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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



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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Six Best Tacos: #6 Tasi Cafe




Set in the heart of Short North, Tasi Cafe is the cute, hidden restaurant that you’ll want to keep a secret all to yourself. With a menu that includes classic deli sandwiches, skillets, and tacos, Tasi Cafe has got your brunch/lunch/linner fantasies covered.

All you need is a nice cold drink in your hand from their ever-changing libations menu, and your meal is set.


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Let’s taco ’bout brunch 🌮

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Tasi Cafe

680 N Pearl St, Columbus

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Sponsored: Inner Circle, the last dating app you’ll ever have to use





The Inner Circle is a dating app we covered a while ago, and after such positive feedback from all of you, we thought we’d give it a try for ourselves. The results? It actually works! The Inner Circle is taking the opposite approach to regular dating apps by trying to get you off your phone and IRL as soon as possible. They’ll even offer tips like cool spots to hang out and exclusive singles events.

It is just a good quality app with fewer random people. The Inner Circle employs a screening process that makes sure users maintain a close network of people who are all in the same phase of life. We’re not talking solely about bankers or trust fund babies, we found plenty of cool creative people among a variety of professions like teachers, nurses, students, etc.

The other thing that we liked about it was that The Inner Circle pretty much has all the benefits of other popular dating apps, like swiping around (Tinder), but offers more straightforward connection where you can just write a person a message if you really like them, instead of waiting for a right match after 1000’s of swipes or likes.

Finally, we have to rave about the events. The Inner Circle hosts monthly events ranging from extravagant rooftop parties to after work cocktail hours at fun and quirky venues around the world. And unlike most singles parties, these events aren’t full of desperate lonely cat people. In fact, quite the opposite! We spoke to Nick who has now been to three of their past events: “Imagine a party where everyone is not only hot, but also actually has a passion and excitement for life.” That sounds like a party we want to go to!

So, we get that The Inner Circle is not for everyone (especially the whiny kind), but we guess ultimately that’s the point. If you’re looking to meet other singles who are full of life, then sign up to The Inner Circle and see if it is for you. It’s free to register: Sign up to The Inner Circle.

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Howlin’ cute: Columbus Zoo welcomes newborn wolf pups

Mike Thomas



The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has announced the May 6 births of four Mexican gray wolf pups—the first born at the Zoo in 14 years. According to a press release issued by the zoo, the pups’ births mark a significant achievement for the future of the Mexican wolf, which is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America.

The pups sexes of the pups are currently unknown (care to get between a wolf mother and her newborns for a check? Us either). This was the first-ever litter for mother, Winter, and father, Storm.

Both of the wolf-parents are three years old, and arrived at the Columbus Zoo earlier this year. Winter came to the Columbus Zoo on Dec. 17, 2018 from the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, and Storm arrived on Dec. 11, 2018 from the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri. The two were paired at Columbus Zoo through a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan® (SSP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Wolf Recovery Plan, which works to help reintroduce wolves to the southwestern United States.


Mama and babies are being monitored by zoo staff via a closed-circuit camera. The team at the zoo reports that Winter, “has provided excellent care to the pups, whose eyes have recently opened, while Storm occasionally peeks in on them during breaks from patrolling the habitat.”

“We are extremely proud to participate in this collaborative program working to protect the future of the this important species that nearly went extinct in the 1970s. The birth of these pups is to be celebrated as this achievement offers additional hope for the Mexican gray wolf,” said Columbus Zoo President and CEO Tom Stalf.

The program has already made some strides in improving the endangered wolf populations, and the Mexican gray wolf population is finally experiencing a small rebirth since human intervention programs started in the late 1990s.

Although the pups are not currently visible to guests, they may begin venturing out of the den with their mother soon. For more information and updates, be sure to follow the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit the Zoo’s website.

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