BIOGRAPHY LORDZ OF BROOKLYN At the foot of the Verrazano Bridge lies Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, home to the Lordz of Brooklyn and a world of co-existing extremes: wealth, poverty, love, hate, delight, doom, suburbia, city, diversity, sameness. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, Lordz founder Mike "Mr. Kaves" McLeer discovered his turf wasnıt always easy to navigate. But he understood his neighborhood and its contrasts, and he used that insight to help the Lordz find success.
Acknowledging their roots, the Lordz took their name from the classic Henry Winkler/ Sly Stallone 70s coming-of-age flick, The Lords of Flatbush. Interestingly enough, that very movie was inspired by the Flatbush-area gang that Kavesı father used to run with.
The blue-collared boulevards of 1980s Bay Ridge had no Boy Scout or Cub Scout Corps. To compensate for the lack of after-school activities, some snot-nosed kids began using the train yards as their playgrounds, spraying subway cars with their self-styled art. Parents and police expressed their disapproval, but illegal or not, Kaves had found his outlet.
"For kids like us, graffiti wasnıt vandalism, it was a strong shot of glory and a positive expression of our creativity," he says. "I learned the art of competition and worked hard to be innovative with my lettering styles. So while other kids were out playing baseball, I was out creating masterpieces."
Now exposed to that underground world, Kaves and his crew (which included his brother Adam "ADM" McLeer) were exposed to one of early hip-hopıs other innovations breakdancing. "We were the first kids in our neighborhood to start breakdancing," Kaves remembers. "And it was the last thing people expected or wanted to see you know, a bunch of white kids spinning on their heads. But the same adrenaline rush we felt while doing graffiti also came when we were breakdancing." Crowds would often form to watch the boys dance. The positive reaction kept them going, and they soon discovered rap.
Kaves and ADM were already well versed in rock and R&B, having grown up listening to early doo-wop, KISS, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, the Stylistics, Donna Summer and the Jackson Five. Rap, however, was new exciting different. Acts such as Run DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys and Big Daddy Kane were just starting to break into the mainstream and they were hooked on the new sound.
"I got arrested in the mid-80s for writing graffiti," he admits, "so I started to get more and more involved in making music. Around the same time, Adam began to dj and the two of us started throwing parties." By organizing these local social events, Kaves and ADM became the neighborhoodıs one-stop-shop for anything rap or hip hop-related, a status that soon paid off.
"I promoted a Public Enemy concert at this place Ernie Barryıs," Kaves explained. "At the time, Public Enemy didnıt even know they had a white audience. But to me, meeting Chuck D was like meeting Gene Simmons or Michael Jackson. I was on Cloud 9." The two became friends, and Chuck D eventually asked Kaves if knew how to rap. A demo tape exchanged hands and "from that day on, I knew I had an outlet to tell my stories," said Kaves.
"We started out as the Verrazano Boys, which was just me and Adam, who was the DJ," Kaves explained. "We would rhyme anywhere and everywhere. We used to rhyme in local clubs for fun, but nine times out of ten, bloody brawls would break out, with 50 kids in the middle of the street beating the shit out of each other. Drink, Fuck, Fightı became the anthem." The reckless impulses of youth soon took a backseat to the Lordzıs beat-cutting seriousness and opportunities were soon theirs for the taking.
"When I was shopping our demo to labels, I met Danny Boy (House of Pain). He asked me to kick it with the House of Pain on their European tour," explained Kaves, "and three tours later I was doing backup vocals for them." It was an incredible experience for a Brooklyn kid who rarely traveled beyond Manhattanıs colossal skyline. All the while, ADM was at home making beats. Soon enough, the Lordz of Brooklyn were signed to American Recordings, and in 1995 they released their debut LP, All in the Family.
The Lordzıs first single, "Saturday Night Fever" was a homage to the Bay Ridge-set John Travolta film that made their neighborhood famous. Incorporating samples from Schooly Dıs "Itıs Saturday Night" and the Guess Whoıs "American Woman," "Saturday Night Fever" was later featured in both an episode of Beavis and Butthead and in the 1997 independent film, Gravesend. With the album and singleıs release, Kaves hit the road again this time with his own crew. "Touring was rough," he remembers. "Having us all in one van was a real machismo-fest. But wherever we went, the crowds were always revved up and receptive.
Aside from touring in the U.S. and overseas, the Lordz have kept busy by putting out an array of new tracks. The Gravesend soundtrack featured three other Lordz tracks, including the single "Lake of Fire," featuring Everlast. They also collaborated with respected underground rap artist Freddy Foxxx on "Lordz of Brooklyn Meets Bumpy Knuckles," a Landspeed Distribution release that sold over 10,000 copies. Another high-profile collaboration was the ADM-produced remix of the Busta Rhymes/ Ozzy Osbourne single "Iron Man," off of Bustaıs 1999 double platinum CD, E.LEE.
"In recent years, our sound has become a lot more mature. Instead of bragging about our backgrounds, weıve begun to explore the tragedies and triumphs of our lives," Kaves explained. "The music is now better composed, fuller sounding, moodier. Weıve incorporated moogs, wah wah pedals, violins, tambourines and pots and pans into the mix, giving an ambient touch to the hardcore hip hop."
With the Lordzıs musical and creative growth, the addition of a live band became crucial to capturing their dynamic new sound. "As kids, we were awestruck by how big and entertaining KISS concerts were," Kaves explained. "We realized that the one thing missing from our shows was those huge, blistering Marshall amps. So we hooked up with a three-piece band and a DJ, and incorporated them into our sound."
The Lordz of Brooklyn are moving forward, creating sonic new plans for the future. The bandıs latest release, Graffiti Roc (Tunnel Vizion Records - July 2003), just recently ranked #13 on the FMQBıs Alternative Specialty Radio Top 25 Best Albums Chart. The album, which is full of stories inspired by life in their blue-collar neighborhood and the hope of better days to come, features appearances by Everlast, Busta Rhymes, Freddie Foxxx, Rampage, Lord Finesse, OC and a Korn remix. Also included, is a cover of Run DMCıs "Sucker MCıs," a collaboration with Everlast produced by ADM. (The song was originally released on Republic/Universalıs compilation, Take a Bite Outta Rhyme a Rock Tribute to Rap. In November 2000, the song was the #2-ranked addition to The Album Networkıs 116-station alternative radio listings.) The Lordzıs version of "Sucker MCıs" is so good that Run himself said it was one of the best remixes heıs ever heard of his songs. Also, the song 'Lake of Fire' is currently featured in the new Take Two Interactive video game titled 'Mafia.'
In June 2004, the Lordz are set to hit the road again performing on all of the dates of the Vans Warped Tour. (This past summer they played both the Vans Warped Tour and Sprite Liquid Mix Tour).
©2004TUNNEL VIZION MEDIA