Q: How did the Live Convention 77-79 mix happen?
A: ...After they started releasing rap records by the end of '79, my brother and I figured we might be able to make some money by selling our mix. Reggie had already quit selling tapes as he was too busy with other hustles, but hearing rap on the radio got him back into it. He was seeing a girl who worked for a record store opposite the Celebrity Club at 125th street which was owned by Johnny Soul - may his soul rest in peace. Tanya told me Johnny wanted to talk to us after he heard what we were doing with the edits and all. So one day in the summer of 1980 she took us out there to see him. We brought him a cassette containing the best edits that I had done, and he was like hell yeah, I'll put this out, because he was also trying to get into the business of releasing rap records. He was cool with a lot of artists (such as Fantastic Five, ed.). He told us we would release a 'part 1' and 'part 2'. He made me go back to the drawing board to prepare the mix for release. It took me another six months before I could hand over the masters around January '81, over 3 years after I began editing. Remember all of this was done outside my regular day job at the studio.
Q: What was Johnny's part in the process?
A: Well, we basically left the business side up to him, which would include talking to the emcees [featured on the tapes], and obviously he would pay for the pressing, do the marketing and all. He also came up with the name Live Convention 1977 1979 and had someone do the cover art, which didn't really represent the amount of work we had put into the mix! It was a sketchy drawing of a deejay standing behind one turntable, not even two. Still, we was proud, even though we weren't even mentioned on the sleeve at all and we didn't know how much money was in it for us.
Q: So why were the records never released?
A: Two things happened: myself I had been looking to get away from NY. I had a girl who wanted to get married, thinking of having a baby and we didn't want to stay around the Bronx any longer. So when I got the chance to take a share in my uncle's electronics store in Richmond, VA, I accepted. The other thing was Johnny's store got robbed at gunpoint and together with some jewellery, they took two boxes with the master reels and the art work for our records!
Q: Why would anybody want to steal that stuff? Did you buy that story?
A: You know, it wouldn't have made a lot of sense for him to make that up. There were other reel-to-reels with rap recordings inside those boxes, but they were heavy, so the robbers must have known that they weren't taking any lunch money, haha. Reggie and I were pissed off but we couldn't do nothing about it. The story out in the streets was that it had to do with an unpaid debt. But we never saw those tapes back.
Q: And that was the end of it?
A: I had to concentrate on starting a new life away from NYC, so I couldn't go back to the studio to compile a new mix from the reels that we'd kept at the studio. Some of them had been recycled anyway. So I just left it. Reggie lost hope that our record would ever come out. After I moved to Virginia, two records came out by the same name we had picked: Live Convention 81 and 82, on Soul Wax / Disc-o-wax, which was Johnny's label. But the concept was totally different, he only used live cassette recordings and more recent stuff. No edits like I had done, so the sound wasn't that good at all!
(excerpt from the site and liner notes) Fast forward to 2004. At a liquidation auction in Newark (NJ), Jay of Golden Reaal buys the entire inventory of a former record store with the purpose of reselling the most wanted soul & funk items in the UK. Part of the lot is a number of boxes with dusty reel-to-reels which look as if they have sat there since the 80's. One box comes with artwork for an apparently unreleased album and a hand-written producer royalty contract. Jay also discovers five test pressings which are labelled 'Live Convention 77-79 volume A'. Aware that he may have discovered one of hip hop's holy grails, a predecessor of the legendary Live Convention albums, he calls up his partner who proceeds to inspect the reels and finds out that this is the real deal!
A search starts. Local phone directories and yellow pages to butchers, grocery stores and relatives finally lead to the man behind this production, who is living a quiet life with his family a few hundred miles from New York. A phone call puts Jay in touch with Kenny, who is surprised that anyone shows interest in his work, and even more so to find out that the lost tapes have resurfaced. When they meet in person, they agree the importance of this set makes it worth a re-release on the newly established label Golden Reaal records.
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