10 Cool Photos of Melle-Mel at the Art of Rap Show

Melle-Mel Art of Rap-013

Here are some of the photos I took the other night of Hip Hop pioneer Melle-Mel at the recent Art of Rap Show in San Francisco. He and Scorpio formerly known as Mr Ness did a dope performance. Gotta salute them and give them major props for still going strong after all these years. At this point Melle-Mel has been on the scene for almost 40 years.. Let that sink in for a minute…

Folks should know about Melle-Mel above and beyond him being an original member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5 . Folks should know Melle-Mel above and beyond him and the group being inducted into the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame.  Folks should know him beyond his hit records like; The Message, Beat Street and White Lines.

We should know Melle-Mle as the one who revolutionized rapping by changing the cadence and overall flow. Prior to Melle-Mel hitting the scene early rappers flowed in one of two ways. They either sounded like street hustlers who were talking in a slick, pimp like manner or they were sounding like radio disc jockeys puking on the mic.  It was Melle-Mel who  changed the cadence and  popularized the 4 count straight ahead rhyme flow used by most emcees today..

Melle-Mel is the one who personified the baritone big bass voice in rap. He’s the one who let us know how important the voice was and is in rap. Folks like Chuck D, Busta Rhymes and many more built off the big voice house that Mel built.

The brother was deemed the greatest rapper of all time by Kool Moe Dee in his book God on the Mic.

Melle-Mel Art of Rap-020

Melle-Mel Art of Rap-021

Melle-Mel Art of Rap-048

10 Cool Photos of Ice T at the Art of Rap Show

Ice T on mic copy

Great catching up with Ice T during the recent Art of Rap Show at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. Many forget that Ice T who is featured on the TV show Law & Order is an accomplished artist who helped pioneer Hip Hop on the West Coast.  He is also a seminal figure in what many refer to as gangster rap.

Ice T is also groundbreaking in the sense that he is also known for his work in the rock arena for his group Bodycount who caused a lot of controversy in the early 90s with the song ‘Cop Killer‘.

During his performance at the Art of Rap Show Ice T put on an incredible show.  The man hasn’t lost a step. He also introduced us to a new artist who is the nephew of the late Crip founder Tookie Williams.

Ice T and talked briefly just before he hit the stage. He noted the importance of keeping Hip Hop alive and providing space for artists who bring well honed skills to the table. It’s for this reason he developed the Art of Rap Tour.

Below are some photos I took of his stellar performance.. Enjoy

Oakland’s Mystic Hits Hard on Black/ Brown Genocide w/ the ‘Country Roads’

mysticGlad to see Oakland emcee Mystic is back on the scene with a new album called ‘Beautiful Resistance’. It not only speaks truth to power but touches our soul in profound ways.. This is what she wrote about the song Country Roads which takes on different weight in light of what we just seen unfold in Ferguson and the ongoing assaults of Black and Brown girls and women.

Country Roads” is the last free song before the release of the Beautiful Resistance album on 8/26. Like the first two free songs, this was produced Eligh. I would never have released this song separately from the album sequence if I had a choice due to how heavy the subject matter is. Although this is a historical song about the incredibly painful, violent, and racist history of the United States, the lynching of primarily Black men and boys (along with Brown men/boys) continues in the form of apparently legally sanctioned executions by vigilantes and police with very little justice or recognition of the historical systemic racism that ‘birthed’ this nation.

Just as importantly, the kidnappings, rapes, and murders of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor women continue to receive less recognition and national outcry. The value placed on our lives and our right to exist/dream/thrive is still unequal as it was in the inception of this country. In this song you hear pain, anger, me wishing I could go back and hold everyone in my arms to protect them; but none of us can return. We can only continue to beautifully resist and push forward through action and solidarity with those of us who make up the majority of the world. These are not just issues in the United States; these are global issues.

In love and in struggle,
Mystic

https://soundcloud.com/warmedia/mystic-country-roads

Changing pace, here’s another cut from Mystic called ‘Homage‘…

https://soundcloud.com/warmedia/mystic-homage

3 Dope Songs from KRS-One that You Should Find Useful and Inspiring

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KRS-One photo by B-Fresh

One thing we should do in this coming year is shed the industry frame-work that has been attached to our music. By that I mean we need to see Hip Hop offerings as timeless and something to be embraced when our spirits move us and not something that needs to be consumed to further a record label’s bottom line.. Far too many of us have been caught up in measuring the success of an artists or the importance of a particular song by artificial criteria like first week’s album sales or heavy rotation on the radio station claiming to be home to Hip Hop and R&B..

Even amongst folks who say they shun commercialism there is still a short-sighted criteria where the name of the game seems to be who got an album first or who got an exclusive..It’s a self-serving criteria that allows one to appear ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ but unfortunately what gets lost is the important messages and concepts put forth by an artist who finds him or herself quickly discarded and deemed irrelevant by the hipster type with the same reckless abandon as their commercial counterpart.

Music at its best is communal..It’s to be shared and upheld. It’s a sound track to our lives. Its healing to our wounded souls. It’s inspiring, in a world that seems hell-bent on keeping us down..Hopefully artists don’t get discouraged and start changing up their process by abandoning expressions that reflects what’s on their hearts to create throwaway product that fulfils the needs of  fast food consumers and not those who need true mental and audio nourishment.

So for folks who are tired of the same ole same ole, please keep in mind there’s a treasure chest of good solid music waiting to be discovered.. Lets go back to browsing and digging for music that moves us vs waiting for it to be served by the tentacles of an industry that doesn’t have our well-being in mind..

Click HERE to hear the Breakdown FM KRS-One interview we did at Rock the Bells

Today we wanna celebrate a tireless champion and prolific artist.. Blastmasta KRS-One tha Teacha ... Here’s 3 songs you should take in..The lyrics and video are on point, uplifting and stand the test of time.. Shout out to his producer who is also a dope artists Mad-Lion.

The first song is Aztechnical.. It came out late last year and addresses the issue of the Mayan calendar and prophecy and the Earth supposedly ending. Well as you know that day Dec 21 2012 has come and gone.. But as KRS explains, what was supposed to take place was us reaching a higher consciousness in our thinking.. He takes you there in this song..

The second song ‘Just Like That‘ deals with a topic that KRS has addressed on at least 3 or 4 different occasions.. His upbringing. For those of us who know KRS, we might be tempted to say ‘I heard this story’ before.. But for folks who are just getting acquainted to KRS, its inspiring as and gives us insight on how we might overcome rough times.. In short the message is timeless

The third song was released a few days after Hurricane Sandy… It’s probably his most important song and shows KRS at his best.. Here he gives sound advice as to what we should be doing in preparation for a natural disaster..The song is called ‘Disaster Kit

KRS-One Aztechnical

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M7MZh_bvjg

KRS-One Just Like That

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q_C0o9GHsw

KRS-One Disaster Kit

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g8cplYa_DE

Good Bye Nate Dogg-He Marked an Important Era in Hip Hop

So much has been going on over the past few days that I never got a chance and properly reflect on the untimely passing of Nate Dogg.. Gone is a cat who was the cornerstone of an era..He was the soul of West coast Hip Hop. Nate was the ace in the hole, the clean up batter who you called to take your record over the top and make it a hit..He represented one of Hip Hop’s golden eras.. The G Funk Era

Nate Dogg was the constant  soundtrack for a whole lot of folks who are now looking back and saying to themselves.. Homie put it down for us...He helped give voice to a generation. His smooth vocals and catchy hooks were such that he could make dog shyt sound nice..I don’t say that to be funny, but if you stop and think for a minute Nate said some hard stuff in some of his songs, but you hardly noticed because he was so seductive with his sound…Take the song Regulate..I was playing it yesterday for my class and pointed out the irony of Nate singing about killing someone, but he did it so smooth, that we smiled and didn’t give it a second thought

Sixteen in the clip and one in the hole
Nate Dogg is about to make some bodies turn cold
now they droppin and yellin
it’s a tad bit late
Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate

I laid all them busters down
I let my gat explode
now I’m switching my mind back into freak mode
if you want skirts sit back and observe
I just left a gang of those over there on the curb

What was interesting about was Nate was he came on the scene at a time when people would frown and consider you a sell out for having singing on the hook. That sort of approach was most associated with R&B singers. Sure you had a few songs with Ki-Ci and JoJo, who were seen as legit,  but for most part singers on rap songs was not fully embraced until Nate Dogg came along and showed us how it should be done..

You listen to cuts off Nate’s album ‘Music and Me‘ and its clear that he was under rated… Cuts like ‘Another Short Story’ and ‘Nobody Does it Better’ which I think was his best song, bare that assertion out..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9CLYk7J3OU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY8UD-eLIfw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzveEPBVQtA

Seems like everyone has a Nate Dogg story to tell…myself included. .I met dude on several occasions and he was always chill. He was accessible, not hiding behind 50 bodyguards..and even though he was from gang infested Southern Cali, you didn’t get a menacing energy when he was around.. Nate Dogg was cool..

I recall when the landmark ‘Up in Smoke Tour’ came to the Bay Area. Nate had some legal issues and wasn’t gonna show. Tyrese was scheduled to take his place. People like Tyrese and agree he’s talented, but Nate was the cat singing damn near half the hooks so him not being there was a bit of a let down..

When Dr Dre took the stage, he ripped into the song ‘Next Episode‘. At the part when the song says ‘hold Up‘.. Instead of Tyrese, we heard Nate’s voice who suddenly appeared from behind the curtain. He had made it after all and upon hearing his voice, the crowd went nuts.. Everyone cheered and gave high fives and the show was on for real.. It was an incredible show and Nate being classy shared his singing duties with Tyrese who adlibed and added to what Nate was doing.. Dude will certainly be missed..RIP Nate.

written by Davey D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCOK206_Q8k

Japan’s Nuclear Fallout..Hip Hop artist Shingo 02 Speaks Out

We chopped it up with longtime Japanese nuclear activist and famed Hip Hop artists Shingo 02 about whats going on in Japan. For those who don’t know Shingo has been speaking out about the potential dangers of these plants. He’s led protests, put out mixtapes and more importantly several years ago issued a widely read report on the topic. Sadly many of his concerns have come to light.. We spoke with him about this the other day on our daily Hard Knock Radio show.. You can peep the interview here: HKR Intv w/ Shingo 02 on Japan’s Nuclear Fallout

Here’s a quick essay Shingo wrote the other day from his blog at http://e22.com/blog/2011/03/14/radiation-why-we-should-be-concerned/ We also encourage you to check out his other site called http://stop-rokkasho.org/information/

RADIATION: WHY WE SHOULD BE CONCERNED

The following is a quick essay on what I believe to be technical misconceptions about radiation in the media.

First off, I understand people don’t have the patience to read more than a page of anything on the web. My main purpose here is to have something on here that I can be at peace with, for people to point to. That said, please read on, if you’re so inclined:

– – – – – – – – – – – –

People have sent me links to articles (both major and personal) stating that the nuclear disaster in Fukushima will be contained and shouldn’t be of any concern to the average citizen. Most seem to dismiss the potential effects of the intentional & unintentional leaks by blaming the media for sensationalism. Or are they?

For a lack of a better metaphor, just because an actor is having a public meltdown and the papers are right there to capitalize on it to sell more copies, it doesn’t mean that s/he isn’t.

While we all hope and pray the situation is not headed towards a Chernobyl-scale eruption, to assume the concerns are unfounded couldn’t be further from the truth. These articles do an excellent job explaining the basics of how a nuclear reactor works and its design to prevent a meltdown, but they all commonly seem to completely ignore these glaring points:

1. You should never equate the products of nuclear fission with background radiation, and other forms such as X-Rays.

The reason being, atomic fission splits Uranium (will write elements in caps) into dozens of combination of atoms, all of them highly radioactive. These radioactive isotopes do NOT exist in nature, because fission doesn’t happen on earth under normal circumstances, unless the Uranium is enriched by humans. (Fission was discovered in 1938, which lead to the atomic bomb and the same principles were applied to heating water, albeit at a much lower concentration.)

List of fission products: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fission_product_yield

(also, though I regret I haven’t done an english translation, I did post a Japanese report in 2006,
complete with diagrams here: www.e22.com/atom)

Some radioactive elements when ingested, will be mistaken as nutrients and stay in your body (since atoms in the same column of the periodic table have similar properties). Once stored in your body, they continue to affect the neighboring cells which could lead to uncontrolled genetic mutation = cancer. Example: Strontium acts like Calcium, Cesium acts like Potassium.

Measured by half-life, some dissipate after days, some stay on for years. Radioactivity is a term for high-energy electromagnetic waves, and sometimes they happened to be grouped with X-rays because of its ionizing nature. Ionizing roughly means that it is strong enough to break bonds of common molecules.

Therefore, just measuring the amount of radiation in arbitrary units and making judgements is the same thing as measuring the weight and ignoring the content. Counters are useful in detecting the presence of radioactivity, but what we really need to be aware of is what might be present, and where they originated.

2. Fission products are NOT the same as what happens when uranium decays. Uranium decays naturally over millions of years, through several steps and eventually settles into a stable form of Lead. Decaying does not stop, but fission will without the proper environment. If we are detecting any fission products, it is safe to assume that others in the dirty laundry basket are present as well.

3. The health effects of radiation exposure may depend on the person and age, but there is really NO safe limit for internal radiation, even at low-levels. Infants and fetuses are highly susceptible, because they are still developing critical organs and functions. Saying the opposite is quite irresponsible if you understand the consequences.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

In the case of the reactors in Japan, if the housings popped to release the pressure, and we’re also detecting traces of fission products, there could have been a compromise in the integrity of the reactor itself. We already know for certain there was nearly twice the maximum amount of pressure that it was designed for.

I don’t think it’s overreacting to err on the safe side. The main dividing issue is that undermining the effects of radiation is the main tactic used for decades by the proponents of the nuclear industry. If you think I sound I’m exaggerating, I recommend reading a study like this:

CHERNOBYL: 20 YEARS ON by ECCR (summary)
http://www.euradcom.org/publications/chernobyleflyer.pdf

I have personally interviewed many scientists and engineers who have worked inside plants. They all had to leave in order to expose the truth with great conscience. Although the technology has improved, the principles have remained the same since its inception. We really need to realize that most “fears” regarding nuclear energy is indeed very true. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be having such a big discussion in 2011.

Why do you think we haven’t had any new plants built in the US since Three Mile Island accident of 1979? Currently around 100, at one point the US government was aiming for 1000 nuclear power plants. The bottom line is nuclear plants are never safe nor economically viable, unless you’re heavily invested in Uranium.

Which side you want be on, is totally up to you.
Let’s keep working for the truth, for the people, for each other.

peace
Shing02

Method Man being Sued for Shooting a Houston Woman

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It’s always disturbing when we hear stories like this. One would think after all these years that artists would stay as far away from scenarios like this as possible, especially as veterans. Sadly over the years we’ve seen charges levied on vets ranging from Snoop to Akon to Busta Rhymes who have laid hands on fans.  There are two things puzzling about this story. First, what’s real disturbing is that its a woman Meth is accussed of assaulting.  Why would you shoot a woman top gun or not? Was he trying to be funny?

Second disturbing thing, is that Houston  and Texas in general is real quick to smash on folks and hand out felonies at the drop of a dime. Heck, if you get caught smoking weed in H-Town you can have a problem. So any police involvement would’ve had Meth hemmed up on that alone.  So why just the lawsuit? Where’s the criminal charges? This incident went down in November, why the long wait?  Either this is an anticipated quick pay day or there’s more to this story .. we’ll keep you posted.

-Davey D-

Houstonian Woman sues rapper Method Man

 

Why hasn't Method Man been criminally charged for shooting a woman with a pellet gun?

Why hasn't Method Man been criminally charged for shooting a woman with a pellet gun?

HOUSTON (KTRK) -A local woman is suing a popular rapper and actor all for what she claims happened outside a popular Houston nightspot. She claims Method Man shot her six times with an air gun because she asked for an autograph.

In the eight-page lawsuit, the woman claims she suffered not only physical trauma, but emotional trauma as well.

According to the lawsuit, Method Man, aka Clifford Smith, performed at the House of Blues last November. In the complaint, the victim, Mary Anderson of Fort Bend County, claims after the concert, Smith was signing autographs for a group of people out of the back window of his tour bus, when she approached trying to get her concert ticket signed.

Anderson claims as she waited for her ticket to be returned, Smith pulled out an air gun and began firing pellets into the group striking her at least six times. Anderson claims she suffered multiple injuries to her stomach and chest causing her to go to a hospital.

Ironically, this lawsuit comes just days before Method Man is expected to perform at the House of Blues in Houston this Friday. Anderson’s attorney says he hopes this lawsuit sends a strong message.

“These aren’t life or death injuries. She’s alive. She’s not paralyzed. She’s moved on with her life as far as the injuries are concerned, but punitive damages are to punish the person who did the damage and that’s the reason we’ve done this,” said her attorney, Daniel Horowitz.

The exact amount of money Anderson is seeking is not being disclosed. Our calls to Method Man’s representatives have not been returned.

source: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=6948876

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The History of Hip Hop (1985 Reprint)

dbanner1newparis
The History of Hip Hop
by Dave ‘Davey D’ Cook (reprint from 1985-The Power of Rap)

Nowadays if you ask most people to give a definition of “rap”, they’re likely to state that it’s the reciting of rhymes to the best of music. It’s a form of expression that finds its roots embedded deep within ancient African culture and oral tradition. Throughout history here in America there has always been some form of verbal acrobatics or jousting involving rhymes within the Afro-American community. Signifying, testifying, Shining of the Titanic, the Dozens, school yard rhymes, prison ‘jail house’ rhymes and double Dutch jump rope‘ rhymes are some of the names and ways that various forms of rap have manifested

Modern day rap music finds its immediate roots in the toasting and dub talk over elements of reggae music. In the early 70’s, a Jamaican dj known as Kool Herc moved from Kingston to NY’s West Bronx. Here, he attempted to incorporate his Jamaican style of dj which involved reciting improvised rhymes over the dub versions of his reggae records. Unfortunately, New Yorkers weren’t into reggae at the time. Thus Kool Herc adapted his style by chanting over the instrumental or percussion sections of the day’s popular songs. Because these breaks were relatively short, he learned to extend them indefinitely by using an audio mixer and two identical records in which he continuously replaced the desired segment.

In those early days, young party goers initially recited popular phrases and used the slang of the day. For example, it was fashionable for dj to acknowledge people who were in attendance at a party. These early raps featured someone such as Herc shouting over the instrumental break; ‘Yo this is Kool Herc in the joint-ski saying my mellow-ski Marky D is in the house‘. This would usually evoke a response from the crowd, who began to call out their own names and slogans.

As this phenomenon evolved, the party shouts became more elaborate as dj in an effort to be different, began to incorporate little rhymes-‘Davey D is in the house/An he’ll turn it out without a doubt.’ It wasn’t long before people began drawing upon outdated dozens and school yard rhymes. Many would add a little twist and customize these rhymes to make them suitable for the party environment. At that time rap was not yet known as ‘rap’ but called ‘emceeing‘. With regards to Kool Herc, as he progressed, he eventually turned his attention to the complexities of deejaying and let two friends Coke La Rock and Clark Kent (not Dana Dane’s dj) handle the microphone duties. This was rap music first emcee team. They became known as Kool Herc and the Herculoids.

Rap caught on because it offered young urban New Yorkers a chance to freely express themselves. This was basically the same reason why any of the aforementioned verbal/rhyme games manifested themselves in the past. More importantly, it was an art form accessible to anyone. One didn’t need a lot of money or expensive resources to rhyme. One didn’t have to invest in lessons, or anything like that. Rapping was a verbal skill that could be practiced and honed to perfection at almost anytime.

Rap also became popular because it offered unlimited challenges. There were no real set rules, except to be original and to rhyme on time to the beat of music. Anything was possible. One could make up a rap about the man in the moon or how good his dj was. The ultimate goal was to be perceived as being ‘def (good) by one’s peers. The fact that the praises and positive affirmations a rapper received were on par with any other urban hero (sports star, tough guy, comedian, etc.) was another drawing card.

Finally, rap, because of its inclusive aspects, allowed one to accurately and efficiently inject their personality. If you were laid back, you could rap at a slow pace. If you were hyperactive or a type-A, you could rap at a fast pace. No two people rapped the same, even when reciting the same rhyme. There were many people who would try and emulate someone’s style, but even that was indicative of a particular personality.

Rap continues to be popular among today’s urban youth for the same reasons it was a draw in the early days: it is still an accessible form of self expression capable of eliciting positive affirmation from one’s peers. Because rap has evolved to become such a big business, it has given many the false illusion of being a quick escape from the harshness of inner city life. There are many kids out there under the belief that all they need to do is write a few ‘fresh’ (good) rhymes and they’re off to the good life.

Now, up to this point, all this needs to be understood with regards to Hip Hop. Throughout history, music originating from America’s Black communities has always had an accompanying subculture reflective of the political, social and economic conditions of the time. Rap is no different.

Hip hop is the culture from which rap emerged. Initially it consisted of four main elements; graffiti art, break dancing, deejay (cuttin’ and scratching) and emceeing (rapping). Hip hop is a lifestyle with its own language, style of dress, music and mind set that is continuously evolving. Nowadays because break dancing and graffiti aren’t as prominent the words ‘rap’ and ‘hip hop’ have been used interchangeably. However it should be noted that all aspects of hip hop culture still exists. They’ve just evolved onto new levels.

Hip hop continues to be a direct response to an older generation’s rejection of the values and needs of young people. Initially all of hip hop’s major facets were forms of self expression. The driving force behind all these activities was people’s desire to be seen and heard. Hip hop came about because of some major format changes that took place within Black radio during the early 70’s. Prior to hip hop, black radio stations played an important role in the community be being a musical and cultural preserver or griot (story teller). It reflected the customs and values of the day in particular communities. It set the tone and created the climate for which people governed their lives as this was a primary source of information and enjoyment. This was particularly true for young people. Interestingly enough, the importance of Black radio and the role djs played within the African American community has been the topic of numerous speeches from some very prominent individuals.

For example in August of ’67, Martin Luther King Jr addressed the Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters. Here he delivered an eloquent speech in which he let it be known that Black radio djs played an intricate part in helping keep the Civil Rights Movement alive. He noted that while television and newspapers were popular and often times more effective mediums, they rarely languaged themselves so that Black folks could relate to them. He basically said Black folks were checking for the radio as their primary source of information.

In August of 1980 Minister Farrakhon echoed those thoughts when he addressed a body of Black radio djs and programmers at the Jack The Rapper Convention. He warned them to be careful about what they let on the airwaves because of its impact. He got deep and spoke about the radio stations being instruments of mind control and how big companies were going out of their way to hire ‘undignified’ ‘foul’ and ‘dirty’ djs who were no longer being conveyers of good information to the community. To paraphrase him, Farrakhon noted that there was a fear of a dignified djs coming on the airwaves and spreading that dignity to the people he reached. Hence the role radio was playing was beginning to shift…Black radio djs were moving away from being the griots.. Black radio was no longer languaging itself so that both a young and older generation could define and hear themselves reflected in this medium.

Author Nelson George talks extensively about this in his book ‘The Death Of Rhythm And Blues‘. He documented how NY’s Black radio station began to position themselves so they would appeal to a more affluent, older and to a large degree, whiter audience. He pointed out how young people found themselves being excluded especially when bubble gum and Europeanized versions of disco music began to hit the air waves. To many, this style of music lacked soul and to a large degree sounded too formulated and mechanical.

In a recent interview hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa spoke at length how NY began to lose its connection with funk music during this that time. He noted that established rock acts doing generic sounding disco tunes found a home on black radio. Acts like Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones were cited as examples.

Meanwhile Black artists like James Brown and George Clinton were for the most part unheard on the airwaves. Even the gospel-like soulful disco as defined by the ‘Philly sound’ found itself losing ground. While the stereotype depicted a lot of long haired suburban white kids yelling the infamous slogan ‘disco sucks’, there were large number of young inner city brothers and sisters who were in perfect agreement. With all this happening a void was created and hip hop filled it… Point blank, hip hop was a direct response to the watered down, Europeanized, disco music that permeated the airwaves..

FYI around the same time hip hop was birthed, House music was evolving among the brothers in Chicago, GoGo music was emerging among the brothers in Washington DC and Black folks in California were getting deep into the funk. If you ask me, it was all a response to disco.

In the early days of hip hop, there were break dance crews who went around challenging each other. Many of these participants were former gang members who found a new activity. Bambataa’s Universal Zulu Nation was one such group. As the scene grew, block parties became popular. It was interesting to note that the music being played during these gigs was stuff not being played on radio. Here James Brown, Sly & Family Stone, Gil Scott Heron and even the Last Poets found a home. Hence a younger generation began building off a musical tradition abandoned by its elders.

Break beats picked up in popularity as emcees sought to rap longer at these parties. It wasn’t long before rappers became the ONLY vocal feature at these parties. A microphone and two turntables was all one used in the beginning. With the exception of some break dancers the overwhelming majority of attendees stood around the roped off area and listened carefully to the emcee. A rapper sought to express himself while executing keen lyrical agility. This was defined by one’s rhyme style, one’s ability to rhyme on beat and the use of clever word play and metaphors.

In the early days rappers flowed on the mic continuously for hours at a time..non stop. Most of the rhymes were pre-written but it was a cardinal sin to recite off a piece of paper at a jam. The early rappers started off just giving shout outs and chants and later incorporated small limricks. Later the rhymes became more elaborate, with choruses like ‘Yes Yes Y’all, Or ‘One Two Y’all To The Beat Y’all being used whenever an emcee needed to gather his wind or think of new rhymes. Most emcess rhymed on a four count as opposed to some of the complex patterns one hears today. However, early rappers took great pains to accomplish the art of showmanship. There was no grabbing of the crotch and pancing around the stage.

Pioneering rapper Mele-Mel in a recent interview pointed out how he and other acts spent long hours reheasing both their rhymes and routines. The name of the game was to get props for rockin’ the house. That meant being entertaining. Remember back in the late 70s early 80s, artists weren’t doing one or two songs and leaving, they were on the mic all night long with folks just standing around watching. Folks had to come with it or be forever dissed.

Before the first rap records were put out (Fat Back Band‘s King Tem III’ and Sugar Hill Gang‘s ‘Rapper Delight’), hip hop culture had gone through several stages. By the late 70’s it seemed like many facets of hip hop would play itself out. Rap for so many people had lost its novelty. For those who were considered the best of the bunch; Afrika Bambaataa, Chief Rocker Busy Bee, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Four (yes initially there were only 4), Grand Wizard Theodore and the Fantastic Romantic Five, Funky Four Plus One More, Crash Crew, Master Don Committee to name a few had reached a pinnacle and were looking for the next plateau. Many of these groups had moved from the ‘two turntables and a microphone stage’ of their career to what many would today consider hype routines. For example all the aforementioned groups had routines where they harmonized. At first folks would do rhymes to the tune of some popular song.

The tune to ‘Gilligan’s Island‘ was often used. Or as was the case with the Cold Crush Brothers, the ‘Cats In the Cradle‘ was used in one of their more popular routines. As this ‘flavor of the month’ caught hold, the groups began to develop more elaborate routines. Most notable was GM Flash’s’ Flash Is to The Beat Box‘. All this proceeded ‘harmonizing/hip hop acts like Bel Biv DeVoe by at least 15 years.

The introduction of rap records in the early 80s put a new meaning on hip hop. It also provided participants a new incentive for folks to get busy. Rap records inspired hip hoppers to take it to another level because they now had the opportunity to let the whole world hear their tales. It also offered a possible escape from the ghetto…. But that’s another story..we’ll tell it next time.

written by Dave ‘Davey D’ Cook
c 1985

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Is Rap Actually Music or is it a Bad Influence?

Is Rap Actually Music or is it a Bad Influence?
By renee
www.associatedcontent.com…tml?page=2
original article-August 23, 2006

The world of hip hop would have you believe that rap is a very poetic way of expressing yourself through music. This can of course be true, but does what you hear from rap music sound very poetic to you? The influence that rap currently has on our children all around the world is unfortunately a very strong one. If you have not noticed many of the major leaders in the rap community try to get involved with good causes and political campaigns in order to make it appear that rap is a good thing. But have you really taken the time to listen to some of these rap songs? I mean really focus on the words and what they mean.

Eighty percent of the rap music that is currently on the top ten lists around the world contains violence. They glorify the acts of beating up another person, or even worse shooting them. Looking like someone who just got released from prison in their eyes is a good thing. Not to mention that half of the time they are yelling their lyrics in such a loud and annoying way you may not be able to really understand what they are saying. Remember this is where the fashion statement of wearing pants off of your butt and looking sloppy came from in addition to women who are half naked. What is the end result of half naked women in a rap music video?

Obviously girls think this is the way for other boys or men to notice them and to make themselves more popular in school. Another thing that rap music also seems to glorify is that what matters most when looking for a good woman is what her body looks like. This is why there are so many teenagers who have eating disorders or other emotional problems. They just dont feel that they fit the diagram of what teenage girls should like. Rap music also glorifies drinking, and sex. Two things which happen to be a major problem amoung many children today.

There are some rappers however who keep their lyrics clean and try to rap about positive things. Although the numbers of rappers who do this are very few there definitely are some out there who send a good message to children. One of these is Will Smith who has outwardly spoken about how he does not see the need to include vulgar language or lyrics in his rap music. So the bottom line is that when you are trying to determine whether or not to allow your child to listen to rap music, it is not so much rap itself, but the artist which they choose to listen too.

Rap music did originally start as a poetic form of music, it has just been distorted by people who choose to use rap as a way to promote gang violence and other means of self destruction. Make sure that you take the time to listen to the music that your child listens to. And dont be so quick to rule out rap music, just make sure that you take the time to listen to the lyrics first and then make your decision. For additional information you can visit the following websites: www.uic.edu, www.yale.edu, www.rapworld.com, www.rhino.com.

Here’s a compelling response to this article from my man Cenzi out of Chilee:
Hell yeah its a bad influence. I can easily prove my point with one example.

In certain countries that recieve hiphop music through whichever way possible, they start copying American antics, such as gangs. I have seen “crips” in the weirdest countries, where there shouldn’t be any at all. They only do this because of the whole Crip Walk @..%$ that popped off a couple yrs back. That was brought to them through hiphop.

Another example?

I can probably name about 10 different types of guns, some hard liquor I dont drink, different types of weeds, and I know about the word Ho as a demeaning way of treating a woman. and all of this thankx to hiphop. Now, I am old enough to take all of this in as “information” and leave it at that, but younger more impressionable minds want to hold these guns, try these weeds, drink these liqours and have a few hos…. Negative influence? hell yeah.

What can I get from listening to the other types of music? hmm.. no other music is so graphic in violent nature. Well except some of that thrash metal @..%$ that talks about some satanism… and yeah thats a negative influence too, buuuuuut, it aint and it will never be top ten material, not like hiphop, so it effects much less…

anyways.. I say this as a hiphop fan, and I love me some SPice 1 and Cold 187 lyrics (congrats on his freedom BTW), but I am old enough to discern bad from good. I wish more hiphop catered to younger minds. And I dont mean, give them watered down pop rap, I mean, give them more De La Soul, Quest and Visionaries…….

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

What is Hip Hop? A Historical Definition Of The Term Rap pt1

A Historical Definition Of The Term Rap pt1

microphoneWhat is rap? Depending on who you ask and from which generation the word  ‘rap’ will take on different meanings. At one point in time ‘a rap’ was a set of excuses a con artist handed you in an effort to deceive you.

In the 70s rap were the words a person used when trying to persuade you. This particularly applied to the persuasive efforts of a young man trying to obtain sexual favors from a female..

Today rap means saying rhymes to the beat of music making it’s one of the four major element within hip hop culture. Because the other elements which include deejaying, breakdancing and graffiti aren’t as widespread, the words Hip Hop and Rap have been used interchangeably over the years..

The truth of the matter is the word rap wasn’t always used to describe this activity. The act of rhyming to the beat of music was initially called emceeing. The term rap first became associated with Hip Hop around 1979 with release of two records in ’79. The first was called King Tim III [Personality Jock] which is considered Hip Hop’s first record. This was track put out by the Brooklyn based Fatback Band. This song was said to be inspired the old rhyme styles of popular Black radio disc jockeys of the 50s and 60s  like Jocko Henderson, Jack The Rapper, Magnificent Montague and Daddy O to name a few. These Black radio deejays would eventually go on to influence pioneering club deejays like DJ Hollywood..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcTP4cvXSP0

Suagrhillgang-old-225The second song that popularized and associated the term Rap with Hip Hop  was the landmark song Rapper’s Delight by Sugar Hill Gang. I’m not quite sure how Sugar Hill came up with the term ‘Rap’. Some say it was already being bantered about within the mainstream media who were then mystified by this new phenomenon.

Others say that the term was coined by older folks within the community in this case Sugar Hill record label owners Sylvia and Joey Robinson who saw similarities between young hip hoppers from the ’70s and the word manipulators of earlier generations where the term rap was used..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljUnyv5XUA8

H-rap-brown-yellow

H Rap Brown

Ironically within the song Rapper’s Delight contains a well-known rhyme which appears to have been borrowed from the former Black Panther and SNCC chairman H.Rap Brown now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.The rhyme in question appears in Brown’s auto biography written in 1969 called  ‘Die Nigger Die‘. It spoke about his militant approach toward solving some of the ills afflicting Black America. Within his book he spoke about how he obtained his name ‘Rap’. He detailed that when he was growing up in Louisiana people used to play a variety of word games including one called The Dozens.

The purpose of the game was to totally destroy somebody else with words. He noted that in his neighborhood and bear in mind we are talking about the early 60s, there would be close to 50 guys standing around competing against one another in this rhyme game in which people talked about each others mothers. The winner was determined by crowd reaction… Rap Brown got his name his name because he was considered to be one of the most skilled…

In his book H.Rap Brown gives some examples of his rhymes…

I fucked your mama
till she went blind.
Her breath smells bad,
But she sure can grind.

I fucked your mama
for a solid hour.
Baby came out
screaming, Black Power.

Elephant and Baboon
learning to screw.
Baby came out looking
like Spiro Agnew.
[Spiro Agnew was former Vice President under Richard Nixon]

Brown also explained another verbal game called Signifying. He noted that this was verbal game which was more humane than The Dozens because instead of dissin’ someone’s mother you would dis your opponent. He also explained that a skilled signifier knew how to skillfully put words together so you could accurately express your feelings. He concluded that signifying could also be used to make some one feel good. He dropped a rhyme which was used in the movie ‘Five On The Black Hand Side‘ and later immortalized several years later by the Sugar Hill Gang.

Yes, I’m hemp the demp the women’s pimp
women fight for my delight.
I’m a bad motherfucker. Rap the rip-saw the
devil’s brother ‘n law.
I roam the world I’m known to wander and this .45
is where I get my thunder…

The fact that H.Rap refered to his .45 caliber gun may have inadvertently been a precursor to what we call gangsta rap. (This of course is being said with tongue in cheek)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkbKKnKg7dk

Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes

As was mentioned earlier the term rap has changed from generation to generation. In the 70s the term not only meant the art of persuasion but it was also used to describe the monologue talking styles used by singing artists like Isaac Hayes, Barry White, Bobby Womack, Lou Rawls and Millie Jackson. Albums like Isaac Hayes’ ‘Hot Buttered Soul’ and Millie Jackson’s ‘Still Caught Up’ best personified these styles called ‘Love Raps’.

The art of rappin’ with respect to hip hop was characterized by one’s ability to syncopated to a beat. Ideally an emcee rapped from the heart. His rhymes were spontaneous, not memorized or read aloud from a written document.

Of course we now know that most of the great pioneering emcees like Mele-Mel, Grand Master Caz and Kurtis Blow to name a few, all rehearsed and pre-wrote their rhymes. But the approach was to present yourself as if the rhymes were coming off the top of the dome. ..

Ideally a rap is a group of rhymes that are thrown together so everything has meaning. Nothing said is frivolous. It reflects the here and now and ideally the lifestyle of the one rapping. Rap’s ideally projected the emotions and feelings experienced by the rapper. Ultimately and historically an artist rapped for no one but himself. His rap was a call for attention to himself.. He was ideally saying..’Hey look here I am world-Somebody hear my song!’.

And the beat goes on an on an on
It don’t stop rocking till the crack of dawn
when the people hear me rock the funky rap song
The whole damn world wants to hum along
Cause I’m e-lectricic..I’m bigger than life
An everyone calls me Jesus Christ
To The beat y’all check me out..
To the beat y’all check me out..

-Davey D-
Double D Crew..’78

c 1984.. The Power Of Rap..
By dave ‘Davey D’ Cook