Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is Your Name Michael Diamond?

No, mine's Clarence.

Dave ensured that the giving season of Gheorghemas didn't close on December 31.  In the same vein, here's a little post-holidays gift in the Zman style with some Clarence aged cheese to it.  Some time ago, Zman laid a "bangin' old-school hiphop playlist" on us, and I listened eagerly.  And though it was good stuff, the one recurring thought that puzzled and disappointed me was this: Old school?  This is way later than my old school shit.

But I shut up, needing not reinforce the painfully obvious fact that Rob and I = Statler and Waldorf.

In December, Zman commented a link to a historical list of hip-hop through the years.  Now it's time for me to make the mixtape, wrap it up, and send it to you guys old style USPS.

Here's my older school playlist, and it may not be bangin', but there's some serious scratchin' and cross-fadin' and bass-kickin'.  Let me take you back to Norfolk, Virginia, when a very white boy attending private school would tune into the "Top 10 at 10" every night on WOWI 103 to hear the latest rap offerings.  Yep, the beats lacked the complexity of what was produced just a handful of years later.  The samples, when there are any at all, are straightforward and pedestrian by latter-day standards.  Certain songs are ridiculously sparse . . . a man and a beat box (sometimes a buman one) in some cases.  I now know what it must be like for Beatlemaniacs or people my dad's age who cling loyally to The Kingsmen as real rock and roll.  It's old, almost silly, but it's what I dig.

And this is all from a guy for whom Paul's Boutique will probably forever remain the pinnacle.  No matter, here's what I listened to (among other things) during my formative years.  Cutting this off arbitrarily at my high school graduation date.

Kick off your shoes . . .

1. UTFO, "Roxanne, Roxanne"
The most-played for a very long time.  The Kangol Kid, EMD, and Doctor Ice battle for a cold-hearted girl's affections.  Accept no substitutes, meaning the bullshit rip-off comebacks like "Roxanne's Revenge" and "The Real Roxanne." Mix Master Ice's scratching keeps it fresh.  Not sure why UTFO (a) was a one-hitter or (b) struck such a chord with me with this number, but it's a classic.
Lyric to listen for: EMD's -ary rhyming fiesta.  Enjoyable.
1984

2. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, "The Message"
The original fly dressers, lots of leather plus nerdy clothes that somehow looked street. I don't know any rapper of merit who doesn't credit these cats for shaping the sound in some way.  Low on braggadocio, high on tales of urban plight.  Down by law. Check out "New York New York" for a similar . . . uh, message.  Skip over "Scorpio"; the dudes merely learned how to talk like a robot through a keyboard, and 10 seconds in, you've heard it all.
Lyric to listen for: Now you're unemployed, all non-void / Walking 'round like you're Pretty Boy Floyd -- kind of reminds me of Say Anything.
1982

3. Whodini, "Friends"
For one album (Escape), Whodini was incredibly solid.  Before and after it, they were oddly worthless.  They didn't scratch up the record, and their songs were pretty old school sparse.
Lyric to listen for: Couldn't trust her with cheese let alone your keys.
1984 

4. Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three, "Request Line"
Love this one.  Such 1980's cheese, and one of the only hip-hop songs to feature a DJ -- meaning a radio disc jockey pretending to be on air.  Charlie Prince, MBG, and Slick Rick . . . nope, not that Slick Rick.  This was the original. And don't forget The Scott with something all scratched up for you.  And the phone ringing.  Love it.
Lyric to listen for: Late in the tune, The Dynamic Three all delivering a rap . . . at the same time, over each other so you can't decipher any lines.  Stupidly brilliant.
1985

5. Kurtis Blow, "A.J. Scratch"
I'm a Kurtis Blow fan.  He was funky fresh from way back; "The Breaks" predated most all of hip-hop.  To me, Run-D.M.C. took the beats from across 100th street into my room (a place theretofore full of Zenyatta Mondatta and Diver Down), but there were a few acts that set the stage for Reverend Run and DMC to do that.  Mister Kurtis Blow was one, even as he tips his cap to those dudes here.
Lyric to listen for: That's right, y'all, his name is A.J.  (You know why.)
1984

6. LL Cool J, "Rock the Bells"
The rocking rap exudes Rick Rubin and DefJam.  It's got some "Hold It Now, Hit It" and "Time to Get Ill" linkage and it presages My Adidas's backbeat, but it's vintage LL all the way.  I heard "I Need a Beat" on the radio first.  S'allright.  Then "I Can't Live Without My Radio."  Way better.  Then this.  Hell yes. Rock the bells.
Lyric to listen for: 'Cause it ain't the glory days with Bruce Springsteen / I'm not a virgin so I know I'll make Madonna scream / You hated Michael and Prince all the way, ever since / If their beats were made of meat, then they would have to be mince
1985

7. Run-D.M.C., "King of Rock"
This one's for the Teedge.  There is no list of this kind without heavy doses of Run, D, and Jay, so here's a start.  Played on the Irish Times jukebox most every happy hour of the early 2000's, and every time it makes me happy. Larry "Bud" Melman appears in the video.
Lyric to listen for: It's not a Trick or Treat and it's not a April Fool / It's all brand new, never ever old school . . . whoops.
1985


8. Fat Boys, "Can You Feel It"
The Fat Boys are funny.  Fat people are kind of funny to start with. (Class clown right here.)  Add some wild clothes and a guy who makes drum beat noises with his throat, and it's comical.  By the time the Fat Boys were making bad movies and music with Chubby Checker and (yep) The Beach Boys, they were a joke.  But this song was on their first album, when they were just fat guys rapping and making fun of their size.  There aren't jokes in this one.  It's my favorite of theirs.
Lyric to listen for: Anything the Human Beat Box says/does
1984

9. Divine Sounds, "What People Do For Money"
Another one-off act, another streetwise cautionary tale.  Very derivative.  Eh, I dig it.
Lyric to listen for: The oft-cut last verse, the one about three-card molly (sic) with the bleeped out F-word.
1984

10. Whodini, "Big Mouth"
This song came out the year prior to "You Talk Too Much," covering much the same ground.  Both are worth a spin.
Lyric to listen for: You could say what you want, just spell my name right / ‘Cause all I’m ever guilty of is rockin’ the house / But that’s not what the rumor was all about
1984 

11. Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew, "The Show"
This is a weird one.  Good scratching, some beat boxing, the debut of (the more famous) Slick Rick.  Some Inspector Gadget keyboards.  Some strange noises and random percussion.  Crowd noise.  And not a ton of actual rhyme-turning.  But it's what we listened to in 1985.
Lyric to listen for: Anything Slick Rick drops.  His British-ish accent, much like his eyepatch, is real even though it seems fake.  His story is intriguing.  His rhymes are mildly dope.
1985

12. LL Cool J, "I'm Bad"
LL's debut was heralded and his follow-up was somewhat dissed, but I always dug this one.  It's perfect 80's stereotypical rap -- a dude with a mic boasting about all-world amazing he is with the ladies' love, beating up suckers, savoir-faire around town, and especially putting rhyme to beat.  "The baddest rapper in the history of rap itself." From a 19-year-old.  Eh, it was pretty damn good.
Lyric to listen for: Forget Oreos, eat Cool J cookies.  If this sounded bad-ass when I was in high school, it doesn't now, but LL managed to pull it off.
1987

13. Beastie Boys, "Rhymin and Stealin"
Licensed to Ill was beloved by many a goofy, beer-drinking high schooler.  I was one, too.  The album is an all-the-way-through listen that probably sounds tame now, but it was nearly counterculture in the lame school scene at the time.  Jim Belushi and (RIP) Alex Karras weren't the only white guys that could rap.  "Fight For Your Right" had the video and everyone loves it, but there's a reason this song led off the record.
Lyric to listen for: Ali Baba and the forty thieves.  By the second and third time uttered, it's dull.  By the eighth time, shouted at full tilt, you want to leave your feet.
1986

14. Newcleus, "Jam On It"
Clocking in at eight minutes, this was predictably one-hit, since it reeked of novelty: chipmunky pitch-shifted voices (no offense, Dave), Sugarhill-mimicking MCing, and wiki wiki wiki.  But it's a one-hit keeper.
Lyric to listen for: Go crazy / Go crazy / Don't let your body be lazy / I say don't stop your body rock / Til your eyesight starts to get hazy. For whatever reason, certain lyrics stick with you.  When people speak the phrase "go crazy" in everyday conversation, all too often I break into Chilly B. To almost zero recognition.
1985

15. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, "White Lines (Don't Do It)"
Another bongo and bass-laden GMF/Furious 5/Melle Mel/whoever gem.  You have to wonder how many idiots did cocaine in the 1980's while listening to this tune. 
Lyric to listen for: Baby.  Mentioned more times than in "Baby Love." Get higher, baby.
1983

16. Kurtis Blow, "Basketball"
Yep, this one is Kurtis Blow's cheesiest, goofiest, and most popular rap offering.  It's very 1984, and the only thing more dated than its style and mentioning Ralph Sampson is the video.  Wow.  I think I still have the 45.  (Kids, Google it.) I just listened to this song for the first time in many, many years.  Love it.
Lyric to listen for: All of them.  Dropping rhymes about Bernard King, the pick and roll, and saying "Face" to people.  Ah, yes, basketball. It's all there.
1984

17. Fat Boys, "Stick 'Em"
I definitely had this one on 45.  It's sick.  There seems to be just a single note of instrumentation in this song, albeit repeated and scratched up a bit.  Every other bit of it is Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock-Ski, and tons and tons of the Human Beat Box.  Probably his finest hour.  This was the B-side to "Jailhouse Rap," another fine entree from the Boys.
Lyric to listen for: The first 30 seconds worth of HBB crushing it.  You guessed it, the Fat Boys are back.
1984

18. Run-D.M.C., "Rock Box"
Unbelievably good.  I always feel like whether a song "holds up" is in the ear of the beholder, but to me, this number is still rolled tight as shit.  The other guitar-playing Eddie (Martinez) wails away for five minutes of rap turned rock, Run is sharp as a nail, and Darryl Mac is a wizard of a word.
Lyric to listen for: Calvin Klein's no friend of mine / Don't want nobody's name on my behind / Lee on my legs, sneakers on my feet / D by my side and Jay with the beat.  Isn't Lee somebody's name?  This has puzzled me for nearly 30 years.
1984

19. Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, "It Takes Two"
By 1988, hip-hop was pretty poppy.  Run-DMC gets the crossover credit/blame because of "Walk This Way," but from straight rap to R&B/dance pop went The Fresh Prince, Tone Loc, Young MC, and many more. (And somewhere in there funk-meister Cameo's hip-hoppy "Word Up" had a whole lot of honkies paying attention to the R&B charts for the first time since disco, if not Motown.)  Short-lived act MC Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, however, hit the pop charts with some fairly old school sounding rap.
Lyric to listen for: I'm not internationally known / But I'm known to rock the microphone.
1988

20. Kool Moe Dee, "How Ya Like Me Now"
NOT VERY MUCH
I never really liked Moe Dee, I just included this to talk about the feud.  I think tiffs between musicians are awesome, mostly because they're really moronic.  Blur vs. Oasis, Metallica vs. Megadeth, Dandy Warhols vs. Brian Jonestown Massacre, Ryan Adams pretending to have one with the 97's, and, of course, Tupac vs. Biggie.  Kool Moe Dee versus LL Cool J.  It was pointless, but in an industry where people's bread and butter could be ragging on sucker MC's, you'd have to figure they'd point out who they meant now and again.  Kool Moe Dee always struck me as the Karl Malone of rappers.  Stiff, overly self-serious, and not a champion.
Lyric to listen for: Brothers are riding me / Like a pony / I'm no phony / I'm the only / real micaroni. Ugh.
1987

21. LL Cool J, "Going Back to Cali"
I guess this was why the "feud" was mostly on Kool Moe Dee's mind.  LL was too busy taking 'em to spots they never before hung.  Hey Moe . . . hmmm, I don't think so.
Lyric to listen for: I asked her to the barn, so we could hit the hay / I wanna do this, Brutus, but I don't wanna pay.
1987

22. Public Enemy, "Don't Believe the Hype"
Holy crap.  This was a horse of a different . . . uh . . I didn't say color.  PE came along and scared me out of my pleated khakis. Despite Flav's court jester rendition, Chuck D was spouting some serious street Gospel.  That was about the time this white boy realized that there was a bit of irony to my urban musical dabblings.  Soon after this, with N.W.A. taking it even further, I fairly well retreated to the cozy company of the three bad brothers you know so well.  But Public Enemy is still fantastic.
Lyric to listen for: Show these people what time it is, boyyyyy.  Flavor Flav at his least ridiculous, ridiculously.
1988

23. Run-D.M.C., "Raising Hell"
Make no mistake, these dudes were/are my favorite of the era, and I could have played "Hard Times," "Jam-Master Jay," "It's Like That," "Can You Rock It Like This," "Peter Piper," or "Son of Byford" without missing a beat.  (Not to mention "Christmas in Hollis.")  But this selection is an unappreciated rocker of a hip-hop ass-kicker by the Kings from Queens, and it's one of their best.
Lyric to listen for: So what's your name? DMC, the king is me / Your Highness or His Majesty / Now you can debate, c-c-c-concentrate / But you can't imitate / DMC The Great.  It's true.  Even DMC can't imitate himself these days, since his voice is shot . . . listen and it's no wonder why.
1986

24. Eric B. and Rakim, "I Know You Got Soul"
Okay, this one is totally bogus.  I never listened to them in the 80's.  I listened to and loved "Pump Up the Volume" by M|A|R|R|S, whose predominant lyric was lifted from "I Know You Got Soul."  So lame, but it was fun.  And years later, I got Paid in Full and really dig it now.  Ahead of its time for sure.  Wish I had been.
Lyric to listen for: So you sit by the radio, hand on the dial soon / As you hear it, pump up the volume. Of course.
1987

25. The Sugar Hill Gang, "Rapper's Delight"
Oh, well. It's still fun.
Lyric to listen for: Hotel, motel Holiday Inn / If your girl starts acting up, then you take her friend.
1979

Okay then.  There's your Older School jam, as remembered fondly by Clarence.  Have fun with it, homeboys and homegirls.

71 comments:

rob said...

i assume you'll be adding this to spotify. good stuff.

my suburban white kid high school played 'basketball' before every hoops game. we were pretty cutting edge.

T.J. said...

this is fantastic

zman said...

Nicely done. If we're going this rudimentarily old school I would include White Lines and Symphony. But I cannot knock your list.

rob said...

tribe at georgia state tonight. i assume we'll lose.

zman said...

White Lines IS on the list! Well played.

T.J. said...

listening to these in order...

rob said...

bo ryan, ladies and gentlemen

zman said...

My suburban high school played "Welcome to the Terrordome" before a wrestling match. The kid who chose the song got in trouble ("so-called chosen frozen apologies made to whoever pleases still the got me like Jesus" is a bit controversial).

Geoff said...

My high school team warmed up to the 20 Minute Workout by DJ Kool and Flava in Ya Ear by Craig Mack...both of which I'd like to listen to right now.

Mark said...

My high school warmed up to a really cheesy jock James-esque mixtape assembled by my high school coach. Until we went out and laid an uninspired egg against a shitty team in our conference at our home opener in my junior year. We won, but in unimpressive fashion. After this, we were no longer allowed to have warm up music. And we had a 5:30 am practice the next day. If you can't tell, my high school coach was kind of a dick.

He also took away our warmups midway through my senior year for a reason I can't recall.

Mark said...

Awesome list though. I'm not as old as Clarence but really love a number of these songs.

rob said...

i love ll cool j's 'bristol hotel'. it'd be on my old school list.

Danimal said...

Chip kelly
Bye bye


rob said...

or hello, as the case may be

Clarence said...

Our high school hoops team warmed up Run-D.M.C.'s first album. (On cassette.) The coach would frequently sub out the starting five en masse, bringing in fresh legs and fire from the guys that called themselves The Furious Five.

Yep, dorks like me.

Mr KQ said...

We (squad of six foot(ish) white guys) rolled out to a mashup of We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions. Straight into a layup line where no one could dunk.

Major intimidation factor. NZ Haka style.

rob said...

in fairness, the white chuck taylors you guys wore back in your day made it hard to intimidate anyone.

Mr KQ said...

Adidas "Top Ten" then Converse first gen "leather uppers" - white on white. Sweet as.

Mr KQ said...

Converse All Star that is. First Gen.

Squeaky said...

We didn't have warm up music. And if we did it wouldn't have been rap music. The only black kid in our class (64 total) was whiter than Carlton from The Fresh Prince, if that's possible.

rob said...

right on cue, 'word up' came over the stereo in the joint i was in for lunch.

T.J. said...

"Party All The Time"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDbpzjbXUZI

Clarence said...

Rob, I assume you were wearing your Cameo bright red codpiece?

T.J. said...

I really do hope Mark will be surprising us at the Newport News Nuptials in 10 days...cause BaconBaking is online shopping and has located a great ensemble for herself, and even i have managed to create a "Fashion is Dumb" look.

And, oh man, this mustache...it is going to be absurd...

Greg, cancel those X Games plans.

Mr. Truck said...

thanks clarence -- put this on spotify so i can play it all the way through! i remember some of these songs, but not all of them, i didn't real love hip-hop (besides the beastie boys, of course, who were a horse of a different color) until i got into "it takes a nation of millions" and "fear of a black planet." wow that feels like a long time ago.

T.J. said...

why is DeBarge not represented on this list?

rob said...

two requests for a spotify playlist. one more and clarence is legally obligated to fulfill it. come on, somebody.

rob said...

if deadspin is right, manti te'o is a hoaxing motherfucker. this is some next level crazy shit:

http://deadsp.in/X8RkC8

Geoff said...

Just read that. I'm flummoxed. What an awful human being.

Jerry said...

I sure hope Deadspin has all their ducks in a row on this one. They might be in store for some very uncomfortable blowback.

Clarence said...

Toothy blowback, if you will.

rob said...

it seems to be exhaustively reported. i'd bet on deadspin being right.

Jerry said...

Well then this would be one of the weirdest stories we've seen in sports.

Greg said...

Yeah.

Clarence said...

He's not the best colorman in the league for nothing, folks!

Jerry said...

So if it's true, that means he's gay, right? That's the only reasonable explanation.

Greg said...

Yeah.

zman said...

Toothy blowback!! Best comment of 2013 (so far).

rob said...

wow. jerry is exactly right. and that's how he makes this go away - he comes out.

Jerry said...

Or how about this...he's actually ridiculously insane and it was a hoax. And now he pretends to be gay to justify the whole episode. That's a movie right there.

The Irish Closet isn't just drinking by yourself in a small room anymore.

Mark said...

Just caught up on the whole story. Wow is right.

Danimal said...

Just finished. Holy shitballs. He is going to end up offing himself.

As if nd needed to give people another reason to hate them.

Danimal said...

Oprah?

Greg said...

Yeah.

Mark said...

ND's statement on the situation isn't helping either.

Greg said...

No.

Danimal said...

he's either gay or into necrophilia, not sure which yet.

am feeling better about things seeing rob bet on deadspin being right.

Danimal said...

but seriously, the silver lining here is that there is 1 less stanford student walking around today.

Danimal said...

who hasn't faked a girlfriend's death before? the only reason this is news is b/c it's te'o and he played for nd. liberal news media. if this happened at cal we'd never hear about it.

rob said...

deadspin's obviously right that the girlfriend didn't exist. only question is whether te'o is hoaxer or victim. and, boy, does the mainstream sports media look awful in all this. just heard espn's gene wojchihowkyskyji on the radio admitting that he couldn't find an obituary for the girl nor did he press te'o for pictures of her nor did he try very hard to speak to her family. didn't stop the wwl from airing a tearjerker right before the michigan state game. sheesh.

Jerry said...

The real tragedy is that this didn't come out prior to the NC game so we could get Musburger's take on it.

zman said...

You linebackers, you get all the fake dead girls.

Greg said...

I gotta hand it to Te'O for taking lying to another level.

Danimal said...

When does deadspin get a channel

rob said...

56-27 game-ending run for georgia state. all of a sudden, same old sorry ass tribe.

rob said...

you need to see what matthew dellavedova did last night: http://t.co/IPZI9cqQ

Jerry said...

You rarely hear something that starts with a 56 described as a run. Maybe in bowling.

So now Teo isn't gay? So confusing.

Greg said...

Gay? It would be easy if Teo were just gay. Nah, he's some kind of pan-sexual weirdo.

Geoff said...

I'm almost more blown away by Notre Dame's response to this than I am by Te'o's lying. There is no way this guy is the victim...he said he went on vacation with this girl, met her family, etc.

Geoff said...

I'd like to hear Notre Dame explain this from Te'o's dad:

'They started out as just friends,' Brian Te'o said. 'Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there. But within the last year, they became a couple. And we came to the realization that she could be our daughter-in-law. Sadly, it won't happen now.'"

Jerry said...

I was reading some old Wheelhouse posts and I was reminded a long-distance internet romance involving one of long-time commenters (which I had completely forgotten about). I'm thinking he could shed some light on this.

Jerry said...

Maybe this is the explosive market-entry for the product placement we've all been waiting for - robot wives.

T.J. said...

does he even frequent this space any more, to see your comment asking for comment?

Jerry said...

Oh probably not - I was just thinking of memories past before I jump the hilly brush.

Geoff said...

But in that internet relationship, we all met the girl eventually..and it only lasted for what? 4 months? Te'o's relationship lasted 3 years and he never laid eyes on her?

T.J. said...

Yardale 4.0

T.J. said...

home-schooled Mormons seem good at relationships

Jerry said...

I never met her. Can we get her over here? I'm feeling left out.

Jerry said...

Honestly, if there's a place where a socially awkward guy who isn't interested in sex could find some female takers...Notre Dame should've been a jackpot

Greg said...

I'm not really friends with Bud Schnelker or Rob Hodges....I just made up FB profiles for them with screenshots from Spies Like Us.

Jerry said...

I think I'm friends with Wade Boggs Carpet World.