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Hip-Hop News: Ol Skool Hip Hop Bridging The Gap
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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
3/26/2004 9:28:59 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include De La Soul.

William McLean shrugs at the hip-hop on South Beach, the manufactured ''R&B thugs'' who rap about expensive champagne, violence and conquering women.

McLean shrugs because he knows another hip-hop. What he considers a better hip-hop.

As half of the critically acclaimed duo Black Sheep in the early 1990s, McLean -- whose stage name is Mista Long -- belongs to a genre that exuded a positive vibe, more break dancing than beefs with other rappers.

McLean is one of several pioneering artists originally from New York who slipped off the American mainstream radar and moved to South Florida to enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere. And they are hoping to infuse doses of old-school creativity into a local hip-hop scene often derided by critics as pop heavy and artistically stagnant.

McLean, Nathaniel Hall -- known on stage as Afrika of the Jungle Brothers -- and Miami's break dance godfather, Richard ''Speedy Legs'' Fernandez, will perform tonight at an event dubbed Bridging the Gap.

It's aimed at building relationships between old-school and new.

OVERSHADOWED

They'll join more recent South Florida artists who shun the bling-bling mentality but are often overshadowed by the rappers, and their entourages, who flock to South Beach for video shoots and to party.

Tonight's event will be the first in a series of Bridging the Gap events.

''I like the whole concept of old-school pioneers working with artists who don't have as many years under their belts,'' Hall said. ``It's a way to see how it's done after you've been doing it for a while.''

Said McLean: ``People started glorifying the wrong things -- the money, the drugs, all that. That's what became popular. My era -- that's what I want to re-create.''

McLean's era is a far cry from the flashy hip-hop that has become increasingly etched into today's mainstream pop culture.

Back in the late 1980s and early '90s, Black Sheep and Jungle Brothers joined groups such as A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul under a loose umbrella of artists dubbed Native Tongues. They embraced a more intellectual, upbeat style that incorporated eclectic beats and shied away from the hard-core rap steadily gaining in popularity.

STILL ACTIVE

Today, Black Sheep and Jungle Brothers still produce music, tour and enjoy a vibrant following, especially overseas.

Their heyday in hip-hop influenced MC and producer Seth Schere, who used to charge friends a quarter to show off his break-dancing skills as a kid growing up in Kendall. Schere, who is organizing the event, listened to Jungle Brothers and Black Sheep.

By the late 1990s, Schere and his group, Plan Bee, had progressed enough to open for respected (although nongangsta) hip-hop acts such as Positive K, Fu-Schnickens and Das EFX when they stopped in Florida.

Still, Schere's vibe never mustered much interest in his native Miami, where hip-hop was known mostly for bass-driven, and sometimes raunchy, acts like Luther Campbell and Trick Daddy.

As the genre has grown in stature in South Florida, Schere -- whose stage name is Brimstone127 -- felt frustrated by his music's lackluster reception here. Most of his fans were out of state or overseas.

Then last year, Schere met McLean of Black Sheep, who had recently moved to Broward County from North Carolina to be with his wife. Schere peppered him with questions about the early days.

BEGAN WORKING

He began introducing McLean, 33, to local DJs, promoters and lyricists, and the two began working on tracks together.

A few months later, Schere met Hall, of the Jungle Brothers, at a hip-hop conference; they, too, began working together.

Like many a New Yorker, Hall, 33, had moved to South Florida to escape the cold and bustle of the city.

Schere now had two hip-hop pioneers as invaluable resources.

''I was almost ready to quit. I thou

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