Saturday, October 06, 2012

Sugar Hill jams and corn bread

You can't see me, but I'm twirling around the kitchen, making CORN BREAD and losing myself in some classic SUGAR HILL RECORDS HIP HOP on iTunes.
The cloudy skies and cold weather have me wrapping myself in layers of clothing and OLD SCHOOL JOINTS.
"Joints" meaning rap songs, y'all.
Hearing GRANDMASTER FLASH AND THE FURIOUS FIVE, THE TREACHEROUS THREE (pictured), SPOONIE GEE, THE SUGAR HILL GANG and others reminds me of the battered rap cassette tapes I played in my car back in the day.
"Jump on it! Kemosabe, jump on it, jump on it! Apache, jump on it, jump on it!"
Those were the days.
Actually, those were the days when I was an anomaly -- a white kid in suburban California listening to what was still only an emerging subcultural type of music.
Now, given hip-hop's hegemony in American popular culture, it's hard to imagine it's dim past.
Until I listen to these old tunes and remember those battered tapes.
Marcus Reeves described Sugar Hill's pioneering legacy in a 2007 issue of The Crisis magazine:
"By the early 80s, the black-owned independent record label Sugar Hill Records, which released (the first commercial rap record) 'Rapper's Delight,' had become the powerhouse behind the commercialization of hip-hop music. With its artist roster filled with New York's hip-hop pioneers -- Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five, Funky Four Plus One, the Treacherous Three and others -- Sugar Hill was the primary source for turning hip-hop music into the new sound (and social message) of Black America."
It was a thrilling new sound for me, and I'm enjoying the thrill again today, twirling around the kitchen making corn bread.