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Hip Hop Got To Stop 1: Bastard Bass and Foolish Fusions
Frankie Knuckles is dead. The immensity of his genius and the unique blend of cultural, commercial, Chicagoan NYC cross pollination magic that enabled him to help pioneer the vital, too often bastardised sound that is House, cannot be addressed here.One thing to remember is that after Disco got dumped by the foamy Americon mainstream, urban radio stations that briefly could unite audiences from the white dork from the finance department to the Black High Schooler to the recent immigrant from Mexico needed a future, fast. A mixed musical bag including older disco hits, electro, newer funk records, boogie, Italo disco, 12 inch mixes of up tempo soul and synthpop was a way to hold on to a smaller but still very vital and profitable audience of Black, Hispanic and Gay listeners in one place. This was a defensive move that only lasted until "Freestyle" and gross corruptions of Salsa took away the Hispanics, and Blacks began listening to something a bit more divisive. And the Gays got rejected again. Rap, Hip Hop, whatever the fuck you want to label this punk rock collage rejection of mainstream sounds, values and general wackness exploded out of a similar ecosystem to House.And just like House it was swiftly appropriated by a music industry looking to blow up another bubble to fill the massive hole in their profits left by the destruction of Disco. This new sound of the streets steaming out of NYC, that actually was an evolution of the age old Jamaican tradition of "toasting" over records (but of course the myth makers forget this) added spice and sass to everything from Blondie's somewhat awkward but at least surreal Rapture to the Wham horror some members of the government seem interested in. Madonna is to House what George Michael is to Rap.Hip Hop and House have been fused in ugly and awkward ways with whatever genre came along. It almost never works, but for some reason combining House with Hip Hop is a particularly foul hybrid. The mercurially brilliant Jungle Brothers Girl I'll House You works for and on me very very heavily. Eric B and Rakim blaspheming themselves on a Jody Whatley track with vague House vibes makes me want to pick up a weapon. C+C Music Factory and SNAP! make me want to turn said weapon on myself. John Barnes on the New Order World Cup track deserves pity, as do the band as it was their only Number One. Madonna is unworthy of comment via words, only sounds. From arse.The amount of chart trash rape suffered by Hip Hop probably went down over time as the novelty faded and new sources of borrowed cool appeared. Yet the attempts at fusion continued. The remains of Miles Davis were seduced and abused by someone called Easy Mo Be, ensuring the 20th Century Mozart's last recorded output was sonic scat called Doo Bop. Faded jazz geniuses were lured by Gangstarr's Guru into the vortex of coffee table uncool that is Jizzmawazz Volumes 1 and 2. I bought both. Tried to dig them but it was like using a teaspoon to carve a path through 200 metres of concrete. Ugly, painful, impossible.I remember the first time I encountered Hip Hop. MTV must have been having one of its nostalgia weekends and put on the video for Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's The Message. I had never experienced such clean, cutting, sounds before and the delivery of the lyrics, a gothic portrait of the real, dead and deadly post industrial inner city USA was visceral. The fact the artists were dressed like a somewhat confused Village People tribute act was irrelevant. It was the start of a long, torrid and troubled love affair. And I worry, is my lover healthy, distant, diseased or dead?
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