Monday, November 14, 2011


HIPHOP culture originated in the Big Apple (NY) of the mid 70´s. It all started as a groundbreaking expression of black american street culture. Although many of the frontrunners of HIPHOP were actually emigrants. Much of the defining elements of HIPHOP can therefore be traced back to Jamaican Dancehall characteristics.  

In the mid 80´s the DJ´s slowly took a backseat to the MC´s. While the Masters of Ceremony were originally brought to the spotlight to support the DJ, many rappers started performing over DAT tracks and drum computers. Major labels were also more interested to sign rappers without the DJ. Some of the most famous MC´s of the time were Sugarhill Gang, Kuris Blow, Fat boys, Whodini and of course the legendary girl MC Roxanne Shante.

But even in the mid 80´s DJ´s remained an important element of HIPHOP and most HIPHOP productions evolved around samples that obviously link back to the HIPHOP DJ stilo. Also many of the early HIPHOP producers were original DJ´s. For example (Run DMC and) Grandmaster Jay, Eric B (and Rakim) or Mantronix. 

Looking back over the last decades of HIPHOP history many claim that it is the DJ element that has developed the most from the early old skool days. The HIPHOP DJ stilo evolved from the basic skill of mixing, blending and scratching to what is now called turntablism. A term that was invented by DJ Babu another emigrant HIPHOP innovator (Filipino). Grandmasters of today include DJ Qbert, DJ Craze (threefold DMC world champion DJ) and DJ Mike D.

MCing and Rapmusic however is still the most eye- and earcatching element of HIPHOP culture. No serious music critic ever imagined that Rappers would once rule the music charts. Most did not even consider Rap to be a serious form of music. Quotes:´They dont play any instruments and they cant even sing.´  ´Rap is just a trend that will never last.´ How wrong they were... HIPHOP music never died and turned into the Neo-Funk of the new millennium.

In my mind the main reason HIPHOP is here to stay and will never fade away is that all elements of HIPHOP adhere to the same basic rule. The rule of Battle. The DJ´s battle, the MC´s battle and the B-boys battle. Even the Grafitti artists battle for hoods and street corners. Always developing skills in the process. HIPHOP in it´s core is fiercely competitive. The fact that HIPHOP is so very competitive guarantees it´s innovative quality. HIPHOP never stands still. Its always developing itself. It is exactly this quality that keeps HIPHOP culture vibrant.

The battle is always about being FRESH. Survival of the Freshest! There is always someone around the corner to take your crown. Because HIPHOP evolves so quickly New school is considered Old school quite fast. Run DMC for instance are now considered Old school while in fact they were the front runners of the New school rappers of the mid 80´s. In the beginning the tongue twister raps by DMC were even considered too complex by Def Jam owner Russel Simmons. But of course the legendary Def Jam label signed most of the New School superstars.       

Run DMC took rapmusic to a new level with their now classic album ´Raising Hell´ from which rap standards like ´Walk this Way´ and ´My Adidas´ (Due to commercial success of this song and their image enhancing outfits they became the first HIPHOP group that acquired commercial sponsoring on a large scale.) were released. ´Walk this Way´ to this day is one of the earliest and most successful Rap-Rock cross overs, paving the way for home-grown Urban Dance Squad who in turn influenced acts like Rage against the Machine, Limp Bizkit and even the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Boom!, thats the circle of life for ya.

Run DMC reserviced in ´98 when they featured on Jason Nevins B-Boy productions. DJ Jammaster Jay was lost to the HIPHOP community when he was shot in 2003, just when he was busy working with rapper 50cent. Run DMC with support act Beasty Boys performing in de Jaap Edenhal, Amsterdam was the very first live concert I ever went to. It was 1987 and it was the first major HIPHOP gig in the Netherlands.

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