Kool Rock Steady, a hip-house originator and honorary inductee into the U.S. Dance Music Hall of Fame had many styles and so much to accomplish. Unfortunately, he passed away way too soon and you’re hard pressed to find a radio station in Chicago other than us keeping the history alive.
While he was heard in the mixes “Bad Boy Bill Is In The Mix… Understand” as well as “Make It Funky Julian Perez”, it was hip-house that would be his claim to fame.
I find it amazing that many people don’t know that Chicago is the home and birthplace for house music. Think about this; the city that killed disco gave birth to the genre that is a standard of dance music around the world today.
In the beginning… there was JACK and from JACK came ‘acid house’ and ‘hip-house’
Kool Rock Steady was one of the originators of this trend set way back in the mid 1980s
Cousin to the icon Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Rock was born Edward Rudolph and a Chicagoan through and through. His mother was a doting, loving wonderful lady he referred to as Ms. Big Stuff. “Big Stuff” was a very important part of his life and so were his daughter and brother.
Kool Rock’s style was smooth, flawless, he’d diss and go to war with anyone on the mic – and he did.
Such an unmistakable flow and sound, Kool Rock had a style that deserved far more recognition than he ever received and far more credit than anyone would give him at that time. In fact, he had many styles.
From the late ’80s on, sales were through the roof, he and Tyree Cooper teamed up for the massive hit “Turn Up The Bass” and more. Anything his voice was on was bangin’ in the mixes on WBMX and across the planet.
Kool Rock was very tight with U.S. Dance Music Hall of Fame DJ Bad Boy Bill as well as Tyree Cooper, Rico Pizarro, and others which would explain why they’re all over each of his records as remixer and producer. They’ve all made amazing contributions to the dance community through the years. Other Chicago notables in this genre include Fast Eddie, White Knight and more.
In 1991, when I first had a chance to work with Kool Rock, I had him do the rap on a song I produced with Omar Oh-Oh Santana called Sinnerman (an old Sarah Dash disco song) along with other notable and lost tracks. Kool Rock sparkled as he ‘did his part’. The song was a hit and licensed in Germany, Italy, France, the Benelux countries, UK, most of Asia including Japan, Australia and Brazil.
From there he went on to work with Rico Pizarro and then Bad Boy Bill again for the 1993 hit “Yolanda” with a new act known as Reality (with Bad Boy Bill) on Strictly Rhythm records. Barri G, one of the label’s big wigs had told me it was one of her favorite songs of the year from the mighty NYC dance label.
In 1996, Kool Rock and Bad Boy Bill came by my office, I was running a company I’d later sell to Promo Only. We put artist’s music on CDs and send off 500 copies each month to radio stations for promo, picking up and filling the holes the labels had left as they began to service certain markets less.
Our niche was the Gavin P2 stations that we’d service in accordance with Jeff McCluskey & Assoc. We had five different formats and one of them was called ON THE RADIO. Bill and Kool Rock brought the DAT by of “So Far Away” and I was thrilled, it was a radio record, a bit of a play on “When Somebody Loves You Back” by Teddy Pendergrass but only in the melody, it was pure Kool Rock, in singing voice “stylee”. I told them I’d put it on the next issue of our ON THE RADIO and see what we could do. I was thrilled, we were able to that song added to 42 of those Gavin P2’s. Unfortunately, our dear friend passed away at that time.
Kool Rock was an amazing talent and a ton of fun to be around. Under that bad-ass, tough-guy persona was really a warm, wonderful spirit whose life ended way too soon.
Kool Rock passed away on August 7th, 1996.
Bad Boy Bill produced a beautiful, graceful and emotional intro to an amazing tribute, a highlight of Kool Rock’s amazing pioneering style.
You’ll hear Bad Boy Bill, Chicago dance music community icons and an amazing mix below along with Kool Rock’s videos and music.
The Beat Chicago