Filmmaker Andreas Vingaard ‘s “8 Million Stories” – his series of video portraits of classic New Yorkers – continues with an excellent interview with Alonzo Brown , a/k/a Mr. Hyde, who partnered with longtime friend Andre Harrell in early ’80s rap duo, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde . A life-long Harlemite, Alonzo revisits the site of the Harlem World club on 116th Street and Lenox (now a Conway’s) and recalls the venue’s early days as “ground zero” for hip-hop back in the day. Also, how his rap career began as “Lonnie Love” on Nia Records and how he and Harrell’s suit-ed image led to the nickname, “The Champagne of Rap.” Peep the vid and check out some additional notes by Andreas below.
Alonzo is a born and bred Harlemite. He got his first dose of Hip Hop at the historical Harlem establishment The Renaissance Ballroom. Known as the Renny, it was located on Lenox Avenue and 137th Street, and had a long history as a casino, venue and cinema. One particular night at the Renny, Lovebug Starski’s performance left a lasting impression on Alonzo. It was then that he found his calling and started practicing his skills on the mic.
Through Alonzo’s older brother he would meet future partner-in-rhyme Andre Harrell. Later they formed the group Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, got signed by Profile Records and left us with such urban anthems as “Fast Life”, “Gettin’ Money” and of course the masterful “Genius Of Rap”. Before Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde recorded anything though, Alonzo put out a song, “Young Ladies”, under the name Lonnie Love, produced by the Aleem Twins.
Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde were known to perform at Harlem World, located on 116th Street and Lenox Avenue. The establisment was owned by “Fat Jack” Taylor, a legend in Harlem, and the mastermind behind Rojac and Tayster Records. Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde eventually became close with both Fat Jack and his right hand man OC Tolbert. Alonzo even wrote a song for OC who had been recording Soul and Gospel music since the late 60’s. By 1986 the Champagne of Rap, as Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde were sometimes referred to because of their welldressed appereances released their last 12” single.