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August 10, 2011 7:36 PM   Subscribe

I have discovered over the past year or so that old school hip hop is the genre of music for me. Recommend me some blogs, articles, and books about it, that I might educate myself further.

Having loved hip hop ever since my introduction to it somewhere in the 90s, sometime last year I decided that I was going to delve into its past. So, I built myself a decent collection of old school hip hop. I started with the big names -- Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Sugarhill Gang, Treacherous Three, Funky 4 + 1 -- and branched out into acquiring (via the internet) any singles, live recordings, and lesser known artists I could find.

I want more -- not just more music, but also more knowledge. I'm looking for recommendations for blogs, articles, and books about old school hip hop, its origins, people's initial reactions to hip hop, the surrounding culture out of which it grew, personal accounts and histories of those involved, and the like. And, of course, recommendations for more music are always welcome.

Oh, and, by the way, I'm using "old school" to mean pre-Run DMC.
posted by The Great Big Mulp to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
This might sound like its not quite on target, but the sets at WEFUNK (all with artist and song info) have a good deal of old school hip hop as well as (God's own music) funk. I would suggest poking around in the archives from shows 50-400.
posted by shothotbot at 7:44 PM on August 10, 2011

Best answer: "Can't Stop Won't Stop" by Jeff Chang doesn't end with Run DMC but its useful account of old school is a big part of the book.
posted by layceepee at 7:54 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Can't help you with literature, unfortunately, but a hidden gem in terms of music is The Third Unheard. Fantastic compilation.

It was another MeFite - .kobayashi. - who introduced this delight of an album to me, but for some reason I can't seem to find the comment where he mentioned it.
posted by Rewind at 7:56 PM on August 10, 2011

Best answer: Also, has great mixes in its comprehensive history of hip hop series that includes annual surveys of all the old school years (and later).
posted by layceepee at 7:58 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Soul Sides blog and its author Oliver Wang often delve into the history, for example in this post.
posted by drwelby at 8:17 PM on August 10, 2011

Best answer: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
Style Wars
posted by empath at 8:25 PM on August 10, 2011

Response by poster: layceepee and nicwolff: Thank you for reminding me of The Rub! It was hearing those mixes that piqued my interest in looking into early hip hop in the first place, and I couldn't remember where I found them.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:35 PM on August 10, 2011

Best answer: Yes Yes Y'all is the best book I know about that period. Absolutely crucial.
posted by chrchr at 8:53 PM on August 10, 2011

Do you already have The Sugar Hill Records Story compilation?
posted by chrchr at 8:57 PM on August 10, 2011

Best answer: My favorite obscure go-to is the telecom classic cDc hip-hop primers, both from 1991.

"Hip-Hop-a Schoolboy's Primer" by Larry Birnbaum

"Hip-Hop Primer #2" by Mark Dery: part 1, part 2.

I haven't read these in a long time. It may be interesting to compare these to later &/or other works on the subject to see how perspectives may have changed.
posted by BeerFilter at 9:30 PM on August 10, 2011

I came here to post the Rub Radio links. nthing.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:03 PM on August 10, 2011

Best answer:
UpNorthTrips - posts a lot of great old school hip hop pictures.

And here are a couple of my favorite old school songs that didn't appear (that I saw) on the links above: Z3Mcs - Triple Threat (Everybody and their momma has heard that "come on, ya, come on, yeah!"). The other song is Symbolic Three - We're Treacherous. I don't have a link for that one, but definitely check it out if you can find it (or memail me).

One of the most fun things about listening to old school hip hop is realizing that some later artist you thought made something up or rather included it in their song, was in fact paying tribute to an old song or artist they liked. In fact I just listened to that Inspector Gadget rap and realized Biggie's "to all the ladies in the place with style and grace" lyric was a shout out to the Bad Boys and K-Love. It also could have been more common, and older than that, but still, it's just fun to me that a dead man just told me what he was listening to in New York in the early 1980's.

Because hip hop was so local back then, I have no doubt that there are references in popular lyrics by artists that everyone knows, that are sitting in there just waiting to be discovered.
posted by cashman at 7:39 AM on August 11, 2011

Coffee Break for Heroes and Villains in WFMU - lots of great Old School flava.
posted by kris.reiss at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2011

Best answer: Check out this interview with Coke La Rock. I didn't recognize his name or his stories, but he talks about getting his stuff stolen, knowing Big Bank Hank and Herc, and other hip hop history. 10 minutes, but I would definitely suggest watching it if you haven't already seen it. Posted on YouTube in 2010. Says he was the one that came up with 'Rock & You Don't Stop'.
posted by cashman at 8:45 AM on August 11, 2011

Best answer: Have you seen wild style? I think as well as everything else in that film the narrative that it sets out of the origins of hip-hop (even if it is slightly idealised) really cemented my love of the genre. Also it made me find out about Ramm:ell:zee who was a legend.

The other thing that really helped me find out about more stuff is on loads of records artists give shout outs, re-interpret rhymes and sample people they respect. Beastie Boys are/were good at this. So I think sleeve notes and checking out where samples came from was really important in finding out this massive trail of connections. There's Who Sampled that serves that purpose now, sort of.

Book wise, Rap Attack by David Toop.

Also someone recently sent me a torrent called Hard to Get which is just an insane amount of oldschool hip-hop, electro, heavily sampled funk one hit wonders and battles from about 78-85, mostly out of print. Frankly, there's too much stuff in there and I don't like acquiring music in that way (not just because of the legality but because of the massive backlog of unheard/unknown stuff you inherit.) Perhaps worth getting for the low quality recordings of battles though.

Also a blog here of old tapes, mostly recorded off the radio. Not sure how live all the links are now.
posted by pmcp at 8:46 AM on August 11, 2011

Given that mefi seems to love some DFW, how about Signifying Rappers.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 8:01 AM on August 12, 2011

Best answer: Check out Filthy Light Thief's post.
posted by cashman at 10:01 AM on August 15, 2011

Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies by Brian Coleman "...covers the making of thirty-six classic hip hop albums, based on interviews with the artists who created them, also providing a track-by-track breakdown for each album entirely in the words of the artists."
posted by Dean King at 8:57 AM on August 20, 2011

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