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“Despite the genre’s spreading popularity, Philadelphia was, for many years, the only city whose contributions to hip hop were valued as greatly as New York City’s by fans and critics. Hip hop music was popular there at least as far back as the late 1970s (the first Philadelphia hip hop record was “Rhythm Talk”, by Jocko Henderson in 1979), and the New York Times dubbed Philadelphia the “Graffiti Capital of the World”

As a hip hop fan, over the years I have noticed that hip-hop is the only genre that allows you to represent where you’re from anytime, anywhere and anyplace. Now, as a die-hard hip-hop fan from PHILADELPHIA, I haven’t had too much to represent in the past couple years. I was on the train listening to the Blueprint 3 album and the song “Empire State of Mind” comes on. I then think to myself, “they are reppin’ New York to the fullest why don’t we have that kind of energy in Philadelphia?” Philadelphia is without a shadow of a doubt Hip-Hop’s “2nd Home”, and the fact is we do not have a major hip hop icon that has emerged as a great M.C. New York has Jay-Z and Biggie, Chicago has Kanye, L.A/West Coast has Dre, Snoop and Tupac, Atlanta has T.I., Ludacris, Jezzy and Outkast, and Philadelphia has………The Fresh Prince? No disrespect to D.J. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, they have their place in Hip-Hop history as the first grammy-award winning hip hop artist (also prince was a beast on the microphone), but they were not hip hop superstars and they can not sell out a concert.

Philadelphia has a very rich history in hip hop and the problem is these artist that come from Philly either don’t know, don’t care, or simply don’t respect exactly where they come from, because if they did then you would see that you have a very rich tradition that you simply need to live up to.

Philadelphia Hip Hop History Timeline

1965- 1970
Cornbread & Cool Earl become the first graffiti artists
they create the Philadelphia style- tall skinny letters, one color large tags
1966
Cornbread first uses the arrow as style element

1971
NY Times refers to Philadelphia as the “Graffiti Capital of The World”
July 25th, 1971 edition

1972
Time Magazine estimates 10,000 “graffitists” in Philly
March 13th, 1972 edition

1979
Jocko Henderson releases the FIRST rap record ever released
“Rhythm Talk” on Philly International Records

WZZD AM- Wizzard 100 plays the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”
the first Hip Hop record played on Philly radio

Lady B begins spinning Hip Hop records on WHAT 1340 AM

DJ Cosmic Kev & emcee Parry P start their partnership
they quickly build a following and emerge as one of Philly’s first star attractions

1980
Lady B releases “To The Beat Y’all” on Tec Records
the first Hip Hop record ever released by a solo female artist

1984
Lady B moves to Power 99 FM and begins legendary Street Beat program

Cosmic Kev & Parry P perform at the Festival of American Folk Life
sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute, who have their photos archived

City of Philadelphia forms the Anti Graffiti Network
Schoolly D releases his first record “Maniac b/w Gangster Boogie”
this launches the subgenre known as “gangsta rap”

1985
Cosmic Kev & Parry P perform in Nassau, Bahamas
they become the first Philly Hip Hop group to appear outside of the United States

MC Breeze releases “Discombobulatorbubalator”
the first Hip Hop record ever banned from radio

1986
Jazzy Jeff wins New Music Seminar DJ Battle for World Supremacy

Kurupt leaves Philly and relocates in Los Angeles
he meets Snoop Doggy Dogg at a freestyle battle and becomes part of the Dogg Pound

Schoolly D releases the Hip Hop classic “P.S.K.- What Does It Mean?”

1987
Cash Money wins New Music Seminar DJ Battle for World Supremacy

MC Breeze defeats Just Ice & Disco C defeats Kool Keith at the
New Music Seminar Emcee Battle for World Supremacy

DJ Spinbad invents the Transformer Scratch

Sean G signed by RCA Records
the first Philly Hip Hop artist signed to a major label

Sean G killed in subway attack

North Philly’s Money B joins Digital Underground

1988
DJ Cash Money wins DMC World Championship Battle

DJ Miz wins New Music Seminar DJ Battle for World Supremacy

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince win the first Rap grammy

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince unveil the first Hip Hop 900 number service

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince appear on the first episode of Yo! MTV Raps

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince release “He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper”
Hip Hop’s first double album

Lady B & Mike Elliott launch Strictly Hip Hop magazine
the first national magazine dedicated exclusively to Hip Hop culture

Philadelphian John Schector launches The Source as a one page newsletter in Boston

Jazz Fresh defeats Big Daddy Kane in legendary freestyle battle

1989
Lady B resigns from Power 99 FM ending Street Beat’s initial run

1990
MC Breeze releases the theme song for Rocky V entitled “Go For It”
released under the name Joey B. Ellis

1991
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez joins TLC

1995
Jackal The Bear releases “For Real”

1996
Hilltop Hustlers Cool C & Steady B murder police officer Lareitha Vaird
during a botched bank robbery, the first female Philadelphia police officer killed in the line of duty

Rapper Kenny Krash aka Kenneth Ellis murdered in his home
the case of MC Breeze’s brother’s death remains unsolved

1997
Lady B revives Street Beat on WPHI- Philly 103.9 FM

As a hip hop lover from the city of “Brotherly Love”, I am extremely disappointed in the rappers that have come out from philly in the most recent years. They do not give Philadelphia a reason to be proud in no way, shape form or fashion. They give us a reputation of a bunch of complaining, gun-toting, under achievers who outside of Will Smith, Eve and The Roots can not make a platinum cd and its sad. Being from Philadelphia and hip hop fan I have no one to be proud of when I am arguing about hip hop when it comes to other cities right now. The under-achievement in Philly almost reminds me of our sports teams. We can be good and get to the big dance, but when it really counts we always fail to produce and it hurts. Beans, Freeway, Cassidy etc…. have failed to produce platinum albums and hit singles but these are the people we have to say are our Philly hip hop heroes. Hopefully in the near future (meek millz is not the answer) we have someone who can sell a million records, become a hip hop star, and exemplify exactly what Philly is all about. In the mean time I will be grateful to Jazz and Prince and The Roots.

fresh-prince and jazz

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5 Comments

  1. HERM!!!

    I totally enjoyed your entry. You are totally right; We (including the suburbs surrounding philly) do not have anyone to be proud of, but what I don’t understand is why? Are we not that talented.. No.. I think when philly artists get signed the management just sucksand they don’t have a proper guidence! Well I made my comment! Love you!! And let me know when you post more.

  2. Beanie Siegel, Eve, Freeway, Cassidy, Boyz II Men, and Young Gunz are all from Philly. Granted, none of them are trailblazers like Jay-z or Kanye, but we don’t just have DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince. Like Lil Kim, (representing NY), Eve has made her mark as one of the few female rappers. Boyz II Men is one of the greatest R&B groups of our time. Another up and coming artist is Jazmine Sullivan. We (Philly) have some standing in hip hop and R&B beyond DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince.

    • I understand where you’re coming from but the people that you named are R&B artist and I mentioned eve but she is more focused on acting more than rapping. FACT we do not have a hip-hop artist that can sell out a venue anywhere in the united states

        • Christina
        • Posted November 5, 2009 at 10:05 pm
        • Permalink

        That’s true; we do not have any artist that can sell out a venue. I’ve seen most of the people that I named, and they were only opening for other major artists. I think part of the reason is because there are not any major production companies based in Philadelphia, and artists from Philly will sign to other major labels (like the recent Beanie Sigel and Jay-Z controversy).

  3. CeCe!! You know I love it! You are very true in your statements and I totally agree!!! Love you and keep up the good work!


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