I wanted to make a positive out of a negative. Wallace Wylie’s column over at Collapse Board about hateful, ultra-misogynistic rap made me wistful for the gentler hip-hop tunes I loved as a kid.
I was never much of a rap fan, but of course there were plenty of tracks I liked. Gangsta rap has never appealed: despite my pretensions, I’m not really middle class. I didn’t grow up in the ghetto – and of course I’m white and British – but you have to be very comfortably removed from crime and poverty for it to seem glamorous, or so entrenched in it that you don’t even think about getting out.
The rap songs I liked growing up were about regular, everyday stuff I could identify with: love, relationships and loud music.
1. Dream Warriors – My Definition Of A Boombastic Jazz Style
“I walk with a gold cane a gold brain and no gold chain”
2. Queen Latifah – Fly Girl
“Tell me why is it when I walk past the guys I always hear ‘yo baby’? / I mean, like, what’s the big idea? / … / no, my name ain’t ‘yo’ and I ain’t got your baby”
3. Monie Love – Monie in the Middle
“I’m not Keith Sweat, so don’t sweat me / The other brother’s smooth approach is what gets me”
4. Gang Starr – Lovesick
“Upset because I told her I’m busy / She made like a grizzly / And started chewin’ my head off”
5. Public Enemy/Anthrax – Bring The Noise
“Run-DMC first said a DJ could be a band”
6. 3rd Bass – Gas Face
“What a tangled web they weave / Deceivers, stupefied through fable / say Let’s Make a Deal at the dinner table”
7. Beastie Boys – Fight For Your Right To Party
“Don’t step outta this house if that’s the clothes you’re gonna wear! / I’ll kick you outta my home if you don’t CUT THAT HAIR!!”
8. De La Soul – Me Myself and I
“Style is surely our own thing / Not the false disguise of showbiz / De La Soul is from the soul”
9. A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It?
“Yes you can”
10. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson
(This was before Tyson went evil, of course)
“How can I say this and be a little discreet? / Let’s just say that my bowels released”