On August 11, 1973, at a back-to-school party in the Bronx, a local DJ named Kool Herc used two copies of a James Brown LP to create a hit dance number from the breakbeat of “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose”. which shook the party to its essence. A little over a week later, Enter the dragon— the story of martial artists Lee (played by an ascendant Bruce Lee), Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly) infiltrating a fighting tournament — has hit theaters. The film capitalized on the emerging kung fu craze, but Lee, Saxon and Kelly kicking ass together had a stronger impact: the sight of a Chinese, white and black actor coming together to fight an enemy common was a sign of racial unity that also happened to appeal to as many ticket buyers as possible.
These converging movements – hip-hop, kung fu and the unabashed cultural mix – would come to define the life and work of Robert Diggs, who turned 4 in 1973. Diggs spent much of his early years traveling across the United States. , but when he first heard rap at a block party, his life found a new purpose. At 11, he was participating in rap battles on the East Coast, and whenever he was in New York, crashing with his family in the Stapleton Houses projects in Staten Island, he killed time by seeing kung fu movies with his cousin Russell Jones. in the scuzzy theaters of Times Square. The duo quickly adopted a regular weekend habit: going to the movies, leaving, fighting with the moves they had learned, hopping the train home, fighting again, meeting other MCs , fought them, then got into rap battles with said MCs.
But it was Enter the dragon in particular – and another film by director Lau Kar-leung, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin– which changed Diggs’ life. “It was through these films that I was able to see and feel from a non-Western point of view,” he explained. He also took the unspoken message of the multicultural trio to heart, as he later said Countryside: “[Lee, Saxon, & Kelly] were all working together against the oppressor who was poisoning the people. If you add a few other things, it’s our country, bro! The dual ethos of martial arts films and the five percent Muslim teachings of his native New York prompted Diggs, in 1984, to surround Jones and his cousin Gary Grice to form their own rap group Force of the Imperial Master. , which has been changed. at least separate All In Together Now less than a year later. At the same time, Diggs formed another band, DMD Posse, with friends he had made in his Park Hill neighborhood in Staten Island: Clifford Smith Jr., Lamont Hawkins, Jason Hunter and Corey Woods. During a brief solo stint at Tommy Boy Records that involved a chintzy single titled “Ooh I Love You Rakeem”, Diggs moved to Steubenville, Ohio to live with his mother for a brief period.