Part One (Cause I’m Close To The…Edge)
I haven’t really gotten into why I love music so much or how I came to get so into the original songs for sampling and the like but it came to my attention via email that my About the Author and the Blog page was a bit lacking for some people’s curiosity, so here’s part one of a detailed account of my personal Hip-Hop History. To quote @ThePBG, “Hey, You Asked“:
There are certain memories that stick with us in life. It may be your first kiss, your High School Graduation or your first car. It may even be the birth of your first child, when you finally finished paying the mortgage on your home or the lost of a loved one. In any of these cases or others not mentioned, if you are a true music lover, there was that one crucial album or song you were listening to that became that respective memory’s accompaniment. I personally have lots of those soundtracks.
from his debut LP “1st Born Second“, will dredge up thoughts of my failed, first marriage and how I really wasn’t ready for that step but didn’t want to be labeled as absentee father either, so I stuck it out for eight years in an attempt to make something out of nothing.
In retrospect, Hip-Hop has always been a major part of my existence. It has been a major influence on my life for quite some time and if asked what my first exposure to the Kulture consisted of I would have to say that it definitely began with Basketball. Not the Kurtis Blow classic, although it is one of the songs that I enjoyed the most from his career besides “The Breaks“.
My first vivid memory is of being seven, going on eight and my mother taking me to a High School basketball game. I liked basketball well enough but couldn’t really get into the game since no one on the court was famous or on TV. What did catch and keep my soon to be eight year old attention span was the halftime show. The whistle blew and immediately after the players cleared the court they were replaced with a dance crew. Those guys were poppin’ and lockin’ on the court, throwing uprocks and back spins crazy! The best part for me though was the music they were gettin’ down too. The main ones my young mind latched on to were;
Whodini’s “Haunted House of Rock“:
Egyptian Lover’s (nee Greg Broussard) “Egypt, Egypt“:
I sang the first one all the way home and wouldn’t stop until Mom Dukes promised to buy me a record of it. So we stopped at Tape World which was THE record store to go to in the mall (because it had all the up-to-date music and a cool neon red sign) and I found a compilation record of all those songs plus other hits. It was called “Grand Masters of Rap” and I still own it to this very day. As an added bonus, Tape World was directly across from Baskin & Robbins, so I got some Ice Cream out of the deal too, though what flavor escapes me. We got back to my Great-Grandmothers house and I made a bee-line for her Sears and Roebuck Hi-Fi set.
It looked sort of like the above picture but it sat on a dark-brown wooden stand with shelves on the side for the speakers and storage space underneath for albums, tapes and 8-tracks. I loved that thing because it was the original all-in-one stereo system. It was HUGE! I mean, we’re talking about a brushed chrome volume and tuner knobbed, built-in AM/FM tuner / Record / Tape Deck / 8-Track player with the faux mahogany wood grain and a smoke colored plastic cover monstrosity that never let Granny Ruth down, cause believe it or not she still has it!
I fondly remember sitting at the dining room table every morning to eat breakfast while she played Gospel records to make sure her Great-Grandson had a good day at school. Her range of Gospel was wide and would encompass many artists, choirs and songs; from
Esther Rolle’s rare classic “I Can Feel Him Moving“:
The Davis Sisters’ rousing “Oh, I Want To See Him“:
Dorothy Norwood’s moving “Rough Side Of The Mountain“:
and of course my favorite by The Mighty Clouds of Joy “Ride The Mighty High“:
(Click those song titles if you want to download copies of those gems)
Those from Asheville and in my age bracket will remember that last one being a staple of Elder Johnnie Hayes’ as well cause he would play it during his Roll Call every morning on his radio show while you ate breakfast and got ready for school. Don’t front like you didn’t call in to represent for your school either cause you know you did!
I’m telling you all this so you will completely understand that she was none too happy about her favorite Great-Grandson desecrating her “Sacred, Only For The Playing Of Music To Jesus’ Glory” Record Player with Rappity Rap music (her words, verbatim), as she was certain it would lead me not only to “Shatan” himself but also to eventually breaking my neck trying to do a head spin like the young man in that “Urban Legend True Story” all her church friends told her about. She eventually came around though.
Anyway, I played that Grand Masters of Rap record front to back, back to front and all ways in between for two weeks straight but it only took me the first three days to learn all the words to every song, especially Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s “The Message“, “New York, New York” and of course “Haunted House of Rock“.
Don’t even think about testing me on the words to any of them either, cause whenever I hear any of them, I can still spout the majority of them off the top of the dome with ease, especially the ending to HHOR when Ecstasy (nee John Fletcher), asks Jalil (Hutchins) which way he’s gonna run cause he doesn’t wanna run over him.
I guess for you the reader to really understand why that record, those songs and countless others stand out so much to me and helped to shape this author, you would have to delve deeper into the beginnings of Hip-Hop. Not the actual beginnings, as everyone knows where, when and how Hip-Hop started or at least they should.
I’m speaking about how it began for the town I grew up in.