In Three Words: Renew, Education, Reloaded
Welcome to the 2nd part of my review of Netflix Original documentary "Hip-Hop Evolution", if you haven't peeped my review on the first two episodes, be sure to check that here. With that said, let's dive into Part 2!
While the first two episodes branched out of the usual NY or LA stories, this one heads back home, to New York. You can read that and think I'm disappointed, I'm not. A LOT of Hip-Hop went down in New York. You could do a 10-Part docu-series on Hip-Hop in New York alone!
Anyways, episode three takes us to The Latin Quarter. For those that don't know, the Latin Quarter was a NY Nightclub in the heart of Times Square. Every notable 80's Hip-Hop act that you can name that was native to the Five Boroughs went there. It was the epicentre of the Golden Age. Daddy-O of Stetsasonic put it best. "It was the Studio 54 of Hip-Hop". I'm not going to lie. From how Chuck D, Paradise Gray and others painted it and looking at the archive footage, I would've loved that spot. The pictures alone. It really was the place to be.
"The Greatest breeding ground for Hip-Hop." You know what? Scratch what I said about 10 Part docuseries. Make it 15 and have 2 on The Latin Quarter.
Something critical I want to say about this episode, and on the series as a whole, the transition from subject to subject was sublime. Not just that, it keeps it woven throughout. Even when they add another artist or movement, they still have people from the beginning of the episode talking on it. It's all interlinked and I really love the continuity this episode in particular has.
After LQ we go to Knowledge Reigns Supreme - Over Nearly Everyone. You may know him, simply, as KRS-ONE. He must've been really fun to interview because the charisma he holds is so inviting. You may not realise it, but you'll be smiling for all of his chapter. The way he went at the Juice Crew, THE SQUAD at the time, with Scott La Rock & D-Nice behind him was something else. To contrast, imagine a relatively unknown group, pick a fight with Boy Better Know and win. That's what were talking about here.
Something I've noticed in life, a fact of life if you will, is that one catastrophic thing can plant seeds of the best in us. In this case, Scott La Rock's death took all the chest puffing that was going on and planted seeds of not just unity, but a complete change in attitude. People started rocking African beads instead of gold jewellery. It was so monumental, that it started a 2nd wave of Hip-Hop.
And with that, comes the Jungle Brothers and the Native Tongues. Let me just rack off the names that were part of Native Tongues: Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Black Sheep.
THAT WAS ONE COLLECTIVE. That is an absurd squad... Shout out to the chapter covering Ladies First. Queen Latifah really was that woman. She doesn't get enough respect. One bit that caught me was during ATCQ's chapter. That they were all listening to each other's work, but there was still that competition to stand out. Now if that isn't THE VIBE?!
Can you tell why I loved this episode yet?
While you wonder why, we smoothly transition to the final episode. The stage was set at the end of episode 3. Sampling restrictions, West Coast's rise, the 90's. What was NY to do?
With West Coast taking over everything, New York needed to reload, starting with the beats. Enter the Roosevelt Hotel. Google it right quick. Odd place to have the hotbed for DJ's & Producers right? Well, that's exactly what it was. Kid Capri, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Large Professor, Lord Finesse, Diamond D. Everybody was looking over everyone's shoulders, wondering what they're picking up. What a fascinating environment that must've been. The quest to become the greatest crate digger was on and everybody had the machine to make it magical. The SP-1200. Every 90's Producer had it.
So we have the producers with the beats, it was now time to look for the MC. Step forward, Nasir Jones.
You can watch "Time is Illmatic" for that story. But let me just say this. Have you noticed how when the 90's came around, New York Hip-Hop had to start all over again? Producers cut their teeth, then get the MC's and take over the world once again. Back to Illmatic. I think about this every time I hear anything from that album. How silly it was for Nas to have such an All-Star, scratch that, a Hall Of Fame production team to do his debut album. Pharoahe Monch put it best, "Fuck man, how did he get to work with all those dudes?!"
Now, when you watch this. It's going to make this transition that made me smile from ear to ear. From one MC with an amazing team of producers, to one producer with an army of amazing MC's. We're talking about the WU ladies & gentlemen. I feel like every Hip-Hop fan needs Wu-Tang in, at minimum, their Top 3 groups All-Time. They killed as a group and solo! Another line that made me laugh. "That's some cartel shit right there!"
But this was all NY centric. The West still needed a challenger for the National stage. Who else? B.I.G. Again, not much needs to be said but I will say there were some good people that were there when Biggie began, before Sean Combs, before the rocket ship took off.
The episode ends on a cliffhanger, with Combs saying it's just the beginning, so I would guess that we're getting a Season 3.
I said in Part 1 of this review that the 1st Season set a good foundation. I'm not one for binging, I know most people can do it, I struggle. But this is a Hip-Hop documentary series, tailor-made for the classic, sit down, slap on Netflix and go on an 8-hour binge. You can do that with both seasons of "Hip-Hop Evolution". It's a great balance diet of Hip-Hop knowledge with great names recounting whatever subject is being covered. I wasn't expecting a 2nd season, but I'm damn sure expecting a 3rd. Can't wait.