Bronx legends recall the storied parties and rap battles

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Bronx legends recall the storied parties and rap battles

Postby romeorock » Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:41 pm

Bronx Grandmaster Melle-Mel and Grandmaster Caz describe plans to build hip hop museum
Bronx legends recall the storied parties and rap battles, but say contemporary rap music 'needs an enema' and 'doesn't stand for anything'
By Jennifer H. Cunningham / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, November 7, 2013, 9:20 PM


Grandmasters Melle-Mel and Grandmaster Caz are working to develop a hip hop hall, an institution to celebrate the rapping culture and the borough that spawned it.

The large-livin’ legends — Curtis (Caz) Brown, 53, a member of the Cold Crush Brothers who was an uncredited co-author of the seminal 1979 hit, “Rapper’s Delight,” and Melvin (Mel) Glover, 52, who co-wrote the 1982 hit “The Message” with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five — took the Daily News’ Jennifer H. Cunningham on a trip down memory lane.

Daily News : What was the hip hop scene like in the Bronx in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

Melle Mel : In the early days of hip hop, we were just going out and partying, enjoying being young. It was only DJs and B-Boys. The dancers were called B-Boys. That’s how everything else got started.

It was a pretty interesting time. The parties were exciting. Hip hop started from one neighborhood’s talent against another. They’d have a battle to see who was the best that night.



Caz : It was cool — it was always something to do, somewhere to go. There was always something happening. You could DJ, you could rap or you could write graffiti. That’s what made it such a broad appeal to youth.

DN : Grandmaster Caz, what rap battle sticks out most in your mind?

Caz : The most memorable rap battle was my group, the Cold Crush Brothers, against the Fantastic Five (on July 3, 1981 at Harlem World — a club on W. 116th St. and Lenox Ave., now a Conway clothing store). We were vying for the spot held by the Furious Five and the Funky Four. It was climactic. It was epic. The competitive aspect of it really got your juices flowing and really got people’s game up.


Simmons, Howard/New York Daily News
Rap pioneers Melle Mel (r.) and Grandmaster Caz with News reporter Jennifer H. Cunningham.
DN : What do you think about hip hop today?

M: I really can’t stand it. It’s way too juvenile. It’s way too violent. It doesn’t stand for anything. Where we stood for good times and social consciousness, today, it’s just negative.

C: Hip hop is beautiful today. Hip hop in its truest sense hasn’t changed. Hip hop as a cultural movement still is what it is. Now, rap music, rap music needs an enema. Rap music needs a good flush-out. It’s reached a point where it’s stagnated and there is no content. There may be a couple of exceptions, but for the most part, that’s what it is.



DN: Tell me about your new venture, a museum of hip hop culture you’re launching with Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Wizard Theodore.

M: Us, as the fathers, the pioneers of hip hop, we have a responsibility to the art form. The “Windows of Hip Hop,” it’s a campus for hip hop.

C: There’s a lot of empty land in the Bronx, and any institution dedicated to hip hop has to be in the Bronx. We’re trying to make that a reality. This is a big year for the culture, 40 years strong. Look how far we’ve come.

M: We’re going to see this become a reality. It’s a celebration of what we did in the past, as well as the present and what we can do in the future. It’ll help tourism in the Bronx expeditiously. It’ll be another feather in the cap of the most underrated borough.

DN: What’s on your iPod today?

M: I listed to a lot of R&B music. Slow songs. When I’m in the car, I listen to the news. I don’t go around listening to rap songs.

C: I listen to the same music I listened to growing up. The music of the ’70s.
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