A mixtape selection of Hip Hop from 1988 to 1993
‘Hits from the Dom’, a personal homage to the cuts and breaks from, in my view, Hip Hops second golden age – between 1988 and 1993 – when the music really got serious and the world had to acknowledge its existence as both a commercial, and, influential force.
This shinning epoch in the music’s history spawned a whole host of trends, genres, labels (Def Jam, Cold Chillin’ and Tommy Boy) and styles, including the street poetic philosophy of Boogie Down Productions, Main Source and Tragedy; the burgeoning UK scene of Hijack, London Posse and Overlord X; the imbued P-Funk tapestries of Digital Underground and the West coast Latino, and gangsta scenes.
We would also see the flourishing of a ‘black consciousness’ movement, a move away from the party jam braggadocio, and pursuit of dough and gold culture that had, so far, dominated Hip Hop.
Though pushing similar agendas; two camps formed with the Native Tongues collective (De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers) pursuing a less hard-line, more positive Afrocentric message whilst the vociferating pro-Nation of Islam and Nation of Gods and Earth teachings, favoured by the Brand Nubians, KMD and Poor Righteous Teachers, gave them a more forceful black nationalistic stance.
A Tribe Called Quest ‘Footprints’ (Jive) 1990
In the wake of De La Soul’s psychedelic bombshell 3 Feet High And Rising – the Sgt.Pepper of Hip Hop – there appeared a flood of omnivorous polygenesis outfits; intent on blending new spices together. A Tribe Called Quest – led by the unhurried and calm Q-Tip – mixed elements of both De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers into their Afrocentric sensibilities.
The debut opus People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm might be known for its ‘I Left My Wallet In El Segundo’s’, ‘Bonita Applebums’ and ‘Can I Kick It’ licks, but the real deal lies with tracks like this one, ‘Footprints’: from its Sir Duke (Stevie Wonder) sampled heralded trumpets, and repeated Jesse Jackson “walk tall” borrowed pride – taken from the Cannonball Adderlay Quintet’s track of the same name – footprint pounds the conscious beat.
KMD ‘Who Me?’ (Elektra) 1991
Spawning the metal-faced avenging fiend, MF Doom: the ‘kausin much damage’ early incarnation preached the rhetoric of the Black Nationalist movement, and 5% Nation of Islam. Taken from their opprobrious debut character-rich Mr.Hood – one of the best LPs ever produced in the Hip Hop cannon – the Sesame Street parodied, and controversial japery of ‘Who Me?’ blasts the language of stereotypes with a witty riposte.
Jungle Brothers feat. Vinia Mojica ‘Acknowledge Your Own History’ (Warner Bros.) 1989
Arguably, kicking off the whole Afrocentric bent, the Jungle Brothers emerged Straight Out The Jungle in 1988; combining Hip-House, Afrobeats from the motherland, r’n’b and rap. They improved on their original formula with the expansive, spiritual, magnum opus Done By The Forces Of Nature: a soulful, ingenuous study in African history. ‘Acknowledge Your Own History’ ploughs through the Fatback Bands ‘Let The Drums Speak’; poetically imploring African-Americans to rediscover those roots.
Brand Nubian ‘Drop The Bomb’ (Elektra) 1990
Looking back to atavistic times, New York’s Brand Nubian adopt a moniker from their Sudanese/Egyptian forefathers. Sharing a similar ideology to KMD; the Nubian’s, literally, ‘Drop The Bomb’ on all those suckers that get in their sights. Re-working the bombastic Trouble Funk original, they throw down caustic lyrical diatribes aplenty.
Boogie Down Productions ‘Blackman In Effect’ (Jive) 1990
Reigning down blow after blow of street knowledge like a heavyweight-boxing pastor; KRS-1 wakes-up his pupils with a raging torrid in black history. The principle of Hip Hop – a titan, legend and the music’s most enduring artist – storms through a propound and admonitory lesson; taking a swipe at the Greeks and bible, whilst readdressing the achievements of the black race. Under the mantel of Boogie Down Productions, KRS-1 flexes his lyrical muscles, and proves he’s always been the black consciousness’ most vociferating philosopher.
X Clan ‘Funkin’ Lessons’ (4th & Broadway) 1990
Using the P-Funk anthem – as laid-down by George Clinton’s Funkadelic – ‘One Nation Under A Groove’ to unleash the Black Nationalist agenda; the X Clan eloquently delivered their rapping sermons in the manner of a hip Inman on Times Square. Combining the uncompromising stand of Public Enemy with the Afrocentric majesty of the Jungle Brothers; the clan produced one of Hip Hop’s finest on-message cuts.
Leaders of the New School ‘T.I.M.E/ Time Will Tell’ (Elektra) 1993
Original stomping ground of the bellowing Busta Rhymes – before he outstayed his welcome, and took centre-stage – New York’s Leaders Of The New School were a tight unit of freestyling and party jam sparring MCs, whose comical antics on A Future Without A Past pigeon-holed them as a jocular, but credible and creative, knock-about act. However, the less popular follow-up, T.I.M.E, caused a stir for its more serious tone; pondering as it did on metaphysics, universal laws, science, and “the inner minds eye”. It didn’t sell, and the group soon split, yet it easily surpasses their debut.
Paris ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ (Tommy Boy) 1990
A gnarled prowling guitar hook and eerie horrorcore atmospheric synth announce the snarling drawl of Paris, and his flame-thrower attack on those crazy “white devils”. Self-styled avenging Black Panther, his swaggering conscious patter resembles Rakim, and on this particular moody-piece you could mistake the two. That is, until you begin to bare witness to Paris’ menacing flow and threatening candor – a serious muthfucker as it gets!
Yz ‘Thinking Of A Master Plan’ (Tuff City) 1990
Rewiring The Kay-Gee’s ‘Who’s The Man? (With The Master Plan)’ for the black radical cause; Yz’s short, but acclaimed, sojourn on the scene left only a small catalogue of work. This, his, soliloquy anthem to change, is a key-tune from the period; filled as it is with empirical insight and erudite lyrical dexterity.
Poor Righteous Teachers ‘Methods Of Droppin’ Mental’ (Profile) 1991
Followers of my humble, Monolith Cocktail blog, will have seen my recent purview of The Poor Righteous Teachers Pure Poverty LP – from which this cut is taken. 5% Nation Of Islam advocates, NY’s PRT spread their enlightened parables through a mix of Hip Hop, dancehall, toasting and reggae. This, the leading light, from their second LP, sounds like rap music’s “out of Africa” moment; a expletory journey into new territories of sampling.