Published Wed, March 15, 2023 at 12:04 PM EDT
Mr. Magic made an indelible impact on Hip-Hop mainly via his Mr. Magic's Rap Attack on WBLS where he served as a personality and curator, essentially acting as a tastemaker for what was dope along with his engineer all-star DJ Marley Marl.
Magic's humble radio beginnings start in 1979 at New York radio station WHBI, which was a station that offered blocks of time to those who wished to broadcast there. The World's Famous Supreme Team and The Awesome 2 got their start at WHBI as well. Tyrone "Fly Ty" Williams who was friends with Magic since junior high school had both announcing and engineering licenses. Williams explained to The Foundation why these were important, and how Magic's lack of them set Magic & Ty on a course that would alter rap music forever.
Mr. Magic was a genius that came up with so many ideas, and he looked at rap as his baby. He was determined to blow it up.
- Tyrone "Fly Ty" Williams of Cold Chillin' Records
"I went to Delaware and worked for a year after I got my licenses and before you know it I'm in New York at WBLS," Ty remembered. "You have to understand the time. Radio people — sales people, engineers, other jocks did not like rap. They hated it. Mr. Magic didn't have an FCC license and in those days you had to have one to talk on the microphone on the radio."
Fly Ty said that because he and Magic were friends they often discussed their radio aspirations. "I remember when he first told me that he was going on the radio", Ty remembers. "He asked me to produce his show and by sheer coincidence, we got hired at WBLS the same week. If you didn't have an FCC license you could work under an engineer's license, but again the engineers thought that rap was ignorant and they saw Magic the same way. Magic was able to work on the radio under my license. I became the producer and engineer for Mr. Magic's Rap attack."
I gotta have it, I miss Mr. Magic.
- Nas - Halftime
The Rap Attack Show
WBLS program director and radio icon Frankie Crocker hired Mr. Magic and a powerful radio alliance was born. Fly Ty says that Magic purposely played music by unsigned artists because he wanted exclusives. "Magic was playing Dougie Fresh, The Fearless 4, Crash Crew and The Treacherous 3 before they had deals," Ty said. "Kids were going to the record stores asking for records that didn't exist. They heard them on The Rap Attack. Many record deals were made that way. The labels were coming to us."
Magic who was dubbed "Sir Juice" was part of the original Juice Crew, (originally known as The Fever Crew) - a group of Hip-Hoppers who were headquartered at The Disco Fever night Club. Sal Abbatiello, the Juice Crew founder, Melle Mel, Mike C of The Fearless 4, Whodini, and DJ June Bug were all Juice crew members before the name became associated with Marley Marl's rap collective.
Mr. Magic was even a recording artist, releasing the Spyder D produced "Magic's Message" in 1984. Profile Records released five volumes of Mr. Magic's Rap Attack, a series of compilations containing Profile artists curated by Mr. Magic. Whodini created a dedication to Mr. Magic with 1982's"Magic's Wand — their first single.
As a radio personality, Magic could be shrewd and merciless when reviewing music. Upon hearing Public Enemy's "Public Enemy Number 1," he declared on air that he didn't like it.
"Marley, the beat is dope but the rappin' is kinda weak. Let's not go through that no more, it ruins the program."
Magic's infamous "No more music by the suckers" in that same conversation would serve as the intro to "Cold Lampin' With Flavor" from It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Magic was also directly involved in the infamous "Bridge Wars." When he dissed "Success is The Word" —an early release by KRS-One from 1985 — KRS-ONE's beef with the Juice Crew was reportedly born of that diss. Mr. Magic passed of a heart attack on October 2, 2009.