This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #421: Party Rock by Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force.
Afrika Bambaataa forms one third of Hip Hop’s holy trinity, along with DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. He is respectfully called “The Godfather of Hip Hop”. He is responsible for helping to unify the various forms of Hip Hop that were taking place all over the US in the early 1970s. I should be clear, off of the top, that rapping is the song stylings and Hip Hop is more the overall culture of the movement. Under Afrika Bambaataa’s leadership, dance and rap and electro music and funk and disco and soul all found a home in the world of Hip Hop. Because of the work he did, you can draw a direct line of influence from him to Run-DMC, to Public Enemy and N.W.A. and onward to rappers like Snoop Dogg and Eminem and, in more recent times, to Kendrick Lamar.
The song, “Party Rock” was so different at the time of its release that music critics didn’t know how to classify it. When you hear it, you will detect a hint of funk, a dash of electro dance and a whole lot of rap but, in those early, formative days, this melding of musical and cultural influences was revolutionary. If you grew up in the late 70s, as I did, I am sure that you will find some parts of “Party Rock” to be familiar to you.
If this is your introduction to Afrika Bambaataa then, get ready for a legendary, iconic figure. He is a proud black man who sought to promote his culture and unify his people through music. The video I will post is about a Lifetime Achievement Award he received at the VH1 Music Awards. It is part-History lesson/part-celebratory blow-out! After the accolades have been given and everyone says their piece, there is a large-scale performance of “Party Rock” that concludes the tribute to Bambaataa. As you watch this video, you can feel the respect that he is accorded and get a small sense of how revered he is in Hip Hop circles. I will, also, post the original, “official” video of the song (It is a very interesting slice-of-life video as it really captures that moment in time when Hip Hop was being born). So people, get ready! “Party Rock” is in the house! Enjoy!
The link to the music video for Party Rock by Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force can be found here.
The link to the “official” music video for Party Rock by Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for always supporting important and innovative music. A link to their wonderful website can be found here.