Hiphop is the first true form of music, the first true language, the first social movement. I’m sure that’s what drew the world’s attention to the world, so we need to try to explain why it’s so interesting – and what it means.
What were the major trends in hip hop in the 50s and 60s?
In the 50s hip hop was basically the language of black America. Black people were the world’s most powerful and influential, and rap really became the language of the Black community because that was the first time that you could hear hip hop on television. It’s not that it was about how black people were doing drugs, it was a way for black people to take pleasure out of that culture.
I think the biggest thing was the Beatles, because all this time the world in the UK was totally mesmerised with the Beatles. A lot of us were like, “Wow! We’ve come to an event where black music is the same music that John Lennon did!” That’s really the first time we heard a black band like the Beatles and it’s really what started hip hop.
Do you think if black music had started to sound more like white music in 1966, the world would’ve been a more comfortable place for the movement and for hip hop?
I think that’s a really tricky one. It probably wouldn’t have really had an impact on the music in the 60s if it wasn’t for the Beatles… I really think they were an influence, but then it’s impossible to measure that in terms of black hip hop.
Black music was getting more diverse. Black music also started to get more mainstream. I think that’s what really helped. It’s interesting to think about the role of hip hop on the world stage, but in the US, it was mostly black music that was getting more mainstream – even though there were black artists that did things like “The Black Angels”, that didn’t go over too well and made a lot of money off of [solo album] “The Black Angels Are Back” but it was still a white album. When black hip hop got more mainstream and black America got more comfortable with what they were hearing, that’s when hip hop started to take off in Britain…
What is your favourite hip hop song today?
It’s been so long. The last album I did, “Luv” was in 1999. “Rapper’s Delight”, that I did with Eminem, wasn’t
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