Major props to Jeff Carroll out of Miami for penning this important article. It couldn’t have come at a better time when you consider how the rascist white executives like Jeff Smulyan, Rick Cummins, John Dimmick and Barry Mayo over at Emmis’ Hot 97 allowed their on air jocks to make disaparaging, racially offensive remarks about a group of people who are acritical in the foundation for Hip Hop music and culture. In short there would be Hot 97 if it wasn’t for these good folks profiled in the article… I say read this and then email a copy to them at IR@emmis.com and demand an apology….. -Davey D-
The 10 Most Influential Caribbeans in Hip Hop Culture
By Jeff Carroll
Note: Due to the highly debatable nature of this editorial, Urban America Newspaper is welcoming a round table community discussion on this topic. If you have any comments or suggestions in regards to the article, feel free to make them on our message board at www.uannetwork.com.
Let’s get it started. This article was written for one reason and one reason only, to clear up the confusion around the origin of values within Hip Hop culture. This article isn’t written to promote the careers of any of the people mentioned. I’m not playing favorite with any artist and I don’t work for a record company. This list came strictly from my own independent research. The main motivation for this article is to show how we all have contributed to Hip Hop culture’s positive and negative characteristics. When I say we all I mean us African people.
As an African American living in the huge Caribbean diversity of Miami I am a cultural minority. Living in a place where my Caribbean brothers and sisters out number the African Americans I hear comments about Hip Hop and African Americans that are different than the comments I heard from Caribbeans living in New York.
I lived in the New York area for 32 years and never heard some of the comments I heard on a regular down here in the MIA. Down here Caribbeans feel they are much different than African Americans. Many of them feel that we blame the “white man” too much which makes us lazy. They feel African American moral values are low and are manifested through Hip Hop.
Now, I know older African Americans have problems with the morals in Hip Hop culture too. There is a difference between the way African Americans 50 years old and older feel and than the way many Caribbeans in Miami feel about Hip Hop. African Americans who are upset with Hip Hop expect more responsibility from the future generation. They’re partial acceptance allows them to approach solutions from within their families and communities.
Many Caribbeans in Miami on the other hand believe that Hip Hop is violent, anti-education, overly sexual and has a negative male/female relationship value system. They see these things as African American culture instead of something wrong that can be fixed. Their opinion of African American culture is so low they try to adopt the values of European/white Americans. Their attraction to European culture and desire to separate form African American culture creates other problems for them.
In this article I’m just dealing with how Caribbean culture has influenced Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop is one of the greatest creations we descendents of African captives have produced. Hip Hop has produced tremendous wealth for us. It has changed American society and it is influencing world culture. Hip Hop’s greatest legacy is it’s ability to provide a path to economic wealth for America’s poor. The future impact of Hip Hop on the world is uncharted and something we all should embrace.
Okay, here we go. When I say Caribbeans I’m talking about the one’s enslaved by the French and speak Creole/French, the Spanish enslaved that now claim that language and of course the Dutch and English enslaved Caribbeans who have put their own twist on English creating patwa. These people along with African Americans must acknowledge their role in creating and shaping Hip Hop.
Hip Hop is ours and like Jazz and Rock it can be taken from us and used to build wealth in other communities. Consequently if ignored Hip Hop can be used to pull us down as well. From the very beginning Caribbeans have contributed to Hip Hop. Along with African Americans various individuals have made many positive and negative contributions. These contributions are so significant that they have shaped and produced today’s Hip Hop culture. Here is a list of 10 Caribbean people who have made significant contributions to Hip Hop culture.
He is an undisputed founding member of Hip Hop. He held outdoor street parties in the Bronx, NYC in the late 70’s. He came to NYC at 10 years old and brought his Jamaican rhymes and attitude with him. Kool DJ Herc spun the musical breaks in all types of songs that kept his parties hype which demonstrated what Hip Hop was. He is credited with naming and promoting Hip Hop and is widely regarded as “The Father of Hip Hop.”
Grand Master Flash, Joseph Saddle, Barbados, Born 1958
As a DJ his skill at speed mixing popularized Hip Hop DJing and made him one of the World’s most recognized DJ’s. He has remained a DJing advocate ever since he stood his ground against the push to switch the group and DJ lead structure to an MC lead structure when his group
Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five split with MC Melly Mel. As a solo artist he produced 2 more albums with another group. He is credited with popularizing Hip Hop DJing and DJ producers.
Notorious B.I.G., Christopher Wallace, Jamaica, born 1972-1997
Considered the best lyricist ever in Hip Hop by many Hip Hoppers. Along with Hip Hop mogul Sean Puffy Combs he heightened the materialism as well the gangster image. He is credited with popularizing gangster rap. He legacy is still being made through the activities of his Patwa speaking mother.
Wyclef Jean, Croix-de-Bouquets, Haiti Born 1972
He probably reps for his Caribbean Island the most out of any other Hip Hopper. Born in Haiti, he moved to New Jersey at age 10. As a member of the group the Fugees he proudly boasts about his Haitian culture. He easily announced his nationality at a time when it was unpopular to say you were from Haiti because of nasty rumors that the man made AIDS disease came from there. Wyclef is credited for popularizing cultural awareness and pride.
Luther R. Campbell, Bahamian and Jamaican, Born 1960
Still the most famous Hip Hop figure to come out of Miami, Florida. As a member of the group T2 Live Crew, Luke pushed the limits of freedom of speech and was sued for selling sexually explicit lyrics to children. After winning the law suit he opened the door for more sexually charged rap lyrics. Since then he has produced many XXX videos. Luke is credited with advancing pornography in Hip Hop.
Doug E Fresh, Doug E Davis, Barbados, Born 1967
Hailed as the Greatest Entertainer in Hip Hop. Through the use of his mouth and charismatic personality Doug is still the most celebrated Beat Boxer in the world. A strict vegetarian he has steered his 20+ year career clear of gangster and sexually promotional songs. Doug was a member of the Stop the Violence movement and even toured Colleges raising social consciousness with The Get Busy Tour. Doug is credited with being a long lasting positive figure in Hip Hop.
Foxy Brown, Inga Marchaud, Trinidad/Asian, Born 1979
Foxy Brown is one of the most recognized Hip Hop females. In the 90’s her sexy outfits and gangster lyrics made her a top rap artist. Through the use of the sexually provocative costumes worn in Trinidad during the celebration of Carnival she helped popularize the sexiness of Hip Hop women. Foxy’s choice to use these carnival costumes designed to arouse men and get them to release their sexual sins as performance outfits credits her with increasing the importance of sexuality in Hip Hop clothes.
Fat Joe, Joseph Cartagena, Puerto Rico, 1970
He is currently the #1 Latino rapper in the world. He has attracted a bilingual audience with his heavy hitting English and Spanglish lyrics. With lyrics full of Puerto Rican pride, his chart topping songs have given not only Latinos from Puerto Rico worldwide recognition but, all Spanish speaking Caribbeans. Fat Joe is a Hip Hop icon. He is credited for making Latin culture something that everyone could enjoy.
Prince Markie Dee, Mark Morales, Puerto Rico, Born 1960
As the respected MC of the group The Fat Boys Prince Markie Dee took his fun image from records to film. His appearances in just 2 movies and music videos displayed a non-threatening example of Hip Hopper. He is currently a radio personality at Miami’s own 103.5 The Beat. He is credited with advancing Hip Hop’s youth appeal.
Busta Rhymes, Trever Smith Jr., Jamaica born 1972
One of the Hottest rappers in Hip Hop history with a unique style that has given him number one hits for over 15 years. He has been able to get respect from all Hip Hoppers by having an image that is not gangster or perverted. The content of Busta’s songs are on a variety of subjects. He is credited with being a long lasting Hip Hop celebrity that is entertaining enough to rock a crowd just like the hardest hardcore thugged out, sex promoting rappers.
Honorable mention to other Caribbean rappers:
Star (of The Star And Bucwild Show)
Trugoy (of De La Soul)
Mello Man Ace
Herbie “Love Bug” Azor
These are the 10 Hip Hoppers of Caribbean descent that I feel have helped shape Hip Hop culture the most. These are Hip Hoppers who grew up in homes where they didn’t listen to Gospel, Jazz and Motown only like most African Americans. They ate plantains, curry goat, rice & peas and their parents searched for callous in produce sections of grocery stores. They were groomed in environments where Salsa, Meringue, Compas, Calypso, Reggae and varieties of Caribbean rhythms were dominant.
Their influence on Hip Hop culture directly relates to their bi-culture orientation. Understanding the Caribbean cultural background of these Hip Hop figure will help you better understand where someone like a Foxy Brown got the idea for her stage outfits from. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to like her outfits, but at least you have something better to base your opinion on.
I didn’t write this article just to tell people about negative contributions Caribbean Hip Hoppers have made that African Americans get blamed for. Knowing your History is important because it helps the world. In the case with Hip Hop being off track the way it is only those who know the history of Hip Hop can truly recognize it. Hip Hop started by positive personalities like Kool DJ Herc (from Jamaica), Grand Master Flash (from the Bahamas) and Afrika Bambaattaa (an African American) who used Hip Hop to give inner-city youth an option to gang activity and crime. Zulu Nation, the first Hip Hop organization, went so far as starting up chapters throughout New York where lessons on Black History and human behavior were circulated.
Today, Hip Hop’s image is clouded by the commercialization by companies who’s only goals are to sell merchandise. These companies find their business through appealing to sex and violence qualities which are the very values that Hip Hop was started in opposition to. Afrika Bambaattaa popularized the values of Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun, which are considered the base values of Hip Hop. These values are basically unknown to today’s commercial rap music fans. I will conclude with these thoughts. Hip Hop is a the leading American sub-culture.
It is a great monument to the achievement of oppressed people in this country. It would be a tragedy if Hip Hop were to be considered a negative element to society. It was created to give hope and happiness to the children of lower economical areas and teach them that fighting each other is not productive and they must respect themselves and women. I get frustrated when I hear people, especially my Caribbean brothers and sisters, speak negatively about American culture. Hip Hop culture is something we created together in America and together we shaped it to be as overly sexual and violent as it is today. For Hip Hop to improve we must also work together and get it back on the track it was designed for.
THE RESPONSE FROM UNIVERSAL ZULU NATION ON CARIBBEANS IN HIP HOP
For All Who don’t Know Afrika Bambaataa is also An Afrikan American of Afrikan West Indian Parents and was the 1st in Hip Hop Known as a culture to 1st play West Indian Music (Carribean Music), when others would not even dare play roots music at Hip Hop Parties. He played Calypso,Reggae,Soca,Latin as well as break beats from the Carribean when all would not touch it until they heard all these jams being play at the Almighty Zulu Nation Jams and this is a fact. And a super large West Indian following especially Jamaicans would come to Bam jams cause they knew they were going to hear Reggae/Soca at his Jams. Bam made Trinty,General Echo,Big Youth,I-Roy,Yellowman,Eddie Palmari,Ray Berratto, Calpso Rose,Mighty Sparrow,Willie Colon,Mongo Santermaria, Manu Dibango,Fela Kuti and many other Carribean and Afrikan singers known in the Hip Hop World. So to the one who wrote the article respect to you for your research but you should of did more research and thats why we just want to Set The Record Straight.
For any who wish to write a story about Hip Hop from when it was name Hip Hop as a Culture by Afrika Bambaataa and was push as a Culture by The Universal Zulu Nation first and gave all the True names as elements, if your want the True, factual of Hip Hop as a Culture then Your will have to come and speak to Afrika Bambaataa and thosands of True School Zulus from back in the day as well as to speak to The Father Kool Herc ,Grandmaster Flash and all of Afrika Bambaataa ‘s Black Spades / The Organization True School members like Love Bug Starski, The late Disco King Mario, Tex Dj Hollywood, Kool Dj Dee and Tyrone, The late Keith Cowbow of The Furious Five as well as The original Zulu Kings and Queens but for when Hip Hop was name as a Culture all roots go back Factual to The Universal Zulu Nation and if anyone wants to debate come with your Factology and we will beat you down with your lying BullShit of fake as Truth and this especialy goes out to Mr. BS of all BS Russel Simmons and any one else who loves to keep trying to write about Hip Hop The True School Days Culture and know Jackshit about Hip Hop as a Culture.
When you deal with trying to write about Hip Hop or Rap please come and speak with ones who were Truly there, not these fake johnny come lately so called scholars of Hip Hop. Much love and respect to Davey D, Jeff Chang ( The best Hip Hop Book so far Ever that deals with our story and not just his-story) ,Brother Ernie and to all the women of the early days and now who Kept true Hip Hop Culture alive and went through the struggles with the men to make this happen all over the world. To all who deals with Facts and not made of half Truths or false hood Hip Hoppers.