Throughout the year, I’ve talked a lot about the development of my listening habits, the bands that were important to me and the stylistic phases that I went through. Few of those influences were as substantial as my hip-hop phase with just happened to coincide with the genre’s golden era. Today, we close the book on that chapter of the story with The Last hip-hop track of the year, Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock”.
Shortly after I started picking out and buying my own music, I started getting into hip-hop. The Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill was the first cassette tape I ever bought and from about 1987 through 1993, that was what I listened to the most. Oh sure, I also listened to some hair metal at the time. I used to make separate mixtapes for rock and rap music, but I never dove as deep into the rock side of the offerings as I did the rap side. Last year when I was assembling a Spotify playlist of notable songs from my youth, I was surprised by just how many hip-hop tracks there were. Loads of artists who didn’t find a place in the 366TAS project were in there. Everything from pioneering gangsta rap acts like Ice-T and Ice Cube to the more whimsical, zany and fun acts like Das EFX and the Fu-Schnickens. I listened to popular stars like Vanilla Ice and Naughty By Nature as well as lesser-known artists like Funkdoobiest and Raw Fusion. Run DMC, LL Cool J, Coolio, Onyx, the Black Sheep, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre… the list goes on and on.
Afrika Bambaataa wasn’t really in the mix back then. I mean, I was aware of “Planet Rock”. I vaguely remember seeing the video for it on some public access MTV-type channel when I lived in New Jersey, but that was about it. That said, it’s a notable track; Rolling Stone recently ranked it as the third greatest hip-hop song of all time. Even if their list is pretty heavily tilted toward pre-2000 works, it’s not an entirely unreasonable proposition.
Earlier this year, I pledged to get back more into the hip-hop world, even as my tastes have been veering the other way lately, more toward instrumental pieces. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to the place where hip-hop is a mainstay in my rotation, but if not, we’ll always have the golden years and it’ll always be an important piece of my history.
Planet Rock – Afrika Bambaataa