Bronx cable program focuses on the origins of Hip Hop

by Jon Minners

Who really created Hip Hop?  I don’t know.  I love Hip Hop.  I love the classics and I continue to listen today.  Sure, the message in rap is gone today and everything is about just the beat and catchy hook, but Hip Hop is still the greatest genre of music that fills my iPod.  But 50 Cent came from somewhere and in order to get to where you are going in this music business, you need to know where you came from.  So, I ask again; who really created Hip Hop? 

There are a number of stories that artists tell, but the true pioneers of the genre that eventually became a culture all its own often go unrecognized, sometimes cited by artists, but never truly given a voice; others ignored despite making major contributions.  One program getting play on local cable channel Bronxnet hopes to tell a story often left untold…until now. 

South Bronx native DJ Cool Clyde, known, along with DJ Lightnin’ Lance, as the first DJs to scratch on wax (record) worldwide, has created the DJ Cool Clyde Show each Thursday, at 7 p.m. on Channel 68 to discuss the various facets of Hip Hop.  The first installment is part one of a multi-part series entitled Page One: The Birth of Hip Hop

“Some people get the opportunity to tell a story about Hip Hop and it takes a life of its own,” said Clyde.  “Perception is reality, but when it is time to standup for the forgotten heroes, I’m going to be the voice for the people who paved the way.  This is another piece of the puzzle.”

And television is the latest medium used by Clyde to be this voice.  “DJ Cool Clyde is a community artist, musician and activist who has undergone the training, along with his friends, to develop the skills necessary for producing this program,” noted Bronxnet executive director Michael Knobbe.  “It is just another example of the educational service we provide so that our neighbors can express their creativity and share a message with the viewing audience.”

Clyde shares this message because he knows exactly how it feels to be unrecognized.  For years, he sat back as others staked claims to various titles in the Hip Hop genre.  VH1 Hip Hop Honors recognized many faces; typical names like Run DMC, LL Cool J, Kool DJ Herc, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Grandmaster Flash and a number of other names associated with the birth of Hip Hop, but armed with records and proof, DJ Cool Clyde decided to step forward, be heard and show others who were slighted that they too should stake a claim in the Hip Hop game. 

“I didn’t do this to try to get fame,” said Clyde.  “I just remember witnessing these guys at the start of Hip Hop and it just bothered me.  We are seeing the same familiar faces; why aren’t these guys being recognized.  I didn’t step forward at first.  I wanted other people to say, ‘Clyde, you was there, why aren’t you being mentioned?’  I wanted someone to give me my props, but I was tired of waiting for people to give me my spotlight.  Now, I am out there and I am opening up a can of worms, providing people with the true story of Hip Hop and giving other people a chance to tell their story.”

Just who is The Green Eyed Genie?  Many may be unaware that he ever existed during the history of Hip Hop.  The first part of the DJ Cool Clyde Show, produced by Shawn Webber, gives The Green Eyed Genie a chance to tell his story; a story of a young child growing up in the Bronxdale Houses where his mother was a supervisor.  Genie discusses his role in the Black Spades, a gang that controlled the housing projects in the early 70’s and included Afrika Bambaataa, consistently recognized as the Godfather of Hip Hop Culture.  Bambaataa would go on to create the Zulu Nation with firm roots in the early days of Hip Hop.  Bambaataa introduces the show to give its guests and their stories a level of authenticity that cannot be disputed. 

Green Eyed Genie is just one of the faces of Hip Hop that often goes unrecognized,” said Clyde.  “He’s here to tell his story.  He’s armed with tangible evidence that viewers will see in the show.  He has moved around throughout all the housing developments in the Bronx and has a number of stories to tell.  We’re talking about the days of Disco King Mario, who is also forgotten.  There are just so many people who helped make Hip Hop what it is today, not just the artists, but also the fans who helped make each show a success or the guys who carried the equipment for the DJ.  They helped keep Hip Hop alive before Hip Hop even had a name.”

While being virtually silent in the first episode, Clyde will discuss his role in Hip Hop with Genie and Lance in part two.  The third installment will include stories from other forgotten pioneers.  “I stepped out of the shadows and told my story,” said Clyde.  “Now, others are taking notice.  They want to tell their story.  Still, there are some who are, for a number of reasons, remaining quiet.  They need to be heard.  People would love to hear your story.  It’s time to fill in the blanks, add the missing pieces, bring the story together.  I am providing the forum.”

Other installments will continue to tell the stories that no one has heard before, as well as the positive influences of Hip Hop that often become forgotten when faced with negative media reports of violence, jail sentences and feuds.  Clyde will also be presenting his annual Raising Kings and Queens Hip Hop celebration in Rosedale Park on Sunday, August 13.  For more information on Hip Hop history and future events celebrating the culture, check out www.unitedwestandent.org.

Related Links:

Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation Interview

Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation Review

Raising Kings and Queens of Hip Hop

Sounds of The Bronx CD

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