A few months ago I took a good hard look at the Cutting Edge blog. As far as a DJ blog goes, I couldn’t be more pleased, but I must admit my favorite part of it is the ‘Musicology’ category. I’ve had great fun reading and sharing the things I know and learn about music, as well as the articles that have been contributed by my staff. As a DJ, music is a passion, and an obsession – all kinds, all genres and all styles.
But there was something missing… Not a single mention of Hip Hop.
Naturally, as a DJ and dance company, a lot of our staff are well versed in Hip Hop, both the music and the culture. I thought who better to reach out to and offer the opportunity to contribute than our two resident Hip Hop aficionados… or at least I thought they were aficionados, but after months went by with no submissions, I thought that perhaps they didn’t know as much as I had thought they did. Maybe they could just talk the talk, but didn’t have what it took to actually put it to paper.
As the saying goes, sometimes, if you want something done right, you’ve just got to do it yourself. So Nate, Joey, pull up a chair because school is now in session.
I guess I could start at the beginning with DJ Kool Herc who started the movement in New York by “toasting”, or rhyming over instrumental tracks in the mid 1970s. Or maybe I could touch on Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five who coined the term “Hip Hop”. I might even delve into Africa Bambaataa and the evolution of “Electro-Funk’. But sadly, I think I would merely confuse the young lads with references that were too foreign to them.
Instead, I’ll make a bigger and bolder claim as to the greatest MC of all time. Not these little wannabe rappers like Kanye, Eminem or Lil Wayne, but a real MC with skill and talent… Mr. William Griffin, a.k.a. “Rakim”, the true pioneer. This isn’t opinion, it’s fact. There isn’t another MC (or rapper) that can touch him. Rakim is the undisputed, and is a master craftsman in the complexities of the lyrical arts.
Rakim’s golden age was in his early formative years with DJ Eric B, and the first three records they cut together set the bar so high that I’m surprised anyone else ever stepped up to the microphone. Just listen to “I Know You Got Soul” or “Follow The Leader” and his uncontested claim to Hip Hop’s throne becomes clearly apparent. The rhymes are clear, concise, articulate and so devastating that to this day nothing even comes close.
I suppose there were others, but most had gimmicks or niches they had to create in order to carve out a place for themselves, and were only faint shadows of the true greatness that was Rakim.
Maybe that’s why Nate and Joey never tried to write blogs about hip Hop… because that’s all there really was to say.
Illustration courtesy of Rick Cortes – www.RickCortes.com