Thursday, July 01, 2010

Hip Hop History (At least for me)

So it has been quite some time since I have written on this here ol' blog. Apparently having a child is time consuming, ;). But I think it is time to get those creative juices going again, and so here we go.
Ok, well not really completely creatively speaking. Let's talk more about inspiration. The other morning, in my twisted slur of morning. In that place spotted with a sporadically giggly Lily, coffee not quite brewed, breakfast not quite served, I find myself listening to music, sometimes the news, sometimes Radio Lab, but usually music. Lately, the laziness of Pandora has been too hard to resist considering I haven't yet poured the motivation to go with my milk and honey. Every once in while though, I get that ear worm, that strange song stuck in my head for no apparent reason. Perhaps it was the country song at the strip club in my dream or maybe I heard it jamming out quietly at the bodega when I bought Claudia some ice cream the night before. Nobody really knows, (even though they do try to explain it.) Anyway to make a long story longer, the other morning, I was struck by the rhythms of Newcleus, a trio from the early eighties who mixed rap with real instruments, keyboards. Like the epitome of the transition from Kool and the Gang to the Sugar Hill Gang.  As I listened it hit me, this was the beginning of my white boy love affair with hiphop music.  Sure it waxes and wains, but since I was eight years old, I have loved hiphop music.

I remember Ry Mitchem brought a tape home from his trip to Florida. I was eight.  It had Newcleus, Sugar Hill Gang, UTFO, The Real Roxanne, Whodini, and few others like the Duke.  Around that time, also got my first Fat Boys tape.  In the next few years I would listen to Eric B., Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Rob Base, Ice T, the Beastie Boys, and LL Cool J.  By the time we moved to Lewisburg, in 1988 I was fully enthralled. With the addition of cable in our household (truly a new step in our lives) I found Yo MTV Raps, with Dre, Ed Lover, and Fab Five Freddy.  Everyday was something new and exciting. Easy E, X Clan, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Heavy D, NWA its is off shoots.  In Living Color always hosted music at the end of the show, that was something new and fresh.  By the time junior high rolled around, I had faux leopard print, black suede wingtips (cheap ones), acid washed jeans and super dope rayon shirts.  I practiced the running man and the Roger Rabbit and sang Boys 2 Men ballads when I had time alone.  Our basketball team rocked out to Dodo Brown in the locker room.  I wanted to sport a cane and those fake spectacles.   

Being a small town WV boy, it took a while to really start to appreciate the big talents of the time like KRS One with Boogie Down Productions (eventually letting loose D-Nice), Guru and Gang Starr, Eric B and Rakim, and EPMD (in my opinion).  Still there was plenty of good music and fun to be had.  With the R&B junior high dance favorites like Jodeci and Tevin Campbell mixed up with Poor Righteous Teachers, Heavy D, Black Sheep,  Nice and Smooth.  I taped videos, practiced my dance moves, studied the lyrics.  I loved it!!  Looking back, I realize that this was truly a revolution in music.  The gentle progression from the funk to the B boys to the colors and gangsta rap of the eighties and nineties to conscious rap to the dolla dolla bills krunked up Juvenile and beyond.  To me, at least, this all started with Newcleus.  Nowadays, for me it mostly Mos Def, Talib Kwali, Black Starr, Blueprint and lots of ol school, but if you ever get the chance go back and listen to the roots.  With that, here is Newcleus and Jam On It.


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