From Beats To Rhymes, Breakin’ To Graffiti, The Latino Contribution To Hip-Hop Is Explored (Audio)

One of the more anticipated pieces of Hip-Hop coverage over the last week was Latino USA‘s (an NPR-backed podcast show) “A Latino History Of Hip-Hop.” As promised by video trailer, part 1 premiered yesterday (March 20), with part 2 reportedly coming online by late April. Producers Daisy Rosario and Marlon Bishop went directly to the primary sources, compiled some illustrative sound clips, and put together an hour-plus show that puts things in perspective, and shines a deep, deserving light on how from the very beginning, Latinos and Latin music would join Blacks in laying the groundwork for Hip-Hop culture, and maintaining it through its developmental years.

As the producers make clear from jump, this is “not a definitive history, this is real people telling their stories.” Daisy and Marlon  reached out to legendary figures such as Devastating Tito, Lee Quiñones, and Charlie Chase for those stories, covering all elements. The first hour-plus (part 1) explores the multi-cultural role in Hip-Hop (DJ’ing, Rap, Breakin’, Graffiti), especially in 1970s New York City boroughs like the Bronx. The report also looks at the Latino community helping solidify “the sacred crates” of Hip-Hop, dictating and strongly reacting to the very break-beats (which listeners will hear) that would ultimately be benchmarks of sound for dance, style, and later, Rap production.

Lee, who many Heads know from Wild Style, offers some incredible anecdotes surrounding the Hip-Hop experience, and the impetus for many lasting trends, dating back to the late 1970s. Cold Crush Brothers co-founder Charlie discusses his DJ’ing. “I’ma be honest with you, I was sick wit’ this!,” recalls the B-X pioneer. Chase talks about how the previous generation’s record collection (the parents) affected the party jams of the early-mid ’70s, and beyond, along with deep cuts found in stores at the time. There is a great discussion about how groups like Cymande, Jimmy Castor Bunch, and others, were built around Latin percussion.

Cold Crush, one of the most dominating groups, especially within Rap’s beginnings, is a great representation of culturally diverse crews. Devastating Tito from The Fearless Four weighs in on his own multi-cultural Rap crew, and the difficult experience they had with the 1980s label system (in this case, Elektra Records)—the credited first time a Rap group signed to a major. This part of the discussion, nearing the end of part 1, adds how the intervention of record labels (and possibly mainstream media) began to downplay the Latino heritage and influence associated with these groups (the Fat Boys are also mentioned) due to perceived racial ambiguity.

Lastly, graffiti is explored in great detail, with deep consideration to breakthrough film, Wild Style.

The music sound-beds drive the discussion, as this story’s production value is amazing. Fans of researched, engaging, and entertaining documentaries will likely love this.

Indicative of this work, there are a lot of great podcasts and audio productions at Latino USA. Check it out for more programming like this.

Related: The Rich History of Latino Contributions to Hip-Hop Are Detailed in a New Audio Documentary (Video)