I wanted to create a new category to write about some classic hip hop albums but where to start? The first album I owned was Run DMC’s Raising Hell, I could start there but there is a lot that happened before that album was released in 1986. I am aware of the basic history, it started in The Bronx and that Kool Herc is credited with being the first DJ to play breaks, until recently I did not know enough about these time to write about it.
That changed recently when I was browsing my local book store and found a copy of Jeff Chang’s excellent history of hip hop culture titled Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. I was surprised when I started reading that there are a couple of chapters before we even get to Kool Herc. Jeff starts at the story off with the street gang’s of New York and in particular South Bronx during the 70′s. Teenage gangs/clubs with names like Ghetto Brothers, Black Spades and Savage Skulls ruled the neighbourhoods and feuded with each other in turf wars.
Although they predate the beginning of hip hop they represent an attitude and a culture that can be seen in hip hop. I found a couple of documentaries about the Bronx gangs on Youtube (these are linked below), as I watched these documentaries I saw some things in these kids that are a big part of hip hop, bravado, pride, community and partying. A great example of bravado in early hip hop is Eric B & Rakim, they’re album covers were them wearing gold chains and Rakim basically just rapped about how he is the best MC. Pride as in representing where you’re from such as KRS-One Vs MC Shan and later the whole East Vs West coast. Hip hop is considered more than music it is a culture that has grown to become a global community. As for partying what a party without music and dancing.
One of the gangs the Ghetto Brothers is credited with being integral in bringing the gangs together in a peace treaty. They also made an album inspired by the like of the Beatles but keeping their Puerto Rico rhythms. It’s a great album that represents a positive vibe in a time where there was seemingly little to be positive about.
Flying Cut Sleeves
80 Blocks from Tiffany’s
Ghetto Brothers – Ghetto Brothers Power
Girl From the Mountain