77. Jungle Brothers f/ Q-Tip "Black Is Black" (1988)
Producer: Jungle Brothers
Album: Straight Out The Jungle
Label: Idlers/Warlock Records
"Black Is Black" is impressive and notable for several reasons. First, it is a very direct, almost confrontational analysis of racial identity and colorism, topics which had been previously alluded to on rap songs, but not usually tackled so explicitly. Secondly, it contains samples from Prince, Kool & the Gang, Gil Scott-Heron, and the Meters; it's a marvelous example of how broad musical appreciation and a desire to insert oneself into the pantheon of great black musicians can lead to great results. (Kanye-obsessed critics, make the connection.) Thirdly, this is an early Q-Tip appearance. Listen now.