ALL: Hip-Hop 1990s

Valentino, Inc

In the opening credits of 1992 film Juice, Harlem DJ Quincy “Q” Powell mixes two records. The first appears to be a Def Jam release…maybe EPMD’s Business as Usual? (The group makes a cameo during a key robbery sequence.) The second is a copy of Sound Effects Vol. IV, an entry in Valentino, Inc’s Production Music Library. “Q” uses the same two records later in the film when he practices late at night in preparation for a morning audition with Queen Latifah, who’s hosting the “Ruffhouse Presents Mixx Master Massacre” contest. Italian-born, New York-based entrepreneur Thomas J. Valentino formed Valentino, Inc. in the 1930s, and specialized in library music, providing cues for Broadway productions, films, and television. It’s best known for an association with Walter Murphy, who composed “A Fifth of Beethoven,” a disco-fied update of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that became a 1976 chart-topping hit and part of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Judging from a cursory Google search, the company no longer seems to exist except for licensing purposes. Deliciously, and despite a burgeoning interest in golden-age artifacts, the presence of Valentino, Inc. in one of the most popular hip-hop films of the 90s has barely registered online. The edition of Sound Effects Vol. IV used in Juice isn’t even in the Discogs database.

The 125 Best Rap Singles of 1993

The year 1993 reflected the music industry’s “see if it sticks” approach to rap, resulting in a boundless variety of peaks and valleys.

The 100 Best Rap Singles of 1992

The year marked the beginning of the second half of the “golden era,” when the genre’s greatest peaks and worst tragedies were just beyond the horizon.

A Company Flow Fan’s DJ Bag in 1997

As I spent the weekend revisiting Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus, I began to wonder…what other records did I spin as an amateur DJ in 1997?

The 100 Best Rap Singles of 1991

Of all the years when rap music grew into a global movement – the golden age years – 1991 may be the most difficult to summarize.

1996: The Year of the Sista

In an essay originally written for Maura magazine, the 1996 renaissance of female rappers resonates as a time of missed opportunity.