I was pleasantly surprised upon finding that the Reader had taken the time to review a hip-hop concert [Rock Etc., August 25]. However, my surprise quickly turned to disgust when it became apparent that the writer sent to cover the concert knew nothing about hip-hop. Whoever thinks that the Pharcyde revolutionized hip-hop subject matter has absolutely no knowledge of the history or evolution of the music. Rosalind Cummings should refer to the late 70s when the Cold Crush Crew, Treacherous 3 and other non-"nihilistic" and "violent" hip-hop groups were the norm. In other words, in the 20 years since Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc began rockin' hip-hop in the parks of the South Bronx there have been countless groups who have covered a wide variation of themes. I'm pleased that you are giving hip-hop respect by giving it space in your paper but please make sure that the writers you assign to cover the music understand and respect the music from a proper historical and cultural perspective. Thank you.
Rosalind Cummings replies:
I'm afraid that you misunderstood my review. I never said that the Pharcyde revolutionized hip-hop. I said that in the face of predominantly violent and nihilistic lyrics, theirs were innovative and fresh. The Crush Crew and Treacherous 3 were indeed revolutionary--they were the forerunners of a musical form that was dismissed as a novelty during the time they helped create it--and Afrika Bambaataa and his Zulu Nation preached positive lyrics way before hip-hop lyrics became violent. But since we're in the 90s, I prefer to look to current groups and lyrics for comparison.