Buttarchives : Qool Classics #6 : Hats & Spats | The Tip of the Iceberg of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
This mix was made for a music industry showcase that featured a performance by artists on the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis label Perspective Records. Happened sometime in the mid to late 90s. Jimmy & Terry were due to be in the house and the event's producer gave me the green light to make a mix of their productions to play before the performances.
I got an education in big time music biz while working in the PR department of their label for one year. That was the year before I decided to go all out with DJing. Thanks to them, a beautiful chain reaction was set in motion:
Perspective Records had a private party at a place called Tramps featuring their band Mint Condition & I convinced my boss to let me play ......the talent booker from Tramps ask me if I'd come play opening sets when he has urban shows......I did and opened for everyone from George Clinton to Erykah Badu (her 1st NYC show!!!)......to one of those legendary Prince post concert concerts......@ the Prince afterparty (the DJ booth @ Tramps was in the 'VIP') executives from Viacom were checking the steez......a nice 3-4 year (pre-celebrity DJ era) stint doing MTV and VH-1 parties......
I guess the saying 'success/luck=opportunity+preparation' is true!?!?
Best memory is getting more than one chance to spend extended time with Terry Lewis. I once helped him review and purchase a laptop at J&R Computer World in downtown Manhattan. The offices were up on 50th & 8th Ave so we got a cab to J&R and on the way, Terry asked me my opinion about a couple of artists and their releases. As an assistant to the assistant, I did not think that anything I had to say about anything would ever get to Terry Lewis's ears...this is the dude I saw jamming in a Janet Jackson video and on The Time's album covers!
So he put me on the spot, in a cab, just me & him. With quick thinking and yes-man phobia, I prefaced/disclaimored my answer with, "Terry, from the standpoint of a DJ..." and I told him that one of the records he asked me about would be a winner and that another, which had sampled the same bassline of a major hip hop hit at the time and was still fresh in the public's mind, would probably not go over well.
There were a couple of moments of quiet...some looking out of the windows...my thinking that I just got fired.
He thanked me for my thoughts, didn't say much else about music, and we went on to get that laptop. Consequently, he invited me to check out the NBA draft and have a meal with him at the Four Seasons hotel in NYC.
Terry's a real gent in this showbiz world who reminds me of words from the Rudyard Kipling poem "If."
"...walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch"
Just one year but a magical one that included going to Minneapolis and seeing Flyte Tyme Studios (saw Johnny Gill working out a song on a grand piano, members of Sounds Of Blackness...but, ugh, missed Janet Jackson by one day (and I heard she was recording a slow jam & apparently, from the way it was described, she gets INTO IT in the booth). Out of their NY office, I got to spend time with Angie Stone and even Barry White as his late albums were on A&M...Perspective's parent label.
A great gig but I lost in the numbers game and got laid-off after 12 months. Next step, DJing, so perhaps in this case the idea that one 'can't win for losing' is not always true. It's all in the way you look at it - I lost, however, I gained.
That image is an invite to the Flyte Tyme family weekend out in Minnesota.
Hats off to the men in Spats.
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis productions for New Edition, Janet Jackson, Cherelle, Alexander O'neal, The Sounds of Blackness, Human League, SOS Band, & The Time are featured.