To the beat y’all: DJ Soul Sister digs into formative ’80s hip-hop and finds classics from Grand Wizard Theodore, Mike T and Lady B.
Soul Sister presents true school hip-hop and rap songs, recorded after and inspired by the success of “Rappers Delight,” and before “The Message.” These tracks sometimes had live bands behind them, in order to compete with the popular funk and disco groups of the time. Most of these cuts were recorded and released in New York, but a few are from outside the boroughs.
Mistafide - Equidity Funk (1980)
Released as part of producer Peter Brown’s Land of Hits stable of label artists based in the NYC area.
Ronnie Gee - Raptivity (1980)
His name isn’t listed as the featured MC on the 12” label, but he’s listed as the writer, producer, and mixer. My guess is that he’s the artist too, straight out of New York.
Afrika Bambaataa Zulu Nation Cosmic Force - Zulu Nation Throw Down (1980)
Formed by Bambaataa of the South Bronx, this recording also features the Harlem Underground Band of New York.
T.J. Swan - And You Know That (1979)
Not the same TJ Swan who sang with the Juice Crew during the late 1980s in New York.
Lady B - To the Beat Y’all (1979)
Based in Philadelphia, Lady B was a pioneering radio disc jockey who helped to promote and play rap records on the air.
Kevie Kev (Waterbed Kev) - All Night Long (Waterbed) (1983)
The founder of New York’s Fantastic Romantic 5 released this sexy solo rap, based on an interpolation of the Mary Jane Girls’ “All Night Long.”
The Marvelous Three - Rappin All Over (1980)
Featuring New York MC Busy Bee, the pioneering battle rap veteran who appeared in the film Wild Style, and DJ Smalls plus Kool DJ AJ aka AJ Scratch.
Grand Wizard Theodore and the Fantastic Romantic 5 - Can I Get A Soul Clapp “Fresh Out Of The Pack” (1982)
DJ Grand Wizzard Theodore (cause his official name spelling is with 2 Zs) is known for inventing the DJ technique of scratching. He was a member of the Fantastic Romantic 5, which was led by MC Kevie Kev aka Waterbed Kev.
Solo Sound - Get the Party Jumpin (1981)
Another great, rare example of an early recorded rap group that featured a female MC (Sweet Mimi) among its male members.
Mike T - Do It Any Way You Wanna (1981)
Mike T. was a New Jersey-based radio DJ who was one of the first to break the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979. This track also features a saxophone solo by Joe Thomas.
Radiance feat. DJ RC - The Micstro (1980)
The A-side of this 12” single features the New York band Radiance doing a disco-funk number, “This is a Party.” The B-side, which is presented here, is non-stop MCing by DJ R.C. against the top shelf, expanded instrumental track.
The Jackson Two - Oh Yeah (1980)
Based on the lyrics, “I have 13 years experience, and I’m still the number one girl,” my guess is that The Jackson Two’s young-sounding, female members are both 13 or 14 years old. The song is also the earliest, that I’ve heard, of explicit lyrics in rap music. They rap about dope fiends, snorting coke, smoking Js, sucka N-words, and having “more rhymes than pimps got women.”
Love Bug Star-Ski & the Harlem World Crew - Positive Life (1981)
Love Bug Starski is credited with helping to coin the term “hip hop” during one of his improvised performances. This recording is his first single, which is based on an interpolation of Teena Marie’s “I Need Your Lovin.’
Rockin’ Rob & the Fabulous 4 MC Connection - The Original Mean Machine (1981)
Though recorded in 1981, this song was unreleased until Fraternity Music Group recently unearthed and remastered the master tapes. Based on an interpolation of the original studio version of James Brown’s “Give It Up Or Turn It A Loose.” Rockin’ Rob was not only the drummer on this track, but also the group’s DJ when they performed live.
The SD’s - Watch the Clock (early 1980s)
Featuring Sherry Richard as MC, and produced by soul singer and label owner Senator Jones. Recorded at the famed Sea-Saint Studios, which was co-owned and run by legendary producer and artist Allen Toussaint in New Orleans.
K-Hollywood Hollis - K-Hollywooda-Rap (1982)
One of the earliest examples of rap music recorded on the West Coast from San Diego, California.