Tag Archives: DJ Quik


I don’t know why, but today I inflicted the Rolling Stone “50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time” list on myself, in its entirety.  I know that “Greatest of All Time” lists are inherently dumb, and complaining about them is even dumber, but this particular one seems so especially dumb that I think it might not be excruciatingly dumb to criticize it, as long as I can keep it short and un-ranty.  So I’ll put aside as many personal biases that I can and try to actually play by the guidelines of a list like this.  These kinds of lists measure things like historical significance and cultural impact, and they worship “firsts”.  “Great” in the sense it’s used here isn’t an extreme form of “good”, it’s an attempt at objectivity about something inherently subjective by looking at factors like a song’s sales, chart positions, and the population’s general familiarity with it.  Framed in this way, it’s easy to see why lists like this are dumb, because those things aren’t what’s actually interesting about music.  But this list doesn’t even follow through on that flimsy objective.  It is unsurprisingly biased towards old guard “Golden Age” sensibilities, and yet still finds ways to overlook many obvious old school contenders as well.  Hardly any of my personal favorite songs are on that list, which is to be expected, but there are so many truly relevant-to-our-culture artists, songs, and movements that aren’t even touched on that I think it would be worthwhile to create a new list in response:

DRIVE SLOW’s Top 15 Artists Somehow Completely Ignored by Rolling Stone’s “50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time” List

1.  Too $hort

2.  Lil’ Wayne (or anyone from Cash Money)

3.  TI

4.  Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

5.  Gang Starr

6.  Goodie Mob

7.  Slick Rick

8.  Ludacris

9.  Gucci Mane

10.  Three-6 Mafia

11.  DJ Quik

12.  E-40

13.  Nate Dogg

14.  Ice T

15.  2 Live Crew

But nobody really reads Rolling Stone anymore anyway right?

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The other day I was out stupid late at some after-party following the Blackwatch Christmas show, and this song came on out of nowhere and really touched my heart, and also sparked a conversation.

Shuggie Otis – Strawberry Letter 23

I first heard this song after Amber and Trent gave me Shuggie’s Inspiration Information album and I started digging deeper into his catalog (this song is actually on his previous album, Freedom Flight) and it’s always been one of my favorites of his.  I didn’t know until later that there was a much more famous cover version that came out a few years later.

The Brothers Johnson – Strawberry Letter 23

I gotta say, Shuggie really does it a little more to my liking, but there are many that would disagree (even some present at that way-too-late after-party didn’t feel the same as I did) and I still definitely dig what The Brothers Johnson did with it, it’s a badass song however you package it.

Now I swear I’m not trying to spark a bunch of arguments by talking about version preferences and shit, I’m not real interested in trying to talk anybody into liking something more than something else, but I think it’s also worth bringing up all the different re-interpretations of this song that have come out more recently, from DJ Quik’s straight sample of that Brothers Johnson version, to Beyoncé’s borrowing of the vocal melody and then reworking it into a whole new song, and everything else in between.  Pretty interesting, I think.

I wonder if Shuggie had any idea that his little song he wrote for his lady with strawberry scented perfume would become all of these different things.  I bet anybody would have told him he was nuts if he did.  Nice work Shug, and thanks to Amber and Trent for putting that song in my life in the first place.  I’m forever grateful.

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