April 20, 2011

Silver Anniversary Series

This is a new series I'm starting where I'm going to take a look back at our hip hop heritage from 25 years ago (hence the silver anniversary title), and pull some records from that era out of the crates and put a spotlight on them.  Some will be classics and will provide an opportunity for us to reflect on just how influential and ground breaking they really were, whilst others will be rarities that you may have previously slept on or completely forgotten about.

25 years ago it was 1986, a time when the music and culture had already grown way beyond the New York party scene and was now a world wide phenomenon.  Fresh new artists were springing up every other minute, the music and movie industries were starting to see the potential and were therefore showing a considerable amount of interest and investment (though not much of it actually hit the artists pockets at that time!), and thus one of the most significant era's of hip hop evolution was occurring. 

Despite the Streetsounds record label releasing four of their immensely popular 'Electo' series that year (volumes 12-15), electro had started to fade and 'Hip Hop' had begun to emerge as the future direction, and accepted terminology, for the art form we know today. 
Nerdology: - It was in 1986 when Electro 12 was released that Streetsounds started dubbing the series 'Hip Hop Electro'.  Prior to this they were just called Electro, and by volume 17 the term electro had been dropped completely.

Apart from terminology changes, and the shift from electronic and synthesised music to the heavier beats and rhymes, the most significant change had to be the lyrics.  The style, delivery and content all started to change considerably, and for the most part it was for the better (I'll touch on this in more detail in my first review of a record from that era, see my next post). 

This new era and style was ushered in by a host of artists, many of whom were pioneers of their different styles and approaches.  But this was also the time when artists started to have more than one or two 12" hits and, probably more significantly, they started to have more than one album!  This is when rap careers were born and it could also be argued that this is when 'the industry', as we now refer to it, started to form and the money started to change the music's direction (but that's a different topic for another day).
Some examples of those emerging artists are Eric B & Rakim, Schoolly D, Sir Mix-a-lot, Stetsasonic, Roxanne Shante, Salt n Pepa (I'm sure there are many more but I'm sure you get the gist).

One very notable exception to this broad summary is Run DMC.  By 1986 they had already released 3 studio albums and a dozen or more 12"s and they didn't evolve from the former electro styles of the early 80's.  Just a few of the reasons why they are seen as one of the most significant pioneers in hip hop culture, they were years ahead of the game.

So there's my reasoning for starting this series 25 years ago and not 15, 20 or 30 years ago.  There is plenty of good and varied material from this era to choose from, so hopefully over the coming months I'll be able to give you an enlightening trip down memory lane.
If you have any good suggestions for records that you think deserve to be put into the spotlight then either leave a comment below or drop us an e-mail with your suggestions.  Alternatively, if you would like to contribute an article of your own then we'd love to hear from you.

No comments:

Post a Comment