Thursday, 29 August 2013

HIP HOP CLASSICS - Grandmaster Flash / Run DMC

Hip Hop Classics...we celebrate Hip Hop's 40th birthday, straight outta Surrey Heath......and you don't stop!

Earlier this month saw the 40th anniversary of the birth of Hip Hop, I'm almost as old and grew up with the genre, it's my bread and butter but perhaps now, like Hip Hop, I'm not as fresh, a bit bloated but can still pull it out the bag now and again.

It apparently all began at a block party in the Bronx in 1973 where DJ Kool Herc, accidentally knocked his turntable scratching a record and the rest is history. Hmmm, that was crap, actually it's ...pinpointed back to said block party where a young DJ Kool Herc, inspired by Jamaican Soundsytems, hooked up a makeshift system of his own to play select funky records (mostly parts of the song or the breaks) for his friends and family. Word of his set got out and his skills became in demand and it went on from there....well basically.

Sorry Old Pa despite a valid argument 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' doesn't quite qualify as the first Rap record, in fact I hate to say it but Sir Cliff Richard and the Shadows' 'Apache' was one of the early Hip Hop anthems thanks to the Sugarhill Gang. Apart from certain elements of Hip Hop getting into the charts in the early 80's, like The Rock Steady Crew, Blondie and Malcolm McLaren, it probably wasn't until about 1985 that I first started to really get into it.

Here are the two tracks that started it all off for me:-

Grandmaster Flash - 'The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel' (1981)

Originally released in 1981 but I probably first heard it around 1985 and at 11 years old, it blew my impressionable mind. The splicing and dicing of different songs together, the scratches and making beats using the turntable's crossfader, was amazing. Stars on 45 it was not, it was fresh, exciting and absolutely nothing I had ever heard before. It was the true essence of Hip Hop where block parties would be organised and DJ's like Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash would create these backing tracks, like this one, for an assortment of MC's to rap over.

Run Dmc - 'Peter Piper' (1986)

Raising Hell was Run DMC's breakthrough and probably the first ever commercially successful rap album, at 12 years old, anyone who was anyone had to own a copy, if not you were wack! Amongst the plethora of hits, 'It's Tricky', 'You Be Illin' and 'Walk This Way', it was 'Peter Piper' for me with it's bell and beat combo and clever rhyme interplay. In the Oxford English Dictionary the entry for the word 'dope' it says 'see Run DMC's 'Peter Piper'. Well it should.

Run DMC's success opened the door for many other acts and I remember Old Pa, like any good father who wanted to educate his offspring to the arts, buying me the Beastie boys' 'Licensed to Ill'. It was waiting for me before school one morning and I felt 10 ft tall on that bus journey in, I knew I was listening to something special which no one knew about at the time. And don't get me started on Public Enemy, when I discovered them a bit later, it completely cemented my love of Hip Hop. Word!

Yes Yes Y'all..have a listen to our Hip Hop Classics playlist on Spotify or check out some more Hip Hop classics here..

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HIP HOP CLASSICS - Grandmaster Flash / Run DMC
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29 August 2013 at 20:59

I first heard 'The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel' at a Clash gig at the end of 1981. Presumably the band must have picked up a copy on their U.S. jaunt earlier in the year. The tune stopped my pal & I our tracks and we hurried over to the mixing desk to find out what this insane music was. It took a couple of months to track down a 12" on import, which cost around a fiver - serious dosh in early '82!

(Surely the first rap record was 'Too Much Monkey Business' by Chuck Berry!)

31 August 2013 at 09:37

Wow, at a Clash concert....a fiver well spent too, do you still have the record? Might be worth a few bob now. I haven't heard Monkey Business...I'm on it and I'll get back to you. Quite frightening that Apache was huge in Hip Hop circles, obviously they'd not seen Sir Cliff.

31 August 2013 at 11:16

'Too Much Monkey Business' was certainly an influence on 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' and is often touted as a precursor to rap. I dunno though.

Add some Jamaican toasting to the Incredible Bongo Band's 1973 version of 'Apache' and you can see what Herc, Flash and co were driving at.

Sadly I traded my original bunch of US Sugarhill 12"s for a compilation CD a few years ago - what was I thinking?

7 September 2013 at 11:43

Great post rememer it all vividly....also remember your PhilyP mate with copy of the Run Tape...I had to remove my VW badge that year