During the ‘Golden Era of Hip-Hop’, innovative producer/DJ Marley Marl and DJ Mr. Magic (1956-2009) formed the legendary Juice Crew. Groundbreaking artists that were a part of the Juice Crew created music with Marley Marl on the Cold Chillin’ Records label, which includes Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Roxanne Shante, and MC Shan. The collaborative music team helped usher in a new era in music, and of course…there was the well-known ‘beefs’ with the Boogie Down Productions. The famous ”Bridge Wars”, which partly started when lyrics were misinterpreted in MC Shan’s ”The Bridge” and then KRS-One/Boogie Down responded with ”The Bridge is Over” and ”South Bronx”. Not to mention the ”Roxanne Wars” series started by a then 14 year old Roxanne Shante (which influenced at least 100 response songs about the ”real Roxanne” created by different artists). The Juice Crew created a distinct collection of songs that are timeless and a great reference to the ”Golden Era”. Some of my personal favorites includes Biz Markie’s ”Vapors” and Big Daddy Kane’s ‘Long Live the Kane’ album. Marley Marl produced a variety of classic projects, which includes L.L Cool J’s ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ album, and Marley Marl’s first album ‘In Control Volume 1’ introduced one of the most influential and recognized songs in classic rap…”The Symphony”. Some of the legendary artists who consider Marley Marl an influence are Biggie Smalls, RZA, DJ Premier, and Pete Rock. When paying homage to those who helped create the ”Golden Era of Hip Hop”, it is important to always remember innovator Marley Marl and the Juice Crew. Their music still sounds amazing and refreshing.
Manipulating the sound of a record while someone spoke on a microphone was not widely accepted less than 40 years ago. Before the musical art form we call Hip Hop and the method we know as rapping was an internationally recognized fixture in popular music culture, it was a underground innovative movement. It is always exciting and refreshing when a new form of musical style (which eventually is often considered a subgenre) has been introduced & created. Whether it was the origins of punk music with bands like The Kinks and The Ramones or the “college rock radio” era of alternative music with musicians such as R.E.M & The Smiths, they all have one thing in common. Rebellion. They all rebelled against what was popular and mainstream. Yet, often times in history an underground musical art form became a part of the mainstream popular music culture if it was accepted on a massive level. Case in point: Kurt Cobain was not comfortable with Nirvana’s music being a part of pop music culture (In Bloom song speaks about this). However, that is what “Grunge” music became…chart topping hits that was played continuously on heavily viewed channels such as MTV. Nevertheless, it was their decision to sign with a major record label, and “bandwagoners” naturally came with this. In fact, there is often a repeated pattern in music with this, which will probably always be. There are many factors such as generation, society/cultural events, technology, and demographics that correlate with an underground “alternative” sound being popularized. The problem is when a new musical style/sound starts off as fresh and different… then is transformed into something that has lost its “edge” and individuality due to exploitation in the music industry. The art of “underground”music becoming popular mainstream music has its pros and cons, all how we perceive it. Either way, music has & always will be an ever progressing art with many different colors. Hundreds of years from now what we listen to today, what we call “rebellious”, “alternative” or “innovative” in comparision to a “pop music” sound will be so interesting to compare with what sounds/styles may be introduced in the future. The evolution of all music is inevitable.
1520 Sedgwick Avenue and D.J Kool Herc are names forever synonymous with a part of the origins of rap music. In 1973 on August 11th, Kool Herc hosted a back to school party for his sister at the recreation room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue apartment building. At the community house party, he introduced a technique that involved two turntables, a mixer, two copies of the same record, and playing another song at the beginning or middle of the record while focusing on ”the break” in each one. With D.J Kool Herc presenting his technique, his friend Coke La Rock began to rap and many legendary rappers like Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Master Flash all claimed to have witnessed this historic significant event in music history. In honor of The Boogie Down Bronx, here are some truly amazing and influential photos that shows why The Boogie Down Bronx will always be considered a birthplace of the rhythmic poetic art we call Hip Hop.
No one flowed or rapped like Das EFX, and they are the epitome of classic/innovative early 90’s East Coast Rap. If you actually listen to the lyrics, they were not just putting words together to create a bunch of nonsense lyrics….and once again, this is one of the reasons why I am obsessed with 90s rap.
Possibly one of the most underrated albums, if we’re talking about classic 90s rap, this song is a perfect example of Common’s lyrical skills. Yes, we all know the classic song I Use To Love H.E.R, but this song ( which is also from the album of the same name) is my favorite. His flow, lyrical technique, and subject material is all well developed in this song.
I’m not going to lie, I don’t really listen to a lot of Keith Murray. However, this is one of my favorite classic rap songs ever. I love how lyrically creative Keith Murray was in this song and I also love the vibe of this song because it screams ”90s east coast rap”. I can’t say how much I love 90s rap, especially the less talked about rappers. It is so easy to mention the common names like Tupac, Biggie, & Nas. However, if someone really enjoys classic old school rap…then they can also mention many lesser known rappers.
As an immense old school rap listener, I think that Mecca & the Soul Brother and The Main Ingredient Albums by the legendary Pete Rock & C.L Smooth are classics no matter what time period. I’m sure some people who are passionate about old school rap may share my opinion as well, and this classic is just one of their tracks that are absolutely timeless. Of course, the amazingly talented producer Pete Rock paired with the lyrically gifted C.L Smooth made a great duo. Not to mention, the song was also partly dedicated to Trouble T-Roy of Heavy D & the Boyz, who died in a tragic accident in 1990. ‘’They Reminisce Over You’’ is a classic musical portrait that gives us insight on C.L Smooth’s family upbringing and journey. Everything about this song is one of the reasons why I love old school rap, especially 90s, so very much.