Re: A Theory

1

Pansy might not be exactly it -- effete intellectual? I don't listen to rap, because I basically don't listen to music, so this is the most ignorant possible comment, but the bits and pieces of lyrics I know sound like they're largely driven by wittiness -- that rap is about verbal cleverness in a way that rock lyrics largely aren't. And witty generally isn't something that makes one think "tough".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:28 AM
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Rock lyrics have gotten less stupid since rap came around.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:31 AM
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3

Not that William Bennett will give rap any credit for that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:32 AM
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4

Is this a weird timewarp post on purpose? A subtle commentary on HRC's announcement, maybe?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:42 AM
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1: That's the little-known influence of country music on rap lyrics.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:47 AM
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The Nelly-Tim McGraw collaboration is little known in your skewed world-view?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:54 AM
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6: My utter ignorance is exposed.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:00 AM
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8

Out of curiosity, what popular music genres do you think are the, "truest depiction of the life of [youth]."

I wonder if you're trying to explain something that doesn't demand an explanation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:27 AM
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The best/worst collaboration is Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's "Accidental Racist".


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:37 AM
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what popular music genres do you think are the, "truest depiction of the life of [youth]."

What is the sound of one bong bonging?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:42 AM
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No but guys

"gangsta rap"? "The Chronic" is old enough to run for congress. I am pretty sure nobody has called a contemporarily produced piece of music "gangsta rap" since the Clinton administration. Who is this post referring to? Odd Future? Rick Ross? The gangstas have moved on. (Even that meme is more than ten years old.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:45 AM
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"File this in the discarded folder, Sullivan, it's a little too obvious for the January 1994 New Republic cover. But don't just throw it away -- in 21 years or so a befuddled Iranian-American who was trapped for years in a desert cave with small children may find it and place it on some form of computer sharing service, perhaps some future version of the 'world wide web.'"


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:46 AM
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11: Maybe Ogged is just waxing nostalgic about the quaint moral panics of yesteryear.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:47 AM
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8: That's easy. Emo.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:49 AM
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What is the sound of one bong bonging?

Okay, sure, or a song like "10:15 Saturday Night"

But, to put it differently, people have been writing songs about gangsters for a long time. I'm still not conviced that you need a theory to explain gangster rap (or, rather, if you have a theory you need to be specific about what it is that you're trying to explain).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:53 AM
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It wasn't quite worth a post, but I finally located a song from 1992 that has been mildly haunting me since then, and it's still so good. Everyone remember Ditty by Paperboy?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:54 AM
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4 gets it right. You are an old, old man, ogged.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:56 AM
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Did Frank Sinatra sing about gangsters or just hang with them? Either way, I've had "That's Why the Lady is a Tramp" in my head for most of the morning. It's not been bad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:56 AM
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Your post would be much more plausible if hip-hop began with the gangsta stuff. But people had been buying it without shame for a long time, even when the rhymes were about your friend's mom being an awful cook.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:57 AM
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15.3: That song shows the moral degeneration of America. Back then a man killed another man over a hat. Now kids kill each other over shoes. What more can I say?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:58 AM
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20 is excellent.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:03 AM
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You are an old, old a white, white man, ogged.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:28 AM
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You are horrible, horrible people. Look, my ignorance of the hippity-hop is well attested, but is there not still hippity hop made by tough-acting youth? That's what I mean.

To 19, I'd say that whitey wasn't buying it for long before that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:35 AM
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23: No, you are a horrible horrible person, You just went full TNR.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:43 AM
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I know the "gangsta rap" moniker doesn't get used much any more, but into what hip-hop subgenre would (non-ogged) people place, say, Pusha T?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:46 AM
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I'd say that whitey wasn't buying it for long before that.

It didn't exist long before that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:48 AM
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is there not still hippity hop made by tough-acting youth?

Sort of? I think there's a huge (and interesting) amount of variety in the kinds of poses rappers take that fit approximately into "tough-acting". "Gangsta rap" was a specific reaction at a specific moment, and doesn't really have much to do with the cultural forces and narrative shorthands somebody making rap in 2015 is engaged with.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:48 AM
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23: Let us muse without evidence. It seems plausible that appeal to a larger white audience started around the same time as the 90s west-coast g shift. (PE had crossover appeal with a kind of white audience, but I'd guess it wasn't huge?) But: I wonder if, e.g. NWA was more popular because (a) it was musically simpler than at least some of the popular late-80s stuff, and (b) it depicts the black man as the white suburban teen imagines him? Surely there are dissertations about this.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:50 AM
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Sifu, honestly.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:52 AM
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(Pusha T)


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:53 AM
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Let us muse without evidence

Not merely new, but perhaps permanent, mouseover.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:56 AM
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"Gangsta rap" was a specific reaction at a specific moment...

Specifically, the moment when MC Hammer thought he could buy anything in the world.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:57 AM
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Also, west coast/g-funk Gangsta rap hit at sort of a critical period in terms of how much rap was getting played on MTV, right? Schoolly D was as edgy as anybody, but wasn't any kind of huge crossover hit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:01 AM
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but wasn't any kind of huge crossover hit

Siouxsie and the Banshees would beg to disagree.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:05 AM
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I never heard of Schoolly D until just now, but then I thought it was "Susie and the Banshees."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:16 AM
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36

Bring things closer to the relevant time period, i just happened to watch the opening sequence of Office Space last night. Michael Bolton car rapping..


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:31 AM
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35: A friend of mine once referred to "See-ox-ee and the Banshees".


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:35 AM
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38

Yeah, but Ganstagrass is hot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwRTpPRR2Jw&list=PL-Yz5VzR-AivolfZgNUhmgZxYoOUIXBUx&index=13


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:36 AM
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. It seems plausible that appeal to a larger white audience started around the same time as the 90s west-coast g shift.

This seems so very wrong. Along with MC Hammer, let's reminisce how much mainstream rap there was pre-Gangster. Will Smith, Vanilla Ice, Salt-n-Pepa, Kris-Kross, Biz Markie etc. When I was in middle school, there was plenty of pop rap.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:36 AM
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40

In fact, it was a very very common thing (eg Paula Abdul) for every single pop song to stop 3/4 of the way through, and ahem, "break it down".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:39 AM
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41

ahem

Why ahem?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:41 AM
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42

Has any bands critical acclaim dived as much as "arrested development"?

It was a good album.


Posted by: Lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:43 AM
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43

Loosely related, one of the interesting theories put forth in Can't Stop Won't Stop (itself now dated, I read it a while ago) is that the entire survival of hip-hop as an art form at all was predicated on white support, specifically from trendy new-wave NYC types in the early 80s. It was basically a Bronx-black NYC trend in the mid-late 70s that was largely dying out in Bronx youth culture by the early 80s, but then Debbie Harry style New Wavers fell in love with it, starting bringing MCs downtown, giving them cocaine, having them play on records, etc., and basically created the financial and cultural cache necessary for hip hop to keep on developing and gaining new practitioners. Another way of looking at it is that there was a genuine not-influenced-at-all-by-the-white-market hip hop, but it was exclusively for playing parties in the Bronx and ceased to exist before the commercial recorded hip hop market existed at all. It's almost always been a racial crossover genre.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:46 AM
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44

41: It's an affect I've acquired.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:47 AM
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Drifting way off topic here, but 43 reminded me of an interview with John Travolta where he said that when they made Saturday Night Fever, everyone involved thought that they were making a period piece about a (recently) dead subculture. Apparently the outfits mostly came from used clothing stores, because those were the only places that sold that sort of clothing.

Then the movie came out...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:52 AM
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34 I recently discovered that I have a helluva lot more Siouxsie and the Banshees on vinyl than I remember purchasing back in the day.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:57 AM
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39: fair point! I had forgotten about so much of that. But "Straight outta Compton" was 1988, as was "he's the dj...," while "Please Hammer don't hurt 'em" and "ice ice baby" came out in 1990. So it sounds like the mainstreaming was contemporaneous but not caused by the gangsta alternative.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:04 AM
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4: Is this a weird timewarp post on purpose? A subtle commentary on HRC's announcement, maybe?

Close, Marco Rubio:

In the same vein, Rubio's advisers have talked up his fluency in discussing hip-hop -- he famously prefers Tupac over Biggie, and is on a first-name basis with Pitbull -- as a key signifier of his generational appeal.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:07 AM
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25 - Clipse came to my mind to, so I looked it up: their first single came out in 1997. In conclusion, Ogged is pretty sure this "rack and roll" music has a future.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:07 AM
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39: Don't forget Young MC, who went to my high school and got his start DJing school dances as "DJ Marvin".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:09 AM
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everyone involved thought that they were making a period piece about a (recently) dead subculture

And even that was mistaken.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:18 AM
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50 -- yes, he was a "West Coast" rapper by virtue of being ... an economics major at USC.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:20 AM
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a key signifier of his generational appeal

I prefer this 20-years-dead rapper to that 20-years-dead rapper. And I'm on a first-name basis with that guy in the Bud Light commercials.

Though I suppose that probably is still decidedly hipper than Ted Cruz's or Rick Santorum's iPods.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:20 AM
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If Marco Rubio can bring on the earth-destroying fireball of which Pitbull sings, I'm all for him.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:22 AM
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a first-name basis with Pitbull -- as a key signifier of his generational appeal.

So he's aiming for the zumba vote?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:22 AM
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their first single came out in 1997

Jesus, and they formed in 1992. AKA the year I graduated from college. WTF, time?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:23 AM
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There's apparently a chapter about gangsta rap, including the name itself in its purview, in J/son St/nley's book on propag/nda.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:23 AM
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first-name basis with Pitbull

Does Pitbull even have a second name?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:24 AM
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So what's the origin of the excruciatingly white pseudo-rap you see in commercials and other infradig media, the kind that starts "I'm MC ___ and I'm here to say..."? Was there ever popular music that vaguely resembled that?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:24 AM
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56: FLAT CIRCLE, BRO


Posted by: OPINIONATED TIME | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:25 AM
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58: Pitbull's his last name. His first name is Clem.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:25 AM
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59: sure. In 1981.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:26 AM
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59: Busy Bee Starski, boyee.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:28 AM
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59: The SuperBowl Shuffle performed by the Chicago Bears in 1986. I actually was in Chicago that year.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:28 AM
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the kind that starts "I'm MC ___ and I'm here to say..."?

For that cliche in particular, see this. From which:

Yet, in the entire annals of this pioneer-era of hip-hop, the closest thing to someone hitting the now ubiquitous cliche is on Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's 1980 single "Birthday Party" where Melle Mel states "Melle Mel and I'm here to say/ I was born on the 15th day of May."

Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:29 AM
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64: I think that counts in the media I mentioned.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:37 AM
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67

Beware the Ides of May.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:38 AM
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68

I am making my way through the rap singles listed in the back of the "book of rap lists" and this one is amazing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9I56Kkxh_os

The story behind it is pretty crazy too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_Bop

a version of the furious 5 recording on a label other than sugarhill back in 1979 is also good:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y-eeDl-MaI

Somebody sets people straight in the youtube comments:

Alfonso Serrano 4 months ago (edited)
Umm, I recorded the cowbell and hand claps, my friend Ray recorded the Shakers and hand claps and my other friend Rene played the congas with a bassist who also played guitar riffs. It was all live music recored in October of 1979 at Delta Studios on in Ave in NYC. Grand Master wasn't there, ask Melle Mel if you don't believe me. By the way Terry Lewis who produced the recording disappeared with the profits and we had signed papers with him.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:43 AM
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69

Anyway, interesting, thanks all.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:49 AM
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68.1: those lists are great. I have a compilation somebody put together of all the mp3s from all the lists through 1990 or so. Have you gotten to Street Justice yet? It's sort of delightfully terrible.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 12:53 PM
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71

I want to know who first put their hands up in the air like they just didn't care.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 1:25 PM
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Various followers of Adolf Hitler.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 1:29 PM
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70

I did not think to look for a torrent. My kids have converted me to using those Youtube to MP3 converters.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 1:34 PM
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Various followers of Adolf Hitler.

No, I think they cared. Many of them, for example, cared about not getting shot.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 1:48 PM
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75

All except August Landmesser.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 3:33 PM
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It was basically a Bronx-black NYC trend

Equally Puerto Rican in the early years. Relatedly, "rapping" was early on the least prominent of the 4 elements (graffiti, break dancing, DJing, and rapping) in hip hop culture, and the most prominent break dancing groups were majority Puerto Rican.

Rap was very slow to commercialize. "Rapper's Delight" ('79) was hugely successful as a single, but the music industry had no idea what to do with it. The biggest thing the Debbie Harry / New Wave infatuation with hip hop culture did for the commercial breakthrough of rap was presumably putting it on the radar of Rick Rubin.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 3:38 PM
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Can't Stop Won't Stop

I think this title is mostly unrelated, but now I'm not going to be able to get that Junior Senior song out of my head for days.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 4:11 PM
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I don't know enough about this topic to weigh in. But I'm surprised no one has mentioned:

1) The Beastie Boys. "Licensed to Ill" came out in 1986.
2) The "Fear of a Black Hat" movie, 1993.


Posted by: Spysander Looner | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 4:39 PM
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The "Fear of a Black Hat" movie, 1993.

I loved that movie. But I think you and I may have been the only people to ever see it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 4:43 PM
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77: and now you have ably paid it forward.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 4:58 PM
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81

79.last: Wrong.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:10 PM
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82

79.last what Blandings said. Love that movie.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:24 PM
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83

I've never seen it but I don't want to contradict Blandings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:32 PM
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78

Thanks for reminding me. I totally loved that movie. NWH!

I don't know if it was the novelty or the drugs, but I thought it one-upped Spinal Tap (despite totally stealing its premise).


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:58 PM
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Most people I've ever asked have never heard of NWH. Well, I did not like the movie, precisely, but it was a reaction to a specific place and time...


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:07 PM
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Those song parodies were just so dead-on. Funny as hell and good songs too.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:15 PM
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I forgot all about that movie! I saw it, but I've forgotten everything about it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:31 PM
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88

Fear of a Black Hat was awesome.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:44 PM
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If this is the music thread, I won't bother to pause/play:

If I wanted to replicate the opening pages of Huysmans's En Route, could I still do that? Are there Catholic churches with big choirs that do all the old-timey stuff? Do you have to go to Vienna or something to get that?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:28 PM
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Topical Fear of a Black Hat traffic stop.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:32 PM
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76: "Rock Around the Clock" -- 1954; "Rapper's Delight" -- 1979 = 25 years

"Rapper's Delight" -- 1979; now -- 2015 = 36 years.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:33 PM
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Will Smith

Um, no. That was late-90s. I believe you meant to refer to The Fresh Prince, or more particularly to the rap duo "DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:16 AM
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"Will Smith, né The Fresh Prince"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:24 AM
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