Viewing the urban landscape for the past two decades you will not be surprised that many youngsters equate Hip-Hop with Rap. Rap music has been at the forefront of the culture, because it was the easiest way to sell part of the culture. Unfortunately, like DJ’s once rap was put down on wax, other aspects of the culture dimmed from the mainstream lights. The art of graffiti writing has been around for centuries, but it was also, and remains, a key aspect of the culture. If it wasn’t for the tags and pieces of the 1970’s and 1980’s in New York City street art would not be what it is today. DJing has also had its ups and downs with regards to greater public exposure. However, I’m sad that the great art of the Beat Box has fallen by the wayside. Gone were the days where the street ciphers were helped by the one person who would create the beat with their mouth. Beatboxing, like the other arts, is the epitome of creating something from nothing. Once the art grew many beatboxers accompanied rappers or became rappers themselves. There are many great recordings with prominent beat boxers. This is my top ten since the genesis of Hip-Hop. Many of these artists have multiple tracks of beatboxing gold, but these tracks are my personal gems to the masses. Although it’s a personal list, feel free to enjoy and put your mouths together and blow
#1 – Biz Markie – Beatboxing on the track titled “Mr. Large” from Prince Paul’s seminal A Prince Among Thieves, and accompanied by the great MC, Chubb Rock. Biz has been part of the history of Hip-Hop and a cultural maven of many trades. He still performs by DJing while keeping his title of crowned clown of Hip-Hop. He has many beatboxing tracks including a great rendition of “Def Fresh Crew” alongside Roxanne Shante from the newly released Dutch documentary from 1986 titled Big Fun in the Big Town.
#2 – Click the Supa Latin – Beatboxing on the track titled “Click Beat Box” from the group Styles of Beyond’s debut, 2000 Fold. In a past blog of albums you never heard I wrote about this album. This short segment is amazing and he’s also a rapper along with his wife who is also a performance artist.
#3 – Davey DMX – Beatboxing on the track titled “Kool and Deadly” from Just-Ice’s album of the same name. Davey DMX use to beatbox for the group Mantronix who produced Just-Ice’s debut album Back to the Old School. DMX got his name from the beat making machine of the same name, and later another beatboxer turned rapper took the name, hence we have DMX.
#4 – Scratch – Beatboxing on the track titled “3rd Acts/ Quest vs. Scratch …Electric Boogaloo.” He was part of the Roots crew so it was on their fourth album titled Things Fall Apart. No so much emphasizing the beat, Scratch uses his mouth to manipulate the sounds of scratches from a record played on a turn table. The Roots crew at one time had him and the grandmaster of beatboxers Rahzel.
#5 – Buff Love, AKA The Human Beat Box from the Fat Boys on the track aptly titled “Human Beat Box.” The track is from their self-titled debut album release in 1984. Buffy is undisputedly the original grandmaster Beat boxing king! He uses the sounds along with his girth in order to complement his two compatriots, while always carrying a sense of humor, like the Biz! RIP.
#6 – Doug E Fresh giving a live demonstration in the streets of Harlem in 1983, footage is from the Dutch documentary listed above. We’re all familiar with his work with his Get Fresh Crew, and his work backing Slick Rick when he was called MC Rickey D. However, this opening segment is a perfect example of his skills. It should be noted that he lived next door to Spoonie Gee, and ran up to him one day to show his skills. The rest is history.
#7 – Rahzel from the Roots crew, and the track is titled “Quest vs. Rahzel” from their amazing sophomore effort titled Do You Want More?!!!?!. Rahzel’s main talent is how he can manipulate sounds from either a voice or instrument, and then he reinterprets it with his mouth. These albums that had both him and Scratch remain the pinnacle for the Roots that has since set.
#8 – Boogie Down Productions – “Breath Control” from their third album titled Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop. This is not so much highlighting a specific beatboxer, as I’m not sure if it was D-Nice or a stand-in who did the beatboxing, but it’s on point. The track is even greater due to the domineering presence of one of the greatest rappers of all time, KRS-ONE!
#9 – Run-D.M.C. – “Son of Byford” from one of my personal favorites of theirs, Tougher Than Leather. It’s a simple 30-second snippet about D.M.C.’s family tree with a strong beatbox for quite the emphasis.
#10 – Edan The Humble Magnificent – The track is titled “Primitive Plus” from his debut album with the same title. It makes sense to loop the circle with a rapper who draws on the treasure trove of beats and lyrics from rap’s obscure corners. Keep em coming.
#11 – Eazy-E – We don’t hear much beatboxing from the West Side of the country, but this is a great song about what we love best, a “Fat Girl.” It’s also funny as an ode with similar sounds from the Fat Boys’ “Human Beat Box.”
#12 – Bad Boys Featuring K-Love – on the track titled “veronica,” which might sound kitschy and dated, but you gotta love it.
#13 – The two ladies from the Club Scene from one of the greatest movies of all time, Coming to America. In this scene Eddie and Arsenio are looking for Eddie’s ideal mate. Fast Forward to the 1:17 mark and you’ll see and hear the best rhyme and beatboxing by some of the finest ladies of Queens!!!
Who could rock a rhyme like, “My name is Peaches, and I’m the best, all the Dj’s want, to feel my breasts,” followed by a great roll.
#BizMarkie #ClickTheSupaLatin #Scratch #Rahzel #TheRoots #DougEFresh #BDP #Eazy-E #ComingToAmerica