The Jams That Time Forgot: Def Jam’s Eight Most Slept-On Records

October 14th, 2009 by Christopher R. Weingarten Leave a reply »

Last night, VH1’s Hip Hop Honors paid tribute to Def Jam Records, the molten core of hip-hop labels, the 25-year-strong business monolith, and the launch pad for everyone from LL Cool J to Kanye (read our report from the scene here). But what about all those great records that weren’t hits, but merely gleams in Russell Simmons’ eyes? For the bazillions of records that Def Jam sold, there’s still tons of slept-on classics that never became Warren Gs… or even a Young Gunz. Take a YouTube trek through eight classic, underappreciated gems that definitely weren’t honored last night, but really should be.

The Junkyard Band
“The Word” b/w “Sardines” (1986)

Washington, D.C.’s go-go rhythms were at the peak of popularity in 1986, with no shortage of funky live bands around the East Coast furiously tapping out its booty-gypnotizing triplet feel, polyrhythmic agogo bells and prickly horn stabs. Def Jam’s sole entry into the go-go sweepstakes would be a one-off single from a band of kids furiously pounding on found percussion instruments like a funky, Reaganomics-era version of Stomp. While bands like E.U. eventually got radio play, the Junkyard Band can at least hold claim to having one of the rawest, heaviest, meanest go-go singles in history, thanks to Rick Rubin’s appropriately coarse production style, gnarled synth lines and the rage-filled lyrics detailing how Reagan squandered the money that should have been going to America’s poorer communities

Original Concept
Straight From The Basement Of Kooley High (1988)

Signed to Def Jam well before Public Enemy, Original Concept was made up of Chuck and Flavor’s old college radio buddies from their days of Long Island’s pioneering college radio station WBAU. Featuring future Yo! MTV Raps personalities Doctor Dre and T-Money, Original Concept broke in 1986 with the chaotic, sampledelic, Art-Of-Noise-besting “Can U Feel It?” 12”...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


Leave a Reply