I have more than a bit of sympathy for Jess on this thread — I find the earliest hip-hop tough going sometimes too. Thing is, I usually find myself nodding my head more at the positive descriptions of and arguments for Funky Four &c. than the actual records. This stuff should press all my fun buttons, but apparently only in theory — listening to it isn’t a bad experience, it just rolls along happily, and every now and then there’s a spark of grinning revelation as my drifting consciousness intersects with the MC’s wandering rhymes and I’m touched by the magic. The rest of the time it’s either switch-off or plain hard work, though, and I’m sure that’s not how I’m ‘meant’ to be hearing it because while the rewards are definite they’re also not enough to sustain a world-conquering pop style like they, well, did.

It may be that C. Eddy, M. Matos etc are right and something great has been lost in hip-hop’s journey from then to now, but you have to work with what’s around you. Maybe my pleasure centers are so wired to the current stuff that I won’t ever ‘get’, say, ‘That’s The Joint’ except on semi-academic terms: fine, my loss, don’t care either because as long as my neurons are getting fired I don’t worry too much about the context. (Well, I try not to.)

Anyway, ‘Super Rhymes’, which I heard on that old compilation Mantronix did for Soul Jazz, is great, so forget what I just said. Mantronix or his handlers edit the thirteen-minute original down to five which I philistinistically think is a sound move: the section they preserve finds Jimmy Spicer chatting to Dracula, who is — naturally – also Spicer doing a funny voice. Funny voices are hardly unknown in hip-hop now but whether anyone would have the balls or stupidity to keep a really bad one up for a whole song I’m not sure. Spicer does, it works, the bassline keeps teasing you with ‘Good Times’ then dancing off somewhere else, I like it so much I almost don’t care why.