Hip-Hop and History

I got to speak about the promise and peril to history of the classic hip-hop format.

My remarks for the St. Michael’s College Defender are based on my Guardian piece on classic hip-hop as a radio format and the potential issues to cultural and musical diversity.

In addition to what was included, I made the following remarks to the writer:

It is incumbent on listeners and station management to treat hip-hop as more than content, but as something with a diverse history. When we convey a music genre’s backstory, there’s a tremendous risk at letting prominent names define what the average person knows of the music. Sometimes that’s out of ignorance on the part of stations, because its program directors don’t know who, say, the Poor Righteous Teachers are, or greed, because more people stay tuned for “Here Comes the Hotstepper” and you have advertisers who want numbers. I can think of a dozen mid-1990s hits whose place I would never deny, but would never claim they represent the greatest moments of hip-hop either. We have in a very critical moment. Listeners and stations can push for greater representation, or classic hip-hop ends up in the same mediocre mess where classic rock died, with Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and the Eagles.

A station in the Burlington area recently picked up the classic hip-hop format, thus our conversation. An honor to be asked for remarks.