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Elementary School

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Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself

By: Rahiem Shabazz

I wanted to pen a thoughtful piece on my journey during the earlier days of hip-hop up until now. It wasn't until I started writing that I realize my roots run deep and I can trace it back not only from the early days of hip-hop but to it's founding father or as I often hear him referred to as "The GodFather of Hip-Hop", Afrika Bambatta himself.

My first experience with hip-hop was back in the late 70's when I was living in the ghetto enclaves of the Bronx. My legal guardian at the time owned a Record Store on East Tremont. He brought home King Tim the 3rd record by a group called "The Fatback", when vinyl albums and 45 was still in use. CD's were not heard of nor thought of. I remember it to this day; it had a green and white label.

My fascination with this new found sound called hip-hop began on that day with that one single record. Eventually, I moved to the West Farm section of the Bronx where hip-hop music played daily. Being too young to attend the nightly park jams I was relegated to being a listener and spectator from my windowpane. It was during these listening sessions that I started recording them on Cassette tape.

One day while playing with a group of friends 5 strange looking guys exited the elevator. One of them was my friend Andre's brother. And he was carrying a big boom box on his shoulder. They began to slap us all five and inspired us to rap for them. After we said our little nursery rhymes, they played their latest studio recording for our listening enjoyment. We were amazed. The 5 strange looking individuals were Rahiem, Melle Mel, Cowboy, Mr. Ness, Kid Creole and Grand Master Flash. The Original Furious Five MC'S.

It wasn't until the next day when I let Andre hold my cassette recorder that I learned they were the Furious Five MC's. From that day on I was a fan and I got all the newly released singles and album courtesy of Rahiem. He would fondly joke with me that I stole his name. I boldly tell him "that's my name I was born with it and your name is Guy Williams". He would laugh and say "keep that between us".

After several years, I moved to Theriot Avenue and attended P.S. 100 and I.S. 131 respectively. I lived directly across the street from P.S.100. This is where I first heard the sounds of "The Mighty Zulu Nation. My brother Shams became a member of the Tragic Force MC's and the youngest member to ever perform at the Zulu Nation. He was well known in the Bronx River, which lead him to becoming friends with Afrika Bambatta. Being that my brother was so young Bam had to get special permission from my parents so Shams could travel and perform. I remember the first day Bam, appeared at my door, it was on Thanksgiving. He left such a good impression on my parents he was invited over every year and it became a tradition for several years to follow.

I was really into the rapping aspect of hip-hop and wasn't too much concerned with the DJ until I went to a local DJ competition that my brother Jazzy Joe was a participant in. Days leading up to the battle he broke his arm. It was a wide spread rumor it was intentional so he could forfeit the battle. To everyone's surprise he showed up and won 1st place. He took everybody by surprise because he had a cast on but his skills and techniques did not falter but only got better as he took the spotlight.

Having one brother as the youngest MC to perform at the Zulu Nation Anniversary and another brother outdoing the DJ'ing competition in my neighborhood. I was looked upon as one who would follow in their path. So I begged my brother Shams to travel with him to his shows. I remember going with him to the Latin Quarter's and witnessing KRS-1, Rakim and X-Clan perform on stage. One day, my brother had to sneak me in "The World". I was upstairs in VIP with Melle Mel and Run DMC. I accompanied him to a few Zulu Nation Anniversaries and watched him perform on stage with Cold Crush, Jazzy Five MC's and Soul Sonic Force.

During the Reagan-Bush era, I became affiliated with the 5% Nation of Gods And Earths. It was at this time the Black Nationalist Movement was on the rise ushering in the wave for conscious rap. Black people felt disenfranchised and were looking for change. I rapped about knowledge of self along the lines of Rakim, Brand Nubian, and KRS-1. It was during this time that I was introduced to Ol' Dirty Bastard by a mutual friend named Lord Sincere Allah. Being that we were all members of the 5% we hung out daily.

At this time I was part owner of a health food store across the street from Lincoln project in Harlem. There was never a day you could walk in there and I wasn't free styling or writing rhymes. Ol' Dirty would come by and kick it with me. During this time he was working on the "Protect Your Neck Single". I had a large Ad on Amino Acid pills that read, "First things first, protect your health". That one liner is the opening to the now classic "Protect your Neck" single.

"First things first man you fucking with the worse" then he went on to incorporate some of the 5% teachings into his rhyme about the doctors sticking pins in the babies heads. Since we would build on today's mathematics while drinking beer and smoking blunts all day it was only natural that our lyrics reflected our state of mind.

Back then all the members of the 5% who were affiliated with the industry stuck together and tried to put one another on. So a brother by the name of Lamel invited me to his show on WHCR 93.1 FM (City College Station) as a guest. He gave me the last 5 minutes to free-style and I went off the radar wit it. Calls were still coming in while exiting the studio. As we rode downtown I listen on the radio as people kept calling asking for more. It was then that I became a frequent guest that would free-style with the likes of The Four Winds; Percy-P; Black Moon, and Common. Lamel was instrumental in me appearing on Bobbito and Stretch Armstrong Show over at City College. It was there that I won an on the air free-style contest. I later appeared



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