Run-D.M.C. - "Sucker MC's"
"Sucker MC's" is the archetype of a hip-hop record. Its magic lies in its effortless simplicity. There are no chords, no bassline, no chorus. There's nothing more than a kick, a snare, a clap, and rhymes, yet it's the most powerful track ever, exploding out of your speakers every time. It's perfect, and from it, came all else. I could have asked Run and D to do "Walk This Way" or "It's Tricky," but I knew there was no other song to begin the musical journey of Pass The Mic: Volume Two.
LL Cool J - "I Can't Live Without My Radio"
Choosing an LL song for Pass The Mic was not an easy task. I think even LL was surprised I chose this song. With decades of culturally defining hit records, LL is simply an anomaly. "I Can't Live Without My Radio" is, in my opinion, the record that started it all - for LL, for Def Jam, and for a future of iconic artists. Like "Sucker MC's", "Radio" is so simple, so pure, yet so powerful, so prolifically hip-hop. This song that LL recorded when he was 17 speaks just as loud or louder today than it ever did.
Public Enemy - "Rebel Without A Pause"
"Rebel Without A Pause" changed everything. The urgency, the samples, the sound. The Bombsquad's production and Chuck D's delivery declared P.E. as the force they were. "Fight The Power" might be the anthem, but this is the definitive Public Enemy record. And I still can't believe Chuck gave me his blessing to do Flavor Flav's part.
Eric B. & Rakim - "Eric B Is President"
No matter who you ask, Rakim always seems to be the rapper your favorite rapper looks up to. Simply put, he changed the way people rap. While Eric B. & Rakim have many iconic records, none feel more prolific to me than "Eric B Is President," the debut single from the album that shook hip-hop to its core. It's also a true deejay record, one of the first '80s hip-hop classics I knew I needed to play as a child deejay coming of age in the early '90s.
Young MC - "Bust A Move"
I've known every word of "Bust A Move" since I was seven years old. This is a true universal dance record. It would be impossible to count the many parties I've rocked with "Bust A Move." In 1989, it expanded the fanbase of hip-hop, and still gets recited by all people, all over the world today.
Rob Base - "It Takes Two"
"It Takes Two" is the greatest hip-hop party record of all time. While Zooming with Rob, he told me that when he was recording this song, he thought it might touch the Tri-State area. Well, it touched the world. It is timeless. It is universal. It is unbound by location, demographic, and genre. It is simply an undeniable dance floor classic. And, of course, everyone knows the words, "I wanna rock right now, I'm Rob Base and I came to get down!"
Kid 'N Play - "Rollin' With Kid 'N Play"
During my childhood, Kid 'N Play had a cartoon, a comic book, a Sprite commercial, and of course, movies. The haircut, the dance, everything about them was iconic. Seeing both Kid and Play on my computer screen together reminded me just how iconic their chemistry was. Even on a Zoom, they went seamlessly hand in hand, just like their beloved battle scene in House Party.
Salt-N-Pepa - "Shoop"
When Salt asked me what song I wanted them to do for Pass The Mic, I told her "Shoop," and she told me that was her favorite Salt-N-Pepa song. Along with "Push It," "Shoop" is definitive Salt-N-Pepa, a feel good, flirtatious, sing-along that everyone could recite then, and everyone could recite now. Since all the songs in Pass The Mic weave together as I would play them at an actual party, and since "Push It" didn't fit the tempo of the rest of the mix, my decision was made easy to include "Shoop," and I'm so happy I did.
Arrested Development - "People Everyday"
"People Everyday" is one of my favorite songs of all time. It moves your body and it moves your soul. Simply put, it makes you feel good. Speech's voice exudes a joy and celebration that you cannot deny. This song captures the true spirit of Pass The Mic and the unifying power of hip-hop music around the world.
Naughty By Nature - "Hip Hop Hooray"
"Hip Hop Hooray" is the greatest hip-hop anthem of all time. Having deejayed all over the world for over half my living years, I can say with certainty that I have not come across a single person who didn't know what to do when this song came on. Treach, Vinnie, and Kay Gee captured a universality with this record like no other. There is simply no other song I could have used for the finale of Pass The Mic: Volume Two. Considering Treach was my childhood idol, this feels truly full circle.