100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

What makes a great hip-hop song?

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3. Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force, "Planet Rock"

"One of the most influential songs of everything," says Rick Rubin. "It changed the world." Helmed by a reformed South Bronx gang member turned punk-mystic community leader/DJ, with help from superstar producers-in-the-making Arthur Baker and John Robie, this 1982 atom bomb interpolated parts of Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" and "Numbers," mating synth stabs with robotic MC chants ("Rock rock to the planet rock/Don't stop!") on a futurist jam that circled the globe. It introduced Roland 808 beats to hip-hop, for which acts from the Beasties to Kanye West would be grateful. Just as important, it coined the sonic language of electro, Detroit techno, freestyle R&B, Miami bass and Brazilian favela funk – in other words, much of modern dance music. "At the time, we barely considered it a rap record," adds Rubin. "It was more about a new sound." In the words of Chuck D of Public Enemy, "There hasn't been a song like it in hip-hop since."

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