Friday, May 9, 2008

Party like it’s 1988

This afternoon on Jersey City’s WFMU, there’ll be a three-hour celebration of the year 1988.

Included in the discussion will be culture bloggers Michael Gonzales, Donnell Alexander and Invisible Woman... each of whom has blogged about 1988 today. (Cool!)

The show is Billy Jam’s “Put the Needle on the Record.” Go to the WFMU website if you wanna live-stream it.

I don’t recall ’88 as a great year culturally. The R&B charts were dominated by names like Keith Sweat, Al B. Sure!, Johnny Kemp and Cheryl Pepsii Riley. The passage of time has not been good to these people... or their music.

But 1988 was the year all the major record companies started investing heavily in hip-hop artists. Record executives finally were convinced that rap music wasn’t a passing fancy. This investment brought forth the Golden Age of Hip-Hop.

Living Colour also exploded on the scene in 1988, creating a flurry of interest in “black rock.” (Remember 24-7 Spyz?)

Personally, I remember ’88 fondly because that summer I traveled to Minneapolis – at the Washington Times’s expense – to do a story on the music scene there. From all over the Midwest, young Negroes with talent had moved to Minneapolis hoping to be discovered.

Everything seemed possible then.

UPDATE (05/09/08): I caught the first hour and the final half-hour of this show. It was kinda cool. Very hip-hop-centered.

But there was no Invisible Woman and no Donnell Alexander, and that disappointed me.

I’m a connoisseur of talk radio, and Billy Jam’s show is amateurish by the standards I’m used to. I don’t know if he considers that part of the hip-hop aesthetic or what. But I left behind that college-radio vibe when I graduated from college.

On the positive tip, guest callers Bill Adler and Lisa Cortes were entertaining and informative on the subject of hip-hop’s glory days.


Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

I spent many years listening to Billy Jam on the local college radio station, so I'm probably used to him.

Kellybelle said...

'88 was my year! I graduated from college, moved to New York City. I could party all night, get up and run 5 miles and still make it to work on time! And you could smoke in your office. All my memories look bright and colorful, like an early Spike Lee movie. Sigh.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

'88 was great year for Black Rock. Living Colour dropped Vivid. But equally as strong was Fishbone's Truth and Soul. 24-7 Spyz put out Harder Than You. And the Bad Brains put out a live version of I Against I.

Also, Spike got big with those Air Jordan commercials and the underrated School Daze came out.

It was my first in law school and LA. Bo Jackson punked the hated Broncos.

And Wayne Shorter put out the panned but brilliant Joy Ryder. Showed Kenny G, Najee, and those muzak soft jazz Grover/Ronnie Laws imitators how to put out commercial electric jazz with a saxophone as the lead voice.

Saw a Living Colour show where Trulio Disgracias opened. 20 something people up there featuring Fishbone, a couple cats from the Chili Peppers, and assorted mugs. A helluva show where I was blitzed zooty-bang style.

Invisible Woman said...

Trulio Disgracias...I forgot about them :-)

UBM--I tried to call in, but every time the phone just rang and rang---guess it was part of that college vibe thing you were referring to :-(

Undercover Black Man said...

Well, IW... you rocked the hell out of the theme on your blog, so I'm at least grateful as a reader.

Undercover Black Man said...

Also, Spike got big with those Air Jordan commercials...

"It's gotta be the shoes!" Yeah, memories...

But I say this, DeAngelo: Things really started to cook in '89... with "The Arsenio Hall Show" and "Do the Right Thing."

From 1989 thru 1993... that was a time.

Undercover Black Man said...

'88 was my year! I graduated from college, moved to New York City. I could party all night, get up and run 5 miles and still make it to work on time!

Kellybelle, there's something about that first year after graduation. For me it was '84, moving to Chicago. Hard to believe it was so long ago.

Michael Fisher said...

1988. Def Jam and Rush Management was, as I recall, still working out of the Elizabeth Street building, Rush Management on the first floor of th same. Bill Adler is one of the must humble, straight-up and pleasant guys you'll ever meet. In 1988 Lisa had just come to Rush Management to work for Lyor Cohen, maybe a year or so earlier or later. I was surprised to see her there. She didn't seem the type when I knew her at Yale.

24-7 Spyz were talking to me about management, but I didn't understand their music, so that fizzled out. Nice guys though.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ You don't understand rock 'n' roll? ;^D

Jimi Hazel could burn.

Thanks for sharing them memories, though, Michael.

And thanks for letting me know about the discussion at Denmark Vesey's... which I haven't checked out because I went outside today. I will, though.

Thembi said...

I was a lil kid in 1988 - it was pretty much the year that I learned what "talking like a white girl" meant, and that I certainly did. But, my favorite episode of A Different World aired that year, so at least I was on my way to being 'legit'.

I looove this type of remiscing! If you don't mind, the next time this happens I'm going to post about it, too even if only in a sycophantic, piggybacking type of way...

michael a. gonzales said...

...and i felt terrible about it. the show was supposed to all 1988, then at the last minute i learned other guests had been booked and everything started slipping away. i was looking forward to talking to the friends i had invited, but, as you know, it didn't quite work out like that. yes, the show was good, but it would have been better if i could have gotten my guest on the air.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ You need your own radio show, Mike!