But it was a chance for me to reconnect with a lot of people I hadn’t seen in 30 years, so I knew I was showing up.
But when the world’s greatest turntablist GranWizzard Theodore took the stage, and hip hop queen Sha-Rock got on the mic, and a circle formed on the dance floor (60-year-old b-boys went to the floor battling kids less than a third their age), I knew we’d reached epic status.
I brought 20 copies of my just-released 300-page book Hip Hop: The Complete Archives to give away and Sha Rock never let go of her copy (that’s the back cover in her hand). She shouted out my name repeatedly over the course of the night, and at one point took my hand and did a little hip hop dance with me. It was quite an honor to be so recognized by such a great goddess.
Things were getting so hyped I wondered if some aging b boy or b girl might injure themselves while bringing back 30-year-old moves.
The magic this crew gathers whenever they congregate is palpable. They were the kids who reinvented everything as they were entering high school. And even though they were told by the media they lived in the worst ghetto in America, they proved cultural skills and improvisational energy have nothing to do with bling. This was the generation that created art for its own sake, as a proof of their worth to the universe. And they still haven’t cashed in. And most people just don’t seem to understand what hip hop was before it went off the rails. If you want to find that true hip hop spirit, these are the people that manifest it best.
Which is not to put down the trinity, Kool Herc, the Godfather, Afrika Bambaataa, the prophet who realized “peace, unity and having fun” was the mission, and graffiti, breaking and rapping the vehicles, and Grandmaster Flash, originator of the quick-cut endless peak that took deejaying to new levels. Sadly, none of the trinity made it to the show, or at least I didn’t see them, but the house was packed, so I’m sure I missed a few in the chaos that emerged after the b boys and b girls started going off.
Busy Bee opens my new book Hip Hop with a performance at Bronx River Projects in the early 1980s, and he’s considered the greatest lead-off batter when it comes to old school.
And Bee did not disappoint as he delivered a classic that transported everyone back to 1980, or at least the ones in the audience like me old enough to have been there when Bee took emcee crown at Harlem World three years in a row, a reign that lasted until Kool Mo Dee elevated rap to a new level.
The club was packed with video cameras so you’ll probably be seeing the evidence on YouTube any day now.
G.L.O.B.E. and I once worked on a project with Whiz Kid for a record that was supposed to come out with my original hip hop book. Tommy Boy records was working on that project, but it got hopelessly bogged down in legal issues as I was trying to use the real hip hop anthems in a mix-up that would recreate the sound of the original parties. He asked me, “When’s the last time you saw Tom Silverman?” “Probably around seven years ago at a Deepak Chopra event in SoHo,” I answered. And suddenly there was Tom Silverman standing at our table and waving hello.
I find creativity is telepathic and when you have an orgy of creative energy, it can be amplified and shared around the room. And the first generation of hip hop remain the world’s greatest masters at manifesting improvisational energy, and it’s an awesome feeling when that energy starts going off in all directions and all forms of artistic expression. Sadly, this generation never really made anything off their inventions, and someday I hope the world discovers they are the fountain of the real hip hop magic as well as the road home.