a Vision remix, and 1 Life 2 Live. To tell you the truth a lot of money went into recording Under Da Sun. We mixed it several times and even did a mix at Quad Studios but we didn't like it so we went back to Sample Kings for the final mix.

Under Da Sun was given to DJ's like Marley Marl, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Da Beat Junkies, DJ Etch a Sketch, etc. P.S. flew out to Los Angeles and put it in Fat Beats and got it on the radio etc. The NYC Fat Beats fronted on it. Back in summer of 1997 this 12" got a lot of plays on hip hop radio shows on the east and west coasts. I got a tape of one of those shows somewhere. DJ Premier played it on NYC's Hot 97 when he did a guest spot on Stretch and Bobbito's show. I will always love Premier for that endorsement. To me that is still my ultimate hip hop experience.

In spring 1997, a dub of our song Systematic was given to Black Sean a friend from around the way. Black worked at a new label called Rawkus records and gave the song to his boss to listen to. The heads at Rawkus loved Systematic and they wanted us to do a 12" deal. We were with it but they didn't like our B-side Free Da Dome. So we decided to do a bunch of songs so they would have a lot to pick from. We went back to Sample Kings and recorded 6 more songs. These songs were crack.

When we finished recording our last song called True we went out to party. I remember going to the Palladium in NYC. We stayed there for like 30 minutes. When we got back to my car someone had broken into it and stole our bags. In my bag, I had all our DAT tapes and like 300 MPC disk and 20 rare records. The DAT tapes were our masters and they contained all our material from 1995 through 1997. We took a major hit. One that I still can't comprehend. I have no idea who stole our stuff but it really set us back. I mean to us that bag was priceless. Years worth of music were in that bag. Some fool probably stole it looking for money or something. They probably threw it away. I searched all the streets of the lower east side that morning. I didn't even go home that day. I remember going to flea markets in the city looking for those master DATs or MPC Disk. However, no luck.

Consequently, we had no material to hand into Rawkus. All that was left were our cassette tape copies and demos. We had to start all over again.

Afterwards, we decided to buy equipment. Since we had jobs, we saved our money and set up a studio in my basement. We got back to work. Around this time, we added our friends to the mix and I-Power became L.I.F.E.Force (an acronym for Long Island's Finest Emcee's). L.I.F.E.Force members were Pure, Allceein, MoDini, Murdoch Elohiem, P.M., Kwam Cabral, Utasi, Jaywalk, Rick DeVille and Israel Joseph I. We recorded hundreds of songs in the basement from 1998 through 2004 but never released another 12". We tried but never we’re able to save enough money to get it pressed. We recorded 2 more I-Power songs at Sample Kings in December of 1999 but we never released them. I got the songs on a DVD ram disc which is a format that no one uses anymore. But I’m still looking to bring them back. However, L.I.F.E.Force songs were recorded on tape only. I wish they were on CD but we didn't have a burner back in 1998. Remember, this was still the analog age. However, from 2001 on our material made it to CD. Not quite as polished as the I-Power studio recordings but hip hop nonetheless. We came from the boom box tape era so to us it didn’t matter. We just wanted to record and express ourselves. To us it’s always been for the love and passion. One thing about I-Power/L.I.F.E.Force is that you get the truth. Universal rhymes with a positive message.

One day I was cleaning up and I find a DAT tape which says "Systematic" on it. I couldn't believe it. A missing dub. However, I recently had the tape transferred and it’s a studio out-take mix of the song. The wrong version with mixing mistakes etc. That sucks!!! However, this led me to search for other DAT tapes and I was able to find more. The master to Under Da Sun was one of them as well as an I-Power demo DAT from 1994, our show DAT from 1996, as well as a DAT from my Minnesota group from 1992 called EGGHEAD. Were still missing 4 other DATs with our 1994, 1995 and 1997 material but I’m grateful for finding something. I really thought all was lost. GOD is good.

12 years later Under Da Sun has been rediscovered by a new generation and thus I-Power has been resurrected. We are so grateful. We thank everyone out there who has supported or has an interest in this record and I-Power. We really appreciate the love. It’s a testament to the fact that the truth must come to light. Real Hip hop is timeless. Infinite. We are planning a re-release of Under Da Sun in the near future. Get at me for more info.

As usual, I’m still in the basement making beats. The only things that have changed are the walls and my equipment. My MPC tanked in early 07 so I switched over to Ableton Live in search of inspiration. It worked!!! Currently, I’m mixing my debut album Pyromaniac which will be available on iTunes and CD in March. It’s been years but I’m rhyming again. I got 2 bangers with Allceein already. I just gave P.S. some beats. He’s writing to them. These days he's hard to catch up with. To pay the bills he works as a professional drummer/procussionist. He is usually on tour with his band The Pimps of Joytime. Yes, my man is multitalented!! Check them out if you get a chance at a venue near you. They rock!!

We are working on a new I-Power album for summer 09 called Build & Destroy. Allceein is working on his new album The Art of Raw. His last album Music and Da Madness was produced by me and Prev Maes in 2006. It features L.I.F.E.Force and is available at or www.myspace/allceein.

Look out for classic unreleased I-Power material this year as well. Also, we are now selling I-Power branded T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, fitted caps, and slipmats. . They have our logo on them. Some shirts have classic I-Power lyrics on them as well. Get at me for more info or for CDs and vinyl 12”s at: