2012 Phase n Rhythm - The Force of the Matrix EP


What’s the story of Phase n Rhythm or Phase and Rhythm all about? Are they the same story? Yeah, they are - but one is a little zippier and rolls off the tongue with greater ease….

The first question cats always ask about Phase n Rhythm is simply "What the fuck ever happened to Phase n Rhythm?" And then comes the barrage of follow-up questions: "Why are there only two 12”s ?" , "What went on with the Tommy Boy deal?", "Where are the demos", "How many of those ‘WARNING- The contents of this record are extremely DOPE’ stickers were made?" and "Where can I get one?". Chopped Herring Records will attempt to scratch your Golden Era itch, but bear in mind, while some info exists, some facts have been lost over the quarter of a century since the release of their debut record in 1987, so we may just make stuff up. OK, so "Let's go back...way back...back into time..."

Phase, named after legendary writer and all-round Hip Hop hero Phase 2 and Rhythm aka Den Love, DJ and beat maker Denson Rosser, like many great Hip Hop crews met at school in New York, in their case the Hillcrest High School in South Jamaica, Queens. They both grew up in the Queens Village area of Queens, a 2 minute walk from 80s Hip Hop Mecca, Hollis, Queens. They witnessed Run DMC rockin’ local park jams and were surrounded by Hip Hop legends from a very early age. They would cut school to dig at Downstairs Records in Manhattan and when Rhythm tried to explain to his dad WHY he was out of school looking for rare records to cut and sample, he received little sympathy or understanding –  “Looking for breaks to sample? What the hell is sampling and what the hell are BREAKS???”

By the age of 16 the two boys had some tracks written. ‘Hyperactive’, ‘Brainfood’ and ‘The Force of the Matrix’. They took them to a local studio in Queens Village run by a cat called Afro Errol. Errol was the type of studio owner who watched the clock and was all about the fee and somewhat less about the art. After several sessions the boys decided that their compositions sounded wackadack at Errol’s and they looked for an alternative spot to record at. After a local block party in Queens, Rhythm got his break, no pun intended. Some cats saw him DJ and wanted him to come down to the studio to scratch on a track. He was invited to 12/12 Studio and it was there where he met legendary producer Paul C (R.I.P.). Together with Paul the boys recorded 3 tracks, 2 of which would appear on the debut single on Funky Tune Recs. The label was formally set up by their cousin because the boys were too young to get a business license and the address written on the label for Funky Tune Records was Rhythm’s parents’ address. They took odd jobs here and there to raise enough money to get the record pressed up and Rhythm’s cousin drove them all over NYC dropping records off in stores on consignment. They really had no idea what they were doing, they were just freestyling the whole thing. When they received the test pressings Phase was crazy pissed at how his vocals sounded – the DAT machine at the plant must’ve been broken cause it was running several bpms too fast and Phase complained that he sounded like a goddamn chipmunk on the track. But they just went along with it – At 16 they were mad excited to get their tracks on wax and out there.

From this one 12” single a series events took place that would see them speeding up the music industry ladder at a rapid pace and a year later they found themselves in a record deal with Tommy Boy. Tommy Boy A&R Kevin Maxwell had heard the ‘Hyperactive’ joint being played in Downstairs Records and was influential in setting the ball rolling. They had had opportunities to get signed right after the Hyperactive 12” dropped, but they planned to wait until they were 18 years old so that they could make their own decisions and wouldn’t have to take even more orders from their parents!! Soon after they signed with Tommy Boy they began to be represented by Patrick Moxey who famously managed Gang Starr and owned a bunch of clubs in NYC all named after candy bars – Mars, Milky Way, Twix – I made the Twix one up. Their relationship with Moxey lasted only a few months before they were picked up by music industry mogul Lyor Cohen's Rush Management. There were differences of opinion between Tommy Boy and Lyor Cohen and the deal became untenable after Lyor came down to Tommy Boy for a meeting and reputedly, in a very heated discussion, called A&R head Monica Lynch a ‘bitch’. The boys were caught in the middle of the feud and their relationship with their label swiftly turned sour. They contacted an attorney to get them out of the deal – a deal that was limited to only one release, the very dope ‘Swollen Pockets’. After the Tommy Boy fiasco Phase n Rhythm parted ways. Phase formed the group Broken English Klick and was signed to Wild Pitch Records and Rhythm after being introduced to Chuck D by Lyor worked on a small project with one of his artists and soon after disappeared from the music scene for many years. He resurfaced in the early 2000s producing some tracks for Scaramanga and now runs his own studio called Digital Damage in Chesapeake, VA.

Just before they signed the deal with Tommy Boy in 1989 there was a flood in Rhythm’s basement where they recorded all their tracks and a bunch of copies of the first 12” (200 or so!!) were destroyed, as well as a healthy chunk of Rhythm’s record collection and most importantly the reels of all the tracks they were working on for the Tommy Boy album. Everything was lost!! The only thing that remains are the 2 DATS we have used for this vinyl release. After 25 years in the vaults, surviving record deals, floods, bad management, bad pressings and bad DAT machines we present ‘Phase n Rhythm – The Force of the Matrix EP’ which includes recordings from the original studio DAT’s of ‘Hyperactive’ and ‘Brainfood’ at their ORIGINAL BPM as well as ‘The Force of the Matrix’ which has never been leaked or heard outside of the boys themselves. Also included are the dub versions of ‘Matrix’ and ‘Hyperactive’ as well as the acapella of ‘Hyperactive’ which appears on the now grail-ish debut single on Funky Tune Records aka Rhythm’s mom’s spot! ENJOY....




A1 The Force of the Matrix
A2 Brainfood
A3 The Force of the Matrix

B1 Hyperactive
B2 Hyperactive (Dub)
B3 Hype-a-pella