Rodney King was found dead this morning at the bottom of a pool.
In case you didn’t know, at one point Rodney did release a song but that wasn’t his biggest impact on Hip Hop. His impact was the inspiration of change in the way police interactions between themselves and civilians. His impact influenced the soundtrack to an entire coast. His impact caused a a whole community to people to stand up against the wrongs committed against them and make the whole world take notice.
The LA Riots were started because of the dismissal of charges against the LA Police Department after a video surfaced of them clearly using excessive force against him. I won’t go into the whole history of the event but the following video which aired a few weeks ago covers it in great detail.
I wanted to do a piece on each of these people individually but I thought it best to group them together because they all have something in common; a huge impact on a small group of people. Of course "small" in some cases is relative.
She may have been born before many of you reading this and her popularity came at the tail end of her musical genera’s tenure but her impact is still there. Though you’ll hear many people proclaim that disco is dead, Donna’s music from that era is timeless. Last Dance is played in skating rinks the world over, Hot Stuff continues to appear in music sound tracks while Love to Love You Baby and I Feel Love have been sampled by many award winning artist. Being an award winning artist herself this is no surprise. Donna’s music will forever be sampled and covered for the long foreseeable future and her voice will never be silenced.
If you grew up within broadcast range of the Philadelphia area in the early to late 90’s you no doubt know of the Carter and Sanborn show. It was one of those shows that if you didn’t listen to it then you listened with someone that you knew. The dual dominated the morning airwaves on Power 99 and then later on WDAS FM. Memorable characters such as Horace the Taurus with whom you could set your watch to and Lunchmeat Mumford we always good for a laugh. I remember my own interaction with them was a campaign they had to encourage Michael Jackson to come to Philly on his tour. They encouraged people in the area to write letters to show support. Even though we were too young to go, my teacher got us to pull out our green slips of paper and write a note to Michael every day for a week. He never came but it felt good even at that age to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
If you don’t know the Beastie Boys then you don’t know Hip Hop. And if you don’t know their contribution then you don’t know your history. They were one of the first acts signed to Def Jam Records. They were one of the first successful white hip hop acts. They are one of the longest groups to be in hip hop that are still performing. As for MCA himself, if you didn’t follow the group closely then you wouldn’t know about his activism for LBGT rights or the free Tibet movement and his interest in film production.
MCA and the Beastie Boys opened up the opportunity to have a broader crossover audience back when hip hop was in its infancy. Without this audience, hip hop could’ve not progressed so rapidly as an art form.
You might think it strange that I start off an article about Whitney Huston with a video about Biggie but there’s an important message there that’s universal:
“I would never wish death on nobody because they ain’t no coming back from that”
– Notorious B.I.G.
I always dreaded the day this would happen. Not because of the great loss to R&B but because I would be disgusted with the reactions of people. It seems that quite a few of our greatest can’t pass in glory; James Brown, Michael Jackson, Rick James, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Easy E, Big Pun, Left Eye, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. And just like them, if you look at any article on the internet referencing their deaths you will find many comments about how they should be dead or the problems they had while they were alive. Which brings me back to B.I.G.’s comment above that even with the strife he had with Tupac, there was still a respect for him when he died.
We all know about Whitney’s problems with drugs and her infamous interview where she made some comments about crack. What I find hypocritical is that many musicians boast about their drug habits and are praised for it. Many even make songs about. It always easier to condemn a person and make jokes for their faults than it is to help them with them. This has become one of the mantras of the world but most notably the hip hop generation. There’s a serious lack of support for the older generation in hip hop.
But let’s not get side tracked. Whitney went from singing at a gas station one day to singing on the worlds stage the next. She really was in the right place at the right time. I really hope that her legacy isn’t tarnished by the naysayers, jokers and disrespectful people looking to get a quick laugh. I don’t think it will matter much what I say so I will just have to let Whitney’s voice silence them herself. Good bye love…
If you don’t know this man by name then you don’t know history. If you don’t know this man’s impact then you don’t know Hip Hop.
Don created one of the longest-running syndicated shows on TV, exposed many popular artists and dancers to the world and owned the rights to the Soul Train making him the first black owner of a nationally syndicated TV show.
We will miss you Don, and we will continue this hip trip knowing that you set the course.
Today we lost great pioneering artist in Hip Hop, Guru. In a final note to his fans, Guru wrote:
"I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options. I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting."