Friday, November 21, 2008

RIP Rap City

Over the past week a couple of ‘Hip is Dead’ moments have happened, that may not completely lend to that assertion, but they certainly put another nail in the ever-tightening coffin.

Lost in the merger of Sirius and XM satellite radio companies will be any Old School Rap channel. We’re not talking the cheesy “Throwback Lunch” or occasional 1992 EPMD track, but both companies featured a 24/7 channel devoted to pre-1996 rap. Rhyme XL on XM and Backspin on Sirius featured tracks that went all the way back to Grandmaster Flash, through Run-DMC, across the Wu genre, the G-Funk and gangsta realms, and all the favorites from ‘Sound of the Police’ through ‘Flavor of the Month.’ Featured were old school fixtures Dana Dane, Kurtis Blow, and the Awesome Two would tell first hand accounts from the era.

Sirius cut both channels in one swift move and offered an alternative in ‘Hip Hop Nation’. That means we’ll have to suffer through Rick Ross, Pitbull, or whatever T-Pain guest track is bleeding true Hip Hopper’s ears to hear one Gangstarr track every two hours.

More troubling is the end of BET’s ‘Rap City’ after a 19 year run on the network. They aired the last show this past weekend, it got me thinking of their run over two decades. It was the conduit for many of us true schoolers for years. Before the advent of these mean net streets, Rap City was the spot where you peeped your next fave rap joint and went and tried to cop that sh*t.

Personally, the early Rap City days with ‘The Mayor’ were pure delight. I can remember Fresh Marcus and I rocking lesser known artists like Breeze, MC Rell, Derek B, and Earle the Poet strictly from the show. K-9 Posse, Stezo, Skinny Boys, I see ya. Above the Law, damn. I saw Wu Tang for the first time and was instantly hooked from Rap City. In college, I patched into the adjoining room’s cable jack and ran that shit into my room, where I recorded every Rap City and watched it religiously.

I can remember the Rap City countdowns in the mid-90s where it seemed every video was either a Wu affiliate or a Death Row member. Big Tigger brought new life to the show and soon came the Booth, where every visiting MC hopped in and (ahem) freestyled (although I’d say 3 out of 4 rhymes in the Booth were written joints) and the host even joined in. Visiting DJs spun the latest jams and Biggie Smalls gave his last interview on the show.

The show suffered from Tigger’s departure and the shift from the mainstream Hip Hop of the 90s to the ringtone rap we have now. And in 08, Rap City seemed another extension of everyday videos on 106 and Park (much like Yo! morphed into ‘Sucker Free’) and was left to be cancelled with little fanfare.

I expected more old school clips in the final show and perhaps even the history of the final Yo! cipher, but got little more than 30 seconds of Talib Kweli, an almost defeated LL Cool J, and a strange Bow Wow booking.

But most telling, and perhaps indicative of the show and Hip Hop’s path in general, was Busta Rhymes. He who was the skinny kid in the fun loving Leaders of the New School, who then took the world by storm with the Golden Age’s near anthem “Scenario.” Now he's talking "Arab Money", dancing some cheesy dance, and twice his 1991 size. Here’s that same MC, seemingly pumped full of steroids, which can also be said of mainstream Hip Hop too: juiced up on bling, rims, champagne, bikini clad models, voice distortion, and ringtone ready beats.

Pour a little bit more of the liquor out, as our culture continues to be eroded. At the same time, we have to dig a little deeper, search a little harder, spread the word a little louder to keep this Hip Hop we all love alive.



Blogger Kaz said...

Great blog. We started a movement to get old school Hip Hop on Sirius XM. If you can help in any way to make these fools change their mind that'll be great.

Kevin Lockett
Bring Backspin Back

9:31 PM  
Blogger @slushygutter said...

thanks Kaz...everyone send Sirius emails daily about the situation.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for droppin' the science and for the memories.

One side note. The brother Tigger used to be a radio DJ in D.C. when I rested there. Chris Webber actually held down a once-a-week show on the same station, where we would occasionally insert some of his own freestyles. It was a different era.

'Nuff respect to Kaz for his comment and efforts.


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