Comprised of Ice Dog, L. A. Kid, Monty G, Tone Love and DJ Too Tuff, the Tuff Crew was among Philadelphia’s first major Hip Hop groups.
The group toured the U.S. as a support act for 2 Live Crew, and released four albums. In a recent interview with Unkut.com, DJ Too Tuff discussed the earliest days of Philly Hip Hop, and what it was like to tour with some of Hip Hop’s biggest stars.
In the interview, DJ Too Tuff recalled his earliest memories of Hip Hop in his hometown. “There was a park called Harp park and we all had keys to it, so we used to go and do breakdance battles, motherfuckers had linoleum out there on the ground, and me and Yo-Yo had big-ass speakers and there were a couple of other DJ’s in Philly that used to do block parties,” explained Too Tuff. “At this time, breakdancing and graffiti had more of an influence than Hip Hop, it was a total culture shock to people. Once we saw Beat Street, it was on! We would put an extension cord out in the front of the fuckin’ house or onto the basketball court and just play out there. We started going to dollar house parties, and Ice would come and rhyme at ‘em.”
Too Tuff provided some context for a lyric by another famous Philly Hip Hop group. “In Philly, before the deejay came out, there were sound crews that used to run around with big-ass SWAT vans and they had speakers stacked in there at a place called The Plateau. That’s what Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince was talking about, ‘There’s a place called The Plateau, where everybody go.’ That’s how Hip Hop in Philly started, out in the park.”
After forming the Tuff Crew and releasing their debut album Phanjam, the Philly collective had an opportunity to tour with some of Hip Hop’s then-biggest stars. “Before Dirty South music came out, we were like kings in Miami. Luke Skyywalker brought us down on the Move Somethin’ tour with 2 Live Crew, Shy-D, Tone Loc, De La Soul, Rob Base and EZ Rock, EPMD,” explained Too Tuff. “…After we started doing Tuff Crew, Ice used to come out on the streets and battle niggas at Splash parties and shit like that. Ice was the battle boy with Mechanism and me cuttin’. He also had the equipment and speakers and all that shit. Overnight I was at the Spectrum, and I’m seeing Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and Steady B and Schoolly D. Cutmaster DC, Salt ‘N Pepa, LL was there, it was a Philly vs. New York battle.”