29 year-ago, before a was a demagogue spouting racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia as the chosen direction for America, Donald Trump was just a real estate guy in his early 40s, married sure, but who has that stopped, on the make, making the scene and down with anybody and anything that would keep his name in the papers and enhance his brand.
He was no stranger to the Downtown arts scene, which had just lost Warhol, but briefly still included Basquiat, and he palled around with everyone from newly minted heavyweight champion Mike Tyson to King of Pop Michael Jackson.
Meanwhile, the Hip Hop world was on pins and needles.
Back in those days, record labels were so afraid that new Hip Hop artists might flops, that they’d only put out little teaser or tester singles simply to see if an artist’s sound could find a market.
Well, in New York in 1986, no two Hip Hop groups found markets like Boogie Down Productions and Eric B and Rakim.
The second on the scene was BDP who, despite earlier grumblings from other artists like Just Ice, formally introduced the dis record when they released “South Bronx” a scathing rebuke of Queens rapper MC Shan’s claim that Hip Hop got it start out in Queensbridge.
Their 1987 debut album Criminal Minded, along with perhaps being the first truly “classic” Hip Hop album, also has an argument for being the father to gangster rap.
Since it’s inception in 1979 with “Rapper’s Delight“, Hip Hop had more or less been a screaming contest, best exemplified by the histrionics known to punctuate the rhymes of another Queens MC, LL Cool J.
Kicking Five Percent wisdom and using the type of vocals you might expect from a quiet storm/slow jam-time radio DJ, not only did Rakim change the game as established artists like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five aped him immediately, but the reverberations of his style could be felt in upcoming acts from then till this very day and including everyone from EPMD to Nas.
Now, unlike BDP, who returned to lead off their 1987 album with the song “Poetry“, a grinding utterly Hip Hop onslaught of scratches and rhymes, Eric B and Rakim kicked off their 1987 album, Paid in Full, with “I know You Got Soul“, perhaps the first ever hip hop smash dance hit.
Sampled from Bobby Byrd’s song of the same name, too much music to mention owes a debt to “I Know You Got Soul”. Every time a dance-oriented Hip Hop Song becomes anthemic, whether it’s “It Takes Two“, “In Da Club” or “Back That Ass Up” and whenever a Hip Hop song dominates a summer like, say, “Flava in Ya Ear“, “0-100” or what Jay Z tried to do with “Dear Summer“, Eric B and Rakim can be felt.
Now, as far as endorsing Donald Trump for President, as Eric B and Rakim did yesterday, my guess is that their motivations are religious.
Five Percent, like most religions on some level, elevates the males; this time to the level of “gods” while reducing the women; here to “earths”, which would make Eric B and Rakim unlikely to support a female candidate.
Either that, or they’re suffering from an early onset of Alzheimer’s.
They were in their right minds in 1987, tho.
And if you were in New York back then like Donald Trump was, you couldn’t miss “I Know You Got Soul”.
It was ubiquitous.