Friday, August 19, 2011

Rakim, EPMD, Flex at Central Park: You Going?

So, Rakim and EPMD are having a party in the park. Remember them? It’s a concert with Funkmaster Flex. Here’s the best part: It’s this Sunday in Central Park. Are we thinking the same call-and-response? When I say “FLEX,” y’all say, “SPONTANEOUS SLEEPOVER IN CENTRAL PARK!!!” Ha. Kidding. But real talk... Do you wanna go?

Yeah, me neither. Since neither of us are going, I’ve been wondering who is going to this show? Oh wait, you are going? Cool. Very cool. I’m going to continue to say what I was saying anyways, OK? Is that alright?

So this type of hip hop show is different than the usual Woodstock-with-a-lot-more-baggy-jeans-and-blunts-and-a-lot-less-topless-white-girls Rock the Bells crowd. Bells is more what I would call a “Hiphopapalooza”. But this show with Rakim and EPMD is more “B-boypalooza”. It’s a little more hardcore, smaller-scale, and East Coast. Should you pop in, or just be curious, I think these are the B-boys you’ll see.

1. The post-B-Boy B-boy (too young)
Hip hop has made great advances in academia in the past few years. Books, panels, and seminars have helped elevate hip-hop culture to the level of literature, poetry, etc. This has resulted in two things: A.) Nerds feel more comfortable rapping (Debbie Downer noise), and B.) People who like rap feel more comfortable nerding (applause). So now hip hop has a legit bibliography, and nerd scholars who, in the past might, have gone to something jazzy like a reading of Norman Mailer essays, now get to go to hip-hop shows instead and talk to girls. Lucky them. (Though not really the girls. Sorry, more on that later).

But the culture’s focus on “authenticity” can make it tough for a young kid who thinks himself an old hip-hop soul. The literature is not a handstamp. They weren’t at the Palladium before it was an NYU dorm. They don’t know. The too-young kids will be challenged by those who lived it, or just find them patronizingly disingenuous. “This college dude ain’t into EPMD like that. He doesn’t know what real hip hop is about.”

The key for the wet-behind-the-ears dude is to be given boundaries. We want their interest rewarded, but at the same time restrained. At some point it’s not about an encyclopedic list of songs, but what you have experienced and marinated.

So for the youth it may concern, here’s a basic Rakim and EPMD marinade/primer. Ten songs for each that every young intellectual should know:

Rakim: "Paid in Full," "Eric B is President," "My Melody," "I Know You Got Soul," "Move the Crowd," "Juice (Know the Ledge)," "Microphone Fiend," "What’s on Your Mind," "In the Ghetto," and "Don’t Sweat the Technique"

EPMD: "Strictly Business," "You Gots to Chill," "So Wat Cha Saying," "Please Listen to My Demo," "It's My Thing," "Hardcore," "Rampage," "Who Killed Jane (The Jane Series)," "Crossover," and Head Banger"

That’s it. I feel slightly weird even listing these songs. You should know them. They’re classics of the genre. But do you need to know more than these to prove you’re down? Nah.

continued on Grantland

Field Guide to B-Boys at Central Park [Grantland]
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