Hip-Hop Records From 1987 Reviewed
Artist: Mr. X and Mr. Z
Title: We Drink Old Gold/Kick It Wicked - 12"
Label: Urban Rock Records - 1987
Producer: P-Fine, Hank Love
Essentially a parody of "I Know You Got Soul," "...Old Gold"
as the title suggests is a anthem to a certain alcoholic beverage. Mr. X, the
rapper, matches Rakim's flow bite by bite over the same track with a little Earth,
Wind, and Fire thrown in for extra flavor. Meanwhile, Mr. Z complements the mix
with scratching that surpasses Eric B's effort. The song got over on mix shows
that utilized the original with the parody, a trend inspired by the Roxanne saga
and continued to lesser degrees on success (answers to "Wild Thing"
"Gangsta Bitch," etc.).
As cool as "We Drink Old Gold" was, the real sleeper was the B-side,
"Kick It Wicked." An early breakbeat mix with lots of dope cuts, this
song included some of the first widespread uses of entire breaks instead of programming
(to coincide with the trend of the time). It still sounds good today; this song
was, and is, vastly underrated. Mr. X and Mr. Z later followed up with another
single on G-Fine records that went nowhere and wasn't all that good. But at least
they left us with one classic 12".
Artist: Mikey D and the LA Posse
Title: Bust A Rhyme Mike/My Telephone/Dawn - 12"
Label: Public Records - 1987
Producer: Paul C and Mikey D
Before his contributions to SuperLover C and Ultramagnetic, the late great Paul
C lent his production talent to the likes of Mikey D (former Main Source M.C.)
for a solid 3-song single. The A-side, "Bust A Rhyme Mike," was pretty
typical fare, but the B-side had much more to offer. "My Telephone"
was a slammin' mid tempo cut with lyrics and music that owe a lot to the early
Fresh Prince stuff. DJ Johnny Quest added some above average scratching of the
ubiquitous "Late Night" break, making for an entertaining and somewhat
amusing track. The final song, "Dawn," was another entry into the "beatbox+nasty
lyrics" genre inspired by Slick Rick and Just Ice.
Artist: MC Mitchski " The Rappin Comedian"
Title: Brooklyn Blew Up the Bridge b/w Goya, Freeda, & Red Alert is a Great
Man - 12"
Label: Ski Records - 1987
I have no idea who this guy is, but the record is more proof that anyone can and
will jump on the bandwagon. This bandwagon was the dissin' of MC Shan and the
Juice Crew. At least Shan put out other records, even though they sucked. With
the chorus of " Brooklyn blew up the bridge, South Bronx helped us out"
MC Mitchski did some cheerleading for the Boogie Down Bronx: " he walked
on stage like he was Casanova / when he sang 'the bridge' they said 'the bridge
is over' / when you hear this don't get all wild / 'cause to me MC means you're
my child / if you wanna battle me you must be dumb / 'cause you can't even hang
with KRS-One". Mitchski was also all up on Red Alert's dick with the cut
'Red Alert is a Great Man' describing how he always tapes Kiss 98.7 fm on Saturdays.
The self proclaimed rappin' comedian shows his style of humor on ÎGoya',
a rhyme about eating a dinner of chicken and goya beans with a Puerto Rican girl,
and 'Freeda', a rhyme about a freak who's always smellin' like fish. These two
cuts are similar to 'La Di Da Di' in that its just a beat box and some guy rhymin'
a story, however, these guys aren't even in the same time-zone talent-wise as
Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick.
Artist: Sean Baby & Ninja D
Title: K.G. Dance (Wop) - 12"
Label: B-Boy Records - 1987
Producer: KRS-ONE & Scott LaRock
A perfect crew to wonder what ever happened to, Sean Baby and Ninja D went for
theirs rapping about doing the wop. "Not the Bizmark dance or the Pee Wee
Herman," this one's pretty self explanatory. What makes it significant is
that, with the exception of one song on the B-Girls compilation for labelmate
Babydoll, this is the only side project on wax that Scott and Kris produced together.
The music is classic Criminal Minded material. A cameo appearance by KRS at the
end shouting "Fresh for '87... The bridge is over, the bridge is over"
ices the cake.
Peanut Butter Wolf
Artist: Biz Markie featuring TJ Swan
Title: Nobody Beats the Biz - 12"
Label: Prism - 1987
Producer: Marley Marl
One of Kid Capri's "10 Records Guaranteed to Rock a Party," this song
starts with a sample of Shante's "Def Fresh Crew" where she introduces
Biz as the beat box on her cut. The beat is heavy on the high-hat and works with
the "Fly Like an Eagle" sample as TJ Swan sings the title, imitating
the "nobody beats the Wiz" store commercials. Biz even does a little
beat box throughout the song. His lyrical flow and vocal style are now legendary,
and this was evident here with lyrics like "Reagan is the Pres., but I voted
for Shirley Chisolm." He was funny at the beginning, but I'm afraid he's
now on some real crazy shit.
Artist: Public Enemy
Title: Public Enemy #1
Label: Def Jam / Columbia - 1987
Producers: Bill Stephney, Hank Shocklee, & Carl Ryder
In the beginning, before the political messages and complex production of "It
Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back," Public Enemy began with this
record. Over a sample of the JB's classic "Blow Your Head," Chuck D.
displays his lyrical prowess with lines like "For all you suckers, liars
- your cheap amplifiers/ Your crossed up wires are always starting fires/ For
all you grown up criers - here's a pair of pliers/ Get a job like you mother -
I heard she fixes old driers." On the B-Side, "Son of Public Enemy"
is a Dub version of "#1" that features more of Flavor Flav going off
and some tricks with the effects rack. This piece of wax is a must for DJ's who
do tricks because of the 'One, One, One, Hoo-Ha!!!' breakdown toward the beginning
of the record. Collectors take note, any Public Enemy 12-inch record released
before 1992 will be difficult to find.
Title: Believe Dat/Bust A Move/To Be A Champion
Label: Wild Pitch - 1987
Prod.: J.V. Johnson/DJ Mark 45 King
The almightly Gangstarr minus Premier is like Burt Reynolds without his wig, but
yo here it is. Guru(or as he preferred at the time, Keithy E) sounds hella young,
but, even at this early stage, he displays the exceptional microphone skills which
were later to elevate him to superhero status. Lyrically, he's not dropping knowledge
or kicking wisdom as he does now, he's just styling on the mic like an original
b-boy. But as always, he could rhyme about brushing his teeth if he wanted, and
still captivate fools with that exceptional flow. Sure, MC's develop with practice,
but you have to be born with it to have something to build upon.
This record's all about the lyrics cause musically it ain't saying too much. "Believe
Dat" jacks up the Average White Band's "Pick Up The Pieces", replaying
part of the break live. Monotonous now, but I guess it sounded fresh back then.
The other two cuts are produced by DJ Mark the 45 King and don't really come up
to the level of productions he was doing around this time, since Mark was a real
innovator in hip-hop. Basically, they're JB's riffs looped continously. If you
know your old People 45's (or if you copped out and bought the warp-free reissue
LP's) you'll recognise the tracks fairly quickly.
Artist : Gang Starr
Title : The Lesson - 12"
Label : Wild Pitch - 1987
Producer : Donald Dee
Back when Wild Pitch was distributed by K-Tel, Keithy E.M.C. and D.J. 1, 2 B Down
released The Lesson, Gang Starr's first single (verified by the Intoxicated Devils).
Keithy drops lyrics on the lessons of life over an uninspired beat and some scratches
that have since been played out. You would want this record solely for the historical
value. Keithy E.M.C. became the Guru, dissed his crew and D.J. from Boston, and
hooked up with DJ Premier. No sense of loyalty, but a smart career move.
Artist: Criminal Element Orchestra
Title: Put the Needle to the Record - 12"
Label: Criminal Records - 1987
Producer: Wally Jump Jr.
Wally Jump Jr., alias Arthur Baker, put together this ultra-funky instrumental
with a little help from drummer Keith LeBlanc. The track itself is made up of
live drums and bass and samples flying in and out of the mix at random, including
Jody Watley's voice saying, "Asta la vista, baby," which gets repeated
so many times that someone wisely sampled someone saying, "I said, shut up!"
Prince's "Kiss" also gets a workout. The phrase, "Put the needle
on the record, when the drum beats go like this," has been pretty widely
sampled, most notably by M/A/R/R/S for "Pump Up the Volume." A dope
record from start to finish.
Artist: Kool Moe Dee
Title: How Ya Like Me Now - LP
Label: Jive/RCA - 1987
This LP is as interesting for its inner-sleeve text as it is for beats and rhymes.
Taking it upon himself to be the Siskel & Ebert of hip-hop, Kool Moe Dee scorns
LL Cool J for egocentric lyrics ("The baddest rapper in the history of rap
itself"?! If you feel that way you've gotta prove it! To ME!!) and disses
the Beastie Boys ("We rappers have worked very hard to get rap to the level
it's at. Don't mess it up. Keep the wild stuff on stage.") Turn the sleeve
over and Kool Moe is generous enough to have a report card containing the most
widely known rappers of the day. Among the most interesting ratings are Public
Enemy who receive an 80 (B), the Beasties get a mere 70 (C), and Run DMC get an
82 (B). Sitting at the top is Kool Moe Dee (surprise!) with a 95 (A+). Getting
to the music, Teddy Riley supplies a funky James Brown beat for the title track
and Kool Moe produces some of his best and most defiant lyrics; "I'm bigger
and better, forget about deffer." "Wild, Wild West" featured memorable
lines like "we fight with our hands and nobody's a punk!" Another important
track is "Way Way Back" which showcases Moe Dee using them old school
skills that made him popular as a member of the rap pioneers The Treacherous 3.