Tyler Perry and History Channel set to do Epic Miniseries on Hip Hop

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

Movie mogul Tyler Perry is on fire. His new movie Temptation was bigger-than-projected. It opened at $22.3 million making it Perry’s second-biggest opening non-Madea movie after the sequel Why Did I Get Married Too?.  Tyler said he’s happy with his latest efforts and feels it was big comeback after the set backs and harsh criticism he received with the thriller Alex Cross and his own Good Deeds.

As for future projects Perry announced that he’s teamed up with the History Channel which is coming off a huge ratings success with their mini-series The Bible. The network announced it was their most watched series to date and they are excited to team up with Perry to do several miniseries that highlight and chronicle African-American life. History Channel executives were impressed how Perry gave new life to the iconic play For Colored Girls Only....and feel he can bring similar success to the network.

Click HERE to listen to pt2 of Kool Herc

DJ Kool Herc

The first scheduled project will be an epic miniseries on the birth of Hip Hop which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. History notes on August 11th 1973 in the South Bronx at a community center located inside 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Clive Campbell better known as DJ Kool Herc along with his sister Cindy threw a back to school dance to raise money for school clothes. The pair who had newly arrived from Jamaica and brought with them a new style of deejaying which included using a massive sound system and doing early raps then called chants over instrumental dub plates. This is how Hip Hop was born.

Perry acknowledged that he grew up on Hip Hop and always wanted to see this story come to life and be told correctly. “A lot of people don’t know, that I’m what you would call a true Hip Hop head. I love rap. I love Hip Hop and I want to do this right…. Doing this series on the History Channel in the same vein as the Bible series will give Hip Hop the true academic validation that has alluded it all these past 4 decades.”

Bible Miniseries producers Roma & Mark

Bible Miniseries producers Roma & Mark

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett the brains and key architects behind the Bible miniseries have been tapped to produce the Hip Hop miniseries which is tentatively titled ‘40 Years The True Story of Hip Hop‘. Although they are not Hip Hop ‘experts’, they are Biblical experts and in Hip Hop in many respects parallels the trajectory of events in the Bible.  History Channel executives felt it was important to tap into their talents so that they can give the True Story of Hip Hop an exciting and larger-than-life cinematic epic feel.

Perry stated ‘These guys are great writers and have tremendous passion and vision..What we have done is amassed a panel of Hip Hop experts including Chicago State scholars Frank Chitterbang and Sam Socrates who founded the nation’s first Hip Hop studies program last year.

“We need to celebrate and honor them for being the first to bring Hip Hop to academia” Perry said. Hip Hop needs to be studied. This miniseries will help underscore that point.

Other Hip Hop experts to be tapped for the Perry/ History Channel Hip Hop project include; Civil Rights icon Jesse Jackson and Reverend T.D. Jakes.

Why Church folks? some may ask…

Some of the controversies involving Reverend Jesse jackson has led to us questioning the state of the Black Church

Jesse Jackson

“In telling the story of Hip Hop we have to be honest and go to the true source”, Perry noted. “Hip Hop didn’t start in some dirty run down ghetto. It started in the church. The first rappers were preachers.

The young bucks at the first party DJ Kool Herc gave were emulating their elders from the church by doing what we call in the African tradition ‘Call and Response’. Dr Martin Luther King who Reverend Jackson marched with was the first true emcee..His cadence, his swag, his message is what inspired early Hip Hop.. That’s real talk. We gotta own up to this.. We gotta know our true history”.

It should also be noted that Jesse Jackson was the first Civil Rights Icon Hip Hop paid tribute to, when Grandmaster Flash did a song about him called Jesse to commemorate his historic 1984 run for President.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3IsCfMB0rk

Perry noted that to keep everyone honest and this series truly authentic, they are inviting the owners of the Hip Hop’s biggest websites like World Star, Bossip, and AHH to name a few to offer advice and help guide the miniseries.

In terms of casting, Perry noted that he and the History Channel were meticulous in their eventual selection. Former wrestler turned actor Dwayne Johnson better known as The Rock’ will play DJ Kool Herc. Both men have similar physics.

Don Chealde to play GM Flash

Don Cheadle to play GM Flash

Comedian Anthony Anderson will play Big Bank Hank of the Sugar Hill Gang

Cedric the Entertainer will play Hip Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa.

House of Lies actor Don Cheadle will play pioneer Grandmaster Flash.

Chris Brown is being cast to play a young brash LL Cool J.

Coming off rave reviews and the success of Temptation, reality TV star who is now making major headway into Hollywood as an actress of note, Kim Kardashian will be tapped to play Salt of Salt-N-Pepa one of Hip Hop’s first female emcees.

Perry noted that her boyfriend Kanye West is being asked to help show her some pointers on how to rap.. ‘She will do this important role and the miniseries justice’ Perry added.

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian

Pepa will be played by Janet Jackson who is a favorite in Perry movies

History Channel executives are being tight-lipped about other roles, but from the looks of things this promises to be an all-star cast.

Perry noted that its important to keep in mind Hip Hop is inclusive.  Its a bout building community. It’s in that spirit they are opening their doors doing a nationwide casting call for those involved in Hip Hop and can do a little of acting. They are also looking for Hip Hop experts who are knowledgeable about local Hip Hop history from their respective cities..If you would like to be part of the Hip Hop miniseries you can get more information by clicking HERE..

In case you don’t know…

APRIL FOOLS 2013

Hip Hop History 101: Grandwizard Theodore Explains the Orgins of the Scratch and Beyond

Grand wizzard Theodore fingerThis is an important conversation where Hip Hop pioneer Grand Wizzard Theodore speaks for himself and explains the origins of the Scratch.. Up to that point, many had come to believe that Theodore was trained by Grandmaster Flash who started off in a crew called the L-Brothers (L=Livingston which is Theodore’s last name). I recall interviewing Flash back in 1996 at length and he broke all this down..noting that Theodore was his student..

I ran into Theodore a few months later and he was livid and said that the story was absolutely not true.. Back then he explained as he does in the interview below, how he came into his own.. GM Flash to my knowledge hasn’t retracted the story, so those two will have to sort it out..

Here’s a excerpts from a 2005 interview w/ Troy Smith of Tha Foundation

http://www.thafoundation.com/gwtheodore.htm

TS: I read in an article that Gene originally didn’t want you to DJ, you ended up having to sneak it to do it. Flash put you on to it. Flash showed you how to do it?

GWT: Gene and Flash were down together and people were trying to say that Flash taught me. I taught myself how to DJ. Nobody taught  me how to DJ. The only thing Flash taught me was, you know, there are so many different mixers out there..you have to know how to turn the mixer on, turn the mixer off..,this is this cross fader, for that turntable, this cross fader for that turntable..these are the ear phones.. that’s about it. He never sat me down and said, “O.K. This is how you mix these two records together.  It was nothing, never like that. All the skills that I have I taught myself. Nobody taught me all the skills that I have. That is why my style is like no other. If anything, Flash taught me – this is the left turntable, this is the right turntable, this is the mixer, this is that for the mixer, and this is that for the mixer – but I pretty much knew all that already, just by watching.

TS: Your brothers were already doing this before Flash even came to your house, didn’t Flash stay at your house for a minute as well?

GWT: Flash was down from day one with Gene. Flash couldn’t keep the equipment at his house, so the equipment was at my mom’s house. Flash was able to come any time he wanted to DJ. If he came and he stayed till 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, he had a room were he could just stretch out. My moms was like,”You can come and go as you please.”

Below Theodore speaks for himself..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-JBa6w0OHI

Theodore shows off his patented Needle drop technique

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D6JooB-yVg

A classic cut that captures the essence of Theodore from back in the days

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz-ViANjpoY

Grand Wizard Theodore oldThe other unintended story that needed to be put to rest was Theodore spilling beer on a turntable and inventing the scratch while wiping the record clean.. This came about after a humorous Heineken commercial aired a few years back depicting that. It was part of a series of commercials the beer company did where they fictionalized how the accidents around the beer created the Peace sign, the Lighter, the scratch etc.. Unfortunately because there had been so much historical distortion around the legacy of Theodore, many didn’t find the humor in the commercial resulting in an open letter and protest to the beer company.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxlAhd36D-U

The Connection Between Hip Hop, New Wave and Punk

Davey DThis past Monday, Spinderella of Salt-N-Pepa, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and myself among others, participated in a panel discussion at UCLA that focused on the business workings and current state of Hip Hop. Before we launched into Q&A from the audience all of us were asked ‘What CD we were listening to in our ride?’ The audience seemed a bit surprised when I mentioned that in my CD deck was the 1981 album ‘JuJu’ by new wave/punk act Siouxsie & the Banshees. Songs like ‘Spellbound, ‘Monitor’ and ‘Into the Light’ brought back fond memories. More importantly the whole early new wave/punk scene was a very much apart of my early Hip Hop experience.

For those who wish to walk down memory lane, how could we forget when New Wave/Punk acts like Thomas Dolby, Tom Tom Club, The Clash, Blondie, The Thompson Twins, The Police, Depeche Mode, Human League, Tears for Fears and David Bowie to name a few were regularly heard within Hip Hop circles especially in many of our ‘hoods’.

No offense to Run DMC, who are often sighted as the first Hip Hop group to merge Rock and Rap, when we really go back and look at what was happening in the late 70s early 80s, we’ll find that there was an often under reported important conversation and cultural exchange that was taking place with hardcore b-boys from the South Bronx and the disenfranchised rebellious New Wave/Punk kids in downtown Manhattan on the Lower Eastside and in the Village.

It really began when acts like Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash who were just starting to record records were starting to be invited to perform at some key downtown spots like the Mudclub or the Roxy which was frequented by punk/new wave kids. The parallels between the hardcore Hip Hoppers from the Bronx and the Rebellious Punk Kids soon became obvious. Both groups had reacted organically to a stale, formulaic music industry that was serving the public watered down disco and arena rock. The Blacks and Puerto Ricans in the Bronx embraced the classic James Brown Soul and Funk music of Sly and the Family Stone and developed Hip Hop, while their Lower Eastside white counterparts got into the British import punk and new wave.

Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry

People like Bambaataa, Fab 5 Freddy, Debbie Harry of Blondie and British New Wave icon Malcolm McClaren would wind up being key figures in Hip Hop’s first cross cultural exchange. The B-Boys from the Bronx would get nice gigs at the Punk/New Wave spots while the punk crowd would literally be granted safe passage to Bronx River or the PAL up in the Bronx. It’s important to note that this was not a natural occurrence which has often been erroneously stated, especially with the white kids coming up to the Bronx. It was a deliberate attempt on the parts of folks who had mutual respect and vision to build with one another.

When you look back into time you’ll find that both the early Hip Hop and Punk/New Wave groups equally influenced each other. This admiration was reflected in Blondie’s pivotal song ‘Rapture’ where lead singer Debby Harry after being escorted up to a B-Boy party at the PAL club where Grandmaster Flash was playing gave props to Fab 5 Freddy as well as Flash who blew her away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHCdS7O248g

Soon after you had people like Malcolm McClaren teaming up with 5 Percent cats like the World Famous Supreme Team who hosted a radio show to do songs like Buffalo Gals (which was named after a London clothing store-not the size of woman’s butts), ‘Hey DJ’ and ‘Hobo Scratch’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DeTR8n7eTU

History will show that others like the punk rock group known as the Beastie Boys would start to embrace rap and put out songs like Cookiepuss and go on to become Hip Hop’s first meaningful white act.

Pioneering groups like the Cold Crush Brothers would release songs like ‘Punk Rock Rap’ while Flash and his crew did songs like new wave influenced songs like ‘Scorpio’. Bambaataa himself would go onto to form a group called Time Zone and would record a huge song called ‘World Destruction’ with punk icon Johnny Rotten.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPHDQLuZaGo

Thomas Dolby

Thomas Dolby

The whole time this was happening between the years 1979-1984, you saw the musical walls of segregation come down as artists from both genres would become familiar to both audiences. In other words during the early 80s you would hear Thomas Dolby’s ‘Blinded Me With Science’, David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, Devo’s ‘Let It Whip’ or Tom Tom Club’s ‘Genius of Love’ not only being played on urban radio, but also at popular Hip Hop night spots where playing them would help set off the party.

It was amazing to hear the types of early reactions to last year’s Mobb Deep hit song ‘Got It Twisted’. First, many younger folks had no idea that they had sampled the main riff that gave the song its entire flavor from Dolby’s ‘Blinded Me with Science’. When it was revealed, the reaction ranged from ‘Who in the heck is Thomas Dolby’? to ‘Wow, Mobb Deep is so adventurous, groundbreaking and experimental for going there and sampling a rock act’. For some the Thomas Dolby connection was strange for others who fondly remember those early days, what Mobb Deep did was a natural fit.

More importantly we need to remember that it was Thomas Dolby who actually stepped up and produced Whodini‘s first record ‘Magic Wand‘.In fact we need to also shout out folks like Trevor Horn and Rick Rubin who stepped over from the world of New Wave and Punk and got down on the production tip within Hip Hop.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9fjN5lUgYo

We also need to keep in mind that these few examples I mentioned are just around the early Hip Hop scene in New York. If you go back and look at what was happening 300 miles away in California you will find similar exchanges between the early emerging Hip Hop community and the new wave punk sects. In places like Los Angeles where racial segregation is more pronounced and ethnic groups are really removed from one another, to see the early Ska and punk scenes make their way to early Hip Hop clubs and eventually see it reflected in the music with folks coming from places like South Central is significant.

Uncle Jamm's Army

Uncle Jamm’s Army

If anyone remembers back in the days when KDAY was jumping off in LA, then you know it was not usual to hear a Thompson Twins song or a Clash song being mixed and cut up by the famed Mixmasters at that time. It was not out of place to go to an Uncle Jamm’s Army set at the old Coliseum and here some of those aforementioned new wave groups. And of course Hip Hop was not out of place in those New Wave Punk clubs.

Today in the age of music industry consolidation and corporate radio owning multiple stations in a market has resulted in what is best described as music segregation. Industry proponents would argue and say its niche marketing, but really it isn’t. You have a group of ‘experts’ who sit around a table and devise elaborate marketing plans which run along the lines of station X owned by company A will go after Latino women 18-34 and will play a particular style of music with very little room for deviation. Station Y, also owned by that same company will go after older white men 25-54 and will also embrace a particular music genre.

This process goes all the way down the line until there are no more stations for the company to play with. The end results are a series of unintended consequences, some of which I touched upon in a previous column where I asked ‘When is Old School Too Old to Play’ as well as what I would call increased music segregation. Sure we can look at recent examples like Fred Durst and Limp Bizkit doing songs with Method Man or the upcoming Coachella Music Festival or a Warp Tour where there will be a healthy dose of rock and rap acts. However, the cultural exchange seems to be very one sided at best and contrived and forced at worse.

hip_hop_is_punk-rock-finalIt’s one sided in the sense that you have rock oriented outlets with a predominantly white audience embracing Hip Hop. Yes, you can tune into a radio station like KROQ and hear rap alongside the usual rock offerings and lastly we have all the mash up projects, with the most noticeable being Collision Course with Linkin Park and Jay-Z. However, you will not see similar attempts in many urban outlets that target African American audiences. Yes believe it or not groups like Linkin Park as popular as they are are still relatively unknown in many Black circles where BET and commercial radio are the main conduits to things outside the community. I’m not sure what needs to be done to change that or if it even needs to be changed.

I guess I just yearn for the days when the Hip Hop and Punk and New Wave communities were known to each other and me, a Black kid from the Boogie Down Bronx, mentioning I like Siouxsie & the Banshees or the Split Endz is not met with shock and surprise because I defy a stereotype but with approvals or moans because everyone in the room has strong opinions about my choice of groups.

written by Davey D May 2005