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The Ten Most Important Songs Of Hip-Hop’s First Decade

6. “Love Rap” (1979)/Spoonie Gee
Leave it to a Harlem native to go all mack daddy on the mic and create a masterpiece in the process. With a laid back voice and his smooth delivery, Spoonie was scoopin’ up all the freaks walking down the streets as well as those that cruised down or chilled in the club. A real “woman pleaser,” Spoonie’s iceberg cool still serves as an inspiration to studio pimps-in-training.

7. “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” (1981)/ Grandmaster Flash
Sugar Hill’s live band played on more than a few of the label’s hits, turntable wizard Flash was out to prove that his job was still essential when it came to making real hip-hop. Sounding like he’s spinning in the darkness of the legendary Bronx club the Disco Fever, he gets nasty on the cuts, slicing in bits of Blondie’s “Rapture,” as well as “Apache” and “Good Times.” With all the cutting, mixing and scratching of various records on this one song, some call “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” the beginning of turntablism.

8. “Planet Rock” (1982)/ Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force
As one of the first Bronx made jams to crossover to the downtown New York City crowd, “Planet Rock” came across like the P-Funk space-nuts for the hip-hop generation. A favorite of punk rock manager Malcolm Mclaren, who saw Bam at a Boogie Down jam wearing a Sex Pistols t-shirt and instantly knew they were the truth, these brothers were before their time. Both Afrocentric and Afro-Futurist, they wilded out with the 808s and synths creating a space-age track one can imagine a Timbaland playing continuously when he was a boy.

9. “Problems of the World” (1983)/The Fearless Four
While folks usually credit Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s classic “The Message” (1982) as the first song to talk about the streets straight-up, the truth is that song has gotten mad props over the years although most of the group including Flash was AWOL from the recording session. Although “Problems of the World” has become a footnote in rap history, this gritty track deserves equal billing and actually features the entire posse talking about life (unemployment, bad schools, crimes) in the hood. In addition, as the first group signed to a major label (Elektra Records), they also had a budget to create a dope low-budget video directed by future crime novelist Jerry Rodriguez.

10. “It’s Like That”/”Sucker MCs” (1983)/Run-DMC
Over the years, hip-hop historians have laid down the law that these two tracks were the beginning of the end of the original old school. Released with “It’s Like That” on the A-side and “Sucker MCs” holding down the B, Run-DMC stepped into our lives dressed in b-boy black and white Adidas, taking over the game with their mad skills and brash arrogance. With the late Jam Master Jay sharing production credits with manager Russell Simmons and Larry Smith on “It’s Like That,” Run and DMC pulled no punches as they threw down the lyrical gauntlet.

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