“…And what it meant to DJ Scott La Rock.”
I never knew Scott La Rock but his death still stands as a central landmark in my relationship with rap. When he was gunned down in 1987, he became the first artist I ever heard of dying. Not that I was keenly aware of him before he was killed.
His death occurred during the aforementioned period when rap wasn’t spread all across the media. Figuring out what was hot was determined by word of mouth and any news came from now long-forgotten print options like Word Up! I vividly remember opening up whatever magazine it was and reading of Scott’s death alongside his long, influential history with BDP. I knew his name for hearing his rhyming protege KRS-One saying it and reading his name dispersed in the album notes for Criminal Minded and By All Means Necessary.
In in many ways, early reading and understanding of pioneers’ sacrifices still shape most of how I look at and hear the music. There’s a line between taking yourself too seriously and doing things that keep Hip-Hop’s compass pointed in a certain direction. BDP coined the term “edutainment” which accurately describes what all media should aim to do.
For every song shared solely for entertainment value, a complimentary piece meant to educate should be shared as well. There’s a balance that should be maintained, like KRS said on “My Philosophy”, “Cause I’m a teacher, and Scott is a scholar, It ain’t about money cause we all make dollars.” It’s why we created our Primer series as a vehicle to breakdown rap’s greats for a younger fan who may not grasp the contributions made by older acts.
For me, Scott La Rock’s name and image stand together as a measuring stick. On a lot of days, I ask myself “what would Scott do?” in an effort to maintain his respect, even though he’s only here in spirit and I never actually met him. I still like to think that Hip-Hop meant too much in ’87 to let certain values be forgotten now.