9 December 2016, Hip-Hop Evolution

I feel like it’s been a long time since I went off book and ad libitum’d something, so I want to take a moment to plug Netflix’s Hip-Hop Evolution series. When I started playing records in public, I went for electro rap and gradually worked backward chronologically until I learned to appreciate disco rap and then disco itself. Chic’s disco jams may be the foundations of some foundational hip-hop, but it was that Kraftwerk mashup ish I was after. Both styles and universes of sample sources are covered in the first two episodes of Hip-Hop Evolution.

I haven’t gotten to episode three yet, but Couch Baughman is telling me I should put in some TV-watching reps when I finish the writing and digital bookbinding. (I’m coding Hangin’ Around in Limbo: Poems at the moment; formatting poetry in HTML for devices of varying size is annoying? fun? challenging? frustrating? Frustrating. Insert, courtesy of my father, a quotation from Lao Tzu about the smart reeds bending in the current or some shit.) Couch Baughman’s prescribed training regimen is grueling, so later I’ll do some reclining, unwinding, and TV mining, never mind bending in the current.

Actually there’s not much to mine from the first two episodes of Hip-Hop Evolution unless you’re unfamiliar with the intertwined histories of DJing and MCing. If you’ve read Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey (Brewster & Broughton, 2000), there won’t be much news here, but there’s nuance aplenty. Interview subjects include Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc, Melle Mel, Kurtis Blow, Grand Mixer DX(S)T, Charlie Ahearn, Grand Wizzard Theodore, Grandmaster Caz, DJ Jazzy Jay, Darryl McDaniels, Russell Simmons, and on and on. Various luminaries telling stories about how they came to build, in an ad hoc way, a huge chunk of the mainstream music industry. Worth your time, funky, and full of soul. Check it out.