I’m sure it was my first rap cassette tape. I’m sure that I watched their first video too many time on “Video Music Box.” I’m sure that is was greater than any sound I had heard before and I’m sure that becoming a “Prop Master” was a lifelong dream that I wanted to for-fill one day when I got older. “Left my wallet in El. Segundo” from the seminal work of A Tribe Called Quest: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of (FUNK) and Rhythm kept me glued to everything single item of crazy craftsmanship the director of this video thought necessary for this particular song of ATCQ’s. The rolling in of the now highly recognized logo of the group, the various animated cuts for comedy effect and the simple but extremely memorable story line made my 14 year old mind at the time want to live in whatever world was created by these guys. I dare to say, being a kid from Morristown, New Jersey, that ATCQ spoke my language but they did! From Queens to my humble suburban nest. The most of what I knew of rap music, before YO MTV Raps and Rap City, came from Deejay Red Alert on 98.7 Kiss and most of what was playing was either to hard edged or I just couldn’t understand it. Tribe gave me a plot to follow, jokes that I could tell to not just my friends in school but to my mother as well; images of Afrocentric living, black medallions, no gold and a young woman, who’s name needs no introduction, added to my ever growing mental soundtrack that would be playing loud and in Bose stereo when I found my Miss Applebum. Thanks is to puny of word to give to this group. Whether you love everything they every put out or have your reservations for your top three, as a past lover once said to me: “It’s Tribe!” So I urge you, leave your wallets in El Segundo so that you can find your way back to a sound that instantly pops your teeth out from under you lips! Quest with for a while, won’t you?
I believe edu-tainment works because the true mind altering, life repairing, “get up, stand up for your rights,” revolutionary properties of music demand it from our most primal and centered selves. As much as critics and music illumenaries alike though of rap music in the same vain as baby-boomers though of rock an roll, just a passing phase, the written has been on the wall for over thirty years and there is no signs of permanent erasers to undo or rewrite what rap music and the Hip Hop culture has done for the economic growth of music entertainment, the adding on to of the slang lexicon and the over-all marketing schemes by traditional brands keeping up with the times. However, this future brands is not and will not heavily concern itself with the prior mentioned. This future brand is for lyricists, decoders and classic era of rap music when (and I don’t think I’m wrong is saying this) your presentation and content mattered much more than your need to become extremely and overbearingly flashy to win over hearts and minds.
For instance, when my mother didn’t have cable and my father did, going to his and my grandmother’s, at the time in the mid to late 80’s exposed me to the one channel that would chance the way we listened and bought music forever… Music Television. Seeing the video of the song that played continuously on your stoop is, well, was a life changing event. One song that keeps playing in my head is Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend.” Compared to the “we’re all partying, dancing and having a great time rap music, this was my first step into a more urban, raw and conceptualized video. “I was a fiend, before I became a teen. I melted microphones instead of cones of ice cream.” This square jawed, intense eyed individual didn’t raise his voice above a slight yell but commanded the presence and respect of all within an earshot. You see, ‘he didn’t get upset, he kicked a hole in the speaker, pulled and the plug then he’d jet, back to the lab.’ Even at the young of 10 when I first saw and heard this song, there was no doubt in my mind of the impact it had on me then, what it still has on me now and what it will have for the future brand Notoriously Crushed Jellybeans: Love your Hip Hop and wear it too!