HIP HOP'S UNSUNG ROOTS (ITALIAN-AMERICAN LOVE) PART IIOkay, so yesterday I was talking to Jonathan "Gotti" Bonanno, one of my only esteemed colleagues from the Source days. We always talk about some hood shit, but at some point, no matter how short our convo, the talk always turns to food. Italian food to be exact. He said he'd just eaten a full meal, and now I was making him hungry again. So after we got off the phone, just to piss him off, I emailed him "Gotti please bring your ass out here so I can make U a Lasagne with turkey sausage, some Eggplant Parmigian, an Ensalada Mista, and a full-on Antipasti platter...okay? U know i make Pizza dough and Foccacia from scrizzatch too, don't U?? Plus I do dessert, what the fuck U thought? My fresh strawberry tart with almond crust ain't no joke Nigga."
Then there's another thing. The hips. Martin Scorcese said he cast Cybill Shephard in Taxi Driver because she had wide hips and a big ass, and he wanted to do a scene with her walkin away from the camera in a white dress, a wide shot (true story! I read it in her autobiography.). Since I'm saving up for a trip to Trashy Lingerie, I took the liberty of taking my measurements last night...and they ain't nothin' nice. 44 chest, 38 waist, 50 hips. Whoa. Last night I was trying to squeeze past El Jefe without bumping into him, but fuck it, to no avail, the damn hips bumped all into his shit.
Finally, the hair. What do Italian girls and Black girls and Cholas have in common? We all have to change our hair cut, style, color, accessories, etc. more than once a day. We have no problem with trying new colors, or putting in pieces, or ponytails, or falls. As a matter of fact, we relish that changing-the-hair shit. Let's not forget long, garish nails. We fucken love that shit. And how about some VERY creative cosmetic applications? Yes, we rock those all day.
So you see from the flicks above that a) Italians, Italian-Americans, and particularly African-Italian-Americans are some fine m'fuckas. I mean, we're talking fucken beautiful here. and b) Obviously some Black people done fell in love with some Italian people and made some damn pretty babies. DeNiro only dates Black women, and why not?
So of course, after food, and hair, and fucking, we have Hip Hop. After running into this B-Boy and Graf artist from Italy name Maurizio whom I worked with briefly at Ecko, and of course talkin to Gotti, and thinkin' about my good friend David Doppler - a Sicilian/Italian man unfortunately incarcerated in Stillwater Correctional who I count as one of the illest niggas I know - and of course after having Muggs tell me "Oh, she talks with her hands! I'm from New York, I'm Italian, I love that shit!" recently; I started thinking about Ernie Paniccioli, the most esteemed and O.G. Hip Hop photographer on the planet who is Native American and Italian. And the beautiful Alicia Keys, and Mya, and Dondi White, and Giancarlo Esposito, and Bizzy Bone; who are all African-American and Italian. And of course I thought of Kaves of Lordz of Brooklyn; and SEEN2 - an Italian-American Graffiti legend - hands down. I forgot Domino from Hieroglyphics at first, 'til a friend reminded me, so I just added some flicks of him above...
So the flicks speak for themselves, and here's some links to go with them, in case you're interested. When I finally hook up with BLEN ONE TDS/Time Machine Squad from Puerto Rico to finish my HIP HOP tattoo, I'd been planning to have him add some flags around the border - Red/Black/Green, Universal Zulu Nation, 5% Nation of Gods & Earths, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, American, and now, come to think of it, Italian.
I know I be rambling, but this is basically my diary, so if U don't like it, eat a dick, don't read the shit, and go fuck off somewheres. I wish I had a scanner so I could put up the photos of my Granny when she was in her 20s and 30s - she was the most incredibly beautiful woman with the most immaculate visage I've seen to this day. And thank my lucky stars I came out with this face - Lord knows 99% of the time it's what gets me up in the place. So just remember two things about Hip Hop...it comes in every size, shape, color, nationality, ethnicity, and race.
AND IT CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP, DON'T STOP.
Hip Hop from the Italian Diaspora
Excerpted here for your info...
"Read about my October 2002 symposium, "Eye-Talian Flava: The Italian American Presence in Hip Hop" Graffiti The interracial character of NYC subway art was noted by informed journalists and graf historians. But it's not usually noted that Italian Americans played a role in early grafitti: Richard "Seen" Mirando was the "legendary whole car king of the 6 line" who bombed with the United Artists during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Comet was an early member of the famed Crazy 5 that dominated the IRT 2 and 5 lines. The Comet and Blade partnership was a formidable force during the late 1970s. Legendary writer Dondi's (1961-1998) mom was Sicilian. Others include: Billy 167 of Slick, Inc., Boots 167 of Mission Graffiti, BOOTS 119, CAV of the Subway Vandals, COOK-2, DEE, FANE aka PI-2, FUZZ-1, John 150, KIRS, KZ, RISCO, ROCKY-1, SAR-1, SHARK, SI-1, SIKE, TEAR-2, TEK aka SIKO, and VINNY. DJs Brooklyn-born pioneer Francis Grasso (R.I.P.) helped establish the artistry of turntablism in the late 1960s. Check out Neil Strauss’s New York Times 2001 obituary. Queens-born DJ Muggs/Lawrence Muggerud (photo) is Cypress Hill's Italian connection. DJ Kid Capri (photo) aka David Anthony Love is half Italian and half African American. DJ Skribble (Scott Ialacci) has his own show, Global Groove, MTV's only internationally-aired progam. His 1997 debut release, DJ Skribble's Traffic Jams, featured Lauryn Hill, LL Cool J, and Mary J. Blige. Skribble's latest compilation is Traffic Jams 2000. DJ Luciano's CD mixes include Boat Drink, St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and the trilogy The Untouchable.
MCs Italian artists like Frankie Hi NRG & Ice One keep telling me about Manhattan-born Don Scavone (photo). Scavone toured Europe with Cypress Hill and the Beatnuts, and he's worked with DJ/producer Mista Sinista of the X-Ecutioners. Queens-born, L.A.-based Marco Guglielmo aka Manifest aka Vesuvio (photo) has been rhyming since the late 1980s. Manifest has three full lengths to his credit -- Vertigo (1995), Moonshine (1996), and The Anonymous (1999) released with producer Zinn and MC Furious Stylz on their independent Nightglow label. As a founding member of the L.A. group The Anonymous, he released the album Green and Gold which featured Manifest and Eminem on the title track. Manifest has also collaborated with Wutang's LA the Darkman, Jurassic 5's Cut Chemist, Dilated Peoples, Medusa, Mystic of Digital Underground, Divine Styler, DJ Drez, Erule, DJ Mark Luv, Mystick Journeymen, and Living Legends. Here's some tunes. In 2000, he traveled to Italy and performed and recorded with Italian artists Gente Guasta and Turi. Check out this interview. Want more? Here's some flicks from Manifest's live performance with Polo of La Famiglia. Guinea Love (photo) aka Correne Spero of the Long Island group Northern State. Bizzy Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, his mom is Italian. In 1986, New York-based Matt Saladino (photo) aka Mighty and his brother recorded a tune called "Guido Rap," under the name of The Guido MCs. The flip side of this underground vinyl was "Bensonhurst 86th Street." (from the Phat Cat Records site) Jo Jo Pellegrino (photo) from Staten Island came out with the wise guy-inspired "Fogedabouddud" in 2000 and it made the underground circuit. You can also check out "If it's war."
Sicilian/Puerto Rican Sabac is underground MC out of the Bronx who raps about social issues. Check out his Sabacolypse: A Change Gon' Come. (Thanks Oliver!) Mr. Hyde is a street rapper, with violent lyrics, who released his solo Barn of the Naked Dead in in 2004. (Thanks Oliver!) Jedi Mind Tricks out of Philly. (Thanks Oliver!) Genovese (photo) out of Yonkers. 27-year-old Mikie (Savoia) da Poet is slinging rhymes and put down beats out of Chicago. Joe Summa (photo) hails from the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. Kaves, Admoney, and Edge of the Lordz of Brooklyn make the most of my borough's Italian street thug/mafioso wannabe image. The group debuted in 1995 with All in the Family and followed-up in 1999 with Avenging Angels. The soundtrack of Sal Stabile's 1997 film Gravesend featured some Lordz tunes.
Don Pigro aka The Young Sinatra (photo) out of South Philly. Want tunes? Then, go here! Joe Cassano (RIP), who born in Italy but raised, in part, in Brooklyn. BL One is a writer from Queens who named his debut CD TMR Crew after his graf homies. Raised in the Bronx, The Shark aka Michael Pennini is up and coming. In addition to rapping, The Shark co-founded the rap and dance label Bottom Line Records. Dangerous Devil aka Griffin Bonacci, is an Eye-talian MC out of Salt Lake City, where he operates his "Son of Satan Records & Italian Entertainment" record label. And that's the truth! Singers/Producers/Supporters 98 Proof is a New Jersey-based independent Hip Hop label with a roster of Italian-American MCs. R&B singer Alicia Keys' mom is Italian American. Mya, her mother is Italian. Princess Superstar aka Concetta Kirschner (photo) — 1/2 Italian, 1/2 Jewish wild MC out of Philly. Nick S.'s article fills in the details. Producer/emcee/label owner Lil Man (photo) aka LMN-Know has been a mainstay in the Phoenix underground since the early 1990s representing crews such as Tha He-B G-Beez, Goin Fo Broke, Basementality, La Borgata, The Summit, and High AZ Hell. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Lil Man co-founded The Atomic Breakers, a local b-boy crew, in the early 1980s. In 1998, Lil Man formed the now defunct Brahma Records in Phoenix. In late 1999 he released his first solo LP entitled That Grilt Cheez. He's produced tracks for Don Pigro, Lagik, 602nd Regiment, Odyssey, The Representative, and Cpydah Maan. Click for MP3s. Photographer Ernie Paniccioli has been documenting hip hop since the mid 1970s. A collection of his work came out in the book Who Shot Ya?. Check out this interview with Ernie. Stress Magazine co-founder Clyde Valentin, is an Italo-African American (don't get me started). Here's a sampling of famous Italo-African Americans (looks like a new page forming): Philly's spoken word recording artist Ursula Rucker R&B singer Alicia Keys "Interdisciplinary" artist and culture critic Coco Fusco's parents are black Cuban and Italian American. Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris actor Giancarlo Esposito poet Nikki Giovanni Prince — believe it!"
Italian Hip Hop Dancer Marco Cavalloro
... GOTTI, MANO, VALENTIN, SUCIO, I love ya'll! ONE ...