News & Updates — rap/hiphop
Bobby Byrd / Aug 15, 1934 - Sept 12, 2007
Happy birthday to the man who James Brown owes his career to, Bobby Byrd. Byrd was JB's discoverer and longtime business partner, as well as a singer/composer of his own note. Byrd came from a gospel music family in Georgia and sang and played piano & organ. He and his siblings would take secular jobs in South Carolina, unbeknownst to his elders, and they got to be known in the region. Professional by 1952 when he met Brown during a prison baseball game and the Byrd family helped get him paroled. Upon release, Brown immediately joined Byrd's band The Famous...
Adam "MCA" Yauch / Aug 5, 1964 - May 4, 2012
Happy birthday to my favorite Beastie Boy, Adam "MCA" Yauch. From snot-nosed NYC punk to immature road animal to a citizen of the world and ambassador for peace & justice. Proof that people can grow and learn and contribute after a reckless past. Anybody who shits on the Beastie Boys usually has another agenda that has nothing to do with music. Their late '80s-mid '90s period produced some of the funkiest and coolest music of any pop groups of the era.
Professor X The Overseer / Aug 4, 1956 - March 17, 2006
One of my all time fave rap groups was the X-Clan, with their Afrocenric funky samples, mystical verbal conjurings and knowledge deeper than Atlantis. Professor X was always in the mix, offering insight and focus, as well as some devil-taunting. The Brooklyn-born son of activist Sonny Carson, Lumumba Carson picked up some of the provocateur genes from his father. Funk upon a time he knew Malcolm X as a kid, he himself got shot in a gang dispute, and after serving some prison time remade himself as a hiphop sage of knowledge and black pride, founding X Clan and also recording...
Guru / July 17, 1961 - April 19, 2010
Happy birthday to Keith "Guru" Elam, Boston native, great MC, excellent lyricist, founder of Gang Starr, creator of Jazzmatazz, with which he brought jazz samples into rap. I got to meet him once, in Boston, in the mid-90s. Too bad Premier and he couldn't patch up their beef before Guru's death from post-cancer heart attack. Gang Starr were one of the great hiphop groups. And with his Jazzmatazz project he collaborated with Roy Ayers, Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd, Ramsey Lewis, Lonnie Liston Smith and others, helping bridge jazz and rap.
Jimmy Castor / June 23, 1940 - Jan 16, 2012
Happy birthday to one of NYC's best, Jimmy Castor! He sang doo-wop with Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and the Teen Chords, as well as playing reeds and percussion. He started playing timbales after hearing Tito Puente and in the early '60s became the bandleader for Dave "Baby" Cortez, as well as recording with Bill Doggett. The Jimmy Castor Bunch became a hot item on the NYC club scene with their blend of Latin jazz, boogaloo, calypso and funk. They were sharing a lot of bills with Joe Bataan, Pucho & the Latin Soul Brothers and Kool & the Gang...