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RADIO DAZE: A B-Girl’s Never Ending Search For The Talking Drum by

STAY

✡WOKE!

First off, allow me to introduce myself. I am a B-Girl. A girl who in 1980 fell in love with Hip Hop. The B in B-Girl is said to come from “break beats” and “breakdancing” and “boogie”. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, I’m sorry but I really don’t have the time to thoroughly explain them. You see, I’m on an inter-spatial journey via a temporal vortex; and TIME is of the essence. The Hip Hop Nation is approximately 30 years old. It is my desire to mark this milestone by analyzing where the Hip Hop Nation and black folk stand thus far. For your further erudition, I will supply you with a bibliography and a discography at the end of this essay so that in your free time you can engage in an in-depth study of what I can only give as an overview now. And if you don’t catch everything the first time through, don’t worry. You can re-read this article as many times as you wish, cuz... you got it like that. Having said this, sit back and relax as I take you on a trip through time. This is not a definitive history nor a scholarly endeavor. This is just one girl’s humble opinion about a very serious issue. A’ight, prepare yourself for a fantastic voyage. We’re gonna’ move fast so hold on tight, cuz here we go... WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT The drummer holds the drum between his legs, sweat pours down his face as his hands frantically beat out a relentless, driving rhythm. The dancers ebb and flow in unison, swaying, rocking and rolling like a glorious tide. Every now and then they jump up as if to avoid being overcome by a wave of sound. They all are one: the drummer, his drum, the rhythm, the dancers. They all seem to understand what is being communicated; a message as simple as the beating of one’s own heart and as complex as the ever expanding universe. They are all in tune to the same vibe. The drum is “talking”; speaking ostensible truths that transcend space and time. The village elder enters the scene, the dancers’ minds, bodies and souls are now primed to receive the history, the story of their lives, the story of life, death, and the endless cycle that unites the two. The “griot” begins to speak as the drum gives way to wisdom. The village elder/griot tells those assembled from whence they came, where they are, and where they are going. To the African, the drum and the griot deciphered the world. The intricate drum beats broke down the complex rhythms of life. The griot, through their oral renditions of history and articulations of prophesy, taught essential life lessons. Miraculously, this ancient tradition survived the Middle Passage; carried in the hearts, minds and


souls of the captives. From the kitchen to the fields, songs like “Steal Away” tapped into that ancient vibe and let all who needed to know that come nightfall freedom could be attained. And so it has been, from then until now. Music has arguably been the main way in which Africans in America have communicated. Hip Hop’s Rap genre is the most recent manifestation of this tradition. In its most rudimentary form: two turntables, a mixer, and a microphone serve as the “talking drum” and the Rapper; the “griot.” With all the modern modes of communication, none has served Africans in America as well as word of mouth. Expounding on this concept, the radio has served as a conduit, allowing the talking drum and the griot to spread their message far and wide. Two of the most important tools a people can have is a message to convey and the power to convey it. Black-owned and operated radio stations have been essential to the dissemination of information; extending the reach of the “talking drum” and the “griot.” In recent years we have seen a decline in the number of black-owned and operated “urban formatted” radio stations. As a result, the message being conveyed has been intercepted and distorted. Sadly, no example better illustrates the damage caused by not having control of your message, and how it’s conveyed, as does the ongoing and present reluctance of black-owned and operated radio to strategically promote and play Rap music. By chronicling the history of Rap and its almost nonexistent radio air play on black-owned and operated stations, I will attempt to identify and elicit some damage control. My contention will be that in our current anti-affirmative action, pro-corporate laissez faire atmosphere, African American-owned and operated radio stations need to embrace Rap and more importantly, we need black-owned and/or operated radio more than ever or to at least the same extent as it existed during the Civil Rights period. Any generational rift that exists in the community based on “musical tastes” should be seen as a divide and conquer strategy, a ploy that has no place in a community whose survival in this nation has depended on the generations working together. For example, how black-owned radio stations, during the Civil Rights era, got information to demonstrators; the mostly young freedom riders coalescing with the older leadership; or the likes of a young Aretha Franklin using her money to bail civil rights demonstrators out of jail. If we have to take it to the streets again (and considering the present political climate, we might just have to), what radio stations would serve as the conduit for our talking drum? Who would be the freedom riders, I should say, freedom fighters of today if not Generation X and Generation Next? Would Sean Combs or Lil’ Kim use their money to bail demonstrators out of jail? KRS-One once said, “Rap music, number one, is the voice of black people. Number two, it’s the last voice of black people.” Let us hope that KRS-One’s statement was more so a call to action than a prediction. BACK IN THE DAY The Bronx, New York. The name, the actual location, may bring to mind thoughts antithetical to hometown Americana . For many it was and is the quintessential ghetto. The South Bronx, in particular, with its mix of American born blacks, Jamaicans, Puerto Ricans, and other Caribbean 2 Copyright ©

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immigrants, bore the brunt of the insults cast by a neglectful government and the fleeing middle to upper classes. The South Bronx gave birth to Hip Hop. An artistic subculture comprised of graffiti writers, breakdancers, DJs, and Rappers (Beat Boxers are considered the ethereal fifth element in some sectors). It was a creation brought forth from devastation. Its conception is said to have taken place on November 12, 1974 (foreplay having taken place on the westside at Sedgwick & Cedar [inside the rec room of 1520 Sedgwick Ave., to be exact.]). It gestated in parties in the park and on the sides of subway cars. Hip Hop’s birth by fire and subsequent ascension began during the summer of 1977, when the world became painfully aware of a situation that had been festering for years. The Summer of ‘77 NYC Blackout showcased for all who cared to see the explosion of despair and frustration born of dreams deferred. The South Bronx was hit hard. It became the archetype of urban decay. Yet, from the ashes, ruins, and gloom rose a mighty phoenix. Hip Hop escaped from the flames, igniting the whole Bronx and thus christening it the “Boogie Down Bronx.” B-Boys and B-Girls went to parties where they experienced first hand the continuation of culture. The talking drum could not and would not be silenced. The beat went on. Using turntables as their drums: DJ Kool Herc extended break beats, Grandmaster Flash added the back spin, Afrika Bambaataa infused futuristic sounds, DJ Breakout broke it down and Grandwizard Theodore, maybe via divine intervention by the ancestors, invented the rhythmic scratching of records. In the style of local radio disc jockeys like Eddie Cheeba and DJ Hollywood, Kool Herc became master of both rhythm and rhyme by moving the crowd with catchy phrases, and call and response interludes. The griot was now the MC (Master of Ceremonies and Microphone Controller), reincarnated in the likes of Easy A.D. and Mr. Tee of the Cold Crush Brothers; and Kevie Kev and Ruby Dee of the Fantastic Five; and Cowboy and Melle Mel, who along with Kid Creole would become the lead rappers of the famous Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. However, it wasn’t Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five who introduced the world to Hip Hop and its Rap genre. In 1979 the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rappers Delight” blew up. Put on wax by Sylvia Robinson of Sugar Hill Records, “Rappers Delight” via word of mouth and most importantly, black radio air play, changed music forever. LOS ANGELES “BLACK” RADIO: KGFJ 1230 AM and 1580 KDAY AM At one time…Los Angeles, CA radio was ablaze with soular sounds. There was KUTE 102FM, KACE 103.9FM, KJLH 102.3FM, KGFJ 1230AM, and KDAY 1580AM. KGFJ was the first LA radio station to play Rap. KGFJ was black-owned and operated. DJ GrandMixer D.ST (“DXT”), from New York, would fly out to LA and spin over the air at KGFJ. He brought with him a lot of records. Through him, groups like The Treacherous Three, Sequence, and Funky Four Plus One got to be heard by a wide audience. 3 Copyright ©

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However, it took Steve Woods, J.J. Johnson, and Greg Mack of 1580 KDAY, which was not black-owned, yet was very community conscious, to mainstream Rap into regular air play rotation. The formulas each instituted during their tenures worked well. The mix over the airwaves consisted of Funk, Soul, R&B, Disco, and Rap. In its early stages, Rap was considered by many to be a fad; a flash in the pan. Major record labels and record store chains wouldn’t touch it. Yet, its popularity, prompted by black radio, continued to grow and grow. By 1984, all of America and probably the world, knew about Hip Hop. Movies like Wild Style, Breakin’ and Enterin’, Beat Street, Krush Groove, and Breakin’ I & II, and short lived television shows like Graffiti Rock and Night Flight propelled the subculture into the dominant culture. At this time both young and old embraced Hip Hop and were excited by its new music genre. Los Angeles’ R&B FM stations started to play Rap. 103.9 KACE and 102.3 KJLH each played Rap at one time or another. However, by the end of the decade this was to end. WALK THIS WAY Rap’s major crossover to the white audience occurred in 1986 when the Beastie Boys came on the scene and RUN DMC teamed up with Aerosmith. Six years earlier, however, Blondie released the song “Rapture.” The song was pretty cryptic, but the video for the song was right on in its depiction of Manhattan’s emerging fascination with Hip Hop culture. The video featured graffiti art (à la Lee Quiñones) and Fab Five Freddy [with Jean-Michel Basquiat standing behind two turntables]. Yet, this song was not really a Rap song in the typical sense. It merely gave a nod to some of Hip Hop’s elements. More in line with traditional Rap were the Beastie Boys. The Beasties took a vacation from their Punk/Alternative Rock roots and created a masterful monster with “Licensed To Ill.” Black and/or Latino kids gave them their props and white kids discovered that three Jewish kids could flip the script and throw down dope beats. Skaters, surfers, and BMX bike riders all gravitated to the funky fresh vanilla flava . Head bangers got their taste of Hip Hop through the collaboration of RUN DMC and Aerosmith. Hip Hop DJs had been sampling Rock for years, but RUN DMC was the first Rap group to have rockers actually participate in the making of a commercially successful song and video. White radio realized that Rap was expanding and invading. MTV, which had excluded blacks from heavy rotation, didn’t show videos by black artists on a regular basis until it became commercially viable to do so. (Thanks Michael Jackson!) MTV’s airing of the Beasties and “Walk This Way” introduced Rap to the majority of white youth. The anarchistic naughty boy image long associated with Punk and Rock was now attached to Rap. This would have profound commercial ramifications as rebellious white youth vicariously identified with the budding Gangsta’ Rap genre. 4 Copyright ©

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GHETTO GANGSTERS GLAMORIZED vs. THE GHETTOUT MENTALITY The Great Snowstorm of 1985 was a crucial year for urban African American communities. This was the year crack cocaine fell like an avalanche on the inner cities. Black gangs had always existed but with the introduction of crack, the gangsters/drug dealers became deadly as they fought to protect and/or extend their market area. It was during this time that violence became inextricably associated with Rap music. In 1986, during the RAISING HELL concert in Long Beach, CA, violence erupted as rival gangs from all over the LA area began to squabble. RUN DMC, the concert’s headliner, got blamed for the melee. Violence started erupting elsewhere. Wherever crack had fallen, incidents of violence rose. Gang members and drug dealers moved all across the country like a plague, decimating not only our inner cities but many bedroom black communities as well. Rap music’s relationship to the gangsters and drug dealers was tangential. Many of the drug dealers and gangbangers were young, so they listened to Rap. Rap music did not cause violence. Violent people who happened to be fans of Rap music caused the violence. For some odd reason black radio began to abandon Rap music. It was as if they believed the hype being perpetuated by the mainstream media. Maybe it was an attempt to keep advertisers? Maybe they did not want to be associated with a music that was being characterized as “ghetto” and violent? But for whatever reason, it was unwarranted. Instead of banishing Rap, black radio could have used its influence to reach the youth who listened to the music. Black radio could have urged the youth to stop the drug slangin’ and gangbanging. In reality, it wasn’t until entrepreneurial types like Compton, California’s Eric “Eazy E” Wright (God rest his soul) made enough money from slangin’ to start their own labels, that Rap was truly tied to death and destruction. The Gangsta’ Rap genre had existed for a few years. Schoolly D out of Philadelphia and Boogie Down Productions, led by KRS-One and Scott La Rock, out of the Bronx, talked about street life. Yet, it was the West Coast Rappers that made the genre what it is today. Ice-T emerged out of LA’s early electro-funk-pop scene. He along with Tony Gonzalez and Kid Frost (Arturo Molina, Jr.) were youngsters deeply involved with a club called Radio and a DJ outfit called Uncle Jam’s Army. Ice-T was also crowned a Zulu King in Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation. However, Ice-T embarked on a path very different from traditional Hip Hop roots. He appeared to model his persona after characters created by literary legend Robert “Iceberg Slim” Beck. Ice-T adopted the whole high rolling gangster player lifestyle. In 1986 he released “Six In The Morning.” This song rendered a picture of what an LA street hustler’s life was like. Gone were the break beat loving, breakdancing B-Boys. Ever present was the predatory street prowler. 5 Copyright ©

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The infamous seminal group N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit’ Attitude) was an amalgamation of LA BBoys and boys from the ‘hood. Group member Dr. Dre had been a member of the popular electrofunk group the World Class Wreckin Cru. He and fellow N.W.A. member Yella honed their skills spinning at a club called Eve’s Afterdark. They were the B-Boys. Members Ice Cube, Ren, and Eazy-E were the boys from the hood. Together they stunned the world with their classic “Boyz-N-The Hood.” Backed by Eazy E’s blood money, the fellas made tapes and sold them out of the trunks of their cars. Their tapes were a hit in LA. Prowlers cruised the streets while bumping their dope beats. N.W.A. then put their work down on wax and in 1987 it blew up. The explosion was due not only to street play but radio air play. Greg Mack of 1580 KDAY, responding to public sentiment, asked N.W.A. to clean up the lyrics so that he could play it on the air. The boys did and the rest is history. Compton was now on the map, gangster life had been reinforced and legitimized, and Eazy E’s Ruthless Records became a multi-million dollar record company. N.W.A., born in the shadow and style of Hollywood, satisfied people’s love of the blaxploitation film genre; the bawdy anecdotes of Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, and Rudy Ray “Dolemite” Moore; and the high rolling player lifestyle. But unlike earlier times, when the rendering of the base elements of African American life was marginal to and pretty much within and controlled by a stable African American community, this new rendering took place during a time when the black community was unstable and being demonized by the media and the police. Most inner cities were battle zones, riddled with crack cocaine and the time bomb soon to be known as AIDS. N.W.A. glamorized for many a life of drug dealing and pimping. A life that for far too many, of which Eazy E was one, would lead to an untimely death. N.W.A. was not alone in this endeavor. Groups like Compton’s Most Wanted, Above The Law, and lone acts like Too $hort all artistically described the destruction of the black community. As Chuck D, of the Rap group Public Enemy, states in his book Fight The Power, “The problem is, without control over our own environment and our reality, there develops a blur between fantasy and reality. It’s a serious situation when art not only imitates life, but life imitates art. When that takes place, you have art that dictates as well as reflects.” The disenfranchised youth of the Bronx, a decade before, used Rap to make their dismal situation better. They bombed their desolate urban landscapes with vibrant bursts of colorful aerosol art. They took old Disco, Funk, and R&B records and invented a new sound. They invented a dance form to go along with the funky beats. To help forget about their dire living conditions they penned fun feel good raps or confronted the situation with songs like “The Message.” To find some semblance of sense we would have to look again to the East. The blacks who had fled The City for places like Queens, Long Island, and New Jersey heeded the talking drum’s call. 6 Copyright ©

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THREE FEET HIGH AND RISING AGAINST A NATION OF MILLIONS There had been female Rappers before. The B-girls of Mercedes Ladies, Funky Four Plus One More, Sequence, and Roxanne Shanté had all waxed poetic on the mic. In 1986 the world was introduced to Salt-n-Pepa. Salt-n-Pepa, who along with Spinderella, came out with Hot, Cool & Vicious. Under the supervision of Hurby “ Luvbug” Azor, they paid homage to Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s “The Show” with their follow up song “Showstopper.” However, this album is best known for the originally relegated b-side “Push It.” With “Push It” Rap became fun again. We were reminded that people have fun. We were reminded that kids liked to dance, party and have a good time. Not everybody had succumbed to the drug thug life. By the late `80’s Rap had evolved and developed subgenera like Hip House (rapping over House music) and New Jack Swing (R&B with a funky Hip Hop twist). Another dimension was added to the mix when Public Enemy released Yo! Bum Rush the Show in 1987. In the vein of pre Hip Hop pioneers Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, and the Watts Prophets; Public Enemy stocked block rocking beats with conscious lyrics. Yet, it was Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back that really shook things up. This 1988 release was part history lesson/part wake up call/part call to action. Again listeners were assaulted by Chuck D’s powerful rhymes, Flava Flav’s kinetic comedic asides and the music’s bomb like beats. Of particular note is the cut “Night Of The Living Baseheads.” This song was very apropos due to the number of African Americans who had sold their souls to the cocaine demon; forsaking the bass drum for the base pipe. As Tricia Rose states in her book, Black Noise, “Chuck’s urgent bellowing chorus ‘I’m talking about bass!’ calls for the music and the power of the drums, the rhythm of life to be the guiding light, the core of black addiction...In “Baseheads”, black music is the medium through which one’s commitment to community and culture is realized.” While P.E. challenged people’s politics, others were challenging people’s perceptions about what Rap was. Up until now Rap had been mostly a man’s world. That perception was jolted when MC Lyte weighed in with Lyte As A Rock . She answered the sexist male-dominated Rap soundscape with her own brand of funny funky feminism. MC Lyte provided a refreshing break from the political rantings on the one hand and the pimp daddy posturing on the other. Another musical treat was provided by EPMD. Their Strictly Business album did for music what Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid In Full did for lyrics. EPMD’s “You Gots To Chill” was as masterful rhythmically as “Paid In Full” was lyrically. But, the real mind altering masterpiece was just around the corner with De La Soul’s 1989 release, Three Feet High & Rising. This album gave birth to a new subgenera of Rap; Alternative Rap. Utilizing jazz, psychedelic rock, soul, and funk; De La Soul went mad abstract combining loopy lyrics with complex collages of sound. This album broke new ground, crossing over and becoming a great commercial success. De La Soul made it known that you didn’t have to be “hard” to make an impact. Their highly experimental work blew Hip Hop 7 Copyright ©

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heads away and inspired many a B-boy and girl to reach beyond the confines of what had become standard Rap construction. KAACHING! By 1989, with Rap becoming more profitable, more and more record labels were taking chances and signing Rap acts. 1580 KDAY was becoming world-renowned because it was playing more Rap than any other station in the Los Angeles area. At this time, this was a risky move. Even though Rap was growing in popularity, advertisers were hesitant to purchase time on a station that played so much Rap. By 1991, 1580 KDAY was off the air. The remaining urban formatted and/or black-owned and operated radio stations had all abandoned Rap. They failed to make a distinction between the positive and the negative and threw the baby out with the bathwater. Years later, as an adult, the orphaned Rap would come back with a vengeance, but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Despite being shunned by black radio, Rap music continued to thrive. The talking drum would not and could not be silenced. Via Rap video shows, mix tapes, booming systems, house parties, b-ball courts, and from B-boy to B-girl and beyond; the latest jam was passed around and made known. Rap sales continued to grow. While other music genres seemed to be losing momentum, Rap was gaining speed. The early 1990’s were an exciting time for Rap. Some new faces were emerging bringing in new styles flavored with old time sensibilities. THE VOICES OF THE EAST WIND BLOWING AWAY THE WEST From the East rose a Queen. Queen Latifah. All Hail the Queen was released in 1989 but its reign lasted well into 1990. Queen Latifah’s first effort mixed the wacky melodious fusion of De La Soul with the smooth groove of Reggae and the pulsating beat of House. All the styles were represented with a touch of funky panache. This funky panache was carried even further by A Tribe Called Quest whose People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm reminded folks that black men could be thoughtful, cute, cool, and quirky, and still get their Rap on! The three griots, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Phife, smacked the talking drum so that it spoke to the emerging Bohos (Black Afrocentric Bohemians). Surprisingly, but not really all that surprising, Tribe also gained many non-black fans. The expansion and elevation of Rap was exploding. Tribe continued to blow up on their travels and in 1992 produced a true tour de force titled Low End Theory. Now that fun and funkiness were back in vogue, the wacky Wild West had to add their two cents. California’s Digital Underground paid tribute to Parliament/Funkadelic with their good time rhythmical romp Sex Packets. The boys from the Bay Area moved the crowd with “Humpty Dance” and “Doowutchyalike.” They also introduced the world to Tupac Amaru “2Pac” Shakur. Now hold tight, we gonna’ hit that story in just a few. 8 Copyright ©

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But first lets go back To The East, Blackwards. Militant Afrocentricty was revisited with a passion by X-Clan. Fronted by the son of civil rights activist Sonny Carson: Professor X the Overseer, and Grand Verberlizer Funkin-Lesson Brother J., X-Clan dropped phat exhortations to know thyself. Their stay on the soap box was not long, but it was long enough to infuse the Rap debate with links to its African ancestry and the legacy of struggle borne from it. In 1991 the styles of the East and the West met in the form of Naughty by Nature. They had the outward appearance of gangsters, hood rats, and B-boys gone bad. Yet, in reality, they were more musically attuned to the old school sensibilities of the South Bronx. Emerging from poverty and the wish to “ghettout," Naughty By Nature could not find anything glamorous about living the life of a homeless, drug running, stick up kid. Music was for them, as it had been for their kindred spirit predecessors from the Bronx; an escape from the harsh realities of “true ghetto” living. Their song “O.P.P.” brought them mainstream success. They were to return in 19 Naughty III with the Rap anthem “Hip Hop Hooray.” Digging in the crates for old R&B, Jazz, Funk, and Soul proved profitable for Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth whose 1991 release All Souled Out sold very well. Their next effort Mecca & The Soul Brother continued their progression of the rare groove. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth helped us “Reminisce,” remembering those days gone by when at family get togethers we didn’t fight over which radio station to listen to or what tape to pop into the eight track; when old and young alike could jam to the same tunes and get their groove on. However it was probably during this time that the gap between the musical tastes of the generations widened the most. Gangster fabulous again bum rushed the funky circle and backyard BBQ’s. Parents would shake their heads while their kids bobbed theirs. ICE CUBE, DR. DRE, SNOOP, BOSS AND H-TOWN’S 5TH WARD The wild, Wild West could not get enough of the gangster stuff. Los Angeles had long been the home of Gangster Rap. Yet, a little to the east and further down south in Houston, Texas’ 5th Ward, a cacophonous nightmare called the Geto Boys emanated. To the delight of impassive psychopathic voyeurs everywhere, the Geto Boys fed their wonder lust for gruesome tales of brutally hideous accounts of inner city crime and violence. Such depictions did little to shed light on the grisly conditions under which people in our “urban reservations” lived. More than anything, they articulated the sickest fantasies of a sociopathic society that could vicariously relieve itself while doing nothing to alleviate the oppressive system that subjugated the people on which the songs were loosely based. Almost in direct opposition to this kind of Ultra-Hardcore Rap was Ice Cube’s solo debut AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. Cube had broken away from Dr. Dre and Eazy -E. He teamed up with Public Enemy’s The Bomb Squad and produced a work that deglamorized the very life that N.W.A. had exalted. In songs like “Once Upon A Time In The Projects” and “Endangered Species,” Cube not only tells it as he sees it, he lets it be known that the problem is not only with the people who inhabit the “urban wasteland," but those who escaped it and never looked or reached back, and with a government that not only allows ghettos to exist but perpetuates them. 9 Copyright ©

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Socio-psychotic musings didn’t come only from West Coast mad men. In 1992 the East Coast spawned a female called BO$$. The same Boss who in an earlier life was a squeaky clean all American girl with dreams of becoming a nurse. Backed by a dream production team, a la Def Jef; Jam Master Jay; MC Serch; Erick Sermon; and Russell Simmons, this harder than hard homegirl blasted crazy, Fiona Apple style on her debut Born Gangstaz. If there is any redeeming quality to be found it could be in that Boss inverts the gangbanging-player/bitches and hos rhetoric of her male counterparts and comes up with something just as foul. Now back to the West Coast mad men. Dr. Dre, a trained pianist (got piano lessons from Burt Bacharach), was a musician at heart. He knew music and loved it. Yet, he was to grow to love money and the fantasy come to life gangsta’ mentality more. Dr. Dre left N.W.A. and formed Death Row Records with Suge Knight. This unholy alliance would bring forth some of the most misogynistic Rap ever put down on wax. Sadly, fantasy would mirror reality as Dre would find himself facing assault charges brought by Dee Barnes, female host of the classic Rap video show Pump It Up (It must be noted, Dre has since become an ardent opposer of violence against women and has contributed to organizations that support victims of domestic violence). Now back to our story, Dr. Dre, being the musician that he is, impacted all of Rap with his G-funk groove. In 1993 his The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle seemed to break all previous Rap records. Everybody in America, of every conceivable ethnic group, men, boys, girls and ashamedly WOMEN, bought the CDs like proverbial hotcakes. The Chronic was a multi-platinum, Top 10 hit and Doggystyle entered the charts at number one and remained on the charts for months. All with limited radio air play but with a lot of media and word of mouth hype. In time, the old adage “you reap what you sow” would come to pass in the young lives of these fathers of the wayward child known as Gangsta’ Rap. By 1997 Suge Knight would be in jail, Snoop would be in hiding fearing for his life after the yet unsolved murders of Tupac “2-Pac” Shakur and Chris “Biggie Smalls” Wallace; and Dr. Dre would be somewhere in the Aftermath (his new company), wondering how he could catch Sean “Puffy/P-Diddy” Combs and some bayou bumpkin called Master P. Dre’s salvation would come in the form of a Slim Shady character…EMINEM; AKA Marshall Mathers, III. EAST MIX WEST, CONTROVERSY, AND DEATH Before we move on, let’s return to 1992 for a quick minute. Who would have guessed that the poster child for the evils of Rap would be a woman. Sister Souljah by her own admission, “...was not born to make white people feel comfortable. I am African first! I am Black first! I want what’s good for me and my people first. And if my survival means your total destruction, then so be it. You built this wicked system! They say two wrongs don’t make it right, but it DAMN sure makes it even!” Our dear Sister Souljah continued with this train of thought when she made a public comment concerning the homicide rates of blacks compared to that of whites and how these rates could be equalized. This comment caused such an uproar that even the 10 Copyright ©

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newly elected President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, condemned her and by association all Rap music. 1992 also saw the coming of 2Pacalypse Now. A little while before the Sister Souljah fiasco, Tupac “2-Pac” Shakur brought cries of moral outrage from then Vice President Dan Quayle for the record’s blunt and explicit lyrics. Yet and still, 2Pacalypse Now charted and propelled Tupac to stardom. Tupac enjoyed success in both music and movies. However, he soon fell victim to the thug mentality. His became a thug life, and in 1996 it became his death. On the other side of the Hip Hop universe, Bohos were being fed head candy by the likes of Arrested Development whose soaring vocals, via Dionne Farris, implored GOD to “take me home!” While Arrested Development were dreaming about “Tennessee," the Digable Planets were Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) . The Digable Planets created a jazzy laid back track with the “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat).” 1993 brought about the first efforts by the Fugees and the Wu-Tang Clan. We also saw the emergence of Me’shell NdegeOcello who at that time was an uncatalogorizable Boho-B-GirlBisexual genius. Some are still wondering where to place her, but there is no questioning her musical and poetic prowess. All in all, it seemed that Rap had grown to encompass all the musical genres that had preceded it: field songs, spirituals, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Rock, Soul, Reggae, Funk, Disco, and House. The styles of the East and West had blended, and thanks to Sean Combs and Mary J. Blige, “Hip Hop Soul” and the celebration of the Ghetto Fabulous Diva was realized. Sean Combs wasn’t through, though. In 1994 he brought us Chris Wallace, AKA Biggie Smalls, BKA the Notorious B.I.G...and in 1997...Christopher Wallace, R.I.P. And here we are, at the onset of the new Millennium. And all the while bubbling under the surface was underground Hip Hop (including underappreciated rappers like Mos Def and Common and groups like Blackalicious and Jurassic 5); metamorphosing and evolving. The full true story of the underground will have to be told at some other time. Maybe after this article is printed, black-owned and operated radio will seek this music out and play it. For underground is where the future lies, it’s where freedom lies, just ask the passengers on the underground railroad. They’ll tell ya’. Until then...oh well. Buttarumma, on the surface, pop acts like Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey “borrow” rappers to propel their sales while the likes of D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Maxwell and Eryka Badu are in the midst of taking us and our drum to the edge of infinity. Why I am mentioning what seems to most to be Neo Soul acts and why have I stopped naming the plethora of present day commercial rappers (no disrespect to Ja Rule or Eve). Well, because soon, very soon, we will see or shall I say hear something that we’ve never heard before but will be as familiar to us as a heart anxiously beating in the chest of a captive lying prone in the hull of a slave ship, defiantly rocking and rolling with the rhythm of the waves, destined for parts 11 Copyright ©

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unknown. But y’all gon’ hafta’ wait for that. WHO STOLE THE SOUL? As a people who operate within a racist society, we have developed coping mechanisms that allow for our survival. When music was no longer considered a subject worthy enough to be a part of the standard public education curriculum and when economic and social circumstances rendered music lessons and/or musical instruments impractical for impoverished black youth; we raided Moms’ and Pops’ stereo cabinets and made new music from those old records. As Stetsasonic states in “Talkin’ All That Jazz,” “Tell the truth - James Brown was old till’ Eric B. came out with ‘I Got Soul’. Rap brings back old R&B. If we would not people could have forgot. ” The controversy surrounding sampling only became a serious issue when Rap started making a lot of money and when black folks starting making money offa’ white folks' music; á la De La Soul’s use of the Turtles “You Showed Me” and Biz Markie’s use of Gilbert O’ Sullivan’s “Alone Again, Naturally.” Again Stetsasonic puts it into perspective when they say in “Talkin’ All That Jazz," “You see, you misunderstand. A sample is just a tactic, a portion of my method, a tool. In fact it is only of importance when I make it a priority. And what we sample is loved by the majority.” Oh snap! I can’t let this go unsaid. Most recently, the Beastie Boys bamboozled a brother (via his publishing company) by sampling his music without his permission and without payment. I guess the converse is not true...humph. Anyway, Rap’s incorporation of all the music that had preceded it is the epitome of a postmodern musical manifestation. Rap illustrates the continuum and continuation of culture. Sampling is not stealing. It is the next logical step in the cultural progression of a people. The whole art of sampling takes place outside of Eurocentric legal conceptions of music use. Moreover, it operates outside of the classical Eurocentric conception of music, i.e., harmony and melody taking precedence over rhythm. Trying to fit Rap within these constructs is like forcing a round peg into a square hole...or stripping the skin from a drum. Long before Rap came along, black musicians and their music had been exploited by publishing companies and record companies. I don’t have to recount the many stories of black musicians who have died broke while the publishing and record companies made and make millions off their music. If we really want to talk about theft, just look at the bank accounts of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and the estate of Jimi Hendrix compared to those of Elvis’ estate, Mick Jagger, and Paul McCartney. But you know what though, I ain’t even gonna’ go there. You know what I’m saying? (No disrespect Priscilla, Mick, and Paul. Y’all did what y'all had to do to make sure you’re getting yours! Oh and Paul, thanks for hipping Michael Jackson to the publishing gig.) 12 Copyright ©

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In essence, the sampling controversy has reduced the level of creativity in Rap. (But hey, we just gonna’ hafta’ improvise...it’s coming.) Due to excessive music clearance fees and other legal constraints, many a producer’s hands are tied. There must be a way for US to construct more equitable and practical laws and business practices regarding music use. Since the bulk of music being sampled was and is that of black artists there is no reason why WE can’t get together on this. 360 DEGREES Funny how what goes around comes around. Rap, orphaned as a baby by black-owned and/or operated radio stations, has grown up to be the savior of music radio itself. How shameful it is that those who are reaping the most economic benefits from this are not black-owned and/or operated stations but white owned mega-corporate conglomerates. For instance, in 1987 there were THREE black-owned and operated “urban formatted” stations in Los Angeles (KGFJ, KACE, and KJLH). Now, there is only ONE! (KJLH). And this station refuses to play Rap music. Thus allowing two white owned stations (The Beat KKBT 92.3FM [By 2012 Gone] and KPWR 106FM) to pimp our music. These two stations are making bank too. Just compare their bottom lines with the sole black station’s. The numbers for 1997 are as follows: KKBT’s revenues equaled $34,200,000, KPWR’s revenues equaled $26,700,000 and KJLH’s...well, their numbers were so low, they were too embarrassed to tell. (In 2012, a multi-ethnic owned station in LA calls itself KDAY 93.5FM and plays …uh…mostly rap drivel and retread, in my humble opinion.) As we now know from the infamous Katz Radio Amcast memo and subsequent Federal Communications Commission Report, this disparity in revenue between white owned and blackowned and/or urban formatted stations can also be attributed to the fact that it is standard industry practice for radio ad consultants to persuade advertisers that it is not cost effective to advertise on black radio. They assert that it is more cost effective to take black-owned and/or formatted radio and their listeners for granted. Also isn’t it funny that at the same time some young African Americans are making millions via Rap music, many are being systematically robbed of opportunities to make money in other lucrative areas (Witness the repercussions of California’s Proposition 209? Just count the number of blacks in this year’s first year University of California’s medical and law school classes. You can you know. You REALLY can). And isn’t it funny, in comparison, how MANY bruddas and sistahs are locked up? PHOO HA! I’m not even gon’go there! Knawmean? What are we doing about this? NOTHING! Not only has black radio been in a daze, for the past 20 years, so have we as a people! This so called generation gap, evidenced by our differences in opinion about music is just crazy! It is a divide and conquer strategy. What is to stop a black owned and operated radio station from playing a song sampling Roy Ayers and then playing the Roy Ayers original? What’s stopping black radio from playing a song that samples some James Brown and then playing the James Brown source? Why can’t black radio play a 13 Copyright ©

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song that samples Parliament/Funkadelic and then play the original? Ironically, KKBT had such a show on a few years ago, “Digging In ‘Da Crates w/ Sway and Tech” However, it didn’t last. Culture without the proper context is often misunderstood. What a grand opportunity it would have been for the remaining black-owned and operated station to bridge the so called “generation gap.” KJLH could have and can still pick up the canceled show. But you don’t hear me ‘tho. But ya’ better, cuz the times in which we are living has made doing so a cultural imperative. Once upon a time this country made a feeble attempt to open the doors of opportunity that were once closed to black people. They called this attempt affirmative action. Once upon a time, around the same time that affirmative action was in full swing, the government instituted policies that broke down some of the barriers to radio ownership. One policy was called the Distress Sale Policy. If a broadcaster was in trouble with the Federal Communications Commission, and was in the midst of losing their license to operate they could sell their station to a person of color or a white woman for 75% of the station’s assessed value. In so doing, the broadcaster would lose a particular station property but not the license to operate a station property. Another policy was known as the Tax Certificate Policy. This policy gave broadcasters a tax break if they sold a station to a person of color or a white woman. Once upon a time, after these programs had been in effect for a few years; we had quite a few black-owned and operated radio stations. And guess what? One even could claim being the most popular radio station in the nation. (Ever heard of 107.5 FM WBLS in NYC? But have you heard it lately (as of 2012 it may be owned by an investment group that may include Magic Johnson)...or do you listen to HOT 97 [WQHT 97.1 FM]? Anyway, those polices are long gone (Sadly, the use of straw men and other unfortunate occurrences lead to the dismantling of these very useful programs.) and so are many black-owned and operated stations. The passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 hasn’t made things any easier. The implementation of this legislation has led to the proliferation of mega-corporate conglomerates that monopolize the airwaves. Thus, leaving poor stand alone stations like KJLH to fight for survival. But ya’ know right now we have a brotha’, Michael Powell, (well at least he’s black, and he’s also Secretary of State, Colin Powell’s son) in charge of the FCC. Maybe he, (we?) can reinstitute those policies or even create new and better ones. [This opportunity is LONG GONE and he showed his true colors when he went after KBOO for playing Your Revolution Will Not Happen Between These Thighs by Sarah Jones and DJ Vadim.] Why is black-owned and/or operated radio so important? All we need do is remember the role it has played in our struggle for liberation in this nation. During the Civil Rights period it was black owned and/or operated stations that broadcast the speeches and announcements of Martin Luther King, Jr. and ‫ ا_^]\ز‬a_\b ‫ج‬ ّ \e_‫“( ا‬Malcolm X”). It was black-owned and/or operated stations that informed our people of the rallies and marches and demonstrations. It was black-owned and/or operated stations that hipped the Civil Rights demonstrators, via transistor radios, that Bull “Blast ya’ wit’ a water cannon & Bite ya’ wit’ a dog” Connor was around the corner (and if you don’t know who Bull Connor was...I feel sorry for you). The stations’ DJs used code words and songs to help the demonstrators outmaneuver the police. (Kinda’ like the field and house enslaved people singing “Steal Away”, huh?) It was black-owned and/or operated stations that 14 Copyright ©

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gave us news of the riots erupting in our inner cities and tried to keep the peace. Most recently we have witnessed the effectiveness of syndicated DJ Tom Joyner’s “partying with a purpose.” He has used the radio to urge listeners to lobby Congress, support Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and become politically conscious. I can go on and on...but I think you get the picture. Parenthetically, the decrease of black-owned radio stations has put Tom Joyner in a very precarious position as he has been forced to run on white owned stations in many markets and compete with the sole black-owned stations in those markets. Worse than that, a la KACE’s sale and format change, Tom Joyner goes when the station goes. Oy vey, heaven help us! October 4, 1999 marked fifty years of black-owned and operated radio in the United States of America. Back in 1949 the first African American owned and operated radio station, WERD was founded by Jesse Blayton, Sr. in Atlanta, Georgia. The immortal DJ, Jack “The Rapper” Gibson, flipped the switch. Did we commemorate this momentous occasion with any celebrations or fanfare? No, it passed just like any other day. Its significance lost to yesteryear. (For clarification purposes, WDIA of Memphis, founded in 1948, was the first black music formatted station in the U.S.A. WERD was the first black-owned and operated station.) If we have to take it to the streets again, and we might just have to; what radio stations would help us out? Will we have to rely on the good graces of white owned radio stations? Will the last few remaining black-owned and operated stations help? Which stations would carry the message, the one your kid listens to or the one you listen to? Who would be the activists of today if not the Hip Hop generation? Who would put up the money to stage the events and bail them out of jail if not the likes of Jay-Z or Missy Elliott? They wouldn’t be doing anything more different than what Aretha Franklin did in her day. James Baldwin wrote in his essay Princes and Powers, “All cultures have an economic, social, and political base, and no culture can continue to live if its political destiny is not in its own hands.” He goes on to quote Aimé Cesaire, “Any political and social regime which destroys the self determination of a people also destroys the creative power of that people.” To add further prescient insult to injury, Frantz Fanon once posited, “Destroy the culture and you will destroy the people.” The talking drum. Yo, where’s it at?! About the author: The author was last seen somewhere along the space-time continuum. It is said that she is still searching. POSTSCRIPT: HOPE On March 13, 2000 Radio One Inc. divulged plans to acquire twelve radio stations from Clear Channel Communications Inc. and AMFM Inc., a mega-corporate conglomerate. Radio One Inc. is owned by Cathy Hughes, an African American woman. When this transaction is completed, Radio One will own forty-eight radio stations in nineteen markets throughout the United States 15 Copyright ©

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of America. One of those stations is Los Angeles based The Beat KKBT 92.3 FM (In 2012 it’s changed to KHHT and no longer owned by Radio One). (In actuality, Radio One acquired the call letters KKBT, and the frequency 100.3 FM, formerly KCMG. (In 2012, it’s no longer owned by Radio One) The sale is taking place because in order for federal regulators to approve the merger of Clear Channel and AMFM, Clear Channel must divest itself of 125 stations. Cathy Hughes was able to make the overall purchase because she long ago began creating her own conglomerate of sorts. She saw the writing on the wall and knew that in order for blackowned and operated radio to survive and thrive, black-owned and operated stations would have to come together to protect themselves from the mega-corporate conglomerates. Many of the black broadcasters she initially approached regarding coalescing dismissed her as a power and money hungry tyrant. Little did they know that a few years down the line they would be selling out to a mega-corporate conglomerate raider, or standing alone unable to effectively compete against the conglomerates, or seeing Ms. Hughes in a position to snatch up the conglomerates’ cast-offs. Cathy Hughes has expressed her commitment to community service and empowerment. We shall see how well she can carry the talking drum.

POST POSTSCRIPT: Ahh shucks, never mind… Radio One went public and is now beholden to the market place, not the black community. Alfred Liggins, III, the son of the retired Cathy Hughes, has publicly stated that making money is the main objective; not public responsibility. In all honesty, in the main, I no longer listen to mainstream commercial radio. I listen to public radio, go to live shows, and thank GOD for the internet. Whew! Man, oh, Manischewitz. I’m done but please allow me to leave you with this. Always remember and never forget:

+♥ = ☥ drops mic, leaves stage…

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DISCOGRAPHY An Arbitrary List Based On How I Felt At The Time I Made It ARTIST

3rd Bass Bahamadia Beastie Boys Blackalicious Brand Nubian Common Cypress Hill Disposible Heroes Of Hip Hopcrisy EVE Foxy Brown Freestyle Fellowship Fugees Gang Starr Heavy D & The Boyz House Of Pain Jay-Z Jungle Brothers Kool Moe Dee Kurtis Blow Leaders Of The New School LL Cool J Lords Of The Underground Malcolm McLaren Mantronix Me'Shell NdegeOcello Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott Mos Def and Talib Kweli Mystic NAS OUTKAST Pharcyde Poor Righteous Teachers Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock Slum Village The Roots Ultramagnetic MC's UTFO Whodini Wu-Tang Clan

DISC

Derelects of Dialect Kollage Paul's Boutique Blazing Arrow One For All One Day It'll All Make Sense Cypress Hill Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury Ruff Ryders' First Lady Ill Na Na To Whom It May Concern The Score Daily Operation Nuttin But Love House Of Pain (Fine Malt Lyrics) Reasonable Doubt Done By The Forces Of Nature The Greatest Hits The Best Of Kurtis Blow A Future Without A Past any of his discs Here Come The Lords Duck Rock Musical Madness Plus Plantation Lullabies any of her discs Are Blackstar Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom Illmatic Stankonia Bizzarre Ride II the Pharcyde Holy Intellect It Takes Two Trinity illadelph halflife Critical Beatdown UTFO Escape Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)


Bibliography Provided For Your Reading Pleasure Any article written by dream hampton Any article written by Greg Tate Any article written by Harry Allen Any article written by Sheena Lester Aerosol Kingdom by Ivor L. Miller Back in the Days: Photographs by Jamel Shabazz Black Music, White Business by Frank Kofsky Black Nationalism and The Revolution in Music by Frank Kofsky Black Noise by Tricia Rose Bomb the Suburbs by William Upski Wimsatt Break It Down: The Inside Story From the New Leaders of Rap by Michael Small Bring The Noise: A Guide To Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture by Havelock Nelson and Michael A. Gonzales Buppies, B-Boys, Baps & Bohos: Notes on Post-Soul Black Culture by Nelson George Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang Chosen by Fate: My Life Inside Death Row Records by McKinley "Malik" Lee, Jr. Crimes of Style by Jeff Ferrell and Eugene Stewart-Huidobro Droppin' Science: Straight-Up Talk from Hip Hop's Greatest Voices edited by Denise McIver Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists Compiled by Jeff "Chairman" Mao, Elliott Wilson, Sacha Jenkins, Gabriel Alvarez & Brent Rollins 18 Copyright ©

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Fight The Power by Chuck D Fresh: Hip Hop Don't Stop edited By Nelson George From the Underground: Hip Hop Culture as an Agent of Social Change by Hashim Shomari Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One by Rickey Vincent Gangsta: Merchandizing the Rhymes of Violence by Ronin Ro Global Noise: Rap and Hip Hop Outside the USA by Tony Mitchell Got Your Back: The Life of a Bodyguard in the Hardcore World of Gangsta Rap by Frank Alexander

Hardcore Rap: A Fusion of Metal, Rock and Hip Hop by Arion Berg Have Gun Will Travel: The Spectacular Rise and Violent Fall of Death Row Records by Ronin Ro

Hip Hop America: Hip Hop and the Molding of Black Generation X by Nelson George Hip Hop Divas by various writers Hip Hop: The Illustrated History of Breaking, Rap Music, and Graffiti by Steve Hager Hip Hoptionary™: The Dictionary of Hip Hop Terminology by Paul Westbrook How Hip Hop Destroyed Black Power by Minister Paul Scott It's Not About A Salary by Brian Cross King of Rock: Respect, Responsibility, and My Life with RUN-DMC by Darren McDaniels Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, and God by Russell Simmons and Nelson George

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Move the Crowd: Voices and Faces of the Hip Hop Nation by Gregor Ehrlich and Dimitri Ehrlich

No Static: A Guide To Creative Radio Programming by Quincy McCoy Oh Snap!: The Rap Photography of Ricky Powell One Nation Under a Groove: Rap Music and Its Roots by James Haskins Performing Identity/Performing Culture: Hip Hop as Text, Pedagogy, and Lived Practice by Greg Dimitriadis Public Enemy #1: Research Study of Rap Music, Culture and Black Nationalism in America by David Shabazz R&B: Rhythm and Business edited by Norman Kelley Rap and Hip Hop edited by Jared Green Rap Attack 2 by David Toop Rap Attack 3 by David Toop Rap Attack: African Jive to New York Hip Hop by David Toop Rap Music and Street Consciousness by Cheryl Lynette Keyes Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity by Adam Krims Rap Whoz Who: The World of Rap Music by Steven Stancell Rap, Ritual, and Reality by John Logan Rap: Portraits and Lyrics of a Generation of Black Rockers Photographs by Janette Beckman Text by B. Adler Say It Loud: The Story of Rap Music by K. Maurice Jones Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic by Mark Anthony

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Spraycan Art by Henry Chalfant and James Prigoff Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism by Russell A. Potter Street Conscious Rap by James Spady Subway Art by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant Taking the Train by Joe Austin The `Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip Hop by Murray Forman The Beat: Go-Go's Fusion of Funk and Hip Hop by Kip Lornell and Charles Stephenson The Death Of Rhythm and Blues by Nelson George The Faith of Graffiti by Norman Mailer The Hip Hop Generation: The Crisis in African American Culture by Bakari Kitwana The New Beats by S.H. Fernando, Jr. The Rap on Gangsta Rap: Who Run It?: Gangsta Rap & Visions of Black Violence by Bakari Kitwana The Rough Guide to Hip Hop The State of Black America 2001 - National Urban League: "The Roots of Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture: One Perspective" by Yvonne Bynoe United States vs. Hip Hop: The Historical and Political Significance of Rap Music by Julian Shabazz VIBE History of Hip Hop by Alan Light Westside: Young Men and Hip Hop in L.A. by William Shaw Who Shot Ya ?: Photos by Ernie Paniccioli and edited by Kevin Powell Yes, Yes, Y'all: The Experience Music Project's Oral History of Hip Hop's First Decade by Jim Fricke and Charlie Ahearn with an Introduction by Nelson George 21 Copyright ©

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RADIO DAZE: A B-Girl's Never Ending Search for the Talking Drum  

This essay was originally written eons ago, in a galaxy, far, far away. Due to some wrinkles in time, some tid bits from more recent eras an...

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