Friday, April 29, 2011

The Influence of Hip-Hop Upon My Writing

Originally Posted in June, 2005

Before we begin, let me explain something to my GLBT friends. Please understand where I came from and the influences that since shaped my world.

Musically, my backbone is rooted in Rhythm & Blues, Soul and Funk. Nowadays, it's all conglomerated into Urban Contemporary, which amazes me why such a label exist when some of its influences come from rural communities.

This is where Hip-Hop comes in. I was this fat white working class suburban kid, age 15, listening the medium power AM stations out of L.A. KDAY and The Kat. Listening to KDAY the entire uncut extended version of "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugar Hill Gang at 9:00PM on a weekend night at home. It was amazing! Now, take same fat white closeted working class suburban kid and have him recite the entire uncut extended version of  "Rapper's Delight" on the bus to Disneyland with 50 or so of his classmates.

Scared yet?

Over the years, I've interwoven a lot of Hip-Hop in my life. Even today's Clear Channel-programmed crap. If you decipher the crap from the quality stuff out there, you will find gems.

There an era I do miss. From 1987 to about 1992, there was some great stuff that came out. There was Public Enemy (Chuck D and Flava Flav sans Brigitte Nielsen), A Tribe Called Quest, Boogie Down Productions (KRS-One and family), De La Soul, Brand Nubian (featuring Grand Puba), Leaders of the New School (featuring Busta Rhymes), EPMD (featuring Erick Sermon), Naughty By Nature, 3rd Bass, Salt N' Pepa, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, MC Lyte, D-Nice, LL Cool J, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (super producer Jeff Townes and superstar Will Smith, BTW), Special Ed, Digital Underground (which Tupac Shakur hung with for a bit), Tone Loc, Young MC...shall I go on?

This was a time after the dookie gold got old and right before the gangsta rap explosion. Pure, honest, fun Hip-Hop. You don't get that anymore. Well you do...Ludacris, for starters.

Deep down, these rappers...these people are poets! Spoken word artists most of whom are brutally honest about what they say and where they came from. In this frame, I'm talking about Nas, DMX, Tupac and Biggie Smalls (the Notorious B.I.G.). I'll listen to some shit by Nas or Biggie and get inspired to write something that is swirling in my head.

Deep inside the context of some of these poems is a hip-hop song I may have heard while formulating the poem. Sometimes when I read a few from TBFR, Naught By Nature's "Everything's Going To be Alright (Ghetto Bastard)" pops in my head as a soundtrack. My voice suddenly gets drowned out by Treach's. The beat is undeniable.

If you have not heard this song, and do not care for Hip-Hop, then I don't know how I can truly relay the feeling, the temper and the emotion that comes from this confluence to you. And, I apologize for that. I wish I can break it down to a point where one can be open minded enough to journey with me through the beats and the music that helped build the emotion and the words that are on the pages of TBFR and other works I've written that are not published at this time.

Maybe someday...if your mind is open and curious.

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