At the foot of the Verrazano Bridge lies Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, home to the Lordz of Brooklyn and a world of co-existing extremes: wealth, poverty, love, hate, delight, doom, suburbia, city, diversity, sameness. Growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Lordz founder Mike “Mr. Kaves” McLeer discovered his turf wasn’t always easy to navigate. But he understood his neighborhood and its contrasts, and he used that insight to help the Lordz find success.
To compensate for the lack of after-school activities in their blue-collared neighborhood, some snot-nosed kids began using the train yards as their playgrounds, spraying subway cars with their self-styled art. Parents and police expressed their disapproval, but illegal or not, Kaves had found his outlet. “For kids like us, graffiti wasn’t vandalism, it was a strong shot of glory and a positive expression of our creativity,” he says. “I learned the art of competition and worked hard to be innovative with my lettering styles.”
Now exposed to that underground world, Kaves and his brother Adam “ADM” McLeer were introduced to one of early hip-hop’s other innovations – breakdancing. “We were the first kids in our neighborhood to start breakdancing,” Kaves remembers. “And it was the last thing people expected or wanted to see – you know, a bunch of white kids spinning on their heads.” Crowds would often form to watch the boys dance, and when it happened they felt like stars. The positive reaction kept them going and they soon discovered rap.
“I got arrested in the mid-‘80s for writing graffiti,” he admits, “so I started to get more involved in making music. Around the same time, Adam began deejaying and the two of us started throwing parties. I promoted a Public Enemy concert at a club,” Kaves explained. “At the time, Public Enemy didn’t even know they had a white audience. But to me, meeting Chuck D was like meeting Gene Simmons or Michael Jackson. I was on Cloud 9.”
“We started out as the Verrazano Boys, which was just me and Adam,” Kaves explained. “We would rhyme anywhere and everywhere for fun, but nine times out of ten, bloody brawls would break out, with 50 kids in the middle of the street beating the shit out of each other. ‘Drink, Fuck, Fight’ became the anthem.” The reckless impulses of youth soon took a backseat to the Lordz’s beat-cutting seriousness, and opportunities were soon theirs for the taking.
“When I was shopping our demo to labels, I met Danny Boy (House of Pain). He asked me to kick it with the House of Pain on their European tour,” explained Kaves, “and three tours later I was doing backup vocals for them.” All the while, brother ADM was at home producing tracks. Soon enough, the Lordz of Brooklyn were signed to American Recordings, and in 1995 they released their debut LP, All in the Family.
The Lordz’s first single, Saturday Nite Fever was an homage to the Bay Ridge-set John Travolta film that made their neighborhood famous. The song was later featured in both an episode of MTV’s Beavis and Butthead and in the 1997 independent film, Gravesend. With the album and single’s release, Kaves hit the road again – this time with his own crew.
Aside from touring in the U.S. and overseas, the Lordz have kept busy by putting out an array of new tracks. They collaborated with respected underground rap artist Freddie Foxxx on Lordz of Brooklyn Meet Bumpy Knuckles, a Landspeed Distribution. Another high-profile collaboration was the ADM-produced remix of the Busta Rhymes/ Ozzy Osbourne single Iron Man, off of Busta’s 1999 double platinum CD, E.LEE.
“In recent years, our sound has become a lot more mature. Instead of bragging about our backgrounds, we’ve begun to explore the tragedies and triumphs of our lives,” Kaves explained. “The music is now better composed, fuller sounding, moodier. We’ve incorporated moogs, wah wah pedals, violins, tambourines and pots and pans into the mix, giving an ambient touch to the hardcore hip hop.”
The band’s 2003 release, Graffiti Roc (Tunnel Vizion Records - July 2003), ranked #13 on the FMQB’s Alternative Specialty Radio Top 25 Best Albums Chart. The album, which is full of stories inspired by life in their blue-collar neighborhood and the hope of better days to come, features appearances by Everlast, Busta Rhymes, Freddie Foxxx, Rampage, Lord Finesse, OC and a Korn remix. Also included, is a cover of Run DMC’s “Sucker MC’s,” a collaboration with Everlast produced by ADM. The Lordz’s version of “Sucker MC’s” is so good that Run himself said it was one of the best remixes he’s ever heard of his songs. Also, the song 'Lake of Fire' is featured in the Take Two Interactive video game titled 'Mafia.'
In summer of 2003 the Lordz hit the road in support of Graffiti Roc performing on both the Vans Warped Tour and Sprite Liquid Mix Tour. In June 2004, the band once again played all of the dates of the Vans Warped Tour.
The Lordz of Brooklyn are moving forward, creating sonic new plans for the future with their new hip-hop/punk rock hybrid project - The Lordz. Kaves’ and ADM’s latest musical incarnation, conjures up images and sounds from late 70’s/early 80’s New York City with a current-day twist, representing the two vital musical and cultural revolutions that were making noise at that time: punk rock and hip-hop. With neither movement being embraced by the mainstream (yet), it wasn’t unusual to find b-boys AND punks side-by-side in underground clubs, skating rinks, parks etc., because that was where they were free to fly their respective anti-flags. Back then at all the parties, most of the music the DJ would spin was rap and dance music, but at some point in the night, they would throw on a Clash record or a Blondie record and kids were feeling it.”
The Lordz’s debut album, The Brooklyn Way, is deep, tune-heavy and represents not only The Lordz’s love for the B.K., but also the good, the bad and the ugly of having grown up there. From the garage/punk-hop workout of the album’s opener “Back Up,” to the Ramones-esque “Outlaw,” featuring their good pal Tim Armstrong of Rancid fame, over to their beat-driven ode to their hometown “The Brooklyn Way” alongside Everlast, to their blazing cover of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died,” Mr. Kaves and ADM do the era proud. “This album represents our view of Brooklyn, as well as our view of the world from Brooklyn” announces Kaves. “Whether it be Tokyo, Amsterdam, Rio or Bay Ridge, people go through good and bad in their lives… ADM and I definitely have. Babies are born, people succeed, they fail, they get into trouble, they pick up bad habits, they party and sadly, a lot of people die before they’re supposed to.
The Lordz are about to embark on their 5th Van’s Warped Tour this summer and with great excitement, are proud to announce the national debut of their homemade, 6 episode docu-series The Brooklyn Way, premiering this April on Fuse TV. The show incited a tremendous regional groundswell during its first season on Madison Square Garden’s MSG network and has since been picked up by Fuse. As a result of the tremendously received album and the TV show, the group’s music has been heard recently on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Day New York, New York Knicks, Giants and Mets games and a track will also be used in an upcoming episode of CBS TV’s CSI: New York