[article.] What Happened to the Boom-Bap?

First and foremost, let me provide all the disclosures and caveats up front – I am not a writer, I don’t dislike anyone in CHH, nor any style, camp, association, label, region, producer, specific MCs, etc.  And this not about theological positions, etc.  This is purely about how I miss what I would call the Boom-Bap, the east coast, back pack music I grew up on.   So please, before anyone thinks I am dissing anybody…..STOP, that’s not the thrust of this.

Ok, so yeah….I was a DJ, producer and even MC back in the day.  Before I got saved (and to some extent even afterwards), I loved hearing those heavy east coast beats.  I remember for example the day Public Enemy’s 2nd album came out.  I cut a few classes at school (sure, I shouldn’t have, but I was kid), to head down to Sound of Germantown to cop it.  Fiending and I mean fiending, for that Bomb Squad production.  Dagg…I’m not sure some of you reading this even know what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, please…take a second and google “Public Enemy Rebel without a pause.”

Ok, let me step back a second.  To be true to this, I must confess – you have to know that I can remember the day that “Sucker M.C.s” by Run D.M.C. came out – so there it is, I’ve dated myself.  Granted, I know it wasn’t the first rap song, but for me (and many at that time) it was the first one we heard.

Things took off like wild fire after that.  I was in the band at school – I  played the trumpet and most brass instruments.  But cuz, I wanted to get involved in rap music and I took to DJing.  There was just something about it…and I’ll tell you, when I was 14 years old, I worked all summertime at a hardware store to buy one turntable.  Yes!  One techniques 1200 turntable – – I didn’t know when I went that you had to buy the needle seperately, I almost cried cause I didn’t have the lot and dude in the store took care of a brother.  LOL

But dog, at that time, Rap music was mad authentic to me.  Fresh, no additives, often raw and maybe even misguided in some respects…but for me, that East Coast Boom Bap had life in it.

Hmmm….Sigh *….    Is it me, or is everything now – – and maybe because CHH is feeling a bit dominated by one style – – or perhaps better stated “replicated” or does a lot of the stuff now have a similar sound.  Almost every song starts with the varies snares popping as the rapper spits a few bars and then the snares get faster and boom, the kick and/or 808 drops (and we are supposed to go wild) and the rest of the song goes on, pop, pop, pop, etc., etc., etc.   Nothing wrong with it at all…don’t get my wrong, to each his own.  But dang, I miss that East Coast, Boom-Bap – – crazy lyricist(s) over rugged street beats – – and maybe, even maybe, dare I say, a DJ with some real cuts up in there.

Last Novemeber I was heading to a football game with my brother….I’ve got all the latest CHH loaded in my iphone  and found myself just skipping song after song.  There was a lot of high quality music there, but mostly filled with the scenarios above.  Then there is the whole section of low quality CHH stuff that, well, you try to listen to and then SKIP…and then you go back to the throwbacks.  Cross Movement’s first Album…”It’s the thrilla from manilla Jesus Christ versus everyman’s killa.”  Yo – – that’s what I’m talking about.  Then a Corey Red Classic, “It’s My Turn….”  So of course what happens, I rock those classics for the rest of the night.  In fact, I’ll admit, when I run out of those CHH classics, I reach for my last resort, my 60GB Ipod and turn on a Public Enemy album, followed by Eric B & Rakim’s Cd, KRS-ONE, etc., etc.

Yeah, I got lost in it…and that happens from time to time and then I pull myself back into what I love today, CHH.  But it doesn’t extinguish my question, “What happened to the Boom Bap?”  I don’t even know what the true definition is and quite honestly I am rejecting the notion of googling it as I’m sure there is one there in Wikipedia or something.  More important than someone’s definition is what it meant to me.  To me, it was when hip-hop pursued a purpose, prior to commercial viability creeping in; it was when the historically underrepresented, first had voices evolve to represent their cause; it was when cats would bang on a table or beat box to create a rhythm for a rhyme, before technology guided (and some cases has replaced) a cat’s heartbeat; it was when the grimmiest cats would yield to the voice of a fellow soldier and join in an anthem.

By all means I consider myself someone who has evolved with the times, has stayed current on technology, use social tools, blah, blah, blah.  However, similar to the notion that all conversions aren’t conducively held within 140 characters and thus letters, e-mails and phone conversations continue to exist in the communications mix, along with Twitter; I’d suggest that the Boom Bap, is needed in the hip-hop mix along with all the other styles that reign today.

What does all of my rambling have to do with CHH you ask?  Something I mentioned earlier that Boom-Bap always had to me…just straight out authenticity.

If you’re out there and doing it or know others who are…and I’m missing it, PLEASE hollar at me.

Grace and Peace


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  1. A few secular cats are attempting to bring it back…there is Joey Bada$$ and the whole Pro era movement as well as The Underachievers…On the CHH side I think Beleaf Melanin and Hawk House come close.

  2. Well explained Trig. I too feel that same way. Down to the exact CHH tracks you picked. LOL. I agree that BOOM BAP is missing in current hip hop, both secular and in CHH. The rhymes that spoke of substance and affinity, that melodically interpreted the confusion that you felt inside yourself, and translated you to a place of mental, and spiritual empowerment (sometimes).

    After much contemplating with friends that are of the same mindset, I also think there is another fact that we have to consider. We usually tend to crave or first loves in music. You and I grew up in the blooming of a grassroots movement called hip hop and can remember the intense feelings that it generated within us. Hip hop, as it was, like any good and meaningful movement, evolved. (See the movie Brown Sugar or listen to Common’s I used to love her.) Hip hop, now, is not the same as it was for us, i don’t think it never will be because, just as it has evolved so have we. Those indelible emotional attachments that we forged at that time can’t be reestablished. Therefore most things seem inferior or pale in comparison.

    I think back to my dad, listening to his oldies tracks, roots Reggae, old head tunes, etc. And when he heard me playing “I’m the Magnificent”, I know he was thinking, “Boy you young kids are ruining music, what happened to REAL MUSIC”. So I wonder if that’s what we might be thinking, when we hear current hip hop music right now. I know we ain’t knocking new stuff, but I feel where you’re coming from. It is definitely different. But I now know why Pops still has his crates, cause nothing beats your first love.

    Peace, Trig.

    Thanks Elijah Hope as well, I will check out the sounds you mentioned below as well.


    • Great points brother, great points. First loves are hard to move past…however, I’m just not sure I would call what happened with Hip-Hop an evolution. It definitely changed….I’m just not sure it evolved in the sense of what it represented pre being commercially accepted. Grace and Peace Delvin

  3. Very well written post bro. I am also one of those older cats that wishes that sound was still prominent. However, to answer your question, I would say that the boom-bap has gone to the same place as the motown sound and the p-funk sound so many loved back in the day. It’s still around, celebrated – and still created – by underground purists who don’t really like where modern music has evolved to. There are still cats pumping it out, but in the same way that disco & funk stole the airwaves from motown in the 70’s, g-funk and then trap beats did the same to the boom-bap we love. It’s there, just no longer in the mainstream.

    • Thanks bro….and I tend to agree with you, there is some out there in the underground. There have actually been a few lately covered by mainstream that have appealed to me in that way. For example, Braille’s “Changed Hearts” is a nice one. Trig

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