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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reader's Diary #1224- Ed Piskor: Hip Hop Family Tree 1981-1983

Way back in my impressionable youth, my older teenage sister and a couple of her friends did one of the coolest things I'd ever seen. In leather jackets and sunglasses they lip-synced Run DMC's "It's Tricky" at a community variety show.

What was that music??? In Twillingate, Newfoundland, I'd never heard the likes. So completely different and so cool. My first exposure to rap. Or was that hip hop? Didn't matter.

In any case, it made the new focus on Run DMC in Ed. Piskor's volume 2 of his brilliant Hip Hop Family Tree series an especial delight. Of course, I enjoyed reading about the lesser known names last time around, but seeing the birth of groups like RUN DMC and the Beastie Boys was pretty cool, too.

I didn't like the volume as much as the first one though. The late 70s New York setting in volume 1 was almost a character in itself, which I had really enjoyed. This time, early 80s New York seemed less prominent. However, I did enjoy the brief scenes in L.A.

I was also concerned at first that the oversized, newsprint classic comics look of the first volume had worn out its welcome. While it was perfect to capture comics of the 70s, wouldn't they have started to look different by 83? Fortunately, my doubts on that front were eased when Piskor fast-fowarded a panel here or there to the 1990s. Suddenly the colouring changed from faded halftone colours to more garish neon. Yep, this series is in good hands.

The story of hip hop at that time I found to be simultaneously frustrating and compelling. On the one hand, it started to get more of a business sense which seemed to take away some of the magic and cultural phenomenon of the first, but on the other hand, there also seemed to be more experimentation with sounds. Suddenly the difference between rap and hip hop became a thing. Artists played with electronic effects and debated if it should go with more disco or slower, more street sounds. Punk angst and themes attracted some while others wanted party music. It's not difficult to see the seeds of various subgenres forming even at this early stage.

I can't wait for Volume 3!

1 comment:

pussreboots said...

I'm reading volume 3 right now. It's just as good as the first two.