Rickey D on making hip hop happen, then and now... by Scott C
Ricardo Daley, aka Rickey D, aka the Mayor of Burgundy, has been a fixture in Montreal's club and party promotion scene since the early '80s, making sure Montreal had hip hop and R&B shows to go to for years. Although most of his attention these days goes into catering to Montreal's “mature clientele” (take note of the new Reflections parties, Saturdays at Diva, that he's doing with Alan Cross), this family man is every bit the hustler that he's always been. He took time to speak to the Mirror about his early days of throwing parties and shows in MTL.
Mirror: How did you get into the whole throwing-parties-and- promoting-shows game in Montreal?
Rickey D: I fell in love with hip hop in 1979. I was 12 years old. We used to listen to Butcher T on Club 980 on CKGM, and he did a show with Mike Williams who eventually went on to MuchMusic fame.
M: Not dirty ol' Michael Williams?
RD: Yep! Back then, things were a lot more simple and exciting. People were broke, like they are now, but the white kids and the black kids were jammin' in the same room. Maybe around '84, my friend Fabian Ash started DJing. I couldn't DJ, but I was a skinny, light-skinned boy from Burgundy who wanted to meet people. I started handing out flyers for Fabian and his partner Fitz. I was making $50 a party, working for someone else.
M: What was the first party you threw on your own?
RD: That would have been Cybil at Metropolis. (singing) “Don't make me over...” After that Gary T called me, and he was the one that put me on to the whole hip hop show thing. We did Public Enemy for the first time in Montreal. Then we did Chubb Rock, Big Daddy Kane, Ice Cube, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, KRS One, Kool Moe Dee, Kool G Rap, the Roots, so many. We fell in love with it, even though we were making no money, and we were throwing parties in order to finance these shows. Back then, we didn't know anything about immigration, and had shows cancelling left and right. Nobody was interested in bringing hip hop shows in, but there were people who wanted to see these shows.
M: What's the worst thing that happened to you as a promoter?
RD: I remember going down to the border to try and persuade them to let Biggie Smalls through. He had been travelling with a live band, and his guitarist was about to be deported right from the border. I drove to a Super 8 Motel in Plattsburgh, only to have the Notorious B.I.G. tell me “Fuck Canada” and slam the door in my face. Then I had to call Gary and tell him he wasn't coming. There was a riot that night at the club. I think it was the World. That was the closest Biggie ever got to Montreal.
M: What do you think of the state of hip hop shows in Montreal now?
RD: Well, there are a lot of people who have bastardized and raped the music scene to the point where it's the tattered remains of a scene. There's nobody out there that's taking it to the next level. People in clubs are going back to older music because there's good vibes, memories and real energy that today's music doesn't provide, and some people have sold out to big business, which really doesn't help our scene to grow. Companies like Phat Farm are making millions every year, and are sponsoring shows and events with a few T-shirts. You can't build a scene like that.