POOKEY BLOW NEVER MADE IT BIG. He never visited Jacob the Jeweler for
diamond-encrusted bling; neither, did he tour countries where fans who
barely spoke English rapped along with his lyrics. Success, the kind that
has since made household names and millionaires out of hip-hop stars Jay-Z
and 50 Cent, eluded him.

By 1983, the musical career of 15-year-old Pookey Blow, born Jerry Pearson,
was over. A couple of the teenage rapper's cuts earned regional recognition,
but fame and profits that his uncle/producer envisioned never materialized.
Today the 36-year old New Haven native is stationed at the Army's Fort
Hood in Texas.

The aspirations of Pookey Blow's uncle, would-be mogul Tony Pearson,
followed a similar ilar path.

"By no means will I pollute my mind and think I've had any success
as an entertainer," said the elder Pearson, recalling his attempt
at, becoming a P. Diddy predecessor. "Haven't had any success, didn't
make any money."

Approaching middle age and producer of the hip-hop cable access show
"Holla Back Video" broadcast in several cities including Waterbury,
Tony Pearson was perhaps best known as Mr. Magic.

That is, if people knew him at all.

In the late 1970s, Mr. Magic was Connecticut's equivalent of Kool DJ
Here, a founding father of rap and among those who vie for the title of
innovator of hip-hop. During the decade of Richard Nixon and "Saturday
Night Fever," Mr. Magic emerged as a regionally known deejay and
Ansonla record store owner.

After seeing the way the crowd reacted when he spun Kurtis Blow's 1979
"Christmas Rapping" album for the first time, Tony Pearson became
intent on producing the first rap album to come out of New England.

With "Rappin' With Mr. Magic," a track replete with shout-outs
to cities from Ansonia to Springfield, he succeeded. He sold a couple
records, including songs from a small roster of artists he recruited.
Tony Pearson even sought to capitalize on Kurtis Blow's success by giving
his nephew a similar stage name.

But unlike counterparts in the New York area who became famous for songs
like "Rapper's Delight" and "The Message," that's
about as far as things went for Tony Pearson. Or other early Connecticut

A second chance at more widespread recognition for the could-have-been
stars might come with this month's release of "The Third Unheard:
Connecticut Hip Hop 1979-1983," a labor of love produced by 25-year-old
Seymour and Oxford native Eothen "Egon" Alapatt.

But even Mr. Magic had his doubts.

"There's no place on radio for this stuff," said Tony Pearson,
noting he wouldn't air some of these early songs on his own show since
the sound is so different from what today's listeners know. "But
there is clearly people out there that would buy this stuff."

Can music from artists whose near-misses with stardom date back a quarter-century
resonate with today's dramatically different hip-hop audience? Alapatt
doesn't expect it to.

Maybe, the connoisseurs among hip-hop heads will get it. And perhaps
even youngsters who are buying those throwback T-shirts and Kangaroos
sneakers that are popular now will hear something they like in the period
music of "The Third Unheard."

But instead of jockeying for commercial success, Alapatt said he views
the music he spent two years tracking down as "historically important."
Alapatt spoke with reverence of the early Connecticut rappers whose records
couldn't transcend state borders, but who he nonetheless believes "stood
on par with New York" artists' eclipsing work

As its title suggests, the album attempts to bring belated attention
to a burgeoning musical scene that went largely overlooked. "I don't
know how the average Jay-Z fan is going to wrap his head around this.
I don't care," said Alapatt, whose Los Angeles-based record company,
Stones Throw Records, prides itself on putting out music its producers
like and not necessarily material that will sell volumes.

As a result, Alapatt's "The Third Unheard" becomes as much
an anthropological homage as it is an album release.

Alapatt became enamored with hip-hop as a 6-year-old accompanying his
father to work at the University of Bridgeport Still a toddler when Mr.
Magic and other area artists made their first forays into rap, Alapatt
came to know of them through hip-hop contacts he developed as a teenager
and, later, as a radio station manager at Vanderbilt University in Nashville,
Tenn. Throughout those years, the idea of making a Connecticut hip-hop
album stayed in Alapatt's mind.

Two years ago, he began tracking down the obscure records and contacting
artists. These were the men who were there during the infancy of a movement
that has become a billion-dollar industry.

In those early days, rap music was a different beast Producers would
bring bands into the studio, and songs – which sometimes ran as long as
eight or nine minutes – were recorded in one take.

"The energy these guys had was insane," said Alapatt, explaining
how Mr. Magic might have been the first musician to broker a deal to use
another artists' recorded music in his own – a practice that equates to
modern-day sampling. "There was no rules, and it's exciting because
of that."

The freedom allowed for certain novelties. After all, it is not every
day the listener comes across a rap song featuring a kazoo solo or a back-and-forth
between a ventriloquist and his dummy, as the release offers.

"You have people who were up there doing whatever they felt was
right for the music at the time," said Alapatt, who advocates that
listeners not dismiss the songs as simply primitive sounding. "Give
it a proper look in a proper light. Not only listen to the music, but
get the story of the people."

While the artists attested to giving it up for want of money, those featured
in "The Third Unheard" may yet reap financial reward. Artists
will receive half the profits on a prorated basis. And between the couple
thousand copies shipped in the first few days of sales and advances paid
by Stones Throw, "invariably they've made more than they did back
then," said Alapatt.

The Third Unheard: Connecticut Hip Hop, 1979-1983