April 23, 2006

"You said you're the best.
But when I'm around you're the second best."

My Voice is Insured for Half a Million Dollars - Dennis Alcapone
The evolution and ultimate birth of hip-hop is a much contested story. I, for one, do not want to add my meager two cents. However, Jeff Chang agrees with me. Jamaican music, namely the DJ sound system culture, had an impact on rap.

Dennis is the master of "toasting." He took the reggae records he loved, played them loud, and toasted over them. Replace the word "toasted" with "rapped" and you get the idea. This Trojan Records collection takes Alcapones choice cuts from the early to late seventies. For those that love the seventies roots reggae and rocksteady sound. I especially enjoy the Ethiopians cuts.

It may lack that modern swagger, production, and "boom-bap." But there's (probably) no denying, the kids in the Bronx who heard this from their Jamaican neighbors, started toasting over some James Brown.

And you just cannot fuck with that title.

For those that are history inclined (and have lots of time), pick up Jeff Chang's hip-hop generation book. He mixes history, race, economics, politics, and NYC and comes up with his story of hip-hop. It all started one fateful day when the Cross Bronx Expressway began construction...


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