As Tommy Boy Records celebrates twenty years in hip hop, The List charts the quest for the perfect beat. Words: Neil McMillan
n order to properly celebrate the contribution of
Tommy Boy records to hip ltop music. the only
plan should be to stop reading this article. track down. listen to and savour the most itnportant recordings made on the label o\ er the past twenty years. To help you do this. 'l'ommy Boy has tiovv reissued a substantial portion of its classic back catalogtte. letting the music itself speak for the label’s influence. But. as an extra reminder of its status. it's also embarking on a twentieth anniversary tour. featuring the DJ talents of old—school legend Afrika Bambaataa. .\laseo of De la Soul and Handsome Boy Modelling School‘s Dan the Automator. And just so you don‘t have to nrake do with the home-
show is coming to (ilasgow.
late 7()s when 'l‘om Silverman. "l‘ommy Boy’ himself. became draw it to the city's emerging hip hop scene. Meeting the Zulu Nation’s .-\frika Bambaataa alter a show in a Bronx club. Silverman invited him into the studio to attempt to make new recordings from Bairrbaataa's impressive collection of breaks. (obscure records featuring hard funky drum solos around which the rapping and ln‘eakdancing cra/es were developing).
After a cottple of years of experimentation. forging
a street sound to contrast with the slick productions of the Sugarhill label. Bostonian producer .-\rthur Baker
and rappers Soul Sonic l"orce were drafted in. By 1982. only a year after 'l’ommy Boy had launched. the collaboration prodttced the label’s first hit. ’l’lanet Rock". a fusion of eerie orchestral electronics. popping rhymes and hard programmed drums which still sounds futuristic today. While borrowing from Kraftwerk‘s li‘unx [film/re lit/tress in order to create the electro sound many still identify as
De la Soul continue to listening experience. the whole darn prO‘VIde a necessary antidote to the thuggery It all began in New York in the rife rap,
Tommy Boy artist and Zulu warrior Afrika Bambaataa
quintessentially New York. the success of the record bled back over the Atlantic to influence bands such as New Order. who becatne largely responsible for the development of the British dance scene.
The electro sound waned in popularity dttring the 30s. bttt Tommy Boy found its feet again with acts such as Stetsasonic. a live hip hop band who were nevertheless to champion the virtues of sampling in 'Iii/kin' all Illul .lu::. Another innovative sarnpladelic collage. appropriately produced by Stetsasonic's DJ Prince Paul. was De La Soul's l98‘) debut album 'I'ln'ee [Veer High And Rising. With its ‘l)aisy Age‘ politics. cra/y game-show skits and complex lyricism. the LP remains one of hip hop‘s truly classic sets. While their latest album xll'l Official Intelligence sounds a galaxy away from their debut (the band disowned the ‘hippy-hop‘ tag following 'I‘ln‘ee l’eet). De La remain as original as ever and continue to provide a necessary antidote to the thttggery still rife within rap.
lf' 'l'lrree Feet helped define the late 80s and propelled Tommy Boy. with De La-associates Queen Latifah and Digital Underground in tow. into the 90s. Handsome Boy Modelling School‘s Se. . . llun".v Your Girl." provides a blueprint for how hip-hop should be made in the noughties. An album which combines the quirky comedy of Prince Paul‘s production with the filmic sound-sculptures of Dan the Automator (also responsible for Dr Octagon and the (iorrilax). it stands as a Tommy Boy landmark for the millennium and more than justifies Dan's presence on the current tour.
With the .-\utomator representing the new school. .\laseo holding down the Daisy Age classics and Bambaataa cornrnernorating the origins of Tommy Boy. the Midi lli-l‘i gig will constitute an advanced lesson in hip hop history as well as providing an exctise to party on and celebrate the continued pursuit of the perfect beat.
Tommy Boy Records in association with Midi Hi- Fi at QMU, Glasgow, Sat 14 Jul.
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The latest club news . . .
TOMMY BOY RECORDS fans will be pleased to hear that The List has a sweet competition to win a goodie bag stuffed with limited edition branded clothing and two VIP tickets to the twentieth anniversary show at QMU on Saturday 14 July. To win the swag and the tickets simply answer the following question: What was the first ever 12in release on the Tommy Boy label? Send your answers to clubs@|ist.co.uk before Wednesday 11 July. HOMELFSS. fill fitJNfii f club night so called 'cause it don't play no house, celebrates its fifth birthday With a rnini HitlSIC festival later llllf; rnontir Called More f we limit f our. tire long-weekend festival that's Staged in association With Smrndbase takes place at city centre (:Iul) venue On Air l ast from Thursday if) Sunday 2);). July. lire (l(3\.’£lf3l£llllltl line up features: lvfetalnead/ with Goldie (pictureth and fvf() Haul,- ('lirursday, 10 .fulyi; f yrrcal lounge Willi Ugly Duckling; iiryei. MC Ty and DJ Pool) (70 July); Compost Records ruroirt ‘.'."t.‘r Ja/mnova and Les (‘iamrrras (21 July) and a 100"» [)ynarnite showcase With Horace Andy and Manassefr (’2? .Julyi, A limited deal offers a weekend ticket for only $30 and advance tickets for indivrdual events from $70. Call 01382 9037.70 for details and see next fortniglrt's; issue fer a full prewew.
SUPPORT SCOTLAND’S turntablist heroes at the DMC/Technics UK Competition final, due to take place at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Friday 20 July. Once again, Edinburgh’s very own Ritchie Ruftone contends for the title having won the recent Scottish heat and because last year's champion Mr Thing is unable to attend, fellow Edinburgh jock DJ Plus One will compete as defending UK champion. Tickets are £10, available by calling 0207 771 2000 or online at www.ticketweb.co.uk.
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