Schoolly D: The Reservoir Dog

Sitting on the phone from his Philadelphia home Schoolly D is rolling. "I’m starting to feel like George Clinton", he laughs at the irony of the situation he’s found himself in, with everyone from the Chemical Brothers to Notorious B.I.G. paying homage, not forgetting Schoolly’s own appearance on Mekon’s Skool’s out. At this point in time he’s more concerned with making final preparations for the video to his last single, to be directed by his long-standing friend Abel Ferrara.

The dream team association which began with Schoolly’s theme tune to 1990’s King of New York, through Bad Lieutenant and the closing theme to Ferrara’s noir vampire movie, The Addiction has moved to another level with Schoolly D scoring the soundtrack to the auteur’s latest The Blackout.

But apparently Ferrara’s use of Signifying rapper, a scorching monologue set over the star-strangled banner of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, went just too far. After withering guitar hero Jimmy Page heard the riff behind the rape scene in Bad Lieutenant he decided to sue. "I’m still paying for that muthafucka" says Schoolly, screwing that the record company didn’t clear the mechanicals on the sample in the first place. The settlement may have contributed to the sound of his last album Reservoir Dog (on his own PSK Records) which featured barely a sample in sight and saw Schoolly orchestrating the whole black stew of Gothic keyboards and ‘P-Funky ass’ beats.

"I play bass, keyboards, program beats," confirms Schoolly who’s also resurrecting his Djing career in and around his Philadelphia hometown. "I’ll play anything. I’ll play fuckin’ guitar, I’d play a violin if I had to. That’s what the producer does, he’ll do everything that he’s supposed to do."

While working on his forthcoming album, Schoolly has been rehearsing his preparation for an album and possible live gigs. "we played 3 or 4 gigs last summer," says Schoolly. "People were surprised when I pick up the bass. They were like, ’for a rapper, you play the bass good.’ But I don’t want it to be like that, so I’ve been practicing for a year. People are going to give me props for making that transition from one thing to the next. If you’re going to say you’re a musician you’ve got to play something!"

But then Schoolly’s been doing whatever the fuck he wants to ever since he jumped into the party known as hip hop, even if he doesn’t know exactly what attracted him to it in the first place. "Fuck I couldn’t say. I don’t know, man, who wouldn’t want to do that? I got caught up in the whole wave. There was just this big fuckin’ everlasting party going on. All the fuckin’ time. Who’s not gonna get caught up in that?"

"I was doing any fuckin’ thing! I was silk-screening T-shirts, hats. Doing walls doors pool-halls. Making mix-tapes, rapping. Doing block parties, basement parties. I was doing everything."

With keenly honed entrepreneurial spirit, Schoolly D started his own record label Schoolly-D Records, sketched the label artwork and sleeves himself and released his best known opus Saturday night. A collision of industrial SP-12 breakbeats, a lick of guitar and Schoolly’s laissez-faire flow all contributed to making this celebration of anything and everything a young hood could get up to on a weekend a classic that sill sounds as fresh ten years on.

"These kids they’re making hits for today, man," Schoolly expounds on the state of hip hop. "They ain’t making memories an’ shit. I come back to put some memories in the funk, man. When I think about what’s coming out now, ten years later, you ain’t gonna give a fuck. Ten years later after PSK, Gucci Time and Saturday night, you put that shit on at any muthafucking party and muthafuckas is grooving to it. That’s what we’re talking about right now."

Widely perceived as the ‘Original Gangster’ Schoolly’s inner city rhymes and black power polemics were inflated by his larger-than-life persona and tempered by a self-deprecating humor which was still intact come 1994’s Welcome to America wherein Schoolly railed that "I know President Clinton don’t like me cos I wanna hang him like a nigger, FBI can’t wait to pull the trigga" on the paranoaic I know you want to kill me.

Above all else Schoolly D, the Reservoir Dog, is a survivor: "The Reservoir Dog is that dog that you see on the corner. He looks cold and hungry and shit. You give him a hot dog and after he eats the hot dog he bites you in the ass," he laughs. "That’s exactly who the fuck I am! It ain’t bullshit, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Stick it out an’ you’re gonna get bit around this muthafucka."


Schoolly D - Gangster Boogie: A street Hit Hip Hop Connection 1994
Last Temptation of Schoolly D
(Interview) 1994
Schoolly D - Say It Loud, I Love Rap and I'm Proud 1986
Schoolly D - Original Gangsta Interview by Andrew Emery 1997

LISTEN (real audio):
Schoolly D - Am I Black Enough For You
Schoolly D - Do It Do It
Schoolly D - Gucci Time
Schoolly D - I Dont Like Rock & Roll
Schoolly D - I Know They Wanna Kill Me
Schoolly D - PSK
Schoolly D - Saturday Night

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