Filed under: Def Jam Week,Not Your Average,Speaker Smashers,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Considering the impact that the Def Jam label has had on hip-hop music, looking back over the first eight 12″ singles on the maroon label is pretty amusing. After the incredible debuts of super rapper T La Rock with ‘It’s Yours’ (on Def Jam/Partytime) and LL Cool J via ‘I Need A Beat’, the other early six releases that Rick Rubin had his hand in are a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality.
T La Rock & Jazzy Jay – ‘It’s Yours’
Regarded by many as the first rap record to actually capture the sound of a real hip-hop performance. The true definition of the term ‘classic’.
LL Cool J – ‘I Need A Beat’
A hell of an introduction to a hell of a rapper, with a little help from Ad Rock and Jazzy Jay, of course.
Beastie Boys – ‘Rock Hard’ / ‘Party’s Getting Rough’ / ‘Beastie Groove’
Compared to something like ‘It’s The New Style’, this is Flintstone-era shit from MCA, Ad Rock and Mike D. ‘Rock Hard’ is notable for the AC/DC riff and not much else, while ‘Party’s Gettin’ Rough’ is an eight minute bug-out session. ‘Beastie Groove’ is more of a straight forward demonstration of their still-developing rhyming skills over a messy drum track.
Jazzy Jay – ‘Def Jam’ / ‘Cold Chillin’ In The Spot’
Russell Rush provides some vocal commentary (dusted out of his mind, I assume) over Jay’s cuts and Rick’s beats. A lot of this ended-up being scratched into hooks for other records as you’ll no doubt notice.
MCA & Burzootie – ‘Drum Machine’
A fine example of 1985 Shout Rap over a sick bassline, this is an under-appreciated sure-shot.
LL Cool J – ‘I Want You’ / ‘Dangerous’
Two tracks that would later appear on the Radio LP, but the ‘Burnt Mix’ of the b-side is a superb journey into abrasive beats.
Jimmy Spicer – ‘This Is It’ / ‘Beat The Clock’
Best known for ‘The Adventures Of Super Rhymes’ and ‘Money’ (Dollar Bill Y’All), Mr. Spicer delivers a couple of solid but not exactly essential joints.
Hollis Crew – ‘It’s The Beat’
Run-DMC let their crew get dumb over the drum on this one. Kool-T (later a member of The Afros), DJ Hurricane, Runny Ray, and Davey DMX get their fist taste of the spotlight.
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