Gene "Groove" Allen or better known as Groove, first hit the scene in the late 80’s as part of the flamboyantly, cool duo, Groove B Chill. Whether he was spittin rhymes or performing, Groove proved to be multidimensional in his talents.
You can’t understand the realness behind hip hop music unless you’ve watched Yo MTV Raps, with eagerness while growing up, when Big Lez was running the show. Groove B Chill's, “Hip Hop Music” video would play in rotation with LL Cool J, De Lah Soul, Queen Latifah, and Mc Lyte, just to name a few lyrical prodigies.
Music was just the beginning stages of Groove B Chill’s success. The fellas took to the big screen with fire and contrast. Gene “Groove” Allen, and Darryl “Chill” Mitchell also made appearances in the teen-cult classic, “House Party”.
House Party was an eagle-eyed sensation. Oh, but the irony… What you didn’t know about the movie is that Groove B Chill was the muse behind the whole production. It was their stories that later became an ingenious script for the flick. However, because the group wasn’t in the spotlight enough, the two actors were snubbed for their roles. Apparently, Kid & Play were the popular commodities at the time. Producers and directors allowed Groove B Chill to play minute roles in the movie.
When asked about the decision, Allen was quite vocal, “Very few people till this day knows that we were the stars of House Party. We had those roles. The first video that the Hudlins ever directed was “Mr. Big Stuff” with Heavy D and the Boyz. At the time, the whole Uptown Crew went to meet the Hudlin brothers in Queens. When we got there, they loved our character and energy.
They asked us what we did before we started doing music. Well, we were doing house parties. They said, “Tell us about it.” They said they were working on some ideas, and after they shot the video for Mr. Big Stuff, they took us to lunch and we all hung out. We told them story after story, about
what we did; in terms of how we made money, how we went to parks, how we played at house parties, and etcetera.
So, maybe a year or two after that, they gave us a call. We had dropped our music with Uptown Music and it wasn’t really moving. We were frustrated, and I remember us standing in front one of my guy’s house, and the question arose, “Whatever happened to those Hudlin brothers, they said they were gonna help us out and put us in a movie or something.” Low and behold when we went inside that evening, there was message on the answering machine from the Hudlin brothers telling us, “Hey, give me a call. We got some new things developing."
New Line Cinema said they liked our treatment. Me, and my man, Darryl “Chill” Mitchell, auditioned for the part—we killed it. They loved us. We auditioned for two different things, music, and acting. Well, unfortunately, we didn’t have a hot record. Kid & Play were more marketable and visible… they decided to go with Kid & Play,” Allen says.
After House Party, Eugene “Groove” Allen began acting and pursuing other things. For instance, he has a non-profit organization, in addition to being an executive director for the Darryl "Chill" Mitchell Foundation. He is an advocate for longtime friend, Darryl Mitchell, with whom the foundation is named after. The foundations purpose is to enrich the lives of people (actors) who have disabilities. He’s also a marketing genius.
Allen featured in other films like Boomerang starring Eddie Murphy, and What’s Love Got to Do With It, a biopic about the iconic Tina Turner.
Eugene still performs around the world, and recently attended the House Party alums, 10-year anniversary on the Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage cruise. He travels nationally with Groove B Chill, while performing with the Legends of Hip-Hop National Tours alongside, Darryl “Chill” Mitchell, Biz Markie, Dougie Fresh, Big Daddy Kane, and Rakim.
Gene “Groove" Allen is a prolific speaker and businessman. Guy has supreme integrity that probably won’t ever subside. Although Gene began his plight of entertainment in a lost era of music—the eighties. He’s still considered an unadulterated pioneer of hip hop.
What has Groove been up to lately? I had a stent of doing a lot of voice-overs. I had a lot of radio commercials and those types of things. The business changed and dried out. They went for the less vocal voice-overs.
So, I ended up going to New York, and I got into banking. I guess I’m an overachiever because I was working in a brokerage house in New York, getting Broker’s license, and I also went to nursing school. I got my LPN license and my Brokers license in the same year (1996). I worked on Wall Street with a startup firm, and I never used my LPN license, and then I just got tired of New York. I ended up visiting Virginia, and I loved it. My wife and I actually live here now. I started working for banks and now, I’m a finance at a bank.
How was the transition from being a rapper, actor, and where you are now? It was a terrible transition. It was painful because all I wanted to do was entertain people, but the business changed and people’s mindset changed. At the end of the day, you gotta eat. That’s why I’m working and really focusing back into what my love is and what my passion is…entertainment.
You’re traveling, and you were in a play? Yes, the play is “Then Sings My Soul.” It’s created by and written by Wyomme Parriss and it’s going to include, Pearl Anthony, Bowlegged Lou with Full Force, my House Party partners and a lot of local, great, and talented people in the area. It’s about domestic violence. It really sends a message. I’m fortunate enough to be a cast in the play.
For me, this is kind of like a springboard to get back into what I want to do. It’s a great play and a great story. It gives me a chance to do what I want to do. Me and the group were thinking about doing a small EPK situation, maybe do two or three songs, and maybe an original song together.
I’m glad that you were able to be part of House Party because it’s still a historical movie in my eyes. It’s big for African Americans finally getting on the Big Screen without all the “Yes, sir,” and “No, sir—or playing rudimentary roles. It may have been big to them, but House Party changed the dynamics of film. It is the first African American, Black Teen movie, which was a hit. It made sense and it wasn’t derogatory. At the time, rappers, and movies weren’t an on-the-set kind of thing. That changed the whole tempo even to this day.
So, what about the non-profit organization? You know, Darryl Mitchell, that’s my man. He’s in a wheel chair, and paralyzed as a result of a car accident. He had this ideology or really being a lobbyist or spokesman and face—he’s fortunate and talented enough even though he’s in a wheelchair. He’s acting in NCIS New Orleans, he did ED, and he did Brothers. He’s fortunate enough because all of his inabilities are affordable to make it able. But, there are so many people that don’t have a dime, whom are waiting for the government to help them, to assist them, and they don’t have a voice. That’s our piece of it, really trying to bring light to the matter, and assistance of it. At the end of the day, letting people know that there is someone there, which they can reach out to, and talk to. People have wrote to Darryl, and told him that he was their hero, and role model.
My job is really to direct that and drive that. We haven’t really been doing it as much this year because he’s been doing CBS and the show. But, as I start transitioning to corporate America, to “Gene America,” I can really help him focus more on that stuff together.
What is the most difficult role that you’ve ever played? I gotta say, it’s the play I’m in right now. Its musical based. The character I’m playing is a Baptist preacher. To portray the pastor, I had to go to church. It was a certain way that they did their preaching. It was so different than what I was accustomed. But it was a challenge, and I love it. It gave me what I needed for my one-man show. The Baptist pastor, in its entirety, and how people see the pastors and the preachers, that’s a little difficult.
Where’s the play going? It ran in Philly and in a couple of states. Now, we’re bringing it back around to D.C. We hope that we can really bring it to the next level. You know how these things are. It’s all about sponsorship and who’s writing the checks.
What do you think about hip hop today? I’m gonna be honest with you. I’m gonna do it two ways, I think that as an artist, creativity is creativity. I am not going to knock anyone that gets out there and builds themselves as an artist. I believe because of my age, some of that stuff, I don’t even understand. I try to understand. Some I get, and some I don’t get. I’m not gonna knock the hustle. Some stuff like Drake, I love Drake, hands down. He is the epitome of what I envisioned myself to be when I started doing hooks and lines. For him to do the things he’s done, and created, the things he’s done for so long-- he always sounds different. I think the machine that they’re behind, and the business side, is incredible. I think there’s other stuff that’s out there that’s garbage. That’s music. I think there are shoes that’s garbage. I believe as long as the people that do it, do it for real. I think we’re going to be okay.
I appreciate the fact that people are smarter in how they marketed themselves. It’s a business. I remember rapping for free and being in the parks to be known, and couldn’t wait until you singed your record deal; and when you got your advance. With the advances now, people are making million dollar clicks just to jump out their trunks, or screaming. So, I think everything evolves. Do we have garbage out? Yeah. That’s life itself. What I do appreciate, is the fact that people still want what it used to sound like. Artist like Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, Groove B Chill, Biz Markie, Dougie Fresh, and Salt & Pepper, people still come and listen to that. To me that’s what music is about, finding your marker, finding the people that love you, and doing your best.
I read where Macklemore paid homage to old-school rappers. It was a big deal to include rappers in what they have going on now. What do you think about that? If everyone did that, it would be an incredible gap to bridge. I think it was Melle Mell and Kool Moe D. We’re talking about Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Without them, there wouldn’t be hip hop.
For bookings and more information on Eugene Groove Allen, please visit: www.rebiientertainment.com