August 27, 2012

Banned (for the wrong reasons)

Not so long back, I looked back at the contribution of the 2 Live Crew in the late 80’s. During my review I committed to upload their full length VHS home video that was released in 1991.
Well, spare time has been scarce in recent months, so I’ve not had a chance to do it yet, but for once this has worked in my favour.  Instead of me sharing an old VHS rip, someone on YouTube has uploaded a laser disc version for our viewing pleasure.

Now cast aside any thoughts you might have about Luther Campbell and his somewhat unique brand of sex rap, and let us remember that the 2 Live Crew took on the US justice system to define what freedom of speech really meant.
I didn’t care how many times they use the word bitch on their album, nor how many times they used the F or N words (or any other profane or derogatory term), but I was deeply concerned about record store owners being told what they could or couldn’t stock. [Hell, I remember the only reason I copped a copy of N.W.A.’s 2nd LP was because I knew the store owner, and even then he made me buy a bullshit album and gave me N.W.A.’s album free with it so that he couldn’t be accused of selling banned album!].
If the American do-gooders had won this particular argument, it could have opened the door for wholesale censorship on a grand scale!!! So, unexpectedly, I find myself thanking Luther Campbell for fighting for our freedom of speech (but I still won’t buy his records, lol).

Watching this home movie 20 years on, I’m seeing it all from a whole new angle, and I find myself wondering whether the right outcome would have been a compromise between the do-gooders and the 2 Live Crew. Whilst I’m completely against the suppression of freedom of speech and artistic expression, I’m pretty certain that the 2 Live Crew’s victory effectively gave every record exec full authority to put as many scantily clad hip hop honeys, shaking their ass, in every video they could without the fear of being challenged. And lyrics could now be as derogatory as you like, cos hey, nobody’s going to challenge it. The problem isn’t with the derogatory content, it’s that those who specialise in this field are extremely limited in almost every other aspect of lyricism. I’m not thanking Luke for that!

What’s also interesting is the attitudes of the people, and their appetite to stop this type of music from damaging the kids, even though rock and roll had already committed most of the same crimes several decades before.

This video contains excerpts from the infamous Donahue interview, footage of the concerts that got stopped, the record store that got raided etc, along with the usual live footage and videos for the singles.

August 20, 2012

It's A Demo

I'm often found digging around in the bowels of the internet trying to find rare and elusive stuff that I've failed to obtain over the years, and sometimes I find things that I didn't even know existed until I stumbled upon them.  It's much like crate digging, but I'm not restricted to vinyl, I'm not seeking any holy grails and I'm not in dusty old record shops inducing frequent fits of sneezing!  Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking crate diggers.  I've happily spent many months of my life in those dusty old dungeons, but that was the old days, I'm mostly digital now. And besides, there isn't a high street store or online retailer that sells that old TV clip, concert footage or demo tape that I'm looking for, so alternative methods must be adopted.

While researching hip hop archaeology via the power of the internet, I usually wind up on some defunct blog page that once shared a rare gem, but the download link is now dead.  This sets me off on a wild goose chase to find that item elsewhere.  Successfully finding what I want is currently about 50/50 (it was higher before the demise of Megaupload!).

There is one minor problem with this hobby and the techniques I employ.  Just like a crate digger, you tend to overlook the main retailers.  This rarely concerns me, but every once in a while I find that hidden gem sitting somewhere fairly obvious and easy to find, which brings me to this post.

I was recently digging around when by fluke I came across a gem of an article on the website.  Now maybe in the week this was published I was heavily dozing or on holiday or something, but whatever the reason was, I completely missed it.  What surprises me most though, is that something this good wasn't blogged or tweeted much more widely [if someone tells me it was, then I'll have to admit to being in a self induced coma!]. 

So what is this little gem that I'm banging on about..... well, it's only 30 demo tapes from some of the biggest and most influential artists in the rap game!!!  Each of these tapes has been digitised for your listening pleasure and most of them are essential listening. 

August 11, 2012

More Knowledge

I recently shared an old recording of what I believed was the UK Rappin' Championships and asked if any of you knew anything more about it. Well, thankfully someone came forward who knew quite a lot about this event and has provided a considerable update. So here’s a follow up post to share this information with you, along with some video footage of the event!
But before I start, I want to say a big thanks to Shan Dookna for taking the time to help out and share his extensive knowledge.

The event name is still unconfirmed, but I think I’m safe to assume that it probably wasn’t officially called the UK Rappin’ Championships, which would also explain why the all knowing internet didn’t return anything when I started digging.

The competition was actually held as part of the DMC DJ Mixing Championships, and in 1988 these were held at the Hippodrome in London. However, another trawl of the web still doesn’t provide much fruit, the main focus is purely, and understandably, on the DJing. This leads me to believe that this freestyle competition was mainly a warm up show before the main DJ event.

Shan tells me that the judging panel included members of the Cookie Crew and Mike Allen. In my original post I pointed out that the audio cuts off before the winner is announced, but I can now confirm that the winner was in fact Fresh J, who was apparently from Huddersfield. The final battle between Fresh J and MC Brooklyn is actually on YouTube and can be seen here:

One of the female emcees on the recording went by the name of Jazzi P. Shan tells me that this is the same Jazzi P that later went on to work with hip house producer Les Adams. She had a couple of commercially successful singles, as a soloist under her Jazzi P name, but also as the vocalist for Adams’ group L.A. Mix, who had a reasonable hit with the track Get Loose on which Jazzi fires some rapid rhymes. But like what happened to many artists who jumped on the hip house bandwagon, it didn’t take them very far.

August 2, 2012

Funk, History & The God MC

Here is this months round up of interesting offerings from around the internet:


DJ Format - Hip Hop & Funk Mix

Thanks to Battlechaser for bringing my attention to this great mix by acclaimed DJ and produced, DJ Format.  A clever mix of Hip Hop and Funk that he put together to promote his live set with Simonsound on the 18th August.  Check it out.

Rakim - Mini Documentary

It's only 10 minutes long, but any amount of time with the god emcee is always an intriguing experience.  Some nice little clips of old freestyles on the streets of NY are included too.

Mixtape History recently produced an interesting article that documents the origins and evolution of the mixtape.  Personally I never really gave a thought as to how the original mixtape came about, but having read Unkut's brief lesson in mixtape history, I've certainly had an enjoyable history lesson (which is more than ever happened to me at school).

I should make it clear, this isn't about the modern mixtape that unsigned artists use in an effort to get noticed, Think of the old Kid Capri and Ron G style of mixtape. 

Your lesson awaits you: