Skip to comments.Is Bob Dylan Hip-Hopís Godfather? His Ties to Beasties, Roots, More
Posted on 04/01/2010 2:09:14 PM PDT by a fool in paradise
Recently, a YouTube made the rounds of Bob Dylan raspily rapping his way through a solid chunk of LL Cool Js classic Mama Said Knock You Out. The Internet had good time with LOL and WTF responses, but Dylans symbiotic relationship with hip-hop actually runs fairly deep. Hip-hop and Dylan were both gestated in New York, distrust the government, arent fond of using their birth names, and have a pretty evocative way with words. And although Dylan recently told Street Newspaper that he doesnt really listen to rap all that much, he did admit, I love rhyming for rhyming sake. I think thats an incredible art form.
Lets take a look back at the many times their paths have crossed:
1965: Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues
Is this the very first rap song ever? Dylans rollicking Subterranean Homesick Blues predates hip-hops labyrinthine rhyme schemes, anti-authority philosophy, pop-culture obsessions and street-level turns-of-slang; distilling bohemian counterculture, war paranoia and the ongoing civil rights struggle into a two-minute barrage of fascinating wordplay. At once political and pop, Subterranean Homesick Blues was Dylans first Top 40 single.
1986: Kurtis Blow featuring Bob Dylan, Street Rock
After Dylan borrowed a couple of Blows backup singers for a mid-80s record, he returned the favor by donating an intro to the rappers headbanging Street Rock, the opening track to the 1986 album Kingdom Blow. Blow and his bodyguard showed up at Dylans Malibu home, and Bob dropped science in one take. In Chronicles, Volume 1, Dylan admits it was in fact Blow who turned him on to rap music, and had since become a fan of Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Ice T and N.W.A. These guys werent standing around bullshitting, said Dylan. They were beating drums, tearing it up, hurling horses over cliffs. They were all poets and knew what was going on
1987: Public Enemy, Yo! Bum Rush the Show
Due to his firebrand attitude and endlessly dissectable lyrics, Def Jam publicists pitch Chuck D to the editors of rock magazines as the new Bob Dylan.
1989: Beastie Boys, Johnny Ryall 1992: Beastie Boys, Finger Lickin Good
Quoth Mike D on Dylan: Hes one of the first b-boys, if not the first. What more to say? The ultimate arbiters of New York boho cool, the snotty beat poets in the Beasties were naturally drawn to Dylan. Their landmark Pauls Boutique borrows a line from Dylans protest-of-protests Maggies Farm on their lovable bum tale Johnny Ryall. And on 3-Minute Rule, MCA even drops his own unique props: Im just chillin, like Bob Dylan. Three years later, the boys would sample Dylans Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues for their Finger Lickin Good a clearance that would ultimately cost them $700. Mike D told Boston Rock, He asked for $2,000. I thought it was kind of fly that he asked for $2,000 and I bartered Bob Dylan down. Thats my proudest sampling deal. Their upcoming Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 is set to feature another sample of Dylan, a spoken word bit where he talked about the Boys on his satellite radio show.
1997: Wyclef Jean, Gone Til November
The rapper pulls out the line, Im knockin on heavens door, like Im Bob Dylan, and the next thing you know, Bob is pulling a quick but memorable cameo in the video at the 2:30 mark.
1999: Black Thought, Common, Mos Def, Dice Raw, Flo Brown, the Jazzyfatnastees and the Roots, Hurricane
This massive posse cut from the movie of the same name details the racial profiling and imprisonment of boxer Rubin Hurricane Carter much like the 1975 Bob Dylan song of the same name.
2006: Bob Dylan, Mama Said Knock You Out
In the second episode of his Sirius Satellite Radio program, Theme Time Radio Hour, Dylan dropped a gravelly rendition of the LL Cool J classic. Naturally, LL Cool J was totally honored, and told TMZ, That blows me away What he needs to do is call me and lets do it together. I encourage everyone to get out there and buy Bob Dylans records
2008: Evidence featuring Fashawn, The Far Left
In the video for The Far Left, Dilated Peoples MC Evidence dropped a loving tribute to D.A. Pennebakers iconic clip for Subterranean Homesick Blues with Dylans cue cards updated to feature some more modern, graffiti-influenced scrawl.
2009: Bob Dylan featuring Will.i.am, Forever Young (Continued)
Bobby D and the Black Eyed Pea teamed up for a remix to his 1974 single Forever Young. It was used in a Pepsi commercial that aired during the 2009 Super Bowl. Its the more things change, the more things stay the same message was more saccharine than a dumptruck full of diet soda.
2009: Kid Cudi, Highs N Lows
The soul-bearing rapper created a melancholy mood by rapping over Dylans 1969 classic Lay Lady Lay on this mixtape staple.
2009: Juelz Santana featuring YelaWolf, Mixin Up The Medicine
Upstart Alabama MC YelaWolf is already an effortless blend of hip-hop, country and rock, the perfect guy to flip the the opening line of Subterranean Homesick Blues on the chorus of this Juelz Santana single. Dylans line Johnnys in the basement mixing up the medicine/Im on the pavement thinking about the government, was already perfectly hip-hop couplet that was just sitting there, begging to be recontextualized.
You can make the case that all those “non-singing singers”, like Dylan and Cash and Lou Reed are the godfathers of hip-hop. It’s a style that’s been around for a long time, folks figured out that just because you can’t carry a tune doesn’t mean you can’t be a singer.
Dolan certainly could be the Godfather of the grunge look.
Blowfly (Clarence Reid) had "Rap Dirty" back in 1965.
Certainly it's well underway by the time Johnny Otis records an adults only album as "Snatch and the Poontangs" with full on raps like "Big John Jeeter".
Bob DyDyDylan ping
That is very good company in my opinion . Bob Dylan is also helpful serving as the poster child for "Don't hit women , even when they deserve it".
All music is derivative - always has been and always will be. Yet people find common threads and act like they’ve discovered the secret of the universe.
Say what you will about Dylan’s singing style but no sane person can challenge his ability to write.
Dylan admitted a few years ago in an interview that even he doesn’t understand the meaning of some of his lyrics. To each his own....certainly Dylan is more talented than 90% of writers today.
Sometimes one just enjoys letting his/her imagination "soar".Listen carefully to what is,IMO,his finest composition..."Mr Tambourine Man".
Point taken. I get the same feeling listening to Hendrix sing “The wind cries Mary.”
There was an interview with Dylan somewhere when he said something like “Rap music makes me angry enough to wanna kill someone.”
Hey SISU, long time no see. Are we going to boot some of the socialist out of office here in the Evergreen State this time?
Maybe we should refer to the ancient Finnish bards.
I saw the Beastie Boys play with Dylan At a UMass Spring Fling concert around 1990.
It was an awesome day.
Sung by the ever talented William Shatner...
Hey,c'mon...that's not fair! But seriously...as done by Dylan himself...or by the Byrds...or,my favorite version,by Judy Collins.
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