Label: Tommy Boy
Although live instrumentation had its place in the disco breaks of early hip-hop, Stetsasonic stood out as the most prominent crew with a full service live band of the genre's first decade, long before ?uestlove and them got started. A year before Prince Paul would branch out into his groundbreaking production work for De La Soul, he was innovating with Stetsasonic on their sophomore album, combining the instrumentation with turntables and samplers in creative new ways.
"It's In My Song" features slamming live drums, while "Sally" still lights up old school mix show sets as one of the most enduring bangers of 1988. The group's most powerful mission statement came in the form of "Talkin' All That Jazz," a response to a jazz musician's gripes about sampling: "You criticize our method of how we make records/You said it wasn't art, so now we're gonna rip you apart." —Al Shipley