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music

Rappers' Redux

HIP-HOP’S RELENTLESS modernity is currently in doubt. It’s not that the fierce competition to reinvent rap year by year has weakened any—viz. the recent emergence of Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and Jeru the Damaja as claimants to the East Coast title of leaders of the Now School. But the art of representing true hip-hop is no longer the only game in town. A wave of reminiscing has flooded the house with Old School memorabilia, and back-in-the-day yearnings are the flavor of the moment.

The most visible symptoms of this backward-looking mood are the reunion of crews like the Treacherous Three and the revival of youthful interest in the pioneer spirit of the likes of Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Whodini, Schoolly D., and Kool Herc (not to mention break dancing, Adidas, park jams, and the whiff of aerosol). Today’s aficionados debate hip-hop’s origins with a competitive edge that recalls

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