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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Mr. Magic

By Ralo

As a small child I discovered rap music the first time I heard "Rappers Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang. I was completely fascinated with the inner city poetic styling that I was taking in. For some reason it reminded me of my earliest days in The Bronx. Immediately I knew that this form of oral expression was from where I was from, everything about it said "New York City". It resonated with me in a way that nothing had before or since.

At the time the premiere station for black music in New York City was 107.5 WBLS. Needless to say most radios in the house were on BLS. Subsequent to seeing "Rappers Delight" become the biggest record on radio and the hottest idea around, I had my one-speaker boom box with the cassette recorder on BLS one Friday night in 1980/81 (giving my age). At which point I heard the Treacherous 3 and plenty of other rap records back to back. The biggest rappers out at the time was Kurtis Blow, Jimmy Spicer, Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash and the furious 5.

 I was hearing new rap that daytime radio wasn't playing. I learned that what I was listening to was Mr. Magics Rap Attack. After that, each and every Friday and Saturday night I was in front of the radio to make my pause edit Mixtape of all the newest rap records. Anyone familiar with the show knew when they heard the drop that said "The Mr. Magic Rap Attack presents a WORLD PREMIERE" they were in store for some new music.

Mr Magic (aka John Rivas) was born in The Bronx in 1956. His career in radio began on a lease-time radio station in Newark, WHBI in 1981. His show, the first to have a mostly all Rap format< wasknown as "Mr. Magics Disco Showcase. A little more than a year later, in July of 1982 he made the switch to New Yorks' WBLS, where he became a legend. His opening theme music was The Fearless Fours' classic "It's Magic" and  his DJ was none other than Marley Marl.

Mr. Magic is probably best remembered for the ongoing beef he had with radio rival Kool DJ Red Alert. Mr. Magic always threw his support behind The Juice Crew, which was named after him, Sir Juice, as they had answer record beef with KRS-ONE, Red Alert and Boogie Down Productions.

Mr. Magic unfortunately passed away of a heart attack in 2009, and was planing a comeback to WBLS. In 2009 he did a voice-over portraying himself for the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City video game.  He helped launch the careers of many rap legends like Master Ace, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante, Whodini and many others. Everyone involved in Rap radio owes him a debt of gratitude. Every Rap artist owes him a debt of gratitude for bringing a rap music show to a commercial radio station.

In 1982, Brooklyn based Whodini recorded a song called "Magics Wand" in honor of Mr. Magic. Jalil Hutchins, who was a completely unknown rapper at the time, worked as an intern for Mr. Magic answering the phone at the radio station. He teamed up with Ecstasy (John Fletcher) because he wanted to have another voice on the song. Mr. Magic played the song so much it caught the attention of London Based, Jive Records. Jive then signed Whodini and teamed them up with Thomas Dolby to re-record the record.

Rest in beats Mr. Magic.



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