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VAS – 7th Boro Interview

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Long time Philly MC, Vas, has recently dropped his new project, V For Vigoda. Vas’ lyrics are a blend of clever wordplay, combined with smart, witty humor. He more than holds his own lyrically, while also maintaining his glorious sex symbol status as the world’s only known jean shorts model. The album is produced entirely by Ill Clinton (US Natives) and has been several years in the making. V For Vigoda is available now at https://usnatives.bandcamp.com/album/v-for-vigoda
I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Spek27: Who are you?

Vas: My name is Vas (real name, no gimmicks), and I am an MC. I am the son of immigrants (Greek), born in Astoria Queens NY, but raised in Northeast Philly on the wrong side of the Boulevard.

Spek27: Tell us about this project and why it took so long to come out

Vas: At first, it was just my perfectionist tendencies. However, about two years ago I was robbed and shot execution style at point blank range. Luckily, my bodily injuries were mostly cosmetic. That being said, it has taken some time for me to put myself back together mentally, so to speak.

Spek27: What advice would you give to someone for their first time at the Chinese buffet?

Vas: Go for the Gold! If they are serving crab legs, do not pile your plate with filler. Remember, you are trying to maximize your value. Fried rice is a no-no at the buffet. Entrees and up people!

Spek27: Finish this sentence. “I rap better than…”

Vas: The “white guy” in NWA’s posse. (Note: Krazy D is actually Mexican)

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Spek27: In your opinion, what would be the best technique for capturing gypsy tears?

Vas: Gypsy babies are the key. The Thinner curse that will be placed by said baby’s parents better be worth it. The gypsy tears come in handy, but they also come at a price. Just ask the White Man from Town.

Spek27: Give us 3 reasons why people should check out this Vigoda project.

Vas: 1. It’s an honest piece of a 25-year-old Stranger in Strange Land. Honesty and rap don’t always go hand and in hand, and it should be refreshing.

2. It’s hard. Nails. They don’t make shit like this anymore. Ill Clinton painted a perfect industrial booming soundscape for me to curse the world with.
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3. I talk so much shit. SO MUCH FLAGRANT SHIT. And I do it with a style all my own. I have progressed technically, but the evolution of my style was like a Mexican Boxer…always moving forward and smashing everything in sight.

Spek27: Pick any living person to eat a meal with, and why?

Vas: This one is tough. Noam Chomsky. Don’t know much about him other than he is intelligent and really cares about the planet and its people.

Spek27: The entire Vigoda album was produced by Ill Clinton (of Us Natives). How would you describe his music?

Vas: He calls one of his styles AM BAP (i.e. ambient boom bap). He provides that grimey, heavy drum feel to a lot of his sound, which made us quick musical friends. He knows how to get my blood boiling within 2 bars.

Spek27: In 10 words or less, what’s the meaning of life?

Vas: “Life is what you make it.” – Nas. Also watch this video, it always helps me understand. Eric Idle Breaks it down.

Spek27: Last words?

Vas: Outside of, “When I Die Bury Me with the Lo On”? Hmm…ok… No good deed goes unpunished. You want to help this world, you have to carry the weight.

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7th Boro: End of The Year Wrap-up

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So it’s that time of year again when the blog fam gets together to discuss this year in music and choose our album of the year picks. One of the greatest things about the team here at 7th Boro is that we all have one thing in common: The love of hip-hop and the culture. The second best thing? Is that we all have our unique taste in music and what moves us. You won’t find the same music on our blog that you do on other blogs because we only post what WE co-sign. If we’re not feeling something, it just doesn’t make it onto our site. That being said having different taste in music allows us to bring you that dope week after week. We know there are tons of blogs out there that you can get your music from and we really appreciate all the support that our readers have given us! Looking forward to continuing to spread the dope in 2017! Now let’s get to it and peep our picks of the year! Be sure to tell us what you think in the comments. Check it out!
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Sadat X – 7th Boro Interview

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A lot of time has passed since 1990, when Brand Nubian dropped their classic 5 Mic, debut album. Since then, Sadat X has maintained his career through 6 group projects and 11 as a solo artist. That’s 17 albums in 26 years. Also, throughout that time, Sadat collaborated with legends, became a teacher & went to prison. But, most importantly, he remained humble. While most golden age artists struggle with life outside of the limelight, Sadat remained true to himself & true to his music. His latest album, Agua, is available now on Tommy Boy & definitely worth the listen. Peace to the God.

Spek27: So, what did you do today?

Sadat X: Starting to get my school papers together. I wanna have my lesson plans ready. I went to the gym. I listened to my album to be ready for shows. Now I’m on the phone with you.

Spek27: When Brand Nubian first came out, you faced a lot of criticism about being 5 Percenters. Now, fast forward to today, and you have so much 5 Percenter slang built in to hip hop. Most of these kids don’t even realize they’re using it. Words like build or math…

Sadat X: Or peace. That’s all from the Gods. I saw it slowly seep into the culture, which was a good thing. I didn’t expect it, but I’m glad that it did.

Spek27: Are you still a 5 Percenter?

Sadat X: Always. That’s my way of life. I see a lot of guys come in and then they’re eating pork…that means you were never really 5 Percenter if you could do something like that. God is forever. God is infinite. I’ll always be God.

Spek27: Does your career ever conflict with that?

Sadat X: Not really, cause it’s not a thing of hate. Everyone thinks it’s about hating the white people. It’s about loving black people. It never conflicted as far as work goes or doing shows. If you’re in this game long enough, you learn to get along with everybody…white people, black people, Chinese people. It never became a problem like that.

Spek27: You also said some things in your early career that offended people…

Sadat X: It’s crazy, because when I said that back then, “I can freak the fly flow fuck up a faggot” I wasn’t thinking about gay people. I was thinking about somebody that was soft. After I thought about it a couple years later, if I coulda reworded it, I probably would have to be politically correct. But I didn’t mean any offense to gay people at all.

Spek27: What did you think of what Lord Jamar has been saying lately?

Sadat X: That’s my brother and I stand by him. You can agree or disagree with him, but he’s gonna have the facts behind him. So if you disagree, you better have your shit together. Sometimes I don’t agree with everything he says, but that’s my brother. I would say I agree with 90% of what he says.

Spek27: Since Brand Nubian, how do you think you’ve grown, in the industry and as a person?

Sadat X: I’ve definitely become more business savvy. I think I’ve become more compassionate towards people. I can judge every man on his own merit. And I think my music has grown. It’s basically for a different demographic. If I get some young kids, that’s cool. But my music is for people that work an honorable job, they come home, have a beer, and wanna listen to some hip hop. I make music to let them know that’s honorable. That 90% of us can’t stay out on a Tuesday night and pop 15 bottles. We gotta get up for work and keep that ball rolling.

Spek27: You had mainstream fame in the beginning. A lot of artists from your era couldn’t seem to figure out how to adapt and continue their career. You’re still making records, so what did you do different?

Sadat X: I didn’t become bitter. That’s the main thing. A lot of artists became disgruntled and became bitter. They started forgetting that the parents teach the children. I remained in my adult lane. I didn’t try to go backwards. And I stayed a fan of the game. Everyone became the rapper. There wasn’t no fans anymore. I also remembered that you can’t get on somebody for something they don’t know. You have to teach them. If you teach them and they don’t learn, well that’s another story. That’s not their fault. Maybe their parents didn’t play you in the crib. Everybody’s not a fan of you. I see a lot of bitterness in artists my age. These young boys is doing what these young boys do. I had an argument with someone over this Panda kid. Ok, he sounds like Future. If you’re a positive black man and you say that you’re mad cause this young boy who lives in the ghetto made a million dollar record where he can get money and get his family together, then you’re a god damn crab. He’s 19. I’m sure by now he’s heard a million people say he sounds like Future. I’ve seen him, he’s a smart kid. For someone to get mad at him, you’re a crab for that.

Spek27: Being that you came up in the “golden age” of hip hop, how do you feel about the reasons kids get into rap these days?

Sadat X: A lot of my kids at school tell me “Mr. Murphy, I wanna rap”. Why you wanna rap? I wanna make some money. What about the rapping part? Oh, I’ll get that down later. When we came in, you had to be nice to get on the mic. You couldn’t just make a song for YouTube, cause we didn’t have that. You had to be nice and you had to basically be cosigned by someone. Hip hop was a fun time, but it was still dangerous. You still had places like Latin Quarter and Union Square, where you had to be a live dude to perform, or even just to be there. If you any type of jewels, you better be able to hold it down. I seen Kane coming in with 30 / 40 dudes. You had to have back up. I got off track a little, but I came from that type of era. Social media made these kids think that anyone can do this. It’s watered down the art form of it. Not 100%, cause you still have artists that are still very talented and creative. Nowadays everybody either raps or produces or has an artist…everything except being a fan. It’s just not cool to be a fan no more.

Spek27: Are there any new artists out now that you think would have made it back then?

Sadat X: I think Kendrick Lamar would have made it. J. Cole would have made it. I like Schoolboy Q. I like Dave East. There’s so many now I can’t even get a grip on them. My kids at school have kept me up to speed. Last year it was Bobby Shmurda, everyone was shmurda dancing. Now he’s in jail and forgotten about. Now it moves on to like Rich Homie Quan, that’s how fast the turnover rate is.

Spek27: You just mentioned Rich Homie Quan. How do you feel about him not knowing the Biggie lyrics on TV?

Sadat X: That’s a ramification of the game being too easy. That blame goes to VH1 too. It’s too easy, he’s too fly. Yeah, I’ll learn the song, whatever. I tell people, it’s different to know a song and having to perform a song verbatim. I knew Big, and I still woulda gave myself a refresher. I blame the people from VH1 for doing that. Why would you put him on the spot? Did y’all practice with him? To me, that was a slap to Big’s legacy. I woulda rather they got his son to do it. I tell you what though, I bet if he does that again, he’ll learn the song next time.

Spek27: When you were locked up, what was the worst part?

Sadat X: In Riker’s Island…boredom. Having nothing to do. No type of real programs. Just being there. I wasn’t scared about no fights. I didn’t care about none of the other stuff. I wasn’t worried at all. I was in general population with everyone else. It was just boredom and knowing for this time my brain is just rotting away here. Counting hours down ‘til the next day. Then counting them again.

Spek27: How do you feel about prison regarding the lack of actual rehabilitation that they provide?

Sadat X: It’s fucked up man, cause by there being no programs in there, all you’re doing is connecting with people that are gonna be back in the street in 2 or 3 years. Now you’re in there and you ain’t doing shit all day and you’re connecting like “when you get out we can get together and take over“. And then someone else is like “when you two get out, you can get the cocaine from me”. Now you made a drug connection in jail that will probably bring you back to jail at some point. By having no programs, you get connected with the same element that brought you in.

Spek27: When you went to jail, did that have any effect on you, as far as working in the school system?

Sadat X: Hell yeah. Every step of the way. They made me apply and reapply and reapply… every couple of months. Then I make an appeal and that goes on for six months. I work in a charter school. The school is fine with me working there. They know my history. It’s the state of New York. Somebody in upstate New York that probably lives on farmland and knows nothing about the projects is gonna decide I can’t work in a school. They just just pushing paperwork. The school I work at is fighting for me, so hopefully I’ll be able to stay.

Spek27: Getting back to music, you’ve done a lot of features over the years. What were some of your favorites?

Sadat X: One of them was with Biggie, cause we was both in the studio at the same time. Puff was there, Cease was there< my man Spark was there. We were just in there drinking, smoking and having a ball. Another one I was proud of doing was with Jay and Uncle Murda. I was just amazed at the work efficiency of Jay. He called me the day before like I need you to do a chorus on a song I got. Somebody called me that night, said the car was gonna pick me up and go to Virginia. I’m thinking we’re going to LaGuardia or something. We go to Teterboro airport out in New Jersey on Jay’s plane. We fly down there, Pharrell’s already in there, Jay’s working on four songs at one time. He’s going from room to room to room to room. He worked like that continuously for about 8 hours, we get on the plane and head back. But while we’re coming back, he got four songs done. Now that’s work ethic for you. Word up.

Spek27: 50,000 Heads with R.A. The Rugged Man is one of my favorite songs you were featured on. How did that come about?

Sadat X: First of all, R.A. and I are friends. Before this rapping, he’s a friend of mine. We can get together and we ain’t gotta rap. I’ve gotten with him and we just went and drank and rap wasn’t even mentioned. 50,000 Heads was good because he reached out to me at the time and he didn’t think I was gonna get on it. But I was already a fan of his from the song he did with Biggie. I was like hell yeah I’ll get on it. That’s how that came about.

Spek27: What’s your favorite Brand Nubian album?

Sadat X: Probably the first one. There were times we didn’t even have any money to get down to the studio. We might take the metro north train and hide in the bathroom and hope the conductor didn’t come in. Or hope that you could at least make it to Mt. Vernon before they kicked you off. You can walk to New Rochelle to Mt. Vernon in case anything drastic happens. We didn’t have enough money for everyone to get food, so we might of got two cheese steak sandwiches and split it up. Drinking Olde English back then, splitting that. Borrowing somebody’s momma’s car to get to the studio sometimes. Just the grind of it made that album my favorite.

Spek27: Would you agree with me in saying that Grand Puba set the tone for a lot of people’s style back then, but doesn’t get the credit for it?

Sadat X: Oh, definitely. The backpack, the Girbaud jeans, the Lo shirts and the Tommy shirts. You gotta remember, a few years before that, people were wearing costumes on stage. We wore our regular fly shit.

Spek27: For the new album, who do you have on production?

Sadat X: Will Tell, DJ Scratch, Easy Mo Bee, Diamond, Pete Rock, Nic Wiz, Evil D from the Beatminerz, I got a couple people on there.

Spek27: Why should people check out this new album?

Sadat X: Just for the fact that I’m still here. 80% of the people from my time are no longer rapping. So just me still being here talking about it, should be enough. Coming from a group that had a 5 mic album in The Source, so I know a little about this game.

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Spanglish Hip Hop – The Best of Both Idiomas

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For those who don’t know what Spanglish is…..it’s a combination of Spanish and English in the same sentence or conversation. It’s used when a person isn’t sure how to pronounce a word in English or vice versa. Sometimes it’s used just for the hell of it. There are a few Hip Hop tracks that utilize the Spanglish language and do a great job of it. MC’s like Tony Touch, Thirstin’ Howl, and Chino Xl have mastered the art of Spanglish rap. Here are a few of my favorite cuts. Let me know which are your favorites or if I should add some.

First on the list is “Se Acabo” by the Beatnuts. This track flips both languages lovely. Magic Juan and Swinger did their thing on this too. Listen.

Next we have the Diaz Brothers. Doo Wop and Tony Touch (master of the Spanglish flow) dropped this joint on the first Piecemaker album. Spanglish at it’s best.

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Gore Elohim (p/k/a Goretex) – 7th Boro Interview

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I’ve been a fan of Non Phixion since 1996. That’s 20 years (wow, I feel old). A lot has happened to the group in that time. Losing group members, losing major label record deals and eventually an ugly breakup 2006. But what they’ll always have is their debut (and only) album. Considered an underground classic, The Future Is Now was something special. There was no weak link when it came to lyrics. Each mc held their own while providing a sophisticated contrast to each other’s style. All three members (Ill Bill, Sabac, Gortex) went on to release solo albums before, and following, the break up. While some of their solo work stood tall on its own, I always felt there was something missing. Recently, to the elation of many, Non Phixion has decided to give the fans what they’ve been wanting for over a decade. I caught up with Gore Elohim (p/k/a Gortex) to discuss the past and hopefully the future. continue

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Awkword: 7th Boro Interview

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A few years ago I came upon artist Awkword when he released his project World View, an incredibly dope album that was the first of it’s kind. World View  included contributions from different artists, singers, and producers, spanning six continents and sixteen countries, uniting hip-hop on a global scale . Even more impressive, all proceeds from the album are donated to the non-profit organization, Guns 4 Cameras. The more I learned about Awkword, from his work in philanthropy as well as his notable catalog, the more impressed I became with him. I had the opportunity to speak with him about hip-hop, his charity work and his upcoming albums. Join as we delve into the mind of the 34 year old emcee, who is wise beyond his years. Check it out!

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Masta Ace – 7th Boro Interview @MastaAce

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Growing up, I was a huge fan of Hip Hop. I used to put on my headphones and just get lost in the music. My older brother would sometimes throw some vinyl on and do mixathons as we’d call them. One artist that my brother had in constant rotation was Masta Ace. My brother put me on to Ace’s Sittin’ On Chrome and Slaughtahouse albums. I loved those two projects. The rhymes and the beats were definitely Toyota Corolla subwoofer ready! (Yes…I’m Puerto Rican!) In 2001 Ace dropped his classic Disposable Arts album. This album was great because the beats and rhymes were on point but there was also a concept behind it. This was 15 years ago. We are now in 2016 and Ace is still making good music. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Masta Ace during his tour European Tour.

Stroy: Ace, I’d like to thank you for taking time out to do this interview.

Ace: No doubt! Thank you for the opportunity. 

Stroy: What motivated you to start rhyming? Was there a moment when you were like, “Yo! this is what I want to do.”? 

Ace: I started rhyming to make our tapes better. Back in the late 70’s early 80’s we were making instrumental DJ tapes. We were listening to tapes from the different boroughs and decided to make them more interesting. I decided to add lyrics to those tapes and that’s how it all started.

Stroy: Listening to your music over the years, I notice that you put a lot of emotion into your music. Where do you pull your inspiration from?

Ace: I pull my inspiration from life and people that I grew up around. I’m a very nostalgic person. I have memories from my life and I pull from those memories. 

Stroy: Out of the projects that you’ve dropped, Is there a favorite and why?

Ace: My favorite is Disposable Arts. The reason is because when I made that record I felt as if it was the end of the line. When I went into the studio, I went in and made this record that would let me leave the game on my own terms. So I went in and made this record not knowing that it would single handedly extend my career going on 15 years now. If Disposable Arts never came out, these projects after 2001 would have never came out.  continue

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7th Boro Writer Spotlight: Label Grafik

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In this installment of the 7th Boro Writer Spotlight, I had the opportunity to kick it with New Jersey’s own Label Grafik. If you’re not familiar with Label, he’s a graff artist/photographer out of Perth Amboy, N.J. who is nice when it comes to writing. I grew up in the same city as Label so I’m very familiar with his work. One of the first pieces that got me interested in Label’s artwork was a drawing of classic Hip Hop 90’s tapes. Being a fan of the music, I was instantly drawn toward that piece.

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Before we get started Label, I just wanted to thank you for taking time out to do this interview with the 7th Boro.

Stroy: What/Who inspired you to become an artist?

Label: I started messing around with graffiti lettering back in “1992” due to being a young hip hop head. When I first came across the music video of The Artifacts “Wrong side of the Tracks” in the summer of “1994” who fully inspired me to get better in this craft. I met Jersey Joe aka Rime in “1998” who is huge in the graff scene helped me increase my skill and style that I have today. With out Artifacts and Rime there will be no Label Grafik. continue

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Eff Yoo & Rediculus : 7th Boro Interview

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If you are unfamiliar with Queens emcee Eff Yoo then I suggest you get educated. Blessed with having an ill catalog with projects like Legend of the Gnome Sword with Golden Child, Bodega Businessman, They Came On Horseback with Godilla, Papa Dios and now his latest The Eff Word, he appeals to fans of hip-hop everywhere. With his smooth delivery and clever word-play I honestly can say there isn’t a track that he has touched that I couldn’t fuck with.

With each new album Eff continues to show growth and tenacity, constantly reinventing himself and surprising fans. With his latest effort The Eff Word I think he has clearly defined who he is as an artist. As Eff himself has said the album’s concept is simple… it’s a glimpse into the mind of him. It’s an equal mix of intelligence, street, storytelling and straight up griminess. Exactly how I like it.

Eff Yoo is also is a member of one of my favorite squads around, Broken Home and an affiliate of Elite Squad and has many collaborations with the other members. Seriously this man never takes a break. He is steady putting out music which as a fan I appreciate. When he’s not rhyming he’s teaching life lessons and being extremely hilarious which can be seen in his web series “Don’t Be a Piece of Shit Your Whole Life”.

Eff Yoo is set to drop The Eff Word on April 21st and I had the opportunity to speak with him and his producer for the project Rediculus.

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Spotlight #3: Wisconsin

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Spotlight: Wisconsin
What’s the first thing you think of when you think of the Wisconsin music scene? If you said rock, then you’re not alone. But I’m here to change your mind. When you think of Wisconsin I want you to think of hip-hop. I will admit I honestly didn’t think that I would get as many dope emcees out of Wisconsin that I did until I started this spotlight piece. I knew of two. Father Focus Confucius who is a member of a collective I am a huge fan of, Dead Rabbits, and Taiyamo Denku who I first got familiar with because of his dope catalog and the number of artists I am a fan of, who have featured on his songs and co-sign him. I know what you purists are thinking…But they’re mid-west! Everything is going to be trap right? Absolutely not. Turns out there are some real ill emcees that rep the state famous for its cheese. So many in fact that I may have do a spotlight Wisconsin Part 2. So sit back and let us introduce you to some dope.
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7th Boro Writer Spotlight: Relm 1

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As you guys know hip-hop is more than just emceeing. One of the elements of hip-hop that doesn’t get the shine it deserves is the art that is graffiti. Graffiti, as we have come to know emerged in the 1960s, started as a protest tool to leave messages to the people. Then in the 70s the emergence of tagging, using your Graff signature to create a piece became prevalent. Some say that it can be traced to a single source, Taki 183. If you’re unfamiliar Taki 183, was a messenger who lived on 183rd street in Washington Heights, hence the 183. Wherever he went he would use a marker and write his tag {name) at subway stations and on subway cars, both inside and out. Writers started mimicking him and the trend was born. When I was living in Brooklyn I partook in some writing myself. In fact my first tattoo was my tag.

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Then came the use of spray paint instead of markers, especially on more intricate pieces. Thus began the period of Style Wars. Many would have you believe that graffiti is gang related. While there was an emergence of crews it was rarely violent. Crews were formed to look out for one another, to work together on larger pieces or to look out for authority figures. Older writers took on younger ‘interns’ to teach them their style. At one point gangs did adopt the practice of tagging to mark territory but yeah I’m not getting into that. We’re here to talk about the culture. So how exactly did graffiti become known as one of the elements of hip-hop?

To understand that you would have to understand the history of hip-hop itself. It started out at block parties. But early hip-hop days where music brought us together, was in essence a big show. While emceeing and DJing repped the music side of things, b-boying showcased dance and graffiti supplied the visual. It was not unusual to see all the elements simultaneously at one of these block parties. Someone spitting while a DJ did his thing, while there was a dance off and a writer was working on a wall piece. This is why hip-hop is all these things. In the early days of hip-hop it wasn’t uncommon for an emcee to also be a writer or a b-boy or some mix, it was all intertwined. It made sense that graffiti became an essential element to the hip-hop culture.

We here at 7thBoro celebrate all the elements of hip-hop. So we have decided to bring to you a new Sunday series. For the next few months we are going to highlight a different writer. Some local, some known. All with a common goal. So sit back and get to know our first writer: Relm1

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