Ever See Leaders Of The New School Kick This Old School Rap Routine? (Video)
In the earliest days of Hip-Hop, MCs didn’t just get on stage and rhyme. They kicked fly Rap routines, complete with elaborate costumes and coordinated choreography. Also, rather than rhyming one at a time, the MCs bounced back and forth, often completing each others words.
Much of this took place in the 70s and early 80s, before Rap was an established format on records. The music relied heavily on live performance (and bootleg cassettes), so being well-rounded entertainers was critical to MCs’ success. Groups like The Cold Crush Brothers, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, The Fantastic Five and The Funky Four + 1 were among those that flourished during these times.
As the new school took over, starting with Run-D.M.C. in 1983, and eventually evolving to the style that would come to prominence in the late 80s and early 90s and remain relevant to this day, the dancing, costumes and coordination subsided. At first, MCs like Rakim were considered “boring” for simply standing on stage and controlling the mic. For the generation that followed, however, they saw that the routines were replaced by more complex rhyming, albeit delivered more straight-forwardly.
Among the new crop of MCs, certain ones did draw on elements from their predecessors. Watching a Big Daddy Kane show was like a workout, as the master rapper incorporated kicks, spins and other dazzling moves into his performance. Similarly, certain groups maintained the verbal back and forth in their rhyme routines that were core for those before them.
Perhaps no MCs blended the old with the new better than Leaders Of The New School, despite their name. While their verses featured the ultra-complex rhyme style that was prevalent in the 90s and beyond, their choruses often harkened back to the sounds of the 70s. Singles like “Case of the P.T.A.” featured the exact same type of verbal interplay and sang choruses that Cold Crush, Fantastic Four and more flexed on stages over a decade earlier.
L.O.N.S.’ throwback style is on full display in a 1991 routine they performed on Rock Rap. Busta Rhymes, Charlie Brown and Dinco D are fully animated, with hand claps, head nods and high stepping. The rhymes are fully coordinated, as they bounce back and forth, sometimes completing each other’s words and rapping in sync. Busta even throws in a beatbox halfway through.
As Rap’s generational wars were rekindled in a major way last year with veterans disenchanted with so-called “Mumble Rap” and several members of the current generation showing absolute disrespect for what came before them, this is a reminder that there can always be a bridge between old and new.