This Year the South Gets Honored at the VH1 Honors-What Groups Will they Highlight??

Outkast kicked down lots of doors for Southern rap

Every year the VH1 Honors pay tribute to Hip Hop pioneers from various aspects and eras of  its musical culture. Last year they paid tribute to Def Jam records.. The year before they gave dap to West Coast artists. In other years they paid tribute to many of the early pioneers out of New York.. The show brings forth a unique mix of Hip Hop elders to be honored while some of today’s most popular artists pay tribute by re-doing one of their popular songs.

According to Hip Hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, one of the driving forces behind this event, its one of the ways they attract a younger audience that otherwise may bypass the honors altogether. It’s not like other commercial outlets that normally present Hip Hop music are routinely educating their audience to have a deeper appreciation for bygone eras. Hip Hop on the commercial side is no where like its Rock-n-Roll counterpart where classic material and pioneering figures in the genre are held in high esteem.

Today there are far too many young cats in Hip Hop who have no idea who the pioneers are. Sadly many don’t even care. Hip Hop has been positioned as a music genre that is supposed to only be for one people. Case in point are the recent potshots we’ve heard younger rappers take at veterans like Jay-Z. Most notably artists like Game have referred to him as an old man over 40 who should not be rapping. You rarely hear those slights taken at Rock artists many like Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen or Paul McCartney who still tour while well into their 50s and 60s. That needs to change. We need to change.

This year the VH1 Honors, normally held in the fall are taking place in June during Black Music month. This year pioneering figures from the South aka the Third Coast will be honored. According to Fab 5 Freddy, he has long wanted to feature artists from this part of the country. They have been dominating for a number of years. he didn’t say exactly who will be on the show, however, I do know when I ran into Houston artists Chamillionaire and Paul Wall the other week they mentioned having to do something for VH1 around the honors… We’ll keep you posted as things unfold.

Here’s the interview we did with Fab 5 Freddy

If it was up to me I’d love to see them dig deep and pull out seminal figures like Magic Mike, Clay D, Afrorican, The M4sers and all those folks who were key in the evolution of what was once known as Miami bass. Also included would be 2Live Crew and MC Shy D who I feel has long been overlooked and all but forgotten when his records once upon a time were mainstays.

Geto Boys for years was the dominant group from the South that most of us knew about

Of course we have to pay tribute to Texas..The Geto Boys, UGK,  Lil Keke the late DJ Screw immediately come to mind. Michael Watts is another who we need to look at.

It would be a major oversight to not honor Arrested Development. Outside of the Miami Bass era I think they were the one group that initially captured the essence of that down home feeling that many of us came to associate with the South. I think Arrested Development is underplayed. In that same vein we have to honor  Outkast and the Goodie Mobb.  Dap has to be given to the entire The Dungeon Family which includes Organized Noise. Here’s what Speech had to say about Southern music and whether or not its getting a bad rap.

If I had to pick someone from New Orleans it most definitely would be Juvenile who’s career goes back to New Orlean’s humble bounce music days.

In places like Kentucky I would love to see props be given to Underground Mafia.. I think they were way ahead of their time. and unfortunately only had that one album. Below is one of my favorite songs by the group

We cant forget 8Ball and MJG out of Memphis.

Finally we have to look at looming figures from Virginia and Washington DC.. DJ Kool, Missy Elliot and Timbaland are names that come to mind.

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The Merger of Hip Hop & Interview w/ Fab 5 Freddy

The meeting of Punk and Hip Hop cultures in the late 70s early 80s is an overlooked often downplayed facet of Hip Hop History. Most people think of Run DMC‘s Rock Box and later their collaboration with Aerosmith when they think of Hip Hop merging with Rock-N-Roll. The truth of the matter is that in a very organic way, artists from both cultures broke bread and came to respect each other not so much because of the music, but because of the ‘rebellious’ attitude and spirit that personified both groups.

With last weeks passing of punk icon turned Hip Hop icon Malcolm McLaren, the details of punk Hip Hop unions began to be revisited. We sat down with one of the key bridge builders to both worlds Brooklyn native Fab 5 Freddy to get his perspective.  Fab started out as a graffiti artist and later went on to rap and produce. His record Change the Beat is a classic. here Fab raps in French and at the end provides us with the classic line that every DJ worth his weight has used to scratch.. Ahhh This Stuff is Really Fresh. It was one of the earliest instances of a vocorder being used in Hip Hop. later on Fab5 became the face of Yo MTV Raps.

Fab 5 Freddy

He now heads up the VH1 Hip Hop Honors. He noted that this year they will be honoring the pioneers of the South. We spoke to him about those pioneering days and he noted that his love of art is what took him downtown to the thriving Village scene that hosted Punk, New Wave and artsy types..Fab 5 noted that his partner in crime (art crime) was the late Jean Michel Basquiat and together they attended a lot of the shows and parties and met folks like Deborah Harry and her man Chris Stein from the group Blondie.  The group would later immortalize Fab 5 in the song Rapture where they shouted him out. In our interview Fab 5 explains how that song came about.

Kool Lady Blue

We talked about Fab’s first encounter with Malcolm Mclaren. He noted that it was a promoter named Kool Lady Blue best known for her work at the Roxy and the Negril who introduced the pair and that Fab wasn’t really feeling McLaren. He explained that  his good friend Johnny Lydon aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and later PIL had accused McLaren of ripping off the group. As a result when McLaren explained to Fab 5 that he wanted to go uptown to the Bronx and experience the emerging Hip Hop scene, he wasn’t gonna be ‘that guy’ to make it happen.

Fab went on to explain that he was impressed with the way Mclaren maneuvered. Not only did he make it up to the Bronx but he eventually teamed up with two guys Larry Price aka Se’Divine Price and Ronald Larkins Jr aka JazzyJust the Superstarwho were members of the 5% Nation who had started doing one of the earliest Hip Hop radio shows back in 1979 on WHBI. . The duo went by the name World Famous Supreme Team and they along with Mclaren made history by putting out some of Hip Hop’s ealiest hits including ‘Buffalo Gals’ and ‘Hey DJ’.. Fab explained what made Mclaren such a genius was his ability to capture not only the early feel of Hip Hop but also the groups popular radio show . He was ground breaking in his production and willingness to push the envelop.

Fab added that the Hip Hop -Punk fusion came about because there was a community of artists who were open minded and willing to collaborate.

The Clash

We talked about the groundbreaking role the Clash played. Fab noted that the London based group was influenced by reggae and saw similarities with that and early rap.  They did a weeks long stint at a club called Bond  where they decided to show support for Hip Hop by inviting a popular artist or deejay to open up for them each night. The line up included Grand Master Flash, Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa, Spoonie G and Funky 4 Plus One More.  he said rthe crowd was hostile. It would be like a rapper performing at a Tea Party. Things got so bad the Clash had to come out on one of the nights and let folks know they were in full support of Hip Hop. Later on Mick Jones would hook up with Futura 2000 to do a song called ‘Escapades of Futura’

During our interview Fab talked about how the merger of Punk and Hip Hop helped paved the way for early Hip Hop journalism primarily with writers Barry Cooper and Greg Tate who were fixtures in the downtown art scene and started penning stories about Hip Hop.

Click HERE to Here Breakdown FM podcast featuring Fab 5 Freddy

Below is a link to the interview we did with Fab 5..

Breakdown FM Interview w/ Fab 5 Freddy How Hip Hop Met Punk

Here is a shortened video version of the podcast

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