What strikes me as I listen to these first two episodes is a) what a departure Hip-Hop was from everything else even as it ultimately cast the widest net possible in departing from everything else and b) how conversant I was on almost everything it diverted from.
Yes, as our trusted guide Nasty Nate has pointed out more than once, radio had become segregated by then and would continue down that dubious path following the delicious mix of everythang that had come in the wake of the 60s.
But I, the writer of this blog, was not segregated at all compared to most of my suburban Atlanta (white) brethren. The school system serving my hometown of Decatur, Georgia, right there next to the ATL inside the “Perimeter” (what we called our version of the Beltway), was fully desegregated by 1970 or so and by middle school and the blast of music going in late ‘72 (Nixon Now, motherfuckers!), I’m attending a majority black school system and my mom’s about to become a teacher in it.
So imagine my delight when, as I’m listening to the first two episodes and Eugene is talking about scenes i at least knew about and Alexei is talking about Jamaica’s heavy influence on Hip-Hop, which I at least knew about and would understand way more after I saw Bob Marley (props to Joel of the concert posse) in ‘79 and then visited Jamaica four times in the mid-‘80s.
I even knew something about reggae in ‘75 (the Book of Wenner my source), and though I wasn’t wild about Toots and the Maytals when they opened for The Who in late ‘75 (45 years ago last week, so help me Gawd), I didn’t see fit to boo them like a lot of the kids at that concert did when they kicked into a cover of “Country Roads.” (I thought the boos were more about a band opening for The Who performing a John Denver song — no one booed the fucking Meters when they opened for the Stones the previous summer, and had the Stones played Atlanta when Stevie Wonder was opening for them three years earlierI guarantee-fucking-T ya that no one would have booed Stevie. [He remained a staple for my high school band’s repertoire, thanks to the monumentally great Dr Mills, well into ‘78, come to Poppa).
As the great Bukka White said (I think it was Bukka but I’ll correct the record if it weren’t), if I’m lyin’ I’m buyin’.
Ed Legge (@freebirdyeller) is a life-long musician, long-time journalist and sometime corporate dweeb who’s writing a book about originating rock ‘n’ roll’s most absurd tradition.