DJ Red Alert Offers Some Deep History About Why The Bridge Wars Really Started (Video)
Hip-Hop’s biggest story-line in March of 2017 is a Bronx MC apparently responding to an MC from Queens on the microphone in back-to-back disses. Thirty years ago today (March 3, 1987), that tactic was introduced by Boogie Down Productions’ two-song arsenal on Criminal Minded used against MC Shan, producer Marley Marl, and Roxanne Shanté.
Red Alert, at the time, was immersed in a war of sorts with Marley and rival DJ, Mr. Magic. Magic, The WBLS DJ, whose assistant was Marley, chided the Harlem mixmaster with names like “Red Dirt,” “Duck Alert,” and “Woody Woodpecker.” With Marley producing Shan and Shanté, as he was involved in dissing his KISS-FM radio rival, Red Alert became an ally to the Bronx, New York duo he had been playing on his show since an acetate of “South Bronx.”
Speaking with Mass Appeal, Red remembers a record (and subsequent “Bridge Wars”) he had a massive hand in, with some history Heads might have missed. “Success Is The Word” [by 12:41] was a 1985 12″ on Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records, featuring a young KRS-One. Red Alert explains, “It was presented to Mr. Magic. He dissed, not only the record, but he also dissed the group.”
At the time, Marley Marl had his own squad of MCs. “MC Shan, who came up under Marley Marl and is part of the Juice Crew came out with a record called ‘The Bridge.’” According to Red, the record was innocent enough, as MC Shan has maintained. “They didn’t actually say [that] Hip-Hop started out in Queens, but they were saying, in their own terms, [that Queens] was the place to be.”
It was here that KRS-One and Scott La Rock plotted revenge in the form of audio ambush. “Members of [12:41] that had made ‘Success Is The Word,’ they went and got signed to Rock Candy Records and [re-formed] themselves as Boogie Down Productions. We’re talking about Scott La Rock, rest in peace, and KRS-One. When they heard ‘The Bridge’ and they see this affiliation with [Mr.] Magic, they say, ‘Oh, we’re going after them!’ So they went into the studio and recorded ‘South Bronx.’ In return, MC Shan [replied with] ‘Kill That Noise.’ That’s when they went ahead and made a song called ‘The Bridge Is Over.’”
Red Alert, who was shouted out on 1988’s “I’m Still #1,” was already down with what became Boogie Dwn Productions. “I was friends with Scott La Rock from before. Because we knew each other for a long period of time.” Interestingly, Red Alert confirms that “Bridge Is Over” was recorded at Queens’ Power Play Studios, just walking distance from the same Queensbridge Houses Kris and Scott were symbolically dissing. On that song, which featured involvement from Ced Gee, input from Nice & Smooth’s Greg Nice, and others, Red Alert’s vocals are an element too: the prolonged “Yeaaaaaaah.”
Thirty years later, the pioneer recalls, “I did it, one take. Boom. Right there. They put out the record and that really caused a stir. The track was clever because it had Caribbean elements in it. The lyrics KRS-One was saying, he was going after them. That was kind of dominating at that time. They didn’t actually bury the Juice Crew, ’cause the Juice Crew made history.” That crew would introduce Big Kaddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Biz Markie, and others. Those records, all produced by Marley Marl were also part of his rival DJ’s playlist. “If Marley made some good songs, I’ma play [them],” Red admits of his KISS podium. Of “The Bridge Wars,” he proclaims, “The whole thing was fun.”
In 2007, KRS-One and Marley Marl made an armistice in the form of album, Hip Hop Lives. However, less than one year ago, MC Shan dissed KRS-One, who promptly replied. In turn, “The Bridge Wars” have never really stopped.