• 20Jul

    Journey Back to Hip-Hop

    Big Daddy Kane, “Ain’t no half Steppin”.

    That was my first vinyl record. The one that I went into the little record store on St. Johns Place and purchased on my own. That was the beginning of my musical independence and my public declaration of a new found love. A love for Hip-Hop.

    Every Friday night I would wait for that one Hip-Hop show that would come on the radio around 10 PM, just so I could hear the new rap songs. My boom box was ready with a blank cassette, to record the show. Then it was time to play it back and write down the lyrics. I was dedicated. I’d memorize the lyrics and when those late night songs made it mainstream I was ready, reciting the lyrics as if they were my own.

    I was in love with the beats and lyrics of Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, X-Clan, Poor Righteous Teachers, KRS-One, Special Ed, Nice & Smooth, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, LL Cool J, De La Soul, Onyx, Heavy D, Question Mark Asylum, Tupac… to name a few. I loved the energy of Hip-Hop, the release that it provided.

    Growing up in a neighborhood where your neighbor was the neighborhood drug queen, crack heads were the norm on the Ave. So if you walked down the street alone at night, you could easily get your bamboo earrings snatched. Cops weren’t there to protect you, they were either there chasing some thief up the block, guns in hand, bullets flying or they were regular customers helping the queen pin’s business thrive. In that place, Hip-Hop was something I could relate to. I wrapped the whole culture around me, absorbed it and it came out through my pores. I ate, drank & slept Hip-Hop. I wore baggy jeans, gold fronts & two finger rings to show how fresh & hard I was. I was light as a rock personified. Hip-Hop kept me safe when no one else could.

    Then it was time for college, books, boys and Hip-Hop was fading away. There were less & less quality artists coming into the mainstream and Hip-Hop was getting more shinny & less gritty. And I too was changing, becoming less Hip-Hop and more R & B.

    Fast forward a decade… After having a beautiful daughter, moving out of NYC and back, I find myself in a position to do some volunteer work. A friend of a friend sends me an email about a company called Brooklyn Bodega that was looking for volunteers and I decide to check them out. Just like that, I’m immersed in the world of Hip-Hop. Black Thought said it perfectly in Brown Sugar, ‘like a forced marriage, it was predetermined. I was gonna be dealing with Hip-Hop whether I wanted to or not.’

    I went from MIA in Hip-Hop to regularly attending underground shows, meeting talented up and coming MC’s and blasting a variety of new artists in my car. Nowadays I might find myself at a Kalae AllDay video shoot, catching YC the Cynic, Ciph Diggy, Khalil Kash performing or WordSpit in a cipher outside of the Bowery Poetry Club. No need to turn on the radio. I have a new arsenal of music I rock to, including (but not limited to) Homeboy Sandman, Those Chosen, Freddie Gibbs, SleepWalkas, Eric Sosa, Children of the Night and Gypsy Flesh.

    As I await the culmination of many sleepless nights, excitement begins to take over. I prepare to be part of a monumental Hip-Hop event: the 2010 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. I awake with excitement & anticipation the dawn before the main event. I was prepared for the shit storm because ‘everything that can go wrong, will go wrong,’ my professor used to say. Fortunately, everything went relatively smoothly while being hectic at the same time. Not even the pouring rain could compel the growing crowd of Hip-Hop lovers in attendance.

    The best moments for me were watching Dres of Black Sheep, Nice & Smooth, Pete Rock & CL Smooth and finally De La Soul perform. Watching them took me back to the days when I first fell so deeply in love with Hip-Hop. When De La Soul took over the stage I was that 12 year old kid again, watching in complete delight and awe. They delivered an energetic performance that captivated the crowd and did not release them until the show was completely over.

    I still pop my Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Slick Rick, De La Soul and Nice & Smooth, cassettes in my cars’ tape deck every now and again. On those occasions I reminisce about those early days when Hip-Hop was a brand new art form. It’s been such an exciting journey watching Hip-Hop grow, change, become more widespread and diverse.

    I love being part of something much larger than me. I love being part of Hip-Hop!



Discussion 2 Responses

  1. July 20, 2010 at 6:35 am

    Wonderful and well stated Ana. A refreshing recap, a beautiful story and proof that life is cyclic

  2. July 20, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I really enjoyed reading you’re life in hiphop, it actually mirrors a lot of my own memories, and it is refreshing being apart of this beautiful renissance.

    Good 2 know I’m in ur play list