Twenty-five years after crack cocaine ravaged American cities, a new VH1 Rock Doc explores how the drug also transformed popular culture, especially hip-hop. The latest addition to the Emmy-winning franchise, “Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation,” premieres Sunday, September 18 at 109/c on VH1. Narrated and executive produced by Ice-T, “Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation” is the first documentary to focus specifically on the connections between crack and hip-hop. Based primarily on the first-person accounts of four famous dealers-turned-rappers, the film also widens its lens at points to show how crack changed America culturally, socially and politically. Using rare footage, photos, and animation, all set to the beats and rhymes of the iconic hip hop tracks of the day, the documentary explores how media hysteria, racism and political reaction produced policies and laws that have left us with the largest — and most disproportionately African-American — prison population in the world. Crack first appeared in the early 1980s, but by 1986, it was raging through the inner cities of America like wildfire, leaving pain, grief, and death in its wake. With candid, never-before-seen interviews from survivors, including Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill’s B-Real, and the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Raekwon, “Planet Rock” examines the hardships young men encountered growing up in impoverished neighborhoods, which led many to deal crack cocaine as their only way out. This destructive drug not only provided an escape, but also paved the way for an entrance into hip-hop. More than any other art form, hip-hop reflected and documented the crack epidemic. The chaos and madness of the crack phenomenon was fused with the sound and style of hip-hop during its formative years. From the gold dookie chain to Gucci, many hip-hop artists were influenced by the look and fashion of infamous dealers like Azie Faison in Harlem, who is prominently featured in the documentary, along with Freeway Ricky Ross, the Godfather of Crack in LA. As hip-hop became increasingly popular, the fascination with crime and gangster culture, specifically the violence inherent in crack culture, became ingrained in the music. And soon the very kids dealing crack were turning their street tales into hit records. After serving hard time in jail, Snoop Dogg became the biggest rapper of his day; after a bullet in the back nearly killed him, B Real went legit with Cypress Hill; and after crafting their business model on the crack hustle, RZA and Raekwon turned the Wu Tang Clan into a hip hop empire. As journalist Cheo Choker reflects, “it’s fascinating to think that Jay Z, a global icon who had better seats at President Obama’s inauguration than Jesse Jackson, was once a New York City crack dealer.” **Premieres Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 10/9c on VH1**
The group formed with five members in 1993 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York with the name Bushwick Bomb Squad. The main members were Q-Unique, D-Stroy, Freestyle, Swel Boogie and Jise One, although the number of members eventually grew to eight. Q-Unique was a member of New York City’s well-known breakdancing crew, the Rock Steady Crew. The group released the single, “The Session”, in 1996, which found airplay on New York radio stations and brought offers from record labels. They signed with the independent label Fondle ‘Em Records and changed their name to the Arsonists. They released their debut album, As the World Burns, in 1999 on Matador Records, an indie rock label that ventured into hip hop music for the release. The album received critical acclaim, but didn’t achieve mainstream commercial success; it reached #78 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
On May 4, 2012, Beastie Boys founding member Adam Yauch died of cancer of the parotid salivary gland. Struck by sad news for the hip hop community, We BTG pay homage and respect to one of hip hop’s record breaking groups, THE BEASTIE BOYS!!! R.I.P MCA!!!
The Beastie Boys are an American hip hop group from Manhattan/Brooklyn, New York City. The group consists of Mike D (Michael Diamond) (vocals, drums), MCA (Adam Yauch) (vocals) and Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz) (vocals, guitar), with Mix Master Mike (Michael Schwartz) (turntablist).
The Beastie Boys formed as a hardcore punk band in 1979, appearing on the compilation cassette New York Thrash before recording their first EP, Polly Wog Stew, in 1982. After achieving moderate local success with the 1983 experimental hip hop 12″ Cooky Puss, the group transitioned to hip hop in 1984 and released a string of successful 12″ singles. The Beastie Boys toured with Madonna in 1985, and a year later released a debut album Licensed to Ill, which went on to win international critical acclaim and become a major commercial success. By 2010, the group had sold 22 million albums in the United States and 40 million albums worldwide, making them, according to Billboard, “the biggest-selling rap group” since 1991.
The Beastie Boys were one of the longest-lived hip hop acts worldwide and they continued to enjoy commercial and critical success more than 25 years after Licensed to Ill. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012, “just the third rap group to enter the Hall, after Run-D.M.C. (2009) and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (2007).”