It begins with static, and then, an all too familiar phrase…
“I guarantee you … No more music by the suckers … No more music by the suckers…”
But this is not Public Enemy’s “It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.” This is February 21, 1987. It’s 107.5 WBLS, in a class by itself. This is the often imitated but never duplicated “Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack” in prime form, and it’s the commencement of “Down The Dial.”
For an entire decade, “Super Listeners” would tune into the Rap Attack to hear what was hot. The signature “A World Premiere… A World Premiere…” drop would echo over the newest / latest, often times airing as a more primitive demo or alternate version of a soon-to-be classic track. Unfortunately, when the 1980s came to a close, the “Rap Attack” also came to an end, with no official archived back catalogue to revisit. As New York City rap radio evolved into a hollowed shell of it’s former self, shedding any quality that could relate back to its golden age, an important piece of hip hop history was lost in the mix. Until now.
A good combination- Mr. Magic and Will C.
One, the man behind the quintessential show, with stories and tapes for days documenting his cemented place in history. The other, a DJ with a (self-admitted) unhealthy obsession with original New York City rap radio. The result is “Down The Dial,” a snapshot and ode to “Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack.” A product of one man’s years of research and collecting, and another’s willingness to drop serious knowledge and share with a friend an archive dating back to the “Mr. Magic Disco Showcase” days.
“Down The Dial” is sequenced to play like a Rap Attack show on any given night, front to back, with all the spontaneity one would expect to hear if they were transported back to the proper time and place. It is also simultaneously formatted to encompass all phases in the show’s decade long run, from the days of 1:00-4:00 AM on 105.9 WHBI to Saturday nights on 107.5 WBLS 8:00-12:00 PM. The listener essentially becomes Slaughterhouse Five’s Billy Pilgrim in a state of Rap Attack bliss. Complete with appearances from Mr. Magic himself, the Diabolical Biz Markie, and countless others, and with vintage glimpses at how “sister station” competitors were reacting to “The Official Voice of Hip Hop” at the time, “Down the Dial” meticulously pays homage.
“The only way that you can get in the Juice Crew is if somebody from the Juice Crew puts you down. See, I’m a put Will C. down.”
– Mr. Magic
“He goes by the name of the W-I-L-L C., he’s fly / guaranteed to be a heck of a guy / Will C. will give a girl a try!”
– Biz Markie
“Banging mix from front to back!! Bridges the gap between early 80s gems and rare radio outtakes with modern mixing sensibilities and attitude!”
– 7L (Bladerunners)
For more info on the project, check out an interview with Will C. here on the Wake Your Daugher Up blog.