Treacherous Three

One of the first rap groups on record, Treacherous Three recorded for both of the major old school labels (Enjoy, Sugar Hill) and introduced a faster style of rapping (dubbed speed rapping) that influenced the later course of hip-hop. Formed by a trio of Harlem high-school friends -- Kool Moe Dee (Mohandas Dewese) and L.A. Sunshine (Lamar Hill), plus DJ Easy Lee (Theodore Moy'e) -- the group picked up a formerly Bronx-based MC named Special K (Kevin Keaton) and became Treacherous Three. Just after the group began performing in 1978, they learned that another friend, Spoonie Gee, who'd recently recorded his first single, was about to record again for Bobby Robinson's Enjoy label. They practiced for months (with Kool Moe Dee especially spending time working on his speed raps) and recorded "The New Rap Language," which furnished the B-side for Spoonie Gee's 1980 single "Love Rap." "The New Rap Language" upped the ante for all other active rappers, and sparked a pair of Enjoy classics: "The Body Rock" and "At the Party" (the latter slightly cribbed from Grandmaster Flash's "Birthday Party"). By 1981, Treacherous Three had moved to Sugar Hill, following fellow Enjoy act Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. The singles "Feel the Heart Beat" and "Whip It" were classic rap party jams, benefiting from Sugar Hill's crack-house band: bassist Doug Wimbish, guitarist Skip McDonald, and drummer Keith LeBlanc. One of their live jams with Funky Four Plus One appeared on a long-playing 12" titled Live Convention '81 (Disco Wax), and the trio made the jump to the screen with 1984's Beat Street, in which they performed "Xmas Rap" with the debut of Doug E. Fresh, but broke up soon after. Kool Moe Dee initially attended college, but began a successful solo career by 1986, while Special K put out his own solo single in 1987, and DJ Easy Lee did a little production work. Treacherous Three reunited in 1993 to record their first LP, Old School Flava. ~ John Bush

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