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by Peter Moskos

March 22, 2009

Gangsta Rap, Yo-Boys, and B-more.

So I'm trying to write and Schoolly-D's "A Gangster Story" comes on. I hear him say "B-more" and "yo-boy" and perk up.

I've always liked slang and wondered about the term "yo-boy" because it's so common in Baltimore's 'hood but I've never heard it outside of Baltimore (what's a "yo-boy?" You gotta read my book. You have, right? If not, here's a useful link to Amazon.com so you can buy Cop in the Hood). According to Schoolly, "yo-boy" was known to him in Philadelphia and used at least as far back as 1985. And yes, surprisingly(?) gangsta rap owes a bit of its existence to Charm City.

Get schooled by Schoolly:
I think it’s about time that we discuss, know what I’m saying, gangsta rap. The true story of gangsta rap, where it come from, actually. Settle down now. Roll up something. This is how it went, you know:

Back in 1985 I made this song called PSK, right? That’s a bad mother fucker, know what I’m saying. Am now, too. Shiit.

You know, I mean, this reporter from
Spin Magazine, right? He was doing this article on these little young gangstas down in B-more, you know what I mean, called the yo-boys. So, you know, he drove down there for the weekend to do this little piece.

But all weekend long, and shit, right, they kept playing this song: “Boom Platt Boom Platt Boom Platt.” Right? Know what I’m saying? ... All weekend long. What the fuck was that song? They was like, what? That was my man, Schoolly D, up there in Phili, man, shit, nigger (you know how a nigger says, talking shit).

He goes back up to New York City and he’s doing this story. And he still can’t get this song out his head and shit. "Boom Platt Boom Platt."

So he starts thinking it, right, you know: Pistols, cheeba, cars, gold, bitches, fast money, the fast life. That was that that gangsta life and shit, man. Shit. Know what I'm saying? Ganstas, gangtsa music, rap. He put all that shit together and came up with the term “Gangsta Rap.”

So, you know what I mean, that was when we first heard gangsta rap from that song PSK I did in '85. And it's still alive today.
I've figured out that that Spin article is the 1986 piece by Barry Michael Cooper, "In Cold Blood: The Baltimore Teen Murders."

I hadn't heard of Mr. Cooper. I should have. He's still active and lives in Baltimore. Here's a interesting interview of Barry Michael Cooper where he explains, among other things, how "crack made hip-hop very corporate."

Anybody got a copy of that Spin article I can read?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There may be some misunderstanding. Check 'The Sun' from May 12th 1985 and there 'Many youths face the challenge daily on city's streets' By Rafael Alvarez. It tells about 'Yo Boys' in B-more.