October 1981, Hampton Bays, NY: The First Long Island Rap Recording?

In December 2017, I went to Mr. Cheapo in Mineola digging for records to include on a Christmas mix. In the dollar bin, I found an album called Crystal Christmas for the 80's by The Rolling Snows. 

The back cover provides the following credits: rapper - Mike T (appearing courtesy of Golden Pyramid Records), vocals - Johnny Fox, guitars - Joe Drab, bass - Bill Heyman, drums - Dennis Raven, keyboards - David Lebolt, alto sax - Johnny Ice, congas/all percussion - Milton Cardona, and piano/cat synthesizer - Joe Khejl. The album was produced and arranged by Gilla Nolan and John Talimini, engineered by Denny McNerney of Bolognese Recording Studio in Merrick, and manufactured by Pros in Motion of Hampton Bays. The recording was done in October of 1981. 

The rapper, Mike T, appears to have released one single called "Do It Any Way You Wanna," also in 1981. It's unclear if he's from Long Island or elsewhere in the Tri-State Area, as his label, Golden Pyramid Records, was based in Fanwood, New Jersey. Nonetheless, this Christmas album was almost definitely made on Long Island (either in Merrick or Hampton Bays) and features Mike T rapping on the "Frosty the Snow Man," "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer," and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" pieces of the Medley that occcupies all of Side A. Thus, Crystal Christmas for the 80's includes what just might be some of the earliest Long Island rap recordings.

Other points of interest: engineer Denny McNerney went on to produce Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It"; percussionist Milton Cardona has appeared on countless jazz and salsa recordings, including albums by the likes of Dave Valentin and Willie Colon; and keyboardist David Lebolt, who played a Prophet-5 synth on this album, went on to become an executive with Avid Technology's Digidesign division, makers of Pro Tools. 

The other musicians on this album have few documented credits between them, and this appears to be the only release from The Rolling Snows, which leads me to think Crystal Christmas for the 80's was something of a one-off novelty record conceived by Hamptonite "producers" (i.e., people with money, likely under the influence of the day's recreational substance of choice; see Santa's shades on the cover) and executed by studio musicians, who one hopes were fairly compensated for their efforts. 

With that, Long Island Rap Records wishes you a safe, healthy and happy holiday. Look out for LIRR03, coming sometime in 2021.

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