Sirius Satellite Radio: Bring Back “Backspin” — Old School Rap

A while back, Sirius Satellite Radio canned “Backspin,” its old-school Hip Hop station.  Sirius hasn’t been the same since.  I know they still play some of the old songs on other hip-hop channels at Sirius, but it isn’t the same.  The only justification I can think of is that Sirius wanted to unload salaries of deejays such as former rappers Kurtis Blow and Dana Dane, but they still could have had someone else play the tunes.  Secondly, maybe they came under some criticism for Gangster Rap, but Backspin played stuff from the 80s through the 90s, so there was some Gangster Rap after that that wasn’t in their playlists.  They could have easily taken out songs that had offensive lyrics.  I personally would agree with that because there were some songs by Snoop Dog, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre that I did think were unacceptable.  But for the most part, that was only a small segment of the music they played on Backspin, which in fact harkened back to a more fun style of music.

There were the songs that helped start the rap genre – “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang and “The Message” by Grand Master Flash.  I’ll never forget when I first heard “Rapper’s Delight.”  It was amazing – a totally new type of music.  I had never heard anything like it before.  Who can forget the “King of Rock” by Run DMC, which fused rap with guitars?  There were militant rappers such as Public Enemy, possibly the greatest rap group of all time, and rap artists who told stories or were educational like KRS-One/Boogie Down Productions.  Try these lyrics on for size from BDP’s “You Must Learn.”

You must learn. I believe that if you’re teaching history

Filled with straight-up facts, no mystery
Teach the student what needs to be taught
‘Cause black and white kids both take shots
When one doesn’t know about the other one’s culture
Ignorance swoops down like a vulture
‘Cause you don’t know that you ain’t just a janitor
No one told you about Benjamin Banneker

Can’t you see where KRS is coming at
With Eli Whitney, Haile Selassie
Grand Bill Woods made the walkie-talkie
Lewis Latterman improved on Edison
Charles Drew did a lot for medicine
Garrett Morgan made the traffic lights
Harriet Tubman freed the slaves at night

Ice-T’s songs were parodies and served as warnings to kids not to live certain lifestyles. There were fun songs such as Biz Markie’s “Nobody Beats the Biz,” and Kurtis Blow’s “Basketball.”  Check it out:

Bill Russell didn’t take no junk
and Darryl Dawkins got a monster dunk
Tell me, were you in the joint?
The night Wilt scored 100 points
Or when Celtics won titles back-to-back
And didn’t give nobody, no kind of slack
Or when Dr. J shook the whole damn team
With moves that came right out of a dream
Or when, Willis Reed stood so tall
Playing D with desire, it’s Basketball

They’re playing Basketball
We love that Basketball
They’re playing Basketball
We love that Basketball

How about reflective anthems like “Old School” or “Dear Mama” by Tupac?

More fun stuff like Eric B. and Rakim’s “Paid in Full” or “La Di Da Di” by Doug E. Fresh. There were artists that changed music like De La Soul, a Tribe Called Quest, and Arrested Development.  How about “911 is a Joke,” a song by Public Enemy that is funny but also chronicled the problems that ambulances had in responding to problems in poor neighborhoods?  “I’m Bad” or “Don’t Call It a Comeback” by L.L. Cool J.

The music was fun, it had the roots of Hip Hop, and Sirius should bring back Backspin.

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