The 42nd 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 Matt Halverson, who runs Banter Management and Media, home to City Light, producer Scott Solter, The Traditionist and more. Banter released a City Light/Her Space Holiday split EP on April 7.
Matt digs into six of his favorite hip-hop songs (and I give him my fullest backing on No. 4).
1. Public Enemy – Contract on the World Love Jam (1990)
In 1990, I was 11 and was a heavy metal kid with the exception of some 2 Live Crew, NWA and Too Short. I had not yet been exposed to any form of hip-hop that stood for anything other than money, girls and violence. I was handed Fear of a Black Planet by an older kid in the neighborhood and it completely floored my thought process. From the opening track, Contract on the World Love Jam, I knew I had just been turned onto something different. It’s an instrumental, but I had never heard anything like it. The scratching by Terminator X mixed with samples from what sounded like Civil Rights speeches.This entire album is extremely important, but I chose the intro track simply because from the second I hit play on my Walkman I knew my taste in music would be different for the rest of my life. I listened to this record daily for at least 5 years.
2. BDP – Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love) (1990)
So with my new-found love for conscious rap, my cousin Pat and I soon discovered what would become an obsession with a song rather than an album. The video for Loves Gonna Get’cha by Boogie Down Productions terrified and inspired us at the same time. This track was a departure from the complex/compacted lyrics of Public Enemy. Instead, it was a simple, easy-to-follow story about making some very bad decisions. I saw KRS-One perform a couple weeks ago and he is still as animated as as he was 20 years ago.
3. Kool Moe Dee feat. Chuck D and KRS-One – Rise ‘N’ Shine (1991)
I was familiar with Kool Moe Dee by this point, but not a huge fan. Wild Wild West was a bit silly for me, but thanks to the legendary video channel THE BOX I started seeing his video for Rise ‘N’ Shine featuring Chuck D and KRS-One. I dug the way Kool Moe Dee combined a little funkiness blended in with his message, and it did not hurt that I was completely obsessed with Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. We ran around the neighborhood screaming “Ring a ding ding ding ding ding this is KRS-One with a different something” all summer.
4. A Tribe Called Quest – God Lives Through (1993)
Freshman year of high school was not the most exciting year of my life. No car. Nerdy. Most of my friends at a different high school. But then a kid on the basketball team named Jeremy gave me Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest and yet a new chapter of hip-hop opened for me. I was familiar with Tribe … Scenario and Can I Kick It were classics, but I never owned an album, and had not really sunken my teeth into that style of jazzy hip-hop. God Lives Through still makes it onto to most hip-hop mix tapes I make for people. Probably my favorite hip-hop record of all time.
5. Wu-Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck (1993)
Around the same time, a taller, funnier man named Brandon Diegle gave me a tape of Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and the cover alone freaked me out a bit. I was already heavily into Kung Fu and karate flicks, so when this 11-member crew of grimy ninja-influenced MC’s started screaming out of my tape deck, I knew instantly this would lead to a worldwide phenomenon. I was right. I spent the next five or six years buying every single Wu-Tang Clan side project.
6. Black Star – Respiration (1998)
High school was over and I was off to college in Santa Barbara. Then began my three-year conquest of everything Rawkus Records put out. Lyricist Lounge, Pharoahe Monch, Soundbombing and my second favorite hip-hop album of all time, Black Star. I had never heard Mos Def or Talib Kweli up to this point, and I surely never heard a duo with such distinct delivery styles. Mos Def’s baritone street-conscious style coupled with Talib’s quick broken speech delivery made for an excellent team. I am not a big fan of choruses, but Respiration, which featured Common Sense (now Common), has one of the best hip-hop choruses of all time.