Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Hip Hop was in full swing. The sounds out of NYC and L.A. were some of the early impactful influences on this force behind this musical and cultural movement. We were, as they would say now, “woke” with the sounds and political statements pumped into our souls by Hip Hop. Before the internet was in full swing, before instant downloads and YouTube views, the best way to get new music was from purchasing a mixtape. Mixtapes to me were miniature clubs in a box where you could experience DJ’s spinning the latest tunes.
Living in Richmond, VA back in the day we really didn’t have a lot of access to out of state mixtapes but we did from time to time get our hands on a few. Some of my favorite mixtape DJ’s included DJ Ramon (RVA), DJ Clue, DJ S&S, DJ Juice and Kid Capri. So when you got your hands on a hot mixtape, you had something exclusive that all of your boys were trying to hold and/or dub the cassette.
Back then I had a hookup with one of my partners who was stationed in Boston and he pretty much came home about once a month with every mixtape he could get his hands on. So naturally, when he came back we all got up and listened to some of the hottest DJ’s at the time. In many of those sessions, I in particular, liked the R&B acappellas with the Hip Hop breaks. They took old tracks that our parents use to play around the house, at cookouts, and in the car and gave them life with the new sounds of the streets.
This fusion of R&B and Hip Hop breaks was something that caught the ears of up and coming producers back then and in return, they created a sub-genre of R&B where the artist used hard-hitting Hip Hop breaks and combined them with smooth R&B vocals. These artists include Mary J. Blige, Brandi, Soul II Soul, Faith Evans, Jodeci and many others who brought that street sound to R&B. that hustle of mixtapes that DJ’s used for exposure, to earn money on the streets or to promote up and coming artist, created an impact on the music culture that can still be found and heard today.
Recently Kid Capri was spinning a set at the Indiana Black Expo when unexpectedly he saw that the legendary Stephanie Mills was in attendance. Now if you know mixtape history, you know that Kid Capri dropped a mash-up of Stephanie Mills “Something in the Way” & Honeydrippers “Impeach the President” (1989) back in the day, and this was one of the origins of Hip Hop R&B blends.