Netflix: Hip-Hop Evolution

DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,244 Posts
Been watching this documentary series and enjoying all the interviews they’ve got with artists explaining how it all went down, what they were trying to do, how they were received critically and by their peers etc., plus all the footage and images.
Halfway through season 3, just finished the Biggie/Pac era, and as the show is now deep in the ‘90s, I feel there’s been a glaring omission from the Def Jam/late ‘80s/early ‘90s episodes: The Beastie Boys. They got a passing mention, but simply as evidence of Rick Rubin’s eclectic tastes and production ethos (thinking back, nada about The Dust Brothers either).
I know it’s a black art form, but on a show that’s often been at pains to stress the importance of mainstream impact and white reaction (eg 20 minutes on Walk This Way, resulting in Run DMC breaking white audiences), no profiling of The Beasties? No interviews, no discussion of their impact? They were huge. They were hip-hop. I think they were widely accepted within the community, and if they weren’t (eg we heard the ‘underground scene’ dismissing DJ Hollywood as too disco), surely that’s worth discussing.



  • That IS a weird omission. I've only watched one or two episodes (on the Bay) but it seemed pretty well rounded in terms of what they included and what they left out. If you wanna give them the benefit of the doubt I guess they could've argued that the Beasties were sort of odd men out in that they were a big act but maybe too unique to be influential in the timeline of rap history in the same way that you can draw threads for a decade starting from the emergence of gangsta rap or samplers or Def Jam. I don't know if that's fair but it's an argument you could make? I mean Paul's Boutique and the Dust Brothers though... yeah, I can't justify that.

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,244 Posts
    Later episodes covered Eminem, so it doesn’t appear to be a NO WHITEYS thing, and with all the face-time the show had with Russell Simmons it would’ve made sense to ask, if Licensed To Ill wasn’t a hip-hop record, how did he feel about it, or did he foresee them going on to be legitimate/real hip-hop (if he even considers them to be so). I mean, there just weren’t that many big acts around then - first rap album to top the billboard chart, 10 million plus sold, how the fuck do you ignore that in a documentary about the evolution of hip-hop? MC fucking Hammer got more shine FFS.

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,244 Posts
    The series isn’t over yet and I’m hoping they’ll also get back into DJs; they covered DJing in the ‘70s-‘80s because they had to, but since... nada (I’d love a section on the scratch DJs from Philly who I don’t know so much about), it’s predictably become “the Rap” documentary.

  • I'm not that bothered - I mean, rappers are the famous ones and this is hardly a specialist documentary but an overview of an absolutely massive cultural force. I wouldn't expect much on underground scenes really. I do kinda wish there WAS something like that for Real Heads™ but hey, I'm not out there making that.

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,387 Posts
    I agree that the Beasties deserved more, but I'm also impressed by how they're covering less mainstream parts of the culture.  The ep on ciphers/freestyle fellowship/lyricist lounge was great for this, and there were so many other solid interviews earlier on with legends-who-don't-get-much-shine.  So yeah, a good "overview of an absolutely massive cultural force".

    (I also feel like they could just keep doing seasons and dipping back and forth over time to cover more parts - doesn't have to be so chronological.)

    But to scratch that itch, check out the Beastie Boys ep of WTF/Maron and the first ep of Broken Record (Malcolm Gladwell interviewing Rick Rubin) - both from the last year.   And I hear that book they put out is another doozy (Grand Royal lives on!).

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,244 Posts
    ketan said:
    there were so many other solid interviews earlier on with legends-who-don't-get-much-shine.

    (I also feel like they could just keep doing seasons and dipping back and forth over time to cover more parts - doesn't have to be so chronological.)

    Yeah, it’s been a really good watch for the lesser-known but slept-on talents.

    I’d like them to cover more than just rap though, and feel there’s interesting stories to tell on so much more:

    Evolution of DJing from Herc & Flash (covered) to scratching on Rockit, the rise of the DMC contests, the art + DIY industry of DJ mixtapes, influence of radio DJs and club DJs, the prominence and then decline of DJs on tracks...

    Breakdancing was mentioned in the early episodes but people haven’t stopped doing it and it would be interesting to hear the old-school’s take on how things developed. Is there a massive schism between poppers/up-rockers and power moves windmilling etc?

    Hell, I’d even like to hear how the   dude went from laughable internet meme to ahead-of-the-game vanguard for cloud-rap or whatever this mumble-trap sound is.

    Here’s hoping there’s more seasons to come, really enjoyed watching it so far.

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,244 Posts
    Also, to me, as a massive fanboy, Teh Dust Brothers deserve a mention for their early hits with Tone Loc (which must have been hugely influential), and comparing and contrasting how different The Beastie Boys (and Beck!) sounded
    before and after working together. The Dust Brothers definitely changed the sound and direction of one of raps biggest groups, and other famous producers must have been affected by what they heard on Paul’s Boutique.

    Cypress Hill & DJ Muggs need more air-time too!

    Just more please.
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