Episode # 6: How 50s White Flight Led To 70s Hip Hop
“Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang (1979)
“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron (1970)
“More Than A Woman” by The Bee Gees (1977)
“Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose” by James Brown (1969)
“Groove To Get Down” by T. Connection (1977)
“Here Comes That Sound Again” by Love de Luxe (1979)
“Good Times” by Chic (1979)
00:50 Iowa Hawkeye star guard, Kenny Arnold, annoyed his teammates by repeatedly playing “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang. Kenny was on to something.
04:15 “King Tim III” by The Fatback Band may have been released before “Rapper’s Delight” but there is no denying that “Rapper’s Delight” was the first hip hop mainstream hit.
05:00 Amy begins to make her case that while hip hop was born in the 70s, it was conceived in 1950s white flight. A brief history lesson on white flight and The Bronx ensues.
08:45 Gil Scott-Heron offers a political and social time capsule of the early 70s with “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in 1970. He also gives us a glimpse into what hip hop will become by the time the decade is over.
12:00 The relationship between disco and hip hop is complicated. Hip hop both rejected disco and borrowed techniques and music from disco.
13:45 Does one need an excuse to play some James Brown? No, but it fits here as young hip hop artists sampled The Godfather. DJ Kool Herc, in particular, played “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose” at most (all?) of his house parties. Those breaks were extended with the two turntables and allowed the “b boys” to show everyone their best dance moves. Eventually, b boys became known as break dancers.
16:25 Grandmaster Flash could see the breaks on a vinyl record and marked them with a grease pencil. That is some kind of devotion to your craft.
17:00 Reminder that disco does not suck (see Episode 1). Still, there was good reason for young African Americans in places like The Bronx to reject the glitz and glamour of disco. Disco also did very little to celebrate the black artist because it was about production, not the artist.
19:00 Hip hop sampled disco. A lot.
It is about at this point in the show that Amy realizes that her allergy attack is actually a cold. Oh well, the show must go on.
23:00 “Good Times” by Chic was sampled so liberally by The Sugarhill Gang on “Rapper’s Delight” that Nile Rodgers eventually got a writing credit.
25:00 MCs and their rapping over the music pushes hip hop to the forefront of popular music. Amy plays a clip from the TV show, “20/20,” from 1981. It talks about boom boxes, which annoyed some people, and the fact that rap was considered “very urban and very black” which some white people found scary.
28:00 If the lyrics of the hardcore rap of the 80s and 90s are upsetting, perhaps stop and consider where those lyrics come from. What do they reflect? Amy makes the point that one of the best things about good art is that is often something good that comes from something painful, which many people find inspiring. Such is the case for hip hop.
SOURCES USED TO CREATE THIS EPISODE
“A Walk through the Bronx.” Thirteen. https://www.thirteen.org/bronx/history.html
The Bee Gees. “More Than a Woman.” Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack. RSO Records, 1977.
Brown, James. “Give it Up or Turnit a Loose.” King Records, 1969.
Chic. “Good Times.” Risque, Atlantic Records, 1979.
Daly, Steven. “Hip Hop Happens.” Vanity Fair. October 10, 2006. https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2005/11/hiphop200511
Hip Hop Revolution, Season 1, Episode 1. Netflix. 2016.
Lester, Paul. “Gil Scott-Heron: The Revolution Lives On.” August 26, 2015. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/aug/26/gil-scott-heron-the-revolution-will-not-be-televised
Live from the Basement. “20/20 Report Hip-Hop Special (1981), Part 1.” YouTube.com. May 15, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onRKOcsf1J0
Love de Luxe. “Here Comes That Sound Again.” Again and Again, WEA Records, 1979.
Questlove. “Questlove: Disco and the Return of the Repressed — How Hip-Hop Failed Black America Part IV.” Vulture.com. May 13, 2004. https://www.vulture.com/2014/05/questlove-how-hip-hop-has-become-the-new-disco.htm
Rowlands, Marc. “Andy Smith Explores Hip-Hop’s Disco Roots.” WaxPoetics.com http://www.waxpoetics.com/blog/features/articles/andy-smith-explores-hip-hops-disco-roots/
Scott-Heron, Gil. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, Flying Dutchman Records, 1970.
The Sugar Hill Gang. “Rapper’s Delight.” Sugar Hill Records, 1979.
T. Connection. “Groove to Get Down.” On Fire, T.K. Records, 1977.
White, Maury. “Kenny’s Delightful Music Irritates a Few Ears.” The Des Moines Register. March 21, 1980.