Rolling Stone's Top 50 Rap Songs of All Time: Six Alternative Number One Picks

Categories: Rolling Stone

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
Rolling Stone recently published a run-down of the top 50 hip-hop songs of all time. After consulting with a panel of 33 journalists, industry figures and artists (including professional rap encyclopedia ?uestlove and the remaining members of the Beastie Boys), the numbers were crunched and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's "The Message" came out on top. It's a fine pick--and with its socially-conscientious lyrics the record is usually credited with helping to broaden the parameters of what the music could be about--but as with all lists there's room for contention and discussion at the top. Here are six alternative picks that would do a convincing job of representing the potency of hip-hop to the world.

See Also:
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- The Real Sugarhill Records Story
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Tonight: Smart People Read About Music In Brooklyn And Manhattan

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Tonight is a fine night for staying indoors and listening to people chat about music, and New York has two fine options: Friend of SotC Daphne Carr is throwing a party for her 33 1/3 series entry on Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine at The Sackett (661 Sackett Street, Brooklyn); there will be "periodic readings and remarks," and Christopher "Whiney G." Weingarten and Laylo will spin hip-hop and darkwave/industrial, respectively. Also, the best "1989 look" will win a prize! And the folks at Rolling Stone have teamed up with the "read more Internet" site Longreads to host a Night Of Long-Form Journalism at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (126 Crosby Street, Manhattan); Rob Sheffield, Jeff Goodell, Brian Hiatt, and Mark Binelli will be on the panel, which will be led by Will Dana. Both events start at 7 p.m.

The Kanye West Spontaneous Office Performance Train Rolls On

One of the many things we loved about Drake's Thank Me Later was the way in which the 23-year-old rapper pulled back the curtain on fame and the industry: he talked honestly and simply about what it felt like to be in the midst of a multi-million dollar album/personality push. At the time, people pegged the record as something that never could have existed without Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak, the 2008 proto-emo rap record that presaged the blend of singing, rapping, and crying Drake would later employ to such startling effect. That's probably true. But West is a competitive guy, and in 2010, it seems as though he's coming back to claim his spot from Drake and all the other sensitive rappers that have sprung up in his wake. It's no coincidence that he debuted new material last week in the offices of two different social media companies, and joined Twitter in between: West is about to share his next six months with us at a level of disclosure potentially unrivaled by any major rap star, ever. Hence this video of the rapper in the Rolling Stone offices, just hanging out:

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Hats Off To The Triumphant (Though Entirely Non-Musical) Re-Emergence Of Rolling Stone

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So bagging on RS has been good sport among rock-critic types for, oh, the past couple decades perhaps, with even subscribers often sassing the venerable rag for its Baby Boomer tendencies, from ludicrously fawning reviews ("World, meet Mick Jagger, solo artist") to hilarious cover choices (still my favorite) to uncouth online snafus (recall the great domain-name quasi-disaster of a few months back). Their political coverage, too, has gotten ever more shrill and ever more dominant -- sort of the print equivalent of "MTV doesn't even play videos anymore."

To those haters, Rolling Stone now says unto you, "Bite me."

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Jay-Z's Platonic Ideal of a Song: Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"

"When you hear a great song," Jay writes in the intro to Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" special issue, "you can think of where you were when you first heard it, the sounds, the smells. It takes the emotions of a moment and holds it for years to come. It transcends time. A great song has all the key elements--melody; emotion; a strong statement that becomes part of the lexicon; and great production." Like what, though? "Think of 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' by Queen." [Rap Radar]

Rolling Stone Domain Name Panic a "Glitch," Also Sign of Worldwide Lack of Any Kind of Faith in the Magazine

Well, that was fun while it lasted. Sometime this morning, the Rolling Stone website disappeared from the Internet, leaving only a goofy placeholder page and the catcalls of thousands of people who were all too ready to believe that the dinosauric old-media mag had either a), let its domain name lapse (embarrassing!) or b), folded entirely (schadenfreude!). Which would've been a weird way to make the announcement. But anyway! It was just a "technical problem," according to a Wenner Media spokesman, who called the vanishing of his website a "glitch." But geez were we ready to believe it was more than that.

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Handicapping the Sure Failure of Rolling Stone's New Restaurant Venture

Reviews of Rolling Stone: Drum King, the videogame brand extention undertaken over the summer by the once venerable rock mag, were not kind. I'm From Rolling Stone, the MTV-sponsored reality TV show, limped through ten episodes in the spring months of 2007, and was promptly cancelled, although its Wikipedia page remains good for a laugh or two. (E.g., "Peter Maiden is now a video editor for Rolling Stone. He is also a bartender in New York.") The music mag business has been revealed to be a delicate one indeed. So what, in the waning hours of 2009, does the visionary publication see as its future? Well, according to LA Times, Rolling Stone will leverage "its status as a preeminent chronicler of the rock music world and pop culture" into a new kind of empire..."built on food and drinks."

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We Found That Decapitated Shakira Rolling Stone. (Hint: Try the Magazine-Rack Art Section.)


Quick refresher: the Decapitator, the street artist lauded for lopping the heads off actresses, Disney kids, rappers in glibly depicted advertisements, is currently in New York City. (Think Poster Boy with frequent-flyer miles and a dark wit.) Already from this visit, a headless Shakira has been spotted in Chelsea, and as we told you earlier this morning, the arrival of the singer's bloody stump came with a challenge. "Get your limited edition Decapitated Rolling Stone Magazine featuring Shakira on its cover (or what's left of her)," a jpg posted on official Decapitator Flickr stream offered, sending admirers/eBay goons/us to the magazine section of the Union Square Barnes and Noble. And so this here SOTC correspondent wandered purposefully over there before noon, pushed lollygaggers aside on the escalator ride up to the third floor, and went hunting. There were one or two other bespectacled, blog-reader-type young men peeking behind stacks, not bothering with actual titles, etc. We glared.

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Contest: Find the Decapitated Shakira in a Union Square Bookstore

Image via the decapitator's photostream
The mysterious street artist known only as the Decapitator is in town, decapitating things. The culture jammer caused a huge stir in London last year, after Carrie Bradsaw was seen carrying her own head in a detourned version of a Sex and the City advertisement; Wired even compared the guy to Ron English. Now it seems to be New York's turn. Jeremiah's Vanishing New York spotted a defaced poster promoting a headless Shakira on the cover of Rolling Stone up on 23rd Street in Chelsea yesterday, writing "heads have started to roll!" And--ever the man of the people, that Decapitator--it turns out there's a competition to go along with it. The artist uploaded a picture of a mangled Rolling Stone magazine to his Flickr account, directing people to the magazine section of the Union Square Barnes and Noble, where a few editions have apparently been stowed. "Get your limited edition Decapitated Rolling Stone Magazine featuring Shakira on its cover (or what's left of her)," the vandal wrote. Note in particular the fine pattern of blood-spray misted over the magazine's logo. Misogynist, or genius? Either way, money says the checkout clerk doesn't even notice. [JVNY]

Update: We found one. The clerk did notice.

News Roundup: Paul McCartney, Live Nation, James Murphy, Hold Steady

--Paul McCartney hasn't performed much lately, favoring one-off gigs instead of touring. (In April, he performed a Beatles-heavy set at Coachella). But New York fans will get a chance to see the Wings legend (kidding) when he performs July 17 and 18 at Citi Field, the Mets' new home. McCartney has a thing about baseball stadiums. The Beatles were the first to play Shea Stadium in 1965, and McCartney played at the stadium's farewell concert with Billy Joel last year. Tickets for the New York show, which will probably be too expensive for all of us, go on sale June 15.

--Tickets bought during Live Nation's "No Service Fee Wednesday" promotion today include, well, service fees. One of them is a parking fee, which apparently does not pay for a parking space and is required even if a fan doesn't drive to the show. It was tough even for CNN to remain objective in their story about these bastards.

--James Murphy posted an incredible MySpace rant. The LCD Soundsystem frontman discusses progress on the band's follow-up to 2007's Sound of Silver and his experience attending the MTV Movie Awards. "Young, self-satisfied, confident celebrities are weird to be near," Murphy writes. He also includes a helpful tip: If you amicably talk to Will Ferrell at the award show, "You can basically walk into any room you want and take beer for the next 5 minutes. it's like getting an invincibility pill in pac-man."

--The Hold Steady endorsed Top Chef Masters in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. The Top Chef spin off, which features world-renowned chefs rather than amateurs, is apparently an on-the-road favorite of the band's."We can't wait to watch the show on the tour bus," an unnamed band member writes. "It will make PB&J that much more shameful." We already know what the band likes for desert.