Hello folks, below please find the latest installment of Lamont’s Lists, "The 10 Most Influential Rap Songs Ever”.
These are the tunes that rap shall be forever indebted to… the ones that set the stage for hip hop to become as we know it today. Shout out to my man Dave Gugino for challenging me to compile this one.
Please enjoy responsibly. And as always, feedback of all kind is much appreciated.
The 10 Most Influential Rap Songs Ever
1. Rapper's Delight - Sugarhill Gang (1979)
Yes Hip Hop "scholars", we all realize that Rapper's Delight was not technically the 1st rap single, but given that it is almost universally considered to be the one that started it all, we should just pretend like it was. Without Sugarhill Gang and their rip off of Chic's disco smash "Good Times" it's arguable that rap music might not exist today.
2 Walk This Way - Run-DMC (1986)
The 1st rock/rap collaboration was ground-breaking for many reasons, most notably for introducing rap music to Rock & Roll fans all over the world. This was a massive tipping point moment for hip hop, the 1st rap song to crack the Billboard Top 10 and the 1st to achieve major mainstream rotation on MTV, transforming Run-DMC into HUGE stars. And things didn't turn out so badly for Aeorsmith either.
3 F The Police - N.W.A. (1989)
Gangsta rap went global with NWA's F The Police. At the time it was the most draw-droppingly violent rap single ever recorded (quaint by today's standards), generating a million less inspired, less politically astute copy cats.
4 The Message - Grand Master Flash & The Furious 5 (1982)
In 1981 it was hard to conceive of rap as being anything other than throw-away party music. Then came "The Message". It was the 1st rap song to explore the trials of ghetto life and it set the stage for rap to become a an important outlet for social commentary. Melle Mel's warning "Don't push me, cause I'm close to the edge..." still remains as one of the most memorable choruses in music history.
5 Planet Rock - Soul Sonic Force (1982)
When hip hop pioneer, Africa Bambata sampled Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express" then combined it with elements of rock & funk and all kinds of studio engineering wizardry, to create "Planet Rock" he truly found the perfect beat. This stunning record created a whole new sound called electro funk, that would later morph into a million different genres including house, techno, electronic and many others.
6 Fight For Your Right To Party - The Beastie Boys (1986)
If Run-DMC kicked the door in with their massive 1986 hit "Walk This Way", then the Beastie Boys were the 1st to storm through it. "Fight For Your Right" was a party starter of epic proportions for the frat boy crowd in the late 80's (who were mostly clueless to the fact that the song was meant to be a parody). It fueled the Beastie's run to #1 on the pop charts with Licensed To Ill (the 1st #1 in hip hop history), cemented rap's cross-over appeal and placed white guys squarely in the center of the hip hop world for the 1st time ever.
7 Eric B Is President - Eric B & Rakim (1986)
As a leap forward in rapping as performance art, Rakim's "Eric B Is President", with its deadpan delivery, melodic flow and intricate, unconventional rhyme schemes is the microwave oven of its time. The simplistic playground boasts and call & response crowd chants that characterized early rap were instantly rendered obsolete by his virtuoso performance on this record, upping the ante for rappers world-wide and forcing them to throw out their old playbooks.
8 Fight The Power - Public Enemy (1989)
P.E.'s "Fight The Power" was undoubtedly a central character in Spike Lee's seminal 1989 drama Do The Right Thing. With its bombastic arrangement, full of random, conflicting samples & sound effects, and Chuck D's fiery, controversial lyrics, it was as uncomfortable as it was captivating to listen to. It was the peak for Hip Hop as a force for political activism and social consciousness.
9 Nuthin But A G Thang - Dr. Dre (1993)
Gangsta rap exploded in '89 with NWA's "F* The Police", but it didn't begin to completely take over popular music until Dr. Dre unleashed his solo project The Chronic in 1993 with "G Thang" as the lead single. Rough enough for the streets yet assessable enough for pop radio, it was what rap would sound like for the next decade. Importantly a generation of talented, high-school kids such as Timbaland, Kanye West and Eminem would study "G Thang" as essential course work and later apply its teachings to grand effect.
10 Rapture - Blondie (1980)
In hip hop's non-stop march towards cultural dominance, "Rapture" played a small but vital role. Sure, "Walk This Way" brought in the rock crowd and the Beastie Boys secured the college & suburban demos. But it took underground punk rock heroes Blondie and their bad ass lead singer Deborah Harry to reel in the tastemakers. NYC hipsters went crazy when they got an earful of "Rapture" at the start of the 80's, driving it to #1 on Billboard as hip hop became ultra cool in clubs from the East Village to West Hollywood.
Scoring based on 3 criteria:
1 The songs broad cultural impact
2 The songs responsibility for altering the course of hip hop at its time of release
3 The song's influence on songs and sounds that came after it
20 Others Worth Considering:
My Name Is - Eminem...Legitimized the white rapper
Me So Horny - 2 Live Crew...Proof that sex sells
Rebel Without A Pause - Public Enemy...Made it crucial to be "hard"
The Rain - Missy Elliot...The blueprint for jittery futuristic beats
Jennifer Taught Me - De La Soul...The nerdy black kids finally found their heroes
Country Grammar - Nelly...The mid-west finally arrives at the party
Give It To Me - Jay-Z...The peak of that Neptunes "Bling" sound
Life Is Too Short - Too Short...Made the B word irresistible to future rappers
Players' Ball - Outkast...Made it cool to be country
Can't Touch This - Hammer...Rap as throw-away pop
Sucker MC's - Run-DMC...Demonstrated the power of unchecked bravado
Big Poppa - The Notorious B.I.G....Brought the west coast sound to the NYC
Get Low - Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz...The beginning of Crunk's takeover
Parents Just Don't Understand - Jazzy Jeff...Rap for you and your parents
They Want EFX - Das EFX...Their stiggy stuttery sound would be often imitated
Poppa Large - Ultra Magnetic MC's...Gave permission to fly your freak flag
Keep Ya Head Up - Tupac...Showed thugs could have heart too
Roxanne's Revenge - Roxanne Shante...The 1st of battle rap Through The Wire - Kanye West...The explosion of the sped up soul sample
I Need Love - LL Cool J...The invention of the rap ballad