Now, Hip-Hop has it’s legends. Held aloft on the mountains of commercial success, or the arse end of the Eighties. But what about the others?
Its about time a few others got a mention, a few that possibly slipped under the radar of our die-hard reader(s).
I present to you, the first Unsung Hero of the Hop. Dj Sub-Roc.
Perhaps best known as the launching pad for one M.F. Doom, Kausing Much Damage personified the early boom-bap sound that underpinned hip-hop throughout the nineties. While later Doom efforts showcased his ear for the obscure sample, under the moniker Zev-Love X – his K.M.D sound kept the ingredients rather simple.
Base heavy, Check. Dusty break loop, Check. One bad-ass New-York Eazy-E sounding sibling, Check. While there is no doubt that Zev helped define the style of the group, it was his younger brother Sub-Roc who truly flourished over K.M.D’s distinct drowned percussion.
Just before the completion of the controversial second album Black Bastards, Sub-Roc was struck by a car and killed. A true loss to any fan of expression and more poignently, real hip-hop.
What Sub-Roc embodied more than anything, was a trait solely lacking in hip-hop in recent times. Fun.
Without getting too nostalgic and preachy. Hip-hop truly has lost that spirit that brought it out of the grid systems of New York, the sound systems of Herc and Co, and into the living room of the middle class gin-drinking yuppie.
It didn’t have to threaten to entertain, sure it could and would at times, but it had a point to prove to its fellow genres (no, not you emo! before then). It certainly proved its point, perhaps too much I would argue – given the parody it exudes at times. Perhaps the cover of Black Bastards was not controversial, rather, prophetic of things to come.
Do you remember when emcees had fun over a track?
If not, then I urge you to turn the volume up, anything less than a Spinal Tap eleven is truly sacrilege.
Ladies and Gents, our first Hero of the Hop.
DJ Sub-Roc (1973-1993)