An invitation to be a juror at the RTS Awards ( Royal Television Society) dropped in my email. I’m always grateful. The work is rewarding and it’s an opportunity to say hello to old C4 News friends like Mr Snow, showing here his crips cum hip hop creds.
Jon, there’s an invitation coming your way for a hip hop dance off, when this Covid-19 is all over ( see Marcus Ryder’s tweet below).
But to the present because at the same time, a tweet comes in. My desk is strewn with papers I need to mark. A deadline looms and I’m not up for being distracted. No sir!
Alice’s (Bhandhukravi) tweet is a bomb. You’ve probably caught Alice presenting BBC London’s news. But she has another passion. She’s a 90s aficionado of old Skool.
Her previous tweet some days back featured DJ Cassidy spinning old skool RNB, passing the mike. Bel Biv Devoe killed me! Those moves, remember the moves. But Cassidy’s hip hop gallery of greats passing the mike is a thing of beauty. Alice’s tweet is causing me angst.
I watch and then message her: “Alice I would like to thank you for completely wrecking my evening…”
I’m transfixed and reliving my nostalgic self: Public enemy; Rakim, Doug. E Fresh, Salt and Pepper, LL Cool J, Salt and Pepper, and then this….this.. Hip Hop Hooray.
If you are of a certain feel, and you have toast on, or eggs on the fire, or you’re waiting to start work, you’re now going to be late or you’ve burnt your breakfast. Alice apologises as I retweet several people.
Prof Dr. Jonathan responds. He doesn’t do things by the half measure. He’s just been made Top Voice on Linkedin 4 years in a row. He drops this beat. Yep play it.
Marcus Ryder MBE, who’s just been nominated one of the most influential black people in the UK, replies. It speaks for many. Hip Hop Hooray.
Barry Diamond, killer graphic designer, who knows a few stars as friends e.g. Goldie gives it a power salute
That is the power of music, and hip hop.
I’m listening through and whilst I remember Ice T and NWA, the pioneers back then played with words that largely eschewed explicits of today. I mean “Arrested Development?” That’s an observation. When Russell Simmons visited my former Uni with Jay-z and Rev Run years ago, whatever an artist says that’s their reality and you cannot deny an artist’s voice, he said.
I first came across Hip Hop whilst in boarding school in Ghana. It was around 1980 after the Sugar Hill Gang had released Rappers Delight. In my house, several boys, me included, learnt the words — top to bottom. Several years later we’re gathered at a send-off. A brother’s family member has passed. We’re giving him the full works. “Travel well bro. Anything you need we’ve got your back”.
Moments after this video (above), we’re dancing to old skool Hip Hop! That’s how we Ghanians mourn. Sorrow and celebrations.
Of course with Rappers Delight we were all Chic fans too, but Hip Hop back in the days was a different experience.
Years later in London, I got to know DJs who presented LWR, and Kiss FM — then pirate stations. I clubbed with several Hip Hoppers at the Wag, Legends, and Electric Ballroom. That, and my recollection of Chris Cleverly’s party — best friends with Ozwald Boateng has permanence in my memory. Hip Hop Hooray is an ear worm and Cyprus Hill’s “Jump Around”.
And then co-presenting a show on the BBC, Black London, which featured an array of hip hop stars, filmmakers, writers, musicians and yes hard news impacting black folk. I have recently found old tapes from that era.
On one of them ( I’m scurrying around my tapes for a few seconds. Nope can’t find it yet) has rapper MePhiMe is in the studio doing a live jingle with Sheryl and my name. Excellent!
These are trying times, but the evidence and it’s not needed is Hip Hop is the great healer. Alice and I are thinking of a Podcast of ol’ hoppers going through memories and their collection. I know Prof Jonathan will be on board for that.
Meanwhile, my markings are due. I’ve recently found out I have been made Chair of Future of Journalism Committee at Cardiff University. I wonder whether I can convince them to have a hip hop tribute?
Oh yeah Hip Hop Hooray.
Big up to… https://twitter.com/hiphopsych