Whodini Biography

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Brooklyn, New York-based rappers who, from their formation in 1982, pioneered the commercial rap/rock crossover, while many also cite their earliest recordings as precursors to the ‘New Jack Swing’ movement. Whodini are rappers Jalil Hutchins (30 November 1963) and Ecstasy (b. John Fletcher, 7 June 1964), backed from 1986 by talented old school DJ, Grandmaster Dee (b. Drew Carter, 12 June 1962). The latter won his reputation for being able to scratch with almost every conceivable part of his anatomy. Prominent in hip-hop circles since the earliest days of the movement, he had formerly worked the decks behind The Devastating Two Emcees (a female duo) and the Jazzy Four. More recently he became a convert to Louis Farakhan’s Nation Of Islam movement. Generally Whodini’s subject matter never wavered too greatly from, reasonably gentlemanly, references to the opposite sex. Their debut release, ‘Magic’s Wand’ (a tribute to the DJ of the same name on WBLS New York, who gave them a start), was also the first rap single on the Jive Records imprint, and the first single in hip-hop history to have a promotional video filmed. Strangely, it was co-produced by Thomas Dolby, on a rare voyage outside of British pop. Following a second single ‘The Haunted House Of Rock’ they established their name and popularity through the ‘Friends’ 45, which also crossed over to the soul audience. Other popular tunes included the ‘Freaks Come Out At Night’, ‘One Love’, and ‘Be Yourself’, on which they collaborated with soul diva Millie Jackson. They were widely renowned for their innovative stage act, and were the first rap group to perform with their own dancers, Doctor Ice and U.T.F.O.’s Kangol Kid, undertaking two world tours in 1983 and 1984. Later they joined Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, the Fat Boys and Newcleus on a 30 venue ‘New York City Fresh Fest’ tour, which was so successful it was repeated in 1985. In the autumn of 1986 they released ‘Growing Up’, an anti-drug video financed by the New York State Division Of Substance Abuse. Although they would again tour in 1987, this time with LL Cool J, the late 80s saw band members sidetracked through marriage and having children, and record company and managerial problems did not help. They made their first comeback in 1990 with an album for MCA Records, but neither party really understood each other, and the reunion dissolved. They reformed again in 1991 for Bag A Trix, and in 1993 for Terminator X’s The Godfathers Of Threatt compilation, which included them alongside other old schoolers Kool Herc, Cold Crush Brothers and more. They kicked that set off with ‘It All Comes Down To Money’, which they were happy to put on record: ‘People have a lot of nice things to say about us. They look at us as pioneers and all this but now I want our business to reflect that. We love doing what we do. But we like being taken care of too. And also everybody has kids and this is for them now.’ Whatever, it was a welcome return for their languorous narratives, unaffected by the shifts in rap.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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