Schoolly D Remembers “P.S.K.” By Clarifying What Gangsta Rap Really Means (Video)
In 1985 Schoolly D released “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” on his own label. From West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the record’s acronym stood for his neighborhood crew: Park Side Killaz. To many Rap historians, the self-produced 12″ (later included on Schoolly’s self-titled full-length debut) marks the first Gangsta Rap record. With pounding Roland 909 drums, and DJ Code Money’s ferocious scratching, the hit featured cursing, sex, drugs, and references to weapons. Schoolly D would influence the Beastie Boys, Geto Boys, and more.
Upon its 30th year anniversary, Get On Down Records re-released the single on special edition, colored vinyl. In Philly, Schoolly and Code Money (both of whom are still active in music) got up at Brewerytown Beats, just a few miles from Parkside Avenue. The affair was filmed, paying special visual attention to the music and artwork.
“They don’t know Gangsta Rap. It’s not that shit that you see on TV. It’s not Empire; it’s none of that,” authoritatively said Schoolly D, in a tailored suit. “It’s political, it’s strong, it’s funny. It brings everybody in. That’s what it is: it changes the world!” Following “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?,” Schoolly released records that dealt with the Black male identity, defaming Rock & Roll, and more.
According to Code Money, 1985 was an important year for Hip-Hop in Philadelphia. “That crack era, it was just [before] that—when everybody was still havin’ fun.” With lyrics promoting drug use, Code laughed, “We was high as hell when we made it. We was high as hell when we listened to it.”
Schoolly added that his early works were recorded at Classical music studios in the area. Because of that, the duo had to be well-prepared when they recorded. “We rehearsed for about 10 days, and then we went to the studio.”
Schoolly did the drum programming as well as the rapping, while Code maneuvered the turntables.