Know Your History: Episode 7 – Rap Moves Out of NY

Welcome to Episode 7 of Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. 

You can stream this show with the player below, download it for free, or read this transcript. 

It’s important to remember that everything is built upon what has come before.

We take it for granted that we have samplers, laptops, and all of this fancy recording equipment and software.

However, back in the days when hip-hop started, all we had was a record player, a turntable. That was it. Someone brilliantly figured out that you could put two of them together, playing the same record, to extend the break beat. This effectively turned a turntable into a sampler well before samplers ever existed. We then had drum machines and fancy recording gear come out of that.
A lot of the fancy recording techniques that are done today in pop music, electronic music, rock music, or any other genre, are directly influenced by hip-hop. Some might want to argue this fact by stating that this technology may have come about anyway. Maybe so, but I think you need to recognize the early hip-hop pioneers for what they did and the influence they have had over time.
Hip-hop was born in New York. It originated in the Bronx in 1973 and it might have stayed there if it weren’t for some very popular groups
An interesting piece of hip-hop history revolves around two guys from South Africa, Clive Calder and Ralph Simon. Together they formed Zomba Music Group. They moved to London, England and founded Jive Records in 1978. They also opened a New York office and took a chance with rap music. They signed a group named Whodini. Whodini became one of the first commercially successful rap acts. This success led Jive records to shift their focus almost completely towards rap music.
If you go through your record collection, or mine, you’ll notice that pretty much all of the popular rap music from the early to mid-1980s was on Jive Records. Artists like BDP, Schoolly D, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, A Tribe Called Quest all called Jive home. Jive records was quite literally owning hip-hop back then.
1984 was a landmark year for hip-hop. Rap music had been pretty much relegated to New York up to that point. That was where it was based. That was where it had been born as a culture. However, with the help of groups like Whodini, The Fat Boys, and Run-DMC, rap started to garner attention all across the United States.
Hip-hop was able to move over to the West Coast and rooted itself there. Local scenes popped up in Philadelphia, Texas, and in Atlanta. When I think about hip-hop outside of New York, those are the first things that come to mind. However, while doing my research for this episode, I was surprised to find out that when hip-hop got big back in 1984, it almost immediately skipped across the pond and landed in Paris, France.
Dee Nasty put out an album in 1984, Paname City Rapping. This is the title track from that album. It’s interesting to hear what hip-hop sounded like in France at the height of its popularity back in the early 1980s. .
Hip-hop got huge in 1984 and became a worldwide phenomenom. When I started researching for this episode I knew I wanted to look at Philadelphia in 1986. I was quite surprised to find this early recording from France. It just goes to show you the power hip-hop culture had and how quickly it spread.
Tomorrow we will look closely at Philadelphia and continue our coverage of the explosion of hip-hop culture on a worldwide scale back in the 1980s.

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