For months Vanessa has been asking me to make her a hip hop mix. I’ve been into the hop for a long time now, so the task of making a single definitive mix was, well, impossible. I needed a focus, so I chose to make a three part mix of a lot of the hip hop that got me obsessed with the genre in the first place.
My love for hip hop happened early on. It was the summer of 1995 and I was going away to summer camp for the first time. I was allowed to buy three tapes before leaving and so I went with my mom to HMV (or was it Sam The Record Man?) and bought “The Sign” by Ace of Base, Alanis Morrisette’s “Jagged Little Pill” and “The Score” by the Fugees. I distinctly remember listening to The Fugees, whom I had discovered on the Much Music countdown, while driving away from the city in a bus full of girls. I was blushing because of all the swearing on the album but couldn’t press the stop button. I still have that very cassette and I still play it. It’s funny to think of myself listening to it at the age of ten.
The next big moment in my early explorations of hip hop took place while reading an interview with Leonardo DiCaprio in a teen magazine a little later in the 90s. In the interview, he was asked what his favourite band was and he answered “A Tribe Called Quest.” As I had a serious Leo crush at the time (who didn’t?) I took it upon myself to find out who this “Tribe” was; the rest is history. I am forever grateful to Leonardo DiCaprio for introducing me to Tribe. I think for most people who’ve got love for the hop, it began with A Tribe Called Quest. They are the gateway drug to hip hop.
One of my oldest and dearest friends Chloë used to make me hip hop mixes in high school and they were the GREATEST. It was Chloë that got me hooked on Mos Def, Blackstar and The Roots. Once we acquired fake IDs, we started frequenting Andy Poolhall for hip hop Tuesdays, where all the best breakdancers in the city would go to bust a move. We went to shows together too; The Roots, Common, Rythmicru, Madlib. A lot of of those shows were at The Reverb on Queen and Bathurst (RIP). We even took the fateful greyhound to NYC together for the Rock The Bells festival. I’ll never forget listening to Brooklyn by Mos Def, while rolling into Bucktown on the subway with her.
At University, it was Dave that really matured my palette for the genre. In first year he left a hip hop mix outside my res. room door after we’d been talking music in the cafeteria. I put it in my discman and went on a jog. I generally dislike running, but that day I didn’t want the run to end. We’ve been exchanging mix cds for almost a decade now. It was Dave that introduced me to West Coast hip hop through People Under the Stairs and The Pharcyde. I can’t listen to Black Moon, Camp Lo or Erik Sermon without thinking of him. To this day he’s still exposing me to “ill shit.” Just last week he brought over his new record “Relax” by Das Rascist for me to listen too. The tracks he picked out as his favourite were most definitely the best. I’m convinced the man should be a producer, or make a Ken Burnz documentary on the history of hop.
I grew up listening to hip hop. The genre has shaped the way I feel about cities, about graffiti, poetry and music. I hope these mixes get you hooked on the hop V-dawg! You can listen to the mixes here.
P.S You may notice there aren’t any chicks on this mix, which isn’t usually the way I role. Don’t fret, I’m working on another mix of dem fly girls! Stay tuned.