What Is Hip?

Album: Tower of Power (1973)
Charted: 91
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  • Tower of Power sax players Emilio Castillo and Stephen "Doc" Kupka wrote this song. In our interview with Castillo, he said: "I would give most of the credit for that concept lyrically to Doc. He said he wanted write a song about being hip and I said, 'About being hip?' He said, 'Well, what I mean is being hip is so short lived. You can be hip by wearing your hair a certain way today and then in three months that style's gone and you're as unhip as you could possibly be. I want to write a song about that.' It's saying what's hip today might become passé."
  • The group's drummer, David Garibaldi, helped out with the rhythms. Castillo told us, "It was his idea to get Rocco to play those sixteenth notes on the bass. There was a song out at the time called 'Going Down' by Freddie King and it had that bass line. Girabladi's idea was to hit those sixteenth notes and then rather than hitting a big one, you know one, two, three, four, one... He says, 'We're going to push it one sixteenth in front of the one every time.' So it'd be, one, two, three, four, boom, two, three, four, boom... and that sort of prevailing thing throughout the tune is what made that song drive. And then on top of that we had the classic horn arrangement and Lenny Williams singing it."
  • Sheila E. intended to cover this tune on her 1991 set, Sex Cymbal, but TOP's horn section was unavailable. She opted to redo Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" instead. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Faundell - Brooklyn, NJ

Comments: 14

  • Emory Cosgrove from ArizonaToP is my favorite band of the 70s. For me, this song sends an important message: If you need to try to be hip, you're probably not hip.
  • C.gibson from Grand Rapids, MiIt was only because I watched an old re-run of The Drew Carey Show that I first listened to this splendid funk song. Just cleanly and superbly performed, out-right fun!! Thank you, TOP!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 16th 1973, The Tower of Power performed "What Is Hip?" on the syndicated television program 'Don Kirshner's Rock Concert'...
    Three months later on February 17th, 1974 the song entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #98; the following week it peaked at #91 and then fell off the chart...
    It reached #39 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between July 1972 and October 1976 the Oakland-area funk band had eight Top 100 records; their biggest hit was "So Very Hard to Go", it peaked at #17 {for 1 week} on July 22nd, 1973 {reached #11 on the R&B Singles chart}.
  • Fredharris from San Francisco,ca, CaSinger Tony Adamo goes beyond What is Hip?

  • Fredharris from San Francisco,ca, CaYouTube - Classic Remakes-What Is Hip
    Jul 23, 2010 ... a comparison of the funk classic What Is Hip? by Tower Of Power and the remake by Tony Adamo.
  • Fredharris from San Francisco,ca, CaDoc Gives the Go Ahead
    Singer/songwriter Tony Adamo and his producer/guitarist Jerry Stucker have re-grooved the Tower of Power (TOP) songs "What Is Hip" and "This Time It's Real," and have added their unmistakable smooth groove to these TOP hit classics.

    Adamo and Stucker have reimagined "What Is Hip" in a totally fresh and hip style that pays homage to, but never attempts to duplicate, the classic Tower of Power original.

    Adamo told us that during a recent meditation he had a musical insight about the music for a cover for this tune. He brought the idea to his producer, Jerry Stucker, who immediately contacted Stephen "Doc" Kupka about a remake. This was when they discovered that Doc had been thinking about retooling "This Time It's Real" along with several other TOP tunes. Doc was knocked out when he heard the rough mix and gave the high sign for them to groove on.
  • Fredharris from San Francisco,ca, Ca'Doc' Kupka gets hip to Tony Adamo's "What is Hip"

    "I love Tony's version of "What Is Hip?". He evokes the beatnik-bongo days of my youth and gives a whole new slant to a hard-charging funk tune. Congrats to both Tony Adamo and Jerry Stucker!" Stephen 'Doc' Kupka, Tower of Power co-founder
  • Victoria from Portland, OrGreat song as far as lyrics. Still a good question to ask these days - what IS hip??? Danced to a lot of Tower of Power in my youth (70's) in college and grad school. What is Hip was not my favorite of the band's repertoire since the beat changes so much but was good for doing spins, etc. on the dance floor. Not that many people liked to dance to it for that reason. People make fun of disco and music from 70's but, except for big band music of the 40's, it can't be beat for dancing to. I used to say I'd rather dance than walk and TOP helped me out with that a lot.
  • Balazs Ori from Budapest, HungaryI had not known much about TOP before I went to their concert with a friend of mine last week in Budapest. I've seen the Cool and the Gang, Jamiroquai, The Brand New Heavies and for example George Benson sevaral times alive, but they all are pretty much nothing compared to these guys. Tower of Power is TOP. Great music, joyful show. I gotta buy their albums.
  • Thomas from Stavanger, NorwaySimply a great song.
  • Bobby from Lagunitas, CaWhat is hip is one bad song man. Several of their songs are happenin. I rember when TOP used to play Georges Pool Hall In San Rafael Ca. I always said they have the best horn section on the planet. Elton Johns Mucsle Shoals horns were all that man. But I do love the SNL band They were awesome. I call TOP THE MOST FAMOUS UNKNOWN BAND IN THE WORLD. Everyone should hear this band play as a matter of fact they should play the Hollywood Bowl just for the hell of it Blow all those upper crust snobs away.
  • Rafael from Pasadena, CaSaw them at the Greek theater in LA a few years back and they smoked with this song.

    It was a great song in high school and it's a great song now.
  • Kathryn from Portland , OrAgreed! If you like funk, you'll love Tower of Power! Plus, Lenny Pickett, leader of the SNL band, was once in this group.
  • Evan from Flower Mound, Txgreat funk song that is very unknown, just judging by the lack of comments
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