Cold Crush Brothers - Biography
The Cold Crush Brothers were one of the earliest rap crews, forming in the immediate wake of Kool Herc’s famous parties. Though they have released numerous live recording, the fact that they never released a studio album has led to their status as pioneers being largely been overshadowed by those they inspired.
Angelo King began spinning songs at house parties as DJ the Player. After hearing hip-hop DJ Kool Herc, the young DJ decided to follow his lead and make hip-hop. He first teamed up with fellow DJs, DJ Breakout , DJ Baron as well as Kevin “K.K. Rockwell” Smith (and occasionally David “Busy Bee” Parker). After King’s partners formed The Funky Four in 1976, where they achieved some success, King (as Tony Tone) decided to form his own crew. He was joined in his new effort by Carlos “Charlie Chase” Mandes, who, as a Boricua DJ, was one of the first Latinos involved in hip-hop. After growing up in Williamsburg, the Mandes family had moved to The Bronx where Charlie Chase had begun DJing in 1975. The third member was Adrian “Easy A.D.” Harris, who’d previously served in the short-lived As Salaam Brothers. The trio christened themselves The Cold Crush Brothers.
Almost immediately, their ranks swelled when they were joined by Cisco Kid, T-Bone and R.C (the latter an MC from The Mighty Force). T-Bone and RC were soon replaced by two other members of The Mighty Force, Whipper Whip and Dot-A-Rock. The new line-up of Cold Crush Brothers was temporarily put on hold when Charlie Chase and Tony Tone briefly teamed up with a Grandmaster Flash-less Furious Five. After that quinted rejoined that their famous DJ, The Cold Crush Brothers were revived with a new line-up of Chase, Tone, Dot-a-Rock, Whipper Whip and AD. However, not long after Whipper Whip and Dot-A-Rock were poached by The Cold Crush Brothers’ chief rivals, The L Brothers, who with the addition of Dot-a-Rock and Whipper Whip morphed into The Fantastic Five. The void was filled by three new additions; Almighty Kay Gee, Grandmaster Caz and JDL - the latter two yet more former members of The Mighty Force.
Before his tenure with The Mighty Force, the Bronx-born Caz (born Curtis Fisher) had begun in hip-hop as DJ Casanova Fly, pursuing hip-hop after attending a Herc party in 1974. Before he and Jerry “JDL” Dee Lewis joined The Mighty Force, the two first performed together as The Notorious Two. Almighty KG’s connection to hip-hop went back even further, to 1972, when he began breaking. By 1974 he had transitioned to MCing. After a Cold Crush Brothers line-up finally stabilized, the crew spent 1978 practicing and honing their skills by battling their main rivals; The Fantastic Five, The Funky Four and The Furious Five. Many of these live performances and battles were captured on tape. It was one such recording that a young pizza-shop employee and (The Mighty Force’s manager) was rapping along to when discovered by Joey Robinson, son of Sugarhill Records owner, Sylvia Robinson, in 1979. Adopting Caz’s lyrics as his own, Big Bank Hank joined the studio construction, The Sugarhill Gang. They recorded and released “Rapper’s Delight” which went on to become the bestselling 12” in history. Cold Crush Brothers received neither credit nor royalties, despite the fact that the song plagiarized large sections of Cold Crush Brothers material; despite the fact that Big Bank Hank even left intact such obvious clues of the songs origins, leaving intact Caz’s line, “check it out, I'm the c-a-s-an-the-o-v-a and the rest is f-l-y.”
In 1980, one of The Cold Crush Brothers’ performances was taped and released as Ecstacy [sic] Garage 1980. Later in the yea r, when they performed a gig that JDL couldn’t make, one half of their dancers — The Smurf Twins —stepped in. Afterward, he (Money Ray (ne Eric Hoskins)) stayed on as the group’s seventh member. In 1981, a famous battle at Harlem World between The Cold Crush Brothers and Fantastic Romantic Five (as the Fantastic Five were by then known) went down. It was caught on tape and released as Cold Crush Brothers vs. Fantastic Romantic 5 (1998 Slammin). Though the raps sound fairly amiable compared to the standard thugcentric posturing of today’s rappers, there was real tension at rap battles with each group backed up by rival gangs, the Ching-a-Ling Nomads biker gang in the case of The Cold Crush Brothers and the Nine Crew in The Fantastic Five’s. Although The Cold Crush Brothers came undeniably hard and were undeniably superior, the audience at that particular event voted in favor of their rivals, earning them as a result the $1000 prize. A Patterson, NJ battle against The Force MCs was released as The Battle: Cold Crush vs. Force MCs. Other live tapes taken from performances that year were released as Hoe Avenue Boys Club 1981 and Harlem World 1981 Rappers Convention.
The Cold Crush Brother’s first official label release arrived in 1982. Live in 82 (1982 Tuff City Records) unfortunately, suffers from rather poor audio quality. Other live performances from that year were later released, including Long Island Club 1982, Savoy Manor 1982 and Harlem World 1982 - the latter also featuring The Treacherous Three. That same year, The Cold Crush Brothers appeared as themselves in the film Wild Style, a film for which Grandmaster Kaz teamed with Blondie’s Chris Stein to record the theme song. CCB also released their first single, “The Weekend,” on Elite Records. The following year, the group travelled to Tokyo as part of the Wild Style Tour. After their success abroad, the group signed with CBS Records who released the electro-flavored “Punk Rock Rap.”
Two more singles followed in 1984, “Fresh, Wild, Fly and Bold” and “Heartbreakers.” They, and most of the groups other singles were later collected and released as Fresh, Wild, Fly & Bold (1995 PKO Records) - although their 1986 single, “The Fat Boys Ate Up the Food,” is not. Faced with disappointing sale, in 1985, Grandmaster Kaz attempted launched a parallel solo career. After releasing a clutch of solo singles that had even less impact, he retired from music for some time.
By 1988, most of the members of The Cold Crush Brothers had moved on. Nonetheless, Troopers (1988 Westlife Records), appeared in 1988, although it was only released only in Europe. Upon its re-issue, it was more correctly re-credited to Kay Gee The All & DJ Tony Crush (Cold Crush Brothers) instead of the group. In 1994, however, more members of The Cold Crush Brothers reunited and joined their former rivals The Fantastic Five on Terminator X & the Godfather of Threatt’s track “Stylewild '94.” Two years later, Cazm KG, AD, JDL, Tony Ton and Charlie Chase reunited once again to release a split 12” with Mental Giants that included two new CCB songs, “Can't Do Me Nada” and “You Can’t Fade Me.”
In the late ‘90s, as interest in rap’s early years began to grow, so did interest in The Cold Crush Brothers. Caz resurfaced at a conference at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2000, he released “MC Delight,” which dealt with Big Bank Hank’s appropriation of his rhymes eleven years previous. Sadly, in 2002 Money Ray died at 38 of cancer. In 2003, Charlie Chase was inducted into the DMC DJ Hall Of Fame. Today, the members of The Cold Crush Brothers still occasionally play both as a unit and individually. Additionally, as they surface, they continue to offer recordings of vintage live performances, such as Live at S.O.B.s New York, Unreleased 1992-2002, South Bronx High School and T Connection.