Old Skool Review: Kwame and A New Beginning

HearYa recently wondered what the hot, new style was going to be at this year’s SXSW. i’m guessing polka dots.

It’s been two decades, more or less, since polka dots were the hottest thing in rap, but some of us still remember. And who do we have to thank for the dubious fashion choice of the day?

Kwamé, aka K-1 Million, had a couple of breakout albums (at least by hip hop standards of the late 80s/early 90s) back in the day, starting with Kwamé the Boy Genius: Featuring a New Beginning before dropping his game changing concept album, A Day in the Life: A Pokadelick Adventure. The latter followed the intrepid hero over the course of a typical high school day, and we used to play this one non-stop on our boom boxes. That’s right, i was one of those misguided white, suburban kids who was a breakdancing MASTER (in a league of white, suburban kids, this was not much of a title to have, but i’ll take what i can get. Street cred includes winning a dance-off against two other pudgy white kids at a Piggley-Wiggley Convention. Good times, good times.). It spawned a couple of singles, including “Oneovdabigboiz” and the biggest of his career, “Ownlee Eue.”

Kwamé had a couple of things going for him. First, he was one of the few MCs of the day that used an actual live band. Secondly, he had storytelling skills on par with the masters of the day, like Dana Dane, a young Fresh Prince, and the like.

Sadly, Kwamé was largely regulated to joke territory after a series of disses on wax around the failure to chart of his fourth album, culminating with Biggie’s line from “Unbelievable,” “Your life is played out like Kwamé, and them fuckin’ polka-dots.”

Well, guess what? Biggie was HUGELY overrated (wouldn’t even be a footnote in hip hop history if not for his murder), and the Polka Dot Kid has enjoyed a second career as a leading producer, playing roles in hits for such artists as Mary J. Blige, LL Cool J, Method Man and Raven Symone. That’s right, Kwame helped the musical career of Olivia Kendall. What have you done lately?

If all that weren’t enough, old boy’s cousin is Vin Diesel, who incidentally danced in some of Kwame’s early videos. Sadly, i could not track down said videos, as they appear to have been removed by YouTube. If you have a copy of “Nastee,” consider yourself fortunate. For the rest of us, i guess we’ll have to make due with this:

i’d say my breakdancing title remains intact, if this is the competition.

And that, children, is your half the battle for today.

mp3: The Rhythm (Kwame and A New Beginning from Kwamé the Boy Genius: Featuring a New Beginning)

mp3: Ownlee Eue (Kwame and A New Beginning from A Day in the Life: A Pokadelick Adventure)

mp3: Oneovdabigboiz (Kwame and A New Beginning from A Day in the Life: A Pokadelick Adventure)
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