Def Jam Week: 10 Best Def Jam Singles Ever

As always, bring on the controversy. Here’s a democratically compiled top ten Def Jam singles by the Fat Lace crew. If you disagree, speak up or give us your top ten list you know-it-alls.

Davy D – Have You Seen Davy 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bit of a curve ball here – and a predominantly instrumental record – but bass player slash DJ, Davy D,  really brought it with his inaugural offering on Def Jam. His previous single on Tuff City, ‘One For The Treble’ was also a bonafide hip-hop classic but ‘Have You Seen…’ slowed the tempo down a tad and added another infectious female hook. It was never going places on commercial radio but really captured a moment for us in the transition from an ‘electro’ sound to vocal led NY late 80′s rap.

Slick Rick – Children’s Story 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Need we add audio or even furnish you with our musings on the importance of this single. Uncle Ricky the storyteller cemented his place in rap history with this jam not only as a wordsmith but legend in the game. Not many records have come close to this day.

T La Rock – It’s Yours

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Terry Keaton’s seminal record ‘It’s Yours’ was not only one of the first records on Def Jam as it transitioned from Party Time / Street Wise sub division to full on rap powerhouse, but one that has been sampled, imitated and interpolated for years to come. Nas and Wu to name a few immortalised and made reference to this track and the saddest part was T La Rock never really got the recognition he deserved on a number of levels. Just take some time to compare his flow, song structure and lyrics to some of LL’s early hits. Say no more.

LL Cool J – I Need a Beat

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Speaking of which, whoever compiled the 1984-88 section of the Def Jam 25th Anniversary Box Set is clearly a massive bumder, what with failing to include this, ‘I can’t live without my radio’, ‘Dangerous’ and ‘You’ll Rock’. Still, at least they stuck ‘I Need Love’ in there. What a thrill. Tits on the internet may argue about whether or not Rick Rubin and LL were channeling T La Rock on this jammie, or what exactly Ad Rock did on it, but who gives a shiny shit? It’s awesome, LL was the king, and for this we can forgive him ‘Phenomenon’. Just edges out ‘I’m Bad’ as our LL pick, mainly because LL was still connected to his ma umbilically when he recorded this.

Public Enemy – You’re Gonna Get Yours

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You could live for a million years and never hear as exhilarating and revolutionary a hip-hop record as this again. The teenage Fat Lace crew were so excited by this we got all pre-cummy when we first heard it. Also, the ‘Terminator X Getaway Mix’ is the greatest dub mix of any hip-hop record ever, even better than the dub version of Papa Austin and Great Peso’s ‘Wrong Girls to Play With’ which, as any fule kno, contains the best 5 seconds of recorded music ever. Anyhoo, back to P.E. So, with the main cut, the dub mix, AND ‘Miuzi Weighs a Ton’ and ‘Rebel Without a Pause’ on the B-side, we don’t want to hear any shit – this is the best hip-hop 12″ single of all time.
Here’s the Getaway Mix as well…

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Junkyard Band – The Word

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Again, if you leave this out of any Def Jam compilation, you’re basically a wretched cunt. Pretty much the label’s only foray into the dicey world of Go-Go, this is a party rocker par excellence, what with the clonky drums (technical phrase), fuzzy shit going on all over the place (ditto) and a nice catchy chorus.

EPMD – Rampage

There are many reasons to love the video of ‘Rampage’, but here are just three: 1) EPMD are fucking ill on this record. No questions. And Erick Sermon just murders his verse. 2) LL Cool J obviously couldn’t be arsed to turn up, so they get a shape-alike to act out his part from behind a chiffon curtain. What’s that about? and 3) Jennifer Lopez dances in this video, and she’s got nipples like a Time Bandit’s cock.

Beastie Boys – Brass Monkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s the Beasties’ legendary performance of Wild Sugar sampling ‘Brass Monkey’ on Soul Train in 1987 to keep you busy while the Fat Lace crew throw on the ski-masks and bumrush the Def Jam building on some Hans Gruber and crew in Die Hard 1 type shit to see if there are any mastered versions of ‘Scenario’.

Scarface – My Block

 

 

 

 

 

 

On paper, Scarface rapping over the same Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway sample as ‘World Famous’ by M.O.P sounds like the sort of east coast Rap fan-appeasing noughties Def Jam album filler track that’s only slightly more preferable than a posse cut with Joe Budden and DMX, but somewhere along the line magic wands were waved (no Whodini) and ‘My Block’ appeared from the bubbling Def Jam studio cauldron as one of the best singles of the decade, particularly when the song is combined with its video by Mark Klasfeld, which uses what appears to be one continuous tracking shot to tell the story of Scarface’s life from birth to death. Scarface 1, Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life 0.

Freeway ft. Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel – What We Do

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And speaking of best singles of the noughties, we finish with this masterpiece where even the presence of a past-it Jay-Z doesn’t sound wrong-wrong-wrong because he just gets on with rapping about guns and drugs instead of trying to intellectualise his 1996 – 2000 persona for U2 fans (see : most of the ‘The Black Album’ and everything since.) We’d take a Freeway and Beanie Sigel album with decent production over a thousand Jay-Z & Yeezy albums and ‘What We Do’ got us so open in 2003 that the entire Fat Lace crew grew Freeway beards but we just looked like Hans Klopek from The Burbs.


3 Responses to "Def Jam Week: 10 Best Def Jam Singles Ever"
  1. Reply Snafu June 10, 2012 21:45 pm

    This list sucks, where’s Mike Zoot? HUH?

  2. Reply 100 namez June 11, 2012 16:08 pm

    yes to davy d! All time fave!

    also, ‘it’s a boy’, ‘don’t beleive the hype’, ‘boomin system’, ‘can uou feel it’, jazzy jay’s ‘def jam’ and ‘read my mind’ was a great old school soul jam. for the more recent ones ‘run’, ‘ill bomb’ and ‘symphony 2000′.

  3. Reply SG June 12, 2012 17:13 pm

    good list, always loved the junkyard band tune. Take out davy d, scarface and freeway (although all good tunes) and replace with “welcome to the terrordome,” Tashan -”read my mind” and original concept “charlie sez.” Peace

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