What Can I Do? by Professor Mike Jordan

•January 18, 2011 • 8 Comments

  

   As most of you may know by now, my last podcast has been pulled by Universal Music Group. Needless to say, I’m pissed.  There are folks in the class that, for whatever reason, can’t catch the show when it airs. I don’t want anyone denied access to the quality hip hop we play on our show so I put up a podcast. I noticed some of my podcasts had been deleted before but I thought nothing of it. Yesterday, was the first time they took it down so quickly. It wasn’t even up 24 hours! Mediafire sent me an email telling me who did it and why. Universal Music Group which is the home of Def Jam. I can’t help but assume that the Ghostface song “Drama” was the reason for that. In case you’re wondering the irony of that is not lost on me.
  

   I’m frustrated because what I do is for the love of hip hop. I have done more FREE promotional work for them than they have done for some of their artists in years. I tell The Class when albums are dropping. I speak highly of their artists and I even did a two week Def Jam tribute on my show. As I said they should be paying me, at the very least we should get a thank you. So basically you have a huge street team that wants to buy and tell their friends to buy your good product because face it, it ain’t all good. So in lieu of appreciation this is what we get. What can I do?
 

     My initial thoughts on how to handle this were fueled by anger. I started to say fuck it, I’ll email it to the subscribers of my blog. My counsel said that wasn’t a good idea. I thought about how I was discovered. Maybe since I put up the playlist they found me because I refuse to believe they listened to my whole show. If they did listen or if they are reading this now, let me tell you, since you know I obviously have an ear for what good hip hop is, you NEED an A&R! You haven’t been great since Rick Rubin left, but I digress.  I thought of putting it up without the playlist to make it harder for them. I thought of putting it up on Saturday and taking it down on Sunday, because face it, those “suits” don’t work on weekends. Despite me being The Professor, I am an outlaw by nature. However, for the sake of the show, I can’t fight this battle in an outlaw fashion. What can I do?
  

   I thought of bringing the fight to them. Maybe organizing a boycott. I don’t play any of their product and we don’t buy any of their music. Them I thought about it. I won’t hurt Universal. I’ll be hurting the very artists I’m trying to help. Also, I’ll be depriving The Class quality Hip Hop from artists that we love like Ghost, Redman, Nas and The Roots. I’d also be letting them compromise the quality of the show which I will NEVER do. So I ask again, what can I do?
 

    Well this is what we’re going to do. We are going to keep pushing the show. We are going to put as many people as we can onto the show. We are going to promote our show, and get bigger and as our power grows our voice will grow and then they will have to listen to us. They’ll have to respect us and understand that sharing some music on the internet and shows like ours are their best promotional tools available. Maybe they’ll realize that the internet is not destroying the music business but their greed and refusal to acknowledge the consumer is the reason they’re not selling records like they used to. To combat their greed we’re going to get bigger and better. And louder. See I come from the P.E. era of Hip Hop. We are going to fight the power. Not in an outlaw fashion. We are going to make this so big they can’t ignore us. If you are with me that’s what we can do. That’s what I’m going to do. Now as Jerry Maguire asked “Who’s coming with me?”

Ya Man,

The Professor

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Martin Luther King Jr. Triumphant Music by Rouge Une

•January 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Opening Address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival.
 
God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.
 
Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.
 
This is triumphant music.
 
 
 
Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.
 
 
 
It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.
 
 
 
Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.
 
And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.
 
 
 
In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.
-Dr.Martin Luther King
 
 
In these difficult times for hip hop when creativity is at a premium and many artists would rather use their “abilities” to wallow in the “dirt” of the human condition.  It is useful to look again at these words from Dr King, to examine them to see if they apply to the music we all love.
 
Hip hop has its closest ties with  the Jazz tradition, improvisation, individual performance and a revolutionary spirit are all throwbacks to its roots in Jazz so how then has hip hop handled this legacy?
 
Does it “take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.”?
 
Are hip hops best and brightest “returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.”
 
Has modern hip hop, “strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.”
 
If the answers that you come up with are,  no, no and no, then we have a problem don’t we?
 
Shouldn’t we be asking our artists to live up to these ideals, that Dr King set forth?  Shouldn’t we be demanding that they be better, do better? Shouldn’t we who are HIP HOP embrace Dr Kings vision of the place of musicians in our culture and charge them with more than just entertaining us, or giving us a new ring tone, or encouraging us to be good consumers?
 
So do me a favour will you? read Dr Kings words again and then take a long hard look at that picture of Gucci Manes’ tattoo and ask yourself whose’ vision of a musicians role you prefer.

Ya Man,

Rouge Une

New Music Podcast January 2011

•January 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 This past Friday on the Old School, New School, Need To Learn Though Show Executive Producer Tyler James and I had an interview with Mr Green of Pacewon and Mr Green but unfortunately, that couldn’t be recorded. However, you will get to hear our first new music podcast of the year. It was a great show, I had an amazing time bringing it to you. If you didn’t hear it live you missed a treat. The playlist is below.  This is a talk free podcast so to make sure you hear all the fun that’s had during class be sure to tune in on www.kabf.us Friday’s midnight central time. Thanks for listening.

The Rah Rah-Pace Won

Back On The Scene-Slaughterhouse Feat. Dres
Megatron-Ill Bill
I’m On One-Talib Kweli
Drama-Ghostface Killah Feat Joell Ortiz and the Game
Monster-Horse Shoe Gang

Hip Hop-Pace Won and Mr. Green
My Song-Pace Won and Mr. Green featuring Rival

Courthouse-Nas
Walk On By-Issac Hayes
Public Enemy No. 1-Public Enemy
Be Right-Nas

City Life-Kooley High
Point Of View-Torae
Avalanche/Victory Lap-Madvillan

I’m V.I.P.-Consequence  f. Diggy & Mac Miller
Big Poppa-Notorious B.I.G
Childish Games-Consequence feat Asher Roth

Don’t Sleep-Invincible Finale
Straight Spittin 4.5-Rah Digga
Start Schemin-Dysfunkshunal Familee feat General Steele and Jean Grae
Chick On The Side-Salt N Pepa

Let The Beat Flip-Evidence
Come Together-The Beatles
Revolution-The Beatles

Back On Up-Strong Arm Steady f. Planet Asia
Be Careful-Planet Asia
Manny Pacquiao-Fashawn
Your Fucking Song-Pac Div

Difficult-Eminem

Hit the title below for download. I hope you enjoy and make sure to subscribe to the blog to get it the moment it hits. Thanks again for your support.

New Music Podcast January 2011 Free Download

Ya Man,

The Professor

Nas: God’s Son for G.O.O.D.? by William Majors

•January 14, 2011 • 3 Comments

 

Recently, there’s been much speculation within Hip Hop industry rumor mills concerning Kanye West’s interest in signing frequent co-collaborator Nas, and after ‘Ye announcing he & Nas had an upcoming announcement to make (like, why didn’t they just make it RIGHT THEN, right?), their official collaborative union may very well come to fruition. Whereas the Hip Hop masses appear to be ready to flood Times Square with balloons & streamers over this proposed musical endeavor, I personally feel compelled to go against the grain and cringe at the thought of a seasoned Rap vet such as Nasir Jones temporarily putting his creative life in ‘Yeesy’s seemingly Allstate-like hands. I’ll even go as far as to call it a mistake on Nas’ part – not the worst one he’s ever made in his career (you DID see Belly, right?), but a mistake all the same, at a time where the artist formerly known as Nasty can’t afford to make many more….. like, LITERALLY can’t afford it.

First, let’s briefly cover a few facts about Nas leading up to this point: There aren’t many Rap artists that have had as many personal and professional twists in their careers yet somehow remain relevant. Back in 1991, who was that Queens kid known for being nice with the flow but NOBODY wanted to sign?….. Nas. When a contract finally did come, who was greatly heralded for his remarkably stellar debut album but still had to borrow money to buy clothes to attend award shows!….. Nas. How ’bout the golden boy dragged into the ring with Hip Hop heavyweight Jay-Z for a lyrical boxing match that many thought would end his career, but instead rejuvenated it by surprisingly TKOing the hell out of his opponent?….. dat boy Nasir. What about enduring public babymomma drama, recording label woes, accusations of over-flirting with commercially crossover concepts (acting, modeling, R&B features, etc.), failed side projects (aforementioned acting career, Ill
 Will Records, The Firm supergroup….) – yep, all Escobar Jones! Yet, through it all, the man’s phone never stopped ringing for guest appearances, never really cried broke after his departure from Searchlite Management, and was able to get something really nice & shiny to put on his arm – no, not a blingy Rolex, but R&B superstar Kelis, who eventually became his wife. All’s good with Nas at that point, right? Yeah, ok…. whatev.

So now we fast forward to the present: Nas is looking to sign with Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label after having recorded 2 albums for ex-nemesis and former Def Jam label exec Jay-Z. Would Esco be a decent fit for the type of material ‘Ye plan to release on this label in the near future? Possibly, yes. Would Nas greatly benefit from exquisite production from the self-proclaimed Louis Vuitton Don? Hell yeah! Still, in my opinion, this is NOT the best move for Nas to make. I made this point on my man Professor Mike Jordan’s Facebook thread discussing this issue, so for those of you who didn’t read that particular comment, I’ll paste a portion of it here:

*****

First (and I’ll always say it until they come widdit), G.O.O.D.’s track record – not a very fruitful one by industry standards. Kid Cudi’s the only G.O.O.D artist to pull the kind of reaction & revenue ‘Yeezy’s money is capable of pullin’ – and don’t get me started about the Common disappointment! Ugh!

Second, the whole “rapper signed to another rapper” scenario – the ONLY time in the history of the genre where an ESTABLISHED rapper signed with another rapper’s regime and the outcome was an acclaimed AND profitable album was Mystical’s signing to No Limit (sad that THAT’S the only occurrence, isn’t it?). I challenge anyone to name another one. Maybe there is & I forgot it, but I don’t think so – and if there are other examples, the odds are still HEAVILY against Nas’ successful signing to G.O.O.D. based on this point alone.

*****

Later in the same thread, it was suggested that Nas dissolve his proposed deal with ‘Yeesy and start his own independent label. I also touched on this subject, explaining why Nas shouldn’t go that route EVER:

(1) Kelis: Dude JUST got that killer of a child support hit lessened – the LAST thing he need to do is show the courts he’s big ballin’ enough to spring for a label & some artists! What’cha wanna bet Kanye don’t sign Nas to a multi-million dollar contract if it goes down!

(2) His Business Moves: No secret here – the boy couldn’t negotiate his way out of a wet paper bag. If Nas started a label, no one associated with it would have the funds to supersize their McDonald’s fries 3 years after its jumpoff. Any doubts? Didn’t think so.

(3) New York: NO disrespect to New York Hip Hop fans – say it again…. NO DISRESPECT, but generally speaking, they’re the flakiest in the US in regards to an artist’s label status! Point blank, they ain’t f*ckin’ with major playas forced to leave the major labels – never have, never will. NY is the home of the majors (no pun intended…. trust), & a drop to indy status means you took an L to NY Hip Hop fans. It’s not at ALL like the West or the South fan bases, where an artist can eat lovely selling music out the trunk of his car if he had to – indies thrive in every other region BUT New York, straight up! Nas going that route would be career genocide, no juice! Ask The Lox, Fat Joe or AZ what it’s like to be independent in New York – though I wouldn’t stand within arm’s reach of them if you do. Just sayin’.

Don’t get me wrong, this looks like a GREAT deal on paper: Nas working with Kanye West – what more could a ask for in a Rap release, right? Just keep in mind that there’s WAY more to this move than one might originally think, and if Nas is smart, he’ll carefully weigh his options before Bic’ing his name on the dotted line – or those scene in Kelis’ “Milkshake” video of her dancing around smiling while Nas is in the diner flipping burgers may not be too far from reality!

Ya Man,

William Majors

A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing…is not a pillow by Dennis Lehto

•January 13, 2011 • 2 Comments

When the Professor asked me to write this entry, I was happy to do so. It gave me a good reason to dig up a classic album I haven’t heard in years. Back in ’91, grade 8, I was the only kid on my block sporting a Black Sheep t-shirt (still got the school photos to prove it). It’s been a while but I’m glad to say the record aged well. Of course the record I speak of is …

Black Sheep – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Breakdown …

The album starts with a standard “Intro” where they give shout-out to their fellow Native Tongues MC’s, then it gets right into a track called “U Mean I’m Not” where Dres does an over-the-top impression of all the gangsta shit of the day (I dreamed that I was.. hard). It’s a concept track reminiscent of the Masta Ace SlaughtaHouse album, purposely out of character for Black Sheep, but funny and sets the theme for the albums skits, showing off their unique sense of humor. I miss the days when a Hiphop record could be on a comedy tip and still be considered dope … The vibe of the album really kicks in by the third track “Butt in the Meantime” and from that point on there’s no going back.

Now, at 18 tracks and 4 skits, clocking in at about 70 minutes, I can’t get into extensive detail about everyone of them. I’d be here all day. Let’s just say you should get your hands on a copy and check it for yourself and leave it at that. But I do need to give special mention to the albums 3 big singles …

1ST : there’s “Flavor of the Month“. This track was my introduction to Black Sheep. The video looks much like the album cover. The title is self explanatory, but it’s the way they tell the tale. It’s some of Dres at his finest lyrically and the beat is equally great. 20 years later, the horns that kick in during the chorus can still cause goosebumps.

2ND : there’s “Strobelight Honey” – basically a story track, discussing the trials and tribulations of meeting ugly people at the club when alcohol and bad lighting can impair vision and better judgment. It also serves as one of the more upbeat moments on the record … Also noteworthy is “Similak Child” – a later single with its own video. With its laid back vibe and barking dogs, Similak Child serves as a great counterpart to Strobelight Honey.

3RD : their biggest track to date and still popular everywhere from Hiphop jams to Frat parties to to ya mama, we have “The Choice is Yours” – or more specifically, “The Choice is Yours (Revisited)”. The original version is OK, but pales in comparison to the remix, which comes in the form of a bonus track near the end of the record. This is that rare breed of track that can have massive commercial appeal and maintain its street cred at the same time. The party starts when that bassline kicks in, and when Dres says ” I made it look easy because it is to me” he pretty much explained their entire style with that line … Back to the whole “revisited” remix thing for a second, it’s funny how a remix took one of the weaker moments on the record and turned it into the definitive track of their career. Sadly, if you bought this album on vinyl, the remix and bonus tracks weren’t included.

Unlike many albums of today, Black Sheep didn’t fill up the record with special guest appearances… just a couple… The first one is  “La Menage” featuring fellow Native Tongue member Q-Tip. Think of it as a cross between Similak Child mentioned earlier and Buddy off 3 Feet High, leading into a skit called LASM which I’ll touch on later … The other is “Pass the 40“, a greasy posse cut featuring a young Chi-Ali and a handful of other dudes … Chi-Ali also appears earlier on the record, albeit not in a lyrical capacity, on a highlight track called “Have U.N.E. Pull” with a memorable horn sample and hook. (Side Note: despite rumors, Chi-Ali is not the younger brother of Dres… just saying)

There’s a handful of skits on the album. I’ve always had mixed feelings about skits. Usually they annoy me, but when they work they work. I think they work well here with the records satirical theme and don’t feel intrusive. Aside from the intro, skits include “Are You Mad?”, “L.A.S.M.” (an acronym for “Ladies Against Sexist Motherfuckers”) & “Go to Hail”. They’re in the tradition of the skits on De La’s 3 Feet High or De La Soul is Dead records … Also, not quite skit and not quite song is “Blunted 10” – a 2 minute beatbox / verse track. There’s also the bonus track “For Doz That Slept” which samples Millie Jackson’s “Phuck U Symphony” with some of the few times you hear Mista Lwange cutting .Also, noteworthy in that Slept features more “F” bombs per capita than any other track I can think of in the history of ever without a single verse being spit.

Understand, that even with such a large tracklist, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing contains little to no filler. Tracks like “To Whom It May Concern” with its playful beat featuring Dres and Mista Lawnge trading verses, “Hoes We Knows” with its memorable flute loop, tracks like “Try Counting Sheep” and “Gimme the Finga” with their patented Black Sheep sense of humor and braggadocio in tact, “Black with N.V. (No Vision)” with its Freddie Hubbard sample and a little speed rhyming for good measure, plus the bonus track “Yes” closing the album, every track serves its purpose. The consistent and clever use of samples in the production (usually horns and the like) gives A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing a certain feel like no other album you’ve ever heard before or since.

Recap …

To whom it may concern, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is not a flavor of the month, and is most certainly not a pillow. Don’t try counting sheep on this one (there are 2 of them, for the record). Many of you already know, but in the meantime for those that slept, you can either gimme the finger or you can check the record ASAP and act like you knew the whole time, the choice is yours… I recommend the latter.

Ya Man,

Dennis Lehto

Refresher Course on DJ Pooh by Devin Miles

•January 12, 2011 • 3 Comments

Who's The Mack?

Amongst the producers who did a lot to form the sound of West Coast hip-hop in the ‘90s- Dre, DJ Quik, Ant Banks, etc.- one of the most notable in the field was DJ Pooh. Though he sometimes doesn’t get the same amount of credit as some of those other mentioned producers, he definitely has a spot amongst them.

Starting off in the game as a DJ for L.A.’s Uncle Jam’s Army in the ‘80s, Pooh later became a member of a production team known as The L.A. Posse (which also included frequent LL Cool J collaborator Bobcat). Incidentally, Pooh’s earliest work of note wasn’t for a West Coast-based artist, but on LL’s Bigger And Deffer, producing “.357- Break It On Down“. After the success of that album, Pooh went on to produce King Tee’s first two albums, 1988’s Act A Fool and 1990’s At Your Own Risk. While becoming loosely affiliated with the Ruthless Organization (which included making contributions to Eazy-E’s “Eazy-Duz-It”), he connected most with Ice Cube while he was still a member of N.W.A. Once Cube left on his solo endeavor in late-‘89, Pooh opted to work with him more from there. This began the foundation for what has become some of Pooh’s most-recognized production.

In addition to being a talented producer, Pooh also had a comedic side to him, which was first exposed in Cube’s “Who’s The Mack” video, from AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. In it, Pooh played all three of the “mack” characters- the pimp, the homeless guy, and the slick-talking dude at the club- that took advantage of whomever they could get over on. As that video was rotating, Cube reconnected Pooh with Bobcat and another producer, Rashad. Together, they were known as The Boogie Men, who first collabed to work on I Wish My Brother George Was Here, the debut album by Cube’s cousin Del Tha Funkee Homosapien. After that, and as Cube and his music was headed back West, he needed a new team to handle production for his second album Death Certificate. Along with Sir Jinx, The Boogie Men did a great deal of the tracks on that album, now considered a classic (and depending on who you ask, Cube’s best).

Following the Death Certificate album, Pooh and Boogie Men continued to work closely with Cube and his artists, which included Da Lench Mob, Yo-Yo, Kam, and Threat. Pooh’s biggest hit record came in the form of Cube’s “It Was A Good Day” from The Predator, when it became a Top 20 single and MTV staple in 1993. In ’93, he also continued to do production for King Tee, hooking up a sizable part of Tha Triflin’ Album, including the single “I Got It Bad Y’all” which introduced Tha Alkaholiks. During this time, he was also portraying a role similar to one of his “mack” characters in commercials for St. Ides. Amongst all of these moves being made, Pooh was also working on a script for a movie that would become a long-running cult classic.

Friday was co-written by Pooh and Ice Cube, and was released in early-1995. Starring Cube and Chris Tucker, it wasn’t a box-office monster, but it’s developed and maintained quite the following over the years. Much of this was due to its quotables and characters that were mostly created by Pooh, who had a small-yet-memorable role as “Red”. Two often-quoted parts of the film involve his character- one being Chris Tucker’s “you got knocked the fuck out!” after Red gets uppercutted into the air by “Debo”, and the other being “my grandmama gave me that chain!”, which Red says after getting it snatched by Debo later in the movie. However, issues surrounding Friday which involved both money and credit created a splinter in Pooh’s friendship with Cube, and Pooh took his business elsewhere.

 

With Dr. Dre leaving Death Row Records in early ’96, Pooh became the anchor for Snoop Dogg’s sophomore album, Tha Doggfather. The demand was high for Snoop to follow up on his classic debut, and the doubt was high, with people generally slow to accept Snoop with no Dre on the boards. Pooh produced the bulk of the album, which often comes to mind as one of hip-hop’s most noted instances of the “sophomore jinx”. While Pooh had produced a classic track for Tha Dogg Pound a year prior (the controversial “New York, New York”), the magic just wasn’t there for the Snoop project. Meanwhile, Pooh had inked an album deal with Atlantic Records. In the summer of ’97, he dropped Bad Newz Travels Fast, which showcased his production talents and prominently featured artists such as Threat and Kam (who’d also fallen out with Cube by then). While the album performed modestly, the highlight of it was Kam’s Cube dis “Whoop Whoop!”

Pooh later got back into the screenwriting and directing, with both the perennial BET favorite 3 Strikes in 2000 and the Dre & Snoop-starred The Wash in ‘01. Around 2000, he and Cube found time to patch up their differences, and according to Pooh, plan to work together again. In recent years, Pooh has entered other fields, most notably writing the script and creating characters for the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. He hasn’t actively done much production, mostly due to his growing dislike of the dealings of the music industry. Despite his love of music and his continuing support of new artists (especially those from his hometown), he cites that the business side of things has become insufferable, and so he has turned his interests and focus in other directions.

Whether or not he makes another record or heavily involves himself in the game ever again, DJ Pooh played a major part in not only West Coast hip-hop, but early-to-mid-‘90s hip-hop as a whole. Salute!    

Ya Man,

Devin Miles  

Hip Hop (Before It Had a Name) Vol I :Cab Calloway by Rouge Une

•January 11, 2011 • 4 Comments

Cabwell “Cab” Calloway (b. December 25 1907 d. November 18 1994)

If you watch the Alright video by Janet Jackson you will catch a glimpse of one of the final performances (he is in the yellow suit and returns her watch right at the end) of perhaps the creator of the vocal and performance template that contributed the most to hip hops’ evolution.

For example, take a track like Minne the Moocher,

“Hey folks, here’s a story about Minnie the moocher,
She was a low down hoochie coocher,
She was the ruffest tuffest frail,
Minnie had a heart as big as a whale,
Hi di hi di hi di ho”

Setting aside the call and response sections which echo all of the great crew cuts from the first school to the new school (although they have fallen into disuse in recent times- more on this in a future blog.) What you actually have is a embryonic rap,
“he gave her his town house and his racing horses
Each meal she ate was a dozen courses.”

But the words are not what makes him hip hop before it had a name, nor is it his confident, eccentric on stage persona (which James Brown and Little Richard would later adopt and Grandmaster Melle Mel and Run DMC would reference.) No it his “scatting” that creation of rhythms and poly-rhythms starting from the main melody and moving away thru and around it. These random and not so random sounds replaced with words becomes freestyle (real freestyle made up on the spot- but that too is another blog).

Improvisation had always been a staple of the blues tradition and was integral to the creation of Jazz, some argue that the term Jazz comes from Jazzing which is to improvise on the main theme of a song, but what Calloway does is different and it is possible to argue revolutionary. He places the performance of the vocal at the heart of the piece, not the words themselves or the clarity of his voice. No, it is how he does what he does rather than its content that he wishes you to observe. He double and triple times his “flows”, he sometimes gets off beat only to come back on beat in an unexpected place. These are all things we think about when we talk about how good an MC is.

It may not be MC’ing as we know it today but I would argue that Cab Calloway could be considered one of the first to combine vocal performance that was not traditional singing with a primary emphasis on style, flow and improvisation and thereby laid the foundation for the eventual evolution of what we know today as Rap.

In coming posts we will take a look at other artists that are not traditionally associated with Hip Hop but those of us that understand Hip Hop and are Hip Hop, we know that’s it’s ALL Hip Hop. With this and subsequent posts in this series hopefully, you will see that. Enjoy.   

Ya Man,

Rouge Une