Redefinition Radio

Still younger than the average public radio listener, rap music has gone from being a big deal within a seven-square-mile area of the Bronx to being the largest commercial force in broadcasting. So why would Minnesota Public Radio station the Current need a specialty program about rap? Because somewhere between back-in-the-day and now, a vast universe of good music was lost. "Classic rap" or "hip-hop oldies" formats haven't exactly caught fire, which might explain why rap reissues are a cottage industry next to old rock or jazz. Which is why we need people like Kevin Beacham, a.k.a. DJ Nikoless—dudes with 10,000 records and the urge to play them all for a relatively marginal audience, which he does from 11:00 p.m. to midnight Saturdays. A grownup army brat, a Chicago college DJ, and, since 2002, a go-to guy for Minneapolis-based hip-hop label Rhymesayers, Beacham has hosted Redefinition Radio for more than two years. During that period, old or obscure hip-hop music has flourished on all the left-of-the-dial stations. But Beacham's formula is singularly edutaining: Nearly every week he devotes a set to some historic theme—food, James Brown, posse cuts, great lyricists, reggae in hip hop, storytelling, samples and their sources. Beacham goes on to tell you exactly as much as you need (or want) to know. The show's title might be unwieldy, but "redefinition" means something more like "restoration." Plus, Crap from the Past was taken.


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