“Down with Roland, the Rhythm Fanatic, Mix Master D, Big P, Fly Eli, Move and Groove. Down with Payroll Records, period.”
That was famed producer David “Ski Beatz” Willis, then known as MC Will-Ski, signing off in the Bizzie Boyz classic “Droppin’ It” on top of an Aretha sample. He was one of the many killers on the Payroll of the man named first in all shout-outs on a Payroll Records joint. Before his passing on March 25, Roland Jones was THE godfather of Greensboro’s hip-hop community as founder of Payroll Records where he spun a succinct, but incredibly important catalog in his Randleman Road studio, serving as patron and mentor to a talented enclave of sneakily influential rappers and producers.
The Bizzie Boyz were the first successful act for famed producers Ski Beatz and his associate Andreao “Fanatic” Heard (then known as Rhythm Fanatic). There was the Original MC Spice, who later became N-Tyce and worked with Method Man and RZA. DJ Def of B.A.D. Rep changed his handle to Mark Sparks and produced Salt ‘N Pepa’s “Shoop,” along with a bunch of memorable tracks from Grand Puba, Mic Geronimo and Canibus. Then there were others who cut their teeth in Payroll, like Supreme DJ Nyborn, who put out a great record on another label. Fly Eli Davis went on to found 6 th Boro Records with Fanatic, and today he manages super producer 9 th Wonder and R&B star Anthony Hamilton.
“You approach me with rhymes that you wrote for ‘86/This is ’88 and I learned some new tricks.”
If you can find a copy of Payroll Records:
The Master Catalogue, you’ve got a highly sought-after compilation of boastful, whipsmart rhymes set to crafty funk loops, but you’re also the envy of every rap geeks everywhere because most copies by now have wound up in the hands of European collectors. Jones was ready to make more moves before his passing, including a reunion show of the Payroll Records crew, and his own vodka line. Anyone who wants to pay their respects can do so by actually listening to the music Jones helped create, and a good place to start would be 90.1 WNAA’s in memoriam, originally broadcast on March 28, but currently hosted at soundcloud. com/dcherie.
The Triad College Music Festival isn’t happening, so no Future concert. Phuzz Phest is though, and Friday and Saturday were covered in-depth last week. For live tributes, try Ed E. Ruger’s birthday jam at Tequila Cowboy’s. His crew won’t let it slide by without a mention like 102 JAMZ did. Some are still about representing the people. Rest in power, Roland Jones. !