observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rakim is Miles Davis

At the taping of the Ill Out show on Wednesday I had the honor of speaking with Luvbug Starski.

For those who don't know Luvbug, he is Hip-Hop. Widely recognizely as coining the actual term in the late 70's amongst other accomplishments.

He tells his story better than I so to get it from the horse's mouth listen to the show next week. Either on XM or on the Bodega podcast section.

I got 2 big things from Wed:

1) my post about angry old school rappers is 100% right, at least when it comes to the Luvbug.

2) Rakim is Hip-Hop's Miles Davis.

When asked what happened to stall his career Starski cited 3 things. cocaine, a 5 year bid, and Rakim.

The emergence of Rakim put an end to the light hearted, leather outfit wearing, party based MC. Rakim was the consumate artist. His focus was not entertainment. It was the art. And his face showed it. No smiling. Rakim was simply 'No Joke.'

Were Flash, King Tim III, The Sugarhill Gang, and Starski? Certain outfits and songs say yes.

Ra put the focus on pure lyrics the same way Miles placed the emphasis on his horn and his art. Bebop was a reaction to the showmanship and smiling faces of the Louis Armstrong era. No disrespect, and I actually do not subscribe to the Louis Armstrong as a coon theory. But I do see how the movement represented by Miles was a concious effort to legitimize and empower the art form. No more pandering to the audience and its benefactors. Miles was not afraid to even turn his back to his audience.

The uncomfortable dynamic of grown Black men dancing and constantly smiling in front of sedate white audiences was shaken and ultimately destroyed.

Miles' back turned is sort of like Rakim sitting in a chair to do 'Mahagony.' As much as Rakim is/was about moving the crowd there was always a sense of self absorption to his persona. Annoying at a show, but simply mesmerizing on wax.

It was great hearing Luvbug's first hand account. Would be great to discuss this with an MC who straddles both eras.

Let me know what y'all think.
Have a good weekend. (sorry for the typos. Wrote this on a bus)

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