If the back bone of Hip-Hop is the DJ, then some may say that the back bone of keeping this culture alive belongs to them as well.
The art-form known as Hip-Hop has drastically changed over the years. It has become saturated. It has lost the depth and consciousness that once made it so poignant. However, this description only applies to much of the music that floods the airwaves each and every day. There are some exceptions, but more often than not, the “Hip-Hop” heard on the radio is selling an image rather than promoting a culture driven by free-expression.
On April 25th at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, Scion provided a platform for two of the greatest DJ’s ever to grace the ones and twos to show that Hip-Hop isn’t a marketing gimmick but a real culture.
The two DJs that headlined this show were none other than Maseo from De La Soul and Primer from Gangstarr. As far as DJ’s go, there aren’t many who can match up to these legends. From production to consistency to being a continual representation of what the culture is all about, Maseo and Primo reflect a true-school mentality, which sadly has to reside, almost completely, underground.
Maseo’s set infused classic Native Tongue tracks with classic breaks from the 70’s. At one point during his set, Maseo would drop a classic break and then play a classic Hip-Hop record that sampled it. He stated,” You have to know where it came from to see where it is going.” Hip-Hop has never been an isolated art. It has always latched onto other art forms to create new sounds and ways of looking at music. Maseo stresses the importance in the freedom inherent in Hip-Hop through a set that sampled from a variety of musical selections.
Primo finished what Maseo started by providing a set that combined classic tracks that he had produced with classic productions created by others. As he yelled to the audience, “The real, Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop”, the question of being authentic never comes into play when Primo graces the stage. From Gangstarr to Dre, Primo stressed that if he was dropping a record it had to be a classic because, as he stated it, “I am playing it.” Primo’s set was not only impressive in terms of his musical selection, skill behind the tables, or the way that he was able to continually move the crowd, but also his desire to test the crowd. Periodically, he would stop the record to make sure that the audience was following along. He would shout, “Keep up.”
As the words “Keep up,” resonated through the air, it was easy to see that Primo’s statement was not merely for the audience but a proclamation to the Hip-Hop world. If Hip-Hop is broken into two categories: the represented and misrepresented, then Primo is urging the audience to help represent the truth about the culture so that it can overcome any misconceptions.
Hip-Hop has been marketed to sell everything from food to shoes to false images about the culture; however, if companies, like Scion, appeal to this culture earnestly and with sincerity, then they can market their product successfully without having to lower the standards of the art form, which creates a more beneficial relationship for Hip-Hop and the consumer.