Harlem DJ’s Pt 5: The World Famous Brucie B by DJ Layne Luv
In 2001, The Source Magazine advertised this documentary about 3 young brothers from Harlem New York. The story Game Over was about fast rise enterprising teenagers that turned into semi drug kingpins. The gentleman I speak of… Rich Porter, Azie Faison, and Alberto Martinez better known as Alpo. The street stars names would ring out throughout the culture of Hip Hop for over 30 years. It had so much of an influence, that Roc-A-Fella music mogul Damon Dash who is also from Harlem, wanted to tell their story on the silver screen. But in order to tell their story, you had to go back to the DJ that was providing the soundtrack to the streets. That DJ was none other than The World Famous Brucie B. Damon made sure to go back and get Brucie to be the mixtape DJ for the movie Paid In Full. Why? because the depiction in the movie was how it went down. Brucie’s tapes were banging out of every car and saloon. He had the game on smash. But to rewind the clock, The Notorious BIG gave you the game in 94’…and y’all all lamed out, especially if you weren’t from New York or down with the mixtape game. Biggie said..”Peace to Ron G, Brucie B, Kid Capri, Funk Master Flex, Luv Bug Starski (RIP)…that one lyric immortalized all of those DJ’s from Uptown.
Bruce B is originally from The Bronx so he initially came up watching DJ’s like that of DJ Kool Herc, DJ Hollywood and none other than the Chief Rocker Starchild who gave Brucie his chance. It was Brucie’s job to keep the party going in between sets at The Disco Fever. He was doing his thing for a while, but he ending up getting let go from that gig Uptown, but the opportunity that molded him was to play at the Rooftop Roller Rink in Harlem. Once he mastered that venue, the nights Brucie played became classic. He became “The Hustler’s DJ” His claim to fame was shouting out the hood stars throughout the night. He became so famous (pun intended) and the nights became so epic that people started to request recording of what went down on those nights. Those epic nights were what originally started the Brucie B Mixtapes. However these were night your average ordinary mixtapes. Picture 1985 a tape cassette starting out at $25 and the price went up the bigger the hustler you are. People from everywhere came to the Rooftop just for the tapes!
There are two DJ’s that can be accredited for Brucie owning his skill. Brucie studied these DJ’s because they were the hottest ones shaking the city…literally. Those DJ’s are none other than, DJ Hollywood and Luvbug Starski. The two legendary DJ’s already had a foothold in the game when it came to rocking the party and rapping on the mic. From playing clubs like 371, Club 54 and the Hip Hop Mecca…The Disco Fever (Shout out to Mark Skillz)…they left the mic smoking and no one dared challenged their legacy. That is, until this skinny kid with the real slick voice came along. He really dug those two styles, but the DJ he chose to pattern himself after was a DJ named Junebug. Junebug was this Spanish cat that would have been a legendary top DJ had he not gotten caught up in the drug game and got killed. Legend has it, that Junebug was THE BEST at playing obscure records and being able to blend those records with precision. Bruce went to The Disco Fever to study like it was school to be like the DJ he looked up to…RIP Junebug.
From there he started to come up with routines as he played the music. The classic routines started with Luvbug Starski, but once Bruce teamed up with Harlem rap legend Chief Rocker Busy Bee…Those musical routines became iconic.
Even though Brucie didn’t have commercial fame…the streets knew exactly who he was. Yeah sure, Bruce had one hell of a personality, but his popularity came from playing a style of music no one else what playing. It became a signature for Harlem. It was James Brown Funk, mixed with gospel harmonies, blended with hard hitting Hip Hop drums with a hint of Ghetto Fabulousness ….they called this music New Jack Swing. They person responsible for creating this music was a 16 year old kid that was the nephew of the owner of The Rooftop Roller Rink. His uncle created him a studio upstairs and from there, the teenager began to bang out, producing timeless masterpieces like Doug E Fresh’s The Show, Rap’s New Generation by Classical Two, and his own party starter called Groove Me from a group he was a member of simply named Guy. That teenager’s name was Teddy Riley.
The music Teddy produced, he gave those songs directly to Brucie to test out at the Rooftop to see the reaction. Brucie getting these songs first hand, made him untouchable. Together, they became the pied pipers of a New Generation (pun intended) People from all over wanted to come and get a taste of this Uptown Style. Heavy D, KRS One, Salt N Pepa, you name it. Bruce was so sought after by the hustlers to shout them out during the night, Bruce would accept as much as $500 from the teenage hustlers’ mentioned earlier (Rich, Alpo, Azie) just to say their name on a tape. So now Brucie was not only hot in the club, but you could also hear his voice pumping from every car, which is why it was so befitting that Dame Dash added this element in the movie Paid In Full.
Unfortunately, Brucie could have probably been a commercial DJ had he not went to prison. Even though he was clocking major coin from the mixtapes, it still didn’t keep him from hustling. What makes it so bad, the day he got busted, he went to got meet his partner Rich (not Porter) and he had to hurry and pick up something..had he not rushed to the bust, he probably would have never went to jail. After he was released, a Harlem dancer turned rap mogul named Sean “Puffy” Combs put some money in his pocket and got him working again.
Brucie’s legacy is so rich that even this week…. he was even called out on Hip Hop’s mecca radio station Hot 97 to mediate a beef between two legendary DJ’s. Funk Master Flex and The World’s Greatest DJ the Kid Capri.
Yes that’s right, this kid from Columbus Ohio didn’t really become a fan of Brucie until 2002. And even though my DJ Hero is the one they call Kid Capri, we all know he got his style from the Rooftop Legend Brucie B. Brucie opened the vault for me and gave me a flash drive of all of his classic Rooftop nights. It’s like jumping in a Delorean. So real that you can smell the leather from the Dapper Dan coats.
I asked Brucie the secret to his success. He laughed “Music is timeless, man. It’s not about you or me, it’s about those records! Play The Records Man! and rest will fall in line”