‘Da’ What is Hip Hop? – Rahim Samad (Video + Editorial)
I could go on and on about this week’s edition of ‘Da’ What is Hip Hop? but Rahim knocked this one out of the park and I think I should let it do the talking. Rahim gave some incredible insight into what hip hop means in his life, “expression”, and a pretty extensive Hip-Hop history of the greater Tampa Area. The movie is off the hook with some footage of all 4 of hip hop’s elements and more. Watch his self-directed video up above and read his killer editorial below. Shout out to Rahim for rockin this post of ‘Da’ What is Hip Hop!
“When Afrika Bambataa and the Soulsonic Force released their now classic track ‘Planet Rock’ in April of 1982, few if any could have predicted the impact that it would make on the burgeoning hip hop scene at that time, much less on music as a whole. Although only a minor hit on the national charts, the sound of the electro-synth dance track struck a nerve in producers and artists throughout the world who found inspiration from it’s sound and direction. Planet Rock would end up leaving an indelible mark on the expression of Hip Hop in different regional areas throughout the U.S. One of the areas heavily influenced by this sound was Florida.
The Bass sound of Florida was a direct result of this influence, coupled with the early 808-production style of a young Rick Rubin. Florida artists such as MC Ade, 2 Live Crew, Jam Pony Express, Poison Clan, and a host of others were instrumental in bringing this sound to the forefront. Throughout the 1980?s into the early to mid-90?s, this was the dominant sound of Florida, hence also making it the dominant sound of Tampa at that time, the 2nd largest metropolitan city within the state of Florida.
In the expression of Hip Hop, Tampa takes it’s cues not only from its regional state sound but also from the influence of it’s many transplanted residents. Tampa is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. People from all over the United States move to Tampa and in doing so they bring the influences of their former living areas. Thus you will find diverse expressions of Hip Hop in Tampa. This is very apparent in the kind of east coast expressions of Tampa hip hop that can be found here. There is a huge number of residents in Tampa who have moved here from the east coast area, primarily New York. Some have moved to Tampa and incorporated the regional Florida sound into their music while others have not. Because of this you have a lot of Tampa Hip Hop artists whose sound owes more to the New York mid 80?s thru early 2000 expression of Hip Hop than to any regional Florida sound. But this is not to say that only east coast transplants make this type of music. Many artists born in Tampa also make this kind of music. The influence of rap video shows like Rap City and YO MTV raps is one reason for this. The other is a local Tampa DJ by the name of DJ Kenny K who in the late 1980?s into the 90?s had a Saturday night Hip Hop radio show that broadcasted throughout Tampa and the surrounding areas. The show was the first of its kind to play a variety of hip hop that could not be heard on mainstream radio or on TV at that time. Listeners got to hear all the new underground hip-hop, primarily from New York, that was starting to make noise throughout the country. Kenny even played tracks that hadn’t generated a buzz yet. Before Main Source’s ‘Looking at the Front Door’ blew up nationally, Kenny K had already played it on his show. When commercial Tampa radio played rap it was either an overplayed top 10 billboard hit rap song or a bass song that was a huge hit in the area. Kenny K exposed Tampa to the sounds of underground hip hop that could not be heard anywhere else. Kenny was integral in helping to shape this expression of Tampa hip-hop. Tampa artists such as Rahim Samad, Mic Deluxx, Tap Gost & Phobia, Logic for Beats, ?nowledge, The Rukus, Laws, Celph Titled, Spon, Pk The Gift, The Villainz, Aych, Dynasty, Eyzenpowa, Mike Mass, Jinx, Breakdown, Ranmecca, Double Helix (…etc) represent this expression prevalent in Tampa today.
Some Tampa artists have built upon the sound of the Florida regional bass music and have produced a new dance/bass style of it called Jook. Jook borrows mainly from bass but will add different elements from various sources to make a modern version of bass music with a unique spin to it. This expression of Hip Hop originated in Tampa and is best represented by Tampa artists such as O’we Jive, Tampa Tony, Khia, Rated R, Strizzo, Krazy, Young Fella, Tom G and Lil Kee. The song ‘My Neck my back’ by Khia (originally recorded by O’we Jive and was a regional hit) is the biggest hit that jook music produced so far.
There are many artists in Tampa whose sound is very influenced by mainstream clear channel radio and television depiction of rap. At any open mic in Tampa you will find no shortage of Young Money/Cash Money, Rick Ross influenced rappers all doing the best impressions of this music that they can muster, even though many of them never lived the kind of lifestyle that those artists (many of whom haven’t lived it as well) try to portray through their music. But really, every underground rap scene has this same group of people in some form or another.
Hip Hop is over 30 years old and has produced great art and music from artists all over the United States and the world. Much of these contributions were made by artists who were very serious about their craft at the time and were also motivated to make great art by other pivotal releases and art that was coming out at that time. De La Soul’s classic 2nd album ‘De La Soul is Dead’ dropped in May of 1991, four months before Tribe Called Quest would drop their monumental ‘Low End Theory’ album. Being that both groups were close friends, part of the Native Tongues collective, and played to each other their songs that they were working on at the time, is it any wonder why both groups would drop classic albums in the same year? Excellence inspires others to be great and the best of hip-hop to me has always meant greatness and innovation. What made that first break-dancer who ever did a windmill come up with a dance move like that? Today it’s a classic B-boy move that is one of many standard b-boy moves that one learns in order to be able to call themselves a break-dancer, but to have been there the first time that move was ever performed? That had to have been mind blowing to witness it for the first time. That was an innovative b-boy whose one act of innovation inspired countless kids to become break-dancers and also inspired break-dancers to bring the best out of their style. When Grandwizard Theodore first started scratching, how incredible did that seem to other DJs to hear him cutting rhythmically? How many kids were astonished at this act and then ran to get turntables so that they can do it themselves? Too many to write in this entry. There are so many inspiring aspects in the history of Hip Hop but the root of that inspiration was the innovation being displayed at that time and that is what made Hip Hop, at it’s height, the force that it was. That is what Hip Hop has always meant to me.” – Rahim Samad