Jeff Chang on the "Wild Style" soundtrack (1983)

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The Album: Wild Style soundtrack(1983)

Wild Style began as a low budget but ambitious film project, centered around Zoro, a young graffiti writer swashbuckling his way through the style wars of early ‘80s New York. Directed by Charlie Ahearn and starring Lee Quinones as Zoro, Wild Style would become more of a quasi-documentary of hip-hop’s on its cusp from South Bronx street culture into the global phenomenon we know today. Filled with MC, graffiti, DJ and b-boy performances from a host of now legends, Wild Style would inadvertently spread the hip-hop gospel to a generation of youth around the world, enraptured with how it depictions of an explosive, impossibly colorful subculture that few had laid eyes on outside of the five boroughs. Its soundtrack, overseen by Fab Five Freddy and Blondie guitarist Chris Stein, was largely built off an exclusive disc of original breakbeats that became the sound bed for various live performance scenes throughout the movie. Electric, dynamic and fly as hell, the Wild Style soundtrack helped capture the sound of early hip-hop’s energy and flair from A to motherf—ng Z.

For a young Jeff Chang, growing up far away from the Bronx in Honolulu, Wild Style was like a secret cypher that he and his friends could pass around and decrypt. Long before the days of streaming video, if you didn’t catch a theatrical screening of this tiny, indie flick, you had to rely on nth generation bootleg dubs on VHS but as crappy as the images might have been, the inspiration was no less dimmed. This put Chang on the path to eventually become one of the most accomplished hip-hop critics in the formative ‘90s era, eventually culminating in his award winning Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (2005), which, among other things, digs deep into hip-hop’s earliest days preceding even the Wild Style era. He’s since followed that up with Who We Be: The Colorization of America (2014) and most recently, We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation (2016) which became the inspiration behind the digital video series of the same name which just debuted this year.

More on Jeff Chang

More on The Wild Style soundtrack

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Wild Style soundtrack unless indicated otherwise):

  • Stoop Rap
  • Stoop Rap - Film Version
  • Cuckoo Clocking
  • Military Cut
  • Nas: The Genesis
  • Stoop Rap
  • Gang Star: DJ Premier In Deep Concentration
  • Gangbusters
  • Common: Gettin' Down At The Amphitheater
  • MC Battle at the Dixie
  • A Tribe Called Quest: Sucka N****
  • Fantastic Freaks at the Dixie
  • Public Enemy: Raise the Roof
  • Wild Style Lesson
  • MC Battle at the Dixie
  • Down By Law
  • Grandmaster Flash: Flash it to the Beat (Live)
  • Lisa Lee Wild Style deleted scene
  • T's Limo Ride
  • Double Trouble at the Amphitheater
  • Basketball Throwdown
  • Gangbusters
  • South Bronx Subway Rap
  • Subway Theme

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find there If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

109 episodes