The early hip-hop music that we’ve been talking about, and that we hear in a lot of the classics of late-80s and early ’90s rap music, started at a very young age. When you think about this time period—not to sound too dated, but the ’80s is when you think about the first rap music and a lot of music started out of it. And this period was probably the most violent time in history.
So the first rap music, let’s say, that actually reached the masses, was that record, Rap God, by Ice Cube?
[Laughs.] Exactly. I don’t know how far this record went underground, but there’s probably a good percentage of records that started out that way. That record, Rap God also had a great line, “You can’t fool me/ I was not impressed.” So this is the kind of thing that a lot of our first big rap records—the stuff that we’d put out, we’d say, like, “I’m not that great for you,” so we’d put out records like this. We also released a couple of albums, like I Love It, that had songs like “You’re the Reason” and “Niggas Notorious” that really blew people away, because at the time, no one had really heard that sort of thing that we were doing. We were doing this really different thing.
What was the scene like for black men at this time?
You know, the first time, in the ’80s, was the time when gangs were really a real thing in the inner cities. You would get into a fight, and then people would come in and try to run you over, and there was a huge amount of violence and mayhem and whatnot, and that’s what the first rap records were really about. That was the first time it really happened. And then around ’87, like, there are so many other hip-hop artists that started putting out their very first albums, and there’s a major black music scene in the early ’80s. That’s when you start seeing more, not just gangsta rap, but rap music that was a bit more black.
Then people start doing really good work. Then people start going in and getting jobs. Then they start doing their craft with a real group of people. Then there is some actual rap music, and people start putting out a song that is really really catchy
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