Although I've admitted before that my very first concert ever was to see Motley Crue, old skool hip-hop was the first music that I discovered and fell in love with on my own (i.e. not in my parents' record collection or on their radio stations). This was back in '85 / '86, right before and as The Beastie Boys broke the barrier to prove that even (some) white boys could rap. I'll be straight up about it - I grew up as a middle class white kid in suburbia U.S.A., and my mom was less than enthusiastic about my musical exploration. Needless to say, we're talking about rap before Gangster rap really hit and most of the songs were tame compared to the rhymes their present day counterparts lay down.
Cut to Saturday night when I checked out what's labeled as The No Profanity Tour. I literally just found out about it Tuesday of last week, and was pumped to see it all week. The tour assembles an entire line-up of early old skool hip hop artists (and a few more recent - meaning 1990'ish) including Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, Dana Dane, The Force M.D.s, Grandmaster Melle Mel with Grandmaster Caz, Grand Wizard Theodore (credited as one of, if not the, inventors of scratching), Chubb Rock, and Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. The purpose of the tour was twofold - to reassemble some of the men (sadly, no women on the tour - no Salt-N-Pepa or MC Lyte) who were influential in the creation and development of hip-hop as a musical genre which survived all the nay-sayers, and to try and remind people what the music was all about at its inception - to have fun without all of the masculine, intimidating, violent, and degrading posturing that is associated with much of the music nowadays.
Keeping in mind that some of these guys are pushing 50, it might be simple to dismiss these artists as has-beens who should be sitting at home on the couch making room for the up and comers. That's not the case at all though (especially Melle Mel - who's cut like a shorter version of the Terminator), and even if you don't give them some props for their past accomplishments, they put on a damn fine show. Not all of the acts got the crowd's hands in the air for their whole set (I think Chubb Rock and Kurtis Blow got the strongest reaction that sustained throughout their time on the stage), but if 80's hip-hop is your thing, it was flowin' for about four and a half hours. Kurtis even had some breakers poppin' their moves during his set.
Check out the tour's official website, and head to this article to see the upcoming dates (although I wouldn't completely rely on it - the Hartford, CT show was actually in Agawam, MA). While you're waiting for the tour to get to you, throw on your Kangol, slip on your Addidas (not tied of course), plant that monster boombox on your shoulder, and spin these fresh cuts.
Kurtis Blow - The Breaks : The Breaks 7"
Kurtis Blow - Christmas Rappin' (Part 2) : The Breaks 7"
Check out 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Kurtis Blow for a solid collection of his contributions.
Afrika Bambaataa - Bambaataa's Theme (Assault on Precinct 13) : Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere)
DJ Grand Wizard Theodore - Military Cut : Wild Style - 25th Anniversary Edition (Original Soundtrack)
Dana Dane - Cinderfella : Hip Hop Essentials 1979 - 1991 Volume Two
Melle Mel - Vice : Miami Vice TV Soundtrack
Grandmaster Caz - South Bronx Subway Rap : Wild Style - 25th Anniversary Edition (Original Soundtrack)
Chubb Rock - Treat 'Em Right : The One