[1] Missy Elliott, ‘Get Ur Freak On’

For all my efforts, Junior doesn’t quite have the weight of cultural history on her small shoulders, so true innovation won’t astonish her just yet. To her, ‘Get Ur Freak On’ has a slinky groove that makes those unburdened shoulders shimmy, but – as far as artistic impact goes – it faces tough competition from the Rice Krispies.

So, what makes ‘Get Ur Freak On’ so great? Is it the much-imitated-but-then-truly-original bhangra shake turning hip-hop inside out? Is it Timbaland’s beats cutting up sharp enough to slice through Run-D.M.C.’s gold chains? Is it the punctuating “holla”s that stop the record stone dead to let you catch a breather before the nagging resumes at twice the power? Is it hindsight – or even prescience – that Missy and Timbaland have reached their creative peak here and all that’s left are old skool retreads and a steady stream of career revivals for Furtado, Ciccone and whoever’s next? Is it the “hach-TOO” flying in your face? Is it the pie-eyed mix of vocal tics and screams rubbing up against punishing techno twangs that makes you think you’ve stepped into some sci-fi jungle nightmare, shortly before you realise you actually have?


[3] Grandmaster & Melle Mel, ‘White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)’

The little B-girl launched herself towards the stereo when this kicked off. She was even more captivated when her dad tried to rap along, believing him to be, of course, something like a phenomenon.

I was proud to know all the words back when I was eleven. I remember that surprising the bloke at school who was meant to be the embodiment of cool because he owned a Run DMC record. (I’d never had the heart to tell him that ‘It’s Tricky’ wasn’t one of their best). They were easy words to learn, of course, and I imagine I had my own spin on the meanings: “I think they’re giving away free bass”.

It’s an odd record when you listen to it now. Very soft and poppy for hip-hop at that point, with some kind of doo-wop call and response going on, and verses and choruses. None of that stops it being a bass-rolling, imperative-repeating, tongue-in-cheek classic.