Sunday, April 6, 2014

Whodini - Magic's Wand

Brooklyn rappers Whodini were pioneers in the emerging New York rap scene, and are especially notable for their musical approach, which combined R&B with rapping.  As a result, many critics credit the band with laying the groundwork for the New Jack Swing genre that took off at the end of the decade.

The group consisted of Jalil Hutchins and Ecstasy (John Fletcher).  From 1986 on, the act also included DJ Grandmaster Dee (Drew Carter).  The group originally formed when DJ John "Mr. Magic" Rivas asked an intern (Jalil Hutchins) to write a song for the Rap Attack show (originally on WHBI, then on WBLS in New York).  Hutchins wrote and recorded a song, but decided that he needed another voice, and asked Ecstasy (a rival rapper) to join him.  "Magic's Wand" became the theme song for the Rap Attack show and eventually led to a recording contract for Hutchins and Ecstasy.

The act was named Whodini due to the single "Magic's Wand".  Interestingly, Thomas Dolby co-produced the band's debut record on Jive Records -- Dolby had become interested in rap, as many early artists used electronic music, and Dolby had sent a demo recording to Jive Records, who proceeded to hook him up with Whodini.  Small world, huh?

The video for "Magic's Wand" was one of the first rap videos made, but did not receive much airplay on MTV.  Along the same lines, the group picked up airplay on urban stations but never crossed over, and saw their popularity decline during the 1980's, hurt by management and label changes.  While Whodini's output dropped over the years, they remain together and still perform as of this writing.

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