Ignored Obscured Restored
This weekend marks the 15-year anniversary of the Song of the Week. 15 years!!! It started humbly the weekend of February 9-10, 2008. I sent out The Beatles’ “All My Loving” from the Ed Sullivan Show and “Sexy Sadie” from the White Album. I didn’t explain that my selections were chosen to celebrate the anniversary of the Beatles’ debut performance in America, launching the British Invasion; and the passing of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whom “Sexy Sadie” was written about, and who had died earlier that week. I assumed everyone would figure that out.
When I started this I had no plan for how long it would continue. But if you had asked me that first week if I would still be doing it 15 years later, that would have been unimaginable. I’ll keep on writing until I run out of ideas. I hope you continue to read.
Now today’s song of the week.
“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five was one of the first songs to utilize rap music to deliver a political message. Urban ghettos like the Bronx in New York City were badly ignored under Ronald Reagan’s spending priorities and budget cuts in the early 80s. “The Message” called out the reality of life in these inner-city neighborhoods in stark detail. “Broken glass”, homelessness, drugs, prostitution, filth, noise, poor education, unemployment… it’s all in there.
The situation all comes together in the line “It’s like a jungle, sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.”
“The Message” is consistently listed as one of the “Greatest Songs of… whatever.” Dave Marsh scored it at #87 in his 1989 list of the 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. Rolling Stone’s 2012 list of The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time voted it #1. In 2018, liveabout.com gave “The Message” the #3 slot on their list of The 100 Best Rap Songs of All Time.
Enjoy… until next week.
I think The Message is the most radical expression of alienation we have from the rap age, but it led to dilution. Our interests aren’t black and right. Way more complicated.
When I said Rap Age, I meant the early years.