Positive K is one of hip hop’s revered legends. He has blessed us with some hip hip classics from “I Got a Man,” “I’m Not Havin’ it,” and “Step Up Front,” to name a few. “Step Up Front” is one of my favorite joints. Positive K dropped his first album titled The Skills Dat Pay da Bills in 1992. His music always put you in the mood to party. His name definitely reflects his personality — Positive. He coined the iconic hip hop phrase “skills to the pay the bills” after his debut album.
Positive K put in work to succeed in the hip hop industry. His story is an inspiration. Following your dreams and support from your friends can take you a long way. Recently, Positive K has been teaming up with other hip hop elites and preserving the culture. He has also hosted various hip hop radio shows. I had a blast chopping it up with this legend! He is humble and funny as hell! Find out for yourself.
Tell us who inspired you to start rapping?
I was born in The Bronx. It’s in your DNA. Echo Park was across the street from my grandmother’s house. I would see people playing jams and rocking out with breakdance moves. Grandmaster Caz, Flintstone Crew, Chuck-A-Luck, DJ Theodore, etc. All these iconic people would be there. They inspired me. I get offended when people don’t pay homage to the pioneers and origin of hip hop! Look how far hip hop has evolved.
What’s the name of your first rap group? Who were the members?
My first group was called the Disco Cousins. It was me and my cousin Corey O, and my name was Baby Breeze! Then I hooked up with The Almighty God Committee. The members were True Quan, Dequan, Shakim, Dakim, Jamel. We were 16, but we acted like we were 25!
What made you go solo?
One night, Almighty God Committee went to The Encore. Back then, that was the hot spot. We wanted to perform there. We thought we were too cool because we had on leather pants and Gazelles — those were in. That night was Mr. Magic Rap Attack. Sparky D broke out that night! The Fearless Four were the headliners. Tito was my favorite. We were excited. We went to the restroom and Mercury from Force MDs comes in and talks to us. We build up courage to go out to hit the stage. The DJ tried to get our set going, but he puts our record on the wrong side. We tried to rap to it, but the people started booing us. Everyone ran off the stage except for me. I kept rocking. That was the night Positive K was born.
How did you come to collaborate with MC Lyte?
I moved to Queens and met a dude named Sweet G. He was Queens’ solo sensation. He was the Drake of his time. “Roller dome that is my home.” I remember that line. I gravitated towards him. I was his protégée. I would carry records and stuff. I handled anything for shows needed to be done. One day Sweet G took me to meet Mike and Dave (Crash Crew). Spoony G put together my first song with Fast Money. Rob Base and I both made our first records on that compilation. Recently, Rob Base and I had a boat ride and reminisced over that moment when we first got started. Chill Will produced the song for me.
Not too long after, I was introduced to the Audio Two and Mc Lyte. Lyte and I’s song “I’m Not Havin’ It” was the Adam and Eve of hip hop duets. It set the tone for hip hop. Yo Yo and Ice Cube with “The Bonnie and Clyde Theme,” LL Cool J with “Doin’ It Well,” Method Man and Mary J Blige with “You’re All I Need,” and the list goes on and on!
Tell us about signing your first record deal.
It was euphoric when I signed my first contract with First Priority Records. Lumumba Carson known as Professor X the Overseer (RIP) introduced me to Nat Robinson. From there, I met Daddy O from Stetsasonic. That was a great learning experience for my career. Daddy O taught me a lot about music, even how to count my bars. Grand Puba put me onto the game too.
How did it feel when “I Got a Man” became a big hit?
GZA, Showbiz & AG, Lord Finesse Big L, Freddie Foxxx and I were young spittas. We were hard. My song “I Got a Man” was commercial, so it fell off the Hip Hop Radio Station. When the song was sent to the pop stations, it became popular! Once Red Alert added it to 98.7 Kiss FM, other DJs followed suit. I was on my third single “Car Hoppers” by the time “I Got a Man” became a hit.
What was it like your first time on tour?
My first tour I was excited. It was Kool Mo Dee’s “I Go to Work” tour. I left First Priority Records after this tour. The tour featured Ice T, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, and Too Short! I had my own DJ and everything. The record company was going to pull me from the tour midway through. Kane called the booking agent asked if I could stay on tour with him, ride his bus, etc. They said okay. I made sure I killed the shows! I was opening for about a month. We came home, and they wanted to give me all types of praise for a job well done. It was crazy after wanting to pull me off the tour. I went to Kane and said, ” I want to leave my record company.” He told me he wanted me to leave too. I parted ways with them.
The real success was when I went independent. The song was called “Night Shift.” Big Daddy Kane produced it. It sold 80000 copies. At that point, Island Records offered the most money and flexibility, so I signed with them. That was my first major record deal. I had my own imprint too. I also had money to do my own marketing. Not much, but enough. I generated momentum when I made that independent move.
What do you think of the climate of hip hop now in comparison to when you first came up? Has it evolved?
It’s a double-edged sword. I love the growth of production of today. Two turntables and a mic back in the day was all you had to work with. I remember I recorded on a cassette player. You could flip the tape over to record on the other side. Nowadays, dudes play instruments, and use technology. It’s incredible. It seems like unlimited possibilities with technology for music. Ideas have really progressed. However, the lyrics are dumbed down. Styles all seem similar. It’s supposed to be unique. Everybody looks the same. I remember we all wanted to be unique and the lyrics of today are no where near comparison. I think Hip Hop should be unionized. There should be way more benefits and advancements for hip hop artists. I think unionizing is the way to make things happen. It’s still a work in progress. I feel it’s evolved to what it’s supposed to be. Outlets like Rock the Bells Radio from LL Cool J will shine light on hip hop that was dope from my era. It’s not just going to be the most popular or mainstream. But just dope hip hop we all loved.
Name some current hip hop artists you like to listen to.
I honestly like 2 Chains. He makes some songs I can rock with. Drake has a style all his own I respect. Future I like for catchy hooks. I also like artists like Lupe Fiasco and J. Cole because their wordplay is great. They would’ve been hip hop greats in the 90s as well.
Last year, you and legendary Greg Nice of Nice & Smooth dropped the collaborative project “Gr8te Mindz”. How did this project come about? Will there be another collaborative album in the future?
Me and Greg Nice grew up doing this hip hop thing. We would hang out at Big Daddy Kane’s house. We’d sit on the couch drinking 40s. At that time, Kane had a deal already. Kool G Rap, Biz Markie, Smooth B, Scoob & Scrap, and Lazy Lay would drop by too. We would just kick it. I did a song with Mr. Cheeks and Greg called “Make It Happen.” Greg Nice produced it. We both said let’s do a whole album. Gr8te Mindz came into being because great minds think alike. We had some amazing producers on the project like Justice League, Easy Mo Bee, DJ Scratch, Louie Vega, Fat Cat, Vance Wright and Knottz. Another Gr8te Mindz album is in the works.
STREAM/BUY “GR8TE MINDZ” (POSITIVE K & GREG NICE) ALBUM
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Most people may not know that you were an extra in “A Bronx Tale” movie. What was that experience like? Are you pursuing acting?
I was just knocking the dust off my SAG card. Acting is still something I’d like to do. I’m shooting two independent films in the next couple of months.
Are there any causes or community outreach you would like to discuss?
My mom suffers from dementia. I am her caregiver. And nothing is more important than that job. I support the Alzheimer’s Foundation for sure.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
A new Positive K solo album is coming. I’m half way through. I can’t reveal the title but, it’s almost ready. I just performed at Legends of Hip Hop Concert on May 19th. And I also have a cruise June 30th-July 5th along with Howard Hewitt.
Positive K has solidified himself as a Rap God. A true pioneer in hip hop! We appreciate him setting the stage for good down to earth party music that we all enjoy till this day. We at Weekly Rap Gods would like to salute Positive K for his contribution to Hip Hop!