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THROWBACKS

[THROWBACK THURSDAY] Happy 20th B-Day!

Though everyday can’t be a noteworthy day in Hip-Hop, we damn sure try don’t we?? Big shout out to Corey Woods, aka Raekwon on this his soul day. He is one of the honorary members of the Wu-Tang Clan and, is the inspiration behind this week’s #ThrowbackThursday.

In this calendar year, 40 albums in Hip-Hop will celebrate birthdays. If that isn’t noteworthy then I don’t want to hear about it. A genre of music ruled out to die within a year of its inception surpasses expectations by over 4 decades. Like it or not, it’s in the history books and going nowhere soon.

I’ll pick 3 out of the 40 that inspired me as an artist, as well as changed the game in terms of gravitating this movement to unbelievable heights. As a Hip-Hop head, this was indeed difficult to narrow down to 3. Let’s start with the birthday boy Raekwon and his crew…

Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever Released in June of 1997, this was the Wu’s second blessing to the world and proved once again there was strength in numbers. 4 years after we entered the 36 Chambers, these nine MC’s and producers(yes, check the production credits) started a movement that involved all and not just one. The album would eventually go 4x’s platinum and serve as the jewel of the double album era. You don’t see this trend in Hip-Hop anymore, and it’s a damn shame.

Mystikal: Unpredictable In November of 1997, The Man Righ
t Chea gave us his sophomore effort under the flag of No Limit Records while still dealing with issues under Jive Records. This made the album sort of like a joint venture. He added to the dominance that the South had at that time in Hip-Hop with his rugged and loud delivery. Granted, No Limit was poppin’ at this time with releases from Master P(Ghetto D), Mia X(Unlady Like) and TRU(TRU 2 Da Game) but Mystikal was that unique round out the tank.

Missy Elliott: Supa Dupa Fly In July of 1997, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott broke on the scene with her début album. Fueled behind the incredible product
ion of VA’s musicial virtuoso Timbaland and coupled with the star-studded guest appearances made this album a must-have. Features with Busta Rhymes, Ginuwine, Aaliyah and Keith Sweat to name a few, had this album on levels of redefining both Hip-Hop and R&
B. I never seen an artist have a début album that received so much praise. Missy set the measuring stick in terms of creativity and for women in the male dominated genre.

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[THROWBACK THURSDAY] “The Beginning Of It All”

  • As far back as I can remember I’ve always had this affinity for music. Blame it on the rhythm or the words in-between, it has served its purpose as a great escape from the ways of the world.

Hip-Hop is no exception to the rule, as it is the most influential genre of music in the world. The cultural and social influence of Hip-Hop spans over two decades and shows few signs of slowing down in spite of being in the dawn of the music-sharing era.

They say every great story has a beginning. The story of Hip-Hop officially began in September of 1979.

Rapper’s Delight, the single released from The Sugarhill Gang was introduced to the masses from the debut album of the same namesake. The song was reportedly done in one take and has three different versions.

This track was in fact, not a test as three of New York’s finest MC’s rapped over the funk and disco-infused beat. The trio of Master Gee, Wonder Mike, and Big Bank Hank was at the time not even considered to be the “elite” of Hip-Hop with the likes of Grandmaster Caz and Kurtis Blow on the scene. Even without the street cred and popularity of their peers, The Sugarhill Gang would become pioneers in a movement unlike no other.

On January 5th, 1980, Rapper’s Delight broke ground as the first single of its kind to enter the Billboard Top 100 charts. While the single peaked at #36, the remarkable feat was the reception that the single received internationally. The song hovered in the Top 5 of rotations in over 10 countries for weeks on end. To say the song was a hit was a gross understatement.

The true delight of this song is the mark that it has left on our culture and society. I was watching an episode of The Simpsons and overheard it while the characters on the show were stressing crosswalk safety. Remember how funny it was to hear Rosie from The Wedding Singer recite it word for word? The song has been in everything from video game soundtracks to TV show spoofs.

It’s a feel-good track that is in fact, timeless. So much in fact that the single is considered historically significant according to the Library of Congress. A hip-hop song is in the National Recording Registry for being that influential to society. Yes, you read that correctly and look it up if you don’t believe me.

Not bad for a genre of music ruled to die out within 5 years of its inception, right?

 

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[THROWBACK THURSDAY] MCA Gives Us the “Juice”

In January of 1992, Paramount Pictures released the drama thriller Juice, written and directed by Ernest Dickerson. The movie itself provided a look into the lives of 4 inner city youths struggling with the environment that engulfed them and the desire to gain the respect, or “juice” needed to survive it. The film was received with great reviews and served as the launch pad for rapper Tupac Shakur’s acting career.

One month before the cinematic release, MCA Records released the motion picture soundtrack to the film with the same name. The 54-minute project featured production from some of Hip-Hop’s élite such as EPMD, Ant Banks, Rakim and Naughty by Nature. While billed as a Hip-Hop album, Juice was in fact a nice blend of both Hip-Hop and R&B.

Tracks like “Don’t Be Afraid”, featuring Aaron Hall provided a sensual backdrop for the intimate post love-making scene with Omar Epps (Q) and his girlfriend. Remember the scene where Q approached the record store clerk in full-on Mack mode? The song bumping in the background was “Is It Good to You”, featuring the legendary Teddy Riley and Tammy Lucas.

The soundtrack featured both East Coast and West Coast artists. I remember hearing the soundtrack and having a debate with friends over whether or not Too $hort had two songs on the track or not. Track #4 entitled “Sex, Money and Murder” was in fact performed by Pooh Man while Short Dog held it down for the Bay with “So You Want To Be a Gangster”. 

I’m telling you, go back and listen to these two tracks separately and see if you are not fooled like I was.

The God MC Rakim was the first artist you heard from the beginning of the film as his familiar vocals ripped the track “Nuff Respect”. We even got blessed to have the female trio of Salt-n-Pepa break down the cause and effect of being a player with “He’s Gamin on Ya.”

I like to think that this soundtrack set the bar for motion picture soundtracks to follow. Before Juice there was Boyz n the Hood, which was good in itself but featured mostly West Coast artists. Before the media-fueled drama between the two coasts, it was great to see artists come together with the result being timeless music.

One of my personal favorites records on this soundtrack was Juice (Know the Ledge). Eric B and Rakim questioned whether we knew the limits of pursuing the respect of the streets. That gritty, pulsating beat with lyrics from Rakim that were just as hard. It’s a soundtrack that complemented the film perfectly.

 

 

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[THROWBACK THURSDAY] DMX Breaks the “Sophmore Jinx”

The year is 1998 and Hip-Hop is peaking with artists from both coasts and one side below the Mason-Dixon staking claims in the industry. With the 90’s being the decade of overall greatness in music, I heard an artist from Yonkers that growled over tracks and was making noise over at Def Jam.

DMX was the general of the Ruff Ryders camp and alongside label mates such as Jay-Z and Method Man, he had a style and sense of creativity that resulted in his first album Its Dark and Hell is Hot becoming a Hip-Hop album that’s a must-have. 19 tracks of pure, raw lyrics.

During this fluid period in Hip-Hop it wasn’t too common for an artist to hit a wall after the success of their first project. This roadblock was also known as “the sophomore jinx.” With a quadruple platinum first effort, you’d think DMX would fold under the pressure. Seven months later, he drops Flesh of My Flesh Blood of My Blood.

Sixteen tracks of hardcore, gritty rhymes that would not only further display the Dark Man’s lyrical prowess, but also set a precedent as an artist by being the only one to release two albums in a year that both sat at #1 on the charts. The only artist to carry out this feat…Hip-Hop’s greatest artist and soon-to-be inductee in the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2Pac aka Makaveli.

We got to witness the continuation of excellent story-telling from DMX in The Omen (Damien pt.2) that featured shock rocker Marilyn Manson. With Swiss Beatz all over the production, the sophomore jinx was broken with this album going three-times platinum after sitting at #1 for weeks on end.

So much for being pressured…

I hear that DMX is back in the studio again with Swiss and is ready to drop a new project. I can only hope that it reflects the creativity and energy that this album created. In spite of his decorated history, the man is a legend. Some of our favorite artists in music came from infamous beginnings. I respect him as an artist and for what he has done for the industry.

Flesh of My Flesh Blood of My Blood was the perfect complement to his first album. It allowed both him and Ruff Ryders to elevate to heights that only Roc-a-Fella and Bad Boy really experienced at that time for the East Coast. It’s a must-have album for heads of real Hip-Hop.

 

 

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