DJ Tat Money  The Love Don't Die Pt.1

Like The Bronx before it and the Bay Area after, Philadelphia in the late '80s was a breeding ground for superlative Hip Hop DJs. Everybody knows Jazzy Jeff and Cash Money, but those who were fans during that golden era will also remember one Terence Alan Thomas aka DJ Tat Money.

Tat Money started out in 1986 as the DJ for Philly rapper Steady B. They released four albums together - introducing the artists Cool C and Three Times Dope along the way - before Tat moved on to assist polka-dotted rapper Kwame behind the wheels. More recently Tat has been putting in work on the mixtape circuit and touring overseas.

These days Tat has a daughter and a home studio and is "still looking for that next hot cat" because - as he puts it - the love don't die. His DJ track 'Rockin' Music' featured in our Tribute To Scratching mix and a quick e-mail to say thanks turned into an impromptu interview that went on - quite literally - to the break of dawn. Here's Part 1 of the edited highlights.

Hey Tat!

What the deal cousin? Took me a minute.

No problem – gave me some time to think of some questions. How did you come across the site by the way?

I did a search on my name looking for this old website that I had up. I saw takeyourradio.com and was like wow! That's so crazy that you have a site with that name. It's like umpteen years later. [1]

What can I say – we're fans. The guy who runs this site with me is still looking for a copy of the 'Ceereeus BDP Remix'. [2]

Good luck. I have cats here asking me for that like crazy. That record broke us in Philly and I guess all over. KRS was on fire with that. We were in the studio with him and he asked me if I wanted the Turtles beat or some [Big Daddy] Kane sounding shit. I was like "Give me the Turtles man!" and he made the beat right there on the spot.

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Ok, let's go back to the beginning. How did you get into music in general and specifically Hip Hop?

Man I was into the funk back in the days. I would buy records with my allowance. I was buying 45s and my pops was like "What are you doing?". I was into it like that. Hip Hop comes from R&B so it wasn't hard to make that happen. Basically it was 'Rappers Delight' - you know that was made from Chic 'Good Times'. Actually both songs were derived from what we call the original Rappers Delight - it's a Brazilian record that was out in the 70's. I was a music lover like shit so when I heard them rhyming I was in heaven. I felt like they were talking to me.

And how did you get your start in the music business?

Basically I was a bedroom DJ. I would go to my old neighbourhood with tapes that I made during the week and I would give them to the cats with the boom boxes. Steady heard about me from that and house parties and he came looking for me. I worked in a local record store called Funkomart.

What kind of sounds were you playing at that time?

Oh crazy hip hop. It was stuff like 'It's Time' by Al Naafiysh [Hashim's 'The Soul'], Jive Rhythm Tracks 122 BPM. Real fast stuff so you could kill it. 'Tour De France' - Kraftwerk. And mad break beats - we was on some shit. We would rock like 'Sugar Walls' by Sheena Easton. Anything where you could go off.

Were you into scratching at this stage or did that come later?

Man I was in it like that. That's the first thing I learned to do. Mixing came later for me. I would sit there and just cut one record for hours.

At one time it seemed as if all the best DJs were from Philadelphia, what with you, Cash Money, and Jazzy Jeff.

Thanks. I heard from Cash that we were considered the top three in the world at that time. He had gone to London I believe and saw that in a publication. That blew my mind. That's because it was so competitive here at that time. Man I would come home from school and just practice for hours.