Elements of Hip-Hop at FDU

By Tyler Williams, Guest Writer

From the MCs and DJs to producers and pioneers of hip-hop, the originators of hip-hop came to tell their story at Fairleigh Dickinson University on April 10, 2017. Hip-hop legends including Kool DJ Red Alert (a.k.a. Frederick Crute) and MC Debbie D were invited to the Knight Club to talk about how hip-hop became the industry as we know it today.

The FDU student chapter of Black Men’s Alliance (BMA) made it possible. The guest and students shared information on what they knew about the culture of hip hop and the evolution from its origins to today’s music. The questions from the audience were mainly concerned about the origin of hip-hop and how the genre became an acceptable part of American and world music.

According to DJ Kevy Kev Rockwell, in 1982 “following behind the work of Grandmaster Flash” (a.k.a. Joseph Saddler) who was the originator of scratching, a style emerged that all deejays would later adopt. Back in the eighties the DJ needed a crew of people to move the equipment from venue to venue. The chance to travel with some of the headline DJs was a great honor and start for many.

“When I got the chance… I gave everyone [in the community] an opportunity to have a job,” Crute said. “Hip-hop is not just a job but an art.”

“You must produce your own work,” MC Debbie D, one of the first female rappers, mentioned.

Crute elaborated more on the present state of hip-hop from past to the present during his over thirty year tenure as a radio DJ on some of NYC biggest stations.

The Equinox asked Crute to share his opinion on which of today’s rappers carries on the legacy of hip-hop as a culture of originality and creativity.

“The rappers who carry the legacy of hip-hop today are J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, and The Roots,” Crute said.

Also, the question of the how the young and old generation can coexist in the world of hip-hop was asked. Crute replied that one-time concerts can help. He also said rappers must “bridge the entertainment and message” when it comes to hip-hop music.

Talking about the community and making a difference is important, according to Crute.

“Go through the negative and continue your inner self,” Crute said. When asked about the prime of hip-hop, Crute said it was about “showing expression of art, music, and dance. It was a form of escape of what was going on around you and it made us feel good.”

The Equinox also asked Crute how rappers today could show homage to the originators of hip-hop.

“Just having a conversation with young and old rappers,” Crute said. “Open our minds and hearts. I’m blessed to know that there is another generation.”

Crute mentioned that his youngest son, who is 30 and goes by the name of G MiMs, is an artist as well. Crute refers to his kids and grandkids as “hip-hop babies” because they are aware of the hip-hop culture.

“I can do the same thing you can do because when you limit yourself, you evaporate,” said Crute said about remaining relevant throughout the years of hip-hop trends.

“Show the world of how much you value the culture, lots of good hip-hop went underground because mainstream rap is being put out there as hip-hop,” Crute said.

“Go through the negative and continue your inner self,” Crute said.