(Pictured are The Lost Poets current members)
Throughout history, there have been Artists, of every conceivable medium, that unambiguously defied their epoch’s temporal ephemerality. Because of the Artist’s respective contribution(s), not only was their socio-cultural locality transformed, but the singular, localized phenomenon, either consciously or inadvertently, served as a catalyst for a greater, Universal shift of consciousness. In Hip-Hop, foundational names like The Grandmaster Flash [Joseph Saddler], Afrika Bambaataa [Lance Taylor] and his group ‘Soulsonic Force,’ The Treacherous Three, and even DJ Kool Herc, accredited with being the first Hip-Hop DJ in the Bronx via ‘the break,’ are some of the many, distinctive personages who not only changed their own epoch with their music, but likewise secured a historical legacy perpetually honored through contemporary development, either intentionally or serendipitously.
This week’s Playlist is focused on a sampling of Contemporary, and Historical, Artists from around the Globe [the last track from the U.S] whose musical career was, and still is, vital to the gestation and cultivation of Hip-Hop’s legacy in their native country. Ranging from Moscow [Russia] to Havana [Cuba], then to the United States via the Bronx [New York], this Playlist will take you on a geographically diverse journey, albeit centered around declarations of unmitigated individuality, at times testing the socio-cultural acceptability-threshold on purpose to teach vital, moral lessons. Because the first two Artists are unknown figures in America, and because the last one is, for the most part, currently less-than-widely known, I have included, along with the description of the song, a couple of words on who they are[were], what their significance is, and why you should read up on them. Like always, thank you for reading, and be sure to like, comment, or share if you want! We would love to hear if you knew any of these artists, and your thoughts about their music if you take a listen after reading! Be sure to check back ever so often, as we publish new posts every week about a RANGE of topics from DIY’s, to Tutorials, to Educational Playlists such as these!
1. Husky [Хаски, or Dmitry Kuznetsov]: October 7th
Unlike the other, mainstream Russian rappers [for example Timati and Morgenshtern], Husky is what I consider the Pushkin of Rap. Originally from far-East Russia, he came to Moscow for Journalism school, only to fully realize the materiality of those inhabited within the city, birthing his allusion of man as canines trying to simply stay alive. In the fall of 2018, he had fallen victim to governmental censorship, and after his 2020 Christmas concert, he took a complete hiatus from musical life to spiritually [and artistically] refocus on who Husky really was. This track, October 7th, was Husky’s first official release, created in 2011, and was conveniently published on the same day as Vladimir Putin’s birthday. This particular song has undergone many variations, but this 2011 version is the O.G. Husky, the text alluding to a satirized celebration for the dictator himself. In 2013, he musically reconstructed the track, and included it in his debut Album 'Dog's Life,' being given the fourth spot on the 13-song album.
2. PPR [Porno Para Ricardo]: El Comandante
Created in 1998 in the shadow of Fidel Castro’s oppressive Presidency then its 22nd year, this still-creating and music producing Punk-Rock group has become one, if not the most, controversial anti-Communist, musical advocacy groups of Contemporary, Cuban History. Because the group was anti-Totalitarianistic in its messaging, they were met with swift and harsh punishment, i.e., the lead singer Gorki Aguila being sentenced to jail, a 2005-present ban on live performance, and unrelenting police harassment. At present, citizens cannot leave the boundaries of Cuba without governmental permission, and PPR had tried to leave in 2014 for a tour but was ostensibly banned. However, in 2016 they had managed to go to Miami to perform, only to be jailed upon reentry to Cuba, according to available sources. This song, ‘The Commander,’ utilizes Castro’s public nickname in the title, while its lyrics parody the title by calling Castro instead of their leader, a ‘walking coma.’
3. The Last Poets: Soul Reflection
Birthed from the Black Nationalism Movement of the 1950-60s, this group of African-American Musical poets, the name ‘Last Poets’ itself derived from an African revolutionary Poet Bra Willie, are historically accredited with being one of the forefathers of American Hip-Hop because of their societally confrontational linguistic inclinations, emphasis on ruthlessly authentic poetic vitality, and musical accompaniments utilizing African flavors [beats and rhythms]. The group’s career is experientially dense and has undergone waves of public fancy, but more importantly, is that their official forming in 1969 was, in fact, spurred by the murder of Malcolm X. Following their formation, they released their first studio-album a year later called ‘The Last Poets,’ which featured 13 tracks, subsequently landing them instantly on the 1970s U.S. Top Ten. This track, from their 2019 release, ‘Transcending Toxic Times,’ articulates the humanistic necessity to interiorly align the conscious self with our innate goodness, and to transform loathing sentiments to godly light. They highlight man's need to deeply reflect on their societal actions.
Writer: John David Vandevert [Johndavidvandevert.com]