I will continue with my introspective, semi autobiographical and chronological countdown of 100 Hip Hop jawns that changed my life. The first 20 songs spanned the years of 1979 to 1983 and these 20 cover the years of 1983 to 1985. Why is that? Simple, because the first steady wave of consistent LP releases began in 1984, after Hip Hop broke nationally post the spread of the seminal influential films “Style Wars” and “Wild Style” in 1983. More releases means more songs to draw from. Between 1979 and 1982 there were few legitimate Rap LP’s and the greater records began dropping as we approached the 1st Golden Era of Hip Hop which began in 1986. Enough boring lead in bullshit, let’s get to it:
21. Art Of Noise “Beat Box” 
I was intrigued by this record when I first heard it as a kid. Art Of Noise weren’t exactly a Hip Hop group but I remember B-Boying to this record like crazy. Art Of Noise were all the way in the UK and it was a precursor to the Electro tinged music and synth pop I’d begin to hear coming form the UK in the following that that would ultimately make it’s home on urban radio stateside. I miss that urban radio used to be integrated in the 80′s.
22. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” 
This record was one of my favorites because it had a unique format to the others that were on the radio at the time. The thing that got me was no matter where I went, this record used to get blended with Vaughn Mason’s “Bounce, Rock, Skate”. I don’t know if it was a national decree or not but I swear I’d heard tapes from all over in my lifetime with that same blend on it. Also, this record didn’t always sound like an anti drug song. I remember finding out later that Sylvia & Co. turned it into an anti-drug song and they added the “Don’t Do It” and extra pieces to the song later. Listen to the composition of the song really closely…
23. Herbie Hancock & Grandmixer D.ST “Rockit” 
Herbie Hancock was a well known musician already. Older Black folks that were legitimate music fans up to record executives respected the hell out of him. When Herbie Hancock reached out to Hip Hop/Rap culture and featuring Grandmixer D.ST (or DXT as he was often credited at the time) scratching on “Rockit” it was revolutionary and mind blowing. There were places that never played Hip Hop and more than likely refused to, but dammit they played “Rockit” because it was Herbie Hancock’s song! “Rockit” played a crucial role in helping Hip Hop & B-Boy culture break nationally. It also won major music awards & helped legitimatize the artform to those that didn’t consider it music and thought it was a passing fad. 27 years later, I’d say they were wrong…
24. Malcolm McLaren & The World Famous Supreme Team “Buffalo Gals” 
“Buffalo Gals” actually dropped back in 1982 but it made a resurgence with the Kitchen Tour that traveled the country (then the world) after “Wild Style” was released in NYC. I also saw the video for “Buffalo Gals” for the first time in 1983 at my father’s house because he had cable. It blew my mind to see so many of my heroes in that video & B-Boying was the hottest shit in the streets. The older B-Boys still rocked to breakbeats and old records. The younger kids were mostly throwing down to Electro and Rap records. I remember the hell outta that…
25. Pumpkin “King Of The Beat” 
Pumpkin was the guy that was doing a lot of the beats and the music for Enjoy and Sugar Hill Records but Bobby & Sylvia Robinson were getting production credits even though it very plainly said who did what on the labels of those records. In any event, Pumpkin took his talents to Profile Records and made a couple of classic B-Boy anthems that I remember blaring out of speakers and immediately making folks lose their minds. My brother & sister had these old blue Scotch 46 tapes they used to record off the radio with. We recorded from WRBB, WILD, KISS 108 FM & WERS in Boston mostly.
26. The B-Boys “Two, Three, Break” 
Good lord, the pure B-Boy records that dropped in 1983 were insane. All you needed to do was drop the needle on the joints and watch everyone go to the floor and get loose. I was told by the older heads at the time to not focus on doing crazy moves but to try to rip the particular record that was playing instead. Don’t have the same uprock for each record, either. Change with the beat. When you battle, battle that person. You can play to the crowd but if you put on a show & don’t go at the man in front of you, you’re a clown. I never forgot what I learned B-Boying around the Blackstone as a kid in Villa Victoria, either…
27. T La Rock & Jazzy Jay “It’s Yours” 
I loved this record because T La Rock reminded me of The Treacherous Three. Damn, I loved those dude’s records. The lyrics were crazy. The beat was infectious but the thing that got me about this record was T La Rock’s bars and delivery. If you could rap and flow on par with Moe Dee, Caz or Melle Mel as a kid you were the man to me.
28. Run DMC “Rock Box” 
“Rock Box” was a monster. It sounded like it couldn’t be contained on that record that was rotating in front of you. I remember once by brother’s friend Troy brought the record over and played it on our record player and I may have made the first scrunchface of my young life. I don’t remember ever even trying to B-Boy to this record other then maybe popping. This was not something you went to the floor on. I remember once this kid was on the floor doing a backspin to this later on and the rest of us kids looked at him like was a jerk for that. How dare you, Andre Marchial? How DARE you do a fuckin’ backspin during “Rock Box”?
29. UTFO “Roxanne, Roxanne” 
I was in 4th grade at the Josiah Quincy School in Chinatown just outside of the South End of Boston when one of the 5th graders on our bus got on at her stop with this record in her hands. I was confused as hell. Why is she getting on the bus with a pink record? I asked her what it was & she was like “You neva heard “Roxanne” before?”. I was like “That ain’t “The Police”!” and she just shrugged me off. She held that record all day until her teachers told her to put it away, I heard. She held it on the way home, too. I went home and asked my brother Dave & his friends about a pink record called “Roxanne” by UTFO (I pronounced it “Uht-Foh”). They went nuts.
One of them pulled out a Memorex tape with graf writing on it and played “Roxanne, Roxanne”. I was floored. This girl got on the bus the next day with the record again. I told her I hear the song & it was fresh but why did she carry it around all the time? She said “Because I’M Roxanne. This record is about ME!”. I said “You’re in the 5th grade. In BOSTON. It ain’t about you!”. She hit me, B. I got up and moved. The song hit radio like a megaton bomb like a day later and it spawned a gang of answer records. Kids were rocking it to death already before it really even took off. Then along came…
30. Roxanne Shante “Roxanne’s Revenge” 
Some dude from Queensbridge named Marlon Williams found this young girl named Shante who did this 5 minute one take masterpiece where she rapped nonstop and dissed all of the members of UTFO called “Roxanne’s Revenge”. Since “Roxanne, Roxanne” went from being a street record to a huge hit like overnight it wasn’t surprising that radio stations began playing all of the (many of the, there were just too damb many) answer records on the air. This one was distributed by Philly label Pop Art and it was head and shoulders above the rest. These records began the careers of Roxanne Shante & The Real Roxanne. Salute to Marley Marl & Hitman Howie Tee…
31. Whodini “Freaks Come Out At Night” 
I LOVED this song. It prompted my brother’s friend Troy to ask me “Little man, do you have ANY idea what a “freak” is?”. My response was “Yeah, like a Freakazoid!”. That prompted them to laugh at the 8/9 year old with NO idea exactly what the song was about until they were on the floor crying. It was quite a scene. They had to rebrush their hair because it had even displaced their waves. I just kept on poppin’ like it wasn’t no thang…
32. Cold Crush Brothers “Fresh, Fly, Wild & Bold” 
Unfortunately, this is the lone Cold Crush Brothers song on my list because all of my favorite Cold Crush songs and routines were from tapes of jams & parties from NYC that either our cousins sent or ones that our friend’s cousins sent. I also loved the Cold Crush from everything they did on “Wild Style” which I’d heard on tape and sampled in other songs years before I ever actually saw the movie for myself. Do y’all remember how hard it was to get a copy of “Style Wars”, “Wild Style” or “Grafitti Rock” back in the days? You damb near had to buy them from the back of The Source by sending money orders to a PO Box in NJ for almost a decade before Rhino & From Here To Fame began distributing them.
33. Whodini “5 Minutes Of Funk” 
This was my favorite Whodini song by a mile. It wouldn’t be eclipsed until 1986 when Whodini dropped “Funky Beat” off the “Back In Black” album. I remember everyone was going crazy over “Friends” and playing it to death on the radio. All the girls would be signing “Friends” while jumping rope at recess and I’d be all like “Friends” ain’t even all that! Y’all need to mess with “5 Minutes Of Funk” instead! They’d just wave me off, though. I wonder if I was wearing a backpack at the time? That would certainly make sense if I did…
34. Pumpkin & The Profile All-Stars “Here Comes That Beat!” 
Pumpkin was back with the Profile All-Stars and Scratch On Galaxy. You throw in that Michael Jackson imitation “Hee-hee-heee!”, those drums, that fake smashing glass sound effect & bars from some of the freshest emcees of the time and you have a B-Boy classic. This song used to get blended non stop on WRBB by it’s DJ’s. I think my brother had this song on at least three different old tapes because I kept pressing record when the beat came on. This song owned the Summer, we definitely went to the floor on this one.
35. Kurtis Blow “AJ Scratch” 
This was my jam, too. Mostly because of the beat, scratches and the infectious hook “Aaaaaaaaaaaaa Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaye!”. I was NOT a big fan of Kurtis Blow’s rapping or his delivery regularly although when I rhymed I used to revert back to his ad libs for some odd reason. He rarely flowed like he did on “The Breaks” later on in his career. I think I was done with homie after “If I Ruled The World”, too.
36. Fat Boys “Human Beat Box” 
I used to think the Fat Boys were dope but the main reason was because of Buffy The Human Box. This was easily my favorite track of there’s besides “Stick ‘Em”. Buffy was ill. There was Doug E. Fresh, Buffy, Biz Markie, in Boston we had A-Train (who would beat many of these cats in battles) of FTI Crew and in Connecticut there was kid named Jock Box (one of the Skinny Boys).
In Philly, there was Ready Rock C. Later Just-Ice would have DMX and T La Rock had a beatboxer named Greg Nice. I wonder what ever happened to him? Kids were trying to beatbox all over the place. It really drove a lot of adults crazy, they were like “What’s the matter with these damb kids? They’re spinning on their backs, knees & heads, having these weird fits to music and then they try to make music with their mouths!”. What a scary generation of kids we were…
37. Davy DMX “One For The Treble (Fresh)” 
Davy DMX of the Hollis Crew dropped this classic B-Boy jam then later on he signed with Def Jam with Hurricane as his emcee and dropped the often overlooked “Davy’s Ride” LP as Davy D. This was the joint! I remember skating to this (and busting my ass to it) when my Cub Scout troop used to make trips out to Chez Vous Rollerway. We got into hella fights, of course. It was Boston in 1984, after all. If you didn’t wanna fight, you’d better stay your bitch ass in the house back then!
38. LL Cool J “I Need A Beat” 
A young James Todd Smith rapping. Rick Rubin behind the boards. LL rhymed like a hybrid Melle Mel x Caz x Kool Moe Dee x T La Rock on this jawn. I was hooked instantly, “I Need A Beat” was the shit to me. I never noticed Ad Rock’s name on the credits until recently although I know that he was the one going through the demos that heard LL’s track and brought him to the attention of Rick Rubin and then Russell Simmons. Ironically, he got the address to send the demo off the label of “It’s Yours” and when Russell heard the tape with LL present he said “Who’s this guy rapping? He sounds like Grandmaster Caz! Who’s this smiling kid?”. I’m sayin’ though…
39. Mantronix “Needle To The Groove” 
Mantronix. I heard this record and had no clue what to do with myself. Kids weren’t B-Boying anymore because the media (Yeah, the MEDIA!) had used it’s rape culture to convince us it wasn’t cool to do in 1985. I could dance to it, but what I really preferred to do was sit down and do nothing but listen to it and wonder what the fuck was going on in this record. Kurtis Mantronik had succeeded in doing only what cartoons or books (or threats from my parents wielding belts) could get me to do back in the days. Sit the fuck down and focus.
40. Schoolly D “P.S.K. (What Does It Mean?)” 
When I first heard “P.S.K.” on the radio (yeah, I first heard “P.S.K.” AND “Gucci Time” on the radio. Never saw the record until after I’d heard them both on the radio for a week straight) I was like “What the hell is this?”. It always got blended or scratched in radio mixes and after a while they opted to play “Gucci Time” instead because people began to call in and complain about “P.S.K’s” lyrics.
At the same time folks would call in to ask “Why ain’t y’all playing “P.S.K.” with the lyrics anymore?”. This was the first real controversial song that actually got burn that I remember. I had no concept whatsoever of what “gangster music” was yet. Did gangsters ever rap? Ask me that same question again in a year’s time!
NEXT UP: 100 Hip Hop Jawns That Changed My Life (Compiled by Dart Adams) Part Three (41-60)