1 November 2011

Whatever happened to Hip-House?

Sometimes I think hip-house is the best genre ever known to man - the perfect blend of old school dance sounds with rapping on the top. It was fast, it was funky and it was fun - the tempo of the music made the MCs concentrate on a different meter, one that was more rhythmic and inspirational rather than heavy and polemical. Both genres were new and exciting at the time, and fitted each other like a hand in a glove (lest we forget that house music originally started as a black, ghetto music too).

How could it fail? WHY did it fail? Was it something to do with a perception amongst the hip-hop communtiy that house was too gay? The fact that house came from gay clubs like Frankie Knuckles' Warehouse or Ron Hardy's Music Box perhaps didn't square well with the uber-macho posturing of rap. Or was it seen as too faddish? Perhaps a hangover from the "disco sucks" years and rejection of yet another hijacking of a black musical form by white folks?

Whatever the reasons, the music still kicks ass today - drop something like Tyree & Kool Rock Steady "Turn Up The Bass" or KC Flightt's "Planet E" on a modern dancfloor and watch them tear it up. Now that we have gotten past an era where hip-hop was alligned in direct opposition to house, where all these different sounds are now simply conceived of as "retro", younger crowds are more open to this music and respond to the upbeat, party vibe and the combination of simple key elements in a fresh, different style.

Here's a short documentary on hip-house from 1989 featuring pretty much all the key players in the game. Some comissioning editor somewhere obviously thought this genre was gonna break big! But you've gotta be glad that footage like this still exists to document a sadly forgotten scene:


Here's a clip of Fast Eddie performing "Yo Yo Get Funky" live for a super-square and uber-white show called "Nine Thirty" (this clip also features an interview with the legendary founder of DJ International Records Rocky Jones, sporting a bad-ass shellsuit):

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