Backbeat: Kurtis Blow, Doug E. Fresh, Big Daddy Kane Celebrate Release of 'Hip-Hop: A Cultural Odyssey'
Backbeat: Kurtis Blow, Doug E. Fresh, Big Daddy Kane Celebrate Release of 'Hip-Hop: A Cultural Odyssey'

Jordan Sommers and Doug E. Fresh

Ed Lover

Hip hop icons from Kurtis Blow, Doug E. Fresh and Big Daddy Kane came together at the Penthouse on 5th Ave. on Wednesday night to celebrate the release of Hip-Hop: A Cultural Odyssey, a new coffee-table book that catalogs the genre's four decade history.

The book's curator Jordan Sommers, former A&R at Def Jam from 1992-1994, said he wanted to make something that would provide a comprehensive history of the genre and acknowledge its architects. The book costs a whopping $299.99 on Amazon, but for many of the folks in the crowd, it is an important, priceless addition to the canon.

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"I'm excited to see everybody [here tonight]," Sommers told Billboard.Biz. "A lot of the pioneers here who I feel don't always get the recognition, acknowledgement, praise, respect appreciation that they deserve, that they earned. If it weren't for them none of us would be here and none of us would be in this business."

One such figure is the late Heavy D. who received multiple shout-outs throughout the night. At around 9 p.m. Doug E. Fresh took the stage to thank Sommers for putting the book together and introduce a man who needs no introduction: Kurtis Blow.

Clad in a velour jumpsuit, Blow acknowledged that 2012 is his 39th year in hip-hop, and demonstrated that he still knows how to do the robot. He went through the classics including "The Breaks" and "If I Ruled The World" before Big Daddy Kane took the stage to ring out the night.

As the godfathers of hip-hop continued to pose for photos and mingle with industry veterans like Cey Adams of Def Jam, Gee Street Records co-founder Jon Baker, legendary beatmaker Marley Marl and Ed Lover of Yo! MTV Raps, there was one question on everyone's mind: What's next for hip-hop?

Kurtis Blow, celebrating his 39th year in hip-hop.

Big Daddy Kane (in Purple shirt/vest) poses with fellow hip hop vets.

"I just hope that hip-hop fans are more open minded to music," Big Daddy Kane told Billboard.Biz. Would a book like Hip-Hop: A Cultural Odyssey help? "I hope so. I think we're going to need a lot more than just a book, but I truly hope so."

Earlier in the evening, Charles Blow of the New York Times made a similar comment. "Hip-hop is the thing I identify with most in the world." Addressing the impact of hip-hop on the culture at large and its continued importance, Blow told the underlying impulses in hip-hop, the social issues, are what matter most. "They are really about class warfare, poverty, plight of children, hunger, job equality for everyone. Those sorts of things resonate with this music and throughout culture. These issues still resonate because they are still important."

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