follow us in feedly
This is hardcore, is it not?: The ‘80s white rap group that wasn’t the Beastie Boys
08:36 am


the white boys

Excluding Blondie’s 1981 foray into the genre with “Rapture,” when it comes to listing “white rappers of the ‘80s,” most people would start and end their list with the Beastie Boys. 3rd Base came along in 1989, really ushering in the heyday decade of white boy rappers in the 1990s with acts like Vanilla Ice, House of Pain, Insane Clown Posse, Snow, Kid Rock, etc.

Most people forget the almost-was of caucasoid rap, The White Boys, who existed at the same time as the Beastie Boys’ rise to fame with their world-wide smash album Licensed to Ill.

While the Beasties and their label-mates LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and EPMD on Def Jam rose to world-wide acclaim, rival label Tin Pan Apple with signees The Fat Boys, the Latin Rascals, and The White Boys folded after only five years when the Fat Boys were dropped from PolyGram’s US artist roster. The White Boys may have been primed by the label to help rap crossover to a new demographic, but the public wasn’t buying. The Beastie Boys were more talented, more stylish, with more overconfident reckless bravado and better production… and perhaps the public just wasn’t ready for TWO white rap groups.

Or perhaps the public wasn’t ready for white rappers who looked like heshers. It would take Kid Rock another decade to make that a thing.

The White Boys weren’t groundbreaking, but their origins are interesting. They came out of a small Southern town, Lancaster, South Carolina in the mid 80s. One of the members, T-Ray, went on to be an acclaimed music producer, working with The Beastie Boys, Nas, Mick Jagger, and Santana (on the Grammy-winning “Supernatural”), who won two Grammys for his work with the Latin group Ozomatli.

After hearing a friend’s copy of Soul Sonic Force’s ‘Planet Rock’ in the early ‘80s, T-Ray (Todd Ray) purchased a pair of turntables and began DJing locally, performing with his friends. Their group didn’t have a name and they were often referred to and listed on local flyers as “those white boys.” Winning a regional talent contest, the group was sponsored by Swatch Watch, who flew them to Breckenridge, Colorado for a snowboarding event. It was there that Converse Sneakers provided them with an additional sponsorship.They seemed to be on their way to the bigtime.

A Charlotte, North Carolina club sponsored a talent contest which T-Ray won several weeks in a row, qualifying him for the finals. The finals were judged by reps from both Def Jam and PolyGram. T-Ray didn’t win that competition, but he was approached by a PolyGram representative (Tin Pan Apple’s parent company) with the offer of a record contract.

The White Boys then moved from South Carolina to Rosedale, Queens, where they recorded for Tin Pan Apple Records and appeared on the Fresh Fest Tour. By 1987 fame had not found them and the group broke up.

This is hardcore, is it not? Well, actually…
The song that was to be their break-out single, “This is Hardcore, Is It Not?,” is sort of a Run-D.M.C. “Rockbox” rip, but with mediocre production and mullets. The video for the song is interesting in that it features Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi, Tommy Guerrero, Lance Mountain, Rodney Mullen, Mike Domínguez, Ron Wilkerson and Bryan Blyter and is one of the earliest music videos to feature both skaters and BMX professional riders.

Ultimately, it was not in the cards for the OTHER ‘80s white rap group, but T-Ray’s real success came later as a producer. He now runs a freak show in Venice, California.
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The Adventures of Schoolly D: A Gangster’s Story
01:24 pm


Schoolly D

At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged white guy character in a Mike Judge film, the improbable soundtrack to my life for the past two weeks has been Schoolly motherfuckin’ D. For whatever reason, I pulled out an old CD of his—maybe for the first time this millennium—to listen to in the car the other day and now I can’t get enough of it. Alone in the car I play “P.S.K. (What Does It Mean?)” at an ear-splitting volume that I’m pretty sure bounces my conservative European automobile like a low-rider with tricked-out suspension. I probably look like an idiot, I grant you, but I don’t really care. This shit is amazing. I appreciated it when it came out—I saw him live—but why it captured my attention so much again thirty years later I couldn’t tell you. It just did.

Probably the original original gangster rapper—even Ice-T admitted in his autobiography that he might’ve taken a bite out of Schoolly D‘s style—the Philadelphia native, on his self-released records at least, perfectly played the role of the scary black gang member/rapper, alluding to, cataloging and boasting about the nefarious activities of the “Park Side Killers,” the local posse of bad boys he ran with. Schoolly—real name Jesse Weaver Jr.—was backed by his DJ Code Money and rapped about violence, guns, raunchy sex, “bitches,” crack and “cheeba”—Salt-n-Pepa or Run DMC were never going to mention such things, or use the “N” word in their raps. Schoolly D shied away from none of these topics or that word.

He told the Philadelphia Citypaper about where his lyrical inspiration came from in a 2004 interview:

“A couple of guys I know, Abdullah, Disco Man and my man Manny, were like, “Why don’t you write a song about us, why don’t you write a song about Parkside Killers?’ It was one of the easiest songs I’d ever written. I wrote it sitting at my mom’s dining-room table, smoking some weed at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Armed with his newfound inspiration and a large amount of weed, Schoolly hit the studio. Out of necessity he was forced into recording in a studio designed for classical music.

“They had these big plate reverbs, that’s why you got the “PSK’ sound because nobody used the real shit. We did everything live, and if you listen you can hear my fingers programming the drum machine. We just kept getting higher and higher and higher, and smoking and smoking and all of a sudden the song just took on this whole other life because we were just so fucked up. It just made this sucking sound like “boosh, boosh’ and we just looked at each other and were like, “Yeah, do more of that shit.’”

The “boosh” sound is what really made “PSK” stand out as something that, until that time, had never been done. The tweaked-out reverb bass caused a sensation.

“I got home and I put the tape in the tape recorder and I was like, “What the fuck did I do?’ Nobody had ever done something like that before, with all the reverb, nobody. And I was like, “I gotta go back and take some of that reverb out because this shit just sounds kinda crazy.’ But I didn’t know that everyone else was making tapes and passing out copies to everyone in Parkside, so by the time that I wanted to go back to the studio it was already out everywhere, and motherfuckers was going crazy, they was like, “That’s the baddest shit we ever heard in our whole fucking life.’”

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘It tells you a story, and makes you want to to dance!’: Fantastic 1981 hip-hop report
06:41 pm



How wholesome do The Sugarhill Gang look right here? It’s kind of surprising that parents weren’t rushing out to buy their kids some records by these nice boys.
I have to say—I was pleasantly surprised by this 1981 20/20 feature on rap music. Not only is it overwhelmingly positive, touting the artistic merits of black youth culture, it really does a decent job describing the phenomenon to people new to the concept. There’s a little bit of history on spoken word black music and the viewer gets a mini-tour of Harlem and the South Bronx. Plus you hear some samples and comments from legends like Kurtis Blow and (of course) Debbie Harry.

The only real gaff that I suspect is the reference to the “big boxes”—I have a feeling they mean to say “boom boxes” but something got lost in translation. That part of the segment actually includes a woman criticizing the aversion to boom boxes as a racist bias. (Edgy!) “Big boxes” aside, I say well done Steve Fox! You accurately predicted the longevity of a now institutionalized art form, and you have a great early 80s mustache!


And Part 2 is here!
Via 1981

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Ronald Reagan rap parodies
01:54 pm


Ronald Reagan

Ron and the D.C. Crew
When Reagan was in office, people called him the “Teflon president” because attacks against him had a way of not sticking. It’s one of the definitions of a successful president, that the opposition is flummoxed, it’s hard to carve out a coherent contra point of view that resonates with people. Reagan was hard to satirize because those who liked him, of whom there were many, just ignored or dismissed the satire. Similarly, President Obama has been difficult to lampoon; when he became president there was some talk among comedians to the effect that he was hard to make fun of—I haven’t seen much in the meantime to contradict this.

In any case, in the 1980s the idea of turning Reagan into a rapper was well-nigh irresistible. In 1982, perhaps predictably, Rich Little was first out of the gate with his “President’s Rap,” which featured no rap at all, merely a loooooong (9 minutes!) chunk of his Reagan schtick over a bed of Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.” The song relates in some way to Saturday Night Live (although I could find no evidence that Little ever appeared on SNL)—at one point he has Reagan crying “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” and the song features a cameo by, of all possible personages, Mr. Bill, a plasticine axiom of the show’s Belushi years. You are encouraged to regard the use of Mr. Bill (not to mention Hervé Villechaize) as an index of how toothless these Reagan rap satires were.

In 1984 Air Force 1 threw together “See The Light, Feel The Heat,” which played a series of Reagan soundbites over some beats. Again, not a true rap—it’s all sampling.

In Reagan’s second term Ron & the D.C. Crew came out with “Ronnie’s Rap”—this is probably the best Reagan rap from a rapping perspective. The vocalist does a very nice job with the Reagan impression, and the lyrics are solid too:

Met with Gorbachev in ‘85
to talk about how everyone could stay alive.
And though he seemed to be a guy with class,
if he doesn’t play ball, we’ll nuke his ... country!


The only Reagan rap I could find with an actual video is unfortunately one about which I’m unclear on the details. On YouTube it’s identified merely as “Rappin’ Ron Reagan” and I don’t know who the artist is or what year it came out. In the video Reagan pops out of his presidential limo in the ghetto in the effort to “try to get those mothers to the polls,” if I understood that verse right. There’s some cringeworthy ebonics, the actor neither looks nor sounds particularly like Reagan, and yet I appreciate the effort. The satire, such as it is, is probably the most biting of the bunch, and the jokes are probably the strongest. Also it has breakdancing in it—“Don’t need cardboard for my shoulder spins”—actually, that very fact probably indicates that it’s pretty early, 1982 or 1983.

Most of the songs just love to include references to “Nancy” (his wife) and “Ed” (Meese, his attorney general)—even here we see why it was so difficult to make fun of Reagan. If you’re highlighting the fact that he dotes on his wife, you’ve probably lost the battle.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan LP (1981)
During the Reagan era America feasted on infected monkey brains & now ‘The Reign of Morons is Here’

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Singapore needs babies, so Mentos released a hip-hop PSA to promote fucking!
10:22 am



Let's put a Bao in your oven
National Day in Singapore takes place every August. Last year the mint-candy company Mentos released a catchy rap video promoting “National Night,” as in “As a Singaporean citizen you’ll be doing your civic duty if you forget about the condoms after the fireworks and the parades are all overwith. So let’s get fucking, shall we?”

Daniel Lametti of Slate explains the magnitude of the problems Singapore is facing:

Singapore’s birth rate is at a record low. Female citizens of the country now give birth to about one child in their lifetime, a number that used to be much higher. (American women, by comparison, have about 2 children.) According to a video released by Singapore’s government, the city-state needs to produce about 50,000 children per year to maintain its population and avoid the economic calamity associated with an aging citizenry. But the current birth rate is less than 30,000 children per year. To combat the problem, last month the government sought ideas from the public; that’s when The Freshmaker popped in.

National Night and I want a baby
To my untrained ear, the song is mimicking the structure of Alicia Keys and Jay-Z’s massive hit “Empire State of Mind,” and the video is clearly a cheeky copy of Cee-Lo’s massive hit “Fuck You.” Hey, why not stick with the best, right?
I'm talking about making a baby
The thing is, though, this song is actually pretty good. It’s jam-packed with clever and salacious wordplay—“Let’s not watch fireworks, let’s make ‘em instead” or “Singapore’s population, it needs some increasin’ / So forget wavin’ flags, on August 9th we be freaking,” and so forth. 

We’ll leave the last word to Lametti. After explaining that baby booms can’t be manufactured by PR appeals, he writes,

Given that the Mentos ad was not commissioned by the government ... it seems likely that the campaign is simply trying to capitalize on a national crisis rather than actually bolster baby-making. Even so, Singapore’s government doesn’t seem to mind; they’ve let the advertisement run uncensored in a country that once banned a Janet Jackson album for “sexually explicit” lyrics.

Well, I’ll be. Check out the video—it’s a lot of fun:

via Fluxtumblr

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
There are two sides to every story: Cee Lo Green’s ‘Fuck You’ from a woman’s perspective
A Speculative List of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
C-3PO rapping, but don’t worry, your childhood was already dead
04:21 pm


Star Wars

People make so much of the terrible Star Wars prequel trilogy ruining their childhood. I just don’t buy it! First of all, you always have the option I took, which is to never speak of them again... except for now, which I only do as a public service.

Second, George Lucas has been making terrible decisions with the Star Wars brand since forever! Check out this intro video for the Star Tours space flight simulator attraction, with C-3PO rapping. Incidentally, if you still want to go on Star Tours today, you gotta get to Eurodisney. I pray they haven’t updated the intro!

Via Everything is Terrible

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Put away stupidness’: Dub legend Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry gives advice to Lil’ Wayne

As a filmmaker who’s shot documentaries on both Lil’ Wayne and Lee “Scratch” Perry, Adam Bhala Lough thought it a good idea to cross wires a bit and let the eccentric 76-year-old dub master bestow a bit of mellow wisdom upon the drank-sippin’ 30-year-old rap supastar.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Rubber Dubber: Lee “Scratch” Perry action figure
Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Classic dub album Blackboard Jungle
Surreal Lee “Scratch” Perry beer commercials

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Have Mikey J & The UK Female All Stars saved hip-hop?

For much of this decade, UK grime and hip-hop MCs have been focusing on skills much more than swag, and have fostered a sound that evokes what many consider the “golden era” of hip-hop circa mid-‘80s-to-mid-‘90s. It’s a stripped-down, loquacious and attitudinal sound, short on gimmicks and high on the culture. And in some crucial ways, it’s putting the American hip-hop scene to shame.

The last truly great MC squad to come out of hip-hop was the Wu Tang Clan. But there’s little reason to doubt that the UK Female Allstars—a rhyme crew assembled by British producer Mikey J (best known for his work with East London superstar MC Kano)—could rise to, or possibly even surpass, the Wu’s legendary status. (I’ll prolly get shit for saying that, but what the hell…)

The UK Female All Stars are made up of Mz Bratt, Lady Leshurr, Lioness, RoxXxan, Baby Blue and A.Dot. If you love hip-hop, just check out this video for the Allstars’ debut single “Rock the Mic,” both of which dropped yesterday (they’re giving the tune away here. And try to tell me these women don’t have game.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
MC ‘Single D’ Starkey does The English Riots Rap

Last week the British historian David Starkey got into a lot of trouble on BBC’s Newsnight by claiming that the English riots were caused by “Black” rap culture and praising the notorious politician Enoch Powell. As could be expected his views were jumped on by the far right British National Party, and there has since been a public outcry that many think spells the end of the broadcaster’s career.

Now YouTube user sweetbabyjesus has uploaded a great cut-up video turning Starkey’s statements on the news program into actually quite a passable little rap tune - for an English historian.

There’s also a sequel called “Even Starker”, you can watch it here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Graffiti Rock: Hip-hop storms America’s living rooms in 1984

Graffiti Rock‘s Michael Holman and DJ Jimmy Jazz
Before Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City hit the markets in the late ‘80s, New York culture maven Michael Holman first made the move to put hip-hop culture on TV with the show Graffiti Rock.

In 1984, Holman—who played music with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Vincent Gallo in the legendarily obscure band Grey—got a bunch of banker friends to put together $150,000 to shoot the pilot for the series at Madison Ave. and 106th St. It screened on WPIX channel 11 in June 1984.

Holman turned the show into a seminar on the culture. Alongside future superstars Run D.M.C., Kool Moe Dee and Shannon—and cameos by “Prince Vince” Gallo and Debi Mazar—he featured his own crew the New York City Breakers, pieces by graf artist Brim, and hilarious slang translations. For the time, the show is pretty slick and ready for prime-time. Holman picks up the tragic story from there

So the show airs and actually does much better than people thought! We got great ratings and aired in 88 syndicated markets, nationwide. But when we went to Las Vegas to sell the show at NAPTE (National Association of Producers of Television Entertainment) we hit a wall. First, the station managers (the people responsible for purchasing new shows in their markets) didn’t understand why “Graffiti Rock,” and hip hop was different to what Soul Train was offering. Secondly, certain stations wouldn’t take the chance to buy “Graffiti Rock,” unless other, larger markets did first. Chicago was waiting on L.A. to bite, and L.A. was waiting on New York. But the major New York syndicated stations at the time, were controlled by unsavory characters, and they wanted money under the table to put the show on the air! My main investors refused to deal with these forces (I of course would have done whatever I had to to get it on the air, and am still pissed they didn’t play along!)...

Graffiti Rock proved a legendary snapshot into what hip-hop TV was about to be. What a shot in the arm it would have been for the culture. Gnarls Barkley would later lovingly spoof Holman and the show for the video for their 2008 hit “Run” and before that, the Beastie Boys sampled Holman’s excellent little seminar on scratching in pt. 2 on their tune “Alright Hear This.”

I’ll leave part 3 of the YouTube of Graffiti Rock off this post in an appeal for you to reward a culture hero like Holman by buying the DVD.

After the jump: more Graffiti Rock

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
‘She’s Mad’ - the worst song of all time?
06:50 am



I’m freaking out over how insanely BAD this is (not bad meaning good but bad meaning terrible). Seriously folks, I need help, I mean is this FOR REAL?! First up I can’t stop giggling, but secondly it raises a lot of questions. “Why?!” being one, closely followed by “Maybe she’s mad because he wrote this sucky song about her?” And who the hell is “Mayberry”?

Well, at least one thing is for sure - this gives lie to the myth that “making music is easy with Autotune.” Kind of. I’ve messed around with Autotune before (if you own a Mac you have a cheap version as part of Garageband) and know that these guys have to be doing something really wrong for it to sound this bad. In all fairness though, this was uploaded over two years ago. Maybe PtheG has improved since then?
PtheG - “She’s Mad”

Oh the humanity.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
The great lost Vin Diesel / Arthur Russell collaboration

No, this is not a joke. An old audio clip has been unearthed of a teenage Mark Sinclair (aka Vin Diesel) rapping over a beat by legendary NY avant-dance composer Arthur Russell under the name Second Edition. This is bizarre not so much for the music, but for the idea itself. Diesel, the lug head, $20 million action star and Russell, the stoned, gay, downtown disco bohemian trying their hardest to make a primitive rap tune work. It seems like a match made in an alternate universe, but no, it definitely comes from this dimension. It has been discovered on tapes owned by renowned guitarist Gary Lucas, who has this to say on his Soundcloud page:

Fragments of an aborted recording session at Battery Sound NYC in 1986 which brought together fledgling rapper Mark Sinclair—today better known as the actor Vin Diesel—and avant composer/dance music maven Arthur Russell in a project midwifed by Gary Lucas, who discovered Mark Sinclair rapping and break-dancing on the streets of the West Village, and greenlighted by Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records and Barry Feldman of Upside/Logarhythm records.

“I’m the Man of Steel” the teenage Sinclair asserts, foreshadowing his stellar ascent as a worldwide action movie hero (“Triple XXX”, “Pitch Dark”, and most recently the #1 box office hit “Fast Five”)—but even Diesel is no match for Arthur’s crafty diabolical beats, which keep dropping “the one” out from under him, breaking up Sinclair’s delivery and eventually rendering the session useless.

“It’s the white part of me fucking it up!”
—Mark Sinclair at the recording session

Unfortunately embedding has been disabled, but if you really are curious to hear it (it’s not amazing to be honest) you can do so here.

Thanks to Steven Hall

Previously on DM:
Arthur’s Landing: ‘Love Dancing’

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘J. Dilla: Still Shining’: B.Kyle’s doc on the king of hip-hop beats

Ultra-respected Detroit hip-hop producer James DeWitt Yancey a.k.a. J.Dilla a.k.a. Jay Dee would have turned 37 today. Four years ago, he died of cardiac arrest after a long struggle with lupus, and a few days after his last album, Donuts was released on Stones Throw Records.

Little can be said about Dilla that isn’t said in this 40-minute film, J. Dilla: Still Shining, released on the genius’s birthday by Brian “B.Kyle” Atkins of Gifted Films, which features many of the artists who he inspired or for whom he produced tracks, including Bilal, Erykah Badu, Pete Rock, ?uestlove, Common, Q-Tip and Monie Love, the last of which simply described his work as “the feel-good.”

Have a look at this tribute to a guy who helped keep the hip-hop artform elevated with his intense skills, superhuman drive, and simple love of music.

“J.Dilla: Still Shining” from B.Kyle on Vimeo.

Thanks for the heads-up, Aybee Deepblak.

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Hip-hop noise: Is 21-year-old AraabMuzik the Hendrix of sampling?

Designed by Roger Linn and released by the Japanese company Akai in 1989, the MIDI Production Center or MPC has proven to be the backbone of hip-hop production. Its 16-pad interface allows for 64 continuous sample tracks, and has provided producers with some of the intense sound-granulating control that you’ve heard in the genre’s last 20 years.

The MPC has been around for pretty much all of Providence, R.I.’s Abraham Orellana’s life. So it makes almost cosmic sense that Orellana—who does business under the puzzlingly given name of AraabMuzik—has a masterful way of pounding the pads. He came to most peoples’ attention as the man who produced this summer’s “Salute,” the reunion track for Harlem’s Dipset crew (after the jump). Personally I think the kid’s talent far outclasses Dipset’s extreme-swagger stance, but whatever.

Here he is in raw form in the studio with his buddy the MPC-5000…a visual treatment of his virtuosity to follow…

After the jump: the Death by Electric Shock video crew and visuals freak System D-128 collaborate to spotlight AraabMuzik’s technique…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Jay-Z and Cornel West in discussion: apparently not fit for MTV

Shawn Carter a.k.a. hip-hop mogul Jay-Z sat down yesterday with top African-American public intellectual Cornel West at the New York Public Library for a talk—moderated by Library director Paul Holdengräber—that was to be centered ostensibly around his memoir Decoded, but ranged through a wide variety of topics and modes.

It bears notice that despite Jay-Z’s superstar pop status and the hype surrounding the book, the appearance didn’t bear an airing on, say, MTV. I truly wonder why.

Love him or hate him, Carter’s journey from Bed-Stuy’s Marcy Houses projects to mega-millionaire mogul maps almost directly to the 30+-year story of hip-hop from marginalized urban phenomenon to global cultural movement. And West’s contextualization of the rhymer’s work and writings within the urban African-American artistic experience is pretty striking.

The status commonly accorded to Jay-Z as the greatest rapper of all time amounts to truly tedious hype. But there’s no denying that the man’s got power, perspective and a dangerous mind. 


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 2  1 2 >