Grand Wizard Theodore


Flash, Bambaataa, and Jazzy Jay all got record deals in the ‘80s. Recording was a big priority. For you, you had “Can I Get a Soul Clap?” with The Fantastic Five, but you recorded to a lesser extent. Why?

As far as recording, I really couldn’t find the right record company that would give me the deal I wanted. Bambaataa, they was down with Tommy Boy [Records], and I feel that they got a really shady deal. Then you had Grand Master Flash and them that was down with Sylvia Robinson [at Sugar Hill Records], and Sugar Hill was selling all these records, but the groups wasn’t getting the money. The record company was getting all the money. That’s why you had Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five broke up. That’s why the Funky Four + 1 More eventually broke up. That’s why Raheem got down with Grandmaster Flash and them. It seems like all the groups that’d get down with these labels weren’t making any real money. The Treacherous Three was down with Enjoy Records, they were selling records, but they wasn’t getting paid. The only money that [these groups got] was from doing shows. When it came down to getting royalties, they wasn’t even getting the royalties that they deserve. Eventually, they left. My thing is that I’m not gonna record anything I was gonna get something out of it. I’m not gonna record something and have a record company make money off my blood, sweat, and tears.

You are a pioneer in a culture. When you’re playing a sweet-sixteen party, how difficult is it to play records that you don’t want to hear?

I’m the kind of person where I’ll do whatever I need to do to make the people are having fun. When I’m working, I’m not working for myself – I’m working for the person who hired. Whatever they want, they will get. If they want the radio stuff, they’ll get it. This is my nine-to-five, this is how I pay my bills. I live in a condo now, and I also have a house for my equipment. I got 100 and some crates of records. I got brand new turntables, mixers, CD players, I got everything, man. It all boils down to, I’ll do whatever I have to do to make sure the crowd is satisfied.