Tae Kwon Dope
Yo, yo, yo! It doesn’t get any whiter than that my brothas and sistas. What do you expect from a middle aged, suburb living dad who thinks making it rain is accidentally peeing on his foot in the middle of the night trying to go the bathroom in the dark. While I might not be the hippest player in the game I do love all kinds of music and one of those kinds of music is rap. I thought it would be special to write a blog about rap and my love for it on April 20th or 420 as those in the know call it.
Rap, what is it, folk poetry, a movement, a pressure valve, a message? I think it is all of that and more, when I first heard rap it was like nothing I had ever heard before. I grew up in the late seventies and early eighties and you would think me being a nerdy white guy that my go to for talking about rap would be MC Miker G & DJ Sven, you can check out these bad boys here, but sadly no. My first real eye opening experience with rap was much, much bigger.
I had heard Grandmaster Flash and others on my “Learn how to Street Dance” record (they didn’t even call it breakdance yet, fuck I’m old) it was rap but not modern rap, it was the the pre-thought, the promise of rap, but not quite rap yet. I would know it when I heard it and that mind blowing audio experience wasn’t too far off.
The first time I heard Run DMC I was at a friends place, he played me Walk this Way, Run DMC’s duet with Aerosmith. Song was good, catchy but something about the rhythm and the rhyme interested me. I went out and bought the album, cassette to be honest with you, I preferred tapes back then. For all you younger folks, think of it like this, I liked listening to music on my iPod not my computer.
I understand that Run DMC had two albums before Raising Hell, but Raising Hell is the first time they were on my radar. I took the tape downstairs into my room and put it in my ghetto blaster, yes I know, I’m old, I already said that. Right off the bat Peter Piper (the first song on the album) was great, the rhyming was so fast and concise, it hooked me right away. Then there was the songs that showed me there lighter side, ie. My Adidas, You be Illin’, It’s Tricky. The last two songs of the album, Son of Byfrod and Proud to be Black, are great, Son of Byfrod is a 27 second acappella song that runs into Proud to be Black. You feel the defiance in their voice and it set me up as a fan of Run DMC for life. I’m not black but as a confused teenager trying to find my way in the world, what they said made me realize that there were others out there who were finding there way too, standing up for what they were proud of and showing the world they weren’t afraid. They were in my corner and I was in theirs, that is the draw. Parents always are complaining, it’s that damn rap music, screw that, it’s that their kids relate to what they are saying. Just take a second and listen to lyrics and you’ll get it.
Then there is Snoop Dogg, otherwise known as Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., a skinny unassuming rail of a man that is one of the coolest men in the world. He speaks what he feels and feels what he speaks. You can here it in his rhymes. When I was in college I would listen Snoop into the ground. He has a way of loving life, and in the process, making you love it too, just by listening to his music.
There are others too like The Notorious B.I.G., eminem, Tupac and a shitload of others. I love them all but Run DMC and Snoop will always have a special place in my heart for opening me up to a world I never knew existed.
I missed the boat on Jay-Z and some of the other rap greats, but like everything else in my life, I have no time to search them out. So leave some suggestions of artists you’ve loved in the past and why you loved them.
Rap has a voice and it isn’t just one voice, it is a mosaic of many voices, a huge sound wall that is not about to stop. From the streets to our ears it has influenced us and agitated us into seeing the pain and the pride we may have missed.
And in a bizarre weird turn of 420 events, my brother called as I was half way through this blog asking if I wanted to go to see Snoop Dogg with him in July. Fuck yeah! Happy 420 everyone. Love is love.