Various ‘Rock it…. don’t stop it! Rapping to the boogie beat in Brooklyn, Boston and beyond 1979-1983’ 2LP/CD/DIG (BBE Music) 4/5

Rapping-to-the-boogie-beatBack in the late 1970s when disco reigned supreme (it still does judging by the number of re-issues, samples and new artists reworking the instrumentation of the era), rap was inspired by the classic bass lines with Chic’s hedonistic ‘Good Times’ heralded as the ultimate groove to feed off and served as the pretext for inventive and melodic rapping. This new anthology of the classic ‘old skool’ of rap reveals how independent and grass roots the rap scene was at the time with every single contained within emanating from a different locally-based label. Historically, of major importance is the thirteen minute and socially aware number ‘The people’s message, part two’ by Terry Lewis and Wild Flower. Lewis was in fact a member of the Younger Generation whose ‘We rap more mellow’ is a seminal slice of early rap and the track selected here is a stunning cut complete with a devastating lyrical intro. A particular favourite is the Jazzy 4 MCs and their offering ‘MC Rock’ featuring male and female rappers which just goes to show that women are equally adept at rapping when given the opportunity and in general the compilation celebrates the collective nature of the music and its inclusivity, something that is all too often lacking in today’s ultra commercialised scene. Fans of the disco not disco classic ‘Genius of Love’ by the Tom Tom Club will immediately recognise that magical riff as the undercurrent to ‘The Golden Rule’ by Cat Claw and the Better Love Crew and the symbiotic relationship between rap and funk grooves. One interesting and, perhaps, surprise inclusion is actually an instrumental, ‘Rappin’ Partee Groove’ from Rappers Rapp Group that in its use of bass line evokes both Curtis Blow’s ‘Christmas Rappin” and Chic’s anthemic song. Compiled by Sean P., there are informative notes on individual raps and this makes the listening experience all the more pleasurable. Once more, a winner from the BBE stable of quality re-issues.

Tim Stenhouse