The year is 1994. It’s another sweltering June night in San Antonio, and hip-hop is in the air. Off Fredericksburg Road, Club Miami is packed and abuzz, anticipating the debut album from Alamo City teenage rap duo Spooky G and Black Jack — a full-length cassette titled Straight Doo-Dooism. Performers Divine Soul, Madd Skillz, Last Testament, Yellow Beard, and Origino grace the undercard, but it’s the Das EFX inspired upstarts the people have come to see. As Spooky G and Black Jack trade verses onstage, a teenage Louie Dollars watches somewhere in the crowd, entranced by the sonic funk.
Fast-forward to 2007. Thirty-one-year-old
Louie Dollars is cleaning out his garage. A fixture of the San Antonio hip-hop community as fan, artist, and entrepreneur, Dollars has been performing in groups and as a solo musician since the mid ’90s. He’s dropped memorable albums, cut colored wax, and even retired from the mic once or twice, depending on whom you ask. These days his focus is on honoring San Antonio’s forgotten old-school hip-hop artists via MySpace.
“It started as me being the hip-hop pack rat,” says Louie. “For years, anything that I saw — mostly Spooky G and Black Jack, P.K.O., and Brown Tribe — I saved. I held on to a piece of the history from that era, especially from ’88 to maybe like ’95. In those years, I was watching a lot of these cats do stuff, and these are the guys that put me on to emcee, which is why I started doing my thing. I wanted everybody to see it.”
As of last week, Old School SA Hip-Hop on My Space (myspace.com/oldschoolsahiphop) has garnered a respectable 12,662 views. Fans of the Alamo City’s hip-hop golden era can listen to a handful of tracks from influential artists such as P.K.O., Krazy Posse, Twice the Power, Rukus, DJ Snake & DJ AK, and, of course, Spooky G and Black Jack. Also on display are flyers, photographs, albums, cassettes, articles, and concert tickets from years past. Last February, Dollars kicked off the Annual Old School S.A. Hip-Hop Jam to further honor San Antonio’s rap pioneers. This year’s jam is set for May 16 at the Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar and will feature DJ Trini B, the Underdog Turntablists, and Spook G and Black Jack, who couldn’t be any happier about being recognized for their contributions to the scene.
“Now this is what you call history,” says Spook G (whose son has inherited the moniker Spooky), as he looks over the duo’s one-sheet photo from back in the day. “We 32, 33, and look at this man, we was 15, 16 years old. Still in high school, just wanting somebody to hear us, or somebody to say, ‘Man, ya’ll sound good.’ That was the only appreciation that we needed. When we got paid that was just an extra blessing. All we really wanted to hear was people’s cars driving by, sold-out shows, and ladies screaming ‘Spooky G, Black Jack!’ It felt good, man.”
“It just made me feel good to see somebody that knows where we came from and respects all the other rappers that came up,” says Black Jack. “It wasn’t easy. Back then it was fun, but in this era I bet it’s a little more stressful. Everything is about getting a deal, but it ain’t ever been about a deal with us. It felt good, and it came natural. I was amazed, and I was real happy to see that somebody was appreciating that stuff and had a piece of that history, because can’t nobody ever give that to you. That’s love right there.”
According to Louie Dollars, old-school San Antonio hip-hop has recently generated interest overseas in countries like France, Germany, and Japan, and vintage CDs have sold for as much as $800 apiece. Louie himself sold an original copy of Straight Doo-Dooism for more than $300, to which Spook G and Black Jack jokingly replied, “Where’s our cut?” The duo continues successfully working in music today, and each owns a record label — Off the Chain Entertainment and Southern Merchandise, respectively. They have plans to drop a new album in the near future and marvel at how far their sound has reached and how their friendship has endured.
“I can honestly say that my childhood, my time in this music, I have no regrets at all, and I’m glad that I was able to meet somebody like this,” says Spook G. “It’s not every day you meet somebody where 10, 15, 20 years later he’s calling talking about, ‘What the fuck you doing tonight?’
“That’s why me now, at this point, I don’t care about ever being rich, because I do it for me,” he adds. “It’s my sanity. I love just be able to tell what I’m feeling. Our music has gotten a lot more serious now, but it’s just the love of being able to express ourselves and people being able to say ‘I can relate to that shit.’ It’s a beautiful feeling.” •