‘Hip-Hop Alphabet’ Creators Give the ABCs a Rap Remix
With their book Hip-Hop Alphabet, former music business executive-turned-author Howie Abrams and Brooklyn graffiti artist Kaves are schooling kids on the four elements of hip-hop (rapping, DJing, graffiti, b-boy dancing) while also teaching them their ABCs.
“When people ask why Kaves and I chose to use hip-hop as the basis for our alphabet book, Hip-Hop Alphabet, the answer they receive in return is simple: we grew up loving this music, and have the utmost respect for where it came from, and those who’ve worked hard to make it what it has grown to be,” Abrams says. “Now, we find ourselves as parents who wish to share something for which we share immense passion with our kids. Hip-Hop Alphabet is what we’ve come up with.”
Abrams continues, “Although hip-hop is only in its 45th year of life, it feels as if many lifetimes worth of evolution have taken place. Nonetheless, most would agree that many of the lessons of hip-hop are crucial and everlasting: embracing independence, using your voice, striving for fierce creativity and most of all, keeping those heads nodding and butts shaking. These lessons, and those who brought them to the forefront, need to live on forever, and that is one of our hopes for this book: to teach children about some of the greatest emcees and DJs, as well as the culture’s most vital elements. We also wish to remind parents of hip-hop’s greatness in the event it may have slipped their minds.”
As the kid-friendly rap curriculum hit shelves on October 17, the creators offered up 26 rap classics to match each letter of the alphabet with this playlist. Pair it with their full breakdown below.
A Tribe Called Quest, “Jazz (We’ve Got)”
ATCQ’s infusion of jazz into their sound flipped rap music at a time when hard, up-tempo beats were the order of the day. Many followed their lead as a result.
Beastie Boys, “Hold it, Now Hit it”
Energetic, aggressive and fun, that pretty much sums up Beastie Boys, and their debut album Licensed to ILL in particular. When this track came on in a club, the room literally shook!
Cypress Hill, “Latin Lingo”
Cypress Hill ensured the Latinos who loved hip-hop were well represented, and you could hear this funky anthem blasting from jeeps, lowriders and muscle cars from L.A. to BK.
(D is for DJs) Grandmaster Flash, “Girls Love the Way He Spins”
Flash was hip-hop’s first official rock star DJ! An innovator and party rocker from the very beginning. Who better to represent hip-hop’s greatest DJs?
Eminem, “Lose Yourself”
One of THE most gifted emcees to ever bless a microphone, and if this banger doesn’t inspire you to want to do big things, we don’t know what will.
Fab Five Freddy, “Rapture” by Blondie
While Freddy only makes a cameo in the hip-hop inspired music video for this Debbie Harry classic, his influence stretched far and wide, bringing punk rockers and hip-hoppers together at a time when that seemed unimaginable.
(G is for Graffiti) The Lordz feat. Everlast, “Out Ta Bomb”
Okay, Hip-Hop Alphabet co-author Kaves is one of the emcees in the Lordz (of Brooklyn), but this song is one of, if not the, greatest track to ever come from a legendary graffiti artist.
House of Pain, “Fed Up”
We’re pretty sure you expected ‘Jump Around,’ but HOP had a number of other great songs, and this is indeed one of them.
Ice Cube, “Wicked”
Cube channeled a special kind of energy on this one. The N.W.A. emcee actually took it up a notch with ‘Wicked,’ moving away from his traditional ‘West Coast’ sound, and toward some straight, hard boom-bap.
JAY-Z, “Hard Knock Life”
C’mon, who else could incorporate a melody from the musical Annie to optimal effect the way Hova did with this???
KRS One, “My Philosophy”
KRS One always had something on his mind he wished to convey, and he did it flawlessly on his classic, ‘My Philosophy.’
LL Cool J, “I’m Bad”
LL has become known for so much more than just his microphone skills over the years, so we had to make sure heads recalled the time when he was one of THE best rappers in the world. Classic, classic song.
(M is for Microphone) Eric B. & Rakim, “Microphone Fiend”
Rakim: one of the dopest to ever grip a mic, letting you know how and why he craves the spotlight to deliver his unparalleled rhymes.
Notorious B.I.G., “Juicy”
Biggie Smalls’ autobiography up until the point this jam hit the streets. Rough and rugged, yet smooth at the same time. We miss you Big.
OutKast, “Hey Ya”
Musically and lyrically left field and catchy as catchy gets in true OutKast style. Probably sang this in my sleep for at least two weeks after it dropped.
Public Enemy, “Rebel Without a Pause”
No one sounded like PE when they came out, and on ‘Rebel…,’ probably their most signature track, Chuck and Flav prove themselves (once again) to be one of the most entertaining and message-heavy duos there’s ever been.
Queen Latifah, “Ladies First”
Latifah’s bold and passionate anthem for the ladies, who up until then had been grossly underrepresented and under-appreciated in the hip-hop world.
RUN DMC, “Peter Piper”
Simply one of the greatest, most clever records, by the most important rap group of all time.
Snoop Dogg, “Lodi Dodi”
Since we couldn’t get Slick Rick into the book, we thought letting Snoop rep this East Coast classic would be the next best thing.
Tupac Shakur (2Pac), “Keep Ya’ Head Up”
An anthem laced with positivity and hope from another great who left us way too soon.
(U is for Underground) Thirstin Howl III – “The Polorican”
Fashion was forever changed by indie hip-hop culture, and no rapper was more obsessed with a particular clothing brand than Thirstin Howl III and his infamous LoLifes crew.
(V is for Vinyl) Diggin’ in the Crates, “Get Yours”
D.I.T.C. repped crate-digging DJs in search of magical vinyl with pride thanks to their group moniker alone and never let you forget where hip-hop’s sound originated from.
Wu-Tang Clan, “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’”
The Wu always came with that outside the box ish, and this early Wu banger exemplifies all that made this Shaolin posse a unique force.
Xzibit pimped a lot of rides over the years, and I think every one of them appears in the video for this classic.
(Y is for Yo! MTV Raps) EPMD – “Give the People”
Where would hip-hop be without the influence of Yo! MTV Raps? The show’s influence was gigantic, exposing the music and its culture to the masses. EPMD say thanks for the love they received from the show with ‘Give the People.’
(Z is for Zigga Zigga) Grand Wizzard Theodore – “Gangbusters” (from the Wild Style Soundtrack)
‘Zigga Zigga,’ being the sound of scratching records, the only DJ fit to be its ambassador is Grand Wizzard Theodore, the inventor of the technique.
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