This really has nothing to do with style or fashion. Sue me. I was inspired by the VH1 Hip Hop Honors that aired tonight. I couldn’t watch it but a couple of my peeps went to the taping last week and said it was pretty good. I’m sure I’ll catch it later. Hip hop has been with me for most of my life and although I rarely listen to new stuff lately, I have some very fond memories of the genre. Every generation has a golden era and loves to harp on the good ‘ole days, right? I recognize there are some dope artists on the come up - most of whom I’m not up on, but right now I just want to reminisce.
(in no particular order)
2004, Nas and Olu Dara at VH1 Hip Hop Honors, NYC - Since I mentioned VH1 already, I figured I should start with this one. Nasir and Olu Dara crushed stereotypes about Black father/son bonds when they did Bridging the Gap live for what I believe was the first time ever. I darn near cried watching this performance. The love and mutual respect between the two of them was palpable. Nas told us about the complicated relationship with his dad on Poppa Was a Playa so to witness their chemistry as two musicians on stage was incredible.
~1985, Jamaica, Queens - I scored my very first autograph from DMC of Run-DMC while walking with my mother to the store. Living in southeast Queens, I would go on to see the trio countless times later on. (Jay, R.I.P., apparently dated to a girl who lived in my neighborhood.) I was over autographs shortly after that but I will always cherish that first one. D wrote: Go to school don’t be a fool. I know that is beyond corny now but I was a freakin’ kid and that autograph stayed on my bedroom wall for months.
1997 or 1998, Philly - One of my best friends went to the University of Pennsylvania so Penn Relays was a must-do every spring during my college days. I saw the best concert (and I’ve been to some pretty good ones) of my life for all of ten dollars , at most twelve. Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, The Lost Boyz, Redman, The Fugees - there was even a couple of dancehall artists thrown in the mix. The line-up might not seem that hot but the energy each act brought to the stage was the best part. (Tress, help me out on the year. It’s all a blur now, lol.)
Spring 2002, Guinea, West Africa - During my first trip to the motherland, I got into a pretty intense convo with some local dudes about the then Jay-Z and Nas beef. This was such an eye-opening experience for me. Sure, I’d heard/read rappers describe the love they got overseas. But to witness in person the passion these cats in Guinea (a very small, underdeveloped country by American standards) had for the artform was priceless.
Summer 2008, Central Park, NYC - The 25th Anniversary of Video Music Box Concert was without a doubt one of my highlights this summer. And it was free! Anyone who grew up in the NY tri-state area in the ‘80s and/or ‘90s understands the sincere love and admiration I have for VMB. Ralph McDaniels was honored for his contribution to hip-hop and NYC and there were performances from Nice and Smooth, Special Ed, The Lost Boyz (Hey, I’m from Queens.), Naughty by Nature, Chubb Rock (He murdered the stage!), and a bunch of old-school acts my brother would have loved to see. By the way, in the early days of VMB, Uncle Ralph played videos from Madonna (yes, Madonna) to Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. It wasn’t solely hip-hop.
I have many, many more but I gotta go. What are your fave hip hop moments folks?
P.S. - Why does this post feel so Brown Sugar-ish?