Category Archives: Hip-Hop Pioneers

Lord Finesse – ‘Isn’t he somethin’…


What’s when you’re only into rap to get paid?
What’s when your career is numbered by days?

The word contradiction springs to mind Bobby.

He is undoubtedly one of the greatest lyricists to EVER bless a microphone, casual, funny, terrifying, he followed a beat perfectly with such a distinctive tone and tore opponents new buttholes with the battle rhymes, but…

As someone that grew up with the piano based tinklings of Oscar Peterson around the house, I for one cant help thinking that if he paid his per to the Peterson estate he’ll be fine, but if he didnt clear the rights, the bop of ‘Dream of You’ might just come and bite him on the arse, money.

For years now, it has been reasonably simple to circumnavigate creative licensing, publishing and sample clearance by using four of our favourite words ‘For Promotional use only’. Its that straight forward. If there is no profit of it, you can make what you want with whomevers music you want. If Hip-Hop is our language, jackin for beats is our dialect. Fundamentally, what Finesse has done is single-handedly highlight his personal dissatisfaction with one single artist boostin’ his material, and it may be a game-changer within the industry. Essentially it narrows down the possibilities for everyone, without question, regardless of whether Mac Miller is a pop artist or a Rapper [nb. Rap is pop in 2012 within the main-scream]. Regardless of what the outcome of this case is, a problem has been highlighted, and sadly the legislative vultures will jump on it, cos there’s a penny to me made.

Finesse is claiming the infringement is “part of a strategy to build a fan base.” These are the specific words that could change the way the music industry had up until now, turned a blind eye to the freedom of distributing mixtapes and free music.

If a new MC comes along now, because they make great music that utilises elements of older Rap, even though overall it has a new sound that features an exciting and progressive form of rhyming, even if it is free, the consumer wont be able to listen to it. Artists will not be able to promote their music gratis any longer, unfortunately, thats the nail that Finesse and his teams are hammering home whether anyone likes it not. The problem is that even though its free, according to his vultures, it allegedly “builds a fan base that paves the way for revenue streams: touring, merchandise, even record deals”, fair enough, I hear that. To me its less about the paradox, because there is a wider picture, it buoys and sustains and even reintroduces the careers of those either forgotten or unknown to millions of punters [like the P.U.T.S. situation]. I for one would NOT be happy if I was unaware of artists like Bob James/ Steely Dan and an indescribable plethora of musicians that have been sampled by Hip-Hop producers because artists from my era ‘utilised elements’ of someone elses music.

Contextualise that and youll realise that in, maybe a years time eg, that carefree attitude of buying/ downloading a free mixtape wont actually exist. To any one of us that makes music for more than just a passion or hobby, imagine you wanted to gain notoriety and market your brand by doin a free mixtape. You were doing great, thousands of hits, then even more, you found your name in places youd never expected; high-end media and every music mag and website youd heard of. Then the suits came in and said, hold up you used this, pay me, and you used this, pay me, ‘But sir, I didnt sell my music, I gave it out for free’… Say youd been touring off the back of the marketing, youd been on the road, dj’ing and performing worldwide, exhausted and detached from family for months at a time. Then after a year of endless headaches and poor health caused by fiscal freefall, you had to pay out thousands and THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of dollars, even though you hadnt had any physical sales from that actual tape. Then EVERY SINGLE PENNY was retrieved from your tour-based coffers, and you were back to square one, po’ broke & lonely.

People like Finesse and dozens of other producers have jacked others music for years, its part of our musical landscape, its what Hip-hop is based around, and I for one am proud of our collective ingenuity, but all of a sudden its not okay to jack a beat cos the legal eagles and getting paid is more important than cultural nobility?

“I’m out to get bigger, lounge and make rich figures”, at least he sticks to his words…

Finesse just made a big mistake IMO. He jacked an Oscar Peterson riff, so he’s okay with taking Oscar, but not okay with Mac taking his interpretation of Oscar? Erm. I smell doody.

Its a sin that so so many Rap artists missed out on profiting off their talent from the days of way-back, way back in the days, but as it has been documented so many times in the past, they didnt have the business acumen, and they got jerked themselves. Perpetuating the problem will not offer a solution, it might get Lord Finesse a fat cheque but is it something positive for the listeners? Its frustrating that the Funkyman cant see how the inconsistency of his sampling ways make him look buckfoolish.

Paying dues is one thing, paying an artist for their talent is a completely different situation. Greed has never been an attractive trait and I will no longer pay for any material by Lord Finesse due to his myopic ways. Yes, im an ardent cunt like that, I have no time for petty-minds and I for one will continue to enjoy the back catalogue from Finesse, and vote with my pocket.

I now consider him a great DJ, a legendary producer and sadly, a disposable hero of hipocrisy.

The pair of them could come to an out of court agreement, a pay per view rhyme off, instead of hatin they could do it the old fashioned way and ‘battle for some loot’. I know who I’d put my money on…

‘Me take a loss, that shit dont even sound right’…

The Question remains…

how long will this be on the interweb?

we are a lil sad, still, but there’s only one way to turn the frown upside down..

enjoy while you can, some unrealeased, Beatsie Boys.From a “Chappelle Show” that never made it..

they are/were such good live m.c’s, breath control, breath control styly/

Grandmaster Caz & CC4 – February 1980 @ Bronx River Centre

Just a cheeky somethin somethin for the weekend. Some records/ breaks are untouchable, some MCs are equally unfeckwitable. Caz murders More Bounce on this, mainly as he’s  DJin & MCin at the same time, they call it ‘doin an Edan’ these days. Shouts to Tapemaster Troy.

Mr Magic funeral [2009]

In an anthropological sense, this clip is at the very least, engaging. Its also a very uncomfortable clip to watch, not just because it features Kurtis Blow reading Mr Magics obituary, also cos Marley Marl clowns it up during a service at the open casket funeral…

DJ Hollywood – Live at a BBQ…

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary…

NEW Sparkii Ski & MC Mello ?

Its only been up for a week, but already featured on UK super-producer Sparkii Skis Soundcloud page are random beats, demos, instrumentals of old MC Mello b-sides, and with even just one verse, what seems like a previously unreleased MC Mello track…

Sparkii Ski Feat MC Mello – Musty Aint Avin It

MC Mello – Talk Dem [Instrumental]

He has a co-produced alblum on the way with a group I know very little about too…

 

 

From as early as 1987 when the name Sparkie was listed on a Jus Badd release, then soon after on the Comin Correct EP and Blades Lyrical Maniac 12″s, I was always aware of the name Sparkii Ski. Im not gonna spout to knowin too much about Sparkii other than his beat-making ability, he’s part of the En4cers crew with Billy Biznizz and the rest, and he’s produced more MC Mello cuts than I care to recall. Seems he’s been plodding away at a few beats and has some ‘Heritage’ release due in 2012. Keep em peeled…

Disco Fever 10th Anniversary party footage from 1986

Documentation of the early days of Hip-Hop and Rap is difficult enough to acquire, lets face it, obtaining the rawest form of Rap on 30 year old cassette recordings of community centre battles are difficult enough to procure. The moving picture footage of Hip-Hop pioneers is even harder to come by than the aural form, whether it’s footage of a park jam with Jazzy Jay, Flash at The Armory or insider scoops from the WKCR days of Stretch & Bobbito. From the TVone photo-play of the Unsung series and the VH1 rockDocs like NY77, to Eli Gessners footage of Stretch & Bobb hard at work in the studios of Columbia University, TV channels and production houses continue to demonstrate the validity of the days of wayback with previously unseen visual documentation. Having the ability to watch a 50minute video with a bunch of Rap superstars of the future, that hasnt seen the light of day in 25 years, is nothing short of miraculous IMO.

This latest drop from the golden olden days features the ‘greatest street club in the world’ as owner Sal Abatiello described it on its 10th Anniversary in 1986. If you truly know Hip-Hop in its embryonic form, youll already know that the first Rap radio show was presented by Sir Juice himself Mr Magic, and of course youll know that Magic co-presented one of the most popular Rap radio shows with Marley Marl, known as the leader of the Juice Crew. Did you know that Mr Magic was originally known as Lucky the Magician when he started his career on PAYG station WHBI [They sold airtime for $75 an hour]. Or did you know that the original JUICE CREW consisted of Sweet G, June Bug, Mr Magic, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Mandingo, Bam-Bam and owner Sal Abatiello?

According to Dan Charnas, who interviewed Mr Magic for his publication The Big Payback in October 2007, the OG Juice Crew All-Stars were the ‘Guys who hung out until dawn, breaking balls, playing cards, drinking and sniffing. They called themselves the “Juice Crew.” Sal even made them special “Juice Rings” to commemorate their degenerate bond’. In the clip above you’ll witness these bonds, these kinships and the connection Sal created at the Fever. Did you know that the Disco Fever was the ‘first club in the country’ to have metal detectors and a gun-check at the door? It’s interesting to note that the Disco Fever was THE first disco to charge for people to get in with sneakers on, it was a dollar to get in if you wore shoes, but it was 5 dollars if you wore sneaks.

In this prime piece of old school proceedings its all about the faces, the dance moves, the leather bombers, the mock necks as well as performances from artists like Run DMC dropping unreleased verses of Peter Piper. Youll see the Kangols and the Cazals, the Def Jam and Cutting Records promo jackets as well as the nauseous sway of the disco lights. It’s about artists like Love Bug Starski performing ‘Live At The Disco Fever’ erm, live at the Disco Fever. Melle Mels ‘energy’ as he describes the ‘old school’ of 1976 during 1986 gives me shudders, as does the shower-cap wearing, ‘green’ dealing Grandmaster Flash in the Style video also contained in this clip.

You wont witness any of the illicit goings on from the ‘back room’ at the Fever in this clip, but you can hear the avuncular way in which Sal [via Sweet G] describes the artists, that even in 1986 had progressed to successes on platforms such as ‘stage, screen & TV’, offering the viewer further evidence of how much of a family affair the Fever really was. The celebratory, kindred nature of the event is high-lighted in Whodinis closing and congregational ‘We Are The World’ type performance of Friends. Live-Aid aint got shit on this ! Run DMC share the stage along-side the Furious 5, Jimmy Spicer, Vandy C, Mr Magic and the Fat Boys as well as every other recording artist in the building that night, while a fresh-faced DJ Red Alert hangs his arm round Sal as they sing the chorus of Friends alongside the two Whodini head-liners. As Rap and Hip-Hop continue to find progression into 2012, its important to remember the innocence of these earlier times, throwbacks are a beautiful thing. More fever here, not forgetting Dante Ross’ interview with Sal for Mass Appeal magazine

From Friday, October 31, 2008 and from the same Vimeo account holder, an incredible Jeff Chang hosted panel discussion with a consummate group of pioneers from the cornerstones of the culture; Joe Conzo, Roxanne Shanté, Popmaster Fabel, Disco Wiz, Pebblee-Poo, Tony Tone, Grandwizard Theodore, Grandmaster Caz & Afrika Bambaataa alongside Born In The Bronx author Johan Kugelberg. As Chang explains during the intro, this is history.