Saturday, October 10, 2009

New York wake up and take care of your hip hop heritage in the digital age before it's too late

The death of Mr Magic was for many a moment to reminisce about the time they where introduced to hip hop. Taping Mr Magic, Afrika Islam, The World Famous Supreme Team and other shows. Or about the joy of getting your hands on a copy of a Grandmaster Flash, Zulu Nation or Treacherous 3 blockparty. Those tapes traveled around the world. Spreading the news about the birth of a new music (and culture!) form called hip hop.

Many of those who decided to search the web the last week, trying to find some Mr Magic shows, landed on my blog or youtube channel. I think that most of them hadn’t heard a show for many years.

At first, it felt good that there where so many visitors on my site. But then I realized that there is something fundamentally wrong!
Why are sites, like the Newyorker.com in their post about the death of Mr Magic, pointing to my site for those who want to listen to a show?

I have never been to New York (although I’m hoping to run the NY marathon one day) or even the US. Sure, I can feel hip hop running through my blood when I hear Flash or Whiz kid on the wheels of steal. But how is it possible that there are almost no live and radio shows online? And how about the fact that the probably largest online old school tape collection is managed by an hip hop loving 'volunteer' from a small European country?

Why do ‘old school headz’ talk about the tapes in their basements without taking action before it’s too late? And why is there so little interest in the early days of hip hop, besides when one of the founders dies?

Is there hope? Yes of course. I see tapemasters like Troy L Smith and Johnnie Freeze sharing pieces of their huge collections and many, like me, are thankful for that. I see some forums where hip hop fans meet and hip hop artists can be spotted here ‘in the wild’. But I think that’s not enough. It’s like a small family, sharing memories around the campfire.

However, that is not the way you should preserve your heritage. Look around and you see many initiatives to build digital online collections for cultural reasons. Libraries are doing it, Museums are doing it and even Google is doing it.

Sure, there will be some (legal) obstacles. But they can be overcome and this is not about making money! This is about preventing that an essential part of our hip hop culture is lost forever.
New York wake up! Tapemasters, radio stations, hip hop ‘industry’ and archive and internet experts join forces.
Build an online campfire, let people share there tapes and stories, restore old footage from radio stations and let old folks (like me) reminisce about ‘the good old days’ while the younger generations can discover the energy and the creativity that founded this art form.



Peace,
Dutch

14 comments:

  1. That was extremely well said...

    I for one posted a link to your site on a popular blog on the day that I heard the news. I'm a born and raised New Yorker whop now lives in London; and I love your site because it has so many memories on it that I cherish. Unfortunately, a lot of us no longer have these tapes in our possession.

    Nevertheless, you have inspired me to do what I can with what I do have and I hope you will keep up your dedication.

    Ausar

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  2. ...New Yorker "who" now lives in London; pardon the typo. :)

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  3. as an american I can tell the reasons

    1) americans are lazy

    2) americans are stingy

    you gotta figure, if someone has radio shows from '86-88 they're probably over 35 years of age. not too many americans in that age range will take the time to upload shows (those that know how) or, I have a friend that has dozens of tapes from the 80's & he hoards them like its his last dollar. I tell him, just give me the tapes, I'll upload them but he acts like I'm asking to borrow his wife for the weekend.

    bottom line, it may be surprising that someone from overseas is doing the main sharing of thee classic shows, but it does'nt surprise me. keep doing ya thang

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  4. I agree & also look how they treat they're cultural heritage (1520 Sedgwick Avenue, CBGB's et al..), keep up the great work fellow countryman!

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  5. Well as a member of Old School Hip Hop.com I guess you know some of the answers to that! I don't want to sound insensitive but Mr. Magic was one of those people that you either loved or hate he did a lot of fuding in his day! His contributions to hip hop was well recieved and appreciated being from Philly we often went by what we heard, I had never heard a Mr. Magic Show until a few years ago but I knew of his work with Whodini and the Juice crew back in the day. I am proud to have learned that he broke down barriers for hip hop radio. All that and then some yet I have to believe Roc Raida got more attention in his passing then Mr. Magic and not to compare deaths but wow!!

    I feel the same about Philly as you know my endless search continues and the history is only shared amongst orally and written yet the evidence of our arts existence is very slim. My most prized posession is an Philly 83 DJ battle between Cosmic Kev and DJ Thorpe at the Wagners ballroom. Troy has been asking me to trade for the tape for over a year now and it keeps slipping my mind. To make a long story short our hip hops history is fading too, but getting back to the subject. Dutch you got a heart of gold from what I know of you over thelast couple of years, the barriers that confront others doesn't seem to bother you, you and Jimmy Smithsonian from Bust the facts should be brothers Ha!Ha! Unfortunately many others don't share that enthusiasm. What I've found is that while there is a host of folks who appreciate old school hip hop their are tons of vultures who like taking all that the internet has to offer and make a living on ebay and other places. Troy Smith says that there are tons of tapes still out there and the only power you have is the trade power that is why I like what you do, hell you influenced Troy to share a piece of his mighty collection.

    Stay tuned Dutch sometime later this year or the beginning of next year I will be posting a few myself. You guys have posted a ton already so I will see what I can do and of course these are tapes and CD's that I copped from my man over in the UK prior to finding Troys collection, yet they are from Troys list!!! Again I will post a few and following in your footsteps here I will make a post of what I have so that hopefully some trades can come!! Makes you wonder what Magic left in the trunk? R.I.P Mr. Magic

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  6. @ausar, mikelove, anonymous and olskool: thanx for the comments. I really appreciate them and hope that others will share their opinion too! I will continue sharing tapes and regarding the answers to the 'why': thanx Mike for your insight and yes olskool i know some of them myself :-)

    But I hope we can get beyond analyzing the ‘why’ and go to the ‘how’.
    How can we prevent that an essential part of the hip hop culture is lost. How can we mobilize the hip hop community and the radio stations. Maybe by pointing out to the right people that it’s their heritage too. And that with investing in this heritage, they are in fact investing in the way we remember them.

    How can we make clear to tape owners that the value is not that piece of plastic but the content itself and everything that it represents. Maybe by giving them some credits for donating and / or by giving them restored tapes back.
    And I know of small museums that have a lot of voluntaries who restore and catalog material. Yes, even do analog to digital conversions 

    How can we share online music within the legal limits. If that means that you can only share snippets, and/or music with a low bit rate and/or live tapes from crews before they had a contract then that’s a start. In the meantime you could still start converting tapes and start a discussion with the music industry.
    So in the end, it’s about mobilizing the right people, create momentum and move forward. Or, like a recent Nobel prize winner once said: ‘yes we can’ :-)

    Dutch

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  7. I MOTHAFUCKIN AGREE. MOST PEOPLE ARE LAZY AND DONT WANT TO CONVERT THEIR TAPES TO MP3. TAPES JUST SIT IN BOXES. JUST LIKE PRODUCERS WITH DATS SITTING WITH UNRELEASED STUFF. PUT THAT SHIT OUT. NEW YORK RADIO FROM LIKE 80-98 IS ONE OF THE ELEMENTS OF HIPHOP. THE FACT THAT A CAT WHO HASNT EVEN BEEN TO THE CITY HAS AN ILL BLOG BUT A SELFISH CAT FROM NY DOESNT CARE IS CRAZY. KEEP DOIN GOOD WORK AND FUCK THE REST.

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  8. I don't agree that they don't care my man, there has been a sh** load of stuff posted over the years on blogs, most of the same stuff Dutch is posting I have gotten as well!! A lot of folks don't even know about these blogs truth be told! The overall visitors to these blogs are from other countries!!If you really want to know the truth UK possess more radio shows that the states that's where I got most of mines from!!If I would've thought that the shows we had tapes of would be this important now I would have a gold mine but over the years friends have stolen them and yeah you know the story!! I think much has been put out unbelievable stuff 4 real!! There is certainly more to come. If I had it my way every DJ and m.c from back in the day would get their necessary props from this stuff both financially and any other way!!But let's look at it this way when the share lines go up we can make this happen!! look at what those folks did with the live convention 77-79 album and some cats over in Japan I guess who came up with the 79 and 80 one. Let's not forget the NY live throwdown now broken down by shows on ebay for sale. My man Tapemaster over at Pushin tapes was puttin out classic mixtapes until he recognized that people were selling the tapes on other sites. Is that fair? That my friends is the true facts about posting old school shows!!!

    A solution Dutch is to continue doing what you are doing and keep the lines for trades open!!I've beenblessed enough as it is with all that has been posted so I am not in search for anything in particular at the moment except Philly Old school live shows and radio.I have quite a few tapes that I am sure would interest some trading parties so as I've stated previously keep lookin out LOL

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  9. Dutch

    This is openin up some interesting viewpoints on the whys and wherefores of this beautiful game.

    Fascinating to find that Americans are lazy and stingy, even coming from an American, it may be a slight generalisation, but it's a grounded statement, cheers MIKELOVE

    Im like yerself Dutch, i'd like to advance the culture to a wider audience, but sadly, I honestly dont think there's a big enough listenership for what is deemed as [outside of our circles] detritus from an industry currently on its knees, desperately trying to get back up. As opposed to being recognised as documents of the history of the biggest street sub-culture on the planet, the audience just isnt there. Yeh, there's an audience, but I dont think it's as wide as we all think.

    Even in a perfect world, if there was an archived online museum of all these events; park jams, radio, community centre, rollerink shows, and it was perfect in every way, but it was only possible by funding from some corporate, I for one would oppose it. Yeh, I'd use it, but im an independant thinker, as are most B-Boys and Hip-Hop folk [notice how I cant bring myself to say 'heads', arrrghh] and I dont know why, but I'd be cautious of it. Maybe it's cos im a fussy old codger, who knows..

    The lack of response, appreciation and recognition of effort put in by people like yourself Dutch, causes dissatisfaction, and many people scrap the concept of blogging and posting material, and evidently hoarding and keepin things to ones self causes sites, blogs [and individual interest] to breakdown and perish. Then we're back to square one, the leechers leech off the next generation of bloggers still upping, the purists then remain pure and everyone is disillusioned and dissatisfied.

    The true test is for all the people to come together, with honesty, integrity, and also a wee touch of generosity. We all need to be upping, we all need to be constructive in our approach to how we advance the culture of collecting shows, radio or otherwise. The legislative aspect is a dodgy territory to get involved in when selling, but generally, this material is shared by many, then sold on by the greedy that have plucked material from other posters anyway. I'd love to get a bit of money for my collection but I know it's gonna do my soul no good, and anyway, I dont actually want money for it, I simply want more shows, the value is in the involvment, the enlightenment and the experience, oh, and the DOPE BEATS AND RHYMES !!

    I honestly think things will change when the platform changes, when we switch to FTP or some other private [invite only] way to share, but not necessarily on open sites. Think about how many peoples names you recognise from blogs that you read, we are all already friends, but we dont even know each other yet. We share similar views on one particular subject and let's face it, that's how we found love for Hip-hop in the 1st place, sharing our experiences with each other. The problem there is that exclusivity will cause us to miss out. There could be some new jack who wants to up all his big brothers tape collection cos he's a whiz with tech, has the time and the skills, but isnt aware of OSHH, or some private site, then were all fuct.

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  10. Even when we come together on boards such as Bust The Facts, OSHH, Philaflava etc, there are still alot of people [some that youd expect to know better, like skulking meerkat type editors of music magazines] that simply take take take, and there's no thanks whatsoever, only to use the information obtained for their own particular and specific self-advancement. This is why forums collapse too, lack of interest, and more importantly to me, banter. Reading stories of peoples experiences is key, its like breakin bread, dunno about everyone else, but there's nothing more enjoyable than reading a tale of someone recalling hearing a song off the radio for the first time while casting their new girlfriend to the floor in disinterest, only to pay attention to an inanimate object; a radio [or recalling stories of gettin robbed, or even robbing]...

    I dont have a solution but I've often thought that FTP servers would be a good way of keeping the goodness in, and the hawkers out. Sadly, that then becomes a double-edged sword cos then you have a problem, you keep out the very people that you want to educate and entertain. I'd like to give the younger audience the benefit of the doubt, and think they are attempting to educate themselves as I do with anything I want to discover more about, but im not so sure. Im damn sure not every person that boosts rips of tapes that've been carefully edited, eq'd and transferred to an open source format truly appreciates them. As purists, we are in a predicament with regards to the advancement of Gold School Hip-Hop in general.

    Ostensibly, if something is so commomplace and if it becomes second nature to just flip the radio on and listen, you will take it for granted, due to the very nature of its acessibility. Even if you are entrenched in a culture, you become complacent. Not having Rap radio to hand as a teenager, I became a crack-fiend for it, befriending pen-pals for my fix, [the fixation continuing to this day, and i'll be 41 in a few weeks]. I dont collect shows to own, I dont care for the actual hard-copy cassettes, that doesnt bother me, I simply want to own and enjoy the show and want others to enjoy em too......partly to share the experience. I know, its a bit simple, but its joyous tbh.

    Only the folk with true hindsight [and pocket money] can pontificate that they had the vision to record and keep recording. It's so true that the people most passionate about these old shows [live or broadcast] are being collated by a generation that didnt see the shows and couldnt tune in each week, like myself.....In the UK, I read so many comments about people having one tape to record a show on each week, and switching the cassette to record over with a new show. So, we're as guilty as the people in New York/ Philly/ Cali et cetera....

    Im sure there are people in the US and around the world that want to listen to vintage British Hip-Hop radio shows like Mike Allen/ Timmy on Capital/ Fresh Start/ Steve Wren/ Buss Diss, but because only a tiny handful of grown folk are interested enough to invest time and effort into these curios, we dont get to hear them and they sit in shoeboxes the world over, covered in dust, perishing.

    Hopefully we as a group can proceed and keep pushing people to rip more, speaking personally, I know im guilty of not pushing myself to find the time to transfer more but it's hard work, anyways, your write-up has definitely inspired me, so good work fella !

    Great write-up. Just wanted to offer my support, and to co-sign to be honest. Here we are, as Europeans, messin about in a culture a million miles from Hip-Hop ground zero, but were fully aware of the origins, the hits, the landmarks and the unsung heroes, but let's not forget about the fact that we are enriching each others lives here too, and that's good enough for me !!

    As ever Dutch, big respect is automatic...

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  11. Fuck blogging about it- archive archive archive. I have been tooling around with how and what to do for some months now- glad to see other folks are feeling the same...

    Some great ideas-
    Get the original artists involved as much as possible...

    Find a pre-existing social-working-non-profit in the Bronx that can be tied to the project or archiving to the immediate benefit of the youth in those boroughs or start one...

    Talk with the experience music project...

    All for educational and conservational purposes...

    Get the tape-masters to package their shit and have it remastered or just cleaned up a bit, perhaps by a group like Stones Throw or some of the original dj/producers who are still active...

    Donate some audio collections to relevant museums...

    Do the same thing with the video material to make an AV holy-grail...

    I am and have been in putting some work on these conversations already- if you have insight, input, ideas, or if you've been working on the same thing contact me at avarchiveproject at google mail.

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  12. @Irish and JJ: thanx for the feedback.
    To get a step further, IMO you need several things:
    * enough content to start and build upon
    * hardware and software / platform
    * a good information architecture
    * a proces to remaster and/or digitize content
    * a process to index and upload this content
    * a process to maintain the the website / archive and its content
    * knowledge about intellectual property rights (IPR)
    * PR to build up energy and get things moving
    And above all, you need people: people who donate tapes, who want to remaster / digitize them, who want to sponsor, donate, are IPR expert, etc.
    I can offer some content (I’m already contributing :-) ) and I have experience with projects that are related to archiving, building websites, findability of content, etc. I’m even willing to write a plan regarding these aspects in my free time. But I think it should all start with a network of enough people that adopt the idea and want to contribute and be part of this. Not a few individuals (like us) but existing networks, well known artists, representatives of the music industry and/or IT suppliers. This is also why I addressed this topic to New Yorkers, hoping to mobilize something. At the end it’s about people that make the difference. I'm not enough connected to these network, maybe some others are.

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  13. This site is opening up communication well. In fact you are making it hard to sell tapes when the average person can get their fare share of stuff for free here! If you are tired of wack eBay sellers, report them to eBay and get them shut down. Some of the biggest obstacles are just the tape to digital transfer, and the fact that a lot of dudes who have these tapes dont want 'new jacks' to bite their original style. You have to pay your dues to get the priviledge of heary these crusty things.

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