By: Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire)
Categorization for a historian is like a record collection for a (good) DJ. Grouping together seemingly independent historical events, epochal movements and impactful individuals from, at times, divergent times in human history into definitive eras, context and reverence is the life blood of someone who dedicates their life to understanding history.
That is why Questlove deemed himself a “Hip Hop evolutionist” in his memoir Mo' Meta Blues. That is why he has a theory “that Hip Hop, being a living thing, evolves in five-year cycles.” That’s also why he admitted in his memoir that he viewed Jay Z as the “antichrist to a certain type of Hip Hop” for most of Jay Z’s prime (late 90s). He even admitted “if you’re part of a segment of Hip Hop that wants to be seen as thoughtful and progressive, then you don’t readily admit that you like Jay Z’s The Blueprint."
The historian curse is also why the face of The Roots has mentioned on numerous occasions that Hip Hop died on August 3rd, 1995, the day of The 1995 Source Awards. It's also why Questlove felt that there was an "artistic apartheid" in the seating arrangement in the audience and felt The Roots, Nas, Busta Rhymes and Mobb Deep were seated in the "have-nots of Hip Hop" section. But, if there was TWITTER IN THE 90S, a platform which makes opinions “history” with the click of a button, this Hip Hop evolutionist would have placed too many unruly rappers (Read: animals) in arbitrarily constructed categories(read: cages) with grave consequences.
QUESTLOVE LIVE TWEETS AT THE 1995 SOURCE AWARDS
*SUPERCUT below, for FULL EXTENDED 10-MINUTE VERSION click HERE*
During D'Angelo's 85-minute talk with Red Bull Music Academy in May 2014, Questlove stated that he exited The 1995 Source Awards with his date as John Singleton began his speech about ending the East Coast/West Coast beef before announcing the Producer of the Year awards (to Dr. Dre). According to Questlove, as he and his date exited the premises, someone stopped him and handed him a cassette of D'Angelo's Brown Sugar. If there was TWITTER IN THE 90s and he sent out the tweets in the above video, Puff Daddy and The Bad Boy Family would have made his exit pretty complicated:
NO WAY P. DIDDY CALLS THE BAD BOY GOONS ON QUESTLOVE. WHY WOULD HE EVEN CARE OR APPROACH SOMEONE OF SUCH LOW CELEBRITY AT THE TIME?!
BECAUSE PUFFY USED TO BE A GANGSTER......by association.
Between 1994-1999, the Ciroc-slanging, love song singing Sean Combs you see now had uttered numerous threatening lines on wax (such as “We gon to kill yo ass”) beat up a record executive (Steve Stoute), lost Jennifer Lopez because of a gun he didn’t shoot…and punked Questlove in real life.
Weeks before The Notorious B.I.G.’s March 9th 1997 death, a writer for The Source informed Questlove that B.I.G. did not like The Roots' "What They Do" video, a satirical look on commercial Hip Hop and obvious allusions to Biggie videos. Weeks after Biggie's death, Puffy and about eight “goons” appeared at a Lyricist Lounge show Questlove attended. In a 2011 interview with Pitchfork, Questlove explains exactly how he felt when he realized Puff Daddy and potentially dangerous cousins of The Bad Boy Family were in the building in the only way a historian like Questlove can:
You know the second that Michael Jackson and Ola Ray are surrounded by the zombies in"Thriller"? The camera focuses on her, and then she looks at Michael, and now he's a zombie, and then the camera goes backwards before they go into the dance. Well, that's basically what happened to me. Puffy was in my right peripheral, watching me going crazy the whole time. He was 14 deep with dudes dressed in all-black with black sunglasses. I literally went from, "God damn!" to "Oh, fuck." [laughs] I thought I was done.
Soon after, Puffy demanded having a meeting with Quest backstage and angrily informed him that B.I.G. put Brooklyn onto The Roots and was pissed that they decided to shit on him. He loved Black Thought and wanted to collaborate. Questlove (and an unfortunate barrage of bullets) ended any chance at Black Thought x Notorious B.I.G.
If Questlove sent out his derisive opinions while members of Bad Boy were in attendance instead of a music video with none of Bad Boy around, Puff "you ready to die motherfucker" Daddy would have handled it MUCH different.
But he's not the only person that would have been pissed if there was TWITER IN THE 90S during Questlove's live tweeting of the 1995 Source Awards:
NO WAY NAS CALLS OUT QUESTLOVE OR EVEN USES TWITTER! THEY BOTH MADE CONSCIOUS RAP BACK IN THE EARLY 90S. WHY WOULD HE CALL HIM OUT?
Nas released Illmatic on April 19th, 1994 and his follow up It Was Written on July 2nd, 1996. The 1995 Source Awards was more than a proverbial turning point in the young MC’s burgeoning career, it was almost literally the midpoint in Nas’ evolution from unfiltered, gritty street poet to a more polished artist of international reverence. Nas went from telling the down trodden how “The World Is Yours” to explaining “If I Ruled The World” he would be “freeing all my niggas in Attica, send them to Africa.”
While 40 year old Nas is not the most adept to social media (The Social Network told him to go get his kid, apparently), I’m pretty sure a 40 year old Nas would also not dress like a polyester hipster either but younger Nas rode the mainstream wave:
Also...if you think Nas was cool with the music Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots and other conscious rappers were making and felt they were in the same category...think again...
Check out more episodes of TWITTER IN THE 90s: