5 Things You Don’t Hear on Hip Hop Albums Any More
As grownheads, we always seem to be whining about the good ole days: How everything was just golden in the Golden Era of hip hop. According to our own Hip Hop Purist, NOTHING is better in these modern times. Well, We won’t go that far, but a few things have changed. These are just some things you never hear on rap records anymore. Hot or not, they get us a little sentimental…
5. Rock Songs
In ’83, Run-DMC hit with ‘Rock Box’ and got some MTV play, back when NO black artist could get ANY light on MTV. Then the Beastie Boys blew up all over the place with ‘Fight For Your Right To Party.’ After that, every rapper (or their A&R) made it their business to drop a rock song on the album. LL had ‘You’ll Rock’ and ‘Cut Creator Go’ (a remake of ‘Johnny B. Goode’ by Chuck Berry). Boogie Down Productions had ‘Ya Slippin.’ And Public Enemy always had rock songs on their albums, even going so far to remake ‘Bring the Noise’ with Anthrax. We could go on and on; there are just too many to name. What’s tripped out is that lots of these songs were such straight-up rock records that if they lost the verse, they’d have been right at home on any metalhead’s playlist.
4. House Songs
First there was Jack, and Jack had a groove… Once upon a time, house music was played outside of just Detroit, Chicago, New York and Miami. At one time, house was loved by the masses, and not just those who lived near big cities or were gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that—we’re not homophobic in the least, in fact we love what the gays have done with design and brunch). Heads were no different. We got our house on, and when the Jungle Brothers put out ‘Girl I’ll House You,’ it was like somebody got chocolate in the peanut butter. Everybody followed suit. Chicago even developed a sub-genre called Hip-House with stars like Fast Eddie and Mr. Lee (and I used to rock THE HELL out of them at parties), and hip hop artists made “one for the club” on the regular. Queen Latifah had ‘Come Into My House’ and Craig G did ‘Turn This House Into a Home,’ but my personal favorite was 2 Live Crew’s “Get the F*#CK out of My House.”
3. Love Songs
Nowadays, love in hip hop is relegated to songs about your momma or dead homie, but back in the day before we got so ‘hard,’ the narrative used to go a little something like this: Rapper meets girl. Rapper lays down his rap. Girl can’t resist. They fall in love. Rapper then makes a song about said loving feelings. LL dropped ‘I Can Give You More’ and the classic ‘I Need Love,’ Heavy D did ‘Somebody For Me,’ Whodini had ‘One Love’ and Pete Rock and CL Smooth gave us ‘Lots of Lovin.’ There are lots more, but you get it. Most of these songs had an element of sensuality but managed to keep the focus on the emotional connection—something even R&B seems to have lost touch with.
2. Give the DJ Some
As the Lyricist gradually took the lead among hip-hop’s Four Pillars, b-boys and graf artists—always on the second tier—lost some prominence. But the DJ, as keeper of the wax, used to have a more equal standing. In earlier times, every rap album had a song shouting out the man behind the wheels of steel. Starting with Grandmaster Flash, some of rap’s hottest hits were about the DJ, and Jam Master Jay, Eric B, Jazzy Jeff and DJ Premier were some of the biggest stars. With the advent of multi-producer albums, many modern performers don’t even have a regular DJ to big up.
1. No Collabos
Remember when the only person on an album was the guy or gal whose picture was on the front? It was such a quaint idea: expecting a rapper to show and prove, solely on their own skill. Now NOBODY does a record alone. With all the cross-promotion and trying to put the crew on, there’s barely any room for the actual artist on his or her own record. I mean, it was a big deal when the Sugar Hill Gang and the Furious 5 appeared on the same record, but today it would barely make a bleep. The first time this phenomenon really annoyed me was on ‘Doggy Style.’ It just irked the hell out of me that I had to listen to the substandard Dogg Pound take up Snoop’s valuable mic time.