Arturo Gómez, music director and on-air host for our sister station, KUVO JAZZ got his own station at our 5 Elements of Hip Hop event! Arturo is what he refers to himself as a “first school elder of hip hop”. He not only offers a plethora of knowledge on the history of music, he also offers stories involving first-hand experience in growing up during the birth of hip hop in The Bronx.
In his own words, he tells us a bit more about his personal history with hip hop:
Arturo Gómez and Nikki Swarn
The legendary Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra once remarked: “It’s better to be lucky than good!“.
I have been a most fortunate person as I’ve often been at the right place at the right time surrounded by the right people which has given me a blessed perspective on life and in particular in music!
I grew up in the South Bronx, in a neighborhood that would become one of the cornerstones for the birth of hip hop. I’m a first school elder of hip hop, I am of the same generation as the creators and pioneers of hip hop, Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Caz, Grand Wizard Theodore, the Rock Steady crew etc. I was witness to the birth of a movement that would later be named hip hop. In the late 1970s I saw my first show in Crotona Park with a dee jay that connected his turntables and speakers to a lamp post with b-boys and b-girls dancing on a piece of linoleum. I saw my first indoor jam at the Dover Theater just south of the park, I saw break dancers taking their skills to mid-town Manhattan to make money, all of this before the Sugar Hill Gang scored radio’s first hip hop hit.
In 1988, I began my radio career accepting a position at WDNA-FM, Miami. I started out playing salsa and then jazz. While living there I noticed that in Miami, affectionately called “The Bottom” by the music heads that few if any had much of an idea of what hip hop was as the scene was dominated by bass music and the Two Live Crew. I decided to start a hip hop show to play not only hip hop but to demonstrate the connection between jazz, salsa and Caribbean music with hip hop. My show which lasted until 1997 was on Saturdays from Midnight until 5am, because of its time slot I was able to play hip hop that was uncut and uncensored, I also enlisted my close running mate with extraordinary dee jay skills to be my dee jay, the Diabolic DJ DunDee. Not only did I play the jams of the 1980s, but I was also known to premier many new tracks and artists, e.g Wu Tang Clan, Jeru the Damaga, Dax Efx and others. Every week I would have the “James Brown Minute” which featured the music of James Brown, other funksters, salsa and jazz musicians that were sampled in the then-current jams of hip hop. I also aired a “Who Stole the Soul?” segment to highlight how cultural creations of Black and Brown people over the decades were co-opted by the mainstream and then presented as their own creation. Over the years I had many amazing interviews including KRS-ONE, Kool Keith, Eazy E, Professor Griff (whom I worked with frequently after he was expelled from Public Enemy) and others including Afrika Bambaataa who granted me permission to found the Miami chapter of the Zulu Nation.
My favorite portion of the Saturday Night Funk Box was highlighting the up n coming hip hop crews of The Bottom, the weekly emcee, and dee jay battles, live over the air. I also became the “street rep” for various labels such as Death Row Records and several indie labels and artists. After the passing of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G in 1997, I decided to retire the Saturday Night Funk Box as its mission after 9 years was complete. This allowed me more time to work representing the Zulu Nation and helping troubled youth to find better and alternate paths in life other than the thug life. When I was asked to accept my present position as music director for KUVO JAZZ in 2003, I also retired from the Zulu Nation.
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