May 21 1999
IN THIS ISSUE OF THE FNV NEWSLETTER 5-21-99
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The FNV Newsletter
written by Davey D
All Rights Reserved
We reported earlier this week that DMX had a warrant for his arrest in Denver Colorado where he was accused of stabbing someone. He had vehemently denied any involvement and has thus far been cleared of any and all charges. Now DMX has to face assault charges for his attack on a man in Yonkers NY. He will most likely have those charges dropped due to the fact he was protecting his wife when the attack occurred.
Today May 21st marks what would've been the 27th birthday for the Notorious BIG. In honor of that Bad Boy Records has announced that they will be closing their offices today. Hence if you're trying to get a hold of Puffy, call him on Monday. Speaking of Puffy, currently he's in negotiations with former label mate Heavy D. The pair are supposed to be working on some sort of project. We'll keep you posted. Also in case, you don't know, Puffy has squared away his beef with Nas. The two made up last week. However, he still hasn't settled things with Nas' manager Steve Stoute who thus far has turned down a 2 million-dollar settlement offer for getting beat down by Puff. From what I'm being told is that all the big wigs at the record labels are involved and they're shooting for large sums of money to come out of Puff's account. Look for a settlement to be at least 5-6 million, if one even happens. The other grumblings that keep surfacing from industry heads, is that the Steve Stout beat down is not the first time such tactics have been employed by Puff and his crew. Apparently he rolls with a roughneck crew that ills out from time to time while Puff bears witness to the proceedings. I hope this isn't true, but too many people are whispering that such is the case.
For those who don't know Malcolm X's birthday was on May 19th. Remember when you would always hear Malcolm's voice on Hip Hop records? Whatever happened to those days? My favorite Malcolm inspired cut was 'Increase The Peace' by 3X Dope. What's really interesting his the long time association Malcolm X has always had with Hip Hop. From way back in the late 70s, one of the most popular Hip Hop spots was a place in Manhattan called The Audubon Ballroom. It was here that Malcolm was assassinated. It was here that many legendary Grand Master Flash parties took place...I can't help but wonder what sort of relationship and impact Malcolm would've had on Hip Hop had he been alive. Also don't forget, this entire week marked the 3rd Annual Hip Hop Appreciation Week put forth by KRS-One. During this week, people have been asked to refrain from battling and to reflect on the attributes of Hip Hop culture. Emcees have been asked to write positive, socially, uplifting lyrics.
Cam'ron has run into some trouble with the NBA. He decided to come up with a slick marketing campaign where he would use the silhouette of the NBA logo that depicts a man holding a basketball. Cam'ron tricked out the logo by adding a gun to the logo. Enraged fans saw this marketing billboard and thought the NBA was being insensitive and hence flooded their office with hundreds of phone calls. Well. once the NBA got wind of what was going on, they in turn filed a suit against Cam'ron and his label Untertainment Records. The billboard has since been pulled and an apology written. My question is with all the heightened concern about guns and gun violence, why would Cam'ron put a gun in his ads in the first place? And since he did, do you think talk show host Rosie O'Donnel would invite him on her show and dis him for his support of guns like she recently did with actor Tom Sellick?
A few things to check for.. The Solesides Crew, which includes Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, and Latyrx, are working on a compilation lp that will include guest spots from Heiro. Now that would be an emcee battle I would love to see Heiro vs. Solesides. Who do you think would win that one? Talk about having mad skillz.
Also coming out the Bay is a dope lp from a group called Side Industry. Their new lp entitled "Everyday Life' is starting to make some noise around these here parts. For folks who are really into the whole Bay Area mob type sound-this is the tape you've been looking for. Their current single 'Lil Darlin' is a gem of a song that features Levitti of the E-40 and Sick Wid It camp singing the hook. The song deals with them raising their kids and setting a positive example for them. Another standout track is 'Drop Out' which features singer Mike Marshall. This track focuses on the consequences of falling out of school. The lp is by no means preachy. It's just some good Bay Area funk to ride to. Hit these kids up at their website http://www.milliondollardream.com
. Singer Mike Marshall for those of you who don't know is the kid who sung the classic jam 'Rumors'. He never really quite hit after that lp dropped back in '86. He was featured prominently on the Luniz hit song 'I Got Five On It' but he was never publicly credited. Now he's about to drop a new lp which will include 'Rumors 2000'. Again check for him at the website http://www.milliondollardream.com
Finally from the Bay Area buzz mill.. There's word that there may be some sort of collaboration between Rafael Sadiq formerly of Tony Toni Tone and Dawn formerly of En Vogue. But don't tell any one I told you.
Q-Tip, formerly of the group Tribe Called Quest is working on his lp. It will feature cameos from LL Cool J, Cam'ron and Missy. His first single is entitled 'Vivrant Thing' and it should drop in July.
Speaking of Missy Elliott let me be the first to give her big props. I was speaking at an elementary school the other day and their favorite song is her popular jam, 'She's A Bitch'. Now, I know the parents should be doing the job. But of course they're not and we already know that. And of course radio stations including mine, are tremendously responsible because we play it all the time. And hey, at least Missy is changing the title to her lp. Retailers were upset about the title 'She's A Bitch'. They couldn't comfortably fit any displays in the front of their stores so Missy had to switch up. It was an economic thing not a 'I'm concerned about the impact I have on kids thing'. But the bottom line here was it warmed my heart to see a little 7 year old singing all the words to Missy's new song. So next time you see that 'Bitch' give her mad props for showing and proving the power and influence of Hip Hop. It certainly keeps me busy as I try to explain to young girls why they aren't 'bitches' and why their male classmates shouldn't use that word. Damn, I was having a hard enough time explaining why ABC TV wasn't showing a Black Cleopatra in their up coming movie, now I gotta deal with this. Missy with her cartoon like videos is a favorite among kids. What makes this whole deal so ironic is that the record company omits the B word for their 'radio edit' version of the song. But the word is clearly spelled out on the CD.
Ya gotta love us Black folks. We're the only group I know that runs around proudly calling ourselves 'Niggaz', 'Bitches' and'Hos'. While we're doing this, the mainstream media is slowly erasing us out the history books. Did you notice there were no Black folks in the made for TV movie Noah and his Ark? Didn't KRS in his song 'Why Is That? break down the whole history about Noah and his African genealogy. Not only was Noah not depicted as his true African origin but also we were pretty much absent from the entire movie. How can this be when the cradle of civilization was in Africa and the story of Noah is found in the first book of the Bible-Genesis? Mmmmmm
Then you flip the pages and go peep out the new motion picture adventure 'The Mummy'. Again, no Black folks. Why Is That? I saw the whole King Tut exhibit when it was first shown in New York in the 70s. Those statues looked African to me. In fact I recall there was quite a bit of controversy because one of the key pieces to that exhibit was not shipped to the US because it clearly showed King Tut with strong Negroid, Nubian features. They had a bunch of articles about this in the local papers i.e. The NY Times, Daily News etc. So as we moved into the new Millennium where all of us are more enlightened, I just knew that we would see some accurate depictions in these flicks. The only Blacks I saw within The Mummy' were Pharaoh's body guards and they were all covered with gold metallic paint.
Props to rap star Lakim Shabazz for being the first and one of the only emcees who made a trip to Egypt to film his video and show us in some proper light. The last person I know whom publicly depicted ancient Egyptians in their African form was Michael Jackson in his video 'Remember The Time'. Believe it or not, he caught heat for that because there were so many people who grew up believing that ancient Egyptians like Cleopatra were white. That was due to popular movies like the one in which actress Liz Taylor played Cleopatra and hence they thought Michael was off point. Now everyone is running around saying ancient Egyptians were of mixed blood. Cleopatra was mixed. I guess that's the justification for not using Black people in these movies that take us back into history. If they were mixed with Nubians then there had to be some folks running around with thick lips and broad noses. I just wanna see them in these movies.
I bring all this up because this starts to become a pattern on several levels. First we start to develop situations where Black folks are all but written out their own history. If we're not written out, then our contributions are downplayed, diluted and fused in with everyone else's. This is precisely what's happening right now within Hip Hop. With it's widespread popularity and obvious multi-cultural appeal a lot of white kids have gotten comfortable asserting themselves in the history books. It happens so much that pretty soon popular inaccurate sound bites become history.
The first thing I always hear is how multi-cultural Hip Hop was back in the days during the 70s. Multi-cultural these days in many business circles is a code word for saying whites are included. People will nostalgically look back and talk about how all of us were under one roof in total peace and harmony. Such was not the case. New York City back in those days was racially charged and very polarized. In places where Black and white neighborhoods bordered, you always had racial fights jumping off both in the neighborhoods and definitely at the schools. White kids ran around throwing rocks and bottles at Blacks and in many cases attacking us if we ventured into the wrong neighborhood. Racial epithets and people yelling 'Disco sucks' was all too common. You had a more liberal and tolerant attitude in places like The Village and in some parts of Manhattan. However, Hip Hop wasn't kicking off in downtown until the '80s. In places like the Bronx, you had strong neighborhood enclaves and people especially whites tended to be very territorial especially when it came to Black folks moving into their neighborhoods. The way many of them felt was this was their neighborhood and they had lived there for generations and they had no intentions of leaving or integrating it without a fight. Many Blacks were starting to move out of places like The South Bronx and Harlem into what was seen as 'nicer' neighborhoods during this time. They encountered a tremendous amount of resistance from poor to working class whites who lived in these areas. Places like Throgs Neck, Pelham Bay, Country Club Road, Riverdale, Washington Heights, Moshulu Parkway were a few of the spots where racial fights always jumped off.
If you lived in my section of the Bronx which was Hip Hop hot spot called Soundview, crossing North past Zeraga Avenue would set things off with the Italian kids who weren't trying to be down with no Black folks at that time. In other spots, like around the west Bronx section called Marble Hill, you had Irish kids who would set things off by actually shooting pellet guns at Black folks as they would walk past the row houses to get to Black housing developments like The Promenade or Marble Hill Projects. Washington Heights that was just north of Harlem and is now mostly Dominican and Puerto Rican was an Irish stronghold and after dark, racial unrest was sure to break off if you came swinging around those parts. Boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn were even more racially charged and polarized.
The places where Hip Hop was really flourishing were large and for the most part separated from white and integrated neighborhoods. In my neighborhood you could literally go for days and not come across white folks. Coming all the way from the Soundview, Bronx River, Castle Hill section of the Bronx all the way through the South Bronx across the bridge into Harlem was quite a bit of territory to cover. You really had to be going out of your way to get into these areas of the Bronx and trust me there weren't a whole lot of white kids trying to do that. The way these neighborhoods were laid out and the fact that they were essentially being written off by the mainstream was one reason why Hip Hop was able to exist for so long and not be noticed by the rest of New York. During the early days all I saw at any of these early block parties was Black and Puerto Ricans At the clubs like Ecstasy Garage or T-Connect or all the numerous hole in the wall spots all you saw was Black and Puerto Rican. Most of the whites were into hard rock and hated disco. As far they were concerned all Blacks loved disco.
Hip Hop was multi-cultural in the sense that there were Black and Puerto Ricans who put this whole thing down. We lived next to each other and for the most part experienced the same urban problems and in many ways we shared same culture legacy of exploitation, oppression and colonization. Puerto Ricans are really the native Taino Indians who inhabited the island of Boriken. Columbus came with other Spanish settlers from Europe came on over and discovered them. He also discovered the island had gold. He pillaged the island and depleted its gold resources and since Columbus and his boyz didn't bring any women they started raping the native women of the island. Not long afterwards African slaves were brought over. That's how things got ethnically mixed up in Puerto Rico. Blacks as you know have Native Americans and European blood. Again the European blood was the result of slavery where African women were raped.
Oftentimes when people from NY say Black they were automatically including Puerto Rican. For the most part there are many Puerto Ricans who aside from the language looked Black as far as the mainstream was concerned. The relationship between the two groups has always been tight. Hence when Hip Hop first emerged it naturally included our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters who participated on all levels. Historically speaking that relationship had always been tight because of our shared drum based culture. It wasn't coincidental that you had a Puerto Rican brother, Felipe Luciano who was down with the original Last Poets. NY is such that Blacks and Puerto Ricans find they have each other in their family.
Were white folks involved with Hip Hop during the early days? People point to the graffiti writers, in particular Taki and his Greek heritage as proof. Graffiti to me was it's own cultural on to itself in the sense that the white kids I knew who did graffiti did not listen to the same music as we did. There were kids tagging walls in places like white areas like the Riverdale section of the Bronx who would call you a 'nigger' in a heartbeat. The wrote on walls but they weren't trying to be down with no Hip Hop. In fact one of the tags I used to always see was 'Disco Sucks'. How graffiti art developed from tagging to burners etc is really a history onto itself. It was likely to exist with or without the other aspects of Hip Hop culture. The fact is graf was emerging at a time when other avenues to express oneself were being closed down. It was no wonder it became attractive to many Black and Puerto Rican kids who had artistic skillz. It still did not change the facts that during the early days of Hip Hop you simply did not see hardly any white kids running around hanging out with us.
The context in which you had to look at breaking, emceeing and djaying was that almost everyone in the hood attempted to do these things. Just like everyone today will go to a club and do the tootsie roll or whatever popular dance is going on. Damn near everyone knew a breaking move. Everyone tried it. It was the dance of the day. Whether you were good at doing it was another story. As people became more skilled at it the dance and it's elaborate moves evolved, folks backed off and stopped breaking. With regards to breaking becoming a competitve thing. Within African American culture you had a history of competitve dancing. Most notable was the step drills that were done and our still done by Black fraternities and other organizations. That whole get down and lets see who can cut up the floor the best was part and parcel to our community. Of course it would carry over into breaking.
One of the things that moved some many people away from breaking was a dance called The Freak. This was the type of dance where you damn near have sex with someone. At the very least you got to feel up on someone. Not to be crude or anything, but why break dance when I can come to a gig and start feeling up some fine female? That was the way it was back then. Plus by the time The Freak kicked in, kids who were breaking had advanced the whole genre to a style that you could not marginally participate in. So at a hip hop gig you would have guys busting moves and trying to out do each other while in another part of the room you would have couples trying to get their grind on.. I heard Vanilla Ice claiming that 'back in the days' there were white and Latino breakers. Wrong! Back in the days I saw Black and Puerto Rican dancers. The first breakers I saw were down with the Zulu Nation. At the same time you kids like Crazy Legs, The Nigga Twins and a bunch of other cats that were wrecking shop. White folks started getting hip to all this breaking stuff when kids started going downtown into mid town Manhattan and either busting moves on street corners or in train stations. Sometimes this was done for money. On a couple of ocassions you would have a news team cover this hence bringing more exposure.
I didn't really start to see white kids getting with Hip Hop until around 1980 after Sugar Hill Gang's 'Rappers Delight' dropped. That's when you started to have folks get invited downtown to places like The Village where you had liberal whites with resources and money to host Hip Hop functions. Really where you started to hear about Hip Hop being the multi-cultural [meaning whites were included] phenomenon was when Bambaataa and DJ Afrika Islam started spinning at places like The Roxy. Initially it was the kids who were into punk and alternative music that got down with the brothers. It most certainly was not the working class Italians and Irish who lived near or around our Bronx and Manhattan neighborhoods. They were still not digging Black and Puerto Ricans although a lot of the racial tension had subsided by '81. Ironically the conditions that seemed to give birth to Hip Hop, which was economic, social and political isolation seemed to also give rise to punk. The whole need to be seen heard and acknowledged was a parallel theme in both Hip Hop and Punk. The specifics that gave rise to punk I can't speak on. But I do know that even those punk rock kids weren't hanging out with us back in the day...
Finally, there's this whole argument that centers on the multi-cultural [white] aspect of the music used. Kids will quickly point out that Hip Hop was a universal movement because DJs cut up songs by Billy Squire, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy and other rock and roll artists. Well, lets just push aside the Black roots of rock-n-roll and deal with this practically. The name of the game for DJs was to find the flyest break beat to drop on your turntables at a party. You got mad props if you came up with something original. During this time, when disco was king, the dopest drum beats happen to be found on Rock-n-Roll records. To this day I have my 'Tales Of The Tape' lp by Billy Squire. I only listened to that record to try and find break beats other then the popular b-boy classic 'Big Beat'. Trust me, the Billy Squire or Aerosmith fans I knew weren't trying to get down with Hip Hop back in the 70s.and for the most part we weren't trying to rock out with them. We brought the records because of those one or two songs that had break beats. The whole Rock meets Rap thing didn't really start to kick in until '83 or '84.
All this is being pointed out to lend some accuracy to what is being spoken about with regards to Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop over the years has evolved into something that is multi-cultural. But it's extremely important to know the roots to a culture and more importantly to understand why it emerged in the first place. It's especially important that the creators of a culture understand their history. A tree without roots will not stand long when it rains or gets windy. A kid without roots will fall for anything that comes along. In this country we as African Americans have continuously found ourselves systematically written out of History books. We as a country have systematically distorted other people's history. Today we think Cinco De Mayo means getting drunk and partying and couldn't care less about the Battle of Pueblo and it's significance. We think Christmas is all about Santa and couldn't care less about the historical or spiritaul orientation. Heck we even think Easter is some bunny laying eggs and not the resurrection of Christ. The list goes on.
We've also folks outside our culture to tell us our history and in doing so we've allowed it to be bastrdized and cheapened. It gets to a point that we ourselves don't even respect our roots because of all the misinformation. Cleopatra being depicted as a white women in a heavily promoted made for TV movie is directly related to some 7 year old girl calling herself a bitch and even Missy Elliot rapping about it. She has no roots so she attaches herself to anything that will get her attention. There's an old proverb that states you have to know your past in order to know where your going, otherwise your bound to repeat past mistakes. So here we are headed into the new age and were still going up against a system that insists on defining and rewriting other people's culture. You would think after 400 years progress would've been made. Instead we not only do not know our history, but sadly enough you have folks who will walk around and proudly say they don't care, not realizing their current actions or lack of current actions are rooted in their past..
written by Davey D
Taken from excerpts of Hip Hop Chronicles
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The FNV Newsletter
written by Davey D
All Rights Reserved
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