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Bill Stephney grew up playing in bands, but found his real intro to the music business in college, when he got involved in Adelphi University’s radio station WBAU. He became the music director as well as an on-air personality, overseeing a crew that included a young Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Doctor Dré, and more. Out of those connections, he became a key member of the legendary production collective The Bomb Squad, best-known for their game changing work with Public Enemy.

After college, Bill went to work as the first employee of a new record label called Def Jam, co-founded by his longtime friend Russell Simmons. Bill’s job was to get the label’s artists on the radio—something that sounds comparatively simple today, but was bordering on impossible back in 1985.

After his time at Def Jam, Bill went on to found two record labels, produce albums for comedy legend Paul Mooney, act as music supervisor for movies like CB4 and Boomerang, and even partner with Chris Rock on a humor newspaper.

Tracks featured in this episode:

  1. Mr. Bill Radio Show Vol 2 (WBAU) Spectrum City Flavor Flav, Chuck D, Hank Shocklee
  2. Like It Is - The Covert War Against Malcolm X
  3. The Beastie Boys, “Sabrosa”
  5. The Cipher Episode 185: Doctor Dré
  6. The Isley Brothers, “Fight the Power - Pt. 1& 2”
  7. Charlie Rich, “Behind Closed Doors”
  8. WBLS 107.5 New York - Frankie Crocker - Late 1970s
  9. Public Enemy, “M.P.E.”
  10. Mr. Bill Radio Show Vol 2 (WBAU) Spectrum City Flavor Flav, Chuck D, Hank Shocklee
  11. Spectrum City featuring Chuckie Dee, Butch Cassidy and Townhouse III, “Fresh From the Back of the N41”
  12. The db’s, “I Read New York Rocker”
  13. Brooklyn Boheme (Official Trailer)
  14. World Of Rock and Dance
  15. Steve Ochs on
  16. Beastie Boys, “She’s On It”
  17. Beastie Boys, “B-Boy Bouillabaisse”
  18. Vanessa Williams, “The Right Stuff (Extended Version)”
  19. Vanessa Williams, “(He’s Got) The Look (Dance Version)”
  20. Bel Biv DeVoe, “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?”
  21. Bel Biv DeVoe, “Poison”
  22. Public Enemy, “Public Enemy No.1”
  23. Rappin And Rocking The House / Funky Four Plus One More / 1979”
  24. Run-DMC, “Sucker M.C.’s (Krush-Groove 1)”
  25. The J.B.’s, “The Grunt (Part 1)”
  26. Public Enemy, “Rebel Without A Pause”
  27. Public Enemy, “Welcome to the Terrordome”
  28. Public Enemy - Night Of The Living Baseheads (Dope Version)
  29. Young Black Teenagers, “Nobody Knows Kelli”
  30. Son of Bazerk, “Change the Style”
  31. Ice Cube, “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted”
  32. Son of Bazerk, “This Band Gets Swivey on the Wheels”
  33. Tougher Than Leather 1988 Full Movie
  34. CB4 - I’m Black Y’all
  35. Tame Impala, “New Person, Same Old Mistakes“
  36. Beverly Hills Cop - Eddie Murphy Laugh
  37. Paul Mooney, “White Sensitivity”
  38. Paul Mooney, “Make My Teeth White”
  39. Paul Mooney, “Make My Teeth White”
  40. MTV Special Report on “Gangsta Rap” (1994)
  41. Fat Bag, “Possible Love”

Show notes:

  1. “Letter From the Publisher,” Sports Illustrated, Apr. 21, 1975
  2. Def Jam Joins Columbia Records
  3. “Roosevelt’s Eddie Murphy laughs his way to the top,” Newsday, Dec. 6, 1981
  4. Fat Bag, “Possible Love”
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