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Defining The Decades……

by Travis on September 3, 2008

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(Since I don’t think you can track back from WordPress to Blogger and Vice Versa, feel free to leave a comment here and I’ll copy it back over there, or leave a comment on Alt Rap)

My man A to the L over at Altrap had a post up that I found particularly interesting. Hip hop has been around for parts of four decades now, which in it’s own right is downright amazing. Every decade, the sound has changed, sometimes at a very rapid rate (the 80′s growth rate was downright amazing). For someone my age, who has been around for parts of three decades of hip hop listening pleasure, each decade is marked by a certain, sound, memory, thought, or in A to the L’s case, a song.

My man had us clear our minds (easy for some more than others), and for each decade, name FIVE songs that popped into our minds for the:




Whatever pops into your mind, don’t worry about picking the classics in terms of songs or artists, or any of that B.S. This is some Sigmund Freud type of stuff going on, minus the phallic symbols. The important thing is to just go with your first thought, your instinct, the first thing that pops into your head….try not to think about it too much (although I drew blanks when I got to 00′s). If y’all feel like it, leave a comment about WHY you picked that track, what about the track that makes it feel like THAT decade for you….Yeah, we are on some shrink shit here….

These are the tracks that came into MY mind when I thought about each decade…..

The 80′s Hip Hop

1. Run DMC - Walk This Way
2. Big Daddy KaneRaw
3. LL Cool J - I’m Bad
4. Audio Two - Top Billin’
5. Eric B & RakimFollow The Leader

When I tried to clear my mind so the 80′s would pop into my head, it was more like opening the flood gates, song titles came rushing through my subconscious. For me, hip hop in the 80′s was a simple drum break and an MC ripping it. My first deep exposure to hip hop was through Run DMC and the track “Walk This Way”, so for me, it’s hard to think about hip hop or the Eighties without thinking about some kind of Run DMC track, and it’s usually that one. One of my first five hip hop tapes was LL Cool J’s Bigger & Deffer and my favorite track would be “I’m Bad” as LL talked about “taking out all rookies, forget Oreo’s, eat Cool J cookies”. It was just a raw break beat, bassline and LL yelling over it. Another track that followed that mold was Audio Two’s “Top Billin’” which is the epitome of hip hop unto itself. You couldn’t rock a party without playing “Top Billin’” and everyone shouting the chorus.

As I got deeper into hip hop, in the late 80′s, lyrics and the beats became more complex, and no two songs better glorify that than Eric B & Rakim’s “Follow The Leader” and Big Daddy Kane’s “Raw”. Both tracks were favorites of mine during the time and I can still recite line for line.

90′s Hip Hop
1. Mobb DeepShook Ones Pt. 2
2. Wu-Tang Clan - Protect Ya Neck
3. NasN.Y. State of Mind
4. Dr. DreNuthin’ But a G’ Thang
5. Notorious B.I.G.Unbeliveable

For me, two years eptiomize the whole decade when it comes to hip hop, 1993 and 1994. Those years contained some of the best music hip hop had to offer. There were so many tracks that I could have picked, but these were the ones that when I think of those years that usually just pop right into my head. The grimey, dusted loops, hard drums, playing over dark tracks. All except for Dre and his “G’ Thang” that took over the west coast scene, which played a big influence in where I was from as well. The four NY tracks, especially “Shook Ones Pt. 2″, are tracks that made me love hip hop back then. Skilled & trade in that ol’ New York boombap.

00′s Hip Hop

1. Royce Da 5’9Boom
2. CunninlynguistsSeasons
3. Binary StarHonest Expression
4. Masta AceDa Grind
5. The Clipse - Grindin’

I think there is a reason why this was the hardest to come up with five singles and I can’t really come up with a definitive “sound”. It’s a hodge podge of sounds and things so far. Maybe it’s because we are still living in the decade and we can’t “step” back and see things for what they are, or maybe it’s I’m (us) are getting older. The first song that popped into my head was Royce’s “Boom”. At first I wasn’t even completely sure it came out this decade, but looking it up later, it was 2000. It shows that
the ol’ boom bap isn’t completely lost, even today. But it’s that transistion from the 90′s to the current decade. The next two songs were quick to pop into my head as well. Both with messages about where hip hop is, where it’s been and where it’s heading. They both contain messages and define my state of mind toward this decade and the hip hop in general. Ace’s “Da Grind”was, and this is getting all pyschological on why it popped into my head, away back to the old music I loved so much, that is still found today. Yeah, I’m getting deep. The Clipse and “Grindin’” is another throw back track, with a present day twist to it that put it in my head. Or maybe it was just close as far as word association goes to “Da Grind”….Dr. Freud, where are you when we need you?

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