a1988: Slick Rick – Children's Story
Love this track for its story element and unique style of rap Slick Rick was so well known for. It’s also one of the first hip-hop tracks I can remember listening to. Highlighting common relative situations to youth at the time and cleverly spinning it in a positive manner; basically what's being told is not a correct way to conduct oneself, but unfortunately is the way for many.
(Selected by Sage)
1989: De La Soul – Me Myself & I -
Not much needs to be said here. The legends that are De La Soul with one of their funkiest beats. Love the attention brought to the power of being ones self and confidence in just doing your thing, with little regard to what others think.
1990: Barrington Levy – Broader Than Broadway
I actually play this on dancefloors around London weekly! I’ve been a big Barrington Levy fan for years and it’s one of my favourite dancehall tracks ever.
1991: A Tribe Called Quest – Excursions
This is an underrated Tribe track in my opinion. I think the grandeur and poetry of what’s being said coupled with the minimalism of the beat. Yeh yeh, it’s my favourite Tribe track.
1992: The Pharcyde – Soul Flower (Remix).
Bizare Ride To The Pharcyde being one of the earliest hip-hop albums I grew up to, I just had to include a track off it! Funk and soul is a huge part of what hip-hop was and still is today, so what better track to include in this list!?
1993: Cypress Hill – Insane In The Brain
This pretty much does what it says on the tin- that good old golden era jump up ish. I can’t not mention Cypress Hill in this list and I know both of us are a huge fan of this track, from the samples used to the crazy original style of rapping Cypress Hill bring to the table. Lets face it – who doesn’t like going a bit insane from time to time?
1994: Blur – Parklife
Quentessentially British and magnificently perfect. Don’t think this needs too much explanation.
1995: Das EFX – Real Hip-Hop
I’m not even gonna say anything about this track, just listen to it and try question me as to why its on this list... Exactly, shhhhhut ya mouth, nothing but dopeness right there.
1996: Outkast – Elevators (me and you)
Of all the 90s hip-hop albums on my wall, Outkast’s ATLiens and Auqemini have dated the most deliciously. The Outkast concept and their evolution has always intrigued me and Elevators shows off my favourite of their qualities. We got booked for a few shows at Bestival last weekend and getting to catch their show was one of the biggest musical treats I’ve had in years!
1997: Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club [WHOLE ALBUM]
It’s not all hip-hop here in Sage land. Sometimes when the sky is grey and London’s taking its toll the way this intense city does, the best way to get around on your travels is to play these kinds of sounds. Tropical and uplifting, you can’t help but smile and walk with a groove in your step. I’d also recommend checking out Gypsy Kings as well if you don’t already know them.
1998: Craig Mack – Flava In Ya Ear
My favourite track of his (dare I say, his only good track). Mad flavor here, swags off the Richter scale. He said it how it is, “some brand new flavor in your ear”. This track never gets old.
1999: FatBoy Slim - Apache
I just rate the opening line to this banger :“I never work a day in my life, I just sit back and let the big beat lead me”. Amen to that, everyday mo-fuckaz, eeeeeveryday.
2000: Erykah Badu – Didn’t Cha Know
Always loved that I went through a nu(ish)-soul phase when I was like 14, listening a lot to Eykah, Musiq Soulchild, D’Angelo,Anthony Hamilton, people like that. This is probably my favourite Erykah Badu track from my favourite of her albums, Mama’s Gun
2001: N*E*R*D – Bobby James
I was a massive N*E*R*D fan growing up! I was 13 and basically buying anything The Neptunes put their stamp on. Equally loved a lot of punk and alternative though, so when this happened I was all over it! A big childhood memory was literally loosing my shit at their Brixton Academy show in 2002.
2002: Clipse – Grindin’
Two Neptunes beats in consecutive years may be a no no, but I’m gonna make a point of it. I was always with the Neptunes’ sound and the drums and flow. On 'Grindin’ in particular, it was something so fresh for me. One of my favourite hip-hop tracks of all time, even if itss novelty’s dated a touch.
2003: The Rapture – House of Jealous Lovers
The scene is Nambucca/Barfly/Old Blue and the night is Thursday. I’m underage but I don’t give a fuck cos when this comes on, my shit is officially lost. In no time. Blam! And I won't lie, I still love this! The cowbell and the bass hit it just right for me!
2004: The Walkmen – Little House of Savages
The Walkmen were always a top band from me (WAY BEFORE THE OC SO SHUT UP). I actually remember once paying money to see The Black Keys just cos The Walkmen were supporting. Their punky scrappy guitars and drums and their singer had such a strong, pained tone, it always set them apart for me.
2005: Quasimoto – The Further Adventures Of lord Quas
The whole god damn album! Bun one track, the whole album is fucking genius. It flows so well, I haven’t heard anything like it since and still to this day I listen to it from start to beginning and love it just as much as when I first heard it all those years ago.
2006: Be Your Own Pet – Bicycle Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle
BYOP hit the crescendo of my punk rock days. Random fact: in my old band when shit got loud I used to love diving backwards into the drums. The line “FUCK SHIT UP” at 1:50 is the precise dictation of what should be done when you’re 17.
2007: M.I.A – Bamboo Banga
After a youthful hip-hop obsession and years of indie/alt rock fascination, I started university hating so much the electronic music forced at me from every direction. Also discovering a lot of African and Latin music, I started digging M.I.A’s balance of global sounds with the bass music that I was into at the time. I actually learnt to DJ to a lot of M.I.A’s early tracks. This one’s rowdy.
2008: Buraka Som Sistema – Sound of Kuduro
For years and still, I’ve been obsessed and immersed in the tropical bass scene. It’s basically the marriage of African, Latin and tropical music, with bass heavy electronic styles. Buraka have been at the forefront of that scene. I actually once booked them for the Carnival parties I run, ‘Twisted Hearts Club’.
2009: Animal Collective – My Girls
Animal Collective were always on another wave for me. They were coming from a place I wasn’t familiar with and it excited me. This style of group-vocal dynamic always got me fired up, and definitely influenced my writing.
2010: Kanye West – Devil in a New Dress
Whatever anyone has to say about Kanye, him being an asshole doesn’t change the fact he’s a favourite artist of mine and ...Twisted Fantasy is probably his best album.
2011: Sticky Feat. Tubby T – Tales Of The Hood
Just listen to the lyrics here, real talk through and through. One of my favorite tracks from the golden garage days. How I miss those bubbly raves! Love to all the DJs keeping the vibes going.
2012: Hylu & Jago ft Zico – Vibe [ReDub]
Proud to say the people responsible for this beast of a track are extended family. Chilled basslines, real bars, big up the Unit 137 and OnlyJoe family each n every.
2013: Chance The Rapper - Good Ass Intro
The whole Acid Rap album is mind blowing but this first intro track is just nothing but feel-good music. A great track to wake up to, every morning!
2014: Subculture Sage – Stories and Tales
Following this culmination of anecdotes and inspirations, we thought our recent single ‘Stories and Tales’ would be appropriate. Enjoy.
(Subculture Sage, obvs)
Subculture Sage's debut E,P is out now and it's fucking ace. Get a copy here. They're out supporting Dead Prez on tour in October, with some further dates of their own. Get them on Twitter for the dets