Photo: Al Pereira / Contributor via Getty  Images and Ron Galella / Contributor via Getty Images
  /  09.16.2023

In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with Special Ed to chat about his extensive rap career, record labels, the 50th anniversary of hip hop, Tupac Shakur, and more.

Born Edward Archer in Brooklyn, New York, Ed made a lasting impression with his debut album Youngest in Charge in 1989. Released when he was just 17, the project saw both critical and commercial success thanks to iconic tracks like “I Got It Made” and “Think About It.” The following year, the musician released Legal, an album that showcased a more mature, evolved style as reflected in its cover artwork. It contained tracks such as “Come On, Let’s Move It” and “The Mission.” 

In 1995, he dropped his third album, Revelations. Although it didn’t achieve the success of his earlier works, it was praised for its introspective lyrics and maintained Ed’s reputation as a skilled lyricist. Throughout his career, Ed was also featured in various movies and TV shows such as “The Cosby Show” and Ganked.

Aside from his solo career, the renowned emcee was part of the Crooklyn Dodgers, a supergroup that featured a revolving door of artists like Memphis Bleek, Mos Def, and Masta Ace. They created tracks for Spike Lee’s film Crooklyn and contributed to the cultural narrative of the ‘90s via cuts like “Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers.”

Below are nine interesting facts we learned from Special Ed’s “Drink Champs” interview. Check them out, and be sure to tune into the full episode here.

1. On “Neva Go Back” inspiring JAY-Z’s “Can I Live”

“Neva Go Back” is a standout track from Ed’s Revelations album. The record sampled Isaac Hayes’ “The Look of Love.” Regarding the song, the musician shared, “[JAY-Z’s] ‘Can I Live’ sampled ‘Neva Go Back.’ I came out first with it. That was produced by Howie Tee… He changed my life… I put it out first. The way it goes in hip hop is when you hear something, and then you do it, you did it based on what you heard.”

2. On Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s strained relationship

Once a duo, N.Y.’s Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth rose to popularity in the ‘90s. They put out their 1994 project, The Main Ingredient, which ended up being their last studio album before ultimately parting ways to work on solo careers. In a 2014 interview with “Sway In The Morning,” Smooth said, “We’re moving in different spaces, in different times, and people are pullin’ us in different spaces.”

“That’s between them, but what I do know is that I’m family with both of them. I always encourage them to give the people what they want ‘cause that’s what it’s about,” Ed explained in regard to their separation. “The most important thing, though, is not to destroy the brand, the legacy. ‘Cause that’s what the people want.”

3. On taking the steps to get his publishing rights back

Finding himself in the same predicament as other hip hop legends like Chuck D, Snoop Dogg, and more, Ed spoke about fighting to get his publishing rights back. He released his debut album under Profile Records, which was acquired by Arista Records in 1989. Per Royalty Exchange, artists are able to reclaim their rights 35 years after it is assigned to another entity. Ed claimed, “They was trying to take everything.”

“I done filed all my paperwork for the reversion. It’s 35 [years]. You just gotta read the laws, read the copyright. At 30 [years], you can begin the process and file your paperwork. I did that ‘bout three, four, five times,” Ed said. “Right now, I still get paid 50 percent, but then they do the admin. I just finished shaking them up for my s**t. They had money for me. A lot of people sample, but the money come from different places. I get my money from Sony, but then Profile still got an interest in it.”

4. On his moniker 

Despite the sometimes negative association with the term, Special Ed decided to flip the meaning of his moniker on its head. According to the rapper, he got his stage name from a close friend, and despite all the reasons not to use it, he persisted.

When asked if he was in a special education program, Ed replied, “My man E. Dot from Flatbush came to me, and he was like, ‘Yo, you should call yourself Special Ed.’ I had a personality. I wasn’t in special ed., but I had a personality like a motherf**ker… I was like, ‘You know what? F**k that, I can change the dynamics of the way it’s perceived, and for two, I’ma teach y’all motherf**kers something. And three, my name Ed, and I’m special.’”

5. On going to school with Busta Rhymes 

Although they never officially collaborated on a track, Ed recalled going to the same elementary and middle school as Busta Rhymes.

“Me and Busta Rhymes went to elementary school together and junior high, Walt Whitman Junior High School, as well. We definitely went to school together, [and] came up together. And Rampage lived across the street from the school, too,” Ed noted. “He moved to Long Island, and that’s when he started rapping and came back to the hood.”

6. On the 50th anniversary of hip hop

In contrast to last week’s guest on “Drink Champs,” Big Daddy Kane, Ed believes that hip hop’s jubilee was ruined by cultural appropriation. He accused brands and festivals of using legendary acts to market overpriced venues and products.

“It’s appropriation because what they’re doing now is they’re putting these great lineups, then they go ahead and overcharge the public,” he argued. “The concerts I’m doing for the 50th is free to the public. It’s free for the people. I’m doing it with the city. I’m doing it where the people can pull up for free.”

7. On how record labels and DSPs price streams

In the past several years, the introduction of streaming platforms to the music industry presented a new concern for hip hop veterans, particularly when it comes to making money. As reported by Ditto, artists typically get paid a fraction of a penny for each listen. For older acts who can’t tailor their songs to an algorithm or playlist curator, earning revenue can be difficult without relying on brand deals, physical sales, and other ventures. “It’s marketing and selling other products,” Ed said.

He continued, “They just decided that ‘This what we gon’ pay,’ and it’s like a fraction of a penny. Everybody, I know Dres is on one… We [are] all on one, really, but they’re actually taking action. I would love to be on any action because I ain’t agree to none of that s**t neither.”

8. On acting in Juice with Tupac Shakur 

Released in 1992, Juice starred notable names like Queen Latifah, Omar Epps, Khalil Kain, and, of course, Tupac. Interestingly, Ed also appeared in the movie. Although, according to him, filmmakers initially picked another actor until Pac made some calls.

“I wasn’t really supposed to be in the movie at all. What happened was I read for the part because I wanted to be in the movie at the time… So when I went to the set, I went to the set to go f**k with Pac,” he said. “When I saw who they [cast] for the part I read for, I was like, ‘How the f**k y’all get a lookalike. Why y’all aint get the real n**ga?’”

Special Ed added, “He acted like he had to do something. He was like, ‘Yo, I’ma be right back. I’ll be right back.’ So he left, and when he came back, he was like, ‘Yo, Ed. I got you a lil part in the movie.’”

9. On Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. 

In 1994, Pac was reportedly shot by two armed men in what he believed to be a hit put out by Biggie. The claims were denied; however, the latter’s “Who Shot Ya?” being released the following year only fueled tension between the two artists. Having worked with both acts, Ed blamed other people in their ears for making tensions escalate and said that they had love for one another.

“I think between them two as individuals, they was never in a problem. I think it’s more so in the things that happened, and Pac blaming B.I.G. for not warning him… or informing him. I think that’s where it got tumultuous. As men, as individuals, we all had love for each other. Period.”



View More



View More


Quincy Brown and Romeo Miller bring a little brotherly love to the latest episode of “Receipts”

The acting duo exchanges comedic jabs en route to revealing Tyler Clark’s hidden talent.

  /  09.12.2023

How Angela Yee found more to her life's purpose beyond the microphone

Check out six insightful gems that Angela Yee dropped on “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels.”

  /  09.13.2023

Quincy Brown vs. Romeo Miller | ‘Receipts’

On this episode of “Receipts,” Romeo Miller competes against host Quincy Brown to unveil shoppers’ hidden passions. Presented by Walmart.

  /  09.12.2023

Angela Yee talks "The Breakfast Club," growing up in Brooklyn & interning for Wu-Tang Clan | ‘The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels’

On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint,” host and REVOLT CEO Detavio Samuels welcomes Angela Yee to discuss growing up in Brooklyn, interning for Wu-Tang Clan, “The Breakfast Club,” and curating her own show. Presented by LIFEWTR.

  /  09.12.2023

Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'

On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.

  /  07.12.2023

BNXN talks leaving IT for music, linking with Wizkid, going viral & new album | 'On In 5'

For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!

  /  08.08.2023

Pheelz talks expressing himself through music & his biggest inspirations | 'On In 5'

On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!

  /  07.11.2023

Jordyn Woods talks prioritizing authenticity, her brand & saying, "No" | 'Assets Over Liabilities'

On this episode of “Assets Over Liabilities,” Jordyn Woods welcomes hosts Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings to her headquarters to discuss expanding Woods by Jordyn, prioritizing authenticity throughout her brand promotions, not talking about money with friends, being patient, and saying, “No.” Watch here!

  /  08.09.2023

Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'

On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!

  /  07.10.2023

7 Atlanta residents reveal what they’re most excited about for the first-ever REVOLT WORLD

“I love music and media and thoroughly enjoy observing panels,” one person said. “Also…I love to see our artists performing, so I’ll definitely be in attendance to see Babyface Ray perform!”

  /  09.05.2023

Kickin' Facts with Legendary Lade | Clarks Originals x MAYDE WORLDWIDE Wallabee “Pacific Blue”

LA native and designer Aleali May teams up with Clarks Originals for a new collaboration.

  /  08.21.2023

Pride was the theme of the night at the inaugural Caribbean Music Awards

“This marks an important historic moment,” Wyclef Jean exclusively told REVOLT. “The Caribbean Music Awards created a bridge to unify all Caribbean artists and show the world that [we] are strong in numbers, as well as leaders of the culture.”

  /  09.05.2023

Happy 50th birthday, hip hop! A letter celebrating and thanking you on your big day

Happy 50th anniversary, hip hop. You’re on a tier where no tears should ever fall. My hope is that the millions of us forever enriched by your glory of the past 50 years continue to endure and inspire in your name over the next 50. 

  /  08.11.2023

Scotty ATL is achieving longevity with grillz by staying ahead of the curve

“I built my own lane… I’m just educating myself on a daily basis,” he told REVOLT in this exclusive interview for Black Business Month. Read up!

  /  08.16.2023

Jaylen Brown: Hip hop has been an essential part of my growth as an athlete

Ahead of hip hop’s 50th birthday, REVOLT sat down with NBA star Jaylen Brown to discuss his career, the South’s impact on rap, the importance of Black media outlets and so much more. Read up!

  /  08.02.2023

Web3 | Willow Smith's groundbreaking honor as the first-ever RIAA NFT plaque recipient

This groundbreaking chapter in Willow Smith’s journey signifies innovation at the intersection of Web3 and the music industry. Read up!

  /  09.01.2023

Breakdancing, an oft-ignored pillar of hip hop, is taking its rightful place in the spotlight

In celebration of hip hop’s 50th birthday, we discuss the history of breaking, the art form serving as a voice for the marginalized and it being added to the 2024 Olympics. Read up!

  /  08.10.2023

Doechii pays homage to hip hop icons and talks pushing the boundaries of music genres

Ahead of hip hop’s 50th birthday, Doechii sat with REVOLT for an exclusive interview and talked about her upcoming tour with Doja Cat, love for Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, some of her favorite rap albums and much more. Read up!

  /  08.04.2023

Halftime Report | How Rucker Park culture transformed the legacies of hip hop and basketball

The late Greg Marius played matchmaker between basketball and hip hop, and the marriage is still going strong. In honor of hip hop’s 50th birthday, read our latest “Halftime Report” below.

  /  08.09.2023
View More
Revolt - New Episodes