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Godfather of Hip Hop

Spoonie Gee

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Album Review

As a forefather of rap and one of the few rappers ever to release a record in the '70s, Spoonie Gee dropped expansive storytelling rhymes nearly a decade before Slick Rick ever did, masterfully boasting his abilities as a lover through poetry like an over-caffeinated Cyrano de Bergerac. He was undoubtedly one of the fastest and smoothest rappers of the Sugarhill era, and on The Godfather of Hip Hop he proves capable of freestyling on and on, sometimes flowing past the seven- or eight-minute mark, in the vein of an '80s block party freestyle session. This seems perfectly appropriate, considering he got his chops passing the mike in situations like these in Manhattan with Kool Moe Dee, L.A. Sunshine, and Special K (the Treacherous Three). The production quality of Spoonie's first couple songs are a lot like those released with his first crew: minimal drum-heavy jams with funk bass, cowbell, and claps, accented with encouragements to participate in the fun by rockin', freakin', and yellin' "yes, yes y'all." Such is the case with his most legendary cut, "Love Rap," in which he spins line after line over a simple drum-and-congo beat, all the while explaining the trials and tribulations of wooing the ladies. He's got a one-track mind: even on the battle-rhyme track "That's My Style," where he reprimands Schooly D for biting his style of delivery, he eventually ends up on a tangent about romancing his girl. You can't blame him; Spoonie's a lover, not a fighter. He makes that abundantly clear. But even though the themes of his raps are one-dimensional (girls, partying, and more girls), he's charismatic and engaging enough to keep the simple topic of female persuasion entertaining, which is quite impressive considering that his career lasted nearly ten years. The evolution of rap is clearly illustrated as the disc progresses, and listeners can trace the time line from early-'80s Sugar Hill Records joints ("Spoonin' Rap") to mid-'80s Tuff City Records songs with Marley Marl ("The Godfather") all the way up to the new jack-ish songs he recorded with Teddy Riley ("Did You Come to Party"). While the latter tracks are lackluster in comparison to the bigger hits at the beginning of the album, ultimately this is a solid compilation, and the only disc of entirely Spoonie Gee material that's still available.

Biography

Born: Harlem, New York, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Spoonie Gee was the nephew of veteran R&B producer Bobby Robinson and one of the earliest rap artists. He was known as the "love rapper," an image that was established by his first record, "Love Rap," released on his uncle's Enjoy label as the flip side of the Treacherous Three's "The New Rap Language." The bulk of early rap records reproduced an MC's party routine with a loose sequence of narrative, boasting, and call and response. Spoonie's initial outing, however, organized a hip-hop styled...
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Godfather of Hip Hop, Spoonie Gee
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