Rap-Up

The Ultimate Guide to Hip-Hop and R&B

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By Devin Lazerine

By Cameron Lazerine

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 29, 2008. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

In this fun, edgy, and essential guide, the editors of today’s hottest music magazine give you the ultimate, all-access pass to the exciting world of hip-hop and contemporary R&B.

From the megaselling songs to the biggest stars to the most outrageous scandals, Rap-Up gives you a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at the revolutionary music that’s transforming pop culture. Discover:

HISTORY LESSON

How it all started, from rappers armed with toy keyboards and ambition…to breakout groups like Run-D.M.C. and Public Enemy who brought the ‘hood to the suburbs and changed music forever.

THE NEW NEW SCHOOL

One-of-a-kind profiles of Jay-Z, Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Usher, Ciara, and all the hottest artists. And a look at the moguls and producers who shape the hits, including urban-flow stylist Jermaine Dupri, off-center innovators The Neptunes, and techno-beat genius Timbaland.

WHERE’S THE BEEF?

The inside story on rap’s most notorious battles, from the legendary Juice Crew vs. Boogie Down Productions duel over hip-hop bragging rights, to the Jay-Z vs. Nas battle-of-the-giants, to the 50 Cent vs. The Game take-no-prisoners faceoff.

FROM HOLLIS TO HOLLYWOOD

A comprehensive list of hip-hop on the silver screen-the good, the bad, and the performers (Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah) who achieved box office gold and Oscar fame.

Complete with takes on must-own CDs and tracks, pop quizzes, career highlights, and artist road maps, this unique, definitive book is all you need to get down with everything hip-hop and R&B.

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

BACK IN THE DAY:

'80s SOLO RAP

IIn a decade so closely associated with bad sitcoms, cocaine, terrible fashion, and the ever-present idiocy of the U.S. government, it's hard to believe that something good came out of the '80s. Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find the debut records from some of the most classic MCs ever. Finally starting to come into its own, hip-hop in the '80s was still trying to find its footing, hence the varying (but all amazing) styles that came about: LL Cool J's ladies'-man persona, Biz Markie as the class clown, Slick Rick with his street tales and portable jewelry store . . . the list goes on and on. These men and women lived hip-hop before hip-hop was a lifestyle.

LL Cool J

Back in the day haters said rap music was a here today, gone tomorrow fad. Somebody forgot to tell LL Cool J. The veteran superstar has enjoyed the longest career in hip-hop, releasing CDs since the '80s and since then having hits in every decade.

Another Queens child who done real good, LL Cool J (government name James Todd Smith III; the nom de rap stands for "Ladies Love Cool James") started laying down raps as a kid. When he turned eleven, LL, who had been living with his grandparents since he was four (owing to a rocky, often violent home situation), got a DJ system from his granddaddy. The budding B-boy started making tapes, one of which ended up at Def Jam's offices, specifically in the hands of Ad-Rock. The Beastie Boy hipped Def Jam's founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, and in 1984 the upstart label signed young Mr. Smith. Def Jam released LL's "I Need a Beat" that same year. The sparse, hard-hitting 12-inch was not only LL's maiden vinyl experience, but also the first single to bear the Def Jam imprint. It would sell an impressive 100,000-plus copies and also put Def Jam, and of course LL Cool J, squarely on the map.

Encouraged by the almost immediate payoff, LL left school, entered the studio, and came out with 1985's Radio. Pushed by singles "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "Rock the Bells," the album went platinum. In 1987 Bigger and Deffer went number three. Much of that success was because of the ballad "I Need Love," one of the first rap songs to cross over to pop and in addition the first rap love ballad. "I Need Love"'s sentimental, sweet lyrics appealed to the ladies and, along with his looks, helped make LL a heartthrob.

LL had proven that he had the smarts and songs to enjoy some pop love, but because of that some of the hardcore fans felt he was selling out. Although 1988's "Going Back to Cali" kept both camps happy, the hip-hop faithful gave an overall thumbs-down to '89s Walking with a Panther, which, even though it was top ten and contained the gold "I'm That Type of Guy," was dismissed by many as too soft. Another issue was rap's changing climate and sonics. With the more bombastic Public Enemy and the Native Tongues scene catching hold, LL's Kangol-rocking, sex-symbol, B-boy bragging was now bordering on outdated, so much so that at a show at Harlem's famed venue the Apollo, LL got booed. Understandably LL took the criticism hard, but it must have spurred him on because he came back harder—and swinging. His answer to his critics was 1990's Mama Said Knock You Out. Not only was the album the rawest and roughest LL had ever made, it entered the genius lyrical challenge "don't call it a comeback" into hip-hop's lexicon. Fierce LL brought his unrelenting album to television with a historic acoustic performance on MTV Unplugged, holding it down with deadly intent. Thanks to top ten R&B singles "The Boomin' System" and "Around the Way Girl" (number nine on pop and maybe one of LL's dopest cuts) and the hit title track, Mama Said Knock You Out was a triumph, the ultimate f-you and LL's biggest album. It also securely established him as a pop star, reestablished his status as a rap superstar, and shut down any and all beefin' from anyone. Speaking of beef, LL then took his newly pumped-up profile and body to the screen, appearing in forgettable flicks The Hard Way and Toys. His album 14 Shots to the Dome came in 1993 and had a gangsta-esque street edge, something that LL didn't really do all that well. It sold nicely, debuted top ten, but was a bit of a letdown after Mama and yielded no major hit singles. In fact, 14 Shots never went beyond gold and almost killed the love LL had recouped with his "comeback."

After 14 Shots, LL went back to acting (the sitcom In the House) and then returned to making music with '95's Mr. Smith. Proving that he had more lives than a cat, Mr. Smith ended up being a big seller—going double platinum and delivering two of LL's biggest singles, the Boyz II Men duet "Hey Lover" and "Doin' It." At the close of 1996 came a greatest hits collection, which was followed by Phenomenon a year later. The CD's title was a significant hit, and while LL's importance might have faded a bit, he was still a player and more than capable of pulling a burner out of his hat. That point was proven when LL (no stranger to a good battle rap) took on then much-hyped rapper Canibus on "4, 3, 2, 1." After several verbal volleys, LL remained the champion. To kick off the Y2K, LL gave fans the modestly titled G.O.A.T. (The Greatest of All Time). The egomania paid off and the CD hit the top spot. Two years later LL celebrated his tenth album, and by extension his sometimes contentious tenure with Def Jam (that sort of label longevity is unheard of in most music). That milestone featured The Neptunes-helmed "Luv U Better," one of LL's biggest singles in quite some time. Although Uncle L kept making CDs, he sure wasn't getting Snoop/Jay/50 numbers. Yet even so he was far from over. The DEFinition of 2004, boasting the Timbaland-produced "Headsprung," which found LL in sexy, party-hearty mode and featured a subtle shift in style, worked. To coincide with the album's release, LL, who had long been associated with the popular FUBU line, launched his own Todd Smith collection. Outside of its founder, not too many kids were seen rocking the clothes. But like the Energizer bunny, LL kept going. He was by now a cultural icon and talk show staple (the guy's got a winning way with words, and by hip-hop standards he's a brilliant public speaker). Yet for anyone thinking that this happily married father of four was looking to retire, "Control Myself" put that to rest. An all-out smash, the single, produced by Jermaine Dupri and featuring J.Lo, had a healthy sample of old-school jam "Looking for the Perfect Beat." The single was the lead in for '06's Todd Smith album. Despite that huge single, the CD didn't sell well and LL openly trashed Def Jam, going so far as to hang with crosstown rival 50 Cent at that year's MTV VMAs. As 2007 kicked off, LL was teaming up with 50 to executive produce his final album on Def Jam called Exit 13 and was promoting a workout book. If you can't rhyme like the G.O.A.T., at least you can look like him.



POP QUIZ

What was the first single released by Def Jam Records?

a. Run-D.M.C.'s "It's Like That"/"Sucker MCs"

b. Beastie Boys' "Cooky Puss"

c. LL Cool J's "I Need a Beat"

d. Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight"



Big Daddy Kane

Big Daddy Kane (Antonio Hardy) was one of the major players in the late '80s, a.k.a. hip-hop's "golden age." He had a lover-man persona, complete with fly suits, gold jewelry, and a smooth vibe. But he could also drop serious science and preach conscious lyrics, all while being sexy. Kane never had that big crossover sensation, but he is widely seen as one of the best lyricists of his time and even today regularly gets name-checked by younger dudes.


"[Big Daddy Kane] had a lover-man persona, complete with fly suits, gold jewelry, and a smooth vibe."


Born in Brooklyn, New York, Kane's moniker stood for King Asiatic Nobody's Equal. In 1984, he met another new jack, Biz Markie. Both eventually got down with the Juice Crew. That fam, based in the Queensbridge projects, home of Mobb Deep and Nas to name a few, was led by producer Marley Marl, who would famously be part of the legendary BDP/Juice Crew battle. Kane inked with Marley's Cold Chillin' label in '87, and came through with the single "Raw" the next year. The streets loved "Raw," and Kane's first LP, Long Live the Kane, was soon a reality, giving fans another favorite, "Ain't No Half Steppin'." Kane took it up a notch with 1989's It's a Big Daddy Thing, which featured the lover-man manifesto "Smooth Operator" and the Teddy Riley–produced "I Get the Job Done." The next joint was 1990's Taste of Chocolate. But on 1991's Prince of Darkness, which had a more laid-back vibe, Kane fell off a little. No worry. Kane kept it hot with his appearance in Madonna's notorious 1992 Sex book. After getting nekkid for Madge, Kane dropped 1993's Looks Like a Job For . . . The album sounded better, but hip-hop is fickle and trends change. Undeterred, Kane left for MCA and in '94 produced Daddy's Home, which didn't do much of anything. Except for a few roles in totally who-cares flicks, Kane left the house. He resurfaced in 1998 with the indie CD Veteranz Day. Yet even though Kane doesn't make music, he still can move crowds. The still hot O.G. performs periodically at clubs and always does damage.



POP QUIZ

In Big Daddy Kane, what does "Kane" stand for?

a. King Asiatic Nobody's Equal

b. King Atlantic Nothing Ever

c. King Asiatic Never Ending

d. King Atlantic Not Enough



Biz Markie

Marcel Hall a.k.a. Biz Markie was a true original and funnier than all shit. He first got love rapping in New York in the early '80s, and met producer Marley Marl in 1985, who hired Biz to be a human beatbox for Marl's well-known acts MC Shan and Roxanne Shanté. With his infectious personality and massive mouth skills, Biz recorded demos and by '88 had signed with Cold Chillin'. That same year Biz released Goin' Off, which, thanks to the off-the-wall tracks "Vapors" and "Pickin' Boogers," became a sizable street hit. In 1989 Biz made the move to the mainstream with the outrageous "Just a Friend," which featured Biz half rapping and half "singing" like a cat being stepped on. The video starred Biz wearing an outlandish wig, which he rocked like Amadeus. The unbeatable fusion of humor and skills propelled "Just a Friend" into the top ten, and Biz's second album, The Biz Never Sleeps, went gold.

The Biz was living as large as his frame, but trouble lay ahead. Album number three, I Need a Haircut, wasn't selling as expected when Biz was slapped with a lawsuit from '70s singer/songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan, who said that Biz's "Alone Again" contained an unauthorized sample of O'Sullivan's song "Alone Again (Naturally)." O'Sullivan was victorious and in the process changed the very way that hip-hop was created. The ruling by the courts stipulated that Biz's label, Warner Bros., had to yank I Need a Haircut off the shelves and out of circulation. Also, before any company or rapper could utilize a sample, that sample had to be cleared—i.e., signed off by the original artist. Biz fought back with 1993's All Samples Cleared!, but the damage had already helped to grind his career to a halt.

Throughout the '90s Biz kept it on the low, occasionally freestyling on other rappers' albums, most notably the Beastie Boys. Yet rather than return to rapping, Biz started DJing. He got some shine in 2002, when R&B singer Mario dropped his smash "Just a Friend," which was based on Biz's biggest hit and whose accompanying video had a Biz cameo. Biz returned to the studio with 2003's Weekend Warrior on Tommy Boy. Although he remains one of hip-hop's true characters, Biz sadly is best known to a new generation through his 2005 appearance on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club.

Slick Rick/Doug E. Fresh

Slick Rick didn't have many mainstream hits, but he did have one dope look. With his trademark eye patch, gold rope chain, and Kangol, he was a dazzling wordsmith and storyteller—even if those stories were often down and very dirty and not meant for kids' ears. Born to Jamaican parents in London, Ricky Walters was blinded in one eye by a freak accident as a kid—hence the eye patch. He came to the States in the mid-'70s and lived with his family in the Bronx. In high school Ricky became tight with Dana Dane, who would later have the hit "Nightmares." The two became the Kangol Crew and began performing at hip-hop battles around NYC.

At one such battle Ricky met Doug E. Fresh in the Bronx. Fresh (Doug E. Davis) was from Barbados, lived in Harlem, and by the time he and Ricky met had made quite the name for himself at local shows and parties as a human beatbox. In fact, he was the first human beatbox and to this day probably the best, using his mouth and a mic to create an amazing collection of drum-machine noises and sound effects. Basically, he was so dope that he could take the place of an actual drum machine. Doug went from the streets of Harlem to the studio with 1983's "Pass the Budda," with Spoonie Gee and DJ Spivey. But for most rap fans, Doug's debut was his mind-blowing appearance in the early hip-hop film Beat Street, where he backed up old-school faves the Treacherous Three. On his own, Doug threw down "Just Having Fun" and "Original Human Beatbox," both in 1984.

It was that same year that Doug met Ricky (who was then Ricky D.) and brought him into the Get Fresh Crew, which included Barry Bee and Chill Will. In 1985 they recorded "The Show/La Di Da Di," a mix of Doug's mouth music and Ricky's London-accented flow. The single exploded, went to number four on the R&B charts, and to this day is seen as one of the greatest moments in recorded rap history. Doug was now a major star. Throughout the '80s and into the '90s, he released a few albums, none of which enjoyed the across-the-board success or made the musical impact that "The Show" had. Yet even though he may have lacked in units moved, Doug remained a big draw. Along with popping up on Nas's "Virgo" (2004), Doug frequently served as an opening act for numerous rap acts, and, with his skills intact today, is a living, beatboxing embodiment of hip-hop's creativity.

As for Ricky D.? He went solo in 1987, renamed himself Slick Rick, and signed to Def Jam Records. In 1988 came his debut, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. The flagrantly foul but really, really funky "Treat Her Like a Prostitute" had the streets in a vise grip, but radio didn't show Ricky or the song much love because of the nasty anti-female sentiment. Better received was a duet with the then red-hot Al B. Sure! entitled "If I'm Not Your Lover," which hit number two in 1989. That same year came Ricky's masterpiece, the gritty, fractured fairy tale "Children's Story," which went top five and would years later make its way to Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." His career was on fire, but Ricky's life was a mess. In 1990 he was arrested after shooting at his cousin and leading the cops on a chase. He was put in jail, and while out on bail (thanks to Def Jam's Russell Simmons) laid down The Ruler's Back in three weeks. The album would drop in 1991. While in prison (he was released in 1997), Ricky returned with Behind Bars (1994). The album made some noise, as did 1999's The Art of Storytelling, but by then Ricky's legal problems were overshadowing his recording efforts. Even though he had lived the majority of his life in the United States, owned property here, paid taxes here, was married to an American, and was the father of American-born kids, he wasn't technically himself a citizen. The drama unfolded in 2002 when Ricky, after performing on a Caribbean cruise ship, was arrested by the INS as the rapper reentered the United States. Rick was going to be deported because of that pesky little detail—you know, the one about not being a U.S. citizen. Adding to his problems was a 1996 law that called for foreigners who'd been convicted of violent felonies—which Ricky had—to be kicked out. Caught in a quagmire, Ricky kept being denied bail, but after seventeen months behind bars, he was released in 2003. Three years later it was back on when the INS began another attempt to deport him. A trial is set for a future date.



POP QUIZ

In 1989, Slick Rick recorded a duet entitled "If I'm Not Your Lover" with R&B singer:

a. Tevin Campbell

b. Al B. Sure!

c. Jodeci

d. Teddy Riley



Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah held it down as one of the finest flow stresses in hip-hop. She was the first female solo rapper to go gold (1993's Black Reign). In addition, throughout the years, Latifah has proven to be a savvy businesswoman, skilled actress, solid singer, and all-around media presence. All hail the Queen indeed.

Latifah was born Dana Owens in Newark, New Jersey. At the age of eight, her cousin dubbed her Latifah, meaning "delicate" or "sensitive." Nothing personal, but delicate La ain't. Latifah began rapping and a little beatboxing while she was still in high school. After graduating and attending college, she adopted the nickname she'd been given so long ago, adding the royal honorific for extra impact. Soon after, she got down with the Native Tongues crew, whose members were hugely instrumental in injecting a conscious Afrocentric vibe in hip-hop. Latifah recorded a demo that got her a deal with NYC's Tommy Boy Records, who released her single "Wrath of My Madness" in 1988. Hot. Fire hot. Girlfriend was like seventeen, eighteen and she had the poise and skills of someone twice her age. "Wrath" was followed up with the funky hip-hop house-flavored "Dance for Me." In 1989, Latifah's album All Hail the Queen was met with great press and support from the fans. The album also contained the girl-power jam "Ladies First" featuring Monie Love and made its way into the R&B top ten. Not one to rest on her laurels, Latifah used her newfound creative profile to co-found (with old friend Shakim Compere) Flavor Unit Entertainment. Based in Jersey, Flavor Unit was responsible for discovering a handful of acts, none bigger than Naughty by Nature. With business on lock, Latifah got back to making music, but 1991's Nature of a Sister lacked both the cultural, artistic impact and commercial appeal of its predecessor. Along with a slump in sales, La's contract with Tommy Boy was up and the label chose not to re-up with their star. As if the indignity of being dropped wasn't bad enough, Latifah suffered an even greater and more personal loss when in a short span of time she was the victim of a carjacking and her beloved brother Lance died in a motorcycle accident.

Down but far from out, Latifah took time off to mourn and then came back stronger and more focused than ever. Now with Motown, she blessed fans with 1993's Black Reign. Dedicated to her late brother, the album was Latifah's biggest seller to date. It made its way to gold and contained Latifah's biggest single, the funky and feminist "U.N.I.T.Y." The hardhitting anthem earned a Grammy in 1994 for Best Rap Solo Performance. Along with dropping hot rhymes, Latifah continued making strides with her acting career. With well-received roles in Jungle Fever, House Party 2, and Juice already on her résumé, she moved from big to small screen in 1993 when she joined the cast of the sitcom Living Single. The popular series ran until January 1998, and during that run the public's attention was shifted from Latifah the rap artist to Latifah the actress/comedienne. To her credit, Latifah excelled on both fronts. She returned to film in 1996 with Set It Off, playing a tough-as-nails lesbian bank robber with fierce conviction. Latifah was breaking the law offscreen as well. The same year Set It Off set it off, the Queen got popped when the cops found a loaded gun and weed in the car she was driving—too fast. Latifah pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor weapons charge. Public service announcement: rappers, if you've got a piece and some smoke in the whip, try to obey speed limits. Thank you.

Following the cancellation of Living Single, Latifah headed back to the base to begin work on her fourth album, Order in the Court, which hit stores in 1998. The album had a more R&B sound, with Latifah splitting it up between rapping and singing. Thanks to singles "Bananas (Who You Gonna Call?)" and "Paper," Order in the Court did respectable numbers, and that same year Latifah showed her versatility again with buzzed-about roles in Sphere and Living Out Loud. In 1999, she returned to television but this time as the host of her own daytime talk show, The Queen Latifah Show. The chat fest ran in syndication for two years and brought the rap star even deeper in the mainstream, making her a household name. The year 2002 saw La messing up again when, after being stopped by the police, she failed a sobriety test. Latifah! The star got three years' probation following pleading guilty to reckless driving. Luckily for the Queen, the legal skirmish was muted when she hit the cinema again, this time with a supporting role in the critically acclaimed musical adaptation of the Broadway show Chicago. Starring alongside Richard Gere and Renée Zellweger, Latifah's sparkling, sexy performance came damn near close to stealing the film and she was awarded Best Supporting Actress nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes, and even the Oscars. Two years later Latifah flexed her vocal chops with the unexpectedly solid covers collections The Dana Owens Album and 2007's Trav'lin Light. She continues to enjoy a flourishing acting career both in film and TV, as a spokeswoman for Cover Girl, and by hosting award shows. But the coolest thing? Latifah continues her reign as an all-around fly girl—er, woman—who no matter what she did, always kept it hip-hop.


"Latifah continues her reign as an all-around fly girl—er, woman—who no matter what she did, always kept it hip-hop."


MC Lyte

MC Lyte wasn't the first girl to go for hers—hip-hop's earliest days saw undersung female forces like Pebbly Poo, Sha-Rock, and Sequence. But MC Lyte's profile was higher than her foresisters, and because of that, along with unquestionable, revered talent, Lyte helped to tear down barriers and raised the bar not just for female rappers, but rappers in general. Lana Moorer was born in Queens and raised in Brooklyn. She began rhyming at the age of twelve, after falling under rap's spell when some older cousins who lived uptown turned her on to the genre's greats. Raised in a family that stressed education, poetry, and music (her stepfather, Nat Robinson, ran indie label First Priority), Lyte began making little homemade tapes with her stepbrothers Milk and Gizmo, a.k.a. Audio Two. Audio Two had already earned their rep with their 12-inch "Top Billin'" (1987), a track the guys had originally cooked up for their kin. Audio Two signed to their pop's label, and in 1988 lil' sis recorded the landmark single "I Cram to Understand U." With her husky vocals (many thought that Lyte was a young boy rather than a teenage girl) and remarkably mature and wise content (the song dealt with a girl in love with a crack addict), "I Cram to Understand U" became an instant sensation and led to Lyte securing a deal—okay, it was with her dad's label. But the indie did enjoy major-label distribution, so to be fair, a suit had to sign off. Lyte's full-length debut was the terrific Lyte As a Rock, and a year later in '89 came the follow-up, Eyes On This. Both albums showcased a lyricist wise beyond her years, with a flow honed in NYC's rough-and-ready rap club circuit and lyrics that spoke to Lyte's childhood love of language. The two albums are also widely considered Lyte's best work and Eyes On This produced the hit "Cha Cha Cha" (number one rap) and "Cappuccino," which spoke out against the violence that was tearing the cities of America apart. For her three-peat, Lyte turned to writer/producers Wolf & Epic, who had previously worked with Bell Biv DeVoe. Not surprisingly, 1991's Act Like You Know contained a little more R&B/soul flavor. Still selling moderately well, Lyte then came back two years down the road with Ain't No Other. The single "Ruffneck," which laid out what Lyte looked for in a dude, was big (in fact, the first gold single by a woman rapper) and earned Ms. Lyte a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Single.

After watching "Ruffneck" wreck shop, Lyte took a little breather as she settled into the mid-'90s (not her age, the decade!) and up and switched labels. Her first LP on Elektra was 1996's Bad As I Wanna B. That CD featured the club banger "Cold Rock a Party," a duet with a then up-and-coming Missy Elliott. The duet was big in the streets and clubs and set up the equally popular Seven & Seven (1998). That CD also featured Missy along with LL, who produced "Play Girls Play." Lyte's second gold single was a collabo with Xscape, "Keep On Keepin' On." The song also appeared on the Sunset Park soundtrack.

Along with music, Lyte tried her hand at acting, appearing in longcanceled shows Moesha, In the House, and New York Undercover. Always astute and politically conscious, Lyte became very active in a number of social causes including Rock the Vote and AIDS awareness. In 2003, she attempted to call it a comeback with Da Undaground Heat, Vol. 1. It didn't do much, but even with weak sales on this, you couldn't front. Lyte was and remains one of the flyest females in the game and she's earned her place in hip-hop's hall of fame.



POP QUIZ

Which artist has MC Lyte not worked with?

a. Missy Elliott

b. Xscape

c. Diddy

d. Salt-N-Pepa



DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince

Run-D.M.C. might have made rap palatable to a mainstream audience, but it took DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince to make it kid-friendly. Where gangsta provocateurs like Ice Cube posited themselves as AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (the glowering manifestation of white America's worst fears about young black men), the rapper formerly known as the Fresh Prince cultivated a friendly, eminently accessible persona as the popular class clown entertaining classmates with goofy stories about shopping with his mom and fighting Mike Tyson. Along with Run-D.M.C.'s first albums and the timeless display of lyrical virtuosity that is "The Super Bowl Shuffle," DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper served as a gateway drug for white suburbanites who'd later experiment with stronger stuff from Public Enemy, Snoop Dogg, and N.W.A.

Will Smith is rap's Mr. Clean. He's probably the least controversial rapper of all time, but his wholesome image has nevertheless attracted criticism. "Will Smith don't gotta cuss in his raps to sell records/Well I do, so fuck him and fuck you too," Eminem quipped on "The Real Slim Shady." Even Bow Wow has derided Smith's music as "bubblegum." Smith's popularity with white America has reaped huge rewards critically and commercially, but it's come at the expense of his hip-hop credibility. He could probably get elected president, but the guardians of hip-hop authenticity revoked his ghetto pass long ago.

Genre:

On Sale
Feb 29, 2008
Page Count
352 pages
ISBN-13
9780446511629

Devin Lazerine

About the Author

Devin and Cameron Lazerine are ready to bring their success as magazine visionaries to the next level. The dominance of the Rap-Up brand has made the brothers savvy pop culture chroniclers and medigenic spokesmen. Intelligent and engaging, Devin and Cameron have appeared on CNN Headline News, ABC News, VHI, E!, and mtvU. They have been featured in newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, USA WEEKEND, GRAMMY Magazine, Entrepreneur, Folio, the Los Angeles Daily News, and more.

Both Devin and Cameron live in Los Angeles.

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