This feature was originally published on October 25, 2017.
History got all fucked up when everyone thought that the Baby Boomers had the most important story to tell. And of course the white male baby boomers had the loudest voices. So here we are, in 2017, still feeling the cultural and artistic reverberations from events that happened long after the '60s became American culture's supposed pivotal moment.
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But the fact is that it wasn't the late '60s when everything changed—at least not in popular music. White people were listening to white people performing older black music at Woodstock (not to slight Jimi). And we grew up being told one thing, but knowing something else was true. American popular music today owes everything not to The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, but to the sparks of the late 1970s that took full flight in the '80s. To techno, to house music, to disco, to dancehall—and to hip-hop.
The '80s was hip-hop's first real decade, the era when everything started to blow up. There's an old saying that no idea's original: 'There's nothing new under the sun. It's never what you do, but how it's done.' And it's true that hip-hop was a continuation of a much longer story about black American culture. Hip-hop was about poor kids taking broken pieces of the world around them and putting them back together. This was the true break with history—the end of the beginning, if not the beginning of the end.
As complicated as it was creative, as contradictory as it was all-conquering, the story of hip-hop's eventual aesthetic takeover starts in the '80s. From artists like Slick Rick to the Fresh Prince, Public Enemy to the 2Live Crew, N.W.A to BDP, Salt-N-Pepa to Queen Latifah, The Fat Boys to De La Soul—this is where rap's various ideologies and innovations begin spinning outwards, spreading geographically and, culturally. Early on, it wasn't an album genre; hip-hop was all about parties and park jams, preserved and propagated via bootleg cassette. Soon after it was about stars and singles, disco loops and breakbeats, drum machines, and ultimately, albums. The art of the hip-hop album was perfected by the close of this remarkable decade. All these years later some discs sound dated while others feel fresher than ever. Which records have stood the test of time? Which one embodies hip-hop best? See if you can guess—or just start clicking. These are our picks for the Best Rap Albums of the 80s.
Black Moon Astrology
r/hiphopheads Essential Album of the Week #71: Black Moon - Enta Da Stage
Welcome to the new and improved Essential Album of the Week discussion thread!
Every Wednesday we will discuss an album from our Essential Albums list
Last Week:Spice 1 - 187 He Wrote
This Week:Black Moon - Enta Da Stage
Background/Description (courtesy of allmusic.com)
Perhaps no other album of the '90s musically exhibits the shift in the hip-hop ethos that occurred in 1993 better than Black Moon's classic gemstone Enta da Stage. Listen to this album and you can hear hip-hop change. Prior to this, many of hip-hop's most confrontational vibes were presented as gifts from bellicose outfits like Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and other acts whose music raged. Enta da Stage features enough of that, but it also offered, perhaps even introduced, a brooding vibe. It was a pioneer sound. The group released 'Who Got the Props' in the winter of 1992, about a year before the album dropped in November of 1993. It was a song in the same vein of Onyx's 'Throw Ya Gunz,' a hard track, with rough rhymes and a staple-NYC hook with a chorus of rowdy b-boys shouting in unison. The album featured similar tracks, from 'Make Munne' to 'Son Get Wrec' to 'Buck Em Down' to the opener, 'Powaful Impak!' -- all time-capsule tunes that embody early-'90s NYC hip-hop. The album begins like it was meant to be a Brooklyn version of Bacdafucup. But months prior to the album's release, Black Moon's second single, 'How Many MC's..,' hit the streets. It was a total departure from the vibe present on 'Who Got da Props.' DJ Evil Dee and da Beatminerz supplied a subtly horrific track over which Buckshot premiered a more deliberate flow that bespoke controlled menace. There is a story behind this transformation. Buckshot said he, Evil Dee, and the 5Ft Accelerator recorded half of the album -- the 'Who Got da Props' half -- in 1992 before he went on tour with Kool G Rap and a young Nasty Nas. During a freestyle cipher, listening to Nas and Kool G Rap led Buckshot to an epiphany that motivated him to switch up his rhyme-style, and da Beatminerz tweaked their production to complement. The 'How Many MC's..' half of the album -- songs like 'I Gotcha Opin,' 'Slave,' 'Shit Iz Real' -- displayed Buckshot's new motif: a raspier tone, a more intricate flow and cadence, and a serious presence that was just as threatening as the temperamental MC on the earlier songs. The rowdy crew hooks gave way to what were more like stripped down musical breaks that often featured a jazz horn sample and nothing else. The production -- which should enter into any discussion of the greatest hip-hop production efforts of all time -- was every bit as radical as what the RZA introduced this same year or the Bomb Squad cooked up in the late '80s. The elements existed before, but never had they been synthesized into a hardcore East Coast outfit with the skill and artistry of Black Moon's Enta da Stage. The release of this album was overshadowed by the landmark Wu-Tang Clan debut and the popular success of Midnight Marauders and Doggystyle. But make no mistake, this is one of the '90s most important hip-hop classics, an album that deserves its own node on the hip-hop timeline.
This is an open thread for you to share your thoughts on the album. Avoid vague statements of praise or criticism. This is your chance to practice being a critic. It's fine for you to drop by just to say you love the album, but let's try and step it up a bit!!!
How has this album affected hip-hop? WHY do you like this tape? What are the best tracks? Do you think it deserves the praise it gets? Is it the first time you've listened to it? What's your first impression? Have you listened to the artist before? Explain why you like it or why you don't.
DON'T FEEL BAD ABOUT BEING LATE !!!! Discussion throughout the week is encouraged.
Next week's EAOTW will be Enter the Wu Tang: (36 Chambers)