Who’s in the house? The origins of hip-house

A Spotify playlist covering some of the main tracks from the formative hip-house years, including Tyree Cooper, The Beatmasters and The Jungle Brothers.

Back in March 1989, UK production and remix group The Beatmasters (on Spotify they have an extra space, “The Beat Masters”, don’t ask me why) released a track called “Who’s In The House?” featuring sometime Bomb The Bass collaborator MC Merlin. It was what we would today call an “answer track” I guess, in response to producer Tyree Cooper’s claim to have invented hip-house with a collaboration of his own called “Turn Up The Bass” with KRS-1. You’ll know it when you hear it – it’s the one with the amazing “awesome super duper trooper” line. Seeing as his recipe for hip-house at that time seemed to be:

  1. Find a generic house loop
  2. Add the “woo, yeah” loop from Lynn Collins’ “Think” speeded up to 125 bpm
  3. Rap over it

it’s dubious as to how much of an invention it was in the first place. The whole thing can’t have taken more than a short toilet break, and I don’t even mean the long toilet breaks you take at work when you get paid for them. The Beatmasters/Beat Masters themselves claimed to have invented hip-house in 1987 with their poorly-spelled Cookie Crew collaboration “Rok Da House”, but the likely truth is that both parties are probably talking out of their collective arses. It’s very difficult to draw a distinction between hip-house, electro, and just fast hip-hop and the lines are fairly blurred. Consider tracks like “20 Seconds to Comply” by Silver Bullet; it’s certainly a house tempo, but is that enough to make it hip-house? Or is it just fast hip-hop? That elusive nature is something that I’ve tried to illustrate on this playlist, from the stripped-down beats of “Let It Roll”, the soulful “Devotion” and the poptastic “Street Tuff” to the hardcore club tracks like “Let It Roll,” “Yo Yo Get Funky” and “Do It To The Crowd”.

You might get the impression from the tracks on this list that hip-house, in whatever format this is, is very much a 1989-1990 phenomenon. But I would argue that the genre is very much alive and kicking – we just don’t draw out the hip-hop distinction or use the “hip-house” label anymore. We might be pushed to label Faithless, for example, as hip-house even though many of their uptempo tracks feature Maxi Jazz rapping over a house beat, but tracks such as “212” by Azealia Banks conforms to the Tyree Cooper/Beatmasters blueprint as much as, if not more than, many of the tracks on this playlist.

If you’re interested in reading more about the formative days of hip-house, including some excellent insights from big names from the movement, I highly recommend this terrific article from Red Bull Music Academy – “Hip House: An Oral History”.

And it terms of putting together this playlist, that was also quite a challenge because a number of tracks that I wanted to use aren’t even on Spotify. Therefore, you get a bonus playlist this week with a whole bunch of extra hip-house tracks for your delectation via YouTube. Talk about first world problems.

Tracklisting

  1. “Turn Up The Bass Fast Eddie Scratch It Up Mix”) – Tyree Cooper featuring KRS-1 (1989)
  2. “Who’s In The House” – The Beatmasters featuring MC Merlin (1989)
  3. “Let It Roll (Vocal)” – Doug Lazy (1989)
  4. “Ill House You” – The Jungle Brothers (1988)
  5. “Yo Yo Get Funky (Original Radio mix)” – Fast Eddie (1988)
  6. “(I Wanna Give You) Devotion (Original radio mix)” – Nomad (1990)
  7. “Street Tuff (Robin Albers ‘The Indian’ Mix)” – Double Trouble and The Rebel MC (1989)
  8. “Do It The Crowd” – Twin Hype (1989)
  9. “Total Confusion” A Homeboy, A Hippie and & Funki Dredd (1990)
  10. “The Only Rhyme That Bites” – 808 State vs MC Tunes (1990)
  11. “Everybody(Rap Your Body)” – Wendell Williams (1990)

And your bonus video beats:

Tracklisting

  1. “Get Hip To This (Manic Mix)” – M.D.Emm featuring Nasih (1989)
  2. “Planet E (House Mix)” – KC Flightt (1989)
  3. “Blame It On The Bassline” – Beats International (1990)
  4. “Rok Da House” – The Beatmasters featuring The Cookie Crew (1987)
  5. “That’s How I’m Living” – Tony Scott (1989)
  6. “Get Busy” – Mr Lee (1989)
  7. “Rebel Music” – Rebel MC (1990)
  8. “The Party” –  Kraze (1988)
  9. “Heat It Up (Acid Mix)” – The Wee Papa Girl Rappers (1988)
  10. “A Bit of…” – Kiss AMC (1989)
  11. “Put Your Hands Together (The Brixton Bass Mix)” – D-Mob (1989)
  12. “Warrior” – MC Wildski (1990)
  13. “Mary Had A Little Boy” – Snap! (1990)
  14. “Ring My Bell” – Monie Love vs Adeva (1990)
  15. “I Like To Move It” – Reel 2 Real (1993)
  16. “The House That Cee Built” – Big Daddy Kane (1989)

One thought on “Who’s in the house? The origins of hip-house

  1. Pingback: A very fine state of mind – Rhythm King Records – These go to 11

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