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In a recent article on Okayplayer, producer Dame Grease recalls producing DMX’s breakout single “Get At Me Dog.” When discussing what DMX listened to in the studio and of what inspired him most, Grease recalls “Disco was pretty much the only music we listened to. It helped X relax. He used to have this big ass CD case and it was filled with disco, funk, and soul; there wasn’t one rap record in there. The only rap shit was by X himself.”
I personally found this quote inspiring. As a music lover, I’ve always observed the overlap between early Rap and Disco records, the former often building a foundation of their breakbeats using elements of the latter. Listen to this recording of DJ Kool Herc & The Herculords. This is DJ Whiz Kid, specifically. As you can hear, Disco sounds are layered throughout.
This is one of the reasons the phrase “Disco Sucks” has always bothered me. July 12, 1979’s “Disco Demolition Night” was both racist and homophobic at it’s core. When you watch the video footage of the night, you see white men (giving Rock a bad name) crowded onto Comisky Field in Chicago. These folks were not representative of who was making Disco music and who was enjoying disco music. Their miscalculation was that the music would fade away. Yes, it became less commercially viable, but it never faded away. It even gave birth to one of the most beloved music genres - House Music. House is a music inspired by the very people those attending Disco Demolition Night were trying to silence.
Disco music provided a lot of Black joy to Black people, and the DJs of that era ushered in an entirely new kind of nightlife in the 1970s. It’s no wonder why Disco music featured prominently in early Hip-Hop.
Disco’s inspiration on Hip-Hop culture deserves attention. Netflix’s The Get Down explored this topic, and there’s certainly more to cover.
Here are three classic Rap songs with Disco roots.
1. “Rapper’s Delight” - Sugar Hill Gang (1980)
Who can forget this song. It’s not only rap’s first pop hit, but the backstory behind how the song came to be is legendary. This song classically samples Chic’s “Good Times.”
2. “Come Into My House” - Queen Latifah (1989)
By 1989 House music had been steadily gaining in popularity outside of its native Chicago both here in the US and internationally. Rappers of the era would incorporate House into Rap records making for easily danceable party records. “Come Into My House” samples Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell.”
3. “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays’” - De La Soul (1991)
A single from the album De La Soul is Dead. “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays’” features vocals from the amazing Vinia Mojica. The song’s opening samples Instant Funk’s “I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)”