In the fall of 1986, WMNF restructured it’s programming and the station managers realized they were in dire need of a Rap show. When Kenny Waters, who normally wore suits, walked into their staff meeting sportin’ suede Pumas, fat laces, a baseball hat and a gold chain, he promised to be the answer to their problem. He had just recently been turned down by the long-standing urban boss, WTMP and was looking for a radio wave that would broadcast his love for Hip-Hop. The program director, Randy Wynn, said “He seemed to be into the music. He had a good audition tape.” And just like that, a local star was born. Kenny immediately went on the air.
By the summer of 1987, anyone who was listening to Hip-Hop knew of Kenny K. People all over the 813 area, which used to cover all of southwest Florida, would gear up, prepare their cassette tapes and tune into 88.5 WMNF every Saturday night at Midnight. Anyone that I’ve spoken with regarding those Saturday nights recalls excitement wondering what remedy Kenny had planned for the Top 40 blues. While the format of his show did change by the summer of 1987, WMNF listeners never heard what Q105 was playing unless is was incorporated in a “wax attack.”
In the beginning, Kenny K spun anything that was Rap, including M.C. A.D.E, Gucci Crew II, and even KJ and Cooley “C.” Over time, he shied away from “Miami Bass” artists and strictly directed the Technic 1200s towards New York-based Hip-Hop. The reason for this was not because he had no love for the Miami artists, but because of our location. Kenny K felt that Tampa was so highly exposed to what was going on in Miami that playing 2 Live Crew would have been overkill. What he sought to do was play music that couldn’t be heard in the Bay area. Kenny K frequently played artists in the same class as Eric B. & Rakim, Dana Dane, Public Enemy and Kool Moe Dee. Had he not spun these now classics, surely a large amount of Hip-Hop fans in the Bay area would never have even heard them. When “My Melody” by Eric B. & Rakim and “Pump that Bass” by Original Concept dropped, there was no Yo! MTV Raps to broadcast those jams into people’s homes. In the 813, there was WMNF and one Kenny K. The highlights of his shows besides Hip-Hop “wax attacks” included featuring local artists like The Dedicated Brothers (who former DJ Domination manager Nick Major was a part of) and guest DJs like Scooby D and The M & M DJs.
Anyone who remembers Kenny’s show surely remembers the “K-Ettes.” The “K-Ettes” were a flock of B-Girls, who dedicated their free time to Kenny and the WMNF listeners. They would take caller requests, shout outs and even accompany Kenny to local clubs and malls to boost his ratings. The most popular “K-Ette” was Lavida “K” Anderson, sister to NFL star Jamal “Juggy” Anderson. Lavida “K” was often the voice callers would hear when dialing 226-3003 to give their shout outs.
By 1988, Kenny K was married to Lavida, employed by Camelot Records in Tampa Bay Center and working hard with Tampa native, Shock G from the Digital Underground crew. Their underground classic “Underwater Rimes” (T.N.T. Records) was in heavy rotation at the time. Not long after, Kenny took a break from the airwaves, and headed out to Oakland with Shock G to work on Digital Underground’s “Sex Packets” album. Digital Underground’s September ’89 release “Doowutchyalike” featured Kool Kenny on the B-side cut, “Hip-Hop Doll.”
He returned to WMNF’s airwaves in 1990 and continued to spin the real Hip-Hop until 1991. During this span, he worked with Digital Underground and Chuck D. from Public Enemy.
Kenny K Waters, the Brooklyn-born WMNF DJ and Hillsborough High School graduate, blessed the 813 airwaves from 1986 to 1993. His career was stopped short by the need of a liver transplant in late 1993. Kenny K Waters died on February 5th 1994. Due to the fact that he did not have health insurance, his name was not admitted to the waiting list for organ donors. Because of his insurance dilemma, he was turned down by Tampa General Hospital and flown to The University of Texas’ John Sealy Hospital. Kenny K’s surgery would have cost $250,000. – KRAM ®
Recently discovered facts:
Baseball stars Gary Sheffield and Dwight Gooden, both Tampa natives, pitched in to help Kenny K, for his liver transplant. Gooden and Sheffield were set sponsor a benefit baseball game at the University of Tampa, Sunday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m – The day after Kenny passed away.
Also, THH.com’s Mr. Sandman recently sat down and chatted with one time Tampa native Shock G and was able to get some more interesting details about Kenny K’s last days with us. According to Shock G, Hip-Hop fans and artists united and raised $150,000 for Kenny’s transplant. Doc Gooden donated another $150,000 the day before Kenny’s death.
The Dedicated Brothers feat. Dazzlin’ Doc P. This was recorded live by kramtronix® in January ’87! Check out the Cool Breeze beatbox outro!
Kenny K Interviews the Dedicated Bros. and they perform “It’s Vicious.” Recorded by DJ Fader ©1987
One of Kenny K’s best Mixes! This is SOS Band’s “The Finest” mixed with “Show” me by the Cover Girls.