Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s 1982 hit “The Message” is the number 1 song on Rolling Stone′s first-ever list of “The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time.”
The magazine argues that “The Message” earned the top honors because it was “the first song to tell, with hip-hop’s rhythmic and vocal force, the truth about modern inner-city life in America” including “drugs, prostitution, prison and the grim promise of an early death.” Its chilling refrain says it all: “Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge/I’m trying not to lose my head.” The song reached No. 4 on Billboard‘s R&B-singles chart.
Formed in the South Bronx in the late 1970s, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five became the first hip-hop group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Number 2 on the list is “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang, a group discovered by the late Sylvia Robinson, “the mother of hip-hop” and owner of the label Sugarhill Records, who died in 2011. When the six-and-a-half-minute song hip hip hoppie and bang bang boogied into Top 40 radio, rap became “a viable genre for recorded music,” according to the magazine.
Other hip-hop songs in Rolling Stone‘s top 10 include: “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force; “Sucker M.C.’s” by Run-DMC; “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” by Geto Boys; “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop Dogg (Dr. Dre was also the highest-paid musician of 2012, per Forbes); “Juicy” by Notorious B.I.G.; and “Paid in Full” by Eric B. and Rakim. Other influential artists in the top 50 included Eminem, Wu-Tang Clan, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Missy Elliott. (Full list here.)
Rolling Stone compiled the list by polling 33 experts — record producers, industry professionals and music journalists — as well as artists like Busta Rhymes, Nas, Q-Tip and Big Boi from Outkast. (See full credits here.)
Nathan Brackett, Rolling Stone‘s deputy managing editor, explained the purpose of the list to Reuters:
It’s a list that would have been a lot harder to do ten or 15 years ago because hip hop is so young…
We’ve reached the point now where hip hop acts are getting into the (Rock and Roll) Hall Of Fame… it just felt like the right time to give this the real Rolling Stone treatment.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2013 inductees will be announced in mid-December, and two nominees are hip-hop artists Public Enemy and N.W.A. On Rolling Stone′s list, Public Enemy appears at No. 7 for “Fight The Power” and No. 14 for “Rebel Without a Pause,” while N.W.A. is No. 9 for “Straight Outta Compton” and No. 15 for “F*** tha Police.”
LIST: All-TIME 100 Songs