Rapper and TV host Dee Barnes seems again on 50 years of hip-hop : NPR



THE SUGARHILL GANG: (Rapping) I stated a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie, to the hip hip hop, you do not cease the rock.


It began at block events within the Bronx, and it grew into a world power. We’re speaking about hip-hop. It has now been round for 50 years. And my subsequent visitor had a tremendous vantage level the place she watched it bloom.

DEE BARNES: They stated it was going to be a fad. It wasn’t right here to remain.

MARTIN: In 1989, Dee Barnes was employed to host a rap present for the brand-new Fox Community. It was referred to as “Pump It Up!” It grew to become a vital launching pad for a number of the foundational voices of hip-hop.


BARNES: Yo, that is the person proper right here – Ice Dice of NWA.

How did y’all change into the Ghetto Boys?

So how is the L.L. Cool J of at the moment?

Again proper right here on “Pump It Up!” with De La Soul.

We acquired Naughty by Nature from the soundtrack “Juice.”


MARTIN: However one of many artists she interviewed violently assaulted her. Dee Barnes pressed costs, and she or he says that successfully ended her profession. Extra on that in a second. However first, let’s return to when Barnes first fell in love with hip-hop. She grew up in New York Metropolis as rap was taking on. She’d hear teams of older children working towards within the park.

BARNES: And I used to be like, you realize, what is going on on over there? I might see the little circle and the beatbox and, you realize, poetry – I believed it was simply poetry at first. However then I began to appreciate these had been traces that they had been doing to a music. And that is when it hit me, you realize, I wished to be a part of that.

MARTIN: How did you get to carry out? Was it primarily, like, within the park?

BARNES: For me, for my technology particularly, it was the curler skating rink. All of us went on, you realize, Fridays and Saturdays. I bear in mind particularly we’d see really teams that may come carry out. One in every of my earliest recollections of that may be Davy D. I do not know should you bear in mind Davy D – one for the treble, two for the bass. Come on, Davy D, let’s rock this place.

MARTIN: Oh, my gosh.

BARNES: Keep in mind that?


DAVY DMX: (Rapping) One for the treble, two for the bass. Come on, Davy D, let’s rock this place.

MARTIN: Dee Barnes took that inspiration to the West Coast. She went to California after highschool, and along with her good friend Rose Hutchinson, she shaped a duo referred to as Physique and Soul.


BODY AND SOUL: (Rapping) Come on, slightly physique in your soul so as to add to the remainder, as much as your soul to maintain your physique in step. A mix of hip-hop, pumping and nonstop, giving the group a notion for many of at the moment’s rock.

MARTIN: Physique and Soul made a document, nevertheless it was by no means launched. They discovered themselves at an deadlock with their recording label over artistic management.

BARNES: Their definition of what girls ought to be, ought to appear to be – the title of the group was Physique and Soul. They wished us to be extra physique than soul.

MARTIN: You had been so younger, I’ve to…


MARTIN: …Level out. You had been simply – what? – barely in your teenagers. I am sorry. I am not going to name you out.

BARNES: Yeah. No, it is true.

MARTIN: Did you even have the language to say – you realize, now we’d name it the male gaze – that you really want…

BARNES: Proper.

MARTIN: …To create artwork for the male gaze. We need to create artwork that expresses who we’re.

BARNES: We had been all concerning the, you realize, the upliftment of our folks, (laughter) and so they referred to as us radical. And we had been…

MARTIN: So what did they need you to rap about – intercourse?

BARNES: Sure, subliminally.

MARTIN: Intercourse, relationships, however not politics.

BARNES: Intercourse, relationships and perhaps heartbreak. And we had been like, that is not what girls are about.

MARTIN: That is not what’s on our minds proper now, or that is not all that girls are about.

BARNES: Precisely.

MARTIN: In the course of all that, Fox provided Dee Barnes the chance to strive her hand at TV. So on the age of 19, she accepted the job as host of “Pump It Up!”


UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST: (Rapping) Come on, pump it up. Come on.

MARTIN: She says she noticed it as extra than simply an interview program.

BARNES: I used to be like, man, that is a part of the motion. Now I am of age the place I can, you realize, document our historical past. I believe it additionally has to do with me with the community-based upbringing – you realize, like Black Panthers, you realize what I imply? Like, we give again to the neighborhood. I simply was like, I acquired to doc this.

MARTIN: What are a number of the people you interviewed? Is there anyone from again within the day who you suppose did not get their due, who ought to have been larger?

BARNES: Oh, there’s so many (laughter) and particularly girls particularly. And often everyone simply mentions the boys. However the girls had been proper on the market. And I am speaking girls like, you realize, MC Sha-Rock, MC Debbie D, Lisa Lee…


DEBBIE D, SHA-ROCK AND LISA LEE: (Rapping) Subtle is the girl Lisa Lee. To be the person in my life, you bought to be my solely.

BARNES: …The Mercedes Women, The Sequence, you realize? I imply, there’s so many, so many, so many.


DEBBIE D, SHA-ROCK AND LISA LEE: (Rapping) Us women can boogie too.

MARTIN: So I do not need to dwell on it, however I do really feel I’ve to ask a couple of ache level. When – effectively publicized on the time, Dr. Dre attacked you at a celebration, bodily attacked you and also you pressed costs. He pleaded no contest. He paid a effective. However do you suppose this got here to overshadow your profession?

BARNES: I positively really feel prefer it overshadowed my profession. And I am not nearly that trauma. However any girl that speaks up about any trauma, to any hurt that is been achieved to her, particularly Black girls – you realize, Malcolm X stated it greatest. We’re essentially the most disrespected, essentially the most unprotected, essentially the most uncared for in America, you realize?

MARTIN: Do you suppose it is since you pressed costs that it had such a robust impression in your profession, or do you suppose it is simply the truth that you stood up for your self?

BARNES: I believe it is each. I used to be uniquely punished, you realize, as a result of, you realize, you are not speculated to snitch. You are not supposed to speak to the police. That is like Hood 101. However on the identical time, if I did not do one thing, I felt like, you realize, the following sufferer wouldn’t be as fortunate. And that is actually a horrible selection of phrases, as a result of I used to be not fortunate – perhaps fortunate within the sense that I did not die that evening.

MARTIN: We’re talking now within the wake of the #MeToo motion and different highly effective people who’ve been delivered to account for his or her conduct. Do you suppose that the end result can be the identical, that your profession can be so derailed due to it?

BARNES: I am unsure. Girls appear to nonetheless not be believed. We simply had Megan Thee Stallion who was shot, you realize, may have died, and she or he was dragged via the mud, so to talk, from her friends and from, you realize, the general public. Not believed, not protected – how has issues modified? I do not know. You already know, she did get justice so far as you realize, Tory’s in jail for his crime. I didn’t have that.


BARNES: You already know what I imply? After which it was a matter of who was making essentially the most cash on the time. And so individuals are going to aspect with the cash. In order the alternatives saved coming for this one, alternatives had been pulled away from me. It’s a actual factor after they say you may by no means work on this city once more.


MARTIN: That’s Dee Barnes. Because the host of the favored TV present “Pump It Up!” she chronicled the rise of hip-hop within the late ’80s and early ’90s. Dee Barnes, thanks a lot for speaking with us at the moment.

BARNES: Thanks for having me. It was nice. All proper. Shout out to everyone.



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