William and Anita Walker are my parents but even they would tell you hip-hop raised me. My favorite Christmas song is not “Jingle Bells,” it’s “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC.
I was 8 years old and albums from Sugar Hill Records were under the Christmas tree. I devoured them. G.I. Joe could kick rocks as far as I was concerned.
The Michigan snow would eventually melt and I would put my tape in the jambox that had “Sucker MC’s” by Run DMC. I would blare it while shooting hoops summer after summer in the driveway, my favorite rappers rhyming like poets.
Run: “Two years ago, a friend of mine/Asked me to say some MC rhymes/So I said this rhyme I’m about to say/The rhymes was def and it went this way”
DMC: “I’m DMC in the place to be/I go to St. John’s University.”
LL Cool J: “They call me Jaws/My hat is like a shark’s fin.”
Special Ed: “I’m your idol/The highest title/Numero Uno/I’m not a Puerto Rican/But I am speaking so that you know.”
Rakim: “I ain’t no joke/I used to let the mic smoke/Now I slam it when I am done to make sure it’s broke”
Biz: “Can you feel it? Nothing can save you/Cuz this is the season of catching the vapors”
MC Lyte: “When you say you love me it doesn’t matter…/Hit the road, Sam and don’t you come back…”
Dres: “Engine Engine No. 9 on the New York transit line”
Q- Tip: “Back in the day when I was a teenager/Before I had status and before I had a pager”
Pac: “If my homie calls”
Big Daddy Kane: “And drop smooth lyrics cuz its ’88/Time to set it straight”
De La Soul: “It’s just me myself and I.”
Rest in peace, Trugoy the Dove.
I couldn’t wait until we took trips to Chicago so I could record WGCI-FM or head to Detroit to record WJLB.
I still sit around on Saturday nights watching Breakin’. Turbo still is my favorite breaker. Beat Street battles are saved in my YouTube archives. If I saw the fool spit in real life, I would consider fighting in the memory of Ramo.
I mowed lawns so I could buy records by Big Daddy Kane. I would walk into the record store and would have to ask the manager to order the album directly from Cold Chillin.
There was no hip-hop section in the record store.
In this special issue of Pollstar celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop: I speak to Big Daddy Kane and I thank him for getting me elected student council president in 1990: The G-e-o-double-F is on the job and an expert because I get it D-O-N-E, so lights camera action all vote the one who gets the job done.
I talk to Doug E. Fresh and tell him how I rapped “La Di Da Di” every day walking to middle school with my friends.
I talk to the first female MC, Sha-Rock!
We chat with one of the greatest DJs in the world, Clark Kent.
The great Davey D – a hip-hop historian and journalist – takes a macro look at the last 50 years.
Chance the Rapper takes hip-hop to Ghana with his Black Star Line Festival.
The Notorious B.I.G. takes us into the future of on-demand entertainment and into the metaverse.
This whole issue is all things hip-hop. It can’t be stopped, it won’t be stopped.
We will continue to kick in the doors!
You can try and keep me out of your private clubs, off your radio stations, out of your so-called sacred halls, but I am hip-hop. My own community tried to stifle my growth – my elders wouldn’t let me rock on their turntables – but I am hip-hop.
We went to school at lunchtime and that was my time to shine as my people beat on cafeteria tables and even the cafeteria lady tried to shut me down – but I am hip-hop.
We took it outside to the park, where the human beatbox set the tone and a skilled poet deftly rode the beat.
The whole neighborhood gathered around to the cadence of my incredible sound, but wait – shit! – here come the boys in blue to make the crowd disperse, but I am hip-hop.
They tried to stop us from entering the arenas and the stadiums and made it difficult for the promoters to take us in so we could rock the house.
“I am Hip-Hop and I ain’t going nowhere.”
Geoff Walker is the guest editor of Pollstar’s 50th anniversary of hip-hop special issue and moderated a panel on the topic at the Pollstar Live! Conference on Feb. 22. He is also the founder of Kickstand World, LLC and a consultant for the Warner Music Group.
Check out links to Pollstar’s hip-hop special issue below: