I was asked to come up with five tracks to introduce hip-hop as we, the old folk, know and love it. Specifically, this request was geared towards one who was asking with an eye toward becoming a hip-hop artist, so bear that in mind.
It was an interesting exercise, and I put a bit of work into it, so I thought I’d add it here for public posterity. Please do feel free to comment or add opinions, etc., the three of you who visit this site.
These tracks are (almost) all single rappers, because they were requested by an individual rapper. That said, crews rock.
If you do follow these links, please play these in order. (Maybe cue them up all at once in different tabs on YouTube, just to get the ads out of the way.) Order matters.
GangStarr: It’s Getting Hectic
Two things about this track: one is the entire second verse, and the other is its live background – this track comes from a ’92 compilation album which was a pioneer of live music behind rapping, seven years before The Roots made the Billboard charts.
Slick Rick: Children’s Story
This track tells an actual story. Because honestly, that’s the entire point! As easy and as popular as it is, there’s only so much “I’m so-and-so, I’m this, I’m that” bullshit you can spew before you lose your mind (and your audience).
Kweli: Get By
I couldn’t put together a list without including either Kweli or Eric B/Rakim. I included this track (Kweli) since it does two things I’d like to highlight:
- Show us what life looks like from where you are, and
- Where possible, be positive and try to make things better.
Triple Ave: Trinity
From this distance, the most important reason this track is here:The group submitted this track to a sort of music-industry event. At this event, a track would play over the speakers, and then a panel would discuss it. When this one came on, the A&R man on the panel said: “This is the best track I’ve heard today. In fact, it’s the best new hip-hop track I’ve heard – but I can’t do a thing with it. I can’t sell this because it doesn’t promote greed or violence.”
Big Daddy Kane: Ain’t No Half Steppin
Not only do we need a BDK track in general, but it also makes a good point:”Half steppin” means not being fully committed, or not doing things well.
So, whatever you do, do it completely, and as correctly as you can. Go balls-out. Moderation is for monks.
Bonus Track: Suckaz
This isn’t part of the track listing proper, but while we’re here: Our whole world has been poisoned by greed and false prophets. Speak from your heart; speak to what’s real and what you know. Don’t make shit up, or pretend you’re something you’re not. Be honest and true.