Rap music and the rise of hip hop


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Rap music and the rise of hip hop

  1. 1. ==== ====Listen and find out more about rap and hiphop music athttp://www.BestOfRap.com/==== ====ROLL CALLDuring the early to mid 70s, visionaries like Kool DJ Herc introduced new ideas to the way musicwas played. Like some other music-loving bredren and sistren along with myself, Kool DJ Hercwas born in Kingston, Jamaica. Following the footsteps of Jamaicans that came before him, herelocated to the Bronx, NYC and took root. With a sound system like no other, there was always aparty when Herc spun records. Folks from all city boroughs showed up, and brought their friends.Most of them had never experienced anything like Hercs thunder in the clubs or at block parties,where he was a hometown favorite. Therell be more on these unique, social gatherings a littlelater. Kool DJ Herc was one of those cats that was thinking outside the box for a long time, andinspired other DJs to follow suit. Everywhere Herc touched down, he left a distinctive markimprinted in the minds, bodies, and souls of music lovers in and around the vicinity.Afrika Bambaataa was homegrown in the Bronx. He is best-known for taking the radical,independent factions of the Hip-Hop lifestyle and organizing it all into an urban music society...andfor being the first rapper, ever. In 1984, he worked on the song "Unity" with the recently departedGodfather of Soul, James Brown. (Were gonna miss ya, Soul Brother #1.) By mixing blockparties with DJs and break-dancers, he synergized all the varying entities of Hip-Hop through hisZulu Nation. The Zulus educated inner-city youth about their history and empowered them to beproductive citizens. His ears were open to all types of music as he became a catalyst for blendingrhythmic styles from Africa with Funk, Go-Go, Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Salsa and Soca for the firsttime in music history.Bambaataas affiliations included the Rock Steady Crew and Double Dutch Girls. There was also aspray-painting graffiti artist who parlayed his love for visual art into being the host of a popularshow that engaged the minds of Americas Black and White youth. It ended up changing Rapmusic history all over the world. Now with a retired can of spray paint, Yo MTV Raps Fab 5Freddy was also a key player in the classic film, "New Jack City." Therell be more on thatcaptured moment in time a little later, after we finish up with Afrika Bambaataa (& friends),and dig further into the chapter: theres some real meat in thar! Thats whats up.Afrika Bambaataa became a major music producer in his own right. He spent a lot of time loggedin at Tommy Boy Records between 1982 and 2005. While there, he produced a huge hit for theNew York club and radio scene, 1982s "Funky Sensation." To me, that song defined a new era ofmusic for both myself and the City of New York. "Funky Sensation" helped to establish a path thatmany dance music producers followed, well into the new millennium. Another historical Rap labelthat Bambaataa put some time in with was Profile Records.Profile was the home of a trio that made music history: Run-DMC and the late Jam Master Jay.
  2. 2. Their chronicles defined the next wave of Hip-Hop and fashion by way of brimmed Fedoras,leather pants, blues jeans, and unlaced, Adidas sneakers. During the winter, they sported snorkelswith fur around the hood. In New York winters of the 70s, we sported hats like Kangols (stillpopular) and Robin Hoods(with side feathers) on the dome. Some folks liked toboggins and skicaps for their masking feature. Brooklyn later picked up a pseudonym--Crooklyn. Our 70s fashionalso consisted of colorful silk shirts (Versace predecessors), polyester pants with stitched pleatsrunning down the sides called Swedish Knits, and bell-bottom blue jeans with zippers at the foot.Squares (L-7s) wore no name rejects, but our popular footwear included Converse All-Stars, red,black and green Pro Keds, Pumas (my favorite were rust-colored), PONYs, and shell-toe Adidas.We had interesting acronyms for the latter two brands. "I could tell you, but..." you know the story.Looking back now, I notice that Adidas kept the same body style longer than the Ford Explorer did!My New York winter-wear included snorkels, sheepskins, leathers, Maxie and Cortefiel coatswith soft fur on the collar; they were the rage. People got stuck up (ganked) for them, too. I oncewitnessed someone grab a friends hat right off his head - as the train doors closed (this guy wasquick!)Some of my classic garments are still intact: a black Robin Hood hat with a now-wilted sidefeather, a colorful, winged (big collar) polyester shirt with a Disco theme on the front, my sky-bluehigh school graduation three-piece suit, Mack full-length Maxie coat (it looked good; mom madeit), and black Cortefiel coat are all stashed somewhere around Area 51. Dont ask me what Imgoing to do with them, but my coats still have fur around the collar. Does "E.T.W." (ExtraTerrestrial Wear) sound catchy to you? Lets check in with Rush (Phat Farms), P-D (Sean John),J to the Z and Double D (RocaWear), Fiddy (G-Unit), and WTC (Wu Wear) for the final answer.Im being told to nix the trip down memory lane and stick to the script, so its back to the originalbad boys of 80s Rap. Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay opened up Pandoras box with their classichit "Rock Box." I got a premonition of what was around the corner for Rock and Rap early on:sampled guitar crunches fused with dem phat Hip-Hop beats, boyee! Then the crystal ballrevealed something else to me - up jumped Def Jam Recordings, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and theBeastie Boys, all using overdriven guitar sounds riding along with the big, deep 808 beat thatcaused car trunks (and the inside of your body) to vibrate.Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay un-laced their Adidas and went on to re-make Rock groupAerosmiths classic "Walk This Way," then invited the original rockers to get in on it. Along theway, Run-DMC sold a few million records. In the background was one Russell Simmons, pushingbuttons on his remote control. Then he got a cellphone. But before groups like Run-DMC made itto the game, there was one of the first major league rappers--Afrika Bambaataa. Oh yeah; alongwith his group The Soulsonic Force, Bambaataa fired off a ground-breaking shot remembered asbeing most strategically launched from the annals of New Yorks urban jungle.When the classic "Planet Rock" hit Billboards charts (it hit the year 1982 in a BIG way too), thesong considerably changed music history. It used a similar robotic, vocoder-like sound as the onefound in Kraftwerks smash "Trans-Europe Express." "Planet Rock" was a smorgasbord of coolelectronic sounds and Hip-Hop beats. Meshed together with samples from other records, itcaptured the attention of music lovers caught dancing to the non-stop, funky sensation of thisincredible new beat. Afrika Bambaataas Electro-Funk style went on to influence the sound ofmusic styles like Dance, Electronic, House, and Techno. If a sound system exists anywhere in the
  3. 3. galaxy, I predict that "Planet Rock" will rock it. In the meantime, you can listen out for this classichit on Internet radio, satellite radio, broadcast radio, clubs and dance parties everywhere. Nuffsaid--next!Creative minds of legendary pioneers such as Russell "Rush" Simmons, Eddie Cheeba, SpoonieG, Lovebug Starski, The Juice Crew, Marley Marl, MC Shan and D.J. Hollywood are also amongthose credited as being key leaders in the surge that brought Rap music and Hip-Hop culture tomainstream society. Many people may think the Sugar Hill Gang was one of a few initiating forcesin Rap, but there were actually many other hot acts out there grinding to earn their dues--like those affiliated with Rush Productions. Rush was building a name for itself as a musicpromotion company to be noticed. Ill expound upon the meteoric rise of the dynamic institutionwhich followed this event shortly thereafter.With affiliations everywhere and credits that include the timely debut of Hip-Hop players like KurtisBlow, Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Scott LaRock, DJ Red Alert, and countless other faces hidden in the trenches, Rush was on a mission toconquer the world. The first-generation of Rap and Hip-Hop spawned a godfather, RussellSimmons, in addition to all these other creative talents. Collectively and in unison, they helped tocentralize the cultural origins and sound of this music for an evolving world. The second-generation leaders of this new movement would include Russells little brother Joseph, who alongwith Darryl McDaniels and the late Jason Mizell, made up Run-DMC: the first artists of their kind togo platinum by selling a million Rap records on Profile Records. This was just the beginning; DefJam Recordings was on the way.Now lets connect the dots with Sugar Hill: Back in 1957, a group called Mickey & Sylviarecorded a Bo Diddley song, "Love Is Strange." Guitarist Mickey Baker and a vocalist namedSylvia Vanderpool established themselves in the music market as a potential hit-making duo. In1964, Sylvia married a man named Joe Robinson. Their union led to the formation of a legacy thatwouldnt play itself fully out until the Rap craze hit. In 1973, Sylvia rolled the dice and released ahuge hit, "Pillow Talk." This song established a format that would be followed straight into theDisco heydays. Originally written for Al Green, his pass became Sylvias score when it tallied up a#1 R&B and #3 Pop hit. "Pillow Talk" was a sexy song that featured lots of heavy breathing,whispers, sighs and moans. Its reminiscent of Donna Summers classic hit, "Love to Love YouBaby."Sylvia Robinson synergized her abilities as a singer, musician, producer, and record executive totake her whole game to another level. As a key player at All Platinum Records, she had a hand inShirley & Companys 1975 hit "Shame Shame Shame." This became a top dance song, andhit #12 on the Pop charts. By 1979, Englewood, New Jerseys Sugar Hill Gang busted a big moveby releasing a classic, "Rappers Delight." In the background were Sylvia, Joe, and their Sugar HillRecord label. Passing their genes on to son Joey, Sugar Hills West Street Mob went on to releasehits like "Ooh Baby" and "Sing A Simple Song/Another Muther For Ya." Other aces in the deckincluded groups called The Sequence and The Funky 4+1. They scored a few hits with "Funk YouUp," "Simon Says," and "Thats the Joint," which used a nice sample from my girl Cheryl Lynnssong "Got To Be Real." Well be taking her song apart and putting it back together again inanother chapter of this book series, "What Is A Song."Using finance money from Roulette Records chief Morris Levy (you can find out more about this
  4. 4. guy in the book "Hit Men"--a highly-recommended favorite of mine. "I could tell you more, but..."You know the drill. As Sugar Hill grew, so did its artist roster, with the addition of GrandmasterFlash and his collective unit, The Furious Five. Although the Sugar Hill owners paid up a bigbalance and purchased the remaining interest in their company by the early 80s, things began tosour for them: a deal with MCA Records died and a fire toasted their legendary studio. The labeleventually shut it doors by 1986.Almost 10 years later, retail-friendly Rhino Records picked up the Sugar Hill catalog andresuscitated the masters in the same way that theyve done with many other lost or obscuremasters. Through creative re-packaging, Rhino went on to revitalize the music (and some careers)of artists that were probably still waiting on royalties from the previous owners of their masterrecordings. The Sugar Hill Gang, West Street Mob and Sequence all have been released onvarious Sugar Hill compilations. An interesting occurrence after the Sugar Hill assault was themassive availability of the sequencer, drum machine, synthesizer, sampler and MIDI around theearly 80s.Creatives and infamists among the likes of Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, The Bomb Squad andproducer Marley Marl locked themselves up in Big Apple laboratories coming up with the nextlethal mix of sound. When released, Def Jam and the Sound of Marl quickly put music listenersinto a yoke as concoctions they whipped up became highly potent chemicals on the proverbialperiodic music table of elements upon hitting the airwaves; through radio station, mobile and clubDJs. I cannot over-emphasize it enough: BIG UPS to these guys! After the creative synergy ofvocalists, musicians and producers, DJs are credited as being one of the most direct pipelines toexciting new music. You should take note that "DJ" makes up the initials of Def Jam. Now letskeep the record playing; teachers not through with todays lesson yet...Independent labels like Profile, Sugar Hill, Priority, 4th. & Broadway and Tommy Boyscooped up young, talented Hip-Hop artists. Major labels like Columbia, Epic, MCA, Mercury andWarner Brothers got an early jump on the game as they formed alliances with Rap labels andartists. Moves like these were executed through street-savvy labels like Def Jam. It grew into thepremier, multi-faceted music conglomerate of the century. Started in a college dorm room, DefJam is now managed from a corporate boardroom, and worth hundreds of millions.Founder Russell Simmons parted from his share of the company in 1999, after the UniversalMusic Group made him a $100 million offer that he couldnt refuse. Were not talking pesos here,folks! Lets breeze through a few landmark events regarding Def Jam Recordings: In 1983, thecompany was founded by Russell, who was called "Rush" when he was business partners withone Rick Rubin. Before this form of osmosis occurred, Simmons did the business behindpioneers like Kurtis Blow, the first Rap artist with a major record deal. He signed on with MercuryRecords; it was a part of the PolyGram distribution machine. The label went on to forge a long-lasting relationship with Kurtis Blow, Russell Rush Simmons, and his growing company.In spring of 1984, I began a two season internship with Def Jams distributor. By fall quarter, I wasa college rep. During Def Jams first decade, I marketed and promoted every record releasedthrough the pipeline. This included music by the distributors affiliated Epic label. Epic was born toCBS Records (a division of CBS, Inc.) during the early 50s. It was a cute little Classical/Jazz labeland grew to be a strong, healthy major label with many active body parts (Rock, R&B,Country). Epic picked up other siblings. One of them was T-Neck Records. An influential
  5. 5. Soul/R&B/Funk collective of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond the new millennium terrain,The Isley Brothers ran a music empire tucked inside this fully-functional sibling units clothes. Andbank account--lets call it a budget.Another sibling was Portrait Records. By the 80s, Portrait had sold millions of records by majorstars like Cyndi Lauper, Sade and Stanley Clarke. Since Epic was the oldest kid, it acquired a firmplace in history as the foundation that supported the throne of none other than the King of Popmusic, Michael Jackson. As a matter of fact, the former lead singer of Motowns Jackson Fiveactively participated (along with wildly colorful CBS Records group president Walter Yetnikoff) inthe disbursement of CBS unwanted offspring (CBS Records, Inc.) to the Sony Corporation in1988. By 2004, Sony Music Entertainment had consolidated its monster Columbia and Epic labels,then merged with another major record label: BMG. On the Internet, iTunes was selling millions ofdigital downloads. But thats a story for later. Stay tuned.Def Jam product began flowing through shortly after I jumped in the big game to see if I couldswim. I witnessed the music of many groundbreaking artists rushed through the system. Notableexecutives like Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles entered the fold, as promoters like Wes Johnson andJohnnie Walker locked down efforts to turn the airwaves into Def Jam radio. Def Jam becameone of the hottest commodities in distribution by the other major label within a major label.This record company made its mark by using a red trademark on the product it manufactured.Columbia Records was the big brother of Def Jam: the hottest Rap label in the Hip-Hop market.Def Jam had million-selling acts like LL Cool J, Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, and later arrivalslike DMX, then Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records. Columbia, also known as "Big Red," was ownedby music giant CBS Records. By 1991, CBS Records was purchased by the Sony Corporation forsome $2 billion that Ill say came out of the petty cash fund (they had OLD money, and plenty ofit). CBS Records later became Sony Music Entertainment. If you havent guessed already(whereve you been?), heres a prediction: youll read about more adventures with the firm as wemove along.Between all of this promoting (as a college rep), I managed getting an introduction to RussellSimmons at a Jack The Rapper convention in Atlanta by Columbias national director of Blackmusic promotion, Miss Mike Bernardo, who is such a sweet lady. At this time, she was next inline to the vice-president of Columbias national promotion department: Vernon Slaughter andMike Bernardo were responsible for the overall performance of Columbias Black radio and clubpromotion department. Vernon later became one of Atlantas top power brokers. He was LaFaceRecords first general manager, personally signing artists like Toni Braxton to the label. He laterbecame a key player at a law firm headed up by powerhouse entertainment lawyer Joel Katz, andwas the legal muscle behind many artist deals, movie soundtracks and no telling what else!As vice-president and national director respectively, Vernon and Mike implemented the nationalstrategies set forth by Columbia. The staff consisted of dozens of regional promotion peoplestrategically placed in key American cities. Throughout my career at the label Vernon, Mike, andthe promotion people I knew showed me plenty of love, and were first-class players in the game,too. Not long after Def Jams arrival, I became an account service rep, then a Black musicmarketing rep for Sonys southeast regional branch in Atlanta. I doubt if there was any connection.Anyway, Def Jam left Sony for PolyGram in 1994 (also the year that I parted company with Sonyand launched a recording studio); that same year, PolyGram purchased 50% of Sonys holdings in
  6. 6. Def Jam.By 1996, PolyGram bought another 10%, and in 1998 the Universal Music Group (UMG) acquiredPolyGram Group Distribution (PGD) to become the worlds biggest record label. After a series ofmajor operational changes, longtime staffers Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles severed ties with DefJam, which by now had grown to include other hot labels like Atlanta-based Def Jam South(headed up by The Geto Boys Mr. Scarface), Disturbing Tha Peace (Ludacris), Def Soul, Jay-Z,Damon Dash and Roc-A-Fella. Though DMXs product was released through Def Jam, his RuffRyders crew got a label deal with Interscope. In the post Cohen/Liles era, former LaFace/Aristabig-wig L.A. Reid re-appeared at the helm of the big ship. Then, multi-platinum rapper Jay-Zbecame the new chief of Def Jam (now part of Island Def Jam Music Group), proving that he too,could do what Rap music guru Russell Simmons legendary rapper Kurtis Blow said he wanted todo: Rule The World.The future of Def Jam included plans for more affiliations with labels like Atlantas Slip-N-SlideRecords (Ying Yang Twins). Atlanta was now a city on the move, and Simmons made it afrequent stop on his international itinerary. From Rush Productions and Kurtis Blow to Def Jam,OBR and Rush Associated Labels, to Rush Communications and Phat Farms, the Visa RushCard, a beautiful model-wife and kids, to astronomic amounts of future cash flow, RussellSimmons demonstrated his ability to serve as the Rap games foremost guiding hand...and headof the household, too. He was the proverbial captain of a ship, navigating through those often-bumpy waters of the constantly shifting Rap/Hip-Hop industry. Def Jam Recordings became anextraordinary multimedia company because of a determined visionarys ability to reach out andtouch people-- through the power of Rap music and the Hip-Hop culture. Simply put, none ofthese entities could be spoken of without mention of the great and powerful, "Mr. Rush."A valedictorian and contributing author to Bernard Percys books during elementary school, L.A.finished high school in Brooklyn, then went to L.A.City College. He graduated in 1987 fromGeorgia State University in Atlanta. An internship led to 10 years with CBS Records/Sony Music,where L.A. worked with almost every act, implemented sales/marketing campaigns, receivednumerous gold/platinum albums, awards, and traveled throughout the U.S., Canada and Jamaicato events.As a recording studio owner, AV technician and manager for a global audiovisual company(TAVS), L.A. owns MKM Multimedia Works. In 2001 he executive-produced the Million MomMarch’s Atlanta Artists Against Gun Violence compilation CD, featuring top Atlanta acts. In 2002,L.A. secured a commercial with The GAP for Arrested Development’s Baba Oje. L.A. nowinitiates his ‘6 books in 5 years’ plan.With a vision of where hes going, L.A. works towards a goal. A quote that L.A. picked up frommentor/author/educator BernardPercy.com is: "Everything turns out right in the end - if it isnt right,it isnt the end."
  7. 7. Article Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=La_Jackson==== ====Listen and find out more about rap and hiphop music athttp://www.BestOfRap.com/==== ====