This week’s death of Guru (do you know that near the end things were so bad he required a Daily Operation?) made me think about the incredible concentration of quality that hip-hop gave us in the early nineties.
Before that time I wasn’t much of a rap fan, although living with a brother who was meant that I experienced the best of what the eighties had to offer (Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Run DMC, NWA, Erik B and Rakim etc. I remember loving ‘White Lines’ at the age of ten and my mum asking me if I knew what it was about. I had no idea, so she told me. I’ve been addicted to cocaine ever since). But whatever happened around the turn of the decade, there did seem to be a non-stop surge of new and brilliant work that has yet to be matched.
First, I could mention the great artists who produced their best work at that time: Dr Dre’s The Chronic; Nas’s Illmatic; Snoop’s Doggystyle; Death Certificate and Amerikkka’s Most Wanted by Ice Cube; Paul’s Boutique by The Beastie Boys; Don’t Sweat The Technique by Eric B and Rakim; The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest; Daily Operation and Step In The Arena by Gang Starr
Then there’s the 80s MCs who brought out excellent new tracks that matched the best of what they had done before: New Jack Hustler by Ice T; What’s It All About and Down With The King by Run DMC; Juice (Know The Ledge) by Eric B and Rakim; Always Into Something by NWA; Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J; Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince; Headbanger by EPMD; Duck Down and Sound Of Da Police by KRS 1 and So What ‘Cha Want by The Beastie Boys
We also had the breakthroughs of such artists as Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Redman, The Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Digital Underground, 3rd Bass, Main Source, 2Pac, OutKast, Common, The Pharcyde, The Geto Boys, Cypress Hill, Naughty By Nature and Notorious BIG.
And the One-Hit Wonders: Slam by Onyx; Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) by Digable Planets; Let It All Hang Out by A.D.O.R; Fuck Compton by Tim Dogg; I Gotta Man by Positive K; Gangsta Bitch by Apache; Jump Around by House of Pain; Chief Rocka by Lords of the Underground; 93 Til Infinity by Souls of Mischief; Regulate by Warren G; One To Grow On by UMC’s; Flavor Of The Month by Black Sheep; Mistadobalina by Del The Funkee Homosapien, Sometimes I Rhyme Slow by Nice And Smooth etc.
Obviously there are many others that I haven’t mentioned, but for me this era was to hip-hop as the late sixties/early seventies were to rock.
And I don’t think I’m the only one who believes this. When I went to see Fish Tank last year, the main character was a sixteen-year-old girl who practices dancing in an empty council flat. Oddly enough, the only music she dances to is early nineties hip-hop.
I hope you enjoy some of the above tracks.
I know I did.