Rap Trax! (Stylus Music, 1988)

Rap Trax

Rap Trax r

Review
On Rap Trax!, another compilation from Stylus Music, the artwork is credited to Offbeat Design. Sadly the identity of the person who wrote the sleeve notes is unclear. They’re headed up “Respect is due to Rap” and there’s a brief reference to the then growing Balearic scene. Here you go: “A spin-off from the acid scene is London’s current buzzword ‘Balearic Beats’ – the brainchild of a small possee of DJs who worked at Ibiza in the Balearic islands of Spain last year, playing a mixture of uptempo beats.” The next bit is totally bizarre: “Although the Balearic variation is nothing new it is easy to see that its commercial orientation could lead to the charts being saturated with disco as it was in the late 70s. In fact one of Rap’s greatest attributes is that it was partly responsible for pushing back the disco boom and has singlehandedly challenged the acceptable face of verse/chorus formulated songwriting – and is totally opposed to prevailing sex, drugs and drink values.” Never an untrue word spoken.

“20 Mega Rap & House Trax” get going with the sound of summer 1988, The Only Way Is Up followed by S-Express’ ghetto rhythms banger Superfly Guy. Joining the Wee Papa Girl Rappers on the funky house samplefest Heat It Up are Two Men & A Drum Machine. It’s like that etc. No sign of the trumpet. Must be tired. Brace yourself for war: it’s Kool Moe Dee vs LL Cool J. The ex-Treacherous Three MC recorded his second LP, How Ya Like Me Now in London, England at Battery Studios. Alongside Kool Moe Dee, audio production was shared with and handled by Teddy Riley, Bryan “Chuck” New, LaVaba Mallison and Pete Q Harris. The title track reached #86 in the UK and is a quality jam. Meanwhile LL Cool J pops up with the smooth ‘n’ smoochy sound of I Need Love, a far greater success. “In fact – Rap Music is the Rock ‘n’ Roll of today.”

Rap Trax! introduced me to the joys of Run DMC whom I’d initially read about in the NME during 1987. My Adidas is simply awesome and was two years old at that point. It was produced by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons and led to the first endorsement deal between a musical act and an athletic company. This deal was organised by the band’s co-manager, Lyor Cohen, who invited Adidas executive Angelo Anastasio to the band’s concert at Madison Square Garden on July 19, 1986. There Run DMC instructed the audience to hold up their Adidas apparel during the song. The music video shows them addressing the corporation with a verse requesting “Give us a million dollars!” This deal is credited with influencing future endorsement deals between brands and musicians, particularly in hip hop culture. “It was a song that was about our sneakers, but it was bigger than just talking about how many pairs of sneakers we had.” (Darryl McDaniels)

Looking back now, some people would say that rap was more positive then and focused on storytelling and fun. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s Parents Just Don’t Understand backs this up but is sadly butchered – only running to 2:21. Thankfully the compilers have not messed with Public Enemy’s peerless Don’t Believe The Hype – it’s fully intact and still a highpoint of the genre. It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back had a massive impact on me and many others then. An utterly compelling listen from start to finish. No fat, no waste, just killer tunes with biting social commentary for one solid hour. The hip hop equivalent to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. It turns 30 on 28 June. Next come EPMD and their debut 45 Strictly Business; its primary sample is Eric Clapton’s cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff. I can also make out Kool & The Gang’s Jungle Boogie.

A key influencer: Mr James Brown gets a call with Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine. It sounds like the 1970 Part 1 version and runs for 2:48. Epic. Kid ‘N’ Play are back with the slick programmed beats of Do This My Way. Cool Lyn Collins’ sample. Back to more serious matters with the seminal My Philosophy by Boogie Down Productions:
“The way some act in rap is kind of wack
And it lacks creativity and intelligence
But they don’t care cause their company’s selling it”

Hit it! Einstein drops the laidback Friday Night & Saturday Morning – just 1:20 in length – which is followed by Top Billin’ and the one minute long Naturally. They became Definition Of Sound. Still hanging in there are Whodini whose hard-edged and metallic Rock You Again still remains an acquired taste. Last tune goes to Bomb The Bass’ follow-up to Beat Dis. Megablast: the one that samples John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13 theme. Total dynamite and rarely heard at the time because the AA-side Don’t Make Me Wait was much more radio friendly. None can outrun or equal – don’t touch that dial!

Favourite tracks
Run DMC – My Adidas

EPMD – Strictly Business

Bomb The Bass – Megablast

Lest we forget
Wee Papa Girl Rappers featuring Two Men & A Drum Machine – Heat It Up

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Hip Hop And Rapping In The House (Stylus Music, 1988)

Hip Hop And Rapping In The House

Hip Hop And Rapping In The House r

Review
“Bran Flakes, Bran Buds, All Bran, Sultana Bran – buy two, get one free”
As the summer of 1988 approached, I was racking up the hours in my part-time job at the local L&N supermarket. A non-exam year (5th – doss central) meant that I worked as often as possible. The music in the shop was played over a PA system which was located in the manager’s office. Cassettes were the format of choice and one day I brought in a taped copy of the latest Stylus Music CD, Hip Hop And Rapping In The House. “20 Non Stop Hip Hop House & House Hits” was a real treat for the shoppers and amazingly, around 45 or 50 minutes of it aired before the stop button was unceremoniously pressed. While the compilation played, I swept floors and unloaded pallets with a previously unseen energy.

The compilation was advertised on television with the accompanying VHS tape making the local video libraries, most notably Whitty’s in Mary Street. Only four of its 14 tracks are included on the audio releases – check it out and be treated to long-forgotten anomalies like Stetsasonic’s A.F.R.I.C.A and Surf MCs Surf Or Die. CDs were still somewhat of an afterthought and the booklet reflects this – containing no photographs – unlike the rather lavish gatefold sleeve of the vinyl version. Sleeve notes are by James Horrocks who would later be involved with React. The Hip Hop & House Speak section is very informative:
Chillin: Relaxing
Illin: Having a party
Bussing: Pumping up the volume
Dissing: Cussing and insulting
“1988 is on course to witness the rap ‘n’ house revolution – a dance floor domination of the mundane British music scene. Already the def beats, tuff rhymes, pumping bass and insistent rhythms of house ‘n’ hip hop have filtered on to the nation’s airwaves, creating an aural assault on the top 40 chart.”

The tunes: the big spring hits are here: Coldcut featuring Yazz & The Plastic Population – Doctorin’ The House, Bomb The Bass – Beat Dis, Beatmasters featuring Cookie Crew – Rok Da House, Fat Boys & Beach Boys – Wipeout. Beat Dis and Rok Da House appear in long form, which is most welcome especially Extended Dis. We get two from Paid In Full, the hip hop album of the year and still one of my desert island discs. Move The Crowd is immense, a rap like no other, freeform ecstasy while Eric B Is President is still storming even when drastically shorn at 2:40. There’s also the welcome return of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five on Gold. Little Gee says “This is when Flash got more interesting as he was learning new scratches such as the Transformer. He used a device called Flashformer which gave his cuts a unique sound. In practice it was tricky to use but allowed cleaner and faster cuts compared to the crossfaders at the time.”

“Two big things like basket balls, down below was like Niagara Falls.”
The genius that is Get Down, the first single by the late, great Derek B. We go across the Atlantic for Dane Dane’s crucial Cinderella Dane Dane and Kool Moo Dee’s hilarious Go See The Doctor. The staying power of the Class of ’86 is demonstrated by the inclusion of The Real Roxanne with Hitman Howie Tee – Bang Zoom (Let’s Go Go), Whistle – (Not Serious) Just Buggin’, Doug E Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew – The Show, Club Nouveau – Lean On Me (Edit). Going even further back is Unity (Part 1), the smoking collaboration between Afrika Bambaataa and James Brown. To the present, a top jam: Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s frantic It Takes Two, all time party classic. Teddy Riley, uncredited producer.

Toi Jackson is currently the assistant director at Samaritan Village, a drug treatment program located in Jamaica Queens NY. In 1987 she was known as Sweet Tee and signed to Profile Records. The catchy I Got Da Feelin’ reached #31 on the UK charts, a rocking and rolling slice of freshly delivered hip hop. Another rap attack on the same label is Spyder-D’s class action How Ya Like Me Now, with DJ Doc. Get on up and pile up with The Cookie Crew and their superbly empowering Females, funky to the max. Scratches by DJ Dazzle and Mastermix. “I liked this song. Ut reminds me of being at school in the cafeteria and kids would have a dance off or a rap off. This was a tight jam.” (Carolyn)

Favourite tracks
Eric B. & Rakim – Move The Crowd

Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock – It Takes Two

Cookie Crew – Females

Lest we forget
Sweet Tee – I Got Da Feelin’

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House Hits ’88 (Telstar, 1988)

House Hits '88

House Hits '88 r

Review
Now That’s What I Call Music 11 showed us the way. The last quarter is what makes it extraordinary – the utterly amazing house side. Beginning with Beat Dis and running through House Arrest, The Jack That House Built, Rok Da House and ending with the hip hop remix of Climie Fisher’s Rise To The Occasion. It was time for other labels to step up and get in on the scene. Telstar’s House Hits ’88 was marketed as “The House Album Of The Year” and threw down S-Express, The Wee Papa Girl Rappers, Royal House and the Jungle Brothers. Get in touch! Write to 130 Slaney Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 11.

Can You Party is an appropriate scene-setter, tearing up the warehouse. It’s followed by MC Duke’s Miracles. More about him: the big break came when the MC who had won the DMC MC Battle got on stage at the World Championships after party and announced that he would battle anybody in the house. MC Duke got up and won. Derek B bore witness and as he had just signed to Music Of Life asked Duke to meet him at the label the next day. While waiting for Derek B, Duke met the owner Simon Harris, and rapped live as he didn’t have a demo. The tune is cut down to 3:11 and samples The Jackson Sisters. And then Christopher x 2, Reid and Martin or Kid ‘N’ Play. This edited UK Remix of Gettin’ Funky is extremely hard-edged and slips inside the Faith groove of the Wee Papa Girl Rappers. The beat, the rhythm, the noise. File under early new jack swing.

Come on in, do your thing. The epic Double Trouble remix of I Know You Got Soul. Shame it’s only three minutes. Next comes BVSMP’s slow jam hotness I Need You and Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s pulsating Tramp, the original A-Side of Push It. Raise your hands for Simon Harris who drops the timeless Bass (How Low Can You Go), a key tune of my 16th year. Megamix time! In the hot seat are Mirror Image who, aside from the single release, seem to solely exist here. Jack It Up + Jingo + Criticize + House Arrest + Love Can’t Turn Around + Rok Da House + Play It Again Jack + Always On My Mind + I Want To Be Your Property + Beat Dis = an enjoyable three minutes. Out come the heavy hitters – Beat Dis and Theme From S-Express, two #1s that have been well-covered here in the past. Jump higher? It’s a hip house treat from Richie Rich who teams up with the Jungle Brothers. Insane fusion.

Amnesia time; look back at Jack E Makossa’s wonderfully banging Jack The Opera. A bleary late night treat from the post-Crosbie’s days. Unbelievable bassline and piano. Intro based on La Donna E Mobile, from the opera Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi (1851). Afterwards come Nitro Deluxe’s wicked Let’s Get Brutal, Derek B’s superb Bad Young Brother and the evergreen Doctorin’ The House. Blink and you’ll miss ’em: truncated cuts of Jack ‘N’ Chill’s House along with Jellybean’s Jingo. Get off! The sublime L.A. Mix and Check This Out, sample and hold – listen out for the Pump Up The Volume snippet. The video features Claire King before she became Emmerdale’s Kim Tate. I think they got a hit record. Last orders for The Beatmasters and Cookie Crew, a 3:06 mix of Rok Da House.
“We don’t run rhymes from the top of our head
We write ’em down, pick ’em up and then they stick in our head”

Favourite tracks
Richie Rich meets Jungle Brothers – I’ll House You (Gee St Reconstruction)

L.A. Mix – Check This Out

Jack E Makossa – Jack The Opera

Lest we forget
Kid ‘N’ Play – Gettin’ Funky (UK Remix)

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