It was 1993 and Hip Hop had entered a new chapter after its earth shattering entrance in the eighties yet increased commercialism and off-piste wanderings thereafter. Its golden age had started to glow. Little did I know, as Madchester and The Stone Roses had stolen my student ears (and good times they were, too). But Hip Hop had been pulsating and evolving as I’d been away.
I was visiting friends living in the city. It was a dull autumn with Paris’ grand buildings set against a dramatic backdrop of brooding grey clouds. I was spending the day on my own, lost in the city’s streets and lost in my own world. I’d just graduated with a degree that felt like it would lead me nowhere. I didn’t really want to know, but I was on the cusp of a new chapter in my life: employment. But I was more shirker than Sherpa, not wanting to carry the weight I felt on my shoulders.
My head was telling me to find a job, but my heart had decided to search for something else. It had led me to Paris; a romantic interlude before the real work would begin. It provided the perfect setting: romantic, artistic, cool. And there, catching my eye. Wow. When deep down you’re looking for something and you find it, you just know…Dating (she’s the one), buying a house (this is the one) and the 50th special edition of The Source magazine there on a newsstand in Paris (I’ll take one, s’il vous plait!).
I stood there with my copy in my hands. Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa and Kool DJ Herc looked out at me from the cover: Welcome back, they rhymed. That copy glowed, the brightest; even in the City of Lights.
Flicking through the pages of that special edition of The Source revealed a new breed: Souls of Mischief, Casual, as well as some old favourites back on form, such as De la Soul (reincarnated and back with their classic Buhloone Mindstatealbum).
But above all Black Moon, wearing what was the first Carhartt clothing I’d seen and bringing a new sound described by the magazine’s reviewer as “elegant madness”, “funky jazzy rhythms and ferocious vocals”. All of this captured me – and I wanted more. Their Enta da Stage album was further reviewed as “a welcome return to the days when rap music consistently reflected true musical and lyrical integrity… there are still shining spots of originality to be found in a genre that’s becoming increasingly overrun by bogus bandwagon jumpers just out to make a quick buck”.
The early shining spots from what was to become Hip Hop’s golden age had found their way to me, through the moody Parisian streets, and I had fallen in love again. I hope my love can stretch to infinity, and beyond.
Listen to: 93 ‘til Infinity by Souls of Mischief, Who Got Da Props? by Black Moon and Ego Trippin’ (Part Two) by De La Soul