WELP!!!! We’ve finally come to that bittersweet moment of class being over for good. This past week was yet another amazing class, and fun for all. But, it was also the last of the 5 we signed up for. Before I get into the notes I took, I want to thank 9th Wonder and the folks at NC State’s Hunt Library. This class was truly a joy. It was the highlight of my week each of the 5 weeks I attended. I actually looked forward to Wednesdays more than Fridays each week, because I knew that on those Wednesday evenings I was gonna be able to sit in a class about something I love and have lived the majority of my 36 years on this planet. And in addition to that, the class was being taught by a man who has created some of the music I’ve nodded my head to in that time. He’s also worked with many people who have done the same thing. So, with this as the foundation, I knew this would be a winner. In fact, my motivation for taking this class was fear. The fear of missing out on it. I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but when I first heard about this class I was in Las Vegas with some folks from work. We were there in June for a conference. One of my boys from college (Shout out to Mil) sent me a text about the class, and I was like “Oh, word. That’s what’s up”. But again, I was in Vegas! I actually ended up forgetting about it for a few weeks. It randomly came to mind a little less than a week before the first class. When I remembered it, I wasn’t sure if it had already started or not, but I went ahead and contacted the folks from the library. I asked if it was too late to register and pay for the class. They told me it wasn’t too late, and I was welcome to do so. I thought about it, then thought about it again. My dilemma was that I had just come back from Vegas and ended up spending more money that I thought I would, and now this class I’m interested is another $125 on top of that. Yo, I almost let that price keep me from taking the class. But then I thought about it again and said to myself, that this was something I should do. I feared seeing, hearing, and/or reading something during or after the 5 week run that would make me kick myself for not signing up. Something about information shared, possible guests, etc. that I’d be pissed at myself for not being there to witness and experience. So, with that in mind, I decided to pay the money, and see what happens. And as each week’s notes should convey to you, it was money WELL SPENT! I couldn’t be more excited and satisfied with the experience. The only problem I have is that the 5 weeks came and went so quickly. At some point in the future, if time, schedules, and other factors permit, I’d love to take the full version of this class, the Hip Hop Cinema, and/or Beat Making classes that 9th teaches at North Carolina Central and Duke Universities. Anyway, without further ado, here are the final notes I took for Hip Hop In Context. Oh, and thank you to all the folks from class who asked me about these blog posts after class the last few weeks. I appreciate you all taking time to come by and read them. I hope you and everyone else who has read them have enjoyed them. OK, NOW, let’s get to the actual notes…
Leon Haywood’s “I Want To Do Something Freaky To You” was sampled to make “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
Ice Cube – Left NWA because of contract disputes with Jerry Heller and Easy E. He wrote all the lyrics on NWA’s Straight Outta Compton album and wasn’t paid properly by E and Heller. When Cube went solo he came East and got with Chuck D and the rest of Public Enemy. His early solo stuff was produced by PE’s production team The Bomb Squad.
Dr. Dre – Discovered Snoop Dogg, who was cool with Dre’s half brother Warren G. Snoop was recruited by Dean Smith to play basketball at North Carolina (Side note: This was something I didn’t know. And as a huge Carolina fan it made me excited to hear this in class. Go Heels!!!!). Dre’s first album The Chronic made music sound cinematic. “Dr. Dre wanted to his music to sound Hi Def and clean” – 9th… Dre wanted layers of sound to make his stuff sound like it was live. Also, Dre and Snoop said they freestyled everything they said on The Chronic. Snoop’s debut on record was on the song “Deep Cover” which was on the Deep Cover soundtrack. Dr. Dre never liked that song, and still doesn’t to this day.
Tupac – First heard on Digital Underground’s “Same Song”. His mother Afeni Shakur was a Black Panther. Pac was one of the first rappers to get movie roles. In fact, Chuck D says that he believes that Pac’s role as Bishop in the movie “Juice” is what changed his attitude and behavior to the much more aggressive levels that he became infamous for in the media. Tupac’s Thug Life tattoo was an acronym for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody”. Despite his public image, Tupac was trying to unite and organize black people. He wanted to get all the gangs to come together, stop fighting each other, and fight against the government. “He was basically finishing his mom’s work as a Panther” – 9th … “With Tupac it wasn’t it wasn’t about him being gangsta. It was about him being angry” – 9th
Nas – Son of Olu Dara, a well known and respected Jazz artist. Olu plays trumpet on Nas’s “Life’s A Bitch” song, and is featured on the song “Bridging The Gap” as well. Nas as discovered by MC Serch of the group 3rd Bass. His first appearance on record was on Main Source’s “Live At The BBQ”. He was about 16 or 17 at the time. His first album, Illmatic had parents and kids listening because it had lots of Jazz samples on it. The album is just under 40 minutes long, and features 10 tracks. An intro, and 9 songs. AZ is the only other person to rap on the album. He’s featured on “Life’s A Bitch”. The Hip Hop Fellowship 9th Wonder received from Harvard was renamed after Nas because he was the person who created its favorite MC.
“Scarface is the most influential movie in Hip Hop ever” – 9th
Puff Daddy – He attended Howard University in Washington, DC but didn’t graduate. Puff served as an intern at Uptown Record under Andre Harell. At some point Harell fired him, and he went on to start his own label, Bad Boy Records. He got the money to start Bad Boy from Arista Records, which was headed by Clive Davis. Davis picked up both Bad Boy and LaFace. He’s credited with creating the Hip Hop Remix. His version of remixing songs was to take the words from the original record and put them on a new track. And in some cases adding new people to the mix. For example, he put a young Biggie Smalls on Mary J. Blige’s "Real Love" Remix.
We first heard Mary J. Blige and Jodeci on Father MC records. Mary was on “I’ll Do For You” and Jodeci was on “Treat Em Like They Wanna Be Treated”. Also, Puff Daddy was a dancer in the Treat Em Right video.
Mary J. Blige was the first R&B artist for the Hip Hop Generation” – 9th
Mary J. Blige’s “You Remind Me” samples the drums from Audio Two’s song called “Top Billin”
LaFace Records was started by LA Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.
The “East Coast/West Coast Beef” was hyped up by the media. There was some tension between artists, but the media gave it that name and added fuel to the fire with the way they spoke and wrote about it.
Wu-Tang Clan – The Clan had 9 members. According to Raekwon’s recent interview on Noreaga’s Drink Champs Podcast the song “Protect Ya Neck” was the first time all 9 members recorded together. He said, they weren’t a group at the time. It was just a bunch of guys who all knew RZA. He put out the word that he wanted to record, told everyone to bring $100 (to pay for the studio time) and if they did that and had their rhyme ready they could get on the song. The Wu introduced lots of Hip Hop fans around the world to old school Kung Fu movies. Their debut album “Enter The Wu Tang 36 Chambers” got its title from the fact that there are 9 members, 9 hearts. Each heart has 4 chambers. 9*4 = 36.
Outkast – “Outkast was very much influenced by A Tribe Called Quest in terms of how they sound” – 9th… ‘Kast was one of the pioneers in Southern Rap. They made people from their native Atlanta, and other Southern cities proud to be from the south. Their music, videos, and style was what was popular in Atlanta at the time. They weren’t trying to be anyone else. And as Andre said at the ’95 Source Awards, “The South got something to say!”. And they certainly said it!
The Source Magazine – The magazine was started at Harvard University. It was known as Hip Hop’s Bible. Their Mic rating system for albums was considered the gold standard. The scale they used was between 1 and 5 mics. 1 was the lowest, and 5 was the highest. 5 Mic albums are considered classics.
Jay-Z – One of Hip Hop’s greatest MC’s. He debuted on “Can I Get Open?” by the group Original Flavor. When he first came out he was a fast rapper, but over time slowed his flow down to a more traditional pace. He’s well known for his double entendre flow. “Jay-Z is arguably Hip Hop’s first asshole” – 9th
Warren G – “Warren G is the artist that SAVED Def Jam!” – 9th … At the time Warren G joined the label, Def Jam Records was $18 Million in debt. Death Row and other West Coast labels, along with many popular acts from the South were at the top of Hip Hop. Luckily for Def Jam Warren was plugged in with guys like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. They could get the Death Row quality of sound and content from him. His song “Regulate”, which featured the late great Nate Dogg got Def Jam out of their debt and got them $20 Million into the black. Warren was the only member of his crew “(Dre, Snoop, Nate, etc.) to have a #1 song.
The Internet – The internet changed the way fans and tastemakers were able to find, listen to, and rate music among other things. I changed how we were able to communicate about everything in life, including the music we are into. It also impacted album sales. The ‘net changed the vetting system for music. It became an alternate reality or space for people to listen to music. Many people turned off their radios and started seeking out other avenues to find music. The Internet helped in that. College radio was also influential in this. Both had huge impacts on Hip Hop. “Once we started burning our own CD’s album sales went down.” – 9th
“Hip Hop is just a reflection of what America is” – 9th
“Without music would we know each other? Music is an experience” – 9th