I Used to Love H.E.R.: Dan Workman (Ten Kens)

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 headBeastie Boys
Check Your Head
(Capitol, 1992)

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.

One thought on “I Used to Love H.E.R.: Dan Workman (Ten Kens)”

  1. with check your head the beastie boys really set the tone for experimental hip hop (pauls boutique as well). They incorporated rock, punk, jazz like no musicians really had in hip hop. Truly one of my faves….but criminal minded, my philosophy

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