Monday, November 14, 2011


ICE T's gangsta rap was taken to a rauncier level by a HIPHOP group from LA´s most dangerous and underprivileged urban area, Compton. By the end of the 80´s NWA (Nigga´s With Attitude) brought HIPHOP the ghetto street lingo in all its brutal harshness. After NWA´s rise to infamous celebrity Niggas and Bitches remained part of raps vocabulary. After NWA split up in the early 90´s three of its members started successful careers based on their individual talent.

Former drug dealer Eazy E was to my mind the most skilful rapper of the three and unofficial leader of NWA. He released a dope album called ´Eazy Duz It´. But unfortunately his career ended when he died of AIDS at age 31. Ice Cube also kept representing. Influenced by Chuck D. his lyrics became more self-conscious. He threw down a number of hits and was blown into stardom when he played the unforgettable role of Doughboy in the classic movie ´Boyz in da Hood´. Last but not least Dr. Dre eventually became the hottest thing on the HIPHOP plate and changed the industry.

Dr.Dre´s greatest skill was on the production side making G-Funk the HIPHOP sound of the 90´s. His highly influential debut solo album was ´The Chronic´ which introduced Marihuana as a popular rap topic and a truely dope rapper named Snoop Doggy Dogg. Even more importantly Dre also introduced a new funky and melodic gangsta rap production. Dre´s G-Funk stilo influenced HIPHOP productions for years to come and was clearly featured on G-Funk landmark classic ´Regulators´ by his halfbrother Warren G. Dre is also wellknown for his cooperation with the legendary Tupac. Dre´s eye for rap talent serviced again when he more recently introduced Eminem to the scene, who can be considered the Elvis of HIPHOP.      

Let me take a step back again. When white conservative America was being shocked by Public Enemy´s radical political messages and NWA´s unpolished street language, another fresh HIPHOP flavour was emerging, soon to be called Hippie Hop. Yet another reaction to the New School was De La Soul. De la Soul, from the soul, black medallions, no gold. Being part of the Afrika Bambaataa inspired Native Tongues family they also profiled an afrocentric black consiesness. Doing away with the standard HIPHOP look (Sport outfits and goldchains) and sound, De la Soul looked like misfits and spoke in riddels. Other Native Tongue members were: A Tribe Called Quest, the Jungle Brothers and Black Sheep.     

A Tribe Called Called Quest was among the first to inject a big dose of Jazz into their music. One of the HIPHOP albums that also catered to the Jazz lover in me is their second album ´The Low End Theory´ (´91). Q-Tip being one of my favorite rappers surprised me once again in ´99 with his brilliant solo album ´Amplified´. Although The Native Tongues were frontrunners in integrating Jazz, which was taken to the next level by Guru´s (Gangstarr) Jazzmatazz, they did not maintain the commercial success of their early days as most of the 90´s was dominated by the Gangsta sound. 
The influence of Jazz in HIPHOP also accelerated the use of live music in HIPHOP, which is of particular interest to me. Check other Jazz related landmark albums by Stetsasonic, Spearhead, Digable Planets and of course Miles Davis last album Doo Wop, which actually is a HIPHOP influenced Jazz album. Live HIPHOP bands include The Roots and dutch band Relax. Other HIPHOP acts that reach back to Native Tongue roots are the Black Eyed Peas and Outkast.
Since those early days HIPHOP music has become bigger and bigger, crossing over from underground to mainstream acceptance. Succesfully fusing different urban music styles and being a billion dollar industry. It was my intention to illustrate where HIPHOP music originated from and how it developed in the 80´s and early 90´s. Why? Just ´cause I was there. Sure, there´s more to tell. Cypress Hill taking the Latin flavours of Kid Frost to the next level. The Fugees (again emigrant Hiphoppers) entering the scene. And so on. And so on...

The other elements of HIPHOP culture are also very much alive. Since the days  the Rock Steady Crew inspired us old skoolers to bust our electric boogie moves on streetcorners nothing much has changed. B-boys are still batling at parties and practising their moves on the very same street corners. Since the days I was putting pieces on rooftops, Graffiti is still an influential artform.

Todays HIPHOP superstars are known to most. The beef between West coast and East coast rappers. The death of Tupac and Biggie. The total commercialisation of Rap by Puff Daddy. The rise of new HIPHOP superstars like Jay-Z and Eminem opening up to even bigger international audiences. The new kids on the block: 50cent, Nelly, Ludacris, etc. The future is now. Maybe you will write the next chapter 10 years from now.

The story continues.    


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