The Man In Red E02S01 - Old School e Tradizione

Uploaded by lazypiola on 08.01.2012

If we pay attention to the word 'Old school' In the strictest meaning of the 'hip hop culture'
It appears that its use as a definition indicates: Old Scohol of habit, ideological manners artistic choices and tastes etc.
There has been a great historian named Eric Hobsbawn
who wrote the preface to the 'Invention of the tradition' (Cannardine Eds.)
where the main preface of Hobsbawn focus on the theory
that traditions are inventions and do not exist on their own.
Conversely, there exist people who invent or decide about the existence of traditionsů
in doing so they decide to choose among similar historical experiences or occurrences
and then assemble all these element in the new tradition.
Its an invention which is made afterwards.
Eric Hobsbawn also wrote 'Il Secolo Breve'
an amazing account of the last 100 years of history
where he also explained another theory:
There are two very important periods
in the life of a person who survive long enough:
Per segment of life of that person during her/his young years and
Another period in her/his own life (decades afterwards)
where she/he analyzes the period described in
trough the filter of the historical/sociological/philosophical and scientific analysis
i.e. at a moment when this 'first period' is old enough
to became subject to a more objective analysis.
In (b) the first period is enriched with details that transcend
the original parts of life lived directly in the first period of which
(a) and the perspective is enlarged of the new results
of the several analysis of specialists in various fields.
When we study the Old School Hip Hop period
we can try to apply these two methods described above.
First of all we can say that if all the traditions are inventions,
and that traditions are created AFTER the relevant facts have been occurred
and a mainstream interpretations to this facts is imposed over others
then what has occurred before shall be interpreted under that model
and that is then defined as the traditional model.
So, for example after many years of commercial R'n'B in the 90's
Aaliyah, Mary J Blige, of which I have talked in my past episode: the Golden Age of Hip Hop
years later, together with various types of hip hop and R'n'B
including gangsta Hip hop and a lot of other stuff
commercial and not commercial
are then to be accumulated and absorbed in a main category
which then refers to the generic, albeit ambiguous, definition of 'The Golden Age of Hip Hop'
Conversely who has lived that period at that time
might have realized that, at that particular time,
there were many different type of hip hop
Some of them, very commercial, some other less,
and many other cultural phenomenon
also very far from the main cultural standards of hip hop,
For example in one article which came out during the early 90's
on a famous US magazine, I do not remember
if it was the source, or hip hop connection
on Hip Hop and homosexuality, dealing, inter alia
with a gay hip hop club in NYC
reporting picture of machos dancing and steering at each other.
In summary the 90's have been an accumulation of facts and events
which has been very different from each other in nature and spirit
Therefore to call the totality of 'these facts and events'
both respectively for the period 80/83
and also for the period 89/97
Its under the Hobsbawn model similar the sticking of a label
on a can containing very different objects.
And also mean to attach a 'tradition' to hip hop which claims that
For the 90's we call that entire period 'the Golden Age of Hip Hop'
And the early 80's period has to be called 'Old School'
and as I have said in the past episode
OLD because music sounds older if compared to the later release in that genre?
Using this rationale it could be argued that
any type of HIP HOP can sound 'older' if compared to something of the same genre.
And the same apply for any type of Funk, 70-74,
could have sounded 'older' if a similar comparison would have been applied.
If we for example listen to the tracks included in the Kool and the Gang Album 'Wild and Peaceful' (1973)
these will sound more 'modern' if compared with the songs of the first Kool and the Gang LP (69 circa)
in both cases it is jazz funk what we are listening, too
albeit produced with different technology, six years later
and with a style which is adequate to the current times.
Despite this facts, Kool and the Gang were not referring to the first album as OLD JAZZ FUNK.
at the time that was called simply jazz funk
or, as an alternative, jazz music that was very funky or funk music with jazz influences.
Same thing happened when Herbie Hancock Headhunter came out,
circa 1976
This album was the outcome of an experiment of jazz musicians in funk music,
therefore some critics called this 'nu funk'
and this definition became used much after the release of that album,
However, in the current time of the release of 'Headhunters'
that was considered as an experiment which Hancock did ingathering the best jazz musicians he knew
and made them play funky tracks over and over,
that was it : Jazz musicians which did not came from funk
and who did not have the expertise or the mood of pure funk musicians,
And in fact Headhunters is a very particular project,
and its performances sound very different
from the classical performances that can be listened to when playing a proper funk record,
Leaving aside the consideration that Herbie Hancock is a Genius,
And, as a matter of another example
like a Public Enemy record (they were genius in hip hop as Hancock was in its own music)
which even after decades it still sounds like a work of genius.
Wrapping it up:
In theory a) Tradition is an invention
b) The period that we all live personally is very different from its subsequent analysis
(trough books, debates, conferences, videos ..decades afterwards).
c) Interpretations and labels are always added in these analysis
Last Nigh a DJ saved my life analyses the hip hop period of 'old school'
with a lot pragmatism and some kind of irony if not British Sarcasm.
d) Many other interpretations/filters/attached emotive perceptions
can be found in plenty of other books
i.e. in a record shop here in London: Sounds of the Universe
I've seen two beautiful photographic collection on hip-hop old school
which I'd like to show you in some next episodes,
where old school is analysed under the scrutiny of the famous photographers
who did the shoots at that times.
But the people living at that time
did not consider themselves as a part of an old school movement,
from here we have profound clash in between:
the historical moment lived in first person when is not history yet
that moment can be either a transitional period or a definite one, and
the historical analysis on which humans do project a vision which is:
made of consequential moments pregnant of filters, interpretations, colors and shadows
which were not existing at that particular time
and all this application is made as this was an objective one
Because we have always to specify the model that we apply
and which is totally arbitrary, a mere technical convention.
And further when I mention the Golden Age of Hip Hop
I talk about the label which has been applied to a specific period
But when I talk about the hip hop which was out in the 90's
I talk about hip hop as I was perceiving it in the 90's when I was there witnessing what was going on.
R Kelly for example was fresh and new and trendy
it was hot and a new exciting musical phenomenon,
but now it's just Classic R'n'B
In some way this is cogent to what the great writer Jorge Luis Borges says:
We cannot avoid classics as we could not live without them,
also considering the great use we do of them,
He then go further and also says:
that any major artist creates his / her precursor,
And this view leads us to the consideration that
any new mainstream hip hop artist today
could not avoid to recognize the debt he/she has towards the 'hip hop classics'
golden age and old school (if we take these definition face-value)
Further we can say that that a mainstream artist creates his/her own precursors
who are the direct/indirect acts responsible for these musical influences
that currently/actually, (trough the models described above) are considered indissoluble and tied
with 1000 and more connections to that musical past.
These are three important point which I have made on Hip Hop on an interpretative basis.
On the mere facts, now, I will bring now in concrete some practical and material examples:
Warp 9
A splendid album, electro beats
dated 1983 on Prism Records,
bought fresh from the shop in Genoa
never heard similar stuff before,
except from a few works out of Detroit and NYC (out on 1982)
Now is considered Old School, at that time that was perceived as the new music
changing and taking the place of the old one
the old consolidated names of Quincy Jones, Ashford and Simpson,
were supplanted by new music
this album was one of them,
Now this is old school.
This is the application of the theory
There are two periods,
First period without labels (as what there is then it's too new)
Second period: labels and models: OLD SCHOOL, CLASSICS ETC
Please note that there is no limit to successive filters/models to be applied
also after 200 years from that occurrence therefore
when all the true originators of that cultural phenomenon have died
other people continue to analyze and study that phenomenon and add strata of ideas/models
therefore bringing to life an 'ideal' continuation' of that period
by way of assembling several historical events / phases
which then brings the necessity to call the origin of hip hop 'old school'.
a collection of tracks produced under the control of James Brown
here we have The Last Word, Elsie Mae, A.A.B.B.,
minor groups or minor tracks, cool and trendy funk tracks,
charty stud as they were at the beginning of the 70'sůfunk was the trend thenů
By their publishing on the People label
was already an anachronism during the 80's
projecting a vintage aura on the funk of the early 70's
this is also a remodelling of the main historical event
Further it can also be seen as an anthropological event:
as a study of the human behavior
i.e. as human being do analyze historical periods,
Also one could argue that history cannot be seen as a moment of time on its own,
without historical values:
the new, the old, the modern, the classic,
Composer working on what we call 'classical music in their times
were not considering themselves as classical composers,
Mozart was not calling himself a classical composer,
he was referring to his music as 'music of his own time'
made from he and composed and performed by he as first a child prodigy
and then as a famous artist in the world of music
Probably his music was very different from the popular music of that time
but it was for sure not labelled as classical.
So this collection became a classic so all the tracks included here
are a then seen as classics.
Following the Hobsbawn type model (Historical interpretation)
Here we have track with little pieces of Jazz,
where there are plenty of jazz funk sample, jazz funk and funk samples
coming from the heritage of funk and jazz funk of courseů
70's labels as prestige/Monument/Blue Note Etc
labels that put out lotads of jazz funk as for jazzman
that was a way to enter to the commercial world to make money
and so was for the labels of that time,
musicians like Donald Byrd made a career out of this 'steppin out process' ů
Here with Jazzy Jeff,
we can listen to bits and bobs of jazzfunk tracks,
a pout pourri of sounds which came from a distant time
(and world)
and now Jazzy Jeff's LP is a classic on his own
Therefore we have here a bunch of classics within a classic work of the old schoolů
a double filtering process, within the next 50 years
other people will add visions and interpretations to this work
therefore adding a filter,
continuing with this process it is very difficult to decipher the original document
when also all the originators are dead,
there is only the document that rest
And this can be reiterated duplicated or inserted in another work
which can be prepared by some other individual
taking the merit for the collected and contained works,
i.e. Keb D'Arg - the compilations on BBE
He has gathered together very rare funk tracks
and he gains the merit for their discovery
and for having brought them to the public attention.
In reality this is a known phenomenon
which can be seen in several disciplines such as
archaeology, science history, narrative, antiquarian history
Breakin' and Smurfin'
When I bought this...
what breakin or smurfin was?
The shop dealer: it's a musical genre
We are talking about dance,
Sugar Hill Records,
a commercial label, at that time
this was new... it was considered as new
now it's a super classic
almost old looking,
those positions...
those clothes, those kind of pictures
this graphic concept that remind us how the people then lived
This is another filter we use now
So depending on the way we want to look at this record...
It's very new and fresh or it's old...
it's 'old school' or it's something really innovative
Depending on the filter or the interpretative model we decide to apply to it.
Anything old can be seen as fixed to a specific point in the timeline
or fixed in a no time dimension...
without any attribute given to it afterward or during its creation time.
West Street Mob (playing in the background)
A band playing ballads and rap,
some of these were included in Grandmaster Flash's Wheels Of Steel in 1981
Which seemed so new and unique...
And here we have again a double over imposition of models...
The 80's that can be seen the preparatory period for 'Acid Jazz'
And the 80's as the commemorative period for old funk and soul
Under this heading we have here RARE 4
Not all the titles in this compilation were and are rares
to put this title to a collection of songs
which originally came out as 7"
gives an aura of importance to a work
of which the included tracks were 'marketed and sold as rare soul gems'
because of a publishing exploitations
most of these 'gems' were originally sold
and most returns came back to the distributors
making some extra monies for the benefit of RCA records
which owned the publishing in whole or part of these tracks at that time
then finding a way to recycle stuff
so, from a commercial operation
we have a cultural re-interpretation of a mental reality
so after the fusion of Arista and RCA
and the heralind of these compilations,
well we have the impression that these tracks are rare
but please note that these tracks are available still in their original 7"
and can be found at record fairs and on the internet
for 5 dollars each
Another example
Sampled by all, including Bob Sinclair
Captain Sky
1977, this is a product by AVI records
A label that had two great producers at the time Rinder & Lewis
responsible for the production of acts like EL Coco
Discognosis et cetera (higly recommended)
So this was new and freshů
Again a Classic in the 80's
Sampled in the 80's
Re-sampled in the 90's
And re-pressed near the new millennium
So this has been refiltered as classic of the classic of the classic
at least 5 times
El chicano - Viva Tirado
sampled by Kid Frost in La Raza
this is the original copy
On the cover we can see a baby grand, an organ
some percussions and possible a Fender Rhodesů
This was the classical setupůof soul musicians in the 70's
If now we would put out an album like that, in 2012
We would do a 'vintage cover'
The word vintage is like the word 'fiction'
Are word attached later to these genres
therefore modyfing the perception we have on these...
But the original view or perception of that set up
is, in 2012 irrimediably lostů
In a distant future we might regain a sort of perception
similar to the original one
The original perception of that cover
was probably connected to a tradition which was created
to justify the transitions existing during the 50's and the 60's
We have to note that million if not billion of ties
were already existing in between the 70's
and the musical heritage of the 20 years before it
In fact many musical operators have ben active during the period 50-80's
Another classic which beats have been
taken from a plethora of modern 'producers'
has been this album from Dennis Coffey
Dennis Coffey was famous for its 'Scorpio' album
and did Hair and Thangs
an album made with his fellow musicians
reinterpreting on a funk key the classics of the Beatles.
So much sampled to instigate for a reissue later on
this is the original copy bought at an auction back in 1985 in US
nowadays very hard to find,
Splendid album which you can listen to on the reissue
or on other media such as YouTube
To redo Beatles song
it was, in the 70's, the remaking of classic works
This has been considered a classic on its own
Consequently... this is a classic of a classic
and please let not us to forget our little brothers and sisters
the 45's
most of them ended up being re recorded in compilations like the one I have talked beforeů
when they came out they were the real tool of the dj's in the 60's and early 70's
12" until 1976 were not that known in Italy
at least not on a major scale diffusion
then in conclusion...
the two important argument of this episode are:
sorry if I'm going to repeat myself...
there are several periods in the history of a musical genreů
this is an invention.
History of a genre is a creation of the human mind where
an ideal beginning, albeit blurred in nature,
is fixed afterwards then
a continuum is created and it links this first moment
to the current date (or to a fixed death of that particular genre)
are abstractions, and represent the
elements for the construction of the interpretative model AND
It is possible to apply this process to hip hop, funk and soul
In some occasion the continuum of which in
collates period of musical history which are not connected by any means
therefore its connection its purely instrumental to the ideological model
which it is intended to create and apply.
in reality Copyright law attribute individual rights to several works,
separating therefore the historical moment
in favour of the individuality of these works
and of their artistic independence
that do exist in any case as isolated works recorded
and marketed under different types of branding
Every period that we live in our early years
and which we can re-read about much later on
when we do live enough to be able to witness that
goes trough two filters
The filter of what we remember personally
modified by our personal emotional heritage and changes within our psyche conditions
but connected to the multiple impressions we gained from the suggestions
made by others and available at that time
including a sense of excitement, novelty,
freshness and so on... and
The filter that are attached to events 20 years or more
having made that experience directly, soůthat
what we used to call hip hop or R'n'B in the 90's
now it is the hip hop and R'n'B of the Golden Age
but this definition is successive
As Jorge L. Borges
Every Great Artist creates its precursorsů
But precursors are invention themselves
they do not exist on their own
created by historians, biographers, critics
Or by every one, by the actual fans of that artist,
By the people who do wish to see,
for example, Doug E Fresh
as an Old School artist
and want to see in NWA
a part of the Golden Age of Hip Hop
Then with these little and insignificant thoughts
I leave you
without the express invitation for you
to take a specific position on this topic if you wish so
and if you like,
to take a bifocal vision on this topic.
Maybe realizing how funny and interesting can be
to view things as you wish to see them
i.e. Golden Age and Old School
Under the perspective by which your eye see these things
as if they were new and no labels were attached to them
in special way avoiding at all to apply the 'Classic' label
The word 'classic' can become a very dangerous one
a very familiar one
but to be used with judgment
please always try to remember the definition of 'Classical Music'
and the original musicians who were doing that music
these were not choosing or thinking to be classicsů
(electronic music fading out) - "Herbie?... Herbie"
Herbie... there was something I was thinking
"Uhm... - Seeing you and Quincy here with all these instruments
"and the sofistications of electronics and everything..."
"but still the African Blood is spreading through the..." AHHahahahHA
[Herbie] Right, it's interesting cause
This instrument was designed for people to use, for people to use...
you know, it's just a tool, another tool
the way an ax is a tool
an ax can be a tool
to cut wood to build a house
or can be a tool to slaughter your neighbor
you know
the same thing, a synthesizer can be
a tool to really hurt people's ears and interfere with their lives
or it can be a
a tool to make a really nice sounding
instrument that can really effect people in a positive way
it all depends on the person that's using them
People blame machines very often for...
"oh, the machine is fault!"
How can it be the machine's fault!
We have to plug it in!