If you don’t believe it’s true then queue up the lyrics for almost every hip hop song that’s been released since Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh’s La Di Da Di hit the airwaves and see whether or not they can be traced back. What you’ll find is that some element of just about every hip hop song can be followed back to the contribution that these two made and will be a direct or indirect source that helped to fuel the genre. So many people like to throw around words like ‘innovative’ or ‘unique’ or ‘original’, and in some case they’re correct. Very few people have performed what could be called a carbon copy of this beat, but the fact remains that when you look at the hip hop family tree a lot of those branches will lead right back to this beat.
It’s hard to be completely original when someone has already laid down the guiding beats and raised the bar so high that finding something new to do is a struggle, but in hip hop the idea has become more or less that a new artist needs to find a beat they’re comfortable with and work from that point onward. It can be an existing beat so long as the song is original or, in the case of a remake, done with enough respect to the original track that it compliments and pays homage to it. In essence the idea of creating something new and innovative will always build off of what came before, as that basis is constantly needed as a hook to find a person’s true beat and the inspiration to take what they’ve learned and make it their own. It’s amazing to think that so many songs can be traced back to these two but when you look at how many people have done it you get the idea that Rick and Fresh were onto something long before they knew what they really had.
Hip hop isn’t new by any means, it’s been building for decades and has been nurtured and continually expanded by each new artist that seeks to take something out of the playbooks of those that came before and make something the world hasn’t seen yet. Some of them have been wildly successful as they’ve taken from different cultures and from their surroundings to make something so great that people flock to it without even knowing what it is at first. Others have done their best but haven’t quite captured the same feeling or haven’t found the right beat that will allow them the chance to share their vision to the fullest. The point is that with something this great serving as a part of the bedrock of the genre it’s a small wonder that so many artists would use it as a basis for their songs.
Sometimes, even if it’s not a hit song that utilizes a familiar hook, just acknowledging greatness is enough to say thanks for everything that came before.