Are you ready for some excruciatingly slow rapping and amazing bass? I sure hope so. I've got three songs lined up here that I think represent the burgeoning mid-to-late 80's rap scene pretty well, so put on your sweatpants, dust off your Ray-Bans, get in your Camaro, and turn the volume up for...
Whodini - Friends (1984)
Here we begin with a promising bass beat, and segue into some heartfelt lyrics about friends. No, this is not the gangsta rap you may have been hoping for. The hood, wherever it's at, is not here. I can't say I actually dislike this song, or think it's too corny; compared to some of their other songs like "I'm a Ho" or "Freaks Come Out at Night," it's practically Shakespearean. The lyrics actually have a pretty good meaning, and it's refreshing to listen to rap that isn't about how many times the MC put their dick in or shot something; you'll get plenty of that another time. Plus, just... that bass. Mmm.
Before we move on, I have to harp on a certain line a bit more, which goes like this:
"You say you and your girlfriend were so tight
You took her out with you and your guy one night
She even had a set of keys to your home
And you shared mostly everything you owned
But as she shook your hand, she stole your man
And it was done so swift, it had to be a plan
Couldn't trust her with cheese, let alone your keys
With friends like that you don't need enemies"
I assume it's referring to money, but I usually hear that as "cheddar." Not specifying the type of cheese just makes me think she ate your mozzarella before stealing your boyfriend.
Run-DMC - It's Tricky (1986)
Pioneers of hip-hop and its collaboration with rock and roll, Run-DMC are a mix of awesome and dated as all hell. This one in particular I can say with 100% certainty is the best rap song to ever use the chorus hook from "Hey Mickey" by Joni Mitchell. Seriously, just listen to it. It totally is. They got sued by The Knack for sampling their one-hit wonder "My Sharona," but apparently Mickey is oh so fine with it. Who knew. This song is dangerously catchy, to the point where I almost want to find another equally nerdy gentleman and form Walk-DNS to cover this song. Just try not to hear the chorus in your head for the rest of the day, I dare you. Trust me, it's tricky.
N.W.A. - Express Yourself (1988)
N.W.A. is one group that has stood the test of time, and barely feels dated at all. The rhymes in this one flow like a river of fucks not given. The samples act as a base to build off of, not a crutch. The rapping is on point, the beats are on point; fuck it, everything's on point. The funny bit is Dre saying he doesn't smoke weed, which makes me think it's going for a satirical, "you wanted radio-friendly, now you've got it" attitude--especially compared with something like, oh, I dunno, "Fuck da Police."
That or he's just a terrible liar.