The 35th installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums and songs, comes from Dan Workman of Toronto-based indie-rock outfit Ten Kens. The band’s self-titled debut is out now on Fat Cat Records (home to SMS favorite Frightened Rabbit).
Check Your Head
I’m going to ignore what I feel are obvious choices for best hip-hop record – Endtroducing, Chronic 2001, Nation Of Millions, Illmatic, etc – and go with what I’m sure will be a more controversial pick: The Beastie Boys, Check Your Head.
Is it real hip hop? Purists would surely say no. However, hip-hop is all about innovation in samples, beats, rhymes and flow, and to deny this record as one of the all time greats would be a shame. In direct contrast to their psychedelic sampling masterpiece Paul’s Boutique, it was the punk-infused nature of this record that seemed to ward off hip-hop enthusiasts and call upon a new nation of flannel-wearing grunge kids, kids who had for the most part otherwise been ignoring so-called hip-hop. It had somehow placed the unpolished sound appeal of the day firmly into the hip-hop arena, and this was no small task. It made it ok to put out a hip-hop record with less-than-stellar sound quality and production value.
The record flows with self-constructed samples and raw live beats. Yet all the necessary hip-hop elements are still firmly in place. The cuts are flawless and the rhymes are solid, albeit mostly non-sensical. There is something very pure and very true about this record, and I believe it belongs firmly in place with other hip-hop greats. That, and I just think it’s really cool.