The lineup of Legends of Hip-Hop (8 p.m., August 2 at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel, $40) reads like a history of rap music:
In the ’80s, Slick Rick released “La Di Da Di” and “Children’s Story,” which virtually invented the rap song as extended narrative. Rick’s been covered by Snoop Dogg, sampled by Notorious B.I.G. and referenced by artists such as Tupac and Macklemore.
On any “greatest rappers” list, Big Daddy Kane usually makes the Top 10. His “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” showcased his smooth, confident flow and ability to bust out dance moves while remaining badass.
Some songs will live as long as there’s a dance floor, such as “It Takes Two,” from Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. Another dynamic duo of the late ’80s was EPMD, a.k.a. Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith. They expanded the range of samples used in hip-hop by lifting not just from Zapp and Kool & the Gang, but also Steve Miller and Z.Z. Top.
Hip-hop’s clown prince, Biz Markie is best known for “Just a Friend,” which ditched rap’s usual swagger for a lovelorn goofball stance. But his biggest impact came when he was hit with a lawsuit for sampling Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally),” resulting in the ruling that all samples must be cleared with the original artist.
Naughty by Nature’s specialty was infectious singles, starting with “OPP,” which was the summer song of 1991.
In the late ’90s, DMX enjoyed a string of chart-toppers, as well as acting roles. An early model of the multimedia rap star, DMX is now known for his legal entanglements and reality TV meltdowns. History’s lessons end up in today’s trends.