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The pioneers: Where are they now?

Sunday, February 15, 2004

By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Afrika Bambaataa: The founder of Zulu Nation went on to work with everyone from James Brown and George Clinton to Sting and Johnny Rotten. He is still performing live, and in 2001 he released "Electro Funk Breakdown."

Tony Dejak, Associated Press
KRS-One delivered a consciousness-raising message to kick off the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's celebration of hip-hop culture at Cleveland State University on Friday, Sept. 10, 1999.
Click photo for larger image.

Grandmaster Flash: The pioneer is still working the turntables and recently formed the label Adrenaline City for aspiring DJs. He served as the musical director for "The Chris Rock Show" on HBO and has his own show on satellite radio.

Run DMC: The trio had just completed part of a tour with Aerosmith and Kid Rock in October 1999 when the beloved DJ Jam Master Jay was shot and killed in a New York studio. Run quickly announced the retirement of the group, saying, "Nobody wants to see Run and DMC without Jay."

Eric B and Rakim: The duo just released the Deluxe Edition of their classic "Paid in Full," with remixes and video. Eric B issued a solo record in 1995. Rakim's latest record was "The Master" in 1999. Ironically, the duo recently filed suit against Russell Simmons, Def Jam and others for back royalties on "Paid in Full."

Public Enemy: The group just concluded its 51st tour, covering South America, Europe and Australia. It is about to reissue "There's a Poison Going On," which came out as an Internet-only release in 1999. PE will release "How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul" in the late spring/summer and then "New Whirl Odor" in the fall. According to their Web site, "Soul" is "an homage throwback to the masters of the essence of black music sonically but theme-wise reaches into people's [consciousness] while 'New Whirl Odor' will do the opposite."

KRS-One: The Teacher is still touring regularly and doing speaking engagements on politics and the state of hip-hop. In 2002, he released the gospel-inflected "Spiritual Minded." A new album is expected soon.

LL Cool J: The old-school rapper has been one of the best at reinventing himself and staying on the charts. His latest record, 2002's "10," drew a Grammy nomination. On screen, he recently starred in the action movies "S.W.A.T." and "Mindhunters" and will play a gang leader opposite Ray Liotta in "Slow Burn."

Beastie Boys: The Beasties are still in action, but not exactly working at Jay-Z's pace. It was four years between "Check Your Head" and "Hello Nasty." And now four more have passed without a new record. Rumor has it they'll drop the new one in May.

Luther Campbell: Along with running Luke Records & Films in Miami, the former 2 Live Crew leader continues to accomplish things, like last year getting himself banned in South Carolina. The charge was obscenity for a show he did in a North Charleston nightclub.

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