In 1980 Kurtis Blow released his first album titled “The Breaks”. Charlie Farley is a backwoods hillbilly rapping about life playing in the mud and livin’ in the sticks. Everything that has happened in between then and now is actually pretty interesting.
I was 5 in 1980 but I feel I’ve lived a pretty educational life. It was probably 1st grade or so when I first heard Kurtis Blow. I was confused but enjoyed the beats. Shortly before Mr. Blow there was the infamous Grandmaster Flash. I’ll call him the Godfather of the Rap genre. We had one black family in my neighborhood growing up. So, naturally, he was our go-to cultural expert in all areas non-white. Tyrone taught us how to break dance shortly after watching the movie “Breakin’”. We all wanted to be like Ozone and Turbo. Actually, looking back, we were a pretty diverse crew. We had me (a legit white dude), Jeff (feather in the hat Indian blood), Brad (Hispanic) and Kent (white like me). So Tyrone rounded us out. After Kurtis Blow blew up the rap scene Run D.M.C. was quick to follow. Sure there were a few other one hit wonders but Run D.M.C. ran the scene for quite a while. It wasn’t long til L.L Cool J. and Ice-T were spinnin’ their hits. Ohhh, the 80’s, what a wonderful time for evolution and experimentation.
The above mentioned artists will forever be the ones who pioneered Rap. With the conception of electronic media, the beats hit harder and the bass dropped lower. Enter… D.J. Magic Mike. The great state of Florida brought on the funky sounds and hard hitting bass that migrated quickly across the nation. Around 1987 rap artists began to really tell THEIR story and express their lives through words. That brought on the birth of N.W.A. and what they called “Gangsta Rap”. You didn’t really have to be a gangster; you just had to convince the people you were “hard”. Eric “Eazy-E” Wright’s quick rise brought to the scene Dr. Dre and his crew. Sug Knight then capitalized on the whole “set” and locked down the Compton area and all the up and coming artists. 2-Live Crew began rapping about their extreme attraction to the female body. I never really jumped on that wagon because A.) My parents would kill me if they heard it and B.) I just really didn’t care for it. I listened to them a bit but wasn’t that crazy about them. When I entered high school in 1989 I was knee deep into building speaker boxes with big ole woofers to rock my bedroom. As soon as I turned 16 it was on like Donkey Kong. My Rockford Fosgate Punch Pro 10’s in my 7th Order Box about blew the back end off my car when I turned up the Ice Cube, Paris or Public Enemy. Public Enemy had some great hits on their albums “Fight the Power” and “Fear of a Black Planet”. Yeah, I was that blonde haired honky rollin’ in my red 1983 Prelude broadcasting “kill whitie” music. The irony.
The early 90’s was blossoming with new rap artists. New to the scene were M.C. Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, Ton Loc, Too Short and a bajillion others. Movies like “Boyz in the Hood”, “House Party”, “New Jack City”, “Colors” and others like them really brought about the rap movement and well as the issues with inner city living. By the end of the 90’s it seemed the Dr. Dre empire pretty much ran the rap scene with Eminem, Snoop Dogg and 2Pac.
After the change of the millennium either music started to go downhill or I was just getting older. I rarely hear a rapper I like to listen to now. Christian rap started to pop with rappers like Lecrae and Toby Mac. Eminem was holding strong as the premier white dude rapper. Regardless of Vanilla Ice’s attempted rise to the top. I just recently heard of a, new to me, white guy rapper laying down rhymes about life in the backwoods. Kinda funny but actually pretty good. I was listening to him in the shower this morning. Charlie Farley is a hillbilly from De Queen, Arkansas. Seriously? Yes, seriously. His D.J. is good and this Redneck can flow with the best of ‘em. Eminem still holds the title in my opinion.
So, as you can see we’ve come a long way since Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow. It’s interesting and exciting how this has all evolved into what we have today. As I crest the seasoned age of 42, I’ll always have a subwoofer in my vehicle and take pleasure and enjoy the funky sounds of some rap. My mood will dictate whether I’m feelin’ like a “G” or a good ole boy hittin’ the backroads and mud pits.