Top Ten Most Relevant Old School Rap Songs
The definition of Old School Rap is debatable. Most descriptions put Old School as being from the mid-70s until the mid-90s. To me, anything after the early 90s is not Old School. It is merely old. That leads me to a question, what are the most influential early rap songs? Looking at the artists and songs *through the 80s, here is my list of the most notable. By no means is the list all-inclusive. There are too many great songs and artist to mention.
10. Children’s Story – Slick Rick
Slick Rick (aka Richard Walters) has a unique delivery and cadence using the Queen’s English and clear enunciation. However, it is his ability to tell a story that makes the song so influential. “Children’s Story” is the tale of a kid growing up making wrong decisions. He can also deliver a story with humor like “La Di Da Di.” “Children’s Story” led to future classics like Eminem’s “Stan,” A Tribe Called Quest’s “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” and Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day.”
Peter Shapiro in The Rough Guide To Hip-Hop wrote, ” ‘Children’s Story’ was important because of its narrative structure and Rick’s understanding of how crucial little sonic details—such as his use of a female voice and his yawning rap—were to hip-hop style.”
9. Me Myself and I – De la Soul
“Me Myself and I” reached the top 4o on the US Pop chart and number 1 on various R&B and Dance charts. The song is the most popular single from De La Soul’s masterpiece album 3 Feet and Rising. De La Soul is part of Rap’s Native Tongue Posse that includes the Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Black Sheep, and A Tribe Called Quest (biggest hits were in the early 90s). The band is known for their positivity, good-natured fun, and Afrocentric lyrics. They are pioneers in the use of heterogeneous samples and jazz beats. They often rap against the increasingly violent, misogynistic world of rap
The song pushes the positivity of being who you are and not another lemming. “Me Myself and I” touches on the band’s unfair stereotype of being hippies. The song, the group, and the Native Tongue movement went on to influence the works of Common, Brand Nubian, Leaders of the Old School, Mos-Def and De La’s work with the Gorillaz.
8. Fuck the Police – N.W.A
Not the first Gangsta Rap song (Ice T and Schoolly D can claim that), but ‘Fuck the Police,’ and its LP popularized it. The song is an actual protest song (released a year before Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”). It is a brash and courageous song that deals with police brutality and racial profiling, a topic that still resonates today. Controversial for the lyrics encouraging the use of violence against the police, it was banned globally from radio airplay. The exception was a single radio station in Australia. The LP for “Fuck the Police” is the first record to go double platinum without airplay. It is also one of the first to receive the explicit lyrics sticker. Always controversial, its anger and frustration mirror today’s Black Lives Matter movement.
“If something happened in my neighborhood, the last people we’d call was the police. Our friends get killed; they never find the killer. 387 people were killed in gang activity in L.A. In 1988.” – Ice Cube 
7. The Breaks – Kurtis Blow
“The Breaks” is Rap Music’s first gold single. It is ranked as the tenth greatest Hip Hop song of all time by VH1. With its release, Kurtis Blow (born, Kurtis Walker) became the first rapper to sign to a major label and the first to perform overseas. “The Breaks” shows that a rap artist can be financially viable, inspiring generations.