Because sometimes doing the thing you love means sharing it with others. Imagine if the next FFB dance workshop was lead by Eric Kelly. Apparently, that may be possible.
What do you hear rappers rap about today? It’s no wonder a lot of conservative America is quick to stereotype and denigrate hip hop with so little meaningful content hitting mainstream media waves. To be fair, I enjoy a catchy beat as much as the next person. But music needs to speak to people too. Whether or not I’m the intended audience, I feel like a lot of today’s music isn’t conveying as strong a message as music did in the past.
If you need an example of powerfully moving music, look no further than one of greatest MC’s of all time, Nas. His debut album Illmatic is lauded as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time as it portrays his gritty childhood in the Queens projects in New York. Though he also succumbed to the allure of big money commercialization in his later albums, he brought it back to his roots with his fifth album, aptly named Stillmatic. His track “One Mic” has alway stood out to me in particular. It’s an incredibly moving song, with verses that start slowly and softly, but crescendo in speed, volume, and intensity as he paints a vivid picture of life on the streets. Removing the gangsta rap persona Columbia Records had created for him, Nas made this song all the more impactful by keeping it simple. “One Mic” is Nas’s interpretation of reality in the ghetto as well as a testament to the power of a man and his microphone – the power to educate, to embolden, and to inspire.
Nas – One Mic
No…tor…ious! This song is off of Biggie’s posthumous studio album titled Duets: the Final Chapter, and it features Biggie’s verse from “Notorious Thugs”, which is cool because he adopts a much faster pace than his usual smooth flow. This song also features dope rhymes from Twista and Krayzie Bone at his greatest with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony – even though Eightball & MJG’s verses were meh, Biggie, Twista, and Krayzie Bone are enough to make this song worthy of Throwback Thursday.
The Notorious B.I.G. – Spit Your Game
Genre-defining. Race-defying. Lyrically-inspiring. The Beastie Boys did it all. Only the third rap group ever to be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame (preceded by Run D.M.C. and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five), the Beastie Boys are easily one of the most influential music groups of the last 2 decades. Unfortunately, just one month after being inducted, the Beastie Boys lost one third of their legendary trio, Adam “MCA” Yauch. There are tons of eulogies online and endless entries reliving the Beastie Boys’ and Yauch’s contributions to both rock and rap music – I can’t do them justice… Suffice to say, the Beastie Boys are not only great music to dance to, they remain proof positive that if you are good enough, it doesn’t matter who you are. Talent always rises to the top – that’s all the inspiration I need. Thank you Beastie Boys, and R.I.P. MCA!
Beastie Boys – Intergalactic
Stop for a moment and think back to where or what you were doing in the year 2000. It was after the Y2K scare, we were in the midst of the dot-com bubble bursting, Worldcom and Enron were in the midst of defrauding their stockholders of billions – ’twas a momentous year indeed. But what stood out to 11-year old 6th grader Alex was Nelly’s debut single, “Country Grammar”. It was the epitome of forbidden fruit – as a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch tv on the weekdays, much less listen to explicit rap. But every kid in school was humming this song, and it eventually became too popular for me not to learn the lyrics and sing along, even if it was on the schoolbus listening to other children sing it. To this day, “Country Grammar” remains one of my favorite Nelly songs – it marked his entrance into the music game as a brash but talented kid who never took himself too seriously. Before “Just a Dream”, before “Air Force Ones”, before even “Dilemma” and “Hot in Herre”, it was just some good ol’ Country Grammar that set off 2000 right, and hopefully bumps in your speakers on this Throwback Thursday.
Nelly – Country Grammar (Hot Ish)