Chilly B of Newcleus: A Tribute
Left to right: Chilly B, Nique D, Lady E & Cosmo D, circa 1983
We received some sad news today; Bob Crafton, who we all know as Chilly B from Brooklyn electro funk / old school rap crew Newcleus passed away yesterday at only 47 years old. He suffered a massive stroke over the weekend which left him in a coma, and Doctors said that even if he was to miraculously recover, he would be left unable to function. Yesterday, February 24 his family made the decision to turn off the life-support and he passed on shortly after. Rest in peace.
He is survived by his wife Valerie and his sons Justin, Jason, Joshua and Isaiah, and of course his old crew Newcleus, to all of whom we wish all the best.
Newcleus was formed in 1981, but the story goes back further than that. Their origins go back to 1976, to a little DJ/MC crew called Jam On Productions. Ben “Cosmo D” Cenac, his homeboy David “Dr. Freeze” St. Louis, and Ben’s cousins Monique “Nique D” Angevin and her brother Pete “Master Quadro” Anvgevin — all of whom were still in high school at the time, were rocking wild block parties all around the borough in Brooklyn. Many other MCs and DJs came and went as they were ripping up shows, and by 1979 the primary members were Cosmo D, Yvette “Lady E” Cook, Nique D and her future husband Chilly B. They first called themselves Positive Messenger, but later came up with the name Newcleus, representing the coming together of their families.
Cosmo D had been slowly building up a collection of recording gear, and they put together a little demo. Funnily enough, it was the after-thought at the end of the tape — an old favourite from their time playing block parties with the vocals sped up to sound like Alvin & The Chipmunks that caught the attention of record producer Joe Web that went on to be their first hit single. We know you know what track we are talking about here; Jam On’s Revenge!
Jam On’s Revenge was a hit on the street, and earned itself the nickname “Wikki Wikki Song“, and when it was released later that year on Sunnyview Records (where many more dope Newcleus singles were also to be released) later that year they even added it to the title. While It was their biggest hit commercially, reaching the top 40 on the US rnb charts, the track they are best known for to most old school hip hop fans today was released a few years later in 84: Jam On It. With a classic funk bassline written and played by Chilly B, a fat old school 808 beat, dope old school party raps and of course the famous sped up chipmunk vocals, there was not a hip hop Dj around who didn’t have it in his box, and bboys went wild for it.
The accompanying track is the club version of Computer Age (Push The Button), released on Sunnyview Records in 1984. We’ve seen it described as a “more mature single” from Newcleus, but we don’t know about any of that — never mind mature, it’s a straight dancefloor rocking electro funk party jam! — as heard in OSC-001′s Freakbeats Volume 1 electro mix for Cold Crushin’ Mixes. It also appears on Newcleus’ first album, Jam On Revenge
Their second album, Space Is The Place was released in 1985, and while not considered a success commercially (like WE give a shit about any of that) it featured some dope classics like I Wanna Be a Bboy, Cyborg Dance, Let’s Jam, and Space Is The Place (not be be confused with the Jonzun Crew track of the same name). Apart from just being dope, Newcleus are also notable for being one of the first hip hop bands — they played all their instruments live. After Space is The Place, they released a few more singles here and there before laying down the beatbox in 1989, until 2005, when Cosmo D released the album Destination Earth: The Definitive Newcleus Recordings. Basically a best-of album, taking a selection of tracks from their old catalogue, and they also released a single on German electro bass label Dominance Electricity, featuring some new remixes by Sbassship and Reeno.
Newcleus were also working on a new album, called Returned To Earth, but it’s been a few years now since there has been any news on it. Naturally, Cold Crush will keep you posted on that shit!
Ps, There are plenty of Newcleus releases for sale at the official Jam On Productions online store. Check it out because by buying from there you are supporting the artists directly, which you know we are all for baby!
Ok, we’re out for now — peace to Chilly B, Newcleus and fam.