Joey Juggaknotts of I.O.R.

joey dread knott of i.o.r.

By Gentle Jones

Delaware's hip-hop scene has a worldwide voice, yet its players continue to enrich our local culture. Intellectuals of Rhyme released one of the first hip-hop records in the Diamond State back in 1989. The B-side of the single "Seconds of a Dope Rhyme" made it onto the acclaimed Project X album "Armed and Dangerous" and featured a young Joel Knotts -- aka Joey Juggaknotts -- who, after making records in Delaware for 20 years, continues to drop the verbally verbose with his new crew, the Action Figures.

So who was in Intellectuals of Rhyme?

I.O.R. was my first rap group. They consisted of me, DJ Dre, Eddie J and Bernard Pepukayi, who went on to become deputy legal counsel on Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's staff.

How did you meet Bernard?

Bernard and I were boys since we were like 10. We used to flip, lift weights and things of that nature. We both wrote raps, but I didn't know how serious he was until he let me hear some tapes he had recorded with his older cousin, Eddie J. Bernard, would record a cappella songs, and Eddie J had the remarkable talent of freehandedly setting a track around the vocals. I wanted in. This led to Eddie J producing for us and also an introduction to producing ourselves.

Did you already know Dre at that time?

We met Dre as freshmen at William Penn. He was deejaying local house parties. He had a love for the same underground, basement-type of flavor that we did. And he could cut!

You were just a teenager when you started recording. What song did you do first?

"Just a Sample." There was no hook, just a funky beat consisting of a James Brown sample, two emcees and a DJ cuttin'. It was "just a sample" of more elaborate works to come.

intellectuals of rhyme - just a sample

Where were you recording at the time?

We were recording at Sound Lab in Newark owned by a man named Roger Hoilman.

How many songs did you record before you dropped that 12-inch (record)?

It's hard to say, because Bernard and I spent like two years just recording in his bedroom. I remember this one song Bernard wrote that was entitled "Delaware." He patterned it after Boogie Down Productions' "South Bronx." That was my joint! (laughs)

Grand G told me that Real McCoy Troy heard the record and after that wanted to put I.O.R. on the Project X.

Yes, Troy and Grand had this spot in Southbridge called the Husco. This is where we would sometimes write, practice or meet for road trips. I really don't remember who got in touch with who.

Who already had records out in Delaware before you dropped your 12-inch?

Disco Beave had "I'm Servin," Twin B had "My Brother Michael." Then there were people who I don't know if they actually had vinyl out but were already local celebrities due to "dubbed demo cassettes" floating around the Tri-state. People like Yorky D, Kenny G and Disco Wayne, just to name a few.

How did Action Figures start?

After I.O.R. stopped recording as a group, I joined forces with a few of my boys from high school creating a brand of hip-hop that was underground and rough like before, but now incorporated more of a "comic book" feel. And almost all of us were drawing or graphic artists, so this came across in the music as well. It was me, Mont "Maad 9 Gram," Dwayne "PS826," Delray "MASH," Dennis "The Menace," JB and Eric "Jalees." We used to call ourselves "Supreme Math." From '93 to now, we've recorded songs in homes, we've recorded out of a studio in Philly -- "MilkBoy Recordings" -- and had a few opportunities to perform live.

Were there any years that you weren't recording?

No. I've always spent time bettering my skills. I've always worked at it and considered hip-hop a lifestyle as opposed to a quick way to get rich. It was always a way to keep my mind occupied -- "the Sun can't chill." Some years were spent just helping younger artists hone their skills and mine as a producer. I recorded with local talents such as Hezekiah, the Sons of Sam, DJ Slate, Mike Chase & Ish-Allah and Kaos Nation.

What projects are you working on?

I'm working on my two solo albums. I have two different aliases I go by: Joey Juggaknotts and Lord Imhotep, basically the two opposite extremes of my own personalities. I'm a Gemini. I use Lord Imhotep to expound on the deeper things we scientifical rappers like to lose people with, and Joey Juggaknotts is more everyday common talk, less esoteric, so to speak. I have completed some song collaborations with producers that I have met both nationally and internationally. I'm working on some mix tape-type material with artists local and abroad, and also the Action Figures album. Some treats for real hip-hop enthusiasts. Shoutouts to Serafino and First Reps.


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