The Black Eyed Peas: Hip-Hop ‘Future’ Stars...

Musical genres, just as anything in life, matures and evolves as time passes by.  Your grandfather’s metal sounds much different than the metal of today.  Great-aunt Ida’s R&B may not be recognized as R&B is played on the radio in the 2010’s.  as the times change, so does music.  And one group that is the very evidence of that is the Black Eyed Peas. The Black Eyed Peas trace their beginnings all the way back to 1988.  Back then, eight-graders William Adams (will.i.am aka Will 1X) and Allan Pineda (apl.de.ap) met and begun performing rap music in the greater Los Angeles area.  Four years later the two were signed to Easy-E’s Ruthless Records on the recommendation of a nephew of the gangsta rap icon manager’s nephew.  Will.i.am and apl.de.ap recruited friends Dante Santiag, Mookie Mook, and DJ Motiv8 (aka Monroe Walker)o and named the group ATBAN Klann (ATBAN was an acronym meaning A Tribe Beyond A Nation).  They were slated to released their debut album, Grass Roots, in October 1992 but this never occurred due to the death of Easy-E.  Grass Roots was the only album recorded by ATBAN Klann and they were subsequently released for Ruthless Records. In 1995 the group renamed themselves Black Eyed Pods which then became Black Eyed Peas.  Jaime Gomez (Taboo) would replace Santiago.  Despite not being a part of the band, he’s still close with them, and was featured in their song “Dum Diddly”.  Kim Hill would provide backup vocals for the group.  Differentiating from the traditional gangsta rap scene prominent in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene at the time, the Black Eyed Peas had unique musical style and image for the LA area.  They did not wear the traditional gangsta rap uniform...

Rage Against the Machine: Rap Metal in the Name Of…...

Since the earliest beginnings of rock-n-roll, American music has been an avenue and conduit for artists to get their personal, spiritual and political views heard by the masses.  By the 1960’s this was such a prevalent them in music pop culture that the term “protest music” had been coined.   As record sales, royalties and commercial greed began to dominate and shape the mainstream music in the 1980’s and 1990’s it seemed as if the honored practice of utilizing one’s music to get important social messages heard had fell, if not completely fallen.  For one such this was never the case.  For one such band their political messages and activisms was the fuel that burned their influential, if all too brief, career bright.  That such band was Rage Against the Machine. In 1991, guitarist Tom Morello (guitar) left his band, Lock Up, looking to start another band.  During a visit to a local Los Angeles club he heard a MC/vocalist by the name of Zack de la Rocha freestyle rapper.  Being impressed, Morello asked de la Rocha to join the group that he was forming.  Morello then recruited drummer Brad Wilk.  Morello knew of Wilk because he a previously auditioned to drum for Lock Up.  When de la Rocha convinced childhood friend Tim Commerford to play bass for the band, Rage Against the Machine was officially born. After cutting a twelve song demo tape Rage Against the Machine was coveted by several major record labels.  The band decided to sign with Epic Records, of which Morello said, “Epic agreed to everything we asked, and they’ve followed through…. We never saw a[n] [ideological] conflict as long as we maintained creative control.” Rage Against the Machine released their self-titled debut album on November 3, 1992. ...

Cypress Hill: Insane Creativity...

Ask any hip-hop/rap music fanatic about West Coast rap and you will indubitably receive mention of such acts as Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dogg), Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, 2Pac, Game, Ice Cube and NWA.  But just as any other regional genre, there are many other acts that hold a steadfast place in the pantheon of West Coast rap.  One such act is Cypress Hill.  Cypress Hill has not achieved the high mainstream success as the aforementioned artists, but their place and respect in the West Coast rap community is one of admiration and importance.  As any of the artists that belong to West Coast rap about West Coast lyricism and many will undoubtedly mention one or more members of Cypress Hill. Cypress Hill has their roots in South Gate, California (located seven miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles), where brothers Senen Reyes (aka Sen Dog) and Ulpiano Sergio Reyes (aka Mellow Man Ace) teamed up with Lawrence Muggerud (aka DJ Muggs) and Louis Reese (aka B-Real) to form a local hip-hop group called DVX (Devastating Vocal Excellence).  When DVX lost Mellow Man Ace to a solo career, they forged forward renamed their group after a street in South Gate, Cypress Hill. Cypress Hill signed with Columbia Records in 1988 after recording a demo.  They released their self-titled debut in 1991.  Cypress Hill featured the double A-side single “The Phuncky Feel One”/”How I Could Just Kill a Man”.  The single received heavy air play on urban and collge radio stations, helping Cypress Hill sell more than two million records in the United States.  Another single, “Latin Lingo”, features both English and Spanish lyrics.  “Latin Lingo’s” showcase of the groups Spanish heritage was rare in mainstream rap.  In fact, Cypress...

Eminem: Greatest Rapper Alive?...

Eminem (stylized as EMINƎM) is, arguably, the best rapper alive.  His unbridled and extremely uncensored lyrical content has sparked controversy and critical acclaim alike.  From his struggle to overcome racial stereotypes within the world of hip-hop early in his storied career to his daily battles with balancing his personal life and fame, Eminem has shone through as one of the most prominent, prolific and respected musicians in hip-hop, and all musical genres.  He has won numerous awards and accolades as a solo artist; including: an Academy Award, twelve American Music Awards, ten Billboard Music Awards, thirteen Grammy’s, a combined twenty-nine MTV Awards, eight People’s Choice Awards, nine Teen Choice Awards, five Source Hip-Hop Music Awards and five World Music Awards.  Eminem has also been a member of the rap group D12 and is currently a member of the rap duo Bad Meets Evil alongside Royce Da 5’9”. Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III on October 17, 1972 in Saint Joseph, Missouri, Eminem is the only child of Deborah R. Mathers-Briggs and Marshall Bruce Mathers II.  After moving between numerous cities and towns in the state of Missouri, he finally settled down in Warren, Michigan at the age of twelve, and in Mathers’ teenage years, Detroit.  Mathers’ developed an interest in storytelling at a young age, aspiring to become a comic book artist before discovering hip-hop.  His uncle Ronald “Ronnie” Polkinhorn gave Mathers his first exposure to rap when he gave Mathers a copy of Ice-T’s single “Reckless” when he nine.  By his teenage years, Mathers obtained a copy of the album Licensed to Ill.  He became interested in rap music and began performing amateur raps at age of 14 using the pseudonym “M&M”.  As “M&M”, Mathers joined a local Detroit...

Lil’ Wayne: From Hot Boy to Young Money Millionare!!!...

The title of Greatest Rapper Alive has been thrown around a lot in recent years, with many MC’s staking claim to the throne.  To most hip hop heads, only three rappers should even be in consideration for the crown, once you factor in variables like commercial success, vocal versatility and lyrical skills: Jay-Z, Eminem and the subject of this article, Lil’ Wayne.  Lil’ Wayne has enjoyed an extremely successful career in the realm of rap/hip-hop music.  From his pre-adolescent beginnings to his chart topping solo career, Lil’ Wayne has made a huge name for himself and his labels, Cash Money Records and Young Money Records. Lil’ Wayne was born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. on September 27, 1982.  He grew up in the crime riddled urban neighborhood of Hollygrove in New Orleans, LA.  In a CBS interview with Katie Couric, Wayne described why he goes by the name of “Wayne” instead of his given name, Dwayne. Carter explained, “I dropped the D because I’m a junior and my father is living and he’s not in my life and he’s never been in my life. So I don’t want to be Dwayne, I’d rather be Wayne”. Couric asked Wayne if his father knew of this and Wayne replied with a smile, “He knows now”. Lil’ Wayne wrote his first rap song at the young age of eight, and by nine years old he had met Bryan “Birdman” Williams, rapper and owner of Cash Money Records.  Wayne began leaving freestyle verses on Birdman’s answering.  Birdman liked what he heard and decided to bring Lil’ Wayne into the Cash Money fold, featuring him on numerous label distributions before eventually signing Wayne to a record contract.  At age eleven, the young Carter recorded his first...

The Life, Times and Death of a Legend: Tupac Shakur...

Tupac Shakur is one of the most successful, admired, prolific and controversial entertainers of all time.  From his humble beginnings as a backup dancer for Digital Underground to his brash and violent lyrical content as a member of Death Row Records to his murder in 1996, 2Pac was an intelligent and charismatic entertainer who often stole the spotlight. Shakur was born on June 16, 1971, in the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. He was named after Túpac Amaru,a Peruvian revolutionary who led an indigenous uprising against Spain and was subsequently executed. His mother, Afeni Shakur, and his father, Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The infant boy was born a month after his mother was acquitted of more than 150 charges of “Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks” in the New York “Panther 21” court case.  Shakur’s godfather was “Geronimo” Pratt.  His stepfathers, Mutulu Shakur, on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for four years beginning in 1982 for helping his sister escape a New Jersey penitentiary. Tupac began acting in school productions, eventually attending the BaltimoreSchool for the Arts, where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet.  Shakur’s professional entertainment career began in the early 1990s, when he debuted his rapping skills in a vocal turn in Digital Underground’s “Same Song” from the soundtrack to the 1991 film Nothing but Trouble and also appeared with the group in the film of the same name.  After his lyrical debut on “Same Song”, 2Pac appeared on Digital Underground’s album Sons of the P.  He shortly after he made his solo debut with 2Pacalypse Now.  Though the album did not again major critical and commercial acclaim, it has been pointed to as an inspiration by many...