The Musical Foundation of Hip Hop

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?

What Really Happened to Beat Street?

Review by: Sifu TORO on Feb. 03, 2012 : star star star star star
I’m sitting here after reading the script thinkin’, WHY!? Why did they re-write it into a story so far from the original script, and so far from the reality of where Hip Hop came from? Steven Hager wrote a script that really takes you into the reality of early 1980s everyday life in the South Bronx, with respect to the pioneers of Hip Hop. I would really like to see this script on the big screen some day. The script is a piece of Hip Hop history. Pay the $2.99! It’s really worth it!!

Others, like Alisha, who had brought my original script to Harry Belafonte’s attention must have also wondered what in the world had happened. What happened to the slice-of-life drama I created?

What happened is Andrew Davis was chosen by Orion Pictures to direct the movie and I had a private meeting with Andy at my apartment right after he was hired. I played a bunch of classic hip hop records for him, telling him it was essential to get songs like “Apache” and “Just Begun” into the soundtrack for the climactic break-dance battles. (But none of these songs would ever make it into the film.) I also told him that Harry wanted to make all these crazy changes to the script and I didn’t agree with them. “I’m not worried about Harry,” replied Andy. “I know how to handle Harry.” On paper Andy and I should have gotten along: we both were graduates of the journalism department at the University of Illinois. But I could tell I was already being jettisoned from my own project. Andy was taking over and becoming the new script writer, and my script was getting tossed out the window. In fact, I never spoke to Andy again after that day. He was not interested in my input. In all fairness, Andy became a very accomplished director of action films within a few years. I particularly liked his “The Package” starring Gene Hackman, filmed mostly in Chicago. But Andy never became a great writer. And Harry ended up clashing with Andy and firing him off Beat Street. A TV director was quickly brought in to finish the film, but by then, the project was in a shambles, and the story had lost all cohesion.