“This year, we went straight to the essence of hip-hop. I started in Harlem and in the ’70s with DJ Hollywood,” Devastating Tito, creator of the Team Fearless Hip-Hop Honors PT IV, told the AmNews. Tito, a member of the rap group Fearless Four from Harlem New York, made their mark in 1982 with the hit single “Rockin It.” “The program represented three decades of hip-hop, the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” he noted.
Those who filled the Mason Hall at Baruch College this past weekend were treated to some vintage rap, as some of the pioneers responsible for what we know now as hip-hop performed. Rap legend Grandmaster Caz and Tito hosted the ceremony.
DJ B. Fats presented the first award to DJ Hollywood, whose history as a DJ dates back to the early ’70s. It was a pleasurable throwback to the days of disco, Hop Peas and Butter and Woolworth department stores. “Tonight, it honors me to take it back to the beginning,” said B. Fats. “The original godfather of hip-hop, the blueprint of originators. From 1971 to the present, he is still getting it in.”
Rapper Spooney Gee and Cheryl the Pearl (Sequence) rounded out the ’70s when they received their awards. Then it was on to the ’80s, and awards were presented to MC Sha Rock (Funky Four plus One), Kool DJ AJ, Sweet Tee and the group Super Lover Cee and Casanova Rud.
DJ Mel Starr, DJ Echo and DJ Quick entertained the crowd in between presentations and performances. Hakim Green (Channel Live), Freedom Williams, Nice and Smooth Black Rob, Chubb Rock and Dres (Black Sheep) were among the award winners who represented the ’90s.
“Tears fell from my face today. I am honored to be here,” Andres “Dres” Titus told the AmNews. He and William “Mista Lawnge” McLean make up the rap duo from Queens better known as “Black Sheep.” Their album “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” is considered one of hip-hop’s classics. “I am like a kid in the park,” he continued. “It’s amazing. A lot of these cats were before me. There weren’t many videos of them, so I am putting the faces to the record for the first time.”
Titus emphasized that hip-hoop culture has been a useful platform, responsible for advocating for different social political issues like gay rights, Black rights and matters that adversely affect hip-hop culture, but he said that it doesn’t address ageism among its ranks. He feels that today’s rappers should do more to represent our hip-hop pioneers.
“This is what hip-hop is. This is where it spawns from,” Titus noted. “Our kids need to know and embrace our history.”
Team Fearless Honors wouldn’t be complete without a surprise guest and some social commentary. Public Enemy’s Chuck D came from Spike Lee’s block party to pay homage to hip-hop and speak on the lack of integrity in urban radio and how executives in the industry delegitimize the fact that New York is the birth place of hip-hop.
“First, I salute these hip-hop gods,” Chuck D said, referring to the honorees. Then the rap superstar expressed his dissatisfaction with the state of rap and radio stations that play the music and brand themselves with it.
“We have to fight to eliminate the urban business model that portrays an image that says they represent people in our community but are not responsible for the culture that they claim to have a home for,” he said.
For the most part, the evening celebrated a genre of music that is represented all over the world and was created from the innovative ways inner-city kids entertained themselves.
“Devastating Tito is like a brother to me. I have always admired his grind,” said Mikey Destruction, co-sponsor of the event and member of the group Elements of Hip-Hop. “Every year the event gets bigger. This is the best award show because it’s peers recognizing peers, unsung heroes getting their due.”