40 Years of Hip Hop

Those who know me know that I love hip hop more than any other genre of music. I love when stuff like this comes across my screen. Check out this video celebrating 40 years of hip hop in 4 minutes. Hat tip Kottke.

Over 150 songs from more than 100 artists representing 40 years of hip hop all crammed into 4 minutes. It’s not a chronological history of hip hop. It’s rappers from different eras finishing each other’s rhymes over intersecting beats, all woven together to make one song.

Before and After Chuck Berry

chuck berry

The New York Times has a great article on Chuck Berry and his influence on music, more specifically rock ‘n’ roll.

Chuck Berry himself would be the first to admit he didn’t invent rock ’n’ roll, but he came to define it in a series of iconic singles made between 1955 and 1959.

Mr. Berry wrote almost all his hits himself, and he drew from the music he loved — from the blues and boogie to country and Calypso. The result was a hybrid sound that, in 1955, was just beginning to be called “rock ’n’ roll.”

Here, an audio guide to just a few of his revolutionary songs: what came before, and what came after. Listen to the sound of rock ’n’ roll being made.

Chuck Berry would play in St. Louis almost monthly up until a couple of years ago when he was in his late 80’s. I made a promise to myself that that I would see him perform live before he passed. I never kept that promise and it’s something I deeply regret.

The Best Rapper Alive, Every Year Since 1979

tupac

Complex magazine has come up with a list of the best rapper for each year since 1979. It’s crazy when you look through the ’90s and see how much talent existed in the hip hop community. That fact becomes especially obvious when you start comparing the list to the 2000s – 2010s (Drake on the list multiple times, really?).

My personal favorite is, of course, Tupac.

1996 is a case study for every aspect of why 2Pac is so celebrated. He was a viable, competent artist in multiple arenas, and he had the discipline to incorporate his varied and conflicted missions into a single mantra. That savvy paid off in this year more than any other. It’s a shame that 2Pac’s ride had to end early, and on someone else’s terms, but the dedication to his craft that was on such full display in 1996 is why he’ll live forever.

 

Dinosaurs + Notorious B.I.G. = Awesome

You have to be of a certain age (late twenties and early thirties) to remember the awesomeness that was the ABC show Dinosaurs. If you’re of the age, you remember how great the TGIF show was (though, I can’t remember a single plot) and how dark it turned in the finale when all the (spoiler) dinosaurs were wiped out. If the finale left you sad, try watching this excellent mash-up of the show and Notorious B.I.G.’s song Hypnotize to cleanse your palate. It seriously is great.

I Heard the $5 Million Wu-Tang Album That Won’t Be Played Again in Public for 88 Years

Jonathan Sturgeon writes about the new Wu-Tang album

The CD is housed within two nickel-silver boxes that were hand-carved by a Moroccan artist and his team of ten workers over three months; there is only one physical copy of the album in existence; all digital versions have been destroyed; and bidding starts at $5 million. And we learned yesterday that Once Upon a Time in Shaolin will remain under copyright until 2103 — that’s 88 years.

and listening party

“The irony of it is that we did it for the fans,” said the album’s producer, Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, who is himself a Wu-Tang superfan. He infamously dogged RZA so persistently that he became — loosely, controversially — a member of the Wu-Tang Clan.

I was thinking of Wu-Tang’s fans as I arrived at MoMA PS1 several minutes late. I had been told in advance that no recording devices would be allowed in the museum, including computers or phones. This of course meant a long line, but it gave me an opportunity to see who would be attending this once in a lifetime exhibition. I saw Ebro Darden (the programming director of Hot 97), Jace Clayton (DJ Rupture), a handful of familiar faces from the art world, and a gaggle of confused “fans” who had won tickets from Power 105. Invariably, intensely, hilariously: the radio fans smelled like booze. And one of them inexplicably mispronounced RZA, “R.Z.A.”

I like Wu-Tang, but this stunt isn’t about the fans.