Classic Hip Hop
Rap has come a long way, a very long way since its phenomenal explosion in the 70s. Rap has branched off in to many different sub-categories. Because Hip Hop now has so many different genres, I’m just going to make it easy for myself and just put them all here. That includes disco rap, bubblegum rap, alternative, etc. Enjoy the memories here!
This was very difficult for me to put together, because as I looked through my collection, the song list kept piling up. However, I was strict on myself, and narrowed them down to only six songs. In my opinion, my six picks are most likely considered obscure in the hip hop world. I’m pretty sure anyone under 20 years of age hasn’t heard any of them, or most of them. These are what I consider some of the best rap songs I heard growing up. Of course there are more, but for the purpose of keeping things simple, I chose these six extremely rare songs. Enjoy.
A once, Gangsta’s Paradise! I had absolutely no intentions on writing about rap today; but I indirectly found photos of Coolio and said to myself, “damn! What the hell happen to you!! Holy cow!!! Oh, hell…. Let’s talk about it! Coolio has gone from an almost “king of rap” status, to becoming a hasbin in the span of only a single decade. Coolio is one of those cases that gives me many mixed feelings about rap in general. But, the truth of the matter is, the whole subject around the genre is very complex, because there are many elements that surround it; as there are many opinions that go along with them (both in support, and against).
Coolio hasn’t had a major hit since “Gangsta’s Paradise,” from the movie soundtrack “Dangerous Minds (1995),” starring Michelle Pfeiffer. By he way, Dangerous Minds was an incredible movie in my opinion. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I do remember enjoying it very much. Michelle did a hell of a good job; way more than I gave her credit for in the beginning. Not only did Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise hit number 1, it stayed number one for 3 consecutive weeks! That was very impressive. This rap title was very unique, in that it’s one of the very few compositions that captures the raw emotion of being young and out in the streets. I also think the movie helped to bring further context to Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise.
Now, once I started to see photos like this emerge on the internet, I knew Coolio has finally lost his last mind. A once Grammy Award winning artist, has not only been in jail multiple times, but has had more run-ins with police than most people can change clothes in a day. And you know what else? Like father like son! I found an article from NY Daily News, that says that Coolio and his son was actually in the same prison. Discovering Coolio’s website was also somewhat of a shocker. Coolio’s World, is a decent looking website. However, it also screams “I’m trying desperately to keep my old rap career alive.” Which would explain why Coolio insist on keeping those damn few strands of braids. He most likely feels it’s the only way people would remember him. Another sign that Coolio is not doing well, on his website he as a section called “Cooking With Coolio.” This man is just screaming for attention. A stark contrast from the Coolio we once knew.
You know, it’s a beautiful thing as a blogger, to have literally thousands and thousands of great artists on the lists to write about!! Today, I’d like to switch gears a little bit. Violins and hip hop? How many of my readers knew such a genre called “classical hip hop” even existed? I’d like to bring to your attention, a genre within hip hop that appears to be almost ignored. Partly because I feel it’s not mainstream enough, which is a shame ’cause it would certainly add a completely new layer of diversity in regards to hip hop.
A Phenomenal Group, Black Violin
I’d like to introduce my readers to a phenomenal group, Black Violin! I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long while now. They are an extremely talented duo, that happens to be both African American, and both are classically trained violinists. Wilner Baptiste & Kevin Sylvester are from Florida, and I believe they started their group somewhere around 2003. Now, certainly Black Violin was not the first to use classical hip hip in their music. However, they are the first hip hop group I’ve ever seen that can actually not only play the violin, but are phenomenal lyricists, and creatively incorporated those skills in to their string sounds, giving us a whole new level to hip hop.
Their cultural background speaks loudly in their work! There’s so much clean quality in their music, oppose to that same ol’ repetitive gangster shit that are burned in to the minds of the young on a daily basis. Their first CD is the one I fell in love with. However, it’s extremely hard to get. I suspect something went down between them and their label. I did manage to discover it on SoundCloud. There are a couple of nice remixes of some old classics on that album. One of the pieces I really liked from that first album is “Jammin’.” Sort of reminds me of the rapper Juvenile a little bit. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it. Also, check out “Dirty Orchestra,” which is also on the first album.
Now, there are a number of songs I do like that are available for streaming. One piece that I think is real hot is called “A-Flat,” from their 2012 album called “Classically Trained.” It’s a damn shame this didn’t even register on the billboard. Another one that I think is hot is a piece called “Stereotypes,” from their 2015 album “Stereotypes.” This piece only registered at #146 on the billboard. Most young people are not ready for this kind of music; or perhaps their just not looking for it. Despite not hitting #1 on the charts, they’ve worked with some powerful people in the music business, which includes Fat Joe & the Wu-Tang Clan. Check out their Black Violin’s website.
Oh, my freakin’ goodness! I just can’t get over the fact that it’s already been about 27 years since this album came out!!! Holy crap!!! TLC played such a positive role for young Black girls back in the day. And now, as much as people claim to love hip hop; TLC is not even spoken of within my age group. Back in the day, we’ve literally watched these three amazingly talented young Teenagers grow in to three beautiful and creative young women. “Baby, Baby, Baby (1992)” has got to be one of my top TLC favorites!
In Many Ways, They Reminded Me Of Salt & Pepa
In many ways, when I used to see them perform on TV, they reminded me very much of the legendary rap group Salt & Pepa; who despite using a lot of sex in their art, were still a positive influence on young up and coming female rappers. TLC worked hard to create their own look, and their own brand. One of the major things about TLC I really loved, was the fact that they not only rapped, they could actually sing! They harmonized so beautifully together. If there was ever a time they couldn’t make it rap; I definitely think they would have had success in the R&B genre.
In 2002, songwriter, singer/rapper Left Eye, aka Lisa Lopez, was killed in a tragic car accident, while visiting family. When Left Eye died, it was a major blow to the hip hop community. I don’t remember anyone receiving the level of love Left Eye got since Aaliyah’s death just the year before. You know, I couldn’t help but to notice that, TLC had a lot of #1s, yet a documentary was produced for Left Eye in 2007; however the group itself did not get a documentary until Universal Studios recently produced one in 2018. If you’re a TLC fan, you can watch the documentary on Netflix streaming. Now just for the record, I do know they have a docudrama produced in 2013 called Crazy sexy Cool, but that’s not the same as an actual documentary.
TLC Sported 4 Number Ones, And 9 Top Tens
TLC sported 4 number ones, and 9 top ten hits. That’s pretty darn impressive for an all female group, at a time where female rappers were not taken seriously (still). Although TLC were one of many groups that cracked open the stereotypes, young male rappers still dominated that era. In addition to Baby, Baby, Baby; some of my other favorites are all 4 of their number ones, which includes “Water Falls,” Unpretty,” “Creep,” and “Scrubs.” I also like “Diggin’ On You.” Check out Spotify’s awesome TLC Playlist.
I will bet almost any amount of money that, until most of my readers saw this post, you totally forgot about P.M. Dawn! Well, that’s precisely why I started this music blog, to reignite those classic brain cells back again 😍 Their song “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” released in 1991, had to have been my most favorite. This song obviously hit #1 not only on the U.S. Top 100 Charts, New Zealand, it was also #1 on Canada’s Dance Charts. The song also ranked quite high outside our country, such as Germany. P.M. Dawn was one of the few hip hop groups I enjoyed listening to. Actually, the original group didn’t just perform hip hop, they sang all kinds of other music too However, I think their hip hop (ish) songs were more popular (at least the way I remembered it).
Album Cover Brought Back Memories Of Black Hair Fashion
P.M. Dawn’s sense of fashion was unique to say the least. But, this particular album cover brought back memories of Black hair styles! This was at a time where it seemed every single African American was wearing beads! I also remembered when we used to use aluminum foil to keep the ends and beads from coming out! I found it hilarious in away, because when I was a teenager looking for a job, the first thing they would tell me was “no braids, and definitely no beads.” I don’t know how Black folk manage to make beads so popular back in the day. 🤣
In light of what’s happening in our culture in regards to race, I think it would be a very interesting conversation concerning the rights of potential employers and the rights of employees if this style was current today.
Attrell & Jarrett Cordes Were The Original P.M. Dawn
Brothers Attrell & Jarrett Cordes were the original members of P.M. Dawn. It is unfortunate that Attrell, also known as Prince Be, died a couple of years ago as a result of heart disease. Jarrett Cordes, also known as DJ Minutemix, is still performing and making music. Both men made many contributions to the hip hop community. Although the new P.M. Dawn, Doc. G, & K-R.O.K. are ok. My heart is with the O.G.
Do you guys remember this crazy performer? Her name is Blu Cantrell. What a name! I wonder if that’s fictitious, like Niki Minaj? Anyway, she had a huge dance it in the ’00s called “Blu Cantrell: Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” released in 2003. I actually liked this song! It was a fun song, VERY catchy tune, and yet it had serious lyrics to it. Her singing style was unlike I’ve ever heard from a (then) new hip hop artists. It was almost like listening to a younger version of the late Ethel Mermen, trying to prove she could sing hip hop. 😂 Now, it’s a shame that this was her only hit song, because my opinion is she’s a talented performer, she just needed better writers.
Rushed In To Production
The song hit #2 on the Top 100 Charts, and stayed relevant for about 34 weeks. That’s pretty awesome. From the looks of it, people still remember her for this song, because she’s gotten over 34+ million plays on Spotify alone. She also did a song with Sean Paul called “Breathe,” from the same album. “Breathe” peaked at the 70th position on the Billboards. I loved the beat, but I wasn’t impressed with the overall song. It seemed like one of those songs that was rushed in to production. I would have loved to see her try and do another album. Maybe have somebody like Babyface work with her.
Now, this is my kind of old school rap! I almost placed this in my disco category, because I feel it to be more of a dance mix. But, I said what the hell, technically it is of the rap genre technically. I tell you, the deeper you get in to music culture, the harder it becomes to categorize certain music. If I was working for a record company, or a retail music manager, I would not want to be tasked with the responsibility of figuring out what category goes with which artist. It’s really difficult especially when it came to rap of this era, because many of our biggest rap acts were using disco samples. So having said that, it was hard for me to see certain songs as actually rap. Then again, rap was still commercially new in the seventies, we were still trying to figure it out. Rappers were just happy to get finally noticed and acknowledged.
So, the song called “Catch The Beat,” by T-Sky Valley (aka Tyrone Cox) as a huge hit when I was growing up. According to sources I’ve looked up, the song came out in 1982. For some reason it felt older than that. But then again, maybe that’s because I associated him with the end of the “Sugar Hill Gang” era. I can’t find any chart numbers, but what I can tell you, it was a HUGE hit in the Black community. He is indeed on of the forgotten great rappers, a time before rap music went south. The song received only 20.4k Shazams, and forget YouTube, I don’t even think he reached 1k on there. A little fun fact, Tyrone used to play guitar in high school, and after he graduated, he worked for reggae producers at Clocktower Records.