Call it cliche but through middle and high school, I had a quote on my wall, "without music, life would not be fair". Frankly, Ape still stands by that. Who said the quote? Who knows. Doesn't matter. Each of us Apes has a very broad taste in music. You'll catch us listening to everything from gothic folk to boleros. Sure, we will each gravitate to certain things at times, but as we go through different phases of life, we pick up more awesome jamz. Of course, this includes hip hop jamz.
Those of you that follow "jamz with Ape" will have noticed that it's hip hop heavy. Let Baker tell you why. We need to take it back to when this Ape was lower case "a" young. I grew up in Venice, CA. Not the gentrified, million-dollar-home, Venice some of you might know, though. The you're-in-the-hood- make-the-right-friends Venice. Because of this, the parents of ape would always advise me to stay away from certain thing– cholos, baggie clothes, drugs, and rap. For a while, I grew to hate rap and hip hop. My parents preached the negative influence they had...gang culture, drugs, and whatnot. Everything playing on the radio would only reinforce this. Women were bitches and hoes, money was over everything, and getting shot was cool. Look, shoutout to the producers who made a lot of bumping beats I do enjoy, but holy crap was hip hop lyrically trash. Well, the parts of it I was exposed to.
My first real taste of hip hop came after my middle school mentor convinced me to join a jazz band with him (I'm assuming I complained a lot about piano theory, so cue the jazz...heh). On one of our many drives home from practice, I remember talking about hating hip hop. He told me I was wrong to do so, he grabbed his CD case quickly as we stopped at light, whipped out a burned CD with "Geto Boys GREATEST HITS" handwritten sloppily in sharpie, and played Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangster. He let me borrow and rip (sorry Geto Boys) the CD that night. I listened to that damn album through and through, especially Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangster and Mind Playing Tricks on Me. I learned that hip hop could get deeper, that it could tell stories beyond giving into the struggle. That bond with the music was made even stronger in high school, when I learned about independent hip hop. The homie, Nasi8, introduced me to Murs & 9th Wonder. Ape did not grow up affluent. Nothing has been handed to us. We watched our families work hard to give us a better life, we grew up in environments where things like poverty and gangs existed. Murs spoke to these struggles, among others, and it was amazing to hear someone rapping about my city and stories I had also lived through.
The rest is essentially history. From Murs came Atmosphere. From the Atmosphere came everyone else from the RhymeSayers label...I can go on forever, humans. But, I won't. Check out the playlist at the bottom for albums that lead the way for hip hip in my life! Also, I will note that a lot of RUN DMC energy is channeled when we shoot. If you hadn't noticed.
Don't forget your roots, humans. We understand the whole "new year, new me". You're looking for self-motivation, but not like this. It's not a new you. If you're looking for a "new" you, you must have done something you didn't like, or you're looking to leave something behind. Don't. Your roots are your upbringing, they're your mistakes and your triumphs, your struggles and successes. They are you. Don't lose your hip hop. New year. Same, more experienced, you.
Stay epic, humans. Happy new year.
If you'd like to listen to the root of hip hop for this Ape, we have a Spotify now! Check out the playlist below: