Friday, May 13, 2011

Boogie Down Productions -- "The Bridge Is Over" (1987)

What's the matter with your MC, Marley Marl?
Don't know you know that he's out of touch?
What's the matter with your DJ, MC Shan?
On the wheels of steel Marlon sucks
You'd better change what comes out your speaker
You're better off talkin' 'bout your wack Puma sneaker
Cause Bronx created hip-hop
Queens will only get dropped
You're still tellin' lies to me
Everybody's talkin' 'bout the Juice Crew
Funny, but you're still tellin' lies to me
Do those last two lines remind you of the last two lines of another song?

That song was a #1 hit by a singer whose music was about as far from hip-hop as popular music can be.  Surprisingly, it's not featured in the 2002 "jukebox musical" based on many of his hits.

If that's not enough of a clue, here are the two final lines from that singer's song:

Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound
Funny, but it's still rock and roll to me
If you still don't get it, don't worry -- I'll embed both songs at the end of this post.

In a previous "Hip Hop 101" lecture, we discussed the numerous "Roxanne" answer songs.  The first and most successful of those songs resulted from a collaboration between 15-year-old Roxanne Shanté and Marley Marl, a very influential DJ and early hip-hop "superproducer."

DJ Marley Marl
Marley Marl is responsible for a number of innovations in the art of sampling, and was the greatest beatmaker of his day -- he was one of the first producers to lift beats from James Brown's opus.  He founded a record label that released records by Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, and other first-rate New York City rappers.

When the Juice Crew -- a hip-hop collective that Marley Marl had helped to found, and which was best known for its many answer records -- released a song titled "The Bridge," they found themselves the target of this answer song from rival Boogie Down Productions.

KRS-One in 1984
Boogie Down Productions -- let's call them BDP -- was a South Bronx rap group with something of a Jamaican sound.  Its membership changed constantly over the years, but the two most prominent BDP members during "The Bridge Wars" were KRS-One and Scott La Rock.   They interpreted "The Bridge" as claiming that hip-hop had originated in the Queensbridge section of Queens, which was the home of Marley Marl, Roxanne Shanté, and most of the other members of the Juice Crew.

The lyrics quoted above question the DJ'ing skills of Marley Marl (who was born Marlon Williams) and also diss MC Shan.  The dissing gets very personal:
You can't sound like Shan or the one Marley
Because Shan and Marley Marl dem-a-rhymin' like they gay
It gets worse than that, boys and girls -- when you listen to "The Bridge Is Over" in its entirety, make sure the kiddies aren't listening.

"The Bridge Wars" was one of the classic rap "beefs," and quickly escalated.  It cooled somewhat when Scott La Rock was shot and killed shortly after "The Bridge" was released -- his death was unrelated to "The Bridge Wars" -- and his BDP partner, KRS-One, became heavily involved in the "Stop the Violence Movement" after a young fan was killed at a BDP concert a year later.

But the hatchet wasn't officially buried until 2007, when KRS-One and Marley Marl collaborated on the Hip-Hop Lives album.

And here's a brief excerpt from the Beef video about "The Bridge Wars" -- it will at least give you a taste of the personalities involved.

Here's "The Bridge Is Over":

And here's Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" -- the song quoted above:

Here's a link you can use to buy the song from iTunes:

The Bridge Is Over - Criminal Minded (Deluxe Version)

Here's a link to use if you prefer to use Amazon:

No comments:

Post a Comment