I realize now that one of my traits that everyone tells me that I inherited from my father and that my mother said with a touch of mocking disdain is my ability to approach almost anyone and strike up a conversation. More importantly, I have this awesome ability sometimes to place people at ease and have amazing conversations. Looking back, I realize in a lot of ways, I was even then becoming an anthropologist and seeking to learn about customs and culture.
One of the things I heard throughout my teenage years as rap and break dancing culture became more mainstream that hip-hop was a dying fad like disco. The adults in my life all dissing it and saying so with a seemingly vehemence and repugnance that was like something out of the movie Hairspray which strikes an all too familiar chord because my mother met my father at Gwyn Oaks Amusement Park where he ran the Ferris Wheel and his brother, my uncle the bumper cars. My Uncle danced on the Buddy Deane Show with Eddie The Ice Cream Man. Who knew various members of my family from.different circles and stages of their lives showing how small of a community Baltimore was back then.
I knew Eddie through my Father and his brother my uncle who were both Ice Cream Truck owners before the opened their video stores. I met him again because he was the ice cream man in Chadwick for most of my teenage years and I had grown up with him being a mainstay in our lives. My mother recognized him from the show where her brother, my uncle was a regular and on the council. I grew up hearing the stories so by the time Rikki Lake and Sonny Bono and Devine stole my heart, mind, body and soul as only John Waters can inspire. It, much like Back to The Future glamorized and did a Tom Sawyer approached and had everyone white-wash the underlying struggle for equality, but I couldn’t because my best friend was Black and I had seen how the world treated him and other Black friends just a little bit differently.
I read the majority decision, because there was no minority and it was a unanimous decision that ended segregation with Brown v. The Board of Education. So, I as a teen, my first best friendship came to Eddie Murphy Comedian. Then the one before it. Alternatively in my walkman. Which I had hidden on the inside jacket pocket and the war pieces ran down each jacket sleeve so I could sit with my hands to my ears and tune out the world.
My all time favorite scary movie is the original, instant cult classic that inspired a genre, George A. Romero’s amazing Black and White masterpiece Night Of The Living Dead. Without this film, we wouldn’t have any of it. He reinvented how the term zombie was used and what it represented, misappropriated from another culture and it’s sacred stories. That’s totally OK, because this is what America has always done look what we did with pasta after the Italians stole it from the Chinese after giving them syphilis. Dark humor with truth interjected, thanks Christopher Columbus who was like a Hallmark Card and he kept giving, over and over and over again.
So, as adults told me that hip-hop was going to die, white record executives pushed to sign gangster style talent over the party, shake your ass hip-hop talent which was both good and bad because it spread like wildfire and suddenly you have White, poor, British youth rapping with Indians who’s grandparents moved to England when it was still a colony with heavy ass Cockney accents offset by a Muslim rapping in a nasal voice about being profiled and stereotyped by society. Wait. This rap shit, that was a passing fad and was going to go extinct like disco and unicorns is not only still alive and well, it has spread like Thriller, or a Zombie plague around the globe.
That kid who spent a few years in the projects of Baltimore featured in the TV show The Wire, Tupac Shakur is potentially as famous as Michael Jackson and as influential to modern music as the fabulous four, John, Paul, George and Ringo also known as The Beatles. I had an epiphany about this a few years ago when I found this music video.
So this is Die Antword and they are from the frowned upon class in South Africa, the apartheid state that resembled America of 1950 up until much later. They have totally taken Hip-hop, rap and their own style together and the imagery of their music videos is reminiscent of when MTV played music and the videos could be epic. This is one of the most vital and major contributions that Black Americans have given the world, these underlying tools to create every genre of music possible and imaginable. The thing is, look close enough and you can see their contributions throughout the last century at various times and the styles they invented and developed. Jazz. Blues. Rock & Roll. All of it and none of it would have come about without their experience and situstion in this country finding an outlet through art, music and dance.
I wrote this blog for a friend of mine on Facebook. See, she got me to thinking about my favorite Black cultural contributions. See, Night Of The Living Dead had an amazingly strong male lead, a Black man who spoke eloquently and displayed intelligence and when necessary bad assery. He dies at the end as a casual shot by the posse there to “help.”. Bitter sweet. Look at the headlines of the time. Right. Metaphors. Parallels.
See, I think the same thing that struck me with that film was what made Alien so awesome for me, Ripley didn’t have to go without a bra in a wife beater to portray her bad assery. The women in Ghostbusters don’t have to dress like Laura Croft or Pretty Woman to display their bad assery. Black men didn’t need gangster to further hip hop but thankfully it did or we wouldn’t have Ice T on Law & Order SVU.
See Hip Hop has become the voice of many cultures and the irony is that they all sing a similar song of either discontent or seeking the same goals. It’s really like old school country music set to electronics with a bit of bawdy lewdness tossed in to accommodate the bitches and hoes. But it wasn’t really songs like those that truly excelled, it was hilarious stuff like this.
95 South and Whoot there it is which shouldn’t be confused with….
Whoop There It Is by Tag Team. Both equally noteworthy, both a lot of fun back in the day and made my club days so much fun. But you can jump back to the 1940’s and Andy Kirk and his twelve cloud orchestra.
Sure, they are singing about the fact the Bureau of Narcotics under And longer had begun cracking down on Marijuana and there wasn’t any to be found. Jive was a name for Reefer or marijuana.
See, this is how I view the world. These are the people I find intriguing because they bucked the normal cultural and societal rules. That’s why I wrote this.