Artist: The Rake
Title: Street Justice - 12"
Producer: Marc Blatte, Larry Gotlieb, Jay Rifkin.
Label: Profile - 1983
In the social commentary vein established by "The Message" this cut is a serious story of how the Rake's experiences in the streets have removed his faith in the justice system. You need to remember when listening to this cut how old it is because all the situations detailed herein are still 100% relevant today. The Rake has an extreme degree of talent and his hard, almost soulless voice slides like an alleycat over the groove and puts you right in the middle of the mayhem as he runs through the dark streets. Even though it's evident that he's been watching a few "Death Wish" films and thinks he's Charles Bronson, his words carry a great deal of weight. The three producers also manage to latch on to his lyrical vibe with a track that perfectly expresses the way the MC felt and flows with, not against, him. This record may have been five years before "Straight Outta Compton" but it shows that hip-hop wasn't all Adidas and parties at the time. Damn, where did this guy go?
Artist: Beastie Boys
Title: Cooky Puss b/w Beastie Revolution
Producer: Doug Pomeroy & Beastie Boys
"These pussy crumbs are making me itch, maybe I should scratch." Imagine what it would sound like if the Beastie Boys (including then Beastie Kate Schellenback) called Carvel Ice Cream looking for Cooking Puss, the ice cream cake. Add a beat and some scratchin' that sounds as if someone just bought a 1200 and is trying to figure out how to use it, and you've got this record. When this first came out I called Carvel for a month trying to tape the call, but I couldn't get my tape recorder close enough to the phone. The B-side is just a 5 minute rasta-parody with the Beasties playing with the effects rack.
Artist: Rammelzee vs. K-Rob
Title: Beat Bop - 12"
Label: Profile - 1983
Producer: Jean Michel Basqurat
That mad nasal style... "Break it up Cypress Hill," "Shoot'em up y'all, yeah" - it sounds like the hallmark of that fumigated Cypress funk. You know, the sound that eerily lurches and churns like the Ultraman credits. Well, teleport yourself like Dr. Who back to 83, and youll hear one of the more unsung lyrical influences upon B-Real, Beasties, and countless others -"Did you get my drift?" Rammelzee vs. K-Rob's "Beat Bop" is a 10:10 epic of eternal lyric trade-off between graffiti madman Rammelzee and a low-key K-Rob. With prophetic flavor, Rammelzee screeches lines like, "Shoot 'em up, yeah. Shoot 'em up y'all, yeah," with such piercing conviction that yo'd think h'd sucked his nose into his brain. Never have snot bulk and rhymes sounded so good together. As B-Real successfully reflects his microphone roots, phrases like, "Break it up Cypress Hill," and, "Scooby Doo, what you gonna do crew," are pit stops in this deranged journey through your dome.
Being notoriously adroit with the graffiti pens and paint, Rammelzee combined with late graffiti visionary Jean Michel Basqurat on this project. As "Beat Bop" could be one of hip-hop's first art songs, Basqurat's production is not indicative of the 808 madness of the early 80's. The lazy track slowly inhales you with looping bongos, guitar, and some Trevor Hornish water-bloop sounds. Rammelzee splatters the vinyl with entangled and overlapping verbal hues derived from from the heart of hip-hop culture. His lyrical physics gush with the volatility and complexity of a Wild Style tag. K-Rob compliments Rammelzee's off-and-on-again nasal control with chilled street commentary. The 411 is limited on K-Rob, though he released another single on Profile entitled "The Day K-Rob Came Back." "Beat Bop" is as intrinsic to the hip-hop fiend's collection as Krylon is to the A-Line.
Artist: Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five
Label: Sugar Hill Records - 1983
Producer: Artists ?
During the time the Jonzun Crew was making noise over at Tommy Boy, Flash and the Crew put together an uptempo jam with voice box and funky keyboards. Not typical of their style this record still hits. The record, simply put, was a dance record for the breakers. It just keeps saying "higher", then near the end it gives shouts to the crew and significant others. The aspect of the record that is interesting is the keyboards. Much like the DST and Infinity Rappers classic, the driving force behind Scorpio is when they turn off the voice box and let the keyboard man get loose. There are some truly thick, memorable bass lines on this track. They also switch up and sometimes drop the bass out but continue to get funky.
Artist: Herbie Hancock
Title: Rockit - 12"
Label: Columbia 1983
Producer: Material and Herbie Hancock
In the world of jazz music Herbie Hancock has always been an innovator, from his beginnings playing in Miles Davis'band to his groundbreaking use of synthesizers in the early 70's. In the 80's he did it again by teaming up with avant-funk producers Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn of the group Material. On " Rockit" Herbie brings out his whole arsenal of keyboards including two intruments that were very new at the time, the Fairlight computer and the E-mu 4060 sampling keyboard. However, the crowning touch on the record is the now famous scratching break by Grand Mixer D.ST., which I know inspired more than a few people to invest in a pair of 1200's. Years later this jam can still move the crowd.
Artist : The B Boys
Title: Rock the House b/w Cutttin'Herbie
Label : Vintertainment Records - 1983
Producer: Vincent Davis
The "MC Microphone King" Donald D rhymes about the attractions of the hip-hop scene, breakdancing, fly girls, and hype music, as DJ Chuck Chill Out cuts it up over a 116 BPM drum beat programmed by Vincent Davis. This collectors item is home to the "Rock the House Y'all" sample that is used so much. The B-side is a display of Chuck Chill Out's skills as he rips up Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" over an even faster drum beat.
Artist: MC G.L.O.B.E. & Whiz Kid
Title: Play That Beat Mr. DJ
Label: Tommy Boy - 1983
Producer: Tom Silverman & Craig Harris
"Punk rock, new wave, and soul / pop music, salsa, rock & roll / calypso, reggae, rythm & blues / master mix those number one tunes." Without a doubt, this is one of the best singles ever released by Tommy Boy. Sidestepping away from the Soul Sonic Force momentarily, MC G.L.O.B.E. teamed up with Whiz Kid to create this classic ode to everybody's favorite man: the DJ. This record was truly a family affair with Tommy Boy founder Tom Silverman co-producing, and various members of the company staff providing background vocals. This track also gained noteriety as being the basis for Double Dee and Steinski's "Lesson 1." Thirteen years later, and it's still fresh.
Title: The Planet Doesn't Mind - 12"
Label: Dancing Bear Records - 1983
Producer: Diane Dragon
"The planet doesn't mind. That's right." Memories of popping, locking, and breaking come to mind whenever I hear this classic jam on a mix tape. On what was formerly Dancing Bear Records out of San Jose (now Star Records), this song is sure to bring back memories. The best part of this jam is the bells which ring in a down-tempo pattern. If you have this record, be sure to keep it safe.
Title: Clear - 12"
Label: Fantasy - 1983
Producer: 3070 and Juan Atkins
Another major footnote in the electric funk genre of Hip-Hop, Cybotron was a three-man outfit from Detroit, Michigan. Consisting of Jon-5, Juan Atkins, and the cryptically named 3070, this group actually had a few hits in their hometown before "Planet Rock" (the record that started the whole electric funk movement). They signed with Berkeley, California independent Fantasy Records in 1983 and dropped this breakdance classic on the unsuspecting world. Sounding reminiscent of both "Looking For the Perfect Beat" and "Egypt, Egypt," this jam carved out its own niche amongst these classics. Cybotron only hit one more time with the follow-up, "R-9," and like so many other groups faded into obscurity. Juan Atkins did actually have a career after Cybotron, mainly being responsible for starting up the Techno-House movement in Detroit and spreading to the rest of the world.