Some of my audience can take rap or leave it. Some of you just plain detest hip-hop (and some others just don’t care for pop music in general).
I’d say “this isn’t the post for you”. But what fun would that be?
In the seventies, “black” and “white” music, at least in the mainstream, stayed firmly in its respective ghettoes – except for the fairly brief “disco” fad (which started out as a black/gay counterculture thing), R&B and white pop music were no closer than East and West Berlin.
And that’s the way it is today, too.
But in the late seventies, in and among the burgeoning rap culture in the boroughs of New York, there was a cross-pollination – more of convenience than from any artistic initiative. The disc jockeys who played behind the rappers, looking for backup tracks, would spin anything they could find that had a good beat.
And among white artists, the rock and rollers who’d started out worshipping R&B music – the Stones, J Geils, and the like – had a beat you could hang a side of beef from. (I mean, come on; try finding a beat in “Candle In The Wind”) and, of course, Aerosmith, who were in the seventies known as “the American Rolling Stones”.
And it was in 1986, looking for a crossover hit, that Run DMC paid homage to that extemporization, riffing on Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”.
And that was closely followed by rap’s first #1 hit, “Fight For Your Right To Party” by the Beastie Boys – three white schlemiels from Brooklyn, backed by “Anthrax”, who represented the “whitest” genre of music there is, “Speed Metal”:
And this mash-up of white and black styles, and established white genres with what was at the time a fringe-y black style – just one of many mash-ups of styles and genres that happened in the first half of the decade – that was what made the eighties fun.
Whether you like rap’hip-hop or not.
And while middle-aged white guys are frequently the ones who didn’t care for the mix of rap and rock (or rap and much of anything), there was also backlash on the “black” side. Old-school rapper “Schooly D” – most famous to the kids today as the guy who does the intro for “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” – built a career out of back-lashing against mixing the genres (“No More F***ing Rock And Roll”) and tryiing to cross over to the pop charts (“F*** Crossover”). Which, in turn, also made the eighties interesting.
More genre-bending tomorrow.