Nas may have been the one to put Queensbridge back on the map, but it was MC Shan who first blazed the trail and engraved the X on the map. As an early member of the infamous Juice Crew, MC Shan first got his glimpse of the industry while going on tour with his bench rhyming partner Roxanne Shanté. It was here where he would learn to could carve his Own Lane in Hip Hop. With the help of his cousin Marley Marl, he was able to sign to Cold Chillin Records where he recorded his first hit record “Marley Scratch”. The single gained him the notoriety he needed to propel his career. Shan’s next move was dropping a double sided release in late 1985 which featured an A-side single “Beat Bitter” that attacked LL Cool J for stealing one of his cousin’s tracks. The B-side single “The Bridge” became the track that soon split New York into 2 hip hop camps.
With “The Bridge” MC Shan was able to give shine to his crew and become the first Hip Hop artist to put Queensbridge on the map with the lyrics:
You love to hear the story, again and again,
Of how it all got started way back when,
The monument is right in your face,
Sit and listen for a while to the name of the place,
This show of pride for his home turf, however, ignited another up and coming crew out of the South Bronx named Boogie Down Productions who believed MC Shan was marking Queensbridge as the birthplace of Hip Hop. Defending the Bronx’s heritage, BDP quickly responded with “South Bronx” followed by “The Bridge Is Over”. The follow up attacked MC Shan, Marley Marl, and the Juice Crew for their skill and claims to Hip Hop. Though the Bridge Wars would continue for several more years, history will always remember BDP and KRS-One winning the battle on the streets of New York.
During the height of the Bridge Wars, MC Shan was able to release his first album “Down By The Law” which was produced by Marley Marl and gave him the national attention and recognition needed to reach The Source’s Top 100 Hip Hop Albums of All Time (1998).
The following year Shan continued his attack on KRS-One and also gave us insights into his b-boy persona with his album “Born to Be Wild”. While his name was quickly becoming synonymous with Hip Hop, his relationship with his record label Cold Chillin Records was deteriorating just as fast. In 1990 after his 3rd album “Play It Again, Shan”, Shan would leave the world as an emcee and begin to focus his energy towards music production and artist promotion.
Three years later he would come out swinging with the biggest hit of his career by handling the production for his newly signed Canadian artist Snow. Together they would build a hybrid sound that incorporated pop, jazz, and Hip Hop within Reggae- which resulted in a style of music that brought a mass appeal and a number one international smash hit “Informer”.
Shan continued to push his production and lightly sprinkle in features throughout the years but in 2000, he was able to restamp his mark on Queensbridge with his feature on Nas’ compilation album QB’s Finest. By telling everyone’s favorite story again and again about a rap dynasty that just won’t end he led a track which featured the area’s most legendary MC’s which included Nas, Capone, Cormega, Marley Marl, MC Shan, Millennium Thug, Mobb Deep, Nature, and Tragedy Khadafi.
MC Shan and KRS-ONE may have “squashed the beef” by playing at each others shows and even both starring in a Sprite commercial where they pay compliments to each other’s musical achievements but it looks like Shan hasn’t moved on. Last month the Queensbridge Pioneer called KRS the Cyrano de Bergerac of Hip Hop and even laid down a new rap where he claims he never lost because the two never actually battled. Amused by the diss, and always on his toes, KRS-ONE retaliated within 24 hours claiming that he actually didn’t take Shan out – “the crack did”. That wasn’t enough to stop Shan though as he released another diss with a music video called “Revenge Of The Walking Dead”
No longer living in Queensbridge MC Shan is now residing in Atlanta, GA where he still works on new music like “Everybody Wanna Be A Big Star, Drive A Big Car!”. Even though he’s a regular DJ at the Babes Club, one of Atlanta hottest strip clubs, he acknowledges he’s not a fan the majority of hip hop outside of Kendrick Lamar whom he praises for his positive lyrics. As a Hip Hop Pioneer and inspiration to numerous legends in starting their own careers, expect Shan to stay relevant and continue to give back to the culture.