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Power Play: The Most Revered Studio In Queens

Power Play: Rap Icons Revisit Legendary Queens Recording Studio

Published Tue, October 4, 2022 at 1:10 PM EDT

Power Play is one of the most important, influential recording studios in Hip-Hop history.

Founder Tony Arfi opened the studio's doors in April of 1980 at 38-12 and 37-20 30th St. in Long Island City, a few miles from his childhood home in Astoria, Queens. Power Play soon became the recording home of Spyder D, Kool G. Rap, Main Source, Hurby Azor, Biz Markie, Boogie Down Productions, Davy DMX, EPMD, Kid 'n Play and Eric B. & Rakim. Many of rap music's most revered albums were recorded at the legendary studio.

Queensbridge and Juice Crew legend Roxanne Shanté revealed her love for the famed recording spot. "My favorite studio in Queens? Power Play," she recalled. "First recording studio I ever went to. In fact, it was the last recording studio I went to! Big shoutout to everyone over there on Steinway Street that made it do what it do right there behind the bridal shop!"

Power Play is a monument to Hip-Hop, not just Queens

- Cormega

"Power Play is a monument to Hip-Hop, not just Queens," said Queensbridge MC Cormega. "Power Play should be made into a museum. When you talk about greats, KRS-ONE and Boogie Down Productions were recording there, The Juice Crew recorded at Power Play as well as Nas and Erc B & Rakim. When I was there I tried to absorb all that energy because so many of the Golden Era albums were recorded there."

Havoc of Mobb Deep shares Cormega's love of Power Play. "My favorite Queens recording studio is hands down Power Play, really very close to Long Island City, Queens," he said. "It's special to me because before I became who I wanted to be when I was aspiring to become a producer and a Hip-Hop artist, all the artists of the time went to Power Play. Marley Marl, Large Professor, Kool G Rap, and even Boogie Down Productions recorded at Power Play. It was one of those mythical places that you wanted to be in at the time, but you couldn't because you were still trying to make it."

If I didn't take the train to Power Play to meet Spyder D I wouldn't exist.

- Doc "DJ Doc" Rodriguez - Power Play Engineer

Power Play birthed legendary engineer Doc Rodriguez who engineered both Criminal Minded by Boogie Down Productions and Paid In Full by Eric B. and Rakim, both at Power Play. Doc started as a supplier of audio equipment for Power Play founder Tony Arfi, and he was eventually asked to engineer at the studio, something that he originally had no interest in. Doc took classes at the Center for Media Arts and within a year he became the most productive engineer at the studio.

"My credits went from special thanks and shout outs to assisted by then engineer and producer," he told Rock The Bells.

The late and legendary engineer Patrick Adams played an important role at Power Play also. In addition to engineering Paid In Full with Elai Tubo, Arfi told Rock The Bells that Patrick Adams was exposed to rap records early by witnessing the recording of classic records like "One For the Treble" by Davy DMX.

"Patrick was involved in all of Salt N Pepa's early stuff and he is also responsible for the really deep kick drum on 'Paid In Full.'"

To me Power Play was the Mecca. It gave me a future"

- Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor

The Legendary producer Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor who is responsible for Salt N Pepa, Sweet T, Kid N Play and Dana Dane spoke on why he prefers Power Play in the trailer of an upcoming Power Play documentary.

"To me, Power Play was the Mecca. It gave me a future," Azor said. "I don't know if I'd ever be able to do it in one of the Manhattan studios. Those guys were expensive and they were tight and sterile. Power Play was laid back. It made you feel like creating."

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