In 1973, there was a block party in a rec room at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. It was a back-to-school jam thrown by DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy.
At the block party, DJ Herc created a technique called merry go round that isolated the beats of funk and soul records.
He spun the beats the whole time and never stopped keeping up the momentum of the party. This block party is considered by many to mark the birth of hip-hop.
And National Public Radio is marking hip-hip’s anniversary with a fascinating podcast series “50 Years of Hip Hop.”
The series now has 42 episodes that explore a variety of issues related to the art form. It continues to add episodes.
One podcast episode “2009: Reese’s Puffs and the Commercialization of Hip-Hop” examines increasing the use of hip-hop, to promote the sale of products.
The podcast features Roddy Nikpour and Martin Douglas. Nikpour guiding question is: “What distinguishes a bonafide use of hip-hop [as art] in marketing versus people in a boardroom saying this is what the kids want so we’re going to make something.”
Their discussion covers a range of brands employing hip-hop artists to sell their product.For example: the Kurtis Blow Sprite commercial, the Drake Sprite commercial, an Allen Iverson Reebok commercial with Jadakiss, a Converse Weapons commercial with NBA stars, and a Spaghetti-Os commercial.
According to Nikpour his attention, as a child, was first captured by a 2009 Reese’s Puffs commercial.
The lyrics — “Peanut butter and chocolate too. That’s what I wake up too” — were written by Kevin Miles. The music was produced by Marcus Bell, and the vocals were performed by Hasib K. McNealy.
The commercial was aired on a number of programs targeted for children.
It was remade in 2014 with a T-Pain sounding style, about a boy whose life becomes better after eating Reese’s Puffs.
Liah Warner, a kinesiology major, also has fond memories of the ads. “Some of the commercials framed how we grew up and showed our culture,” she said. “They had bangers.”
But other students turn a more critical eye to the commercialization of hip-hop. “I don’t like it,” said mass communication junior Ramon Galloway, referring to the use hip-hop to sell unhealthy sugary products. “It should be used to sell healthy products like apples and oranges.”
Other episodes cover a variety of topics and issues related to hip-hop’s past 50 years.
For example, some explore specific years: “1984: Whodini, Run-DMC, Fat Boys, and a Pivotal Year in Rap”; 1989: “Cha Cha Cha by MC Lyte”; “1997: PaRappa the Rapper”; “2004; All Caps” by Madvillain”; and “2008: We Need to Talk About Kanye West.”