Next Friday I’m checking a big one off my travel bucket list – I’m going to NYC! In preparation I’ve been shuffling through my CDs (yes, some of us still use those) and MP3s (not totally behind the times) and listening only to bands from New York City. It turns out that a LOT of great sounds have come out of there. Initially I thought it would be easy to gather a list of 7 songs that have always made me want to go to NYC.
It was not easy. Here’s 7…
7. A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation
It wasn’t until I started listening to Beastie Boys and liked the tracks with Q Tip that I discovered A Tribe Called Quest. And then, the miracle of all miracles: I discovered hip hop could be intelligent and mesh different styles. Not just rapping about money, selling drugs, shooting people, women, etc. etc. This song gets regular rotation on my iPod and I love the simplistic nature of the video – just wandering NYC, sitting in a diner drinking tea (TEA, in a rap video), no product placement and the women are appropriately dressed for the weather.
And there you have it: the most white-bread review of A Tribe Called Quest EVER.
6. Blondie – Rapture
Although it seems kind of funny now, this was the first rap video broadcast on MTV. A white woman rapping while wandering the East Village. Right on.
5. Matt and Kim – Daylight
You have a happy song, right? This is (one of) mine. While I’m glad that bands don’t pop out of my freezer when I’m fishing ice out for a gin and tonic, I do enjoy their zest for life and happiness in their surroundings. Which happens to be NYC.
4. Velvet Underground – I’m Waiting for the Man
I am fully aware that it is a tad hypocritical to dismiss one category of music for boasting about selling drugs and embracing another that heavily relied on using them.
I am pretty certain, though, that in 20 years we’ll still be talking about the influence that Velvet Underground and other New York bands from that era had on music, and not about how In Da Club changed the face of music. Just a hunch.
If we are discussing the cultural significance of In Da Club, I will also assume that Kim Kardashian is now president of a country. Run away, future me.
3. Luscious Jackson – Nervous Breakthrough
Hey, 90s versions of you readers (provided you weren’t born in the late 90s), remember how awesome Luscious Jackson were? I do. I used to rock out to Ladyfingers and Naked Eye on my Sony Walkman. I’d sit next to the radio with my finger poised over the record button in the hopes I could capture one of these songs and add it to my newest mix tape.
Yes, kids. That is how old I am. I MADE MIX TAPES. Please don’t ask what a tape is.
Anyway, Luscious Jackson were one of the first bands I listened to that were all-female and they were hugely influential on where my musical tastes progressed to. In case you were wondering why an obscure band from the 90s ranks number 3 on my list.
2. Ramones – Beat on the Brat
On the opposite end of obscure, the Ramones. How I wish I could time-travel to the golden days of CBGB’s and see them live. Quintessential New York City music.
1. Beastie Boys – An Open Letter to NYC
One of my all-time favourite groups. While there are other Beasties tracks I like more, this song was a nice tribute post-9/11. The impact these guys have had on popular music has been ginormous, and the fact that they still turn out albums and retain their roots is pretty remarkable.
This was EXCEPTIONALLY hard to narrow down to seven. I listened to Salt-N-Pepa whilst writing this, remembering the awkward dance moves I tried to pull off to it (my moves are still awkward). They should have been on this list. Who else am I missing? Jay-Z, LL Cool J, The National, Vampire Weekend , etc. etc. Lots, I know. Leave a comment below!