Grandmaster Caz is one of the originators of Hip Hop music the way we know it. Yet, he is so much more than that. Can you call Rakim‘one of the originators’? What about Grandmaster Flash? Yes, Hip Hop music was brought to us by Kool Herc, but how many advances occurred as a result of other Hip Hop innovators? From the early 70s, the days when flowing over beats was so radical that even in the Bronx people were shocked by it to the days of T.I. being the only rapper to take his album Platinum in ’06, there is more than 30 years of history.
So what defines Hip Hop music? What does it mean when people say ‘old school’ or ‘new school’? How valid is KRS-1 in the days of Southern music and rappers named Lil’ this and Lil’ that? No matter who you ask from the early days of Hip Hop they’ll all say the same thing: ‘know your history’. Know your past and you’ll know your present. As simple as it sounds there is very little commercially successful music that talks about anything. From Lil’ Wayne to New Yorker Mims, rappers have absorbed the flows and got used to lyrically giving out very little. MCs with more conscious and rich lyrics tend to get labeled as underground and get no love, no matter how hot their beats may be. Just look at X-Clan and their latest album Return From Mecca. As catchy as the music comes across, their songs deal with incarceration and injustice and good bye any possibility of Hot 97 playing your songs. Of course, being on Hot 97 for X-Clan is an absolutely foreign concept. Then look at M1from Dead Prez. He is viewed as an extremist by many and although he raps about the same hood life as 50 Cent, any chance of putting a Platinum sticker on his album is just about obsolete. Immortal Technique perhaps? Whomever of you ever seen Tek perform live should feel good about truly being in the mix of things.
Going back to Grandmaster Caz, it is amazing how he had changed the very art of DJing. Grandmaster Flash is credited as perhaps the most renowned DJ in Hip Hop. He even got indicted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. But it was Caz who was the first DJ to rap. Now it is a part of Hip Hop music as if it always was that way. DJs and producers rap and even achieve Platinum status on their albums. In live shows DJs often play the role of hype men for MCs. Talking about producers rapping, just look at Kanye, Pharrellor Timberland. Caz’s book of rhymes was so advanced at the time that Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight was almost entirely made up of his lyrics. For those who may be confused, that was the first Hip Hop hit ever.
What is true DJing without scratching? You go to a club and have a good time and then that well-known DJ just changes records all night long. What’s so hot about that? His collection? A true DJ shows off not by remixing in the studio but by live scratching on the turntables. Originally it was known as cutting and guess what? It was enriched by Grandmaster Caz also. He also enriched the mixes by putting in the occasional breaks, methodology that is now used in any studio around the world.
Not very big on interviews, just as Kool Herc, Caz shared his thoughts with WORDSnTUNES. Talking about different innovations in music, what it means to be a true pioneer, today’s lyrics and that ‘old school’/’new school’ thing, he even elaborated on what it is to be a part of Zulu Nation.