Salt-N-Pepa’s Hot, Cool & Vicious vs. Biz Markie’s Goin’ Off. What’s Better?
One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?
“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.
Great Hip-Hop albums are not exclusively driven by trailblazing rapping, original songwriting, and ambitious production. Salt-N-Pepa’s Hot, Cool & Vicious and Biz Markie’s Goin’ Off are key counterpoints. These works featured grabbing performances and tons of chutzpah. The same energy and excitement of an ’80s live Hip-Hop show was translated to LP, and bigger than life figures of the culture presented works that appeased the inner-circle and ushered in the mainstream as well. Both efforts had iconic Rap producers at the helm. Each took everyday experiences and made detailed, culture-certified anthems. These two albums lit the path for both Salt-N-Pepa and Biz to have strong careers well beyond a decade later. Not often the knee-jerk pedestal albums, these two debuts are touchstones to a generation, and commercial Hip-Hop’s most formative years. Which is supreme? Your vote does the talking (click one album then click vote).
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Hot, Cool & Vicious by Salt’n Pepa
Salt-N-Pepa (as it would be historically displayed) were not the first female MCs, or the first ladies to make a hit. However, striking in the mid-1980s, the Queens, New York trio (including the first DJ Spinderella) capitalized on presenting the genre’s definitive long-form piece. Hot, Cool & Vicious would be the first platinum-certified album by a female Hip-Hop act. In the case of Salt, Pep’, and Spin’, it was just months behind being the genre’s first platinum album, period (care of Run-D.M.C.’s King Of Rock). The 1986 Next Plateau Records release is easily remembered from “Push It,” one of Rap’s early booming crossover records, going strong through Diplomats covers, wedding DJs, and Geico commercials. Notably, the a la carte 12″ was added on the 1987 pressing, not the immediate edition. However commandeering hit aside, Hot, Cool & Vicious features some highly influential tandem rhyme routines, as heard on “My Mic Sounds Nice,” “Tramp,” and “I’ll Take Your Man.”
Grammy and MTV award winners over the course of the next decade, Salt-N-Pepa never pretended to be wordsmiths. Instead, they succeeded as show-women, able to captivate audiences through charismatic deliveries, animated cadences, articulation, and a self-assurance that bravado was not exclusive to male counterparts. With its crossover accessibility, Hot, Cool & Vicious included innovative production from Hurbie “Luv Bug” Azor. While Hurb’ (along with young Kool G Rap) helped pen some of the ladies’ rhymes, he also injected grooves with strong inclusions of The Meters, Parliament, and The Mohawks. The technique of combining samples with hard boom-bap percussion and accentual synths allows Hot, Cool & Vicious to be a lasting time-piece. It’s Hip-Hop and Synth Pop, together. Beyond simply female artists but just as human entertainers, Salt-N-Pepa helped raise the bar, care of their debut. Its success and staying power in the spotlight (even if largely through its biggest hit) is a testament to the entertainment value and command of the mid-’80s.
Album Number: 1
Released: December 8, 1986
Label: Next Plateau Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #26 (certified gold, January 1988; certified platinum, March 1988)
Song Guests: Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor
Song Producers: Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor
Goin’ Off by Biz Markie
Since his arrival, Biz Markie has been a Hip-Hop multi-threat. The Long Island, New York representative is an MC, a DJ, a beat-boxer, and all around party-rocker. By 1988, the Juice Crew alum had applied his seasoned stage show as well as the success he witnessed in acts like Fat Boys and Whodini towards Goin’ Off. As LP opener “Pickin’ Boogers” plainly states, Biz liked to have fun at a time when most MCs took themselves very seriously. However, even on gimmicky Mad magazine-esque tracks, Marcel Hall’s rhymes (many penned by Big Daddy Kane) were no joke. “The Vapors” is minimalist storytelling, as Biz Markie tells a rags-to-riches tale about his crew, without ever overtly stating the theme to laymen. Less structured, the Diabolical rocked nimble stream of consciousness imagery in “Albee Square Mall.” It was this versatility that made Goin’ Off a dynamic album, without even trying.
Although Marley Marl’s greatest productions are traditionally associated with other Juice Crew acts, Goin’ Off is an incredible example of stellar arrangements and drum patterns. “Make The Music With Your Mouth” chopped down an Isaac Hayes arrangement so deftly that on its own merits, the handiwork reappeared in the 1990s and 2000s. “Nobody Beats The Biz” married the MC and DJ perfectly, thanks to Cool V’s crisp, high-pitched scratches. From Marley’s sampler and Biz’s spot-on impersonations and pop culture references, this is one of Hip-Hop’s greatest displays of its gestalt of influences. Steve Miller Band, “Reach Out Of The Darkness,” and a commercial for The Wiz were all at play in this one Cold Chillin’ Records LP. Juice Crew’s jester may be remembered as a goofball, but his magnum opus is his Goin’ Off debut, a patchwork of nimble, detailed rhymes, beats, and MC captivation. While many of his peers are more praised for their steadfast lyricism, has anybody’s innocent-minded Hip-Hop hits aged as well as the Biz?
Album Number: 1
Released: February 22, 1988
Label: Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #90
Song Guests: DJ Cool V
Song Producers: Marley Marl
So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.