To exactly no one’s surprise, Fox News is outdoing itself in tasteless, race-baiting garbage on the anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream Speech”. The above image, captured by Matt Binder, is just one particularly noxious example. Bill O’Reilly has been banging on about the evils of this rap music, known by the “kids” in their forties as hip-hop, as well. I don’t think I have to belabor the point about how this is just pure, nasty racism, designed to distract from the real issues people are talking about 50 years after this major event in the civil rights movement. But what I do have to add to this is this observation: Why do the folks at Fox News talk about hip-hop like it’s some brand new art form? To hear the right wing media go on and on about it, you’d think they just heard of this “rap music” the kids these days are listening to, and they cannot believe that people are finding these newfangled sounds so enticing. They’re talking about hip-hop like they’re grumpy old white people grousing about rock and roll in 1958. It’s fucking weird, because, even if you’re a really dedicated race-baiter, you have to know that hip-hop has been around forever, at least in pop music terms.
On August 11, 1973, Clive Campbell (note from Amanda: that’s DJ Kool Herc) DJed for his sister Cindy’s back-to-school party in the recreation center at 1520 Sedgwick. After spending months perfecting a new technique involving “playing the frantic grooves at the beginning or in the middle of the song” with two turntables, a mixer, and two copies of the same record, Campbell unveiled the technique at his sister’s party. After renting the recreation room for 25 dollars, Cindy charged 25 cents for females and 50 cents for males to attend. “I wrote out the invites on index cards, so all Herc had to do was show up. With the party set from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., our mom served snacks and dad picked up the sodas and beer from a local beverage warehouse.” With the exhibition of his new style, Campbell’s friend Coke La Rock demonstrated another innovation called rapping. Attendees, or people who later claimed to be there, include Grandmaster Caz, leader of the Cold Crush Brothers, Grandmaster Flash, Busy Bee, Afrika Bambaataa, Sheri Sher, Mean Gene, Red Alert, and KRS-One.
Yes, you read correctly. While there’s almost no way to say when any kind of musical form is “born”, the date that gets kicked around for the beginnings of hip-hop was forty years ago this month. Certainly, it had coalesced as a sound a few years later, and by the late 70s there were record labels and hit singles and I’m sure you guys have a pretty good idea of what happened next.
To give you an idea of how much of a put-on this “what is this crazy new music they call the raps?!” act is, I have compiled a list for you:
Things That Are Younger Than The Musical Genre Known As Hip-Hop
Things That Happened A Mere Ten Years To The Month After The March On Washington
Things That Are Younger Than “Yo! MTV Raps”, The Show That Made It Impossible To Pretend This Hip-Hop Thing Doesn’t Exist
Things That Happened 25 Years To The Month After The March On Washington
The race-baiting is morally repulsive. The whole “what is this rap music that the kids are listening to these days” act is just play-acting ignorance. Hip-hop was a big part of the musical background for two generations growing up and is now becoming that for a third generation. If it was going to destroy America, it would have done it by now. Chronologically, your generational panic makes about as much sense as someone freaking out about this “rock music” they’ve heard so much about in say, 1990. So kindly shut the fuck up, Fox News.