Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The 100 Songs That Define New York Rap

Hip-hop started out in the parks and traveled around the globe and back, picking up new accents and flavors in every region and time zone, rubbing elbows with other genres and cultures, and adapting to new climates and temperaments. But the spark that inspired the early bombers, breakers, DJs, and rappers to revolutionize art, dance, fashion, music, and language endures in New York City, changing alongside the advancing generations. When kids in the Bronx needed party music to distract from the violent tumult of the rocky ’70s, DJ Kool Herc figured out how to extend the climaxes of funk records, making long and euphoric vamps out of sweet seconds of ecstasy. Drum-machine fanatics took after forward-thinking auteurs like Prince and Miles Davis, assembling clattering, inhuman percussion parts that would lead to epochal early-’80s gems like Run-DMC’s “Sucker M.C.’s (Krush-Groove 1).” A happy studio accident in the late ’80s inspired Queens native and Cold Chillin’ crew member Marley Marl to invent the art of sampling, setting the stage for the plush jazz-rap stylings of acts like A Tribe Called Quest and the abrasive kung fu rap of the Wu-Tang Clan in the ’90s as well as the triumphant sounds of the Diplomats’ “Dipset Anthem” and Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement” in the next decade. As regionalism in rap began to ebb and artists from the East, South, West, Midwest, and overseas began trying out one another’s wares, stars like 50 Cent — and later Nicki Minaj — dominated via annexation, picking and choosing bits of popular sounds and fashions to graft onto their formidable arsenals of tricks.

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