On August 12th, DJ and label owner Kenny Dope is releasing all 13 instrumentals produced for historic hip-hop flick Wild Style as a set of seven 45s in "casebook packaging" on his own Kay Dee Records.
There are few documents in rap history more important than the 1983 film, a collaboration between grindhouse director Charlie Ahearn and hip-hop diplomat Fab 5 Freddy that ended up as the most vivid documentation of early hip-hop culture ever produced. However, the music that Grand Wizard Theodore cut, Busy Bee rapped over and the Rock Steady Crew breakdanced to has never seen official release in America.
"There were years of people trying to find out where the beats came from and how they could get some," Ahearn tells Rolling Stone. "There were some bootleg releases as far back as the 1980s. Much later, Mr. Bongo from the U.K. released an 'official set' on LPs alongside a release of the Wild Style soundtrack. But this is different. The boxed set is like a classic 45 singles booklet that I remember holding my 45 collection in the 1960s."
To skirt the potentially expensive licensing on the records Bronx DJs spun in the parks, Ahearn commissioned original recordings, produced by Freddy and featuring Blondie's Chris Stein on guitar and jazz-and-R&B drummer Lenny Ferrari behind the kit. They pressed 100 copies and handed them off to the DJs who would cut, slice and mutate them throughout the film. Of the 13 breaks on the record, the DJs only utilized five of them, meaning that eight of the tracks will be released in America for the first time.
"The hardest part was convincing Charlie Ahearn on what my vision was for the project," says Dope. "I knew from the beginning I wanted the release to be presented in book form. I wanted people to see the actual track sheets and tapes…When it came to Wild Style, I felt it needed to be celebrated in a special way, not just be released as a simple overpriced piece of vinyl. The history is worth packaging as a collectors item."
The set is suitably lavish: a 28-page book, photos from Ahearn's archives, shots of the tape boxes that were lounging in his closet all these years, a thorough history from writer Brian Coleman and a "14th side" of vinyl featuring Wild Style-themed etchings. And unlike the bootlegs that came before, Dope dug into the master tapes, re-EQed them and extended the breaks — perfect for rapping, dancing or simply geeking out over.
"Just to hold and look at the tapes made me say 'wow,'" says Dope. "Getting my hands on these reals felt like being a kid in a candy store."
Pre-sale orders for the set begin Wednesday at Kay-Dee Records.