Herc Your Enthusiasm (5)

By: Paul Devlin
August 2, 2013

spicer

Fifth in a series of posts analyzing and celebrating old-school hip hop.

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JIMMY SPICER | “THE ADVENTURES OF SUPER RHYME” | 1980

Jimmy Spicer’s “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” is among the most original and least appreciated early rap records. Spicer’s fun fourteen-minute track includes three discrete narratives interspersed with a miscellaneous grab bag of solid brag-lyrics and call-response instructions over a generic disco beat.

The track begins as a brag by Super Rhyme from Planet Rhyme-on. After explaining his cosmic origins he demonstrates his skills by telling two stories about fellow imaginary personages, Dracula and Aladdin. These stories are framed by Super Rhyme’s interaction with legendary broadcaster Howard Cosell, then 62 years old.

…So I rocked the party, vicious-ly! This guy I didn’t know walked up to me.
But the closer he got the more I could tell, it was the man they call Coward Hosell —
The guy you see on KBC while Joe Frazier box Muhammad Ali.
He said, ‘Excuse me, sir, are you Super Rhyme, the one with the fine woman, Lois Line?’ [note: Worst Cosell impersonation imaginable]
I said ‘I am! Will I be on TV like the float-like-a-butterfly-stingin’ Ali?’
He said, ‘Yes, my man, if you show me you can — I was told you had the master plan!’
So I rocked the mic for Howard Cosell to show America how I rock so well…

After Super Rhyme rhymes his story about Dracula (in Dracula-voice), Hosell/Cosell replies “Damn that’s good! You’ll be on TV in every neighborhood./He said, ‘Super Rhyme, you’re a real MC, we must put you on KBC.’” Spicer’s Hosell/Cosell is a rapper himself.

Muhammad Ali’s famous word play probably influenced early rappers. But if Ali’s influence is accepted, then Cosell, with whom he often shared the camera, must also be recognized as playing some kind of obscure role in the pre-history of hip-hop. Brooklyn’s own Cosell was a non-conformist, eccentric, do-it-yourself broadcaster before elbowing his way into the mainstream. Once there, he was the first in the sports establishment to stop referring to Ali as “Cassius Clay.” Much more than a boxing commentator, Cosell was a ubiquitous figure in contemporary culture, writing columns and hosting Monday Night Football, Wide World of Sports, and Battle of the Network Stars.

Spicer’s Cosell transitions from commentary on athletics to aesthetics. Spicer casts him as an arbiter or validator of rhyme skills, thus also highlighting the sport-like and competitive nature of rap. A Cosell character would serve a similar purpose on at least one more song, “Flipmode Squad vs. Def Squad” (1996).

“The Adventures of Super Rhyme” was influential. Spicer’s reworking of an old nursery rhyme into “This DJ, he gets down, mixing records while they go round” (0:42) was quoted in 1994 by both KRS-ONE (“Hip-Hop vs. Rap”) and Warren G. (“What’s Next”). In 1998, the Beastie Boys quoted Spicer’s “stere-ere-o” (10:57) in “The Move,” and Redman quoted his “I’m so cool” line (4:45) in “Soopaman Lova Part 3.” Spicer was to have only one more hit, “Money” (1983). On “Outta Here” (1993), KRS-ONE notes, “I remember how large Super Rhymes was, but he fell off.”

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2013: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (old-school hip hop tracks): Luc Sante on “Spoonin’ Rap” | Dallas Penn on “Rapper’s Delight” | Werner Von Wallenrod on “Rappin’ Blow” | DJ Frane on “The Incredible Fulk” | Paul Devlin on “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | Phil Dyess-Nugent on “That’s the Joint” | Adam McGovern on “Freedom” | David Abrams on “Rapture” | Andrew Hultkrans on “The New Rap Language” | Tim Carmody on “Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Version)” | Drew Huge on “Can I Get a Soul Clap” | Oliver Wang on “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” | Douglas Wolk on “Making Cash Money” | Adrienne Crew on “The Message” | Dart Adams on “Pak Jam” | Alex Belth on “Buffalo Gals” | Joshua Glenn on “Ya Mama” | Phil Freeman on “No Sell Out” | Nate Patrin on “Death Mix Live, Pt. 2” | Brian Berger on “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” | Cosmo Baker on “Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)” | Colleen Werthmann on “Rockit” | Roy Christopher on “The Coldest Rap” | Dan Reines on “The Dream Team is in the House” | Franklin Bruno on The Lockers.

HIP HOP ON HILOBROW: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM series (25 posts about old-school hip hop) | DJ Kool Herc | Gil Scott-Heron | Slick Rick | Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels | Afrika Bambaataa | Biz Markie | U-God | Slug | Adam Yauch | Ghostface Killah | DJ Run | Flavor Flav | Scott La Rock | GZA | Schoolly D | Aesop Rock | Terminator X | Notorious B.I.G. | Melle Mel | Doug E. Fresh | Kool Keith | Rick Rubin | Rakim | Ol’ Dirty Bastard | Madlib | Talib Kweli | Danger Mouse | Kool Moe Dee | Chuck D | Dizzee Rascal | RZA | Cee-Lo Green | Best Ever Clean Hip Hop

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2014: KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (typefaces): Matthew Battles on ALDINE ITALIC | Adam McGovern on DATA 70 | Sherri Wasserman on TORONTO SUBWAY | Sarah Werner on JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | Douglas Wolk on TODD KLONE | Mark Kingwell on GILL SANS | Joe Alterio on AKZIDENZ-GROTESK | Suzanne Fischer on CALIFORNIA BRAILLE | Gary Panter on SHE’S NOT THERE | Deb Chachra on FAUX DEVANAGARI | Peggy Nelson on FUTURA | Tom Nealon on JENSON’S ROMAN | Rob Walker on SAVANNAH SIGN | Tony Leone on TRADE GOTHIC BOLD CONDENSED NO. 20 | Chika Azuma on KUMON WORKSHEET | Chris Spurgeon on ELECTRONIC DISPLAY | Amanda French on DIPLOMA REGULAR | Steve Price on SCREAM QUEEN | Alissa Walker on CHICAGO | Helene Silverman on CHINESE SHIPPING BOX | Tim Spencer on SHATTER | Jessamyn West on COMIC SANS | Whitney Trettien on WILKINS’S REAL CHARACTER | Cintra Wilson on HERMÈS vs. HOTDOG | Jacob Covey on GOTHAM.

2012: KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (Captain Kirk scenes): Dafna Pleban: Justice or vengeance? | Mark Kingwell : Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | Nick Abadzis: “KHAAAAAN!” | Stephen Burt: “No kill I” | Greg Rowland: Kirk browbeats NOMAD | Zack Handlen: Kirk’s eulogy for Spock| Peggy Nelson: The joke is on Kirk | Kevin Church: Kirk vs. Decker | Enrique Ramirez: Good Kirk vs. Evil Kirk | Adam McGovern: Captain Camelot | Flourish Klink: Koon-ut-kal-if-fee | David Smay: Federation exceptionalism | Amanda LaPergola: Wizard fight | Steve Schneider: A million things you can’t have | Joshua Glenn: Debating in a vacuum | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons: Klingon diplomacy | Trav S.D.: “We… the PEOPLE” | Matthew Battles: Brinksmanship on the brink | Annie Nocenti: Captain Smirk | Ian W. Hill: Sisko meets Kirk | Gabby Nicasio: Noninterference policy | Peter Bebergal: Kirk’s countdown | Matt Glaser: Kirk’s ghost | Joe Alterio: Watching Kirk vs. Gorn | Annalee Newitz: How Spock wins

2011: KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (Jack Kirby panels): Douglas Rushkoff on THE ETERNALS | John Hilgart on BLACK MAGIC | Gary Panter on DEMON | Dan Nadel on OMAC | Deb Chachra on CAPTAIN AMERICA | Mark Frauenfelder on KAMANDI | Jason Grote on MACHINE MAN | Ben Greenman on SANDMAN | Annie Nocenti on THE X-MEN | Greg Rowland on THE FANTASTIC FOUR | Joshua Glenn on TALES TO ASTONISH | Lynn Peril on YOUNG LOVE | Jim Shepard on STRANGE TALES | David Smay on MISTER MIRACLE | Joe Alterio on BLACK PANTHER | Sean Howe on THOR | Mark Newgarden on JIMMY OLSEN | Dean Haspiel on DEVIL DINOSAUR | Matthew Specktor on THE AVENGERS | Terese Svoboda on TALES OF SUSPENSE | Matthew Wells on THE NEW GODS | Toni Schlesinger on REAL CLUE | Josh Kramer on THE FOREVER PEOPLE | Glen David Gold on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY | Douglas Wolk on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | MORE EXEGETICAL COMMENTARIES: Joshua Glenn on Kirby’s Radium Age Sci-Fi Influences | Chris Lanier on Kirby vs. Kubrick | Scott Edelman recalls when the FF walked among us | Adam McGovern is haunted by a panel from THE NEW GODS | Matt Seneca studies the sensuality of Kirby’s women | Btoom! Rob Steibel settles the Jack Kirby vs. Stan Lee question | Galactus Lives! Rob Steibel analyzes a single Kirby panel in six posts | Danny Fingeroth figgers out The Thing | Adam McGovern on four decades (so far) of Kirby’s “Fourth World” mythos | Jack Kirby: Anti-Fascist Pipe Smoker

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What do you think?

  1. Chuck D would famously go on to call rap the CNN of Black America, but this essay is a learned and illuminating report on how hip-hop was always the nexus of pop-culture reference and crossroads of first-draft history, moving forward block by block.

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