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Whodini Biography

Whodini Biography

Whodini is a hip hop group from New York that was formed in 1981, made up of Jalil Hutchins, Ecstasy (John Fletcher) and Grandmaster Dee (Drew Carter).

Along with Run-DMC and The Fat Boys, Whodini was among the first hip-hop groups to cultivate a high-profile national following for hip-hop music and made significant inroads on Urban radio. The Brooklyn, New York-based trio consisted of vocalist-chief lyricist Jalil Hutchins; co-vocalist John Fletcher, aka Ecstasy, who tended to wear a Zorro-style hat as his trademark; and DJ Drew Carter, aka Grandmaster Dee. Contemporaries of Run-D.M.C., they were managed by Russell Simmons, brother of Joseph “Run” Simmons. The group signed with London-based indie Jive Records in 1982; they enjoyed a string of hits, mostly charting on Urban/R&B stations. The bulk of production on its releases was done by Larry Smith, a bass player who also handled much of Run-D.M.C.’s early work.

In keeping with 1980s trends, Whodini’s cuts tended to be synthesizer-driven with a heavy electronic drumbeat. The sampling technology that became identified with hip-hop music hadn’t really become prominent during Whodini’s early days, and its works were thoroughly original compositions. “Haunted House of Rock” was its first single, a whimsical Halloween-themed number. Synth-pop pioneer Thomas Dolby produced another of its early singles, “Magic’s Wand,” which was originally conceived as an advertisement for prominent radio jock Mr. Magic, who worked for New York’s WBLS. The group culled a female audience with such relationship-themed cuts as “Friends” and “One Love.” Backstage partying was extolled in the mildly controversial “I’m a Ho.” “Fugitive” was guitar-driven funk.

From 1982 to 1986 was the band’s heyday, touring with Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, the Fat Boys, and other prominent R&B and funk outfits of the 1980s. The group was involved in the first Fresh Fest tour, which was the first hip-hop tour to play large coliseums. Its albums Whodini (1983), Escape (1984), and Back in Black (1986; no relation to AC/DC) were all well-received by hip-hop fans and youthful R&B enthusiasts, but full-fledged crossover fame seemed to elude them.

The group had earned its share of gold singles and albums by 1987, when the hits started to slump. Open Sesame, their release that year, failed to produce any hits. After that point, the band eked out its tenure on Jive by occasionally releasing singles, including “Anyway I Gotta Swing it” for the Nightmare on Elm Street 5 movie soundtrack.


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