Hip Hop’s Having A Birthday Party And A Whole Lot Of Folks Ain’t Invited

When I decided to do this piece, I thought it would be headed in a completely different direction. I
thought that I would be discussing all of the people who are being left off the lists, tributes, stages,
salutes, and think pieces regarding the 50-year anniversary of Hip Hop. But interestingly enough, it
became about something completely different. It somehow found its way into being a refreshingly
positive space for folks to speak their hearts and minds about the celebration of those people being left
off the lists.

Upon interviewing some of our favorite artists, producers, behind-the-scenes gurus, radio personalities,
friends, and family members, I discovered how much so many different people meant to so many
different people. By asking one simple question, I was able to glean completely different points of view that now rest deeply in my own Hip Hop heart. These points of view are valid, important, and quite frankly pretty damn amazing.

Take a look below at what our fellow citizens of the Hip Hop community had to say about who they
think should be included, remembered, and respected as we celebrate our five decades of

The question that I asked everyone was, “In a dream world, who would you love to see celebrated in the
50-Year- Anniversary of Hip Hop hubbub, that is not currently being featured by the media at large?”

Rich Nice: “It would be nice if the actual culture was celebrated. The Grammys attempted & failed
although it was “entertaining”. Now BET (whom I had high hopes for) has followed with another failed
attempt at honoring the very culture that has made them billions. Salute to all the performers for a
great performance. However, celebrating Hip Hop Culture is more than highlighting your favorite rapper
or rap song.”

Sway: “I’d have to say my brother King Tech because he spearheaded and played a significant role in revolutionizing the way rap music was programmed on mainstream radio. In 1990 working with 106 KMEL along with his mix show team, he introduced the blueprint to then station PD Keith Naftaly (an RCA exec) on how to surround mainstream artists like; Janet Jackson, Mariah, Boys II Men, or SWV with artists like Nas, NWA, A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, and Scarface all on the same format. After that, Hot 97 in New York, 92.3 in Los Angeles, and Power 99 in Philadelphia soon followed. It became a huge essential component to this very day for Hip Hop artists to become the biggest artists on the planet. Tech should get props for much more than just spearheading “The World Famous Wake Up Show“. It’s mostly because of him that we have rap radio in the mainstream realm period.”

Troy Shelton: “I was told by an OG, “You can always tell the pioneers because they’re the ones with the most arrows in their backs!  That pioneer in my opinion not being celebrated at all in fact is DJ Marley Marl!  Aside from his huge hits and working with just about every Hip Hop legend you could name, he co-pioneered the first Hip Hop radio show; “The Rap Attack” on WBLS (shout out to Mr. Magic & Fly Ty), and was the first producer to utilize sampling as a production technique. This pales in comparison to using his small Queensbridge apartment, as the first stop for many artists like Roxanne Shante, Salt & Pepa, Big Daddy Kane, Eric B & Rakim and the “Diabolical” Biz Markie to begin their rap careers. There’s so much this man has done to feed the infancy of this fledgling art form and culture that his negation from proper adulation is wholly unacceptable. To this day, Marley Marl continues his Hip Hop journey daily on WBLS, while also producing Hip Hop, House Music and R&B. So, Hip Hop needs to get it right! DJ Marley Marl not only deserves hubbub, but every accolade this Hip Hop culture can muster man. It’s only right!

Dart Adams: “Larry Smith. The super producer who originated Run DMC’s sonic aesthetic on their early
albums and originated the phrase “Krush Groove” which was used for a movie he didn’t even appear in.
He worked with, and produced hits and classics for; Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, Jimmy Spicer, The Fat Boys,
Grandmaster Flash & Whodini

Kwame: “So whether you like him or not, MC Hammer opened the door to Hip Hip just a bit wider. He
exposed kids to Hip Hop that would have never liked rap. And even though “purists” trashed him, he showed
everyone that A: Hip Hip can actually make you rich. You can sell 10 million records when everyone
else was gold & barely platinum. And then B: You can have big endorsements and merch, toys, clothing, cartoons etc. This exposure allowed kids worldwide to now explore other forms of hip hop which made way for them to start pouring all their dollars into whatever subgenre they liked IE Gangsta rap. Which was the total opposite of“Hammer Rap“. But you can’t have one success without the other.”

Mr. Len: “I Would love to see more DJs being celebrated. 45 King, Prince Paul, DJ Pooh, Jam Master Jay,
Scott La Rock.
So much goes into the creation of the music that fuels the culture but very little reverence is given to the people who play it and create it.”

Jimmy Maynes: “When I think about Hip Hop and the 50th year celebration, I’m wondering where is the
voice of Arrested Development, A Tribe Called Quest, and OutKast? In my “dreamworld”, how the
media treats the legacy of our music is important. I would like them to find as much time as they spend on politics, sinking subs and wars, for the one genre of music that has the possibility to bring us all together when we stop excluding others.”

Chaundon AKA Finian St. Omer: “I would love to see JJ Fad celebrated in the 50-Year Anniversary of Hip
Hop. They laid down the financial foundation and brought credibility to Ruthless Records which helped
launch the legendary career of NWA. They deserve their flowers and more.”

Ron Mills: “Schooly D. is the original creator of Gangsta Rap. I’m not seeing any mentions of stories based
on his input and artistry. Independent releases with hand-drawn labels and his sound and bars were
different from anything I’ve ever heard. In the “King of New York” movie, Schooly D was used as the musical
backdrop. I thought this would remind everyone but I feel it’s not where it should be. Looking at my Gucci it’s
about that time to remind everyone who the father of Gangsta Rap is. Oh and also Kool G Rap. There should be no explanation needed for that one.”

Koku Tona: Boot Camp Clik is the most obvious one to me amongst the least universally mentioned in Hip Hop celebrations right now.

DJ DV-One: “Wow! Can we start with X-Clan? Or how about T La Rock, Mantronix or Just Ice as
foundational heads just to name a few?”

Keith Perrin Jr.: “I’d like to see the clothing brands that shaped hip hop celebrated as well. Music and Fashion is Hip Hop. Whatever these celebrities wore back then was always a hot commodity and necessity in our neighborhoods. Of course, the rappers get 100% of their just due but they created a style through
fashion that has lasted just as long as Hip Hop has.”

Darrell “Digga” Branch: “As a producer, I like to highlight production work. Larry Smith is responsible for
a lot of hits during the 1980s. His work with the Fat Boys, Whodini and RUN-DMC was monumental. His
versatility as a producer should be highlighted and celebrated.”

Jay Quan: “Because emceeing is the most profitable of the elements, it is constantly isolated from the
others. This unfortunately makes many of these celebrations one-sided and incomplete.
To that point I must say, Where are the B-Boys and Girls? Not even Rock Steady is being mentioned.
Where are the graffiti artists? And for goodness sake where are the DJ’s? It’s as if Kool Herc and
Grandmaster Flash never even existed. Still. Where are the adults in the room to explain why these
people should never be left out?

These conversations made me think about my heroes as well. Heavy D songs changed the way I viewed the world more than a few times. Yet, I hardly hear his name mentioned except by his little cousin and my dear friend Pete Rock. What he did for the culture through his own music, not to mention at Uptown was critical in the expansion of rap as a genre.

We could also name a ton of others that have been audible treats for our ears over the years without batting an eye. Where are the mentions of people like; Grandmaster Flash, Busy Bee, Kurtis Blow, The Treacherous Three, The Fat Boys, Cold Crush Brothers, UTFO, Grandmaster Caz, EPMD, Das EFX, The Lost Boyz, Digital Underground, E-40, 8 Ball, A Tribe Called Quest, Monie Love, Lords Of The Underground, Red Head Kingpin, Shyheim, Digable Planets, Goodie Mob, Mobb Deep, De La Soul, Craig Mack, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Jazzy Jeff, Masta Ace, Eric B, Black Sheep, Craig G, Organized Konfusion, Onyx, Kwame, Special Ed, Poor Righteous Teachers, D.I.T.C., UGK, The D.O.C., Clipse, Dialated Peoples, 3rd Bass, Sweet Tee, MC Breed, Tone Loc, Coolio, Kid-N-Play, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Da Brat, MC Lyte, Bumpy Knuckles, Sean P, Luniz, Gang Starr, Company Flow, Scar Face, Eve, Souls Of Mischief, Jean Grae, Devin The Dude, Nelly, Pharcyde, Camp Lo, Redman, Lupe Fiasco, Slum Village, The UMC’s, Foxy Brown, Hi-Tek, Little Brother, Ja Rule, Dana Dane, The entire Undeground/Independent scenes as well as the battle rap homies and everyone else that I should name but don’t have your attention long enough to do so. What about them?

Each of the people mentioned has made me smile at one point or another in my lifetime and I’m certain they will again. The DJ’s created something for us to hold on to. This thing has made poor men rich and the entire world happy. They deserve all of the accolades afforded to them. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. In this 50-year jamboree of sorts, they should get their flowers first for without the DJs there is only silence.

To every DJ who cut a record, every graffiti artist who took a chance on getting caught, every B-boy or girl who risked life and limb to land the move we thank you. And to every artist wondering where their name is on the marquees … we’re with you. You all are appreciated. Happy Anniversary to all of you from us. Now … let’s party!

Let’s keep the list going! Your input matters to us too! Feel free to add your faves in the comments below. Who would you like to see mentioned and shown appreciation for?

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