Apache by The Incredible Bongo Band
The uncontested b-boy anthem of first generation hip hop, this theatrical Spaghetti Western soundtrack proves how vital conga drums can be in powering a funky beat. They say Kool Herc was the first to play it; he certainly popularized the song. If it’s a breakdance battle you’re looking for, this is the essential song to play.
It’s Just Begun by The Jimmy Castor Bunch
This masterpiece seamlessly blends a potent stew of classical music and psychedelic funk. And when Castor’s band gets funky, few can touch them.
Give it Up or Turnit a Loose by James Brown
Of course there’s an almost endless list of classic break beat classics created by the Godfather and his spin-offs, but this live track is the one original b-boys would always wait and save their best moves for. Another Kool Herc mainstay.
Let a Woman Be a Woman (And a Man Be a Man) by Dyke and the Blazers
One of the James Brown Band spin-off players, Dyke got stranded out West, and eventually cut his own monster records.
Listen To Me by Baby Huey
Unfortunately, this Chicago funk icon died early in life. Grandmaster Flash and his crew called it “The Trouble Record” because it drove sitck-up crews crazy. Another Kool Herc classic.
Special Mention: Melting Pot by Booker T & The MGs, Compared To What by Les McCann, Get Into Something by The Isley Brothers, Get Ready by Rare Earth, Soul Power ’74 by Maceao & The Macks, I Know You Got Soul by Bobby Byrd, The Mexican by Babe Ruth
If you like this list, why not check out my book Hip Hop?