Monday, May 5, 2008

The untold stories of Summer Camp: Where Hip-Hop blew up

The mix tape was a staple of camp. An eclectic cascade of sound in which the one song that felt like it was played in the bunk all summer -- be it by the J. Geils Band, REM or Suzanne Vega -- could happily coexist with the camp classics of Led Zep, The who and Phish. If you have any saved, we would love to see some scanned track lists... These ones from Mik Moore of Camp Tel Yehuda, Barryville, NY reveal the invisble hand summer camp played in making hip hop blow up into the mainstream...

If you went to camp in 1985, hip hop was still an urban sound, feared by white parents, and barely on the radar of their kids in the suburbs. By the early nineties it was faintly audible everywhere. The American summer camp had a critical role to play in this transition as Mik explains:
“In the late 1980’s everyone was listening to Def Leppard. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" was the sound of every camp social. A small handful of us came to camp with a love of this new rap sound that was brand new. It is one of the great, untold stories… the role Jewish summer camp played in the spread of rap music to the suburbs of America. It bought kids together from all corners of the country to swap local sounds. I came from New York with my Public Enemy, EMD, Heavy D and Gangstar tapes. Arielle M. came from Seattle with her love of Seattle Hip Hop which meant Sir Mixalot. Dave came from Chicago and bought his house sound. Next thing you know, every camper was lip-syncing to Paul Revere at talent night."

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