Volume 6: Back To The Old Schoolyard
September, 1994
It's Just A White Bar

Hold on, Busy Bee, I don't mean to be bold
But put that ba-diddy-ba bullshit on hold
We gonna' get right down to the nitty grit
Gonna tell you little something why you ain't shit
It ain't an M.C. jock that you don't hug
You even bit your name from the Lovebug
Now to bite a bigga's name is some lowdown shit
If you was money, man, you'd be counterfeit...

-Kool Moe Dee, Harlem World, 1981

        This month, we're gonna take a little break from our usual in-depth look into the record crates so that we can discuss the era in which this whole phenomenon really started: the old school years of Hip Hop. Listening to time-worn records in my collection sometimes causes me to reminisce about the early days: seeing Jazzy Jay rocking Perez Prado's "Mambo No.5", kids b-boying to The Headhunters' "God Make Me Funky", Dr. Rock cutting up the Melvin Bliss beat while Stevie D. Mercury and the Force flex the harmonies...yo, just mad memories, kid.

        But what's really sad to me is that there are just too many people out here who don't seem to know enough or care enough about the history of this music that they claim to love. It's cool to bop the domepiece to the latest flavors. but if you don't know about or appreciate where Hip Hop started, then, in the words of my fellow Rap Sheet writer KRS-ONE, You Must Learn!

        Nobody's mad at you because you were a shorty doowop (or not even born yet) back in 1977, or because you grew up in lowa and weren't exposed to Hip Hop during its infacy. I feel mad lucky that I was there to experience a little bit of it, but that in itself doesn't make a person more "down" than another. It's really about loving the music and the whole culture enough to want to know everything about it -- past, present, and future -- not just bumpin' the current hits on your car system while you cruise down the block. (And no, wearing shelltoes with fat laces is not enough!)

        Luckily, it's not too late to get the knowledge, y'all. You now have the opportunity to go back, back to the old school, courtesy of a brother in the Bronx named Gregory Moore. Through his Rap Archives, Moore is now making live tapes from Hip Hop's golden years available to today's fly guys and girls. Classics like the infamous Busy Bee dis routine by Kool Moe Dee, The Cold Crush/Fantastic Five Battle (re-enacted in the movie "Wildstyle"), Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick (before they blew up with "The Show"), Grandmaster Flash, Africa Bambaataa, and many more.

        Now if you consider Eric B. and Rakim to be old school, then you might not go back far enough to appreciate this stuff at first. Addmittedly, rap has advanced technically over years, in terms of lyrical skills and musical sophistication. But in my opinion, the style and flavor of old school rap has yet to be touched. There was an honesty and sense of fun in the music, a feeling that this isn't about selling a million records. It's about us. To me, that's the real definition of underground. Back in those days, Hip Hop was a thing that most people didn't know about or care to understand -- no Sprite commercials, no Hammer dolls, no videos. And that was part of what we b-boys, consciously or subconsciously, loved so much: the fact that we were onto something that society at large didn't have a clue about.

        Nowadays, everybody thinks that they're down, that they're "real". Okay, cool. But if you call yourself a lover of Hip Hop and can't get with the authentic old school shit, maybe you should rethink your feelings about this culture. Check out the tapes, see where a lot of today's groups got some of their style (the yes like thats), listen, enjoy and study. You've heard the debate on what's real and what isn't -- no doubt, this is real!

Old School Beats To Catch:
1."We'll Have A Nice Day" - King Errison
2."Seven Minutes of Funk"(vers. w/bongos) - Tyrone Thomas & The Whole Darn Family
3."Stilleto" - Billy Joel
4."Those Shoes" - The Eagles
5."Celebrate The Good Things" - Pleasure
6."It Feels Real Good" - Ester Williams
7."I'm Chief Kamanawanalea" - The Turtles
8."Sky's The Limit" - Rhythm Heritage
9."Farandole" - Bob James
10."The Funk Is On" - Instant Funk

Until next time, I'm bouncin'. One love, baby.

e-mail the Soulman