Monday 23 January 2023

Generic list post: can you believe 1983 was 40 years ago?

Gonna tell my kid this was Reservoir Dogs.
I might be the wrong side of 40 in 2023, but even I was a mere shorty in 1983. Truth be told, the only Rap song Young Marty had heard in '83 was Kenny Everett's Snot Rap because my primary interests were the Star Wars toyline and the Star Fleet TV show. But as an adult Rap connoisseur I find myself continuously returning to the music of 1983 since it was a particularly vintage year: Rap underwent its first big change in sound; some great Rap songs with no rapping were released; and a handful of songs which came from outside Hip-Hop were embraced by The Culture™ and have gone on to be bona fide classics. Here's proof in the form of my favourite 1983 Rap choonz. As ever, no particular order of preference and one song per artist.

Best Rap songs of 1983 IMHO:
Run-D.M.C. - Sucker M.C's
Jimmy Spicer - Money (Dollar Bill Y'all)
Spoonie Gee - The Big Beat (7" edit)
Love Bug Starski - You've Gotta Believe
The Fearless Four - F-4000
Herbie Hancock ft. Grand Mixer D.ST - Rockit
Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde - Gettin' Money
Disco Four - Throwdown
Cybotron - Clear
Rammellzee Vs. K-Rob - Beat Bop
Sexual Harrassment - I Need A Freak
Newcleus - Jam On Revenge (The Wikki-Wikki Song)
Whodini - Haunted House Of Rock
Beastie Boys - Cooky Puss
Hashim - Al-Naayfiysh (The Soul)
The Furious Five - New York New York
Grand Master Melle Mel - White Lines (Don't Do It)
Crash Crew - We Are Known As Emcees (We Turn Parties Out)
West Street Mob - Break Dance - Electric Boogie
Dimples D. - Sucker D.J's (I Will Survive)
Chris Stein & Fab 5 Freddy - Down By Law
Jonzun Crew - Space Is The Place
G.L.O.B.E. & Whiz Kid – Play That Beat Mr. D.J
Art Of Noise - Beat Box
Malcolm McLaren & World Famous Supreme Team - World Famous
Uncle Jamms Army - Dial-A-Freak

Bonus beats: 1983's best Rap song which isn't exactly a song? Double Trouble's Stoop Rap routine from the movie Wild Style. Obviously, it was the inspiration for Nas & AZ's Sprite commercial and Jurassic 5's shtick. Less obviously, it was the precursor to Suga Free's kitchen table freestyle and Alpoko Don's steez.

**EDIT** Robbie Unkut tells me this list needs a track by The B-Boys so I'd plump for Two, Three, Break. David Drake suggested Fresh 3 M.C's Fresh and, fair play, that's a good pick. Fred asked whether Too $hort released anything this year and I remembered that there's an underground Too $hort & Freddy B song over Smerphies Dance which could possibly date back to 1983? Party Sparty reminded me that Roland Rat's Rat Rapping dropped in 1983 and, as it turns out, that was the first Rap single I ever bought; my m8 Dave says I should have included Fantasy Three's Biters In The City.


Spartan said...

Time travel really does exist.

Would add the original mix of Grandmaster Caz's South Bronx Subway Rap off Wild Style too, imo.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

That was on my shortlist alongside Gangbusters. Wild Style soundtrack is such a classic LP. The first classic Rap LP in fact.

hotbox said...

just now realizing the scratches at the end of F 4000 were sampled on de la's "saturdays" and just 2 days ago i caught some low profile era dj aladdin scratches that were used on rakim's "know the ledge". . .was sampling scratches a regular thing that i just never noticed or are these 2 rare cases

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Rare cases I think?

What's the Low Profile song?

xanaxfantasia said...

uhhh marty i think u must have your wires crossed... the first classic rap album came out in 1980 it's called "Kurtis Blow" by Kurtis blow??

Yohan said...

Incredible list, some tracks I've never even heard of.

That Jimmy Spicer joint is definitely one of my all time favourite cuts.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Xanax, you jest but Christmas Rappin' and Hard Times are great. The rest of the album sux tho - I hate The Breaks.

Yohan, I'm jealous of people who got to experience songs like Money (Dollar Bill Y'all) and Sucker M.C's in real time back in 1983. One of the reasons 1983 is such a vintage year for Rap is because Larry Smith & Davy DMX emerged.

xanaxfantasia said...

i wish i was kidding i fucking love that album... kurtis blow singing "takin care of business" rules !!

also herbie hancock really the GOAT, did any other jazz people actually keep up with funk and rap like he did??

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Hmm not sure since I don't know much about Jazz.

James Brown did that song Unity with Afrika Bambaataa, but it's awful.

Marvin Gaye did a semi-Rap song in 1979 which was like a pisstake of his own playboy image but which jams hard if you take it as some straight-faced nouveau riche flossin'.

xanaxfantasia said...

that's so funny you mention that i was literally just reading your post about "ego trippin out" the other night!

same 🌊

i think possibly asap yams or someone pointed out marvin was hitting a couple of very rappish flows on "here my dear" as well

Yohan said...

Not just the music, the aesthetic of early 80s rap is incredible.

Recently bought this book, still have to dig in:

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Yohan, that book looks good. Gotta love the izod polo shirt & tennis short era of Hip-Hop clobber.

Xanax, Here, My Dear had big proto-Suga Free energy.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Sidenote, one of my favourite songs in this list is Disco Four's Throwdown. It's the one song where their steez came off on wax and one of the best beats by Rap's O.G super producer Pumpkin.

David said...

I'll tell you my personal fav missing from this list: 3 Fresh MCs "Fresh." Absolute banger

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Fair play, that is a glaring omission. Great choice.

Fred said...

That's the type of content I'm here for, not familiar with at least half of these so I need to dig in for sure. Would love a zip as well :-).

Also I was pretty sure that the firs Too Short tape Dont Stop Rappin was from 83, but discogs says 85 and I'm in doubt.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Yeah the Too $hort is 1985. There's a Freddy B & Too $hort underground tape song over Spyder D's Smerphies Dance which might be from 1983, but it's unconfirmed.

Yohan said...

Man Don't Stop Rappin' is '85? Assumed it was '83, probably some internet bullshit I fell for.

A shame because Girl (Cocaine) would've definitely made my '83 list.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

A lesson I learned: don't trust the dates listed in YouTube uploads for any music released before YouTube existed 😄

Spartan said...

No Rat Rapping?

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Oh shit, I thought that was 1984. First Rap single I ever bought 🐀

Bobby dee said...

Great list for a vintage year.

Some omissions

BBoys - Rock the House
Fantasy 3 - It’s Your Rock
Jazzy Dee - Get On Up
Timezone - The Wildstyle (unless nonces are banned)

Such an amazing year for music, shouts to Electro 1&2, Moments in Love, Kashif ruling post disco/boogie,Loose Ends and Bad Brains Rock for Light LP.