O hip hop despediu-se de mais uma das suas lendas: Robert “Rocky” Ford Jr. perdeu a vida na passada quarta-feira, dia 20 de Maio. A notícia foi dada por Russell Simmons à HipHopDX, que, embora desconheça o motivo da morte, alertou para o facto do produtor e jornalista sofrer de diabetes.
A ligação de Ford Jr. ao hip hop começa em 1978, quando assinou o primeiro artigo impresso de sempre a falar do fenómeno urbano que estava a fazer furor nos bairros nova-iorquinos através da Billboard. Um ano depois da peça “B-Beats Bombarding Bronx” ter sido publicada — em 2012 foi recuperada pelo filho para o seu blogue pessoal — Robert aproximou-se de Kurtis Blow e produziu-lhe o single “Christmas Rappin’”, uma jogada importante que ajudou o então jovem de Manhattan a tornar-se no primeiro MC de sempre a assinar um contrato com uma editora major, nesse caso a Mercury Records. Em 1980, a parceria (com a ajuda de James B. Moore, Russell Simmons e Larry Smith) voltava a dar cartas com “The Breaks“, a primeira canção hip hop de sempre a alcançar o estatuto de single de ouro. As suas contribuições para o som de Blow garantiram-lhe ainda que fosse “samplado” cerca de 1000 vezes.
No depoimento deixado à HipHopDX — posteriormente partilhado no Instagram — Russell Simmons, co-fundador da Def Jam e um dos empresários mais bemsucedidos dentro do hip hop e da cultura urbana, reconheceu Ford Jr. como “mentor” na arte de gerir, promover e agenciar artistas.
Podem ouvi-lo a falar sobre a sua preenchida e importante carreira no episódio 91 do podcast The Cipher.
View this post on Instagram
My Guru or mentor Robert ford (far right) passed yesterday. When I met him he was a young writer at billboard magazine. He lived in queens and one day in spring of 1978 he was given a Rush Production flyer for DJ Hollywood and Kurtis Blow show by a 13 year old Joseph Simmons. He contacted me and wrote the first music trade story on rappers and how they was a hood phenomenon. He even put me in the story as The promoter (that was the first time I ever saw my name anywhere in the media). He believed in hip hop and me. Within a short time he was my guru. I was thrilled to sit by his feet and do whatever he recommended. He gave me a book (This Business of Music) and he enabled me to give a party for Kool and the Gang and their manager Bumby, who inspired me. I knew right then i wanted to be a manager. Next thing Robert and JB Moore (another billboard exec) produced my main artist and great friend @kurtisblow Christmas Rapping. I began “managing” Kurtis blow He told me that i should be careful and honest (not charge too much 10% ) and learn everything in site he said by being honest i would have my relationships forever He was right. In a world where ripping off artists or overreaching on deals was commonplace he stressed the importance of making your partner or artist successful and having deals that when they look back they know you were fair. Around that time 12 inch records were the thing ..disco was hot ..Christmas rapping became the 2nd biggest 12 inch in the history of major labels , only the second 12 inch to be certified gold Behind Donna summer and Barbara Streisand’s “no more tears” Robert taught me to brand.. he put Kurtis’s blows image on the sleeve of the record “the breaks “ and he named him “ the king of rap “ He then taught me to produce and he built a label “street level records” where he put out the records i produced Action by Orange Krush the vocals by the great Allyson williams And Bubble Bunch by the late jimmy spicer .:these experiences shaped me and i will always cherish them Farewell my lifelong friend and mentor Robert Ford junior See u again when we are young and vibrant again Love Always