Friday, June 25, 2010

Hip-Hop's Golden Age Countdown (5-1)

5.Eric B. and Rakim-Paid In Full
Release: 1988
U.S. Hot R and B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks Position: #65
Lowdown: A quintessential song from the era. Do you know how many songs that drum beat in "Paid In Full" was used for in dance, rap, rock, or whatever remix you want to name used? An ungodly amount of times. The original drumbeat was used by Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers in "Ashley's Roachclip", but was really brought to the mainstream by Eric B. & Rakim. All of the "Paid In Full" album is essential Golden Age material, and the song is another reminder of how innovative these two were.

4. Run D.M.C.-It's Tricky
Release: 1987
U.S. Hot R and B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks Position: #21
Lowdown: I could have taken the easy route and thrown in "Walk This Way". But that was the song that really revived Aerosmith's career. Run D.M.C. already had a set of steam as shown here with the number four song "It' Tricky". "Raising Hell" marks a time when old school rap transformed into gold and platinum success and Run D.M.C. were there bare the torch. Forgot that Penn and Teller were in the video for this until I called up the youtube clip. For Jam-Master Jay who's no longer with us.

3. Beastie Boys-Hey Ladies
Release: July 25, 1989 
U.S. Rap Position: #10
Lowdown: From probably my favorite album from the period "Paul's Boutique", the Beasties trade in their frat boy image and sound for the Dust Brothers and California sunshine. And what they got in return was the most innovative album of the era. "Hey Ladies" is perhaps the best of the bunch for the fact it taught me who Sadaharu Oh was and references including Chuck Woolery and Chachi in Charge still sound kitschy fresh today. "Vincent Van Gogh And Mail That Ear" and then cue up the cowbell.

For original version: Hey Ladies (Original Mix)
A Remix Version:

2.Public Enemy-Fight The Power
Release: 1989
U.S. Rap Position: #1
Lowdown: You could call the trilogy of albums from Public Enemy ("It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back", "Fear Of A Black Planet", and "Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black") the Star Wars of the golden era. "Fight The Power" is the ultimate top dog of the bunch. It not only spoke volumes as a theme song for Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing", it was battle cry for people to never give in to the staus quo. Self-empowerment never sounded so sweet.

1. De La Soul-Me, Myself, & I
Release: February 27, 1989 
U.S. Rap Position: #1
Lowdown:  I feel guilty not including any other songs from De La Soul's "3 Feet High and Rising" in the top 25 countdown ("Buddy", "Say No Go", "Potholes In my Lawn"). But at the same time, I feel very sure that their breakthrough single "Me, Myself, & I" is my favorite single from Hip-Hop's Golden Age. It's got everything you want from a song from that time period: Good Feelings + Self-Empowerment + Top Notch lyrics+ An All Around Great Vibe. While many emcees were starting to drift off on topics that were more gang and sex oriented, the guys from De La Soul brought a hippie mentality for a short time to their songs, preaching of the daisy age, and rapping effervescently over samples borrowed from a variety of material at their disposal. This also marked the point where artists being sampled wanted apiece of the cake as shown by the Turtles suing for their use of "You Showed Me" on a De La Soul "Three Feet High And Rising" song. On "Me, Myself, and I" everything comes together perfectly, the lyrics are self conscious and full of not being ashamed of who or what you think "Now you tease my Plug One Style", "Proud I'm Proud Of What I Am, Poems I Speak Are Plug Two Type", "Cause They Try To Mess With Third Degree, That's Me, Myself & I". It may be harmless in the grand scheme theme of things, but isn't that what the golden age was mostly about? Emcees and DJ's marrying a flow of great lyrics with sampled material that a new generation wasn't aware of and that positive feeling of having a good time.


  1. You need to add Paul's Boutique to the JHO Hall of Fame. -Hickey

  2. Paul's Boutique is very Hall of Fame worthy, probably even Check Your Head. May have to give it a proper home by the end of the year.