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The Interview: Mix Master Ice

DJ / Producer / Hip-Hop Pioneer. What’s the saying about never meeting your heroes? My earliest memory, the one that sparked my lifelong love of hip-hop, happened at the age of eight I was in the bubble of suburban Ohio, but heard scratching for the first time at the hands of Mix Master Ice (aka [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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DJ / Producer / Hip-Hop Pioneer.

What’s the saying about never meeting your heroes? My earliest memory, the one that sparked my lifelong love of hip-hop, happened at the age of eight I was in the bubble of suburban Ohio, but heard scratching for the first time at the hands of Mix Master Ice (aka Maurice Bailey) on my worn cassette copy of UTFO’s seminal “Roxanne, Roxanne.” Little did I know then that many years later I’d be sharing a beer with the man, talking about his whirlwind career and reminiscing about the golden era of hip-hop that Ice helped establish.

Born in Harlem, but raised in Brooklyn, Maurice Bailey was drawn to music by his father and a household full of reel-to-reel machines, 8-tracks, and soul records from the ‘60s and ‘70s. In 1979, at his 8th grade prom he witnessed a live DJ for the first time. According to Bailey, “Hip-hop had just started moving from the neighborhoods to the mainstream, and I wanted to be a part of that culture.” Eventually his first dalliance into hip-hop, the Jam-A-Lot Crew, became UTFO, and success followed throughout the ‘80s at a time when the genre was booming.

For the last two decades, with UTFO behind him, Bailey has called Columbus his home. Here he’s done a lot to nurture the old-school renaissance—from a heralded stint on Power 107.5 back in the day, hosting talent shows, to resident DJ nights across the city. And this year, more than ever, Bailey hopes to begin producing emerging young artists and assume his legendary DJ status. He was inducted into the DMC DJ Hall of Fame in 2000 on a world tour. In our lengthy interview, I got the oral history of “Roxanne, Roxanne,” and words of wisdom from a true pioneer. As such, in listening to the tale of one of my childhood heroes, I came to realize he’s not a relic. He still has things to accomplish.

“A lot of the hits are hits but they don’t become classic. They can’t sustain. We had records that sustained, that stuck to your soul. But it’s a different situation right now. You don’t need a record label or publishing to be successful.”

What was the atmosphere like living in Brooklyn during that time? Were you a part of that burgeoning revolution of hip-hop?

Mix Master Ice: I was a freshman in high school when hip-hop began, so I was too young to travel to the Bronx. But we would always get these tapes from those parties and battles from the Bronx and from Uptown. We would study them and add our own style to that stuff. It was energy that you couldn’t deny. You just had to be involved. It definitely was a much needed outlet for me. It became an outlet to keep me from drifting into trouble. Trouble was there right when you stepped out your door. It kept me busy, creative, and it kept me off the streets.

…Fast forward to 1983 when Bailey, now going by Mix Master Ice, and the Educated Rapper auditioned two former dancers for Whodini—the Kangol Kid and Dr. Ice—to round out what would become UFO (which stands for Untouchable Force Organization). Soon as the best crew in the neighborhood, they were recruited by the R&B group Full Force and thrust into the studio to start making records. Due to a copyright issue (and legal threats by the British hard-rock band UFO) they changed the name to UTFO. As UTFO they signed with Select Records and recorded their first single, “Hanging Out,” which had little success, but ironically the b-side, “Roxanne, Roxanne” became an instant hit and propelled the group to fame.

Who was the “Roxanne” that UTFO pursued in the song? I guess who was the “real” Roxanne, before there was a Real Roxanne.

MMI: It’s crazy because it was completely by accident. We were just doing singles for Select at the moment, and needed a B-side to “Hanging Out,” when Full Force suggested we did a song about a girl. I think one of them might have had a girlfriend named Roxanne, but there was no face to the name. What’s unique about it, is that instead of bragging about getting the girl, it was three rappers talking about a girl they couldn’t get, and battling each other to win her attention. It could have been called “Suzanne, Suzanne” or “Joanne, Joanne,” it didn’t matter. It was imaginary when we wrote it. The whole concept of the song was incredible and really different at the time that it was written. It also had that hardcore edge to it, it had that boom-bap beat. When we were first doing parties, we would always use that break from Billy Squire’s “Big Beat.” That was something Howie Tee suggested we added to the record.

…Though the success of “Roxanne, Roxanne” quickly made UTFO a new sensation in hip-hop, it wasn’t long before competition came in the way of 14-year-old, Lolita Shante Gooden, who at the behest of producer Marley Marl, recorded “Roxanne’s Revenge” over the original “Roxanne, Roxanne” beat. Thus, the “Roxanne Wars” had begun.

Do you think that Shante and “Roxanne’s Revenge” eclipsed the impact of your first single?

MMI: Well it has to be stated that we never wrote this song about her. Her name wasn’t even Roxanne, it was Shante Gooden, and her rap name at the time was Fly Shante. She wrote the Roxanne rap, and what I equate to a cover song, to win a talent show. I think at that moment the people behind her had light bulbs going off. They actually went and pressed “Roxanne’s Revenge,” using the instrumental from our single. We were very upset because we took it as a diss. She would have never been our Roxanne, because she was too young. And how dare you take our instrumental and release it as your own, and how dare you act like you were the Roxanne that we were talking about? She was blowing up and we couldn’t stand it. So as a result, we decided we would create our own Roxanne, and that’s how the Real Roxanne came to be. Eventually they were going at it.

…The feud spawned a series of “answer” records to the original two singles. During the phenomena known as the “Roxanne Wars,” there were dozens of songs released by different artists responding to UTFO and Shante, in hopes of cashing in on that initial spark.

Did anyone get in touch with the group when they started to make the movie on Shante’s life (the 2018 Netflix film Roxanne, Roxanne)?

MMI: It has nothing to do with them telling her story. I’m all for somebody telling their story. She’s got a great story and has been through some trials and tribulations. However, she would never have that name if it weren’t for UTFO and by naming the movie “Roxanne, Roxanne,” I feel it was a direct insult to us. How do you have a movie called “Roxanne, Roxanne,” and not cast the band who originally recorded the song? They didn’t reach out; they didn’t even license our song.

…Despite the bad blood, UTFO went on to become the second rap group in history (after Run DMC) to release five albums. They were also one of the first rap groups to record with a rock band, culminating in the single “Lethal” with Anthrax, years before Anthrax collaborated with Public Enemy. In the midst of UTFO disbanding due to “creative differences,” Bailey was already starting a worldwide campaign as a DJ, touring clubs as a star in his own right. In 1993, one of his most beloved stops, Columbus, Ohio, became his new home.

When you first got here, what did you make of the hip-hop scene in Columbus?

MMI: I thought the scene was live. You had the Groove Shack. I was supporting stuff there. There was Singing Dog Records. There was B&B Records on Livingston, in the ‘hood. I was highly engulfed in hip-hop here because I was very sought after. I embraced Columbus and it embraced me. I’ve always felt the love here.

And now, as you mentor younger artists, what advice do you give them from the lessons you learned back in the day?

MMI: Basically I just tell people to be original. Everything is marketed towards hip-hop. It’s a global thing now. A lot of the hits are hits but they don’t become classic. They can’t sustain. We had records that sustained, that stuck to your soul. But it’s a different situation right now. You don’t need a record label or publishing to be successful. I’m not going to knock the kids, because I envy the freedom that artists have right now to push things and to be creative. The blueprint is there. We didn’t have a blueprint. There are no excuses to fumble right now. Rap is not a hobby. It used to be a hobby, but now it’s a business, so learn the business.

Follow Mix Master Ice on Instagram @mixmasterice.

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Food & Drink

Review: Matt & Tony’s dishes out classic comfort food in downtown

Regina Fox

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I've gotten to try a lot of interesting cuisine with this job, but it's rare that I get the opportunity to sample a mother's spaghetti recipe outside of my childhood home. This is the type of experience that Matt & Tony's Wood Fired Kitchen, which recently opened inside the former CBC Restaurant space, offers its guests.

At Matt & Tony's, you don't have to sneak off to the bathroom to Google what a menu item is so you don't look ignorant in front of your date, and that's what makes it so great.

The menu bodes familiar comforts like fried chicken, fish & chips, veal parmesan, and burgers. There's no proprietary flare or fancy sauce smears around your plate—it's all just damn good food.

I sampled Madeline's Spaghetti & Meatballs, which is straight from the cookbook of co-owner Matt Rootes' mother. The sauce was sweet and plentiful while the meatballs were hearty and succulent. I didn't want to gorge myself on the first entree, but I couldn't seem to stop twirling those perfectly-boiled noodles around my fork...

Next up was a Wood Grilled Steak with mashed potatoes and broccoli. I heard once that butter wasn't a carb, so I spread it on thick and cut myself a piece with a crispy fat edge—juicy, tender, and lean. I didn't eat all 12 oz., but I very easily could have.

The Fork N' Knife BBQ Ribs at Matt & Tony's are straight out of a BBQ fairy tale. This healthy helping of slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone meat is smothered in sauce and almost impossible to put down. You may not be excusing yourself to Google what you just nervously and unknowingly ordered, but you'll probably require a bathroom mirror to make sure you've wiped all the sauce off your mug after devouring these racks.

Feeling like Thanksgiving? Have a little alternative celebration for yourself with Matt & Tony's Half Roasted Chicken with crushed herbs and lemon butter. Slip into a food coma with the sides of potatoes and seasonal vegetable. Dream a little dream of country gravy (which can be found drowning the fried chicken dinner entree).

Rootes says he and his partner Tony Wildman chose to open Matt & Tony's to give the people of downtown an option for high-quality steaks and seafood at a reasonable price without all the "frou-frou." I, for one, think that's exactly what downtown needs.

While so many other restaurants are reaching for globally-inspired dishes made with ingredients you can pronounce, Matt & Tony's is executing classic comfort dishes you grew up on in a warm, inviting atmosphere—it's like a little slice of home on Short St.

Matt & Tony's is located at 525 Short Street and is open 11am- 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am- 11pm Friday and Saturday. Visit mattandtonys.com for more information.

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Sports

5 predictions for the 2019 Ohio State Football season from Eleven Warriors

Chris Lauderback

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In the upcoming September issue of (614) Magazine, Eleven Warriors provided us with Chris Lauderback's five predictions for the upcoming season. While this article was lightly edited for length, the full version can be found here. This article was originally published on Aug. 15, 2019 on Eleven Warriors website.

Just a few days away from Ohio State's season opener against Florida Atlantic, it's prime time for everyone to make your predictions for how things will unfold – mostly so you can be shamed at the end of the year for your wrongness. 

I've certainly endured my fair sure of not-so-hot predictions over the last couple years, but I always come back for more because, man, does it feel good when you get that one or two right, especially if you go out on a bit of a limb. 

But let's get to it. Drop your predictions in the comments after taking a look at my five prognostications for Ohio State's 2019 football season. 

1.) J.K. DOBBINS WILL RUSH FOR AT LEAST 100 YARDS IN 10 OR MORE GAMES THIS FALL

I feel like this is a pretty risky one right off the bat. 

All the preseason logic says Dobbins is ready to bounce back in a big way after a subpar 2017 season in which he ran for 1,053 yards but did so on just 4.6 yards per carry. 

He should benefit from the return of a dual-threat quarterback and the accompanying read options, the general vibe that running the ball will be of greater focus this season and of course the reality Ryan Day doesn't yet have a reliable second-string tailback to spell Dobbins. 

Dobbins will also be motivated to put on a show for NFL scouts in what could very likely be his last season in Columbus. 

So why is this prediction a stretch? 

Well, first of all, even in Dobbins's freshman season in which he ran for 1,403 yards on 7.2 yards per carry, he still only ran for over 100 yards in six of 14 games. Last year, he ran for over 100 yards in only three of 14 outings.   

In fact, if Dobbins can eclipse the century mark in 10 games, that would tie him with Archie Griffin for the fifth-most in a single-season in school history. If you're curious, Zeke (2015) and Eddie (1995) own the single-season school record with 12 each and Archie owns third-place with 11 in both 1973 and 1974. 

2.) JORDAN FULLER BECOMES SECOND SAFETY SINCE AT LEAST 1970 TO LEAD TEAM IN TACKLES IN BACK-TO-BACK SEASONS

Fuller tied outside linebacker Malik Harrison for the team lead in tackles last season with 81 total stops despite missing one game and getting ejected in another (Nebraska) after just 28 snaps played. 

Typically, it's not great news to have a safety lead the team in tackles, but even with Ohio State's defense expected to show some level of improvement from last year's tire fire, I still think Fuller has a solid chance to again lead the squad in stops. 

One chief reason for this logic is the fact Day has made no secret about his desire to feel comfortable rotating linebackers similar to how Larry Johnson maximizes his depth across the defensive line. Of course, the threat to Fuller here is assuredly Harrison because even with a rotational strategy, it's hard to envision him coming off the field too often. 

Another reason I like Fuller to repeat is because, like Dobbins, he's looking for a bounce back season of his own before heading off the the NFL. Dude will be hungry and if Ohio State's defensive alignment does feature more single-high safety looks than we've seen in the past, Fuller will be roaming center field looking to make things happen. 

So who is the safety to have already turned the trick of leading Ohio State in tackles in back-to-back seasons? Mike Doss accomplished the feat registering 94 stops in 2000 before backing that up with another 87 in 2001. 

Other safeties to lead the Buckeyes in tackles for at least one season include C.J. Barnett in 2011 and Damon Moore in both 1998 and 1996.

3.) WHILE THE GROUP WILL BE MUCH IMPROVED, THE BUCKEYES WILL STILL FAIL TO BE A TOP-25 TOTAL DEFENSE

After setting dubious records for most points and yards per game allowed last season, the general consensus is that an infusion of new defensive coaches, an altered scheme, and the return of just about every defender from last year will help the 2019 edition of the Silver Bullets get back on track. 

I subscribe to that logic for a few reasons, most notably because if we're being real, a group that gave up over 500 yards of offense three times and over 400 yards of offense nine times while surrendering an average of 403 yards per Saturday to rank No. 71 in total defense really can't do anything but improve.

I don't mean that sarcastically, just matter-of-factly. 

Looking at the last seven seasons, on average, for Ohio State to rank in the Top-25 for Total Defense it'll have to give up no more than 340 yards. 

That's certainly doable and I won't be shocked if the defense does shave over 60 yards from it's per game average, but I'll roll with the over and happily hope the group proves me wrong come season's end.

4.) OHIO STATE'S OFFENSE WILL FEATURE FIVE RECEIVERS WITH OVER 450 YARDS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SCHOOL HISTORY

Now this one really feels like a gamble. 

I should probably just go with 400 yards here instead of 450 since that's never been done by an Ohio State offense either, but go big or go home, right? 

Scanning the history books, only twice has Ohio State featured even four receivers in a single season with over 400 yards, doing so in both 2017 and 2018. And last year, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin became the only for receivers in school annals to all log at least 450 receiving yards in a single season. 

This year, I'm making a case that for the first time ever, Ohio State will feature five receivers with at least 450 yards. 

Since this feels like such a stretch, I'll even tell you the ranked order I expect for receiving yards, again with all going for at least 450: K.J. Hill, Chris Olave, Austin Mack, Garrett Wilson, and Binjimen Victor. 

(If Justin Fields gets hurt and misses more than one game, never mind.)

5.) OHIO STATE WILL WIN THE BIG TEN AND MAKE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF, FINISHING 12-2 ON THE SEASON

If Ohio State did all of this in Ryan Day's first full season with a first-year starter at quarterback and a defense that gave up 25.5 points per game a season ago, I'd consider that a rousing success. 

Then again, I know everyone has different expectations for their favorite team. 

I wouldn't be surprised if Day was able to do even better than 12-2 with a CFP berth. I would, however, be surprised if the Buckeyes did lose more than two games. 

So where are those two losses? Like the last few years, it feels impossible to predict, but I do think at Northwestern on a Friday night could be problematic. I'm not really on the Nebraska train, but I will say it's not optimal to play the first roadie of the season in Lincoln in what could potentially be an 11:00 AM local start time. 

Either way, my gut says the Buckeyes drop a regular season conference game against a team not named Michigan and then pick up another in the CFP semifinal.

For more Buckeye coverage, check out Eleven Warriors at elevenwarriors.com.

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News

First-of-its-kind high school helps students break cycle of addiction

614now Staff

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Students recovery from substance use disorders often relapse upon leaving treatment and returning to their old school. A newly opened school on the city's east side seeks to help young people break the cycle of addiction through dedicated care and attention.

Heartland High School is Ohio's first school specifically for students recovering from addiction. The inaugural class consisting of 8 students will receive a recovery-centered education that aims to create a sense of belonging, self-confidence and purpose.

The purpose of a recovery high school is to give students in recovery a high-quality education in a safe and supportive environment that is specifically conducive to substance use recovery.

Heartland High School will receive and maintain a charter issued by the state board of education. Students will be awarded a state-recognized diploma upon graduation.

Heartland High School is located at 760 E. Broad Street in Columbus. For more information, visit heartlandhighschool.org.

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