Want a comprehensive history and culture lesson on the subject of hip-hop?
I talked to radio personality and R&B artist Miss Jones, who was there when it was booming, rubbed shoulders with all the top New York rappers of the day, and was almost in a pioneering all-female rap group.
She virtually has a Ph.D. about the topic.
“I was the original Pepa,” Miss Jones told me of the iconic girl rap group Salt-N-Pepa on this week’s “Renaissance Man” show.
At the time, Miss Jones, whose real name is Tarsha Jones, was dating a good friend of Salt-N-Pepa producer Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor.
The boys came up with the idea of forming a girl group and played Miss Jones and her friend, Crystal.
“They wrote rhymes for us. We were Salt-N-Pepa. But then, this was like senior year in high school, and everyone’s moms were like, ‘Wait a minute, you’re not telling me you’re not going to college because you’re going to be a rapper. Like, that’s not happening. ”
He went to Syracuse where he studied music.
Hurby found Cheryl James and Sandra Denton, who would become the pioneering Salt-N-Pepa group we know today.
But Miss Jones has done well.
She is now the morning show host on 94.7 the Block, has released a new single, “Calling All Ladies”, and also hosts the female version of the “Drink Champs” podcast called “Pink Champs”.
Not bad for a girl from Astoria.
“Growing up in the ’70s, we didn’t have a lot, but we didn’t realize we didn’t have a lot because no one had a lot. But what we did have a lot of was double the Dutch skills… music, good food, you know, and friendships.”
He learned about rap at age 11 or 12 by listening to “Stretch and Bobbito” who were on a radio station “all the way down the dial.” There she heard early acts like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and the Crash Crew.
“The more my parents yelled, ‘Turn that noise down,’ the more I wanted it,” she said.
And as a girl from Queens, she told us about the origins of the movies Kid ‘n Play and “House Party,” which featured Hurby’s crew, the Turnout Brothers.
“The movie was based on the Turnout Brothers going around East Elmhurst and having parties and getting along in people’s living rooms, performing at these house parties,” he said.
As for Miss Jones’ TV career, she said it happened more out of necessity.
“I just needed a job. I tell people I’ve been an orphan since I was 20, so I didn’t have much of a choice. And when I had the opportunity to do radio, I did it because I needed to eat, ”he said.
“Logs didn’t work and I had to do this. And I said, somehow, I can still stay connected. So I kept doing it.”
She became known for her powerful interviews with hip-hop giants.
And both his career in music and radio have given him a unique, almost academic perspective on hip-hop.
She noted that rap was originally organic and about fighting, not throwing money and champagne in a club.
It was much rawer.
“[Rap was] New York seen through the eyes of young black teenagers who never imagined having a platform. That’s all they had to talk about,” she said.
“They didn’t have money to talk, ‘Oh, my cars or my dogs.’ That was not all.
“They were talking about their reality, not someone else’s reality.
“And I feel like it wasn’t about the money because, again, back then, there was no monetization.
“There was no ‘take these Adidas and we’ll give you $1 million.’ They were wearing it because he was actually part of the wardrobe. Probably affordable… It was his reality.”
She has seen it morph and shift from a Bronx-born storytelling art form with club dance battles to video, fashion and big business.
“Nobody knew there would be platinum records… They just did it because the music was therapeutic,” he said.
As for how the internet, streaming, and podcasts have changed the game, he calls it a “gift and a curse.”
“I don’t like that it’s about likes and followers. Because you can pay for followers… The real thing is lost forever,” she said. “But I like the fact that you can generate streams of income sitting on your butt at home.
“So it’s like a gift and a curse. But I also like artists that I would never have heard on mainstream radio, now I have access online.”
And the thing about Miss Jones, she’s been around the whole trip, and she’s still narrating the culture.
And that’s what you call lasting power.
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the iconoclastic University of Michigan Fab Five, who rocked the world of college basketball in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before becoming a media personality. Rose is an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He was executive producer of “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book “Got To Give the People What They Want,” fashion trendsetter, and co-founder of the Jalen Leadership Academy Rose. , a public charter school in his hometown.