From ‘Cole: A Response to Week Six’s Response

The only thing I want to add is a little background on some of the forerunners of Hip Hop music and culture. Specifically, the tradition of DJing.
And for that you need to know about DJ Kool Herc, and the Herculoids.

Kool Herc was a DJ from the Bronx who is credited for a) creating the looped track that would become a staple in rap b) underscoring the break (drum beat) in a song, also a staple and c) his funky-ass parties that would last
for days.

DJ Kool Herc

Well, not really, but almost. See, DJing was and still is a fixture of the club scene. People come to party, the DJ brings the atmosphere. But Herc took this and adapted it to the streets.
Herc made his home in the parks of the Bronx, schoolyard parties and such. Inevitably, people would see the open block party and join in. He would mix beats, create breaks, and merge everything into one giant mixed tape. And eventually, you’d have one song that would last
for days.

So, how he ties in to the Sugar Hill Gang is this: “Rapper’s Delight” is one of the most influential songs of Hip Hop because it is the commercialization of the block party. SHG took a nine-hour event and condensed it into 11 minutes. When you think of it that way, their genius is even more apparent. The song isn’t too long–it’s too short.
But even in its relative brevity, it still manages to hold all of the conventions and tropes of rap music that you were able to pinpoint. Which makes them, even today, relevant and worthy of examination.


From Sky: Week Six Response

Rapper’s Delight is everything rap is about.

The Sugar Hill Gang

Since this is widely considered the first hip hop track, we could say that everything grew from the foundation The Sugar Hill Gang pioneered. When I look at “Rapper’s Delight”, I see an entire genre.

First verse:Wonder Mike–hype. This is all Wonder Mike talking up himself and getting people to enjoy themselves. It’s also the intro, and he’d “like to say ‘hello”! But, say hello to who? “To the black, to the white, the red and the brown, the purple and yellow”. Even from the start of hip hop, it was open to everybody. That’s a little digression though, as the majority of the song is pure hype: “But first I gotta bang bang the boogie to the boogie /Say “up jump” the boogie to the bang-bang boogie” (he’s pumpin’ up the beat, yo) and “Let’s rock, you don’t stop / Rock the riddle that will make your body rock”. That’s an interesting thought on “riddles”, but we’ll discuss that another time.

Second verse: Big Bank Hank–bling. If that word is socially acceptable anymore. “I dress to a t / Ya see I got more clothes than Muhammad Ali and I dress so viciously / I got bodyguards, I got two big cars,” is one example of showing off. Think of all the rap tracks today about all the exotic cars they got, or the fashion they wear. My favorite line in the entire verse is: “I got a color TV so I can see / The Knicks play basketball”.

Third verse: Master Gee–fame. Right from the beginning. after Master Gee introduces him self, which is sick, FYI, he spits the first line regarding fame: “Well, my name is known all over the world / By all the foxy ladies and the pretty girls / I’m going down in history / As the baddest rapper there could ever be”. To go down in history, one must be famous for something. In Master Gee’s case it’s for being “the baddest rapper there could ever be.” He continues to spit about his ability to score girls, which is definitely a perk of being famous musician. This might also be what lead to evidential hip hop number one pop hits. But again, for the sake of time we’ll move on.

Fourth verse: Wonder Mike–shoutouts. Today in hip hop, it is common for wrists to should out where they’re from. That is exactly what Wonder Mikes does here. Being patriotic as fuck, “Skiddlee beebop a we rock a scoobie doo / And guess what America we love you / Cause ya rock and ya roll with so much soul / You could rock till you’re a hundred and one years old”. Live long and thrive. ‘Murica. There’s also some meta qualities to this verse, that could be explored as well.

Fifth verse: Big Bank Hank–sex. This is the filthy-nasty verse. I love this verse, my second favorite of the track. After the story about picking up Lois Lane, her quitting her boyfriend Superman, and how now, Hank can properly satisfy her, unlike Superman could do with “his little worm”. I mean come on, “But I can bust you out with my super sperm / I go do it, I go do it, I go do it, do it, do it”, can it get any more sexual?

Sixth verse: Master Gee–party tracks. “It was twelve o’clock one Friday night / I was rocking to the beat and feeling all right / Everybody was dancing on the floor / Doing all the things they never did before”–sounds to me like they’re in the club. Bottles full of bub! Also, the line, “But let me tell ya something there’s still one fact / That to have a party ya got to have a rap”, Master Gee is saying that their music is necessary to party. There’s a lot of this verse devoted to getting’ girls to freak, which if you think about hip hop today and party tracks… I mean SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTSSHOTSSHOTS!

Seventh verse: Wonder Mike–story telling/humor. This is my favorite verse of the track. This is easily one of the most vivid story I’ve ever heard in hip hop. It starts which such a great line, “Have you ever went over a friend’s house to eat / And the food just ain’t no good?” This was a way for the Sugar Hill Gang to show that the music they were making was versatile enough that it could be used to convey stories or shine humor on something. After all, the story is pretty humorous. Think of all the amazing stories told in hip hop. This lead the way.

Eighth verse: Big Bank Hank–disses. So much rap and hip hop is about being better than others. ONE WORD: Control. I think about Boogie Down and their bridge feud. Ether and Takeover. All about being better. “So when the sucker MCs try to chump my style / I let them know that I’m versatile / I got style finesse and a little black book / That’s filled with rhymes and I know you wanna look / But there’s a thing that separates you from me And that’s called originality”. Big Bank Hank ain’t gonna let any other emcee jack his flow. Although there isn’t any actual direct disses, Hank is saying that you can’t fuck with his rhymes and that his are the best. Watch out, sucka emcees.

Ninth verse: Master Gee–personal histories. We would both agree that often hip hop is semi-autobiographical. Man, the prefixes on that word. I say “semi” because we always gotta take it with grain of salt. After all, it was recently outed that Rick Ross used to work as a security guard, and isn’t nearly as hard as the Teflon Don makes himself seem. At the age of seven, Mater Gee had “got right on down to the beat you see / Getting right on down making all the girls / Just take of their clothes to the beat the beat / To the double beat beat that makes you freak”. At the age of seven? Fo reals? He goes all the way up to nine years old. It’s not much, as in, he does’t tell us much about his live, and what he does tell us is… well like I said, a grain of salt.

I condensed this down a bit, as I thought it might be too long for our little correspondence, but I think you get the gist.

From ‘Cole: Week Six Response

Wow. There’s a lot here, but I’m not sure I’m quite there.

This is going to be very stream-of-consciousness because there are a few different things I want to address and I’m not sure they’re all connected (but we know everything is, so maybe you can help me out).
First of all, the name of this track (upon further research) is Side B (Dope Song). Danny Brown is pointing here, I think, to the “other side of the coin” aspect of this song. He’s showing us the other side of the glorification of thug life/drug life. And it’s not pretty.
Like you said, he raps about drugs. But this song, in particular, strikes me as interesting because he says it’s his last one about drugs.

As you pointed out, he plays with chronology (which is sick) by flashing back to the times when he “hit the mall and ball/ hit the club and spend it all.” And of course, his use of different voices is great for that effect. But without his mention of time, the pitch changes would just be treated as another production trick. (“A long time ago/ I don’t do that shit no more.”)

Rap audiences aren’t as gullible about street cred as hip hop would have you believe. I mean, are we going to accept that 50 is as hard now with 20 mil in his pocket, than he was “with some squares to get off”? Or, that Jay-Z’s hustle to the masses gives him just as much street cred as he had hustling on street corners? Danny’s “sick of all these niggas with their ten year old stories.” He’s tired of them slanging those lies, like they happened yesterday.

Maybe this lends more credence to newer artists like K.Dot who, arguably, just came from the streets and, with new success, has not yet fallen into the soft lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Danny Brown

The line that interests me most is the last: “not my last dope song/ but my last dope song.”

Danny Brown has a way of intoning this where he gets the point across that this isn’t the last song he’s made that’s hot/ill/sick/fantastic/take your pick. But it is the last time he raps about dope. Because he’s beyond that now.

In a way, it’s a combo diss-track-and-dap-track, giving props to those who don’t have ten year old stories so much as ten day old stories. Maybe that’s what he means when he says it’s a dope song–he knows who the real dope rappers are.

From Sky: Week Six – DOPE WEEK! DOPE WEEK!

Yo, yo, we back.

You might be able to tell which track I’m selecting this week, simply by my title.

This album was on numerous top ten lists at the end of the year. I believe you sent me a track of his once before, not for Music Mondays, but just for kicks.

I think it’s clear these days what certain rappers rap about. For instance, Macklemore raps about equality and independence. Yung Lean raps about Arizona Iced Tea. Freddie Gibb raps about gangsta shit. Drake raps about his emotions. Well, this rapper raps about drugs. It’s quite obvious.

The track for this week is my favorite off of his album Old. The mixtape that came before it, XXX, was highly acclaimed, and believed by many to be a drug centric concept album.

I love the use of flashbacks in this track. Explore this.

This week is a banger. For sure. So get turnt up.