He’s Gonna Step On You Again (aka Step On)
Artist: John Kongos
Album: He’s Gonna Step On You Again
Sampling is such a staple of modern music that it has become almost an overused nuance—unless, of course, you’re Kanye West. While the origins of sampling are blurry, largely because of the intensive legal confusion that arose during their early use, the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes “Step On” as the first song to ever use sampling. While that fact is hotly debated—and has incidentally been denied by the artists—the introduction of sampling to popular music allowed for a blossoming of creativity through the rejuvenation of past beats and lyrics.
Fa All Y’all
Artist: Da Brat
Released: June 28, 1994
Da Brat proved that Hip hop wasn’t just a man’s game when her solo album, Funkdafied, went platinum. Following in the footsteps of hip-hop duo Salt-N-Pepa, Da Brat proved that girl power was more than enough to make it to the big leagues. As for “Fa All Y’all,” it perfectly encapsulated Da Brat’s style: Fun, funky, and fierce.
Released: October 19, 1998
Cher is a queen. She also just happened to be the woman that brought auto-tune into pop music. “Believe” was a groundbreaking song for the music industry and remains one of the best-selling singles of all time. Now autotune is getting constant facelifts, and depending on how it’s used it can either make (Kanye West: God) or break (T-Pain: Failure) careers.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: Bringing It All Back Home
Released: March 22, 1965
Even though Dylan had released the semi-electric Bringing It All Back Home four months prior to the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, those in attendance were hardly ready to accept the folk icon’s new stylistic choices with open arms. The opening licks of “Maggie’s Farm” marked the first time that Dylan had performed publicly with an electric guitar across his chest, and many fans took it as an act of unimaginable betrayal. The refrain, “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more,” is just right for a song whose legacy is tied to an act of defiance towards the close-minded members of his fanbase.
Walk This Way
Artist: Run-DMC ft. Steven Tyler
Album: Raising Hell
Released: May 15, 1986
Hip hop had been around for a while, but during the mid-’80s it was increasingly looked at as a fad as opposed to a serious musical genre. That viewpoint changed when Run-DMC’s third album, Raising Hell, went triple-platinum and proved that Hip hop was here to stay. Beyond solidifying rap as a true form of popular music, “Walk This Way” also introduced the new genre of rock-rap to the music industry by successully covering an Aerosmith classic.
Performed by: Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five
Album: Heebie Jeebies
Recorded: February 26, 1926
If you google “Heebie Jeebies,” one of the first options that will come up is a discussion on whether the song is racist and representative of the oppression black artists faced in the early 20th century. Yet, putting aside the murky history of America’s treatment of black professionals, “Heebie Jeebies” is representative of a much larger achievement on behalf of jazz musicians. Louis Armstrong became jazz’s first dominating soloist, and he transformed the genre by introducing scat for the first time in this 3-minute recording.