Dj Eric Prince
Courtesy of the artist
Eric Prince (S.U.R.E. New York )
Eric expiereinced the beginning of the Hip-Hop movement first hand as he grew up in Harlem. In 1974 he started making pause mix tapes. He was soon able to save up enough money to buy his first turntables and mixer. He hooked up with a group of local teenagers who then started calling themselves The Fantastic Four. One of the many local crews that called themselves that. Their first residency was at an after hour space called Ja-Gazzy which they soon found out was owned by Harlem Gangster Nicky Barnes.
“What I learned from those experiences was how to read and control crowds through music. I didn't really know who Nicky was until much later. We reported to his cousin who managed this place but I remembered there were 3 floors. Laundromat on the ground floor. Restaurant on the second and Club/ Bar on the third.”
After a few years “The Fantastic Four” broke up and Eric started doing gigs on his own. Doing mostly Harlem underground spaces such as The Pit-Stop, This Bitter Earth, The Uptown Underground, and the Tradewinds. At the tender age of 17, he was one of the top DJ's in Harlem having residences in three different clubs.
One of his close family members, Anthony Bee introduced him to Tim Washington. Eric and Tim began doing parties together. With Eric behind the turntables and Tim behind the mic they were known as the King and the Prince. They made many mixtapes one of which would eventually land in the hands of Bill Curtis of the Fatback Band. Bill liked Tims' voice and was well aware of the growing Rap scene. Bill decided to make a record using Tim and the Fatback Band. This song, “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” is considered by many to be the first rap single of the Hip Hop era since it was released more than 5 months before Sugarhill Gangs Rappers Delight.
Eric continued doing residencies at popular and under ground clubs in Harlem. He became so well know, that he was asked to do studio work for some of the local record label owners such as Bobby Robinson (Enjoy Records), Paul Winley (Winley Records), and Oscar Richardson (PMP Records).
During the 80's Eric did a lot of studio work for PMP records. “PMP had its own studio but for bigger projects I would go out to Power Play studios in Queens. This is where I met and worked with legendary Songwriter/Producer Patrick Adams. He showed me a lot of studio tricks. Some I would use on my own projects. One of them was how he made the Bass drum sound so booming on Run-D-MC's My Adidas”. Eric was also introduced to Stephen Washington, the leader from the Funk group Slave during this time.
All of the things that "he thought" he knew about music changed with his first visit to the Paradise Garage on King Street in Greenwich Village. “I heard Larry Levan play and my whole mindset of what a DJ/Engineer was changed. The top 3 things that I learned from my Garage experience was:
1. A DJ/Engineer is a pioneer.
2. The great ones tread where it is un-comfortable for the pretenders.
3. If you are only playing what is heard on the top 40 radio stations, you are a juke box, not a DJ.”
During the 90's Eric taught and mentored other DJ's and kept producing local artists. During this time Eric was introduced to Bobby Davis Jr who was one of the founders of Spinners Unlimited Recording Enterprises (S.U.R.E.). Eric helped Bobby bring the Record Pool portion of S.U.R.E. To the World-Wide Web in 2005. “I kept telling Bobby that the internet is the next step. So, I got Bobby's permission and registered the name surecordpool.com in 1998. You know just to secure it because a lot of people were just snatching up names and selling them for huge sums of money. Bobby finally approached me to put together the website in 2005.”
Sadly, in December 2010 Bobby E. Davis passed away leaving the future of S.U.R.E.up in the air. Eric stepped up to the plate with another senior member of the Record Pool to keep S.U.R.E. going until today, 40+ years from its inception.
Currently, Eric has mixes available on most popular music platforms: