Today’s scan is a throwback to Keyboard Magazine’s 1988 cover story on this crazy thing called Rap! music. Mark Dery’s thirteen page feature is a mixed bag, honestly, mostly an oral history of the genre featuring comments from Bambaataa, Flash, Rick Rubin, Stetsasonic, The Fat Boys and more. While it probably served as a perfectly functional primer two decades ago, the actual feature seems a little pedestrian today. There’s some interesting stuff as far as sampling and engineering in the middle there but for the most part I was hoping Keyboard would drop more nuts and bolts technical stuff and less basic information about the genre. However there is a short sidebar entitled “Drum Some Kill” which is probably one of, if not the earliest technical articles on hip hop, explaining in detail hip hop drum programing and breaking down some very specific methods for mixing down 808s. Engineer Steve Ett puts it best: “for me, rap is a matter of pumping the shit out of the low end.”
The whole article is worth a read though, if only for the sake of twisted hindsight. Check the speculative portion where both the author and his subjects collectively look to a future where British rappers like the Cookie Crew would take over international airwaves and Eric B & Rakim’s “Chinese Arithmetic” would usher in a new era of “acid rap” (huh?). Only Tommy Boy’s Tom Silverman hits the mark in his predictions, recommending a handful of regional rappers including “this guy named M.C. Hammer.”
Click here for the full PDF.