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Old School Appreciation Week: Day One

by Travis on May 12, 2008

As the art form grows on, the perception of what is “old school” keeps moving up closer and closer. I hear a lot of younger cats saying that the early 90′s are now “old school”. Besides making me feel older, all that really shows me is that the art form is achieving longevity, which is a good thing. Hip Hop as a culture and art form has been going on thirty plus years now. Thirty loooong years that have seen so much change, some for the good, some for the not so good. I’m a firm believer in something Krs once said, “If you don’t know the history of the author, then you don’t know what you are reading.” Now this can be applied to just about anything, but when applying it to hip hop, I believe it is even more true. If you don’t know your history about HOW hip hop came to be and it’s early days, then you can’t really say you are “down” with the culture as a movement, as a art form and as the music that we all love so dearly.

I personally look at the old school as anything pre-Run DMC, which would be roughly before 1982. I’m sure some cats older than myself would say anything pre-Sugar Hill Gang and the 1979 mark. I’m old enough to be able to say I’ve been into hip hop since 1986. While I wasn’t in New York City during those days, I can proudly say I know what it was like to pick up Boogie Down Productions “By All Means Necessary” or Public Enemy’s “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” when they originally dropped. I’m not saying I’m any better than anyone else for my ability to be able to proclaim that, I’m just older is all. But when it comes to the “old school” material such as Treacherous Three, Crash Crew, Funky 4+1 and others, I’ve had to do my homework just like anyone else.

When I originally got into hip hop in a hardcore frenzied state, which would have been around 1988, I started tracking down anything I could. It would be during this time that I got my hands on one of those K-Tel old school releases. It mainly had Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five material on it, such as “The Message”, “White Lines (Don’t Do It)”, and other classics. Admittedly, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the sound of Flash and the Furious Five. It sounded so much different than what I was hearing (only a mere six to eight years earlier) at the present day so I didn’t really appreciate what I was hearing. I suppose today, kids would say stuff that came out in ’88 sounds mad dated, but if you really look at it, the sound hasn’t progressed much in the last 15 years or so since. That alone is a testament of just how much things were changing and evolving back then.

This week, I’d like to go over some of the old school mp3′s I have stashed away. Most of these, no check that, ALL of these have come off the internet since I haven’t had a way to convert the tapes I used to buy from the back of the Source in the early 90′s. Most of them come from one original source, Wu-Tang Corp message boards, which I found out about from Rafi on about a year ago (big ups to “MemoryMan”, whoever you may be). While I was doing some research on some of these, I realized that I’m not the only who has dropped these on a blog or a forum, but I figure the more people that know about these, the better. It’s about not forgetting the history, the originators of the hip hop music. Once the beginnings are forgot, then the culture and the music is left without a proper knowledge of what it is.

L. Brothers vs. The Herculoids at Bronx River Center 1978

Any true hip hop head should know who the Herculoids were and their standing within the culture. Known as the originator of this whole hip hop culture we repersent, DJ Kool Herc is the reason you are reading this right now, he is the reason for any of this. Herc was known for his monster sound system back in the 70′s. He started off by playing in the parks, at the house party’s and later up in the rec centers around the Bronx. His influence would spread through out the projects and soon there would be others. By 1978, others were stepping up to challenge Herc and his Herculoids, made up of Coke La Rock and Clark Kent (not that one). In in his own right, Herc had already started to falter some with Afrika Bambaataa and Flash already starting their own rise. This battle takes place in the legendary Bronx River Rec Center as the L Brothers step up in Herc’s own stomping grounds (Herc played man a party at that Rec center back in the day) and basically shit all over Herc and his crew. The L Brothers aren’t quite as well known in the grand scale of hip hop lore. They were made up DJ’s Cordio, Grand Wizard Theodore, and Mean Jean along with MC’s Kevie Kev, Robby Rob aka Master Rob, and the one and only Busy Bee Star Ski. Kevie Kev basically straight up disrespects Herc and his crew. At one point there is a female MC that grabs the mic and spits some venom as well.

This tape is a piece of history. The site that is the old school authority on the web, ranks it #7 in the top 10 old school tapes.

“This is a very popular tape because it is the L. Brothers. During this time no one really did routines just yet. Funky 4 was about the first along with the Furious. The Herculoids never get on, on this tape.But much reference is made to the Herculoids by the L. Brothers in fact Kevie Kev or Busy Bee show absolutely no respect to The Herculoids. Saying often that they were no competition. Can you believe today a ticket for a show might cost 25 to 50 dollars. The night after this show at a place called Rock city on 169 and prospect the tickets cost $2 before 12midnite. Female M.C. Smiley even puts here mack down. J.D.L. is called Jerry Lewis at this time. The flip side has Theodore rocking the record “Super Sperm” like no one else. Busy Bee and Master Rob rock real well and this is at the T-Connection in 1979. Zulu and Sundance come on next and he rocks the Echo chamber along with Jazzy Jay.”

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{ 1 comment }

Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 8:38 am

Hey Travis, just want to let you know that the battle was held at Herc's second home base which was a club called the Galaxy 2000 located on University Ave. in the West Bronx. His first home base was the Executive Playhouse which was located on Mt Eden Ave. in the West Bronx which burned down.

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