Tuesday, April 28, 2020

TJ Swan puts down Sugarhill and Kurtis Blow and establishes a tradition

TJ Swan's 1979 "And You Know That" begins with bragaddacio: "Nobody can do it like the Swany can." Such boasting is more, though, than just a way to put everyone else down, even if TJ Swan definitely does so when he names names: "Sugarhill, Hollywood, Kurtis Blow, [and] Cheeba" may all be "kinda good", but Swan's listeners will notice "who's sweeter than sweeter". This list positions those performers with respect to Swan and thus establishes the tradition he wants to belong to. Unfortunately for TJ Swan, that tradition still centers The Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow, but has left TJ Swan behind for those who read lists of early hip-hop recordings. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 28 April)

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