Face to Facebook Vol 2:Finale

•June 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Back when I first started the blog, before I was doing on air interviews, I would use Facebook messenger to interview folks in the Class and artists that were cool enough to accomodate me. The first one was with my girl Ericka Lindsey. It was mad fun and shortly after that one, I did this interview with my man Finale from Detroit. It’s about a year old and it has been lost, found, lost and found again and I figured now was a good time to break it out.  I will be doing this again soon with another member of the Class. Maybe even you.. Anyway I hope you dig it!      


What up Finale?


chilling..finishing up these joints for The Are & Nametag…i’m playing catch up on feature verses but im good lol


I been dealing with Nametag but The Are’s name is just starting to ring out with me, what else has he produced?


he’s a producer from houston, tx

used to be in a group called K-otix

did that Lil Kim single and a bunch of other dope underground records

was signed to Track Masters (tone & poke)

good dude

he reached out asking for a feature joint to be on his upcoming compilation album


well he couldn’t have come to a better person!!!!


lol word thanx man


speaking of names ringing out your name is getting crazy buzz. My class loves your album because I’ve played almost everything from it


wow…thanx man that’s crazy haha

tell your students i said thank you


will do! You just did actually they’ll see it in the blog lol. I got open off of Heat it was one of my top songs last year.

The World loves Dilla but I’m sure it’s nothing like the love he gets at home


Dilla’s roots are deep in this city, his legacy is timeless. He was a real person without a hidden agenda. what you saw was what you got with Dilla. Plus between ma dukes, Big Tone and Kendra running the J Dilla Foundation now, I know he will be represented properly

“Dilla’s roots are deep in this city, his legacy is timeless”


gotta give a shout out to Ma Dukes!

By the way his legacy was done still saddens me to this day but if anybody can get it right Ma Dukes can!


yep she’s been at the last two shows I’ve rocked

and she is a genuine person it’s always dope to pay respect to her and the musical revolution she ultimately created.

At the show I look up, and shes in front of the stage looking at my ultrasound pictures with my girl lol…priceless haha


you expecting?


yup its a boy due may 30th…this will be a crazy year lol

i took a couple steps back and added on a few more responsibilities for my kid but its worth it lol

two albums

im working again lol


and taking care of home


is he holding a microphone in the ultrasound lol?


it looked like it at first

at least i think so lol


that might be something else! Ha


let’s just say it’s a microphone lol


microphone it is! Ha! 

The call and response on Heat bought me to tears to you remember what city that was???


traverse city, mi

good folks out there man…they really really support


sounded like you were in the Silverdome! lol


it was a festival in traverse city i was co headlining with Brother Ali

there was about 700 people there

dope night


sounded like 700,000!

 well you said that you had two albums coming out. we’ll talk about that later let’s get into your past work a little. I played Brother’s Keeper last week and I want to know where the inpiration for that track came from.


my brother got locked up a while back

he did his time and i got blamed for him getting locked up

i felt guilty about it so we never wrote or spoke to each other while he was locked up

that song is my unwritten letter

i wrote it on the plane flying back from virginia

when i first met Nottz

I played the song for my brother when he was released


how did he feel about it?


he finally understood why

i stayed in the background

i was always traveling/doing school or working

and my family blamed me for not being there enough


well the song is phenomenal. The sample that opens it up grabs you right away. do you know what was sampled?


millie jackson

forgot the name of the song

but its crazy

like literally

she gets crazy on that shit


I was a huge Millie Jackson fan! I’m going to find it if it’s the last thing I do!


i couldve flipped that sample a few different ways

but my brother was the only thing that stood out and it was a chance to let the listeners in


you did that! I played it and sent it out to the cats that listen to my show that are locked down

can I ask you what some of your all time favorites are?


chosen one by oc

stray bullet by organized konfusion

93 til infinity by souls of mischief

listen up by e rule


whoa whoa you hitting me too fast fam!


my bad lol


it’s cool, your favorite album and why?


jewelz by oc

its the most complete album start to finish that i’ve heard so far come out of hiphop

thats what i wanna get to


pipe dream is there fam don’t be modest. btw LOVE the title!


thanx man appreciate that

i still got a few levels to go before i can even see jewelz status in the distance

but i’ll keep trying



you are closer than you think you named a few songs before but what’s your favorite hip hop track ever and what do you love about it?


stray bullet by organized konfusion

pharoah’s verse is perfect…the description, flow and word usage still keeps me entertained to this day

i wanna know what he was thinking when he wrote that cause he blacked out

listen up by e rule is a close second

underrated emcee


your mention of OK and O.C. got me to thinkin about Fudge Pudge. We don’t hear enough Pharoe these days. Stray Bullet was an excellent call

favorite video?


hmm thats a tough one…

T.R.O.Y. is always a classic to me i liked the vintage look


yeah the way they slid the old family pics in there was a great touch

can I assume Dilla’s your fave producer?


yup but i don’t judge producers like that…dilla is the most consistent

im real critical of producers

thats why i work with so many

i like different sounds


I got that from your album, all of the tracks are different but it’s still a very cohesive work.

I know being from Motown you like the old soul


yup stevie and donnie


LOVE them both, Have you heard someday by DJ K.O feat talib Kweli, torae, John Robinson and Tiffany Paige


yup dope song

J.R. is the homey


LOVE JR’s voice. It’s so different!

They flipped Someday we’ll all be free quite nice

I don’t have to ask you why you said Stevie and Donnie but for the sake of those that don’t know school em


stevie wonder is a genius with an endless catalog of classics and donnie hathaway is probably the most sincere artist ive heard period…you can hear every emotion through his lyrics and its almost as if everything stops and youre forced to listen to a donnie song because you cant help but relate

“stevie wonder is a genius with an endless catalog of classics and donnie hathaway is probably the most sincere artist ive heard period”


damn. well put on Donnie. damn.

you got a nigga all emo over here!



thats just some authentic music right there

plus i like the way singers write/perform

over rappers anyway


I agree, there are songs…that are complete masterpieces. Great hip hop lyrics is really a series of punchlines. I feel you can construct a song as an mc i.e. I used to love her but songwriters write songs

it’s like the difference between a magazine and a book

aight I am a native Chicagoan and it pains me to say this but I gotta admit Detroit is killin it right now and has been for a minute.  WTF are ya’ll doing up there?


lol our circle is smaller and more concentrated than others

honestly i think if our scene was as big as new york , la or atlanta where rappers flock to then we might not get as much attention as we do

but im proud of the artists out here

we work hard to push each other

“Detroit artists work hard to push each other”


You know that is so true. I just noticed that. You all run pretty tight, Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, SV, Danny Brown, Invincible, Royce. You ALL are ALWAYS on tracks together! you know it is in my DNA to hate you all but it is fucking impossible

I gotta ask you something about the D that my listeners have wondered and I wonder myself… HOW DO YOU CATS COME UP WITH YOUR NAMES!?!???


lol someone gave me my name at a local emcee battle

i was in the crowd running cypher to cypher

one dude was following me

i guess he noticed that after i rapped in each cypher no one wanted to follow


so he tells me to come on stage when he goes up

then he announces over the mic at st. andrews

“this dude just killed about 6 cyphers…this is the finale..”

so it kinda stuck

The Legendary St. Andrews!


gotta ask and don’t front, what was it before that?


just derek lol

thats it

my boys used to clown me

for using my real name

but everybody’s doing it now i guess

my name aint cool like drake tho lol


Don’t feel bad…Derek rhymes with a FEW things (snicker)

aight I’m just playin fam




aight. besides that huge Major Release you droppin May 30th did you say TWO ALBUMS?!?!!?


yea the first one im wrapping up is a collab album w/ oddisee (diamond district)

then the followup to pipe dream and a promise later


Oh I am a huge Oddisee fan. Kinda got on to him through Little Brother

That should be crazy! I’m imagining that now!

Two albums is a tall order….and again the May 30 release…

I been saying you are the future of Detroit Hip Hop

is the future now?


im just at the point where im not waiting for anything anymore

i played my position for too long

so im making my run and if i end up winning im grateful if i fall short then at least i can say i really tried…my timeline/schedule as far as me/hiphop kinda got shifted around with the kid lol

but i like where im at now

the lyrics are getting better/stage show is getting better and im growing as an artist

“so im making my run and if i end up winning im grateful if i fall short then at least i can say i really tried”


I feel silly asking you this but Are you Hip Hop


sure…why not lol

i like to think of myself as an artist..i don’t like labels like underground/street/hood/backpack

i make music and take my time

whatever category it sits in makes no difference to me long as it comes out the way i hear it in my head …


well put. Well since I got you on here and my whole class is paying attention can we bug you later this week for a drop for the 3/13 show?


yup np bro


just want to get it on record lol


lol cool np i got u


Well on behalf of my my entire Class, Myself and The Old School, New School, Need To Learn Though Show, we thank you for keeping hip hop alive!

You are an amazing lyricist and you have various flows as exhibited by the many styles you put out on The Pipe Dreams and A Promise album.

It was truly a pleasure talking to you and anything you want to break let me know


thanx bro …peace

Huge Shout Out to Finale and cop his albums Bloodworks and Pipe Dreams and A Promise. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed! Thanks for reading.

Ya Man,

The Professor

With You by Sin

•February 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment


I hate it when I wanna share a song with The Class and it’s not on Youtube, so I decided from this day forth, when that happens I’m going to start putting them on my blog for download because you all should not be denied dope songs and it’s all about the education, Nahmeen? Yesterday, RJ Baker put up a post that about librarians and it reminded me of a line in this song by Sin that says “I got a weakness for a woman in glasses, that’s a lady in the streets but a freak on the mattress” and I went to post it but it was unavailable. Now I love songs with personification themes, i.e. 2Pac’s Me and My Girlfriend, Common’s I Used To Love H.E.R. and if you love the Hennessy you will absolutely LOVE Sin’s ode to the Henny Rock! This week’s A+ Cut Of The Week, Sin’s With You. Hit the title for the download link.

Sin-With You   

Ya Man,

The Professor

J Dilla “Still Shining”

•February 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

For Dilla’s Birthday today, I decided to post this documentary which was released today. Last year on my blog I posted my Top 10 favorite Dilla Beats. You can see that here. Happy Birthday J Dilla. We will always love you and your music and memory will live on forever

“J.Dilla: Still Shining” from B.Kyle on Vimeo.

Ya Man,

The Professor

The Four Horsemen…Is Not A Pillow by Dennis Lehto

•February 3, 2011 • 1 Comment

Coming to you live from the Bronx (or a space station near Mars, I’m not sure), Ultramagnetic MC’s are best known for their debut album “Critical Beatdown” released in 1988 – a certified 5 mic classic in the Source magazine back when that actually meant something. Aside from Kool Keith’s over-your-head lyrics, and around the same time Ced Gee did some production on BDP’s Criminal Minded album, they brought sampling to a whole new level on Critical Beatdown, using the SP-12 for much of the records production. It set the standard for that whole Golden Era sound, and as such it’s a damn shame their names aren’t mentioned right alongside Rakim, PE, BDP & NWA in the history books. Their influence can be heard from Marley Marl (sampling techniques) to Dr. Dre (California Love) to backpackers everywhere (I hate that term)… But it’s like either you know this stuff already or you may never grasp it, so I’m not here to talk about Critical Beatdown.

Their follow-up was “Funk Your Head Up” released in 1992 – a disappointing record for those who were expecting Critical Beatdown part 2. Lyrically, the album was tight, but mostly it suffered from uneven production (you can blame label politics, namely Mercury records for that). It did however, spawn one of their biggest tracks to date and personal favorite of mine with “Poppa Large” (sorta… keep reading)… Specifically I’m referring to “Poppa Large (East Coast Remix)” but that particular remix, produced by Da Beatminerz, is sadly absent from the Funk Your Head Up tracklist. The album does feature a couple of notable Tim Dog appearances… But again, I’m not here to talk about Funk Your Head Up.

No, instead, the slept-on album of the week, inspired by the Bronx dedication show (brought to you live last Friday night by Professor Mike Jordan) and my personal favorite Ultramagnetic MC’s release is…

The Four Horsemen …

14 tracks deep, no skits, it starts with “We Are the Horsemen” and gives you a good idea of what to expect on the rest of the album: references to spaceships, baseball, Kool Keith trading verses with Ced Gee, DJ Moe Love on the Cuts & funky beats a plenty…

It should be noted here and now that although it may not sound as such at first, much of the production was handled by a live band on this album. This gives it a healthy blend of funk and jazz with that whole boom-bap vibe alive and well. Beyond rhyming, Kool Keith takes Bass guitar credits. Ced Gee takes alto sax credits. Ultramagnetic producer (and former Grimace at local McDonalds openings) TR Love takes piano and percussion credits. Godfather Don takes production credits on a number of tracks as well.

Four Horsemen had 2 big singles to its credit. The first was “Two Brothers With Checks (San Francisco Harvey)”… It’s the story of 2 fly brothers from the south with “big big checks and pretty white cadillacs” – oh, and baseball, I think… Honestly it makes little sense to my ears but it sounds dope. The random Montreal Expos shoutout always made me proud as that was my team growing up. It’s story telling Ultramagnetic style, for lack of a better description.

Raise it Up“, the other single, has a video that opens with Kool Keith walking down the street wearing a purple cape and talking into a “cell phone” with a chord on it as only he can do. Over the top? Maybe, but I think he was gonna do that anyway. It also features the only listed guest appearance on the record with Godfather Don (a slept-on MC in his own right) and to my knowledge was the first time he and Keith collaborated. They went on to form a side crew named the Cenobites and release an EP. It was dope, but is hard to find these days.

A number of solo tracks can be found on Four Horsemen. There is “Adventures of Herman’s Lust (Moe Love III)” which serves as the obligatory DJ cut … Ced Gee has “Delta Force II” – a sequel to “Ced-Gee (Delta Force One)”, the closing track off Critical Beatdown, his signature flow still in tact … But it’s Kool Keith with 3 solo tracks of his own, a couple of which are album stand outs, that make the most noise. The first one is “See the Man on the Street“, a standard battle track… Solid, but it’s “One Two, One Two” and “Yo, Black” that make the biggest impact. One Two, One Two has Keith doubling up all his words in a way I can’t explain here here, you’ll just have to check, check it out for yourself self. Yo Black has Keith under the alias Rhythm X (one of his early and many personalities) going off lyrically on a classic James Brown loop. It’s Kool Keith at his best.

Aside from the singles, I can’t write this without special mention of “Saga of Dandy, the Devil, & Day” – a track co-written by Baseball author and historian James A. Riley that pays homage to Negro League Baseball. The title refers to Ray Dandridge, Willie “Devil” Wells & Leon Day, respectively. It’s a stand alone track and may very well be the most serious track Ultramagnetic MC’s ever recorded. The results are dope and serve as a record highlight.

The vibe continues over the record on tracks like “Checkin’ My Style“, “Bring it Down to Earth“, “Time to Catch a Body“, “Don’t be Scared” (which features a couple of unnamed MC’s and if anyone can tell me who they are that would be great) & “Big Booty” closing the album. These tracks all feature Keith with his high pitch vocals and off the wall styles & Ced with his deep voice and a very consistent flow throughout.

Recap …

Despite label politics (the record was released on the now defunct Wild Pitch records) Four Horsemen is not a pillow! I believe Ultramagnetic never gets enough credit because no A&R on this planet ever knew how to handle them. Released in 1993, I probably listened to Four Horsemen more than anything else that year. Considering ’93 was one of the strongest years in Hiphop history, I believe that’s saying something. Every track was solid, no filler here… Shit, even the liner notes were memorable. Highly recommended, I listened to the cassette so often back in the day that it melted. That statement alone says it all.

Ya Man,

Dennis Lehto

Hip hop (Before It Had A Name) Vol. 3:Jamaican Sound System Culture by Rouge Une

•January 26, 2011 • 3 Comments

The Bronx is the home of hip hop, Yes indeed but like the godfather DJ Kool Herc a large part of it was born in Jamaica. Many of the tropes we associate with old school hip hop, were imported wholesale from the Jamaican  sound system culture that has existed as part of their musical tradition  since the 1940‘s.

For those unfamiliar with Jamaican music here is a brief history
Rocksteady / Ska
(Bob Marley)
Roots Reggae/Dub
Selling your soul to Babylon for a guest appearance on some half assed R&B track or “dance” along anthem.

This rich musical heritage has always been supported by the sound systems, originating in the poorest areas of the Island where access to live music was limited due to politics and monetary concerns.  The sound system is a collective made up individuals with very specific roles.  You have the BOXMAN, who makes the enormous speakers, the STRINGER who wires up the powerful amps, pre amps, effects boxes, and microphones, the SELECTOR who chooses the records to play and the DJ who speaks to the crowd on current events, local stories or urges audience participation.

At points during a “performance” (and make no mistake this way of playing music was a “performance” the selector would “jack it up” or “hitch it up”,  that is stop the record (if the song was getting a good reaction) and start it again, it was at this point or during instrumental passages that the DJ would talk to the crowd using catchphrases or echoing the singer to lead the crowd in their reaction. One of the first to transfer this energy of the DJ to disc was U-Roy (often called the godfather of “toasting” which is just another name for DJ’ing or MC’ing  i.e. to deliver the “toast” at a formal dinner). On a track like Wear You To The Ball  from 1969 you can hear him preempting the lines sung by the Paragons as he weaves in and around their performance, or on Wake The Town you can hear him extorting the audience to appreciate the music.  He was also able to make political and social commentary on tracks like Natty Rebel from 1976, his contribution to the development of what we now call rap should not be underestimated, although most have never heard of him one person who surely had was Kool DJ Herc.

Kool DJ Herc grew up in this environment and he pioneered its development in the Bronx when he moved there ,his MC Coke La Rock although not from Jamaica, was influenced by Herc to  follow In the tradition of artists like U Roy and created the template that defined  the first school and by extension all rap.

However it does not stop at rap, if you have ever scratched the labels off your records to stop people from finding out what you’re playing then you got that from sound systems. The pre-eminent role of the Selector or DJ in hip hop is a testament to Jamaican sound systems because while it was the DJ (MC) (boy this could get confusing!) who got most of the acclaim it was the selector who kept the crowd moving and influenced their mood and carried them on a musical journey. We may have lost that in recent times but the DJ is king in hip hop because without him/her there aint not jam and without a jam you just talking or rolling on the floor.

The Bronx IS the home of hip hop, because it was there that many disparate ideas, practices and folk arts were brought together and distilled into what would become the art form that we all love.

In these times when some MC’s are (to my mind) badly copying  the styles of dancehall ,too much acclaim it is perhaps good to remember that,

“sound bwoy hip hop from way back, bloodclat, now who wan come tess?”

Ya Man,

Rouge Une

Bow Down by Devin Miles

•January 21, 2011 • 5 Comments


With all respect to the late Michael Jackson… pardon me y’all, the great Michael Jackson… Prince was a King in his own right during the 1980s.
Growing up in the ‘80s when R&B still dominated urban radio, and before hip-hop evolved into Rakim vs. Kane/Biggie vs Pac/Jay-Z vs. Nas debates, the big “battle” was “who’s better- Michael or Prince?”. This was a contested topic not only around the way, but in the pop-oriented MTV world as well. Even in a time where urban radio and pop radio had dramatically different playlists (evidenced by how many ‘80s-era R&B classics didn’t even crack the Hot 100), Mike and Prince were the two whose music transcended race and musical genres. Every radio station, every video channel, every music magazine- regardless of which demographic they catered to- was featuring one or the other. And for a time, it was a legitimate argument that Prince was bigger than Michael.
Like many great artists, Prince’s arrival to that point definitely didn’t happen right away. He had hits such as “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Controversy”, but it wasn’t until 1982 when the true breakthrough moment came about. In a prime example of the longtime theory that anything with the right hook and music can be a hit, he dropped a song about the apocalypse that became a party anthem and one of the most-recognized singles of the ‘80s- “1999”. That single and the album of the same name made Prince a household name between ’82 and ’83. At the same time, he was making hits through other artists- namely The Time and Vanity 6- for whom he was not only writing and producing, but playing every instrument on their songs. Even with The Time, who was a band with capable musicians within it (including Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis) and led by Morris Day, they were all merely hired to play the music at the live shows, as Prince was the one playing every instrument heard on the albums.
With this success came another endeavor for Prince- his decision to make a movie showcasing his music and artists. Once Purple Rain went from an idea to a reality (with his label Warner Bros. initially scoffing at its existence), Prince and his band, The Revolution officially became the biggest thing going. The movie was huge, the album sold millions, every single was a hit, he took home a gang of awards, and the other acts in the film (The Time and Apollonia) became stars by proxy. Just as ’83 was the year Thriller made Michael the end-all be-all, ’84 was the year that the same happened for Prince.


I could be assuming by saying this, but after Purple Rain, Prince was probably wiping his ass with Warner Bros.’ money and getting more thrown at him to do whatever he wanted. If he so chose to let artists cover songs previously recorded by him (Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You”, Melisa Morgan’s “Do Me, Baby”), he did so. If he wanted to go under wild-ass aliases like “Alexander Nevermind”, “Jamie Starr”, and “Christopher” to write hits for pop artists like Sheena Easton (“Sugar Walls”) or The Bangles (“Manic Monday”), he did exactly that. Most notably, he began his own label Paisley Park, dropping albums by more of his proteges including Sheila E., The Family, and Mazarati (all of whom he was also doing the majority of the music for). 

Being the artist he was, however, Prince was still determined to go right as he was expected to go left. As soon as the appeal of Purple Rain became his trademark, he gradually moved away from that sound and image, going in other directions with ‘85’s Around The World In A Day and ‘86’s Parade. With the Parade album also came some defining changes in his career. For one, it was accompanied by a second movie, Under the Cherry Moon, which bombed for the most part. Secondly, it only spun off one legit hit, “Kiss” (which, as big as it was, signified Prince only going one-for-four in singles). It was also the final album he recorded with The Revolution, after deciding to drop them at the conclusion of his ’86 world tour. As a result of that breakup, also went their album Dream Factory, which was already recorded and ready to go. Due to these changes, Prince experienced the beginnings of his troubles with Warner Bros. Records, which followed him for the next 10 years.

After Parade and all the changes that came with it (and the fact that every artist on Paisley Park not named Prince was catching bricks), he was met with resistance for his next project. He wanted to drop a triple album, which was given the thumbs-down, and he had to condense it to a double instead. In doing that, however, Prince pulled off another definitive album- 1987’s Sign o’ the Times. Not only was the music great (and possibly the most diverse of all his albums), but he was also back to making back-to-back hits, which put him back on top… at least until Michael Jackson’s Bad album came around that September. For the next few years, Prince dropped more albums with varying degrees of success. From doing the Batman soundtrack, to the ill-advised Purple Rain sequel Graffiti Bridge, to forming a new band named the New Power Generation, he stayed relevant for better or worse.

Then, he entered what can be described as the “dark ages” of his career, due to his increasing issues with Warner Bros. Between changing his name into “the symbol” and painting “SLAVE” on his cheek, Prince spent most of the early-to-mid ‘90s dropping albums that were struggling in sales and getting bad reviews. Most of these projects were put out with the sole purpose of fulfilling his contract with WB. As soon as he finished up his obligations with ‘96’s Chaos & Disorder, he was off on his own, dropping the triple album Emancipation at the end of that same year. Only opting to occasionally deal with major labels (Arista in ’99, Columbia in ’04, Universal in ’06), he’s mostly stuck to putting his work out independently.
In the years that have followed, Prince’s status as an iconic artist of his time has been restored. It’s no question that he gets the credit he deserves as a great musician, but it’s also been lost on a lot of people just how big of a deal he was in the ‘80s. For those who weren’t around for his prime years (and even some who were), it’s become easier to remember him for assless pants and changing his name into a symbol than his musical output and popularity. In fact, I recently had some dude tell me R. Kelly was a more versatile and talented artist than Prince ever was. Of course, that’s merely a man’s opinion, but does speak to how de-emphasized Prince’s musical influence and output has been over the years. Even Michael, in the darkest years of his personal life, didn’t have his importance as an artist downplayed like Prince seemingly did. 

That aside, those who know, really know. Prince’s relevance to music in the ‘80s- whether R&B, Rock, or Pop- was NOT a pillow. He made music with influences ranging from ‘70s soul to country to gospel, and went through numerous reinventions. For me personally, his Revolution-era music was his best, while some are more partial to his earlier work, and others leaning towards his post-Sign o’ The Times material. Whichever way it went, from the beginning of the decade to the end, Prince was the shit. Game… blouses.


Hip hop (Before It Had A Name) Vol 2:Josephine Baker by Rouge Une

•January 19, 2011 • 2 Comments

Josephine Baker (b. June 03 1906  d. April 12 1975)

If you want to see the personification of that curious mix of confidence, swagger, humour,  challenge and braggadocio that we call the hip hop attitude, then look no further than this controversial decorated war hero and civil rights champion, mother to 12 adopted multi-cultural children as a message to the world about our shared humanity, dancer, singer, actress and spy.
This beautiful, eccentric, talented woman embodies all the traits that our culture holds dear and she did it  in a time when even the most basic of rights were denied her in her own country.
In self imposed exile in France Baker would put together a catalogue of routines that are referenced to this day, her sexy, cocky (some would say arrogant – but I would make them take it back) style challenged not just race but also gender stereotypes, they encompass everything from the sensual  to the comedic. They provide the template for many of the moves that we hold dear from the “running man” to Beyonces “butt dance” from “the wop” to the B-boy “prance”.
It would be difficult to argue that she invented these moves (echoing as they do traditional African dances) but what is sure is that she was the first to present them as separate specific routines, she was the first to showcase them as African American dances and the first to do so while being all “B-boy and that.”

There is a moment during one of the precious few recordings of  her infamous “banana dance” where she looks directly at the audience and pokes her tongue out and then breaks into a broad smile all the while doing the side foot stutter prance (that’s what I call it, you start a regular prance then you foreshorten it with your legs together and you push your feet out and to the side)., to my mind you can’t get more B-boy then that

On you tube there is a video that someone has put together that mixes a short section of one of Bakers routines with déjà vu by Beyonce, it is incredible because it does not look dated, the moves are not out of place and Josephine Baker looks just like what she is The greatest female dancer the world has ever seen, a B-Boy to the highest degree and Hip hop before it had a name.

Josephine Baker”s Official Website

Ya Man,

Rouge Une