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A gentle GIANT: The legend of DJ Tall Paul by Delayne Whiteside

In the Hip Hop world there are many legends mentioned when it comes to DJing. New York city is home to a lot of those names. Names like DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaata, Grand Master Flash, and DJ Hollywood will forever be etched in the Boogaloo stone. However, what people may not realize is that after 1979, the underground culture spread like a virus throughout the urban parts of The United States. The SugarHill Gang was responsible for the entire world knowing about a phenomenon that took place in New York City 6 to 7 years prior.

While all of this was going on, a town east of the Mississippi Rivercalled Chicago, was grooming a kid in culture and music that would change the landscape in Columbus, Ohio in a few years. Paul Moore was a shy kid that pretty much moved which ever way the wind blew. That is… until this one particular day  changed his life. Like most shy guys (like me) Paul was into girls but couldn’t find the courage to put his game down. One day while in a Chi-Town roller rink, he noticed all the girls would rush to the DJ booth to tell the DJ what to play. Immediately Paul knew what he wanted to do! Paul rushed home to look for what he could find (stereo record players, home tape decks and house speakers) and started throwing basement parties. Although there was a serious gang culture going on, sports and music kept Paul occupied…plus that just wasn’t his thing. He was the cool laid-back kid that just wanted to have fun.

In 1981 his family moved from Chicago to Columbus. As the son of a steelworker, Paul knew how to grind. Eventually, Paul stumbled on a job at USA North skating rink. He wasn’t the premier guy, but he would fill in from time to time for other DJ’s. This went on for about two years until he met two guys that would changed the way he listened to music. Enter Dewayne Cupe and “John Boy” Stevens. Around 1984, R &B was still ruling the airwaves in Columbus but there was a movement taking over the North and Eastside skating rinks. When the DJ’s would play certain records like Sucker MC’sor Looking For A Perfect Beat…The place erupted! The people would stop skating. The audience would gather around and crews from different sides of town would start a B-Boy battle right in the middle of the dance floor. Groups like the The Freeze Crew andThe Junior Freeze Crew would make a name for themselves in these battles.

As Paul became sucked in by this culture of the youth. Dewayne and John Boy would teach him how to seamlessly keep two records going thus introducing him to the blend or as we like to call it “the mix”. As he honed his skills, he started playing in Columbus’s well-known local lounges such as King Tut and Frankie J’s. He started to become more popular shutting down Club Alexander’s night after night. His DJ name was a natural evolution considering he stands about 6″3 -6″4 and as with anything in Hip Hop…to be on time it’s got to rhyme..thus DJ Tall Paul was born. 

There comes a time in every man’s life when all the studying, practice and experimentation is put to the test. The test can push you to greatness or shame you to ruin. That was the day Tall Paul met Jack Harris better know as Papa Jack. As legend would have it, if Jack was in the movie Krush Groove, he would play Jay B. Paul was merely supposed to open for another DJ that night, but Paul ended up doing a little more than ok, judging by the crowd response. At the end of the night Papa Jack steps to Paul and says“You can’t handle my clubs” and he walks off. At the moment he could have crushed Tall Paul’s ego and that would have been it. But not DJTP. The next time he is called, he makes sure he is ready. He then noticed there were mirrors in the club. He reminded himself that the way to measure if he killed the night is if the mirrors would steam and sweat. That night at Papa Jacks he was not going to stop short of that. He made sure the mirrors and the walls would drip. He says “Back then people were still wearing Jheri Curls. I sweated those out bruh!” After that, Paul went on the work for Papa for 8 years straight.

Becoming Papa Jack’s number one DJ opened up a world of doors for DJ Tall Paul. Any major act that Maurice Alfred (big promoter then) brought through the Capital City had to come to Papa’s after the concert. Anybody who was somebody was onSpring St from Thursday to Sunday in the late eighties/early nineties. Some would describe it as the opening scene in the movie Paid In Full. You had street stars and real stars coming to that club. 8 to 900 people on any given night. There wasn’t a such thing as a “slow” night.

Paul recalls meeting Ice Cube in the club one night, and it was a different energy in the city that day because Cube’s recordAmerikkka’s Most Wanted was on fire! X-Clan came through the club on many occasions. But the two monumental nights that stand out for him was the night James “Buster” Douglas came back from Japan after knocking out Mike Tyson. Paul remembers “Don King was in VIP wylin like a Big Willie. He had bottles lined up. We had so much fun.” But the night he’ll never forget was whenQueen Latifah had to do a two song performance and when she went to do “Ladies First” and “Dance For Me” the dat machine stalled. She yelled over the mic “DJ CAN YOU HELP ME?” Paul thought fast. He just picked up the 12 inches that day. Ripping off the plastic, he slams the record on the platter, rubs the instrumental and in 30 seconds Latifah was able to rip the set without breaking stride.

Paul also recalls meeting Michael Jordan at Club Cest Le Vie’ later to be named Club Touché’s. He says. “It was Mike’s 2nd year in the league and he was in town with Brad Sellers and Dennis Hopson. He was famous, but at that time I didn’t know he would be THAT famous. I told him I liked what he did for North Carolina and what he’s doing for the city of Chicago considering that’s where I’m from. I dapped him up and I kept it moving. If I was thinking I would have gotten a picture with him. But hey that kind of thing happens.” as he raps up he laughs as only he does and says “Last one…I played pool with Evelyn “Champagne” King at the Vie too.” And y’all know me, I was like “GTFOH” but I really said it. lol

Paul has received wisdom from Columbus media legends such as the late great Kurt Bishop (WVKO), Keith Jones, Rick Stevensand countless others that he respects until this day.

Now that we’ve gotten all the name dropping out of the way (Something I turned from a negative and made my repertoire lol) the reason why this blog is entitled the gentle GIANT is because, with all the things Paul Moore has been blessed with, he remains cool, easy-going and humble. His motto is “Let the music move you and have fun.” Although his name is revered in a number of midwest DJ circles, he doesn’t let it go to his head. He’s willing to help and do whatever is necessary to keep the party going.

He’s not a washed up DJ. His calendar stays booked with gigs. Instead of shunning newer music, he embraces it and caters his music to what the crowd is feeling. He tells me. “My ideal night would be to go from Drake and The Weekend, to Rapper Dapper Snapper to S.O.S. Band. hitting on all cylinders.” 

DJ Tall Paul may never make it into The Hip Hop Hall of Fame, but in my book, along with others that have blessed to be in the same space as this man, will honor him and crown him aColumbus Hip Hop Legend. We tip our hat to you Paul Moore. Thank you for your service.

Bonus Q&A

Q: Paul what was the one record you had that no one else had and you killed the game with it.

TP: I have to say two. One night around 87-88 I was in Alexanders and New Jack Swing was popular but it wasn’t a movement yet. I bought a copy of Bobby Brown’s My Prerogative and Wrecks N Effect New Jack Swing. Man when I played those records you would’ve thought I had a spaceship. Whatever Keith Sweat did…. didn’t have nothing on those two records and it was like I couldn’t take those records off. We had extended versions so those joints would play for like 10 minutes. haha” I put on New Jack Swing now the place goes crazy. (Little did he know that is my favorite genre of music)

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