All of us had our own first introductions and encounters with Hip Hop. Some of us remember that song or the moment that turned our world on its head and made it spin like a B Boy doing bullet head spins. This is a short list and breakdown of some tracks that influenced and shaped Hip Hop music.
Rappers Delight – The Sugar Hill Gang – When I heard this track I could feel it right away. They flipped on a huge disco hit called Good Times by a band called Chic. They were rhyming about partying and having a good time and this was my first little window into the Afro American experience other than that Blacksploitation movies at that time. This song was re-done by The Def Squad and both versions stand as classics today.
Wikki wikki song – Nucleus – This was a strange track that came out in the early eighties. Strange but funky and this is what made us jump on the floor and rock those B Boy moves. This track also had those squeaky voices that was processed through a vocoder and they inspired the name of our first B Boy Crew Called the Ballastic Rockers.
Jam on it – Nucleus - This was the return of the squeaky voiced rappers from outer space and this time it became more funky. This track gave you street credit and only a selected few had this track. When I hear this track it reminds me of one the B Boys called Ashley that was way ahead of his time. This song brought out the futuristic next level shhhht out of this B Boy. Most Def did a remix of this song as well.
The Payback Mix – This was a mega mix done by the British DJ Production Crew called Cold Cuts. This was the music of the most sampled musician of all time – none other than the Godfather of Soul – James Brown. The track selection and the way it flowed made this one of the greatest DJ produced works.
White Lines – MC Melle Mell – When I heard this song it felt like I was part of the instrumentation and the lyrics because it hit home and gave me a better view of my surroundings. This is one of Hip Hop’s first conscious tracks that told it like it is.
The Adventures of Grand Master Flash – You cannot call yourself a DJ if you did not hear this track. This was the first DJ track that highlighted cutting and scratching and it laid the groundwork for everything else to follow. Grand Master Flash was amongst the first DJ’S to take turntablism to the next level.
Sucker MC’s – Run DMC – When this came out it changed the sound and the look of Hip Hop forever. They made Adidas and pork pie Hats the ultimate in Hip Hop fashion. Other songs to check out – Peter Piper, My Adidas and Beats to the rhyme and Hit it Run.
Rock the bells – LL Cool J – As far as I am concerned this was LL’s first and best work ever. This came out at the right time and it was the ultimate display of lyrical marksmanship with the Bomb production to go with it. LL even came off better on the remix of Rock the Bells. Also check out Mamma said knock you out, Jack the Ripper and the Bigger and Deafer album. - Other Tracks with a similar vibe and energy -Hold It now, Hit it – Beastie Boys,The Bridge – MC Shan, The Bridge is over – KRS 1 – this was a diss for MC Shan for doing The Bridge.
If you call yourself a Hip Hop Head, I feel it is important to get these tracks because it indicates the journey we have traveled and gives us an insight into the history of this culture. It will even be better to get it on vinyl because that is the essence of a head to go out and make the effort and dig into those crates.The list and the short breakdowns will continue in part 2. Happy hunting and get those South African albums as well.
DJ Ready D