African American Studies
This is was a two-person interview by Dr. Naison. The interviewees go back and forth speaking in the transcription.
Stephanie Woods was born on May 4th 1966 in Fordham Hospital in the Bronx. Her family was living at the 439 Crotona Park North in a private house until 1991. Stephanie’s mother was born and raised in Harlem. Stephanie’s father was from Danville, VA. Stephanie mentions that he mother loved Hip-Hop and was the reason for life long love of Hip-Hop as her mother was the one who introduced her to it and would take her to street event, known as jams. She talks about attending PS 92 and CS 44, where she met rapper Doug E. Fresh.
Todd was born in Harlem, NY. His family moved to 1075 Sheridan, then to 1188 Grand Concourse on 167th Street. Todd’s mother is from the South, from a little town called Williamsburg, VA. His father’s roots are Caribbean based; his family is from the Bahamas. He attended ABC and PS110. His mother worked for the school system and she would place Todd in certain schools she wanted him to be at.
Stephanie goes on to recall hearing Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, 5th Dimension, straight up R&B music before the advent of Hip-Hop. On Sundays she would listen to Gospel music in her house, but she did not go to church on Sundays, she would only go to Church on Sundays when she was in the South.
Todd starts to talk about Joe Cuba, Max Roach, Lena Thorne, Nina Simone, and the Inkspots. He mentions that his cousin name Presweet, a graffiti writer from Washington Avenue was a graffiti king and they would listen to mixtapes and bounce around or “boing”. He says he first did it at the age of three years old. He states that his parents would take him with them to after-hours clubs, exposing him to DJ’s. He mentions that the social scene was mixed with Black and Latino. Todd talks about the different groups and artists he heard during his time.
Stephanie says that her club scene exposure was mostly Black. She states that to her, it was not a big deal growing up in the Bronx during the time that was considered the era of urban decay and blight. She mentions about how even on the streets that had no working streetlights and after a shootout, she and her friends would still go out the next night on that same street as if nothing ever happened.
Todd states that he will always love the South Bronx streets, its breaks and the beats. He says he loves the smell of the air, the people, the bass, the Spanish kids as they walk talking to Black kids, being a collage.
Stephanie goes on to talk about how her parents emphasized getting an education, her father more so than her mother, wanting to make sure she went to college. She went ro Roosevelt HS but she did not graduate, she obtained her GED instead.
Todd talks about after his parents splitting, he at first had to work two jobs and then three job to help out his mother because she wanted to send him to Devry. His mother went to suggest that he should enlist himself in the army so that Todd can stop struggling. He was in the First Gulf war.
Stephanie explains that he first Hip Hop experience was in Crotona Park at around the age of 10 in the mid 70’s. She would dance with her mother at the jams at first and then she would dance with her friends and she got older.
Todd goes on to explain that boing-ing had not yet evolved into break dancing. He started DJ-ing at 7 years old and started playing outdoor parties and events at 11 years old, calling himself “The Flash”. Todd states that he did graffiti with a crew that called themselves “Talented Rascals” starting at 15 years old. They would write graffiti or tagging at train yards, trucks, rooftops and handball courts. After the military he started Dj-ing part time, at first at strip clubs, which he disliked, but eventually at regular clubs after he built up a reputation. He would go on to DJ at various locations, some in Virginia. Besides DJ-ing, he also worked in collections, as a furniture salesman and is currently working at Homeland Security.
Stephanie then talks about that after high school she did not stay involved in Hip Hop. She worked at Cosmo Communication, Burger King, McDonalds, and Blue Cross for 14 years, and at the World Trade Center. She got involved in a Brooklyn Hip Hop parade being organized by a friend of hers. She used her Bronx origin to get in contact with originators of Hip Hop music like Cool Herc, Cold Crush Brothers. Fable from Rocksteady Crew saw her pictures and he said she should get paid and take pictures professionally. She has sold pictures to Hip Hop newspapers and Vibe magazine.
They conclude with remarks about the pride that they both have of the fact that they are from the Bronx and their deep love of Hip Hop music.
Stephanie Woods and Todd McKinney, September 16, 2009, Interview with the Bronx African American History Project, BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University