It’s Bigger Than HIP HOP

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One day while I was on the computer looking at the social network we ALL know and use (*cough*FB), I came across a post by a ‘friend’ which read: “Some songs just have that feeling. What song did you hear at ANY moment in your life where you instantly knew that both you and “the game” would be forever changed?”

30+ people responded, with anecdotes and links to videos for “their” song. I’m not one to ‘talk’ on this site, but I had to represent. My response; “Sunshine” by Brand Nubian.

See, I am a die-hard hip hop enthusiast. Hip hop songs give me an indescribable feeling. I’m grinning right now scanning through my mental music collection representing different eras and the songs! My DAD actually introduced me to hip-hop when I was 8 years old. He bought me the “Rapper’s Delight” 12″ (yep) album by the Sugarhill Gang saying that his students (he taught in NYC high schools for many years) were all into this song, and maybe I’d like it too. Secretly, I think he’s the one that was all into it because Rapper’s Delight features the Chic sample from their hit “Good Times” which is his absolute favorite song of all times (ha)!

Sedgwick Avenue in Bronx, NY

But he was right. I played that album down to a poker chip-sized piece of plastic :-). I can even remember that album and the Planet Rock album (another early hip hop jam for me) being used in a project some students worked on. Hip hop was making its presence known and I am proud to say that I come from the birthplace, no….as a matter of fact, the exact STREET where hip hop was born! SEDGWICK AVENUE STAND UP!

Fast forward to my 11th grade year, I looked forward to my daily afternoon dose of Rap City. BRAND NUBIAN’s SUNSHINE video stopped.me.in.my.tracks. Here was a group of brothas (one of ’em was a cutie) who were fly, displaying Black Pride by wearing African-inspired medallions, natty hair, and ‘cultural’ gear. What really drew me in (aside from the track) was that they were spitting some information that I’d never heard before. It blew my mind! The next time I saw that video I recorded it on my VCR (remember that?) and zoned in on every lyric. From them I learned ” knowledge of self /to better myself”, which was the beginnings of who I am TODAY. After learning of Brand Nubian, I stumbled upon other positive, afrocentric artists like X-Clan, King Sun, Poor Righteous Teachers,Gangstarr, Public Enemy and KRSOne -to name a few- who blew my mind as well. Listening to them gave me a feeling of pride, like. “this is my music speaking to me.”

A Tribe Called Quest's "Midnight Marauders" LP

Soon after, my radius of awareness expanded to include the NATIVE TONGUES (A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, DeLaSol, Black Sheep, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, and even lil’ Chi Ali) who also did ‘it’ for me. So much so that…*quick little detour-of-a-story*: a few years ago at a surprise birthday party in my honor, I walked into room full of family and friends and the DJ started playing “Footprints” by A Tribe Called Quest! Yo, I was a blubbering FOOL that evening knowing someone cared enough to remember that it was my favorite song…EVER! Ahhh, the emotions hip hop can evoke 🙂

I was totally into that scene; wearing Girbaud jeans, the printed rayon shirts, Polo tees and Polo boots, polka dot shirts, black DocMarten-esque shoes, and even Timberlands (shoot….I still have ’em). Be clear; I was ‘girly’ with mine, though! The Moptops were my favorite dance crew, and in my dream world, all of them were my BOYFRIENDS! My favorite performances of theirs are featured in videos by Fifth PlatoonLittle Shawn and (of all people) Lalah Hathaway!

I evolved along with that style of hip hop, with artists such as Das EFX, Bahamadia, Jeru the Damaja, the Boot Camp Clik and Hieroglyphics in heavy rotation in my portable CD player (you know, going through the ages is kinda fun when naming playing devices) :-).

In college, I was privy to witnessing first-hand the humble beginnings of a few hip hop artists. I’m proud to have pals who’ve become prominent hip hop artists like DeadPrez and Common (FAMU…FAMU…FAM- gotd@mn U!)

I even spent an ABUNDANCE of time with the illest DJ known to man a.k.a Sol Messiah, which gave me a front row seat to the spawning of our friend’s career, a then unknown artist by the name of Jay Electronica. It also provided me one-woman house parties everytime he would work on playlists for his mixtapes (yes,tapes-that long ago) and later his own music he’d produce.

My one-woman house parties looked “a little something like this….HIT IT!” *giggling*

Hip hop has been and will always be a part of my life, and I dig some of the current players in the game like Kanye West and Black Milk. However, I like to relive my ‘hip hop heyday’ at DJ Rasta Root’s Face-Off Friday jam at club MJQ in Atlanta every 2nd Friday of the month (my personal sanctuary where I cut loose), as well as attend special concerts of my all-time fave artists that come through my city.

Shouts out to the current torch-carriers: StaHHR, Alive and Well (MikeFlo and Ekundayo), Starchile, Cherub ‘Chop’ Stewart and G.R.E.A.T SCOTT!!!

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4 responses »

  1. FROM YA HIP HOP SISTA ON DA DANCE FLOOR!!! THIS IS WELL WRITTEN 🙂 I LOVE THE GOLDEN ERA OF HIP HOP. THAT ESSENCE CAN NEVER BE REPLACED. IF YOU ARE 35 AND BETTA YOU KNOW WHAT REAL HIP HOP IS 🙂 OKAYYYYYYYYYYYYY OK JAMMY M.O.P. ALL DAY LOL 🙂

  2. LOL! YES, Great post!!! Peace Jamila, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! It seems like TOO many folks in our generation (30-55 yrs) have FORGOTTEN how much Hip Hop music and culture have affected who we are…NOW is the PERFECT to for the to WAKE UP!!!…Let’s at LEAST add some BALANCE to what the entertainment industry is feedin’ OUR children!…”It aint NOTHIN’ like Hip Hop music”, Word!

  3. Classic. Hip hop is a part of us all. I think rappers delight is what started it all for many of us. It was the beginning of a never ending musical love story!!!!

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