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When the classic “Planet Rock” hit Billboard’s charts (it hit the year 1982 in a BIG way too), the song considerably changed music history. It used a similar robotic, vocoder-like sound as the 1 found in Kraftwerk’s smash “Trans-Europe Express.” “Planet Rock” was a smorgasbord of cool electronic sounds and Hip-Hop beats. Meshed together with samples from other records, it captured the attention of music lovers caught dancing towards the non-stop, funky sensation of this incredible new beat. Afrika Bambaataa’s Electro-Funk style went on to influence the sound of music designs like Dance, Electronic, House, and Techno. If a sound technique exists anywhere inside the galaxy, I predict that “Planet Rock” will rock it. Inside the meantime, you can listen out for this classic hit on Internet radio, satellite radio,http://www.perullas.dk/skotter/freerunsday.php, broadcast radio, clubs and dance parties everywhere. ‘Nuff said–next!
Creative minds of legendary pioneers such as Russell “Rush” Simmons, Eddie Cheeba, Spoonie G, Lovebug Starski, The Juice Crew, Marley Marl, MC Shan and D.J. Hollywood are also among those credited as becoming crucial leaders in the surge that brought Rap music and Hip-Hop culture to mainstream society. Many people may think the Sugar Hill Gang was 1 of a few initiating forces in Rap,http://sonidesign.co.nz/mainrunshoes.php, but there were actually many other hot acts out there grinding to earn their dues–like those affiliated with Rush Productions. Rush was building a name for itself as a music promotion company to become noticed. I’ll expound upon the meteoric rise of the dynamic institution which followed this event shortly thereafter.
Another sibling was Portrait Records. By the 80’s, Portrait had sold millions of records by major stars like Cyndi Lauper, Sade and Stanley Clarke. Since Epic was the oldest kid, it acquired a firm place in history as the foundation that supported the throne of none other than the King of Pop music, Michael Jackson. As a matter of fact, the former lead singer of Motown’s Jackson Five actively participated (in addition to wildly colorful CBS Records group president Walter Yetnikoff) inside the disbursement of CBS’ unwanted offspring (CBS Records, Inc.) towards the Sony Corporation in 1988. By 2004, Sony Music Entertainment had consolidated its monster Columbia and Epic labels, then merged with another major record label: BMG. On the Internet, iTunes was selling millions of digital downloads. But that’s a story for later. Stay tuned.
Afrika Bambaataa was homegrown inside the Bronx. He is best-known for taking the radical, independent factions of the Hip-Hop lifestyle and organizing it all into an urban music society…and for being the initial rapper, ever. In 1984, he worked on the song “Unity” with the lately departed Godfather of Soul, James Brown. (We’re gonna miss ya, ‘Soul Brother #1.’) By mixing block parties with DJs and break-dancers, he synergized all of the varying entities of Hip-Hop through his Zulu Nation. The Zulus educated inner-city youth about their history and empowered them to become productive citizens. His ears had been open to all forms of music as he became a catalyst for blending rhythmic types from Africa with Funk, Go-Go, Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Salsa and Soca for the first time in music history.
In spring of 1984, I began a two season internship with Def Jam’s distributor. By fall quarter, I was a college rep. During Def Jam’s 1st decade, I marketed and promoted every record released through the pipeline. This included music by the distributor’s affiliated Epic label. Epic was born to CBS Records (a division of CBS, Inc.) throughout the early 50s. It was a cute little Classical/Jazz label and grew to become a strong, healthy major label with many active body parts (Rock, R&B, Country). Epic picked up other siblings. 1 of them was T-Neck Records. An influential Soul/R&B/Funk collective of the 50s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond the new millennium terrain, The Isley Brothers ran a music empire tucked inside this fully-functional sibling unit’s clothes. And bank account–let’s call it a budget.
Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay un-laced their Adidas and went on to re-make Rock group Aerosmith’s classic “Walk This Way,” then invited the original rockers to get in on it. Along the way, Run-DMC sold a ‘few million’ records. Within the background was 1 Russell Simmons, pushing buttons on his remote control. Then he got a cellphone. But prior to groups like Run-DMC made it towards the game, there was one of the very first major league rappers–Afrika Bambaataa. Oh yeah; together with his group The Soulsonic Force, Bambaataa fired off a ground-breaking shot remembered as being ‘most strategically launched’ from the annals of New York’s urban jungle.
The future of Def Jam included plans for more affiliations with labels like Atlanta’s Slip-N-Slide Records (Ying Yang Twins). Atlanta was now a city on the move, and Si
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