The History. The Seed.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with the art of putting rhyming words together in meaningful ways. I can think back to the days when my Pops would read Edgar Allen Poe to me with all types of enthusiasm and inflection. And that was the beginning.
The hip-hop seed for me was most definitely planted with the very first listening session of the Rapper’s Delight. What started with one of the girls from around the way playing the record (yes, vinyl) on a Fisher Price class player (or something like that) turned into a one song listening party resulting in the record being ruined by the kiddie needle perma-grooves. They weren’t really meant for vinyl I think looking back.
Anyway, the seed was planted and by the time I heard La-Di-Da-Di it was over. Full blown Oak.
And that probably morphed into an outright Redwood with the coming of the God Rakim. I heard My Melody first on either the Mastermix or Rap Attack (RIP to both shows and to KISS FM). I’d tried unsuccessfully to catch it on one of my many pause tapes. Mega-frustrated, I heard it playing outside at a block party and was fiending so much to get the song so I could absorb it that I actually held my tape recorder (yes cassette tape) out the window and hit the red button. Don’t judge me. I can still sing along with the God word for word.
For those of you wondering my first album purchase was Paid in Full. Can’t even remember which record store (there were many back then) but I do remember saving up my coins, using a school-issued subway pass with my best dude to troop into Manhattan and copping that monumental piece of hip-hop history.
I can’t go thru describing the early seed plant without mentioning Public Enemy, Native Tongues or KRS-ONE. P.E. taught me/us to get up and say something if you have that ability. And when you do, don’t hold back. People are going to say what they’re gon’ say. So what, at least they’re talking about something now.
Native Tongues, specifically De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers taught me/us to be yourself at all times. Conformity is for George Orwell books. People are going to think what they’re gon’ think. So what, at least they’re thinking.
Don’t think this list of greats is in any particular order with KRS being third. It’s always a toss up for me to pick between Kris and Ra as the most influential MCs in my life. Between both of these cats I learned how to rhyme and how to perform. And how to incorporate your intelligence and wisdom into your lyrics.
You might say it was thru them both that I found my voice.
That being said, I’m giving the performance credit to Mr. Parker because I saw him during my formative hip-hop years. Hands down, the best of the early stageshows I witnessed live. And if you’ve ever seen KRS-ONE on stage then you know. I realize some of you out there may be lost on some of the terms used above (i.e. Mastermix, Rap Attack, pause tapes, etc). What can I say? That’s the way things were. And that’s what Wikipedia is for right?? Hit me if you need links.
It was and is a beautiful thing to see the birth of a new art form. Even with the City being as crazy and wild as it was back then I feel lucky to have been there to witness, take some small part in and most importantly, absorb a couple of those rays of sunshine…