Naima Cochrane Profile picture
Sep 2, 2018 61 tweets 25 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Happy Sunday, fam. There will probably be a sermon on tonight (but it may be tomorrow. I’m waiting for the spirit to hit). In the meantime, we finished counting down your Top 11 favorite #MusicSermons from our first year. Catch up with them here:…
And ICYMI, last week we had a special #MusicSermon Devotional to give proper acknowledgement to Tevin.…
Aight fam, this week’s #MusicSermon will happen manana. The spirit just isn’t moving on today.
I haven’t really moved beyond scrolling twitter and changing the tv channels from the comfort of my couch.
Happy Labor Day, ya’ll. Another Summer has come to an end (this one went by SO fast).
Since I took a whole a** rest yesterday, there will be a #MusicSermon today. Probably early evening. I’ll keep ya’ll posted. ⛪️
Aight fam. I thought I was going to get this week’s #MusicSermon cranking early, but it’s gonna be around 8ish. Please govern yourselves accordingly.
*Steps into pulpit without robes on*
*Adjusts mic*
*Sips water*
*Opens text*

I do apologize for the lateness of the hour, saints (& ain'ts), but tonight's #MusicSermon required proper preparation.

Before we get started, I hope you all bid a proper farewell to Summer this wknd.
Right before Summer started, we spent a coupe of weeks discussing classic hip hop.
We talked about the beginnings of Conscious Rap...…
...and the beginning of Gangsta Rap (including how the two are more topical siblings than complete opposites).…
Over the next couple of weeks, we're going to revisit those formative years of hip-hop, and talk about the Golden Era Emcees (yes, I spelled it all the way out.)
Starting tonight with two of the most influential lyricists to ever touch a mic, Rakim and Kane.
Aside from being such closely compared peers, Rakim and BDK have a few things in common:

1. They're both part of the NOI spin off, the Nation of the Gods and Earths, or Five Percenters, which was actually pretty common in east coast rap at the time.
2. They both had connections to Marley Marl (who will get his own sermon at some point). Kane was originally part of the Juice Crew, and Eric B. grew up with Marl. In fact there's dispute re: whether Marl produced Eric B for President, but we'll get to that.
Both also had deep respect for and were influenced by Kool G Rap, also part of the Juice Crew. I gotta start this topic with him, because he's your favorite rappers' favorite rapper. One of the earliest figures in mafioso and gangsta rap and in quick word play and rhyme style.
Kool G Rap gets left out of most modern conversations, but check greatest MC's lists...I bet you find his name. He's been called one of hip hop's greatest storytellers, and creator of the blueprint for Nas, Biggie, and Jay... "Hearing me rap is like hearing G Rap in his prime."
G Rap & Kane are the two artists Rakim called his "measuring sticks", and when asked who was the one rapper Kane wished he had battled, he said G Rap. Research him as homework.

Now let's talk @ the duo called "the most influential DJ/MC combo in contemporary music period"
The 18th Letter. The God MC.

Rakim was a high school student allegedly looking at a football career (there's a lot of mythology with the R) when he recorded a demo with Eric @ Marley Marl's house. MC Shan & Marl were wild annoyed at his delivery; thought it was too flat.
So Eric decides to give Rakim another track, one with more energy - a James Brown sample ("Funky President"). Later he tells Rakim he's gonna add Fonda Rae's "Over Like a Fat Rat" (my SHIT) baseline to it. Rakim "spit his beer out" laughing. The result: Eric B is President.
In an era where rap MC's were still super high energy, mostly bragging and boasting, Rakim shifted focus to wordplay and ignored traditional rhyme schemes. An astute student in school who grew up in a jazz household, he sought to flow as an mc the way Coltrane did as a sax player
And Eric B. as a DJ was changing hip hop production. Marley was one of the frontrunners moving into sampling, but Eric mastered it. Chuck D heard "I Know You Got Soul" and immediately went to the studio, huddled with Shocklee, got another JB sample, & did "Rebel Without a Pause".
Let's pause for a quick minute to talk fashion. We know the Golden Era MC's were the originators of the dookie-rope chains ("You couldn't do certain shit or you'd bust yourself in the face" - R)
But they were the first rappers to hit Dapper Dan. Before them it was all street cats
....and they went RAHT BACK to Dan when it was time to get fresh for the Yo! anniversary show in June.
Ra had on a Gucci coat over a Gucci jacket with a Gucci shirt and some Gucci pants.. lmao
Paid in Full is on almost every classic debut album list (not even just debut RAP album list), has been referred to as the "gold standard" for sampling at the time, and is credited with elevating rap lyricism to from bat cat hat to another level.
The funny thing about PIF the single...
The version we all rock with is an unauthorized remix.
The guys first heard the Coldcut (7 Minutes of Madness) remix on their way to a show in London, and were mad AF. But the more they listened, the more they were like "Wait..this is hot"
By his own accounts, Rakim had a huge ego. He's said in later years there was never any *real* beef, but there was perceived beef with contemporaries like Kane (which we'll get into), KRS (who didn't invite him to be part of "Self Destruction") and between Eric B & R and EPMD...
Erick Sermon and Parrish were from a couple of towns over in Long Island, and while Erick calls Rakim a mentor, heads thought they heard a reply to "I Ain't No Joke" in EPMD's "You're A Customer".
Rakim (maybe) fired back in "Follow the Leader"
And extra bit of trivia, "Follow the Leader" was also the first video played in the pilot episode of Yo! MTV Raps.
I always wonder if people knew they were creating a classic when they created it. I know from personal experience you sometimes know when you have a HIT, but do you know when you just did some SHIT? Like, Eric B's joints ARE classic hip hop.
Side note - I didn't have time to prove this, but I also think Rakim's lyrics are the most copied in hip hop. Even Bobby was flippin' "Follow the Leader" lyrics to talk about the Ghostbusters!
I mention Rakim's ego earlier. He wasn't really a collaborator, this is my posse type dude. But he and Eric *were* part of one of the first major hip hop/pop collaborations. Jody Watley's "Friends" hit top 10 on the Hot 100.
I love this clip because the abundance of gold rope chains.
The thing about Eric and Rakim; these cats were not super accessible (and are still only slightly more so). Rakim was on his dean forreal formal, and carrying himself with control was part of that.
Like I said, there was assumed (semi-actual) beef b/t Rakim & Kane. "I thought Kane was poppin' off @ me, and I ppl were telling him I was poppin' off @ him too." Ra initially got at Kane on "Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em," but someone played Kane the song, he called & they squashed it.
Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em was one of the few albums to get 🎤🎤🎤🎤🎤 in The Source, but it didn't do that well commercially.
Hip-hop was just starting to crossover, but purists didn't want to "sell out". Rakim said later "You could sell a couple of records and keep your integrity, or you could go pop and sell a bunch of records and be gone tomorrow. I was trying to stick to my guns"
The duo didn't intend for Don't Sweat the Technique to be their last album, but the business was changing, and they were both losing their passion.
R: "It wasn't fun anymore, when you realize you gotta write with the business in mind"
Eric: "You can't make what you want to make"
Their contact was up with MCA. The plan was for each to pursue solo projects (but not officially break up), but (allegedly) Eric wouldn't sign the label release, afraid Rakim would bounce on him.
One of their last singles was the Juice theme (w/ Rakim playing drums on the track)
More legal issues stalled Rakim's solo career, and by the time The 18th Letter came out, five years had passed and hip-hop was in a completely different space.
He still had an impressive first week, plus some follow up solo albums, but it wasn't the same.
For the record, Eric and Rakim say they never broke up. They let people say whatever because "It adds to the mystique of Eric B and Rakim" (-Eric), but they say there was never a fight or a falling out.
They reunited last year for the 30th anniversary of Paid in Full...
And I can tell you from seeing them at the Yo! anniversary concert in June; they still KILL. IT.
Also at "The Barclay" (ha) for the Yo! concert?
King Asiatic Nobody's Equal Kane
Kane probably stands right next to Rakim in standing as an influential MC. Another member of the multisyllabic rhyme crew, Kane stated as a ghost-writer for Biz Markie, which eventually led to him joining the Juice Crew and signing to Cold Chillin' records.
Kane was featured on Juice Crew leader Marley Marl's classic posse cut "The Symphony" (along with Kool G Rap, Craig G and Masta Ace).

Next up... I believe that's me.
Ni Boogie get on the mic for the Symphony.
Kane was spitting fire bars, but also smooth as hell. So hip hop heads respected him, but the ladies were on him, too.

Also, speaking of jacked - I mean REFERENCED - lyrics... "Friday the 13th, I'ma play Jason."
Sound familiar, young rap fans?
Marley's production on the first album also kept Kane's shit hype.
We'll talk more about that in a minute.
. @stereo_williams is a great reference re: Kane, and we talked about a point at which he and LL's paths merged then diverged (the Marley factor...getting to that), but for him to be so influential, Kane's peak was SUPER short. His sophomore album was his career height.
Kane was also one of the first rappers to have male backup dancers. If I'm not mistaken it was Kurtis Blow, then Kool Moe Dee and Kane around the same time, then Heavy. Heavy was the only one to make them part of an official group, though.
(Shout out to Teddy Riley).
Kane and his dancers are a PRIME example of how hard we danced to literally anything in the late 80s and early 90s.
All kinds of acrobatics and calisthenics in mid-tempo hip hop.

Also shout out to young Kim Porter and Al B Sure, all in the video.
I'm backtracking a minute because I forgot "Raw" from the first album.
Kane was also a hip hop trend setter. Hi top fades, three and four finger rings, the dookie ropes... (that chain look heavy as hell)...
...the three cuts in your eyebrows, tryna wile out.

(Oh you didn't know that lyric was about people jacking BDK's style?)
So, about that. Kane was an influence on a young Jay. Brought him on tour with him. Even let him do promo with him. (Rap City, 1990)
Kane doubles down on the ladies man thing. He already did some self-production on his second album, but Marley was still involved. Marley's not on the third album at all.
It doesn't go well...
Where's Marley, you ask?

Reviving James Todd's career...

Like I said, @stereo_williams has talked about this a bit on his TL, but IMAGINE Kane on "Jinglin'"... he would have MURDERED IT.
Somewhere in an alternate rap universe, Kane put out a version of the Mama Said Knock You Out album, and LL did Madonna's sex book and Playgirl.

Now, I think folks would be like "this is some pimp sh*t". But in 1990/91, hip-hop wasn't ready.
Kane got in one more classic lyrical hard hitter for the Juice soundtrack (seriously, one of the best "up top" hip-hop soundtracks of all time), produced by Public Enemy's secret weapons, The Bomb Squad.
I still have it on playlists NOW, and it STILL GOES.
Kane continued releasing albums pretty much through the 90s, but it's like after 91 everything changed. He had another radio hit in 93 from the album "Looks Like a Job For", and even had another critically well-received album, but never regained the same relevance.
But time and distance can set things right, sometimes.
Now in the wider scope of hip hop, both Rakim and Kane are given their proper those old enough to know.
And they're being introduced to those who aren't.
Yeah, Rakim as a Tiny Desk concert, too.
Next week, we'll keep the Golden Era Emcee's convo going with another Marley connection. An artist overdue for a sermon, TBH, bc some of ya'll be sleeping and or trippin' on LL's career and legacy.

Rakim on him and LL slap boxing on tour...PT I
And so, if all hearts and minds are FULL


Now unto music, which is able to lift you when you’re falling
Be memories, nostalgia and jams
Now, henceforth and forever more

And all the people said...
It's first Sunday, so Eric B and Rakim render the communion rap (St Ides ain't wine, but wine ain't hip-hop), and the ushers will be coming forward with baskets.
If you feel moved to give you can do so via$musicsermon. You are appreciated!

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More from @naima

Sep 4, 2018
Alright ya’ll, we’re figuring out *our* hashtag for #BobbyBrownBET (bc, no shots to BET, but Bobby needs some flair).
Cast your vote below before 3pm ET.
To help prepare your soul and spirit for tonight (as we continue deliberations on OUR #BobbyBrownBET hashtag), let's revisit my reminder of why Bobby is the once and always KANG of stage and R&B...…
I expanded on it just a little bit on our site as a longform.…
Read 5 tweets
Aug 12, 2018
Happy Sunday, fam! The *plan* is to do an early-ish sermon today (around 7) to be done in time for #Insecure.
But I’m also gonna be day-drinking, so let’s see what happens!! 🤷🏽‍♀️

#ICYMI, we finished our Director’s series on Monday w/ Hype Williams.…
Aight, I just got home. I need to get settled and organized but we ARE doing a #MusicSermon tonight. I expect to open the doors of the church around 8/8:30, we’ll rock until #InsecureHBO, take an intermission to watch as a family, then finish service.
*Steps into pulpit without robes*
*Adjust mic*
*Clears throat*

Happy Sunday, family.
I’m not ready to get started just yet (there’s alot of content. You’ll understand in a minute). I am, however, gonna break protocol and - for the first time - set the sermon up, then come back.
Read 76 tweets
Jul 29, 2018
It's #MusicSermon's BIRTHDAY!!! 🍾🎉
There will be a special Anniversary Service on this evening.

In the meantime, I wrote a little something about #MusicSermon's first year over on the site.

See ya'll this evening! ⛪️…
I’ll be opening the doors of the church around 8pm, and immediate after service I’m dropping the new #MusicSermon bracket 👀 #PleaseGovernYourselvesAccordingly
Grabbing food and getting organized, then we’ll get started on tonight’s special Anniversary #MusicSermon service. I think this might be a two-nighter.
Read 72 tweets
Jul 23, 2018
My ni**a this was on NATIONAL TV TWENTY YEARS AGO and ya’ll be like “I need receipts”...
I don’t even...
I also doubt the “pee” tape was still circulating by mid-00’s (at least I hope), but if you ever saw that tape, that was CHILD. She LOOKED like a child. There was no “I thought she was older...” nah.
Wait, the Toure interview happened in 08. I thought it was around the trial. STILL, that means he was FORTY something and couldn’t answer a question about teenage girls. Smh
Read 4 tweets
Jul 15, 2018
Happy Sunday! We will be continuing our special #MusicSermon series on The Superfriends tonight with Timbaland. Doors of the church will open around 8. In the meantime, catch up on the latest church news with this week’s bulletin!…
Alight y'all, I'm getting organized and then well get started with tonight's #MusicSermon.
Ushers, you may begin seating. ⛪️
*Steps into pulpit*
*Adjusts mic*
*Cleans glasses*
*Opens text*

Good evening, family. Sorry for the late start. For one, it's hard for me to settle into a sermon while it's still daylight. Second, I was hit with a massive bout of sleepiness out of the blue...
Read 50 tweets
Jul 9, 2018
We’re taking the “long way” back home so we could stop in Montgomery to visit the lynching memorial. Found the counties we knew. Found the name of a victim my grandfather used to tell stories about.
The latest dates I saw were in the 1940’s. As late as 47. Some lynched for something as simple as standing around a white space, “frightening” a white woman. Sh*t is sounding way too familiar right now.
There are multiple places in the memorial that remind us there are *thousands* of stories we’ll never know the details of. Names that will never be called. These stories rise up in our spirit every time a black person is killed extrajudicially at the hands of police officers...
Read 6 tweets

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