“Eric B. Is President” by Eric B. & Rakim (1986)

And now, a few random thoughts regarding “Eric B. Is President”. “President” heralded the next major advance in hip-hop upon its release in late 1986. Production-wise, Eric B & Rakim’s debut marked one of the first instances of  layered samples (rudimentary as the layering was). Rakim also signaled a seismic shift in the art of… Read More “Eric B. Is President” by Eric B. & Rakim (1986)

“Criminal Minded” by Boogie Down Productions (1987)

Donald Glover did a stand up bit about old school hip-hop and how simplistic it sounds when compared to newer stuff. I can’t really argue with the guy. Even as I sit and listen to “Criminal Minded”, it’s pretty basic. I mean, not “throw your hands in the air/and wave ‘em like you just don’t care” basic. But,… Read More “Criminal Minded” by Boogie Down Productions (1987)

“Come On (Motherfucker)” by The Notorious B.I.G. & Sadat X (1999)

Upon commercial release, the “motherfucker” was left off of “Come On”’s original title. Although it didn’t officially see the light of day until 2000 (on the Notorious one’s posthumous Born Again CD), the duet between two of NYC’s finest emcees was recorded seven years prior. At the time, Biggie was on the come up, sprinkling the underground… Read More “Come On (Motherfucker)” by The Notorious B.I.G. & Sadat X (1999)

“The Choice Is Yours (Revisited)” by Black Sheep (1991)

Want to get a party lit? Put the needle on the bass-heavy intro to “The Choice Is Yours”. Or jump straight to the breakdown on “The Choice Is Yours”. You know–the “engine engine number 9” part. Motherfuckers will lose their ever loving god damn minds. Black Sheep’s debut, A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing, is a… Read More “The Choice Is Yours (Revisited)” by Black Sheep (1991)

“Children’s Story” by Slick Rick (1988)

Slick Rick might be the greatest storyteller in all of hip-hop history. Seriously, the guy could have written screenplays, his mind was so vivid. “Children’s Story” is widely (and correctly) cited as one of The Ruler’s most intriguing and impactful stories. The tale of a stick-up kid who gets his comeuppance resonated with hip-hop (and… Read More “Children’s Story” by Slick Rick (1988)

“Check The Rhime” by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

1991’s “Check The Rhime” didn’t introduce a new A Tribe Called Quest so much as it introduced a refined A Tribe Called Quest that distinctly separated itself as a separate entity from the rest of the Native Tongues collective. The song’s sensibility–Tip and Phife’s approximation of an old-school routine, the neck-cracking boom-bap, the jazzy sensibility… Read More “Check The Rhime” by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

“Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest (1990)

The greatest call and response in hip-hop history. If someone asks you if they can kick it, and you say “no, you can’t”, then you’re an asshole. “Can I Kick It” was Tribe’s third single, and was the first to really stamp coolness on Q-Tip’s flow. “El Segundo” and “Bonita Applebum” were a nerdy kind of cool, but “Can… Read More “Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest (1990)

“C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)” by Wu-Tang Clan (1993)

The Wu revolves around several things that I am quite unfamiliar with: the projects and Staten Island. Many of the Wu-Tang members are from S.I.’s Stapleton Projects. I’m sure a lot of people who don’t know my background think that I’m bougie or that I come from middle-class means. Someone actually called me “Theo Huxtable” once-fairly… Read More “C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)” by Wu-Tang Clan (1993)

“Buggin’ Out” by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

“Microphone check, 1-2. What is this?/The five foot assassin with the roughneck business/I I float like gravity, never had a cavity/Got more rhymes than the Winans got family” Those words boomed out of a PA system in Seattle on a mild Saturday in April 2016. I was attending PopCon, an annual gathering of music journalists… Read More “Buggin’ Out” by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

“Buddy (Native Tongues Decision)” by De La Soul (feat. The Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, Monie Love, Queen Latifah & Prince Paul) (1989)

De La Soul’s “Buddy” arrived mere months before A Tribe Called Quest changed the hip-hop love song paradigm with “Bonita Applebum”. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Q-Tip and co. were inspired to make “Bonita” because of “Buddy”. After all, Tip and Phife Dawg (marking his first appearance on record) are both featured… Read More “Buddy (Native Tongues Decision)” by De La Soul (feat. The Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, Monie Love, Queen Latifah & Prince Paul) (1989)