For Those Who Can't Sleep On Hip Hop

(pictured- HR, iconic frontman for Bad Brains)

The singular most important tenet in Hip Hop is originality. Ever since the architects of the culture began to craft the genre, the primary tool was diversity. Their creativity was fueled, inspired, and built on soundbites from everything that sounded good to them- rock and roll, disco, funk, soul, jazz, salsa, etc. These new urban sound technicians meshed bits and pieces from all of these worlds and formed the music we call Hip Hop. For this reason, when I first heard Bad Brains, as a teen in the ’80s on a walkman passed to me by a friend and schoolmate, they immediately resonated with me. I said out loud, “this is martian music.” It was foreign, sounding like nothing I had heard before. Sonically, a long haul from Hip Hop, but as someone raised hand in hand within the culture, I identified with its essence. All of the components were there: a little bit of soul, reggae, rock, with a rebellious attitude indicative of punk, and of course Hip Hop. Diversity with Bad Brains was inherent: four African American members playing the hardest punk, singing the praises of Haile Selassie, and as rasta looking as Marley himself.

(Below: This clip  shows why Bad Brains have been highly revered by their peers and fans for decades.)

Remarkably, over three decades after their inception, Bad Brains are still touring and continue to pack venues. It’s not just the older set that have been along for the ride since the group’s early days of playing CBGBs that flock to shows, there are also plenty of fans that are young enough to be the children of the first wave of followers. Not only do they seek out the live experience, but they gleefully brandish the band’s iconic image of a lightning bolt hitting the capitol, representative of their self-titled debut, on their attire.

Dr. Know, legendary guitarist of Bad Brains

What attracts fans is their one of a kind sound. It can be described about a thousand different ways. It’s as distinct as music gets; a stab at a description might go like this: Van Halen meets The Wailers in a Duran Duran moshpit (if there ever was one). The unique brilliance of their music is only one dimension of why Bad Brains will always be your favorite band’s favorite band. Beyond the fact that the members are all clearly stellar world-class musicians, their iconic frontman HR is a rock and roll legend. To call him eccentric is to call Willy Wonka a typical story book character. The cult following the band has enjoyed goes beyond just the music, many come because they never quite know what HR will do. In his early days, he was one of the most dynamic performers in rock. Few could dominate a stage like Human Rights or Hunting Rod, a couple of extra monikers that fans know him as. In recent years he’s appeared on stage with helmets, rumored to wear bulletproof vests, and has a one of a kind presence that can be best summed up as enigmatic. Like early Hip Hop pioneers Bambaattaa and Flash did so many years ago, Bad Brains innovated and brought a new experience to the youth in the hardcore punk world. For these reasons, they continue to gain fans of all ages seeking an alternative in music.

-Israel Vasquetelle

If you like the following clips, also check out a previous in-depth discussions with Bad Brains here.

In the following clips frontman HR and legendary guitarist Dr. Know speak with Israel Vasquetelle about their careers in the music industry.

(Below: HR says how he’d like to be remembered in a history book about rock and roll.)

(Below: Dr. Know discusses the band’s longevity in the music industry.)

(Below: HR discusses his influences.)

(Below: In only a way that HR can, he discusses what he’s been up and tells the kids to check out his new music.)

(Below: Bad Brains during a set in recent years, playing deep reggae.)


For tickets go here.

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What are video game marketers to do when they need help building awareness about their rowdy candy people video game? Enlist Method Man of course.

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Here’s a trailer for Michael Rapaport’s documentary about one of the most important Hip Hop groups of the 1990’s, A Tribe Called Quest.

Here’s a link to Insomniac Magazine’s interview with Q-Tip conducted by Israel Vasquetelle:

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