The Greatest Hip-Hop Album Ever

Kev Neylon
26 min readAug 15, 2019
Front Cover

If it wasn’t for The Jam, and my previous well documented obsession with all things Weller, then the fairly obscure Hip Hop compilation album “Electro 13” would be my favourite album of all time. If I were to look at it from a purely plays perspective then this would win hands down, even now, thirty-five years on from its original release, it still gets played on a regular basis.

Street Sounds Hip Hop Electro 13 was the thirteenth compilation album in a series and was released 1986 on the Street Sounds label. The album was released on LP and cassette and contained twenty-one electro music and old-school hip-hop tracks mixed by Herbie Laidley (known as Mastermind).

Morgan Khan’s Street Sounds label was set up in the early 1980’s and brought an eager UK market Hip Hop, Dance, Disco, Soul, and House music for the rest of the decade. The original run of the Electro series brought twenty seven albums in total, starting out in old school electro style hip hop and running into the golden era of the late 1980’s. Alongside this it had its Street Sounds series with twenty four albums of the latest dance, hip hop and house tunes. The Anthems series of Soul sounds, and a brief Housetrax series of Chicago House. It also brought together some great re-release material, including the four-album set of Enjoy Records, and the fourteen-album behemoth of the Philadelphia International label. The black and yellow Street Sounds icon on the cover of a record was a quality mark. Over the course of a decade they curated the greatest collection of compilation albums ever released.

“Electro 13” was a one off in the Electro/Hip Hop original main series 22 albums. With twenty-one tracks split over two mixes, and no complete tracks. All the other Electro/Hip Hop albums in the series had between seven and ten full length tracks with a brief mix overlap between them. The only other exceptions were in the larger Electro/Hip Hop series, as “Electro Crucial 3” featured two mixes containing a total of twenty tracks, and the “NY vs LA beats” which had two mixes totalling twenty-three tracks.

The departure from the usual format for this Electro album was due to UK Fresh ’86, a single day Hip-Hop festival organised by Street Sounds in conjunction with Capital Radio and hosted by Mike Allen at Wembley Arena. (It formed part of the larger ‘Capital Music Festival’ that ran that year.) To date that day is still the biggest single Hip-Hop concert every seen in the UK. Fifteen of the twenty-one tracks included on Electro 13 were by artists that appeared at UK Fresh ’86. It is still a source of disappointment that I couldn’t go to UK Fresh. Having only just turned sixteen, it was on the last Saturday of Leicester’s July fortnight when all the hosiery firms went on holiday. As such I would have been travelling back from the family summer holiday on the day of UK Fresh, and once back at home, out of range of getting tuned into Capital radio.

I had shown an interest in Hip Hop fairly early on. Buying “The Message” and playing it to death horrified my mother, who still to this day expresses her disgust at this “new rap music”. Then a guy at school — Nick Starkey — lent me the first of the Electro series on tape. I made a copy, and from then on was hooked, saving money to get the albums when I could afford them. I used to pretend I was scratching by trying to replicate the sound by me rubbing my fingernails on the black vinyl of my Griffin Savers holdall. I tried with some records as well, quickly finding out that trying to do so without a slip mat just made an utter mess of the B side of the record you were trying to scratch with. Early Hip Hop had been playing looped up-tempo (normally disco) tracks with MCs rapping over the top of them. The Electro phase saw a move towards artists creating their own beats with the rise of drum machines and samplers. Then there was the progression to sampling and layering of samples to create a base to rap over, as Hip Hop moved from Electro into its Golden Age. For me, this was the crossover point.

Up to 1986, Hip Hop and the charts were only passing acquaintances. Hits in the UK singles charts were few and far between. Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel and The Furious Five accounted for half of the top forty hits. The Sugarhill Gang, Afrika Bambaataa and Mann Parish had “rap” hits. The Rock Steady Crew, Ollie & Jerry and Break Machine had the breakdancing hits, but outside of this there was very little. Even those breaking through in late 1985 and early 1986 were seen more as novelty hits (Doug E Fresh’s “The Show”, Whistle’s “Just Bugging”, Lovebug Starski and The Real Roxanne’s songs on this album, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble”). All that was about to change as this album was being mixed ready for release, Run-DMC were teaming up with Aerosmith to release “Walk This Way”. Within a year, top twenty hits were commonplace. Run-DMC, Eric B & Rakim, LL Cool J, Salt ’n’ Pepa, The Fat Boys, Public Enemy, Mantronix and The Beastie Boys all had hits in 1987. by 1988, British Hip Hop Artists were having hits as well, even if they were looked down upon by the Americans. Wee Papa Girl Rappers, Derek B, The Cookie Crew and Monie Love all hit the top twenty. Yet so many more didn’t hit the charts, despite having better sounds, rhymes and overall songs than many who hit the charts today. There was a whole heap of artists who were born at least twenty years too early.

There are no full-length versions included on the album, and some of the tracks had quite short pieces used from them. Additionally, the mixes dipped back in time to use some tracks from before 1986 (and from previous Electro albums), whereas all the other Electro series were very much of the current time. I think that the release of Electro 13 can be seen as the point where the baton is handed over from Old School to Golden Age. It includes the first single from Eric B & Rakim who would change the game completely. And unknown to most non hip-hop heads, it saw Dr Dre and DJ Yella in their pre-NWA days as part of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru.

A common question asked, on forums and face to face, is what is your favourite Hip-Hop album of all time? Well, for me, this would have to be it. With some of the biggest names from the Old School on it (such as Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa), and future giants, it is the ultimate hip-hop album. There is some inventive mixing between tracks. Some amazing samples and beats, and a gamut of great lyrics, and future giants (Rakim, Dre). There is a lot of fun, a bit of bragging, some silliness, and masses of social commentary included. This album should be the starting point for any newcomer to hip-hop to hear what can be done before the major labels choked the life out of it.

I think to date I’ve bought seven copies of this album. I’ve lost two to house moves, two to lending to (ex) friends and one to being worn out and scratched to hell; and so, keep two copies of it now, just in case. Having the time and money to do it, I went about getting all the original 12" singles for the tracks from the album. I started in 2003 and it took me four years and hundreds of pounds before I completed the set with the last two as they came onto Discogs at the same time. “UK Fresh ’86 (The Anthem)” by Hashim featuring MC Devon and “The State We’re In (Vocal)” by Easy Mike featuring M.C. Sure Shot, the latter of which I’d been (un)reliably informed had never been released. Plus, one I’d been told had been released as a single never had, as M.C. Chill’s “The Prophecy” was only ever released on his eponymous album.

Track listing

Side One

Side one

1. — “Style (Peter Gunn Theme)” — Grandmaster Flash.

Flash, now without the original Furious Five after alleged drug related and contractual issues, comes back with this single from his second album on the Elektra label. The main bassline from the song is from Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn Theme”, but he adds in samples from Freedom “Get Up and Dance”, Cameo “Single Life”, Maze feat Frankie Beverly “Before I Let Go”, and Afrika Bambaataa and The Jazzy 5 “Jazzy Sensation” to great effect. Released as a single in the UK, it didn’t chart. Was sampled in Prince Shahem Beloved’s “I Can Go Freestyle”. My favourite post Sugarhill Grandmaster Flash track, there are definite overtones of this being a diss record, lines like “you thought you had style, you thought you had grace, but you wouldn’t know class if it hit you in the face” suggest that there was some hangover of enmity from the split from Sugarhill. Flash (real name Joseph Saddler) faded away in the late eighties and nineties, but now nearly forty years on from his initial release “Superrapping”, he is touring the globe wowing audiences and gathering new fans. He really was the original superstar DJ.

Released on Elektra — EKR 39 T in 1986 with edited and instrumental versions on the B side.

2. — “Bambaataa’s Theme (Assault On Precinct 13)” — Afrika Bambaataa and Family.

Sampling the theme from John Carpenter’s original “Assault On Precinct 13” from 1986, this single, released on Tommy Boy was the first single release from his fourth album. Released as a single in the UK, this didn’t chart, but I did try and help it. Bambaataa was the founding father of the Zulu Nation. As such he was one of the forefathers of Hip Hop, as the Zulu Nation and Grandmasters helped to transform the gangs of seventies New York into the Hip Hop crews to lead them into the eighties. There is an elegant simplicity in this largely instrumental track. Yes, the music is borrowed, but it is used to great effect, and shows that Electro was about far more than just rapping

Released on WEA in the UK — U8663(T) in 1986 with “Tension” as the B Side.

3. — “UK Fresh ’86 (The Anthem)” — Hashim featuring MC Devon.

Known for his Electro classic “Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)”, Hashim was one of several artists lined up for Capital Radio’s UK Fresh ’86. MC Devon had his only appearance on this track which was put together to promote the UK Fresh event. Hashim (Jerry Calliste) had started as a promoter of Hip-Hop gigs. He worked as a janitor at Tommy Boy records before going on to start his own label — Cutting Records, before leaving that to his business partners to go on and set up Precise Records. It isn’t any surprise that MC Devon didn’t go on to have much more of a career releasing tracks. The rhymes are almost childlike, and it sounds as if he was struggling over the delivery. He was just born thirty years too early; he’d be a maestro nowadays. Hashim had featured on previous Electro releases.

Released on Streetwave, a label also run by Morgan Khan, on label number MKHAN72 with another mix on the B side.

4. — “Fast Life” — Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde.

The full version was featured on “Electro 5”. Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde consisted of Andre “Dr. Jeckyll” Harrell and Alonzo “Mr. Hyde” Brown. The group was known for its corporate business image, wearing designer suits and ties while they rapped. The group first performed under the name Harlem World Crew. After the group’s demise, Andre Harrell became the founder and chief executive officer of Uptown Records. He later went on to head Motown Records. The track is a quite serious and heavy social commentary about a teenage wannabe gangster. How the life attracts him, but how his peers eschew the lifestyle.

Released on Profile Records — PRO-7048 in 1984 with the track “A.M P.M.” also on the A Side, and instrumentals of both on the B side. Wasn’t released as a single in the UK.

5. — “Get Loose” — Aleem.

Aleem featured on other Electro releases. Just missed out on the UK charts proper, peaking at number 82 in January 1986. Sampled in “Get Loose” by L.A. Mix feat. Jazzi P, “Band in a Box’s Get Dynamite” by Band In A Box, “My Telephone” by Mikey D & the LA Posse, “Armed and Extremely Dangerous” by London Rhyme Syndicate, and “Who Am I?” by K-Bee & Ceil-B. Aleem were twin brothers — Taharqua and Tunde-Ra Aleem, who had been doing studio work since the late sixties and had worked on Jimi Hendrix’s “Cry Of Love” and “Rainbow Bridge”. They formed NIA records and produced several other early Hip Hop artists, including Captain Rock who also appears on “Electro 13”. A much more vocal release, with an electro backing track, and soulful singing from Leroy Burgess who is related to the Bell family of Kool & The Gang fame. It almost has the vibe of an early Chicago House track.

Releases in the US on their own NIA label in 1984, it was released on Streetwave in the UK — MKHAN61, with “Get Loose / Release Yourself” and a dub version on the B side.

6. — “(Solution To) The Problem (The DEFinitive Dance Mix)” — Masquerade.

Charted at number 64 in the UK singles chart in July 1986. Sampled Ronald Reagan’s “We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes” spoof speech, and “Change the Beat (Female Version)” by Beside. More social commentary, this time on getting nations getting dragged into overseas conflicts. Uses dialogue from then US President, Ronald Reagan, and UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and the conflict with Libya and its leader Colonel Gadaffi as its base to bring together an anti-war message.

Released on Streetwave — MKHAN67 in 1986. This mix was the B Side, the A side was the Extended Vocal Mix.

7. — “Square Dance Rap (Power Mix)” — Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Way before his massive world-wide smash of “Baby Got Back”, this features some of the fastest rapping I had ever heard at that point. The full version was featured on “Electro 12”. Just missed out on the UK charts proper, peaking at number 81 in July 1986. Sampled “Rock Me Baby” by B.B. King, “Get Out of My Mix” by Dolby’s Cube, and “Change the Beat (Female Version)” by Beside. Sir Mix-A-Lot (Anthony Ray) was known for driving the streets of his native Seattle blasting out his new compositions to get them airplay due to the lack of other outlets for Hip Hop there. Cowboy rap, at the time I would have thought that this could have stood in its own category for eternity. Then came “Country Mike’s Greatest Hits”, the Beastie Boys in disguise, and of course Kid Rock. It was difficult to reconcile this with the style and pitch on “Baby Got Back”.

Another released on Streetwave — MKHAN69 in 1986. The mix was the second track on the B Side, which it shared with the Radio Edit. The A side featured the Rodeo Drive Mix and the US Original Version.

8. — “Return Of Captain Rock” — Captain Rock.

The full version was featured on “Electro 1” and “Crucial Electro 1”. Captain Rock (real name Ronnie Green) was an underground fixture in the early 80’s. His appearance at UK Fresh ’86 saw him allegedly strip down to his thong on stage. The track had very laid-back vocals over sounds that made you think you were travelling with a spaceship Captain, very much in the style of George Clinton. Before being Captain Rock, he was Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’s live DJ from their period in the Harlem World Crew. He was known as DJ Ronnie Green. He went on to referee for NCAA Division 3 basketball in the late 80’s and early 90’s and to run a youth program in New York City, for underprivileged kids. He died in May 2021.

Sampled “Change the Beat (Female Version)” by Beside. Was sampled in “Hyperspeed (G-Force Part 2)” by The Prodigy, “Dig Your Own Hole” by The Chemical Brothers, “Check It Out” by Ferry Corsten, and “Hyperspeed” by Drumattic Twins.

Released on NIA Records (NI1236) in the US only in 1983. The B side was the instrumental.

9. — “Running (“The Nest” Remix)” — Information Society.

Also featured in a mix on “Electro Crucial 3”. Formed in 1982 in Minneapolis the Information Society had independently released two albums before moving to New York and getting a record deal and released this single in 1985. A very Electro sounding instrumental section of the track was used in the mix on this album. There was a vocal version, but it didn’t sound much like this one. They had been a very sparse electro sounding band at outset, and gradually changed style away from that over their career, with the different versions of this track probably marking the main turning point. Sampled “Hot Pants Pt. 1 (She Got to Use What She Got to Get What She Wants)” by James Brown. Sampled in “Love You, Will You Love Me (Hard Love Mix)” by Judy Torres, “Emergency” by Cha-os, “Give It to Baby” by Altern 8, “Fallen Angel” by Clear Touch, “Freshmix Vol. 1” by DJ EFX, “Kamikaze (Took My Love)” by 2 in a Room, “Strange Mix Medley (007 Mix)” by Depeche Mode, “Paranoid Thugism” by Genaside II, “I’ll Be Loving You” by Collage, “A Night at the Edit Block” by Blade to the Rhythm, and “For All You Non-Believers (Have a Nice One)” by Spacework.

Released on Tommy Boy (TB877) in the US only in 1986. This mix was the first track on Side B, which it shared with the Instrumental. The A Side had the Vocal Mix and Percappella.

10. — “Mission Possible” — World Class Wreckin’ Cru.

The World Class Wreckin’ Cru also featured on other Electro releases. World Class Wreckin’ Cru debuted in a club owned by one of the early West Coast DJs, Alonzo Williams. Before he opened “Eve After Dark” in 1979, Alonzo was one of the most popular DJs in the Los Angeles area. He began producing dances under the name of Disco Construction, named after funk group Brass Construction. Seeing the popularity of this new craze, he entered the market of running nightclub performances. The club opened with Detroit-born Andre Manuel aka Unknown DJ directing the music program. Disco Construction created a subgroup called the into Wreckin’ Cru which were the Lonzos roadies and later adding World Class it became the name of the recording group. Lonzo hired local DJs Antoine “Yella” Carraby and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young who later became the original Mix Masters for KDAY. Alonzo Williams created the label “Kru-cut” which began releasing The Wreckin’ Cru music through the mid-1980s with very minimal resources through Macola Records. When this track came out, we knew nothing about Dr Dre or DJ Yella, within two years NWA were the biggest thing going. There is a big difference between this and “Straight Outta Compton”, and it was a few years before I made the connection. Dre in what looks suspiciously like make-up and shiny metallic outfits on the 12" and album covers is always good entertainment value for those who weren’t aware. Sampled “Dance to the Music” by Sly & the Family Stone, and “Mission: Impossible Theme” by Lalo Schifrin.

The cover of the album lists a Dr Ore instead of Dr Dre as producer of the track, a mistake repeated on the cassette inlay notes, but it is correctly attributed on the label of the record itself.

Released on Epic — TA7281 in 1986 with “World Class Freak” as the B Side.

Side Two

Side two

1. — “Amityville” — Lovebug Starski.

When Sylvia Robinson was setting up Sugarhill Records, it was Lovebug Starski (born Kevin Smith) she approached to record the first release for the label. He was the house DJ at the Bronx club Disco Fever and was known to MC over the records, and is credited with coming up with the term Hip-Hop — Starski claimed that he coined the phrase while trading the two words back and forth while improvising lines with Cowboy of the Furious Five at a farewell party for a friend who was headed into the Army. He turned Sylvia Robinson down, who went and found what became The Sugarhill Gang and released “Rapper’s Delight”. Starski did turn to a recording career starting in 1981. This release was his biggest chart hit in the UK and is unfortunately seen as more of a novelty record, one that should really have been issued around Halloween, as it covers several Halloween’s tropes. Hit number 12 in the UK singles chart in May and June 1986. Another one that I’d bought as a single, and that got played nearly to death. He died in February 2018. No credited samples, but had an impersonator doing voices from Spock and Kirk from Star Trek amongst others.

Released on Epic — TA7182 in 1986. The B side was a Dub mix.

2. — “Pee-Wee’s Dance” — Joe Ski Love.

Just missed out on the UK charts proper, peaking at number 94 in July 1986. Sampled “Tequila” by The Champs, “Synthetic Substitution” by Melvin Bliss, “Pump That Bass” by Original Concept, and dialogue from two scenes (Mario’s Magic Shop and I Meant to Do That) from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Has been sampled in 197 songs, including 2Pac’s “Ambitionz Az a Ridah”, The Chemical Brothers’ “Hey Boy, Hey Girl”, Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without a Pause”, Beastie Boys’ “Posse in Effect”, Eazy-E’s “Boyz-N-The-Hood”, Mr. Lee (Chicago House)’s “Get Busy”, LL Cool J’s “You Better Watch Me”, and De La Soul’s “Area” amongst a whole host of others. Proof that you could rap about absolutely anything in the mid-eighties. I can’t imagine Pee Wee Herman getting a track dedicated to a dance like his if such a film came out now.

Released on Vintertainment and Elektra in the US, it came out on Cooltempo (COOLX125) in the UK in 1986. B side had the Acappella Beat and Instrumental version.

3. — “Latoya” — Just-Ice.

Just Ice also featured on other Electro releases. Born Joseph Williams Jr. he was a former bouncer at punk clubs, he was the first of the New York rappers to embrace gangster rap, and when he burst out of the Castle Hill neighbourhood in the New York City borough of the Bronx as Just-Ice, he gained instant notoriety. Muscle-bound, tattooed, aggressive — he resembled Mike Tyson in more than just looks — and with a mouthful of gold teeth, he certainly stood out. His debut album Back to the Old School came out on the independent New York label Sleeping Bag, and certainly sounded like no other hip-hop album, thanks to his fast and forceful rhymes, Ben “Human DMX” Paynes’ beatboxing, as well as the distinctive production of Mantronix’s Kurtis Mantronik. Not long after his appearance at UK Fresh ’86 he was charged with the murder of drug dealer Ludlaw DeSouza, but later proven innocent. Sampled “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary. Was sampled in 48 songs including Alicia Keys feat. Mos Def, Common and Damian Marley’s “Love It or Leave It” Alone”, Welcome to Jamrock, MF DOOM’s “Kon Karne”, The Prodigy’s “Wind It Up”, Funkdoobiest’s “Rock On”, KRS-One feat. Kid Capri’s “Stop Frontin’”, De La Soul’s “D.A.I.S.Y. Age”, and Nas, MC Shan, UTFO and Kool Moe Dee feat. Grandmaster Caz, Dana Dane and Just-Ice’s “Where Are They Now (80’s Remix)”. Story of the song is basically; sees girl. Is nervous about talking to her. Mate tells him to stop being a chicken. Girl tries to brush him off before he starts. He raps to her anyway. She changed her mind. They get together. Like a Shakespeare tale four hundred years on.

Wasn’t a main single release, it was the second track on Track A of the “Put That Record Back On” single releases in the US only on Fresh Records — FRE-003 in 1986. The B Side had the instrumental of “Put That Record Back On” and “That Girl Is A Slut”.

4. — “The Prophecy, Part 1 (In The Beginning)” — M.C. Chill.

M.C. Chill also featured on other Electro releases. Never released as a single. Nice take on the Bible “in the beginning there was the word”. M.C. Chill goes on to prophesize there will be greed and destruction of rap. a lot of which could be considered to have become true. However, as this was his first (and last) album, his claim that he was there at the beginning and will be at the end, does seem a little bit of a stretch.

It was only available on M.C. Chill’s album “M.C. Chill”, released on Fever Records — SFS001 in 1986. It was track 3 on Side 2. The other tracks were (side 1) “M.C. Story”, “Downbeats” and “Chill-drens Rhymes”, and (side b) “Open Your Eyes”, “Jealousy” and “Bust This Rhyme

5. — “Eric B. Is President” — Eric B. featuring Rakim.

Eric Barrier played trumpet and drums throughout high school, and later switched to experimenting with turntables prior to graduation. The newly dubbed “Eric B.” soon began DJing for radio station WBLS in New York City. Barrier wound up meeting Alvin Toney, a promoter based in Queens. Eric B. had been looking for rappers and Toney recommended he use Freddie Foxxx, a Long Island MC. Toney took Eric B. to Foxxx’s home, but Foxxx was not there, so Toney suggested another option: William Griffin, a.k.a. Rakim. Griffin had begun writing rhymes as a teenager in Wyandanch and had taken the name “Rakim” as a result of his conversion to The Nation of Gods and Earths. The various early pressings of this had the title printed as both Eric B is President and Eric B for President, and it saw the first release from the greatest MC of them all — Rakim. It is said to be a response to Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” responding to her verse of “Used to go to dinner almost every night, Dancin’ ’til I thought I’d lose my breath, Now it seems your dancing feet are always on my couch, Good thing I cook or else we’d starve to death — Ain’t that a shame? What have you done for me lately.” with the third verse of “Go get a girl and get soft and warm, Don’t get excited, you’ve been invited to a quiet storm, But now it’s out of hand cause you told me you hate me, And then you ask what have I done lately, First you said all you want is love and affection, Let me be your angel and I’ll be your protection, Take you out, buy you all kinds of things, I must have got you too hot and burned off your wings, You caught an attitude, you need food to eat up, I’m scheming like I’m dreaming on a couch with my feet up, You scream I’m lazy, you must be crazy, Thought I was a donut, you tried to glaze me”. This was my first introduction to Eric B & Rakim, and so began the obsession with having everything recorded by them. In a time where numerous remixes came out for each single release, it means I have over thirty 12" inch singles by them. I consider Rakim to be the greatest MC of all time, and it is great to see him in such demand for collaborations from all kinds of artists today. Released as a single in the UK, didn’t chart despite me buying two different versions of it. Sampled The Mohawks’ “The Champ”, Mountain’s “Long Red”, James Brown’s “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” and “Funky President (People It’s Bad)”, Fonda Rae’s “Over Like a Fat Rat”, and The Honey Drippers’ “Impeach the President”. Was sampled by L.O.D.’s “I Feel It (Remix)”, 8-Off Agallah’s “Ghetto Girl”, Sham & the Professor’s “So-Low-Ist”, The Troubleneck Brothers’ “Back to the Hip-Hop”, Tony D’s “Buggin’ on the Line”, Da Beatminerz feat. Caron Wheeler and Pete Rock’s “Open (Remix)”, Facemob feat. Scarface’s “Rivals”, Urban Flow’s “Just for You”, Da 5 Footaz’s “It All Got Start”, T.W.D.Y. feat. Otis & Shug’s “Out 2 Get Mo”, Jackers’ “It’s Finna Be On” and a dozen other tracks.

Released in the UK on Cooltempo (COOLX129) in 1986. It had the extended dub mix on the B Side. A second version on (COOLN129) had “My Melody” on the B Side. Was released on Zakia and Fourth & Broadway in the US.

6. — “Bring The Beat Back (Vocal)” — M.C. Boob A.K.A. Steady “B”.

Warren McGlone known by the stage name Steady B, was a member (and de facto leader) of Philadelphia’s Hilltop Hustlers crew. Steady B released five albums over the course of his career, with mixed success. He is currently serving a life sentence in a Pennsylvania state prison for his role in the murder of Philadelphia Police officer Lauretha Vaird, during a botched bank robbery in January 1996. Sampled The Headhunters feat. Pointer Sisters’ “God Make Me Funky” and E.U.’s “Knock Him Out Sugar Ray”. Sampled in Sublime’s “Steady B Loop Dub”, DJ Red Alert & Mike Slammer’s “Just Wanna Hold U Tight”, EPMD and D.J. K La Boss’s “D.J. K La Boss”, and Vicious V’s “In Full Effect — Master Done It”. Includes some of the most off-beat rapping I’d heard. Well at least until Kanye West’s first album.

Was the B Side of “Yo Mutha” on the US release on Pop Art Records. It’s release in the UK on Streetwave (MKHAN75) had reversed the order, with an instrumental on the A side, and “Yo Mutha” and its instrumental on the B side.

7. — “(Bang Zoom) Let’s Go Go Go” — The Real Roxanne with Hitman Howie Tee.

UTFO went out to get a female MC in response to a war of words with Roxanne Shante, and to name her The Real Roxanne. Their initial choice Elease Jack, who recorded the first single The Real Roxanne under the character’s name had bailed by the time they got to recording this to be replaced by Adelaida Martinez. A top twenty UK chart hit, again unfortunately seen as somewhat of a novelty hit with the Looney Tunes samples included. The track also featured backing singing from Full Force. Hit number 11 in the UK singles chart in June and July 1986, one of those sales would have been to me, as this was another that got a lot of playing time when it came out. Sampled The Isley Brothers’ “For the Love of You (Part 1 & 2)”, Malcolm McLaren’s “Buffalo Gals”, Funk, Inc.’s “Kool Is Back”, Full Force’s “Alice, I Want You Just for Me”, John McLaughlin’s “Honky-Tonk Haven”, Billy Squier’s “The Big Beat”, Les Elgart’s “Bandstand Boogie”, and dialogue from Looney Tunes “The Wabbit Kicked the Bucket” and “That’s All Folks”. Has been sampled in 147 songs, including De La Soul feat. Jungle Brothers and Q-Tip’s “Buddy”, Eazy-E’s “Boyz-N-The-Hood”, Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Flow Show”, DJ Kool’s “20 Minute Workout”, Bomb the Bass’s “Megablast (Hip Hop on Precinct 13)”, De La Soul’s “Cool Breeze on the Rocks”, 3–2 Get Funky’s “Too Funky” and Rodney O and Joe Cooley’s “Supercuts (Yeah Boy)” amongst all the others.

Released on Select records in the US, it was released on Cooltempo (COOLX124) in 1986 with “Howie’s Teed Off” as the B Side.

8. — “Queen Of Rox (Shante Rox On) (Street Version)” — Roxanne Shante.

The full version was featured on “Electro 7”. Born Lolita Shanté Gooden she started rapping at the age of nine and changed her name from Lolita to Roxanne at fourteen. In 1984, the young rapper ran into Tyrone Williams, DJ Mr. Magic, and record producer Marley Marl outside the Queensbridge housing project. U.T.F.O. had recently released a single called “Hanging Out,” which did not gain much critical acclaim; however, the B-side “Roxanne, Roxanne”, about a woman who would not respond to their advances, became a hit. Shante was contracted to write a track in rebuttal to U.T.F.O.’s rap, posing as the Roxanne in the U.T.F.O. song. Marley Marl produced the song “Roxanne’s Revenge” using the original beats from an instrumental version of “Roxanne, Roxanne”. The track became an instant hit and made Shante, only 14 years old at the time, one of the first female MCs to become very popular. Sampled her own “Roxanne’s Revenge”, Bob James’s “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” and The Gap Band’s “Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)”. Sampled in her own “Runaway” and “Funk Daddy feat. Dee-Lyrious’s “Hoo-Ride”. The best Female MC of all time in a track that is a loose retelling of her story of how she was “discovered” and used to respond to U.T.F.O’s “Roxanne Roxanne”. Recorded with Rick James on “Loosey’s Rap” and then kind of vanished from the scene for nearly ten years before coming back on Mekon’s “What’s Going On”, showing she had lost none of her edge or delivery.

Released in the US only on Pop Art Records (PA1408) in 1985. This mix was the second track on the A Side with the Radio version, the B Side had the dub mix.

9. — “The State We’re In (Vocal)” — Easy Mike featuring M.C. Sure Shot.

Sampled James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s “The Message”. It was one of three singles Easy Mike released on the label along with “It’s Easy” and “I Salute”, all three being released in 1986. Had another release “Talk About Brotherhood” on Unsilent Majority Records. M.C. Sure Shot only appearance on any track came on this record. Back to social commentary, touching on politics, war and the ghetto.

Released in the US only, with the only official version being a promo on The Future Records — TF003. The A side also had the instrumental on, and the B Side had “It’s Too Political” vocal and instrumental versions on it.

10. — “Ladies” — Mantronix.

Mantronix also featured on other Electro releases. Hit number 55 in the UK singles chart in February 1986, the first of ten chart hits the group had over the next five years. Mantronix was formed by DJ Kurtis Mantronik (Kurtis el Khaleel) and rapper MC Tee (Touré Embden). They are primarily remembered for their pioneering blend of old school hip hop, electronic, and club music. They underwent several genre and line-up changes during its seven-year existence between 1984–91 and released five albums beginning with their 1985 debut “Mantronix: The Album”. While working as the in-store DJ for Downtown Records in Manhattan, Kurtis Mantronik met MC Tee, a Haitian-born, Flatbush, Brooklyn-based rapper. The duo soon made a demo, “Fresh Is The Word,” and signed with Sleeping Bag Records. Electro 13 used a lot of the instrumental part of the track before letting MC Tee into treatise on the fairer sex.

This was released on 10 Records (TEN116–12) in the UK in 1986 having had a US release on Sleeping Bag Records in 1985. It had another version and the instrumental on the B Side.

11. — “Sleep Walking” — Family Quest.

Established in 1983, Family Quest were one of the earliest UK rap groups but had only ever featured on 1984’s “Outer Space ’84 Rap” by Automation. The group Dirty Harry, E=Mix, Cheeko MC aka Daddy Hip Hop & Mystery (real names Zonya Sullivan, Hugh Christie, Barry Jacobs, Kim Arthurs and Mark Malcolm) were regular hosts alongside Tim Westwood & DJ Fingers at Spats club in London’s Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon, and were produced by Paul Phillips, formerly of funk band Hi Tension. As the title suggests there are mentions of sleepwalking, both the physical sense (“I dreamt I was making love in the dark, when I woke up all alone in the Park”) and the metaphorical sense of people just sleepwalking through their lives every day (“Every morning, yawning, they only look half awake”). Also has a section of the track which calls out sexism at the time, both in general life and the music industry, as a female MC has the line before the fadeout of the album of “In their dreams, we don’t exist, so they can’t see us doing this.” In 1986 they entered a “King Of The Streets” competition on Mike Allen’s Capital Radio show and won. The prize was this track, their only group release, produced by David Toop who wrote the book Rap Attack and released on Morgan Khan’s Streetwave label. They were the only UK act to appear on stage at the legendary hip hop show UK Fresh 86 at Wembley Arena and appear on the accompanying Street Sounds “Electro 13” album. Sampled Mike Oldfield’s “Blue Peter”, The Crystals’ “Do Ron Ron”, and dialogue from Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau in “A Shot In The Dark”.

Released on Streetwave (MKHAN74) in 1986. Had the Wake Mix on the A Side and the Alarm Mix on the B Side.

Back Cover

Label — Street Sounds

Catalog Number — ELCST 13 (Vinyl), ZCELC 13 (Cassette)

Artwork & Design — Federation

Sleeve Notes — Morgan Khan


UK Albums Chart — Entered the chart on 6th September 1986, it reached Number 23 and stayed in the charts for 5 weeks. This was back before compilation albums were split out into a separate chart.

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Kev Neylon

Writing fiction, travel, history, sport, & music blogs. Monthly e-zine with all kinds of writing at All pictures used are my own.