Welcome to What the What Wednesdays. The one day every week that I discuss random things that tickles my fancy. Today… we talk about Hip-Hop.
I subscribe to Sirius XM radio and often listen to Back Spin, their classic hip hop station. One day as I was dropping my kids off at school, one of my favorite old school song came on and as I was reminiscing I asked myself (like Sanaa Lathan asked in the movie “Brown Sugar”) when did you fall in love with hip hop?
I did not grow up in the hub of hip hop so my story is nowhere near as glamorous as those in the movie. I grew up in San Bernardino, California so there were no free style battles that I saw in the park and no street parties where I saw the hottest rapper perform. My journey with hip hop began in The Crest movie theater with the movie Breakin’ in 1984.
Now before you all start beating me up saying there was no real hip-hop music in that movie compared to Beat Street you’re absolutely correct. But Beat Street didn’t grab me the way Breakin’ did. Even still we can’t deny the awesome songs that came from the Breakin’ movie like “I Feel for You” or “Breakin’…Ain’t No Stopping Us”
Breakin‘ sparked my interest in break dancing (stop laughing… yes… pop locking, cardboard box, spinning on your back, trying to spin on your head break dancing!) and break dancing had a special type of music associated with it (enter hip hop).
I know… a lot of hip hop heads will say “Seriously!?!?! What about Kurtis Blow, African Bambaataa, OR most importantly The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five?” Honestly, none of them really grabbed my attention at the time and I really disliked that song “The Message” growing up. I remember every time the video came on MTV and I saw that damn shmedium jacket with the fringe on the shoulders I got irritated. But hey, that was 1982… I was 8 and living in California. I couldn’t relate and was apparently a fashion snob.
1984- A Magical Year for Hip Hop
Now let me tell you… 1984 was when Breakin‘ came out but also some of MY favorite music did as well. I was definitely a fan… but love was a little too strong a word for me at this time. But we need to take a moment to recognize a few artists and songs.
I’m certain that they came out earlier than 1984 but I didn’t get exposed to them until after Beat Street came out. Hearing songs like “Sucker MC’s” and “Here We Go” had me hooked. They were FRESH! hahaha
This was one group I recall actually having a lot of radio play back in the day. Songs like “Friends”, “Big Mouth” and “Five Minutes of Funk” are classics.
Their song “Roxanne, Roxanne” was one of the first story telling type “rap” songs that I heard and began my appreciation for the lyrics and not just the beat and chorus.
1985- The Year I Fell In Love
So in 1984 I developed a deep like for hip-hop. I’m not sure if it was quite love. But 1985? Love ensued.
LA Dream Team:
Again, I grew up in California. I don’t know if East Coasters were privy to this song but it was DOPE! ha! The dances we used to do when this song came on were awesome. Can anyone say ‘the prep’?
Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew:
This group right here?!?!? Slick Rick?!?!? My goodness! THIS is when I fell head over heels in love with hip hop music. Songs like “The Show” and “La-Di-Da-Di” took the art of story telling to a entirely different level for me.
The Boogie Boys:
This particular song is one that just brings back a lot of good memories of me and my cousins driving to LA on the weekends cruising down Crenshaw. Again, I don’t know how popular it was on the East Coast but people in my circle rocked it… maybe because we were so FLY!
The Rest is History
As the years went on we saw the Beastie Boys come out with their classic first album License to Ill. Songs like “Paul Revere“, “Hold It Now, Hit It” showed that this was not a genre limited to black artists.
Boogie Down Productions came out with their album Criminal Minded. One cannot hear “The Bridge is Over” and not get hype… at least I can’t!
Slick Rick put out an album as a solo artist called The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. Continuing with his story-telling style he blessed us with songs like (my favorite) “Hey Young World” and “Children’s Story“.
Big Daddy Kane slid in around ’88 with his first album Long Live the Kane. With his smooth voice, lyrical skills, and sexappeal he added another layer to the hip hop game. Songs like “Set It Off“, “Ain’t No Half Steppin‘” and “Raw” put him on the map as a true talent to be respected.
No list or post about old school hip hop can be complete without talking about the ladies that helped make hip-hop great. Even though she didn’t come first, I HAVE to mention MC Lyte. Her style and flow were second to none. If more modern day female hip-hop artist rhymed like her they could have the longevity and respect that Lyte does to this day. Her debut album Lyte as a Rock featured songs such as “Paper Thin“, “Lyte as a Rock“, “10% Dis” (whew!!) and”I Cram to Understand U” that changed the way people looked at female MCs.
These are just a few of my favorite early hip-hop albums/ songs. If I were to venture into my favorite artists of the 90’s this post would be 5,000 pages long! So let’s just say I love this genre of music.
I love the fact that I grew up during Hip Hop’s infancy. I appreciate that I have been able to see it evolve to where it is now… even though it causes me to have a difficult time appreciating a LOT of modern day hip hop. I cannot deny that my life’s musical playlist includes a TON of hip hop songs and this is one love that I don’t regret.
I hope you guys enjoyed this trip down memory lane. So tell me… when did YOU fall in love with hip hop? Share with me below. I’d LOVE to hear your stories.