Several months back I wrote an article called, “Dear Hip Hop we Hardly knew ‘Ye” in which I touched on an era of hip hop where it was truly that – Hip Hop. You could go to any party and dance to the tunes or simply pop them in the tape deck and bump your speakers. There were no 187’s on any muthafcukin’ cops. No derogatory remarks towards women and no swag of any kind. Don’t get me wrong, some gangsta rap was/is popular and successful, but after a while it becomes hackneyed; especially where there is no pure lyrical flow. For example, Big L was a gangsta rapper, but his flows were so ridiculous (in a good way) you had to listen. Anyhow, for all my music heads, here’s a second installment of my ode to Hip Hop.
1. Queen Latifah
Album: Black Reign (1993)
This track came out during a time where you had a strong female presence in hip hop: Rage, MC Lyte, Monie Love, and Yo-Yo just to name a few. Latifah’s ballads were mainly about female empowerment and the fact that not all African-American females were hoochies, hos, skeezer’s (just to coin some derogatory terms during that era). This song was no different.
“Instinct leads me to another flow
Every time I hear a brotha call a girl a b*tch or a ho
Tryna make a sista feel low
You know all of that gots to go“.
Plain, simple, and to the point. I might add this had a touch of the blues with the rich sound of the saxophone playing during the chorus with that R&B flavor. It was an uplifting song indeed, and a stark contrast to what we see female artists talking about how much of a bad b*tch they are, or the uber sexual exploits with men they have or had.
2. Lost Boyz
Songs: ‘So Love’ & ‘Renee’
Albums: Love Peace and Nappiness (1997) / Legal Drug Money (1995), respectively.
The Lost Boyz burst on the scene in the mid 90’s. This quartet (Mr. Cheeks, Freaky Tah, Pretty Lou, and Spig Nice) from Jamaica Queens, New York spawned two successful albums. Although they came into prominence during the middle of the Gangsta Rap era, they managed to have a strong following despite their deviation from the violent content that dominated the airwaves.
These two particular songs were an ode to women. In ‘So Love’ Mr. Cheeks did the solo and spoke about loving his woman unconditionally and not being ashamed to show love and affection for her regardless of what others thought. “I feel your love, it’s so love….I aint afraid to go where some niggaz wont”. In Renee, you were taken on a journey into the love life of a young black man. The basic premise behind this was a man who met a woman, cultivated a friendship and became lovers until her demise.
Both songs have a soft melody with a nice flow and great back ground instrumentals.
3. Joe Public
Song: ‘Live and Learn’
Album: Joe Public (1992)
This group was a hybrid of New Jack Swing (which was very popular in the late 80’s and early 90’s) and rap. They had short lived success with this song “Live and Learn.” which talked about the trials and tribulations people go through in life and how they deal with it. They have written for many R&B crooners including Keith Sweat and Tyrese.
4. Eric B and Rakim
Song: ‘I know you got Soul’
Album: Paid in Full (1987)
This is one of the finest tracks by one of the best (many argue THEE BEST) hip hop artist(s) of all time. This album from top to bottom was filled with funky beats, excellent hooks, and just pure lyrical mastery in every sense of the word. I can guarantee you this song was played at every club, basement party, and house party back in the day. I’ve been to a few events when the DJ went for that ‘old school flava’, and played this song. Everyone, even the youngins who were merely a gleam in their parent’s eye when this song came out, went on a nostalgic trip.
‘I know you got soul’ was basically about that – soul. Their content mainly consisted of having fun, spittin’ on the mic, and braggadocio about their ability to flow; and these fellas weren’t lying.
“It’s been a long time I shouldn’t have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to
Think of how many weak shows you slept through
Time’s up I’m sorry I kept you
Thinkin’ of this you keep repeatin’ you miss
The rhymes from the microphone soloist
And you sit by the radio hand on the dial soon
As you hear it pump up the volume…..”