Amos Larkins II on Miami Bass, "Ghetto Jump," and Who Left Luke's Name Off the Sunnyview Label
Amos Larkins II in the Sunnyview Records studio.
Photo by Anthony Larkins
Amos Larkins II invented Miami Bass production.
As an in-house artist/producer/engineer for Henry Stone and Morris Levy's Sunnyview Records label, he came up with regional and international hits on a signature style of party rap with sustained 808 kicks that dropped like no others. They became the prototype for a distinct style of music that still reverberates today.
Working under a litany of aliases, he produced hits and underground gems alike. And in the case of "Ghetto Jump," he set in motion a chain of events that led to the foundation of Uncle Luke's empire. Here's what Amos Larkins has to say about all this in his own words.
Amos says, "I produced, wrote, engineered, and did the beats and music to some real Miami Bass classics like 'Ghetto Jump.'
"Uncle Luke, who was called Luke Skyywalker back in the day, suggested that I produce a track on this and came up with the concept; and Joe Stone claims I didn't give Uncle Luke his credit.
"That's not how that went down. I mean I love Joe, but Joe Stone is coming out of left field with that silly, make-believe dream shit that he's making up in his little dream world head to twist up history. And he's trying to save face and make his self-look like he played some big important pioneering part in that era (and that in itself is total bullshit) because it was the other way around.
"And I'm gonna straighten this shit out once and for all and tell how the shit really went down. But before I do that, I have to briefly explain to you how we used to hustle records back in the day to paint a picture and to put you right there with us.
"You see back in the day (1984 -1986) I was Henry Stone's hit man for Sunnyview Records. That was his big label. He also had a bunch of small labels to release and regionally distribute records for the purpose of testing the reaction before releasing them on the big label, Sunnyview. Some of the small labels were On Records, Nezz Records, and Prime Choice, to name a few.
"Anyways, back in those days, I was allowed to produce and release five records a week. I was so hot back then that if I released five records in a week, at least three of them would be local and regional hits. So once a week, I would go to Luke when he and the Ghetto Style DJs would be performing in dance halls and skating rinks up in Liberty City and Carol City places like the Pac Jam and Studio 183 and Super Star Roller Tech.
"Luke had and still has platinum ears, meaning he could pick a hit like it wasn't shit. I mean, Luke knew his market, he knew what they liked, and what they didn't like and that muthafucka was never wrong, he could pick 'em, man.
"I would show up either when the show was just starting up or when they were setting up the sound check. I would always bring all five of my productions for the week with me in hand and would ask Luke to take a listen to them all. Luke would put them on the turntable right then and start evaluating them right there and give me a yea or a nay.
"One time I took him a record and he said to me, 'What the fuck you doin' with them toms man? Them toms is fuckin up the beat man, nobody can't dance to that shit. Take them toms out.' Hahaha, but 90% of the time Luke was feeling my shit. That's how Luke was. He was straight up like that, and I valued his friendship more than any red-headed stepchild would ever come close to doing."
Amos Larkins II cleaning the tape machine's transporter at Sunnyview Records studio
Photo by Anthony Larkins
"So one night I was at the Super Star Roller Tech skating rink and I saw these people doing this crazy ass dance. It would always start off with two or four people doing it, and then before the end of the song, the whole crowd of four or 500 kids would be jumping up in the air and shit all at the same time. That shit looked like an African war dance or some mating ritual shit. It was fuckin crazy.
"So I asked the DJ, 'What the fuck is that?' And they told me that the dance was called the Ghetto Jump.
"That same night, I went over to the Pac Jam where Luke was playin', and the people were doing the same dance.
"So I asked Luke, 'What the fuck is that?' and Luke said, 'That's the Ghetto Jump, and you should do a record on it.' He said to me, 'If you do a record on that dance, it's gon' blow up.'
"Well hell, you ain't gotta beat me over the head with a pogo stick. So I went straight to the studio immediately. It musta been something like 1 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I'd been working on the song 'Rock the Planet.' I took that one off the tape machine and put up a fresh clean empty tape to cut the track "Ghetto Jump" that night. And I did the vocals that Sunday afternoon.
"I let Luke hear it Sunday night. He said it was a hit and that's when I got everything ready for the following Wednesday's release. I had a lot of different aliases at the time, so that radio wouldn't know it was the same person making all these hits or they wouldn't play them. So I originally produced 'Ghetto Jump' under the name T. Green.
"Ghetto Jump" original release on Nezz label with "created by the wild and crazy Luke Skyywalker" credit.
"OK, now listen good kiddies, cause this is where the shit gets flaky. Let me tell you something, I made sure Luke got his credits on 'Ghetto Jump' when it was on the small label called Nezz. And I even called Luke up on the phone and told him I was going to give him special credits to thank him for his help, and I read to him what I was saying. Luke was cool with that. I even gave Luke one out of the first 25 copies that was pressed and the credits read exactly like this: 'created by the wild and crazy Luke Skyywalker.' Luke was cool with that and everything in life at the time was in perfect harmony.
"This is where the problem came in. The record sold like 4,000 copies two days from the time of its release, so Henry put it on the Sunnyview label and Freddie Stonewall and Henry Stone took out Luke's credit saying it was unnecessary.
"Luke called me and ask me why in the fuck isn't his name on the record for the Sunnyview label? And I told him why and gave him the number to call Henry.
"So get it straight. It wasn't on me. It was on Henry and Freddy. Freddy was Henry's boy, and not only did I have no control over what Freddy and Henry did, I didn't even know it was done until I saw the fuckin' Sunnyview label myself.
"It pissed off Luke so bad that Luke said 'Fuck it. I'll put my own records out!' Thus the beginning of Luke Skyywalker records.
"Make no mistake about it, my brother. Luke made Miami bass a household name, and he is the undisputed king. But I'm the one who got it off the ground, and I'm the one who did it first."
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