N.W.A. cover art by mastry81693

Hip-hop reflects the truth,
and the problem is that hip-hop
exposes a lot of the negative truth,
that society tries to conceal.
It’s a platform where we could offer
information, but it’s also an escape.
– Busta Rhymes


from Miramar Florida, a Young Woman we predict big things for, Morissaaa with Raw Then Tic


Hip Hop

by Kendall F. Person


Salt-N-Pepa 2014 courtesy of Daniel Gregory

I am a child of hip hop. I was in the eighth grade when Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang shifted the ground beneath our feet. We did not know it then – no one did – that it would change the game in the industry so drastically. So completely. It would make millionaires out of former bangers, and a billionaire out of one particular entertainer. It would alter the scope, the sound, the feel and the vision of the music industry, in a way, that rock and roll once did.

Many believed that rap was only a fad. Even some stalwarts in the music business bet against it, and lost everything they had. It survived ridicule, it detached itself from violence, and it connected the whole world in a way that few musical sounds have been able to do, till this very day.


tupacshakur by kickz8

Heavy D & the Boyz would emerge as the next ground breaker in an ever-changing game. His infusion of backup singers laid over his contagious lyrical flow, was proof of rap’s staying power, as now the genre was growing, conquering and dividing. Along with The Father MC (love him or hate him) they laid the foundation for what is considered hip hop today. The Father MC, however, was undone by trying to out dual Heavy D. He surrounded his lyrics with a superior backup group, that overshadowed his music and Jodeci became a million album selling group.

NWA proved the depth of rap groups, by each member going their own way, giving birth to solo giants that are Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and the late Eazy E. With a mere three notable exceptions (The Beatles, The Eagles and New Edition) no other popular group has disbanded and produced so many successful solo acts. Perhaps, poetic justice that Dr. Dre would become the first billionaire hip-hop rapper.



The Beastie Boys by Ste.Merrigan


In the late 1980s, when rap had securely established itself as a cultural icon in Black America, but just before it crossed over into a worldwide phenomenon, I attended a rap festival at The Coliseum in Oakland, California. It was the largest spectacle of rap music on one stage and the tickets would fly off the shelves. Run DMC headlined the bill, with a powerhouse supporting cast of LL Cool J, Whodini and the Timex Social Club. It was a spectacular showcase of music and one of the most memorable concerts I have ever attended. While Run DMC held down the fort, with LL Cool J and Whodini delivering masterful performances, what I remember most is 18,000 African-American fans on their feet, grooving, swaying, trapped in the grasp of the backwards baseline of a song called Paul Revere, performed by a trio of young, white rappers, known as The Beastie Boys…who blew the roof off the coliseum.

It would be well over a decade later before Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, would solidify the rank of white rappers, of the best there ever was, color be damned, but it is The Beastie Boys that behold legacy.



Cypress Hill


Cypress Hill were not just of the first Latino hip-hoppers, but they were also the coolest. Well before marijuana was legal, their music saluted bud smokers everywhere, without making it seem rebellious. And while Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez have songs in the genre and would be considered the most popular, it was the emergence of Los Rakas that its niche was fortified within the genre.

Los Rakas are Panamanian-Americans, and if  the irony is lost, Panama is not only where the diasporas cross, but literally serves as a land bridge, connecting North to South America. Their music blends hip-hop, tejano, rap, and calypso so effortlessly, its as if the genre had already been born. Only The Fugees come close in describing their original vibe. And only Selena eclipses their place in musical history.



Tupac, along with his darkness, would bring a poetic brilliance to rap, inspiring the University of California’s flagship campus, Berkeley to offer classes based upon his art. Queen Latifah would become a leading lady, years before the emergence of Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj. Ice T and LL Cool J would have staying power long after they ruled the rap stage. MC Hammer would add  entertainment, with Master P and P Diddy producing their own wealth, expanding their empires, well beyond rap’s reach. And of course. the reigning maestro, Jay-Z has taken the hip hop brand to a whole other planet, recently eclipsed, however, by the billionaire Dr. Dre.

And while hip-hop lives strong on the main stage, it still thrives in the underground – where it began – and on December 1, The Neighborhood will countdown The Top 30 Songs, with the number 1, opening the Season-ending Show and will wear the mantle as the 2015 Best Song of the Year.

– this is… The Neighborhood

The Neighborhood Shows

39 Comments on “Hip-Hop

  1. As an avid fan of hip-hop since the mid to late 80’s, I liked your list but found it a bit commercial. One of the greatest hip-hop bands of all time, Public Enemy, had almost no radio play and they still sell out shows all over the world to this day. However, they did not garner a mention. In addition, there were many other groups that preached a higher message but they were silenced or at least drowned out by the commercial artists. The role of hip-hop was to discuss social issues and illuminate a different culture not necessarily to sell a bunch of records.

    Liked by 1 person

    • During the mid 80s, Public Enemy was my absolute favorite group. Their omission was neither purposeful, calculated or missed, simply the direction of Hip Hop (this show) did not allow for their mention. But I owe them one (big smile) Thank you for the reminder and for adding your voice. And you will find, if you keep up with the countdown, The Neighborhood is a stage for underground artists. You are appreciated for being a part of The Neighborhood.


  2. Pingback: The Sermon | Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger

  3. Pingback: Crossing the Latino Diaspora | Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger

  4. Great piece on hip-hop, much love! Now I’d love to hear your opinion on some recent trends in the genre. How do you think Hip-hop has changed as a genre, as a culture, and as the vibrant community that it is?


    • Thank you for adding your voice and for letting me know you enjoyed the show. You are appreciated. >> Re-read Hip-Hop, and I imagine you will not have the same questions. But if you do, let me know. Welcome to The Neighborhood. so glad you made it. Much love as well.


      • I was really thinking about more recent artists like Iggy Azalea, Macklemore, etc. who have been successful in the commercial sense, but many would say don’t really represent the true spirit of hip-hop. Do you think they detract from the success of underground rappers like Hussle Crowe, Keenan Rucker, Rashad Neutch, and others trying to find an audience for their work? There are so many opinions out there, but I feel like it’s always best to get it from someone who’s in the culture, grew up on it, and has an understanding of it, much like yourself.


        • “It would alter the scope, the sound, the feel and the vision of the music industry, in a way, that rock and roll once did.” >> “His infusion of backup singers laid over his contagious lyrical flow, was proof of rap’s staying power, as now the genre was growing, conquering and dividing.” >> “would solidify the rank of white rappers, of the best there ever was, color be damned” >> “with Master P and P Diddy producing their own wealth, expanding their empires, well beyond rap’s reach” – You didn’t reread, Grasshopper.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I grew up up with all of the above, due to having European parents, my skin tanned, whilst being born & raised in OZ, those days were heavily into racial warfare. An African,American friend of mine at school introduced me to N.W.A, ICE-CUBE, ICE-T, then i was hooked, i later found 2pac(Shakur) who kicked arse, as the Lyrics were Honestly True – R.I.P,

    Like always my Friend, Your Show, with a great performance, where you’re going, you deserve to be there.. bravo


  6. hey kendall i have always been in love with your articles thats why i have started displaying your posts on my blog fisidinho.wordpress.com pls kindly display some of mine too…merry christmass


  7. Loved the B – Boys but my bad was mimicking Too $hort – late 80s was a hellish time for music – rap, southern rock and metal …good times and that was in the MIdwest, lol!


  8. Excellent article. My first experience with Hip Hop was when I was a little kid walking home from playing baseball. I found a cassette beaten and cracked on the shoulder of the road. I was a pretty handy kid. I took it apart, replaced the crushed casing and it worked flawlessly. It had no label and the mystery was too much for me to let slip by. I had a 90 minute cassette of Run DMC live in concert, from what year I couldn’t tell you. I have to say it was a defining moment for me. It was a window out of my little world. Suddenly there was something more than cow killing music and top 40. I wore that tape out over the next few years in my little one speaker radio. I think it definitely impacted my tastes. My personal music collection now contains over 17 days worth of varied music and is quite diverse. Had I not found that crushed cassette so long ago I don’t think I’d even have a music collection. – JM


  9. Loved this post!! I recently went to a party and requested a Sugar Hill Gang song, amd he didnt know who I meant until he searched on his laptop… (DJ? With no vinyl! What next?! Lol!) grew up with some of these classics, my uni days peppered with these sounds! Thanks for bringing some of them back to me!


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