In 2003, a singing/rapping trio called Daara J released one of the most exciting hip-hop albums on the planet. Four square in the tradition of conscious rap a la Native Tongues Posse, Common and Talib Kweli, Boomerang’s 13 tracks deal with racial pride, community solidarity, fighting oppression, morality, love and respect (for fam, women and self). Three things distinguish Daara J and Boomerang (Wrasse Records) from their freestyling peers are their audacious music stilo (hip-hop beats criss-crossed with reggae, soul, funk, African and Cuban grooves), verbal cipher (French-English-Spanish-Wolof) and, most tellingly, their nationality: N’Dango D, Aladji Man and Faada Freddy are from Senegal.
While the fact that three African brothas could come up with an album that is every bit at bona fide as Kweli’s Quality will no doubt surprise the U.S. hip-hop massive, heads from Dakar who have been weaned on imported 12-inchers, LPs/CDs, video and FUBU-Phat-Farm-Sean-John just smile and say, “Uh, yeah.” When they hear those beats and rhymes from America, they’re feeling the Ancestors. “Boomerang is calling people to move,” clarifies Freedy. “It says that rap music was born in Africa, grown in America and it went around the world to come back to Africa like a boomerang. That’s why we have to be under the same groove and the same mood.” (FYI: Today there are over 8,000 rap crews in Senegal)
In 1979, New Jersey indie label Sugar Hill Records released “Rapper’s Delight” by Big Bank Hank, Master Gee and Wonder Mike, aka the Sugar Hill Gang. A series of round robin party chants, outrageous sexual boasts, food jokes and doggerel scat (“…hip-hop-ya-don’t-stop-to-rockin’-to-da-bang-bang-boogie-say-up-jump-da-boogie-to-da-rhythm-of-da-boogiey-beat…”), set to the rhythm track of Choc’s disco smash “good Times,” “Rapper’s Delight” was the proverbial shot heard ‘round the world.
Although it eventually sold over two million copies worldwide (out-selling Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”), won NAIRD’s Record of the Year award and blew up America’s radio, R&B and pop sales charts, “Rapper’s Delight” was tagged a one-hit wonder novelty by industry weasels and media pundits alike. As always, the “experts were wrong…dead wrong.
For the disenfranchised black and Latin youth of the South Bronx, NY, “Rapper’s Delight” was no bullshit “novelty.” They knew it was the latest offspring of a new style that had been birthed in borough parks, house/block parties and clubs seven years before by Don Dada DJs like Kool Herc, Pete DJ Jones, Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Wizard Theodore. To them, Sugarhill Gang was no more than carpetbaggers: three cornballs from Jersey who rode to mainstream glory on rhymes stolen from Grandmaster Caz and the Cold Crush Brothers. Playa hating aside, the kids soon realized that “rapper’s Delight” was nothing less than a middle-fingered “I am somebody!” validation of their underground B-Boy (as in “Bronx Boy,” “break Boy,” “Beat Boy”) culture to the outside world.
In 1980, the B-Boy nation cold bumrushed the show: Sugarhill Gang rocked U.K. TV sjpw Top Of The Pops, Blondie gave authentic B-Boy MC Kurtis Blow the opening slot on their January U.K. tour and both Blow’s “The Breaks” and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “Freedom” were certified gold singles. B-Boy icons the Treacherous Three, Sequence, Spoonie Gee, Funky Four Plus One and the Fearless Four enjoyed local hits as well.
The next year, Blondie’s “Rapture” and the Clash’s “magnificent Seven” and “This Is Radio Clash” brought rap to the vanilla suburbs and got paid in full. The Clash hired graffiti legend Futura 2000 to spray-paint onstage backdrops during their London and Paris gigs Within weeks, both capitals were “bombed by native taggers. The genie had left the bottle. A year later, GMF&FF’s “The message” and Bambaataa’s “planet Rock” had B-Boys, rockers and new<