What makes Hip Hop? What is the very foundation of the culture? Rapping (flowing over beats), thanks Kool Herc. Graffiti (remember Wild Style?) goes back to Ancient Rome and Greece but in present form it got hurt with Giuliani’s Anti-Graffiti law in NY (but the subways got cleaner). Breakdancing (remember the original M.J.’s Robot Dance?) got people like Crazy Legs from Rock Steady Crew. The culture, the mentality of Hip Hop is greatly represented by Zulu Nation (Afrika Bambaataa). Beatboxing is another integral part of Hip Hop but why isn’t it as popular as the other genres? Maybe because it simply hasn’t had as large of a following in the US.
The origins of beatboxing in Hip Hop lay largely with Doug E. Fresh and Biz Markie. It was Rahzel however who got the title of the Godfather of Noyze. Why was that? He brought something new to it. Anyone who’s ever seen a Rahzel performance knows that he is able to produce several completely different sounds at the same time. As if that one-man band effect was not enough he also raps simultaneously. Now it is a unique and amusing skill but back in the days when Grandmaster Flash just got started and technology was not what it is now, Rahzel’s skill was literally the best source of music.
He may be known best as a part of The Roots, but those who know the real roots of Hip Hop know him for his distinctive and so far unmatched skill of making noise and making it good. At one point the concept of flowing over beats was seen as a musical chaos too. Tell that to $40-million a year Jay-Z or to to the pompous Kanye West or to the NY’s business savvy Piggybank rapper. Yet, almost anyone with a desire to rap can give it a shot. Some more successful and some less but even some of the hit makers on the current radio can’t do it without lip-syncing. Beatboxing is a true exceptional skill. Whether you do it for fun or to provide music for people when they had no other sources of music, the fact remains. Beatboxing is hard as hell and only a few people in the world became known for it and no one as much as Rahzel.
Mike Patton from Faith No More has done extensive work with Rahzel. So did Bjork. So did Crystal Method. Those are not some unknown Euro wannabes. Those are world recognized Platinum-selling, millions of fans, extremely talented musicians.
So if you didn’t know who Rahzel was before you began reading this and are still not sure that there is something very special about this man, then stop right now and go do something else (this write-up is almost done anyway). Otherwise, if you’re a fan, a person who appreciates Hip Hop or music in general or only one of its kind skills in general, read the interview with Rahzel. Here he talks about what’s been good with him, how he stays busy (and he does!), how the world appreciates his style and talks about beatboxing in general.