This sequel to my first batch of novelty rap 12" singles can be enjoyed and/or appreciated on a number of levels, depending on how funny/funky/cheesy/awful you find them. And they certainly are an '80s time capsule. But they're also a bit of a corrective to the standard rock-crit history of hip-hop, which goes something like this: "Rappers Delight" kicks it all off, Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" brings in social commentary, Run-DMC make it a legit musical form, Public Enemy and BDP bring more social commentary and, along with N.W.A., express the seething rage of young black ghetto-dwellers.
Like how Elvis, Chuck Berry, et al started rock'n'roll, nothing happened for awhile (just a bunch surf 'n' garage junk) 'til Dylan, the Beatles and the British Invasion "saved" rock, the singer-songwriters bring literacy and adult themes..and, oh yeah, those damn greasy punk-rockers then came along...guess we gotta mention them at some point, and reluctantly induct a few tokens into the Rock' 'n Roll Hall of Fame years after their eligibility, while still pretending that most surf, garage, bubble-gum, metal, prog, electronica, alternative and avant-rock never happened. So no Dick Dale, Monkees, Kraftwerk, Roxy Music/Eno, or Black Flag, but hey! we got the Dave Clark Five, Laura Nyro, Leonard Cohen and Donovan! Rock 'n' rollll!
So what is the real story of hip-hop? Certainly, the above Rolling Stone-approved history was part of it, but, like early rock, it was a genre for kids, and largely a singles medium (full-length albums were reserved for true 'artists.') Plenty of dance crazes, answer records, and comedy tunes. And I should know, I was one of those kids, listening to Compton's KDAY ("Cold rockin' the radio!"), yucking it up to the likes of The Fat Boys, Bobby Jimmy & The Critters, and The Fresh Prince before he adopted the bizarre stage name of 'Will Smith.' I thought it was plenty avant-garde, actually, what with the lack of singing, the human-beatboxing, electronics, turntables, sampling. Seems totally obvious now, but at the time it was quite fresh and radical. There had never been anything like it.
This collection is indeed what much of the first decade of hip-hop consisted of: goofy novelty records, some by celebrities jumping on a trend, some by comedians, some by one-off opportunists, even some by actual rappers. No-one cared about "keepin' it real." It was, like garage-rock in the '60s, just a goof, a bit of fun not to be taken too seriously. After all, it's not like hip-hop was ever going to actually achieve mainstream popularity, right?
CURL ACTIVATE 2
1. The Qwarymen - Beatle Rap
2. Greg Poltrock / Rick Rumble - Mayberry Rap
3. Joe Piscopo/Eddie Murphy [& DJ D.S.T.] - Honeymooners Rap
4. Rodney Dangerfield - Rappin' Rodney
5. Shawn Brown - Rappin Duke (now you know what Biggie was referring to when he said "Remember 'Rappin Duke'/daw-ha daw-ha")
6. Elvira - Monsta Rap (technically, I think this came out in the early '90s, but boy, it sounds Eighties)
7. Hurt 'Em Bad - NBA Rap
8. Ron & DC Crew - Ronnie's Rap
9. Doonsbury Break Crew - Rap Master Ronnie
10. Bobby Jimmy & The Critters- Roaches (parody of the Timex Social Club hit "Rumors")
11. Dan Aykroyd & Tom Hanks - City of Crime (from the "Dragnet " soundtrack)
12. Eddie Murphy - Boogie in Your Butt
13. Hurt 'Em Bad - Boxing Game
14. Mel Brooks - Hitler Rap
15. Chicago Bears - Super Bowl Shuffle
Thanks to reader chuck for the suggestions - wish I could have found a copy of 'Contra Rap'! (And I'd kill for a copy of the Lakers rap record.)