If you had to choose your top three rap / hip-hop songs of all time, what would they be? As I got on down to my Old School Mix at the gym today, that question worked its way into my head. My top two came to me immediately. The third took a few more seconds of thinking.
My selections all came out in either 1986 or 1987. Many years have passed, and many great hip-hop songs have come along. But when all’s said and done, these three still do it for me. There are a lot of great old school tunes from this era, but a lot of ’em haven’t aged too well. I’m talking to you Whistle, UTFO, and Boogie Boys. But the three classics below definitely stand the test of time.
How ’bout you? Whether you’re a fan of hip-hop or not – if you had to pick, what would your top three be? Speak, people!
My Top 3 Hip-Hop Songs of all Damn Time
#3: “Paul Revere” (mp3) – Beastie Boys / “Fight For Your Right” and “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” were the early mass favorites from Licensed to Ill, but based on those two songs, I wasn’t wholly impressed by the Beasties… but when I heard “Paul Revere” – the funky as hell backward beat; the fun story set in the old west… there are lots of great Beasties songs – “Root Down”, all of Paul’s Boutique, but nothing beats “Paul Revere”.
#2: “Peter Piper” (mp3) – Run-DMC / As far as crossover appeal goes, 1986 was a monumental year in hip-hop. Licensed to Ill was released in the spring, and in the summer, Run-DMC released Raising Hell – which featured the biggest rap-rock crossover to date: “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith. But again, for me, the appeal lay elsewhere on the album. In particular, “Peter Piper”. It’s the rhythm that primarily does it for me with hip-hop. Give me a dope beat and I’m a happy camper. “Peter Piper” was like nothing I’d ever heard. In fact, color me ignorant, I didn’t know until a couple months ago that the beat is taken from Bob James’s version of Paul Simon’s “Take Me To The Mardi Gras“.
#1: “I Know You Got Soul” (mp3) – Eric B. & Rakim / The summer of ’87 was when I met my high school sweetheart, and also the summer that Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid in Full album was released. Like all my music back then, I bought the vinyl and immediately taped it so I could bump it in the car. Many an hour was spent in my mom’s Buick Park Avenue with my girl and the song “I Know You Got Soul.” It still doesn’t get any smoother than Rakim. His delivery flows effortlessly, and it’s still my favorite old school tune to rap along to in the car. Numero uno.
If you’re interested, I just re-posted my Old School Mix here. Please – when Too Short’s “Freaky Tales” hits, make sure your mother isn’t around. It’s about as NSFW as a song can be.