Masta Ace Reveals Why The Crooklyn Dodgers Lineup Changed (Video)

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In conjunction with the Spike Lee Joint Crooklyn, A Tribe Called Quest and Q-Tip began assembling a Hip-Hop collaboration for the Geffen Records soundtrack. While the film was set in the 1970s, director Spike Lee has historically attached Hip-Hop to his films. According to Q-Tip, considerations were reportedly made for artists including O.D.B. and Jay Z. However, the final trio was Masta Ace, Black Moon’s Buckshot, and Special Ed.

“I got a call one day from Q-Tip. He said he was doing a record for the Spike Lee movie, and he wanted to know if I was down to rap on it. I said absolutely,” Masta Ace tells WHO?MAG TV around 6:30 in the video interview. “I was definitely down to do it. This was at the height of the success of ‘Born To Roll’ [by Masta Ace Incorporated], and I had all these new West Coast fans that were loving me. The East Coast was kinda trying to figure out who I became and who this new Masta Ace is. It was perfect timing for me to do a song that celebrated my city and place I was born and raised. I was happy to jump on the record with Special Ed and Buckshot and make a classic.”

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The “Crooklyn” single became a hit, on the soundtrack’s first volume, even as many were unaware that Q-Tip (credited to A.T.C.Q.) produced the track. In 1995, for the film Clockers, the Crooklyn Dodgers re-appeared with a revamped lineup—including Chubb Rock, Jeru The Damaja, and D.I.T.C.’s O.C. According to Masta Ace (whose “first we did it like that and now we do it like this” vocals began the song), it was never intended to be this way.

“The original plan was never to change the lineup. It was supposed to be the same lineup. What happened was Buckshot declined to be on [‘Return Of The Crooklyn Dodgers’], so it was just me and Ed. Then the question for [executives] was ‘Do we just replace Buckshot?’ They were like, ‘Nah, that’s gonna be kinda corny. Let’s just do a whole new lineup.’ So then they came up with Chubb Rock, O.C., and Jeru. Those fellas represented Brooklyn just as well. It worked out well for everybody. I still got to be in the video ’cause [DJ] Premier wound up sampling my voice, so it was kinda cool.” Ace would later appear on a Boot Camp Clik compilation, maintaining his ties with Buck’.

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In 2007, 9th Wonder created a third installment of the Crooklyn Dodgers. Dream Merchant, Vol. 2 features the track “Brooklyn In My Mind” by Mos Def (nka Yasiin Bey), Jean Grae, and Memphis Bleek.

Elsewhere in the WHO?MAG episode interview, Ace admits his dissatisfaction with Juice Crew reprisal, “The Symphony, Part 2” and details his mid-’90s move to Delicious Vinyl Records.