Thursday, February 28, 2013

Confession of a Gospel-Loving Hip-Hop Junkie: Going Up Yonder while Nodding My Head to Breakbeats

I am a gospel music lover and hip hop junkie to the core. Go figure.  I'm an old school church girl who loves lyricism.  Hubs often laughs at my extensive knowledge of Negro spirituals and 90's hip hop.  When y'all send me on home to the Lord, I think I want a gospel singer and a DJ playing breakbeats at my funeral.  Today will be a glimpse into my two favorite genres in the whole wide world. Both genres employing the Black tradition of call and response.  Both grown out of pain.   Both highly emotive.  Both used to uplift and get us through tough times.

First giving honor to God (shout out to the old school saints!). . .
I've mentioned before that my dad is a pastor, so gospel is in my blood.  My favorites - Kim Burrell,  The Anointed Pace Sisters, and The Clark Sisters.  I love the old stuff.  Some Walter Hawkins I'm Going Away?!?  Yes Lord!!!  I live for the line, "It won't be long. . . Some day we'll meet aa-aa-aa-gain."  Come on, tenors!!! Where's my tambourine???  Anyway, at the moment, the Pace Sisters' When God is in the Building and Kim Burrell's Seeing Over are on constant rotation.

This one right here. . . Maaaaannn! I was torn between posting this and U Know

She starts singing at 0:20. "You've got to believe in what you cannot see." Minister to the people,  Kim!!! 

It doesn't matter where I go in life or how often I miss church, I will always be connected to gospel music.  It connects me to Him.  It reminds me of home.  It reminds me of family.  It ministers to me when the going gets rough.  It gives me roots.  I was transported back to Texas and have had church about 3 times trying to write this post.

If I'm talking about how music influences my memories of growing up, then I have to talk about my love for hip hop.  How does a southern church girl develop an affinity for East Coast hip hop? Hmmm. . . It had to be A Tribe Called Quest.  There were other groups before them, but Tribe appealed to my 13-year-old quirkiness.  Smart guys rapping about smart stuff over jazz loops - yes, please.   Tribe will always and forever hold a special place in my heart.  Love 'em so much they provided the soundtrack for Hub's and my first dance at our wedding. 

If you follow this blog, you probably have a sense of my hip-hop musical taste.  I'm a hip-hop snob.  I listen intently for wordplay.  My husband and I have long conversations about lyrics.  I love to talk about the poetic structures of different MCs (like, Freeway's verse on What We Do could be recited sans music).  But to keep it totally honest, every once in a while I need some good ole southern hood anthems.  Hey, you can take me out the South . . . you know the rest.  

Right now, the youngster Joey Bada$$ can do no wrong in my book.  MF DOOM is a perfect MC to me.  I'll probably be a little old lady hobbling to a Jay-Z concert on a cane, but he'll be using one, too, so it's all good!  Yeah the the misogyny can be excessive, and as I've grown up, my tolerance for it has become nonexistent, BUT, a smart MC over a good beat . . . **swoon**. 

Imagine my excitement when my two musical worlds collided.  I lost it a few years ago the first time I heard Overcome by PacDiv. Sampling the Clark Sisters and good lyrics?!?!  Yes ma'am!  Here's the original, Overcome, by the Clark Sisters:
Yassssss! Mattie Moss Clark and her girls never get old. I can watch old Clark Sisters videos all day. 

Here's PacDiv's take on Overcome

Crazy (in a good way) I tell ya. Tell me that ish wasn't awesome, and I'd say you're telling me a lie.

These two genres seem worlds apart, but they aren't.  Many of us have felt euphoria in the club on Saturday and on a pew on Sunday morning.  I've learned that distinct and unique parts of my life don't have to exist in little boxes.  Why compartmentalize when the mashup is more fun? Isn't it awesome that we can be made up of so many different things?  Isn't it awesome when we can connect the dots among them?

I'd like to leave you with another gospel/hiphop mashup. DOOM's Thank Yah.  It's my way of showing a little gratitude for taking this musical trip with me. Just know there's more good music to come.  Be sure to put me on to some good hip-hop/gospel mashups if I've missed any.

Until next time . . . Keep bouncing!

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