Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Not Bad Meaning Bad, But Bad Meaning Good
My first exposure to rap music came courtesy of my uncle, who owned a little record shop that specialized in soul and funk music. He used to hook me up with Whodini and Kurtis Blow mixtapes, which ultimately became a significant part of the soundtrack to my young life...
Fast forward a few years into the future, and shit had drastically changed. I had moved to Charlotte, NC with my holy rollin' daddy, who didn't exactly appreciate the artistic essence of hip hop. Due to his strict religious beliefs, he was convinced that rappers were generally a twisted personification of Satan himself. This was during the mid-80's, when Tipper Gore and the PMRC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipper_Gore) were on a mission to destroy music completely. Religious fanatics were hearing demonic messages when they played records backwards, and an incredible number of organized bonfires took place to encourage people to burn all of their secular music. Those were very strange days, to say the least. For a while, it was probably easier for a 12-year-old to score a handgun than a copy of Ice-T's latest record. Warning labels started showing up on everything that was funkier than Engelbert Humperdinck, and most of the corporate record chains actually wanted to see an ID before you could purchase anything with a sticker. If you don't already how backwards and insane this whole phenomenon was, check out the PMRC's Filthy Fifteen: http://kisscrazy.tripod.com/pmrc.html. Even Cyndi Lauper was on the hit list, and John fucking Denver also managed to get an honorable mention for "Rocky Mountain High". This is the same guy who would later go on to convince the public that Grape-Nuts should be one's ultimate drug of choice...how dangerous could his music have possibly been?
Needless to say, this climate of evil began to have a rather negative impact on my music collection. My dad was only willing to buy me stuff like the Muppets soundtrack, so I had to resort to some pretty crazy schemes to support my hip hop habit. When Run-DMC's Raising Hell came out, I tried everything from fake moustaches to making terrorist threats, just so that I could finally get my hands on that tape. It was definitely worth the effort, but I remember hearing "Peter Piper" for the first time, and seriously wondering why I had to be 18 to hear some nursery rhymes set to a beat. Regardless, Raising Hell was/is a classic record in every sense of the word, and I think that most rap historians would agree that Run-DMC played an essential role in the evolution of the hip hop movement . For more info about their contributions to musical history, check Wikipedia's page about the group (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Run-DMC), and the official memorial site for the god DJ, Jam Master Jay (http://www.j-m-j.com/).
Since I'm in sort of a nostalgic mood today, I'm going to link you to some older tracks that are necessary to your collection (whether you realize it or not). All of these artists/songs have been sampled on more recent hip hop efforts, so you may recognize certain elements of them, even if you're not immediately familiar with the titles:
Breath of Life is featuring one of my all-time favorite songs: "Funny How Time Slips Away" by Al Green: http://www.kalamu.com/bol/.
The Low End Theory is offering a great track by Eugene McDaniels called "Supermarket Blues": http://thelowendtheory.blogspot.com//.
At Last Night An MP3 Saved My Wife, you can download Max Romeo's cut, "Chase The Devil": http://lastnightanmp3savedmywife.blogspot.com/.
I apologize for running a bit behind in posting these mp3 links. If you're interested in any of these tracks, I would get them now, as they are likely to expire rather soon. I'll try to stay on my grind from now on, and prevent any future delays. No excuses, but getting weeded is just not conducive to productivity sometimes...(sigh).