Classic Hip Hop On Spotify
No doubt! In my opinion, Will Smith is either “The King Of Bubblegum Rap,” (or at least one of). To my recollection, I don’t think I’ve heard the slightest bit of profanity in any of Will’s music. Will definitely had his own unique style, and he made his rap music fun to listen to. He was one of the few young rap artists that took control of the images he was projecting out in the media. Not too many rap artists cared, or even understood the long term impact of negative imagery within hip hop.
Gave Strong Positive Messages To Our Youth Without The Profanity!
As many of my long time readers my know already, when it comes to rap music, almost anything that was not considered bubblegum, and or anything past the 80’s time line was a no-go for me. I wasn’t really attracted to most rap music beyond that. However, as a kid I’ve listened to my fare share of late 70s and 80s rap. Having said that, when I look at rap documentaries, or read articles about rap’s GOATs, I don’t understand why Will Smith is never mentioned.
Sometimes I think this is so because the younger generation doesn’t think rap is good unless there are at least 15 expletives in a single rap verse. To be honest, I’m really not sure what people use as a criteria to figure out who and what music are the “greatest of all time.” Once again, I’ll admit, this could be of my own ignorance of the scope of rap history. However, the fact remains, even his music that didn’t make the Top 200 Billboard Charts, such as “Ya’ll Know (1997),” was extremely popular on Black radio stations.
Not only that, I don’t think there has been any other rap artist, turned actor, who has taken their acting career to the level he has. I know many rap fans consider LL Cool J as being a GOAT (in terms of rap to acting); however, Will Smith has been in pretty big budget films. From “Independence Day (1996),” to “I, Robot (2004),” to “Men In Black (1997).” Those films were nothing to sneeze at. Will has not done a rap album in about a decade and a half. Some of my favorites are, “Switch (2005),” “If U Can’t Dance (2005),” “Miami (1997),” and “Wild Wild West (1999).” You know, the beauty of watching Smith’s career is that, he was one of the few rapper turned actors that wasn’t typecasted. He can literally play any character. Both Hollywood and fans accepted Smith as a true actor, and didn’t pigeonhole him into one type of role, simply because he was a rapper.
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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.
Ladies, ladies!! If you did not think that Montell Jordon was one of the finest men of the 90s to ever grace hip hop with his presence, something is definitely wrong 👀 🤣. He had the looks and the talent! But, WTF happen to Montell? Once he was burning up the charts in the mid 90s, and now it seems as though he fell off the face of the earth! Well, not exactly, but it sure seems that way. While the music industry has forgotten about him, and just thrown his accomplishments aside like a piece of rag cloth, his fans still remember him.
In 1995, Montell ripped the Billboard charts to shreds, when he released his smash #1 hit, “This Is How We Do It.” In addition, it was #1 on the Canada Dance charts, and #1 in the UK. I need to try and give my readers some perspective as to how massively popular Montell was. First, the song was not only #1 on the Top 100 Charts, it stayed number one for 7 weeks! Some of today’s most memorable hits has NEVER been #1 for seven weeks consecutively! That’s jaw dropping! Another example (just to give you an idea), music streaming wasn’t even a thing in the 90s. In fact, I’m not even sure if it had even started yet. But Spotify has calculated over 86M+ streams to-date. I could only imagine what the numbers are like on other streaming services.
But, Montell didn’t stop there! He had other massive hits as well. Such as his 1998 song “Let’s Ride,” Let’s Ride was one of my least favorites, but never the less, it reached #2 on the Top 100 Charts. In that same year, he released a song that I absolutely loved called “Get It On Tonight,” which reached #4 on the charts! I used to dance to that all the time, the music was so smooth, unique, and groove-able.
Montell Has Written a Book called “Becoming UNFamous.”
Now, albeit, I didn’t read his book, and I’m NOT judging Montell, but from the little I know about his book, it appears VERY typical. In it he talks about how he devoted himself to god and the church, blah blah. We’ve heard that same thing from people such as the late Vanity, of Vanity 6. We also heard the same story from the legendary Al Green. The story is either, they weren’t selling any records anymore, so they “turned their lives over to god;” or something life altering had happened to them, that literally scared them in to the church. I literally feel like I could predict most of the stuff in his book.
Like many other classic artists who moved from one genre to gospel, that magic they once had that gave them the hits we all know and love, usually gets left behind as well. The only thing we can do is reminisce on the oldies that made them great once upon a time. The last I checked, Montell is still married to his wife of 25 years, Kristin Hudson, and they’re both very happy. Good for him.10% off your purchase with code LNK10. Excludes clearance.
Wow! Look what I found in my magazine collection! Just been awhile since I’ve done a snapshot. So, let’s do this! When it comes to me listening to hip hop back in the day; Whodini’s music was the type of music you’d most likely witness me listening to. Yeah, young kids may laugh at rap groups like this now, calling it “bubble-gum music.” But back in the day, raps like these where considered serious music, especially when you looked at it from a sales standpoint. Didn’t matter if you personally hated this music, because the massive profits made these types of opinions irrelevant. This was an era where, rappers enunciated their lyrics, and we understood what they were rapping about. Not only was Whodini on top of the rap game, they were also very active in anti-drug campaigns, which included a collaboration with the late (then NYC governor) Mario Cuomo.
Wow! Even as a kid, I rarely heard the name “Casanova.” Yes, you’ve read correctly. Casanova is both a noun (last name), and sometimes used as an adjective. In essence, it means a “lover/player.” It also meant “sweet talker.” These kinds of words were not used in everyday street language when I was growing up. In fact, I almost never heard it unless I was watching one of those old film noir movies on TV. The only other time I heard it (maybe once) was when a straight guy is talking to a girl he likes, and then gets cock blocked by another dude. 😂😂
These 3 Men Where Fine As Hell Back In The Day!
I don’t know about you guys, but I had a slight crush on Gerald LeVert. He was a nice looking, and always very well groomed bear. Everything from his hair down to his close was freshly cut. The man knew how to dress. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of him looking scruffy. Actually, all three of them were very good looking. The three man group consisted of Marc Gordon; and now both deceased Gerald and Sean LeVert 😞.
Both Sean and Gerald LeVert were sons of Eddie LeVert, founder and lead singer of the legendary group, The O’Jays. Like their father Eddie, they were extremely talented; not just vocally, but physically as well. They were to big boys that could dance their asses off. I don’t care what anybody says! Although they sang different types of music,
Another Sad Story, Of An Outstanding Group!
We would never know what heights their careers could have reached, because after 12 years of being together, a megaton bomb hit. Gerald accidentally overdosed on prescription drugs in 2006. I am so stunned on how common drug overdose still is in this country. And a couple of years after Gerald’s death; Sean died while in jail for not paying child support. Marc Gordon, who’s now in his mid 50’s, was responsible for writing many of the groups hit songs. Shortly after the death of Gerald, he started a foundation to help bring awareness to prescription drug overdose.
I think LeVert is probably most remembered for their massive 1987 hit “Casanova.” which reached #5 on the Top 100 Charts. Every single Black person was bobbing their head to this song. Straight women went crazy when you played this song at parties. Who knows? This could have been the start of “booty music.” 😂 Lastly, there is another favorite of mine, which peaked at #1 in 1989. The song featured Heavy D (I think The Boyz too), and it was called “Just Coolin’.“Official Star Wars Rebels Photos at Star Wars Authentics Shop
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.