Wake Up Show
Chances are you've been frustrated by your local radio programming more than once. From the fact that outlets are owned in monopoly-like fashion by large-scale conglomerates to the playlists that insist on repeating the same five songs every six-song set, "turn off the radio" has become even more of an anthemic call since the days when O'Shea first did his best Howard Beale impersonation. On the other hand, if you're lucky, maybe you have a good college station nearby, KDAY on your dial, a satellite subscription, or just a really high tolerance for crap.
Speaking of KDAY, as L.A.'s original all Hip-Hop home, while it was Southern California's saving grace, for other Golden Staters, KMEL then would be the similar-minded, though very fallible, brethren up north. In fact, KMEL was even the launching ground for one of the longest-running and most consistent Hip-Hop programs, Sway and King Tech's Wake Up Show.
As The Bay's own haven for heads, the Wake Up Show afforded fans the opportunity to not only hear what other stations might not touch, but also to expose these artists often in a unique way, live and on air. Beginning Friday nights at 10PM (June 1991, where Live at the Barbeque was the opener), the WUS's popularity eventually expanded across the state, the country, and then the globe, truly earning the title of "world famous." Part of this popularity was due to the ever exclusive-like access listeners had to their favorite underground acts, especially highlighted by the show's many "anthems." These anthems, where some of the game's best MC's combined together in posse cut form, featured rappers ranging from Planet Asia to Masta Ace, all paying their lyrical respect to the Wake Up Show and its idea that beats and rhymes could exist on the radio dial and remain undiluted. But perhaps the most famous of these tracks grouped Nas and Organized Konfusion with the likes of Saafir and Ras Kass, with Lauryn Hill on the hook for good measure. Aside from its all-time great lineup, Nas, in the leadoff spot, showcased the early stages of his ultra-dexterous Escobar flow:
Tune it up, it's the corrupt novelist, NasHowever, Sway and Tech were equally known for putting MC's on the spot in studio to flex their freestyle muscle, or "feel the wrath" of the Wake Up Show. Because of this, in a small attempt to capture the program's place in Hip-Hop history, I've collected a series of some of most notable freestyle appearances. Many of these tracks accommodate the original definition of the word, where "freestyle" can be pre-written, although Black Thought and Common, for example, also cater to new-schoolers who'd argue "off the top" is the only way. Highlights include: a Crooked I verse that once put the fear of God into Chino XL; Ghostface doing Nutmeg live and talking about his inspiration for writing; Juice and Supernatural, just one day removed their hotly-contested battle, going back and forth still; Masta Ace reciting, "a gangsta wears black 'cause the shit he talks is dead"; Eminem, after inking his Interscope deal, returning to the spot that first broke his name; Biggie eerily spitting Long Kiss Goodnight after saying how he felt Pac's death especially; Nas blessing the beat to Large Pro's Gotta Get Over remix once more; Xzibit bogarting the mic from Ras Kass; and some vintage Reasonable Doubt Jay-Z.
Involved in this liveness radio waves
Slaves thrive inside of this
Wake Up Show flow, Hip-Hop's alarm clock, the bomb spot
Mellow with ganja, that makes my eyes turn yellow
Rebel To America: Wake Up Show collection
Includes: Big L, Chino XL, Doug E. Fresh, AZ, Masta Ace - The Anthem; Black Spooks, Planet Asia, Ras Kass, & Crooked I - The Anthem; Canibus freestyle; Common freestyle; Crooked I freestyle; Eminem freestyle; Ghostface freestyle; Jay-Z freestyle; Juice & Supernatural freestyle; Kurupt & Ahmad freestyle; Lauryn Hill, Nas, O.K., Ras Kass, Dred Scott, Shyheim, Jock, & Saafir: Wake Up Show 94; Masta Ace freestyle; Nas freestyle; Notorious BIG freestyle; Ras Kass & Xzibit freestyle; The Roots freestyle