Remembering DJ Mister Cee, pioneering hip-hop broadcaster

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Mister Cee’s buddy and fellow Sizzling 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg remembers the longtime hip-hop DJ and radio host who often launched his viewers and the file business to new expertise.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

DJ Mister Cee has died.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “DEATH OF AUTOTUNE”)

JAY-Z: (Rapping) I made this only for Flex and Mister Cee. I need individuals to really feel threatened.

CHANG: As Jay-Z notes proper there, Mister Cee was a hip-hop DJ and radio host for satellite tv for pc radio, for 94.7 The Block within the New York Metropolis space and, earlier than that, for New York’s Sizzling 97. And one factor about him – he was at all times introducing his viewers and file business to new expertise.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “JUICY”)

THE NOTORIOUS B I G: (Rapping) It was all a dream. I used to learn Phrase Up! journal.

CHANG: Mister Cee was an early advocate and producer for the Infamous B.I.G., and he began his personal profession in music because the DJ for the rapper Huge Daddy Kane, whom he grew up with in Brooklyn.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MISTER CEE’S MASTER PLAN”)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST: (Rapping) Who’s the person with the grasp plan?

MISTER CEE: DJ Mister Cee.

CHANG: With us now could be Mr. Cee’s buddy and fellow Sizzling 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg. Hello.

PETER ROSENBERG: Hello. How are you?

CHANG: I am good. I am so sorry on your loss. Are you able to simply clarify to individuals why Mister Cee was such an enormous deal within the hip-hop world?

ROSENBERG: The in all probability most evident is Biggie. I imply, if Infamous B.I.G. is possibly essentially the most impactful or some of the impactful artists who’s ever lived, it is laborious to image that story taking place with out Mister Cee.

CHANG: Yeah. Inform us about that historical past, how he grew to become such an enormous issue and the way Infamous B.I.G. acquired so standard.

ROSENBERG: So Cee would positively need me to credit score Biggie’s first DJ, who was a man named 50 Grand. And whereas Biggie and 50 Grand have been engaged on a demo, doing their factor, Mister Cee was the DJ who was really linked to the business. He was the one who may get him totally different locations, and he performed the connector for Biggie. Typically it is extra sophisticated than rapper and DJ or artist and DJ, no matter it could be. There are these different individuals who play roles, and Cee was a connector for Biggie Smalls.

CHANG: Let’s speak about what he was like as a radio host. I imply, he was a number for many years. You are a number, too. You perceive the craft, the artwork. How would you describe Mister Cee’s fashion, his presence on air?

ROSENBERG: He was a hurricane.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MISTER CEE: One other version of “Late Evening With Mister Cee.” Name me up, New York – 1-800-223…

ROSENBERG: He was like an organized hurricane.

CHANG: I really like that.

ROSENBERG: Yeah, as a result of – the hurricane half is that he was simply so huge and impactful and loud. You understand, if you activate the radio and also you heard, it is the finisher, Mister Cee…

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MISTER CEE: The finisher, Mister Cee. My man Huge Dennis holding it down for Fatman Scoop.

ROSENBERG: Like, you knew you have been listening to a man who believed in each phrase that he was saying. However one factor that must be harassed – I’ve by no means – in my now 30 years of DJing, I’ve by no means recognized a extra meticulous, ready deejay than Mister Cee.

CHANG: Wow.

ROSENBERG: The reminiscence that each one of us kind of share of him across the radio station is strolling round along with his laptop computer always working.

CHANG: That is wonderful.

ROSENBERG: He referred to his laptop computer because the Bible.

CHANG: (Laughter).

ROSENBERG: And – as a result of it had every little thing. He was most well-known, DJing smart, for the mixes that he – the Throwback at Midday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GHOSTFACE KILLAH: Yo. It is your man, Tony Starks from the Theodore Unit, representing that Wu Clan. Proper now we will take it again with my man Mister Cee, straight up and down the throwback fashion.

ROSENBERG: He would have an organized, curated combine that will not solely have their hits however have rarities that will completely blow your thoughts, and they’d be cleaned up for the radio and ready. There was no one like Mister Cee in that regard.

CHANG: It’s so cool to listen to you describe how intentional and deliberate he was about his work. I wish to return to a fairly troublesome interval in his life. I am speaking about 2013. That is when Mister Cee’s sexuality grew to become the topic of quite a lot of dialog within the hip-hop neighborhood. And, you already know, he even talked about it on air. He briefly resigned from Sizzling 97 due to it. And he mentioned on the time – I am quoting right here – “I’m uninterested in attempting to do one thing or be one thing that I’m not.” Do you personally have a way of what it was like for him to undergo that point? Did you guys speak about what that have was like for him?

ROSENBERG: Yeah. He did undergo rather a lot throughout that interval. We had him on our present within the morning. You understand, we had a dialog about sexuality in that approach, homosexuality, all of those various things. However within the years that adopted – and that is actually some of the impactful issues I’ve ever seen with anybody in my life – he grew to become a special particular person.

CHANG: What do you imply?

ROSENBERG: Effectively, when every little thing got here to gentle and he was in a position to take possession of all of it, he went on our buddy Meno’s (ph) podcast – it is, like, a really Brooklyn, road sort of podcast – and, when requested about it, was like, yeah, I am into transgender ladies. That is what I am into. His skill to try this gave him a freedom and happiness and lightweight that none of us had ever seen. One story that we at all times reference that was fairly common was that once we did our morning present and he would are available subsequent to do the noon present, on a Monday, you didn’t wish to see Monday Cee. Monday Cee was no enjoyable. And by the point you bought to Friday, Friday Cee was a pleasure. After which within the years that went on, after every little thing got here to gentle, he was simply at all times Friday Cee on a regular basis.

CHANG: Effectively, Peter, you are clearly somebody who’s not only a former colleague. You’re a buddy who has a lot love for this man. How would you like individuals to recollect Mister Cee not simply as an artist however as an individual?

ROSENBERG: From my vantage level, because the Jewish man who got here up from Maryland and was on Sizzling 97 and no one knew who I used to be…

CHANG: (Laughter).

ROSENBERG: …And why I used to be even there within the first place 17 years in the past after I acquired right here, he’s as supportive a colleague as you could possibly ever discover. He – actually this previous Sunday, he was selling the truth that one in every of my different former colleagues, Jen (ph), had simply gotten employed at his radio station, and he did that with everybody. And in addition, I would be remiss if I did not point out, I imply, he is known as the finisher as a result of, you already know, after he performs, the celebration’s over. You may’t go on after him.

CHANG: (Laughter).

ROSENBERG: When you noticed Mister Cee DJ, it was like a full-body expertise. He is lined in sweat. His entire physique is shifting. He is yelling and screaming and mixing and scratching.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MISTER CEE: That is how sizzling it’s in New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HOOD BOY (FEAT. BIG BOI)”)

FANTASIA BARRINO: (Singing) Yeah.

MISTER CEE: My iPhone shut down as a result of the iPhone mentioned it was too sizzling.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HOOD BOY (FEAT. BIG BOI)”)

BARRINO: (Singing, inaudible).

MISTER CEE: We again at it.

ROSENBERG: It’s a whole expertise and journey that he takes you on each time he DJs, so I would be remiss to say that that should not be on the high of the checklist of qualities that must be talked about additionally.

CHANG: Peter Rosenberg, host at Sizzling 97 in New York and ESPN radio, thanks so, a lot for serving to us bear in mind your buddy.

ROSENBERG: Thanks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HOOD BOY (FEAT. BIG BOI)”)

BARRINO: (Singing) Wifebeaters and denims, at all times within the lure…

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