Wednesday 26 September 2012

Leacy Brothers

OK I've had plenty of correct entries so far in the competition to win a pair of LEACYBROTHERS Park Jam slipmats, but it's not too late if you still want to enter. Simply download the photo of the "DJ slipmat" to your computer, zoom in on the detail and let me know 2 of the 5 records that are visible in the design (kidbiscuit at hotmail dot com). Someone has named four of the five but I've yet to receive a "full house". That last record is not easy to spot so I'm keen to find out if any of you can do it.

The slipmats have been designed by fine illustrator and concept artist DAN DUCE and have been produced to celebrate the history of the New York City park jams of the 70s and 80s AND the legacy of BREAK DJ LEACY who unfortunately passed away in 2004.

Get yourself over to LEACYBROTHERS new website where you can read about JAMES LEACY's legacy, download his mix tapes, and get your hands on the PARK JAM SLIPMATS and some seriously fresh and high quality BREAK DJ LEACY tee shirts also featuring DUCE's artwork. If you don't know a lot about this game-changing break DJ then now there's no excuse - class is in session!

Rest in beats BREAK DJ LEACY (1971 - 2004)

I met JAMES LEACY in 1991 through our mutual love of hip hop culture. A mutual friend had introduced us to each other knowing a firm friendship would develop between the two us. We were both born in 1971, both crazy about Hip Hop music, DJing, Hip Hop fashion (particularly sneakers) and most importantly the traditions of hip hop itself. Even at this early time in Hip Hop JIM would school me on such aspects as THE BREAKS, and he was the first person I knew met who avidly collected cassette tapes of early Hip Hop performances and jams. I'm not gonna lie, at the time I was more concerned with the new artists making noise on the scene, but JIM's enthusiasm for the origins was bound to rub off on me.

I clearly remember my earliest visit to JIM LEACY's parents house just north of London in a sleepy town called BISHOPS STORTFORD. This would have been around Summer of 1991. It was a quiet unassuming town and seemed a strange place for a hardcore Hip Hopper to be living, but my friend DARREN Z assured me this kid was the real deal. Darren had met JIM whilst working as a Tape Op in LIVINGSTON RECORDING STUDIOS in North London where JIM was working for Dance Music duo COLDCUT. We arranged to pick JIM up at his local train station as he returned from work, and then go back to his parents house. I still visualise the moment JIM jumped into our car and said "alright fellas" as if he had know me for years already. But that's how our friendship was, as if we had been mates for years. Leading up to his death BREAK DJ LEACY had built up a reputation as the DJ of choice for all b-boys and b-girls. Despite being from the UK he made the biggest impression over in the United States and was the regular break DJ for competitions such as the MIAMI PRO-AM CHAMPS, and this popularity took him across the States and Europe to bless the wheels of steel with his unique brand of beast doubles. His work ethic and determination took him from unknown beathead to break DJ extraordinaire in only a matter of a few years. Back in the mid 1990s we had regularly made journeys to NYC for the ROCK STEADY CREW yearly celebrations, and this is where JIM did his networking and began to formulate his assault on the 1s and 2s. B-Boy culture was beginning to come back into the limelight, and BREAK DJ LEACY wanted a part of it - a BIG part of it. He made it clear to me very early on that this was his chance to stamp his name on things. Again I must be honest and reveal I couldn't quite understand his plan, or how he was gonna carry it out. So many well known DJs were already out there, and I couldn't see what JIM could do to bunny-hop the pecking order.
However, JIM was already becoming a master of the breaks before anyone agreed to put him on. In 91 I remember seeing INCREDIBLE BONGO BAND LPs on his wall and asking "who the fuck are those dudes about to kill that sheep on the train tracks??". LOL I was naive to the origins of APACHE back then! Another early memory is of him cutting up doubles of "Hot Wheels" on his red flight-cased Technics 1200s. I admit I was jealous that this dude had skills, and it was definitely the catalyst for a change in my own Hip Hop persona.

By the late 90s he had made enough contacts both home and abroad to kick start his plan of action. At that time the breaks scene was ... for want of a better word ... stagnant! Don't get me wrong, no-one was complaining at that time because tunes like "It's Just Begun", "Assembly Line", and "Funky Music Is The Thing" will always be stone cold classics and rock ANY dancefloor. But let's go back to the essence of DJing in the parks in the 70s and 80s - back then DJs were trying to outdo each other with both their CHOICE of record, and how they dropped it. And most importantly by having a killer break that you don't have! This was what was gonna make you stand out from the crowd, and JIM LEACY knew this better than most. In fact he not only knew this, but he studied it. I had been at his house in the UK chillin' with his brother AIDAN whilst he was on the telephone calling JAZZY JAY in the BX and pestering him for names of certain forgotten old school breaks. He was hungry to learn as much as he possibly could and he explored every avenue "in search of the perfect beat". At one time he had a record list of desirable break LPs with this very phrase as the title, and he was ticking them off as he went. None of the titles meant anything to me at the time - I was out of my league.

JIM also kept alive that old school tradition of saying no names - with his quest in mind he had a lot to lose. So he even kept the names secret, even from his closest friends. And he would NEVER play you a dope break unless he had already found two copies and could extend that break part until we as listeners would burst with excitement and marvel at how he could go back and forth so smoothly with his "big Irish hands". JIM was a builder by day, and break DJ by night. Our joke was to call him DJ Shovel Hands but the name didn't stick strangely enough.
This kinda dedication was only going to lead one way - and soon JIM had earned his respect amongst those in the b-boy scene and was beginning to play at transatlantic b-boy jams in the early 2000s and soon after the calls from Europe came insisting on the break DJ of choice. His reputation for spinning unknown breaks and forgotten classics did nothing short of rocket him to the forefront of his game. Dudes playing "Apache" and all those other UBB joints soon got left in the background. Once again the art of DJing was alive and kicking and this kid from the UK was pulling no punches. And this was no stroke of luck for JIM, he had done all of his homework in advance (and took the disses for it) and knew what he had to do make his name stand out. Throughout the early 2000s I began to see JIM less and less - he was busy with BATTLE OF THE YEAR, MIAMI PRO-AM etc., and had so many trips abroad to DJ I would lose track of where he was. But whenever he returned I always got a visit or a lengthy phone call to share his exploits and laugh about this person or that person. Speak to anyone about JIM LEACY and they will tell you what a character he was - a joker, a piss taker, and at the same time deadly serious about his art and how to do things. He had his critics, and he took all that on the chin also. In fact one article that appeared in BIG DADDY magazine was downright disrespectful to both him and his brother AIDEN LEACY. They weren't too pleased but took it lightly - it was me that called up BIG DADDY magazine on the telephone and demanded to speak to the writer of the article which accused the LEACY BROTHERS of being rich kids into hip hop. Far from it, I knew for a fact JIM had run up credit card debts just in order to fund his DJ thing cross continent. Still to this day if I meet the writer of that article I will not be held liable for my actions. And yeah ... you got that in print!
You see, me and JIM were tight! He was my brother too. Once LEACY had broken his VESTAX mixer right before he was due to fly out and spin for a B-Boy comp (I forget where now) so he came to me to see if I could lend him mine. If you know me then you will be aware that my Technics turntables are simply an extension of my arms, and there's no way I can live without them, but I agreed to lend JIM my mixer for the trip so he could do his thing. OK so the crossfader was a little bent up when I got it back, but I knew JIM had rocked the jam and that was all I needed to hear. No sooner than he had landed and he was off again to another jam elsewhere on the planet, and I found it hard to comprehend exactly how big BREAK DJ LEACY actually becoming. Unfortunately it took his untimely death in October 2004 for me to realise just how much of an effect he had on the scene. Even now I hear people describe certain records as a "LEACY break", and he certainly brought many lost b-boy beats back to the forefront and encouraged the art of break spinning amongst many of his friends and fans. And in my opinion he had yet to reach the pinnacle of his career. JAMES LEACY - I miss you so much, you made me laugh so much, you taught me so much, and I owe you so much. I dedicate this entire website to you. Thank you.

(please excuse any spelling or grammatical errors in this piece, but it's been very emotional for me to write this and I find it so hard to read back through - Kid Dyno)

Thanks to AIDAN ORANGE LEACY and the whole LEACY family, NEIL FLYNN, DAVE NUCLEUS SIMS, DAN DUCE, TUF TIM TWIST, DJ TRAILS, SPEEDY LEGS, DJ SKAMROK, FORREST GETEM GUMP and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing JAMES and seeing him rock the tables. Special shout to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of JAMES's off key humour!

(please excuse any spelling or grammatical errors in this piece, but it's been very emotional for me to write this and I find it so hard to read back through - Kid Dyno)


Anonymous said...

Leacy's first US jam he played at was at the wrecks centre in the Bronx in 1996. He started playing in Europe on the regular from 1996 onwards and his first headline Battle of the Year in Germany was in 1998.

nice one! A

drumtrade said...

So impressive. True friendship never dies. Rock on!


Anonymous said...

Well he certainly achieved another legacy by having a friend who appreciates, respects and honors his "legacy." You would be surprised how many friends who abide by the ethos out of sight, out of mind. Wondeful and moving tribute, respect due.Peace.