Top 100 Album Review: #60 – Greatest Hits, Sly and the Family Stone (1970)

Every Rap Artists’ Favorite Sample.

I used to like rap until I realized their contribution is so shockingly little. Bands like Sly deserve all the credit. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #60/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

Rap music is a sham — a few lyrics over hooks, lines, and beats from the actually great musicians of the 60s and 70s. It doesn’t deserve the accolades it receives. I realize everything is inspired by what came before in the long lineage of artistic output. The difference with hip-hop/rap is that there is no attempt to build on that inspiration; it’s blatant theft that’s out in the open for all to see.

Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise is really Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise. Warren G’s I Want it All is really Debarge’s I Like It. Cardi B’s I Like It is really an old-time hit from Rodriguez’s I Like it Like That. Let’s be honest about the format: producers pay a price for a sample because it’s cheaper and easier than actually going through the artistic process. Then, they introduce the song to audiences young enough they don’t know the song is an imitation. This slight of hand perpetuates the fake talent of the artist.

If you add up all the samples used from songs from The Greatest Hits by Sly and the Family Stone, it totals to 697. So much for the trailblazing Dr. Dre, Tupac, Digital Underground, Biggie, Jungle Brothers, or anybody else you can think from the rap industry.

It’s time to give the true artists of creation credit: welcome to one of the best albums of all-time by Sly and the Family Stone!

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[OVERVIEW]

There was a gap in material from Sly and The Family Stone (no new stuff from 1969-1971), so producers decided to create a greatest hits album to keep their branding alive and make some money. They accidentally ended up making one of the best Greatest Hits albums of all-time. After this, the band would release There’s a Riot Goin’ On in late 1971 where Sly was consumed with doubt and PCP. Things would never be the same.

[TRACKLISTING]

  1. I Want To Take You Higher 5:22
  2. Everybody Is A Star 3:00
  3. Stand! 3:08
  4. Life 2:58
  5. Fun 2:20
  6. You Can Make It If You Try 3:39
  7. Dance To The Music 2:58
  8. Everyday People 2:20
  9. Hot Fun In The Summertime 2:37
  10. M’lady 2:44
  11. Sing A Simple Song 4:47
  12. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) 3:55

*All songs written by Sly Stone.

[BEST TRACK: Dance to the Music]

This is hands down the best song. It’s a bit out of control, weird, and completely addicting.

I’m gonna add some bottom
So that the dancers just won’t hide
You might like to hear my organ
I said him, “Ride Sally ride now”

Oh, and it’s used for the hook from this Queen Latifah song:

[BEST SONG FOR DIVERSITY: Everyday People]

Capturing the open arms of the 60s, Everyday People makes a strong case that we are all in this together.

Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in
I am everyday people, yeah yeah

Oh, and it is the complete basis for an Arrested Development song called People Everyday. By changing the order of the words from Everyday People to People Everyday, they would contribute much to the music industry:

[BEST PERSONAL THEME SONG: Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)]

Driving around in my ’94 Jeep and Ray Bands, this was a personal favorite one to blast to celebrate staying true to yourself in the early 2000s (I was probably an asshole back then).

Youth and truth are makin’ love
Dig it for a starter
Dyin’ young is hard to take
Sellin’ out is harder

Oh, and it’s the backbone for this song by Janet Jackson:

[CONCLUSION]

Every time someone samples this album, they should be forced to put it on the album cover.

Other People’s Takes:

  • Derek’s Music Blog: Sly and The Family Stone’s first Greatest Hits album went on to sell five million copies, and was certified platinum five times over.”
  • Humanizing the Vacuum: “An essential catalog item; anyone with parents who came of age between 1965 and 1975 owned this record. I rank it thanks to to its sequencing and its three unimpeachable new songs: the best in pop music until Stevie Wonder’s 1982 double album comp.”
  • A Sound Day:However, through their brief creative heyday, Sly and the Family Stone opened the eyes and ears of many as to the futility of breaking music – or people- into various different, separate categories never to be mixed.”

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

6 thoughts on “Top 100 Album Review: #60 – Greatest Hits, Sly and the Family Stone (1970)”

  1. Loath as I am to disparage a person who linked to me as a source, I have to tell you that what you said about hip-hop is wrong — grotesquely, hideously wrong — and ignores a history of interpolation and sampling that has been a staple of 20th century art kicked off by Eliot and Picasso. The sampler and the turntable are as much instruments as the piano and the guitar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey There: No offense taken! But, I’ve heard this argument before, and I tried to make homage to it with the line: “I realize everything is inspired by what came before in the long lineage of artistic output.” I think there is a qualitative difference between what hip hop does and other forms of sampling though. This is not “sampling” in many cases — it’s the entire song! It’s like doing a cover but trying to say it was your work because you changed some lyrics.

      I was in awe of hip-hop when I was younger, but what I liked about it was their snazzy hooks…that I found weren’t theirs. Not only was it not theirs, it was a full and complete copies with little effort to try and add some veneer of originality (Let’s speed up Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” for Kanye’s “Through the Wire”). I will admit early and alternative forms at least added several different samples together (A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul) where there was at least some effort to create something wholly new with a combination of disparaging parts, but this is rare in in the form of rap where it’s just a complete swipe from one song.

      Listen to Big Poppa after Between the Sheets. It’s not a “sample;” it’s the main driving force behind the entire song which if Biggie couldn’t use, there would be nothing to talk about.

      Like

    2. ‘The sampler and the turntable are as much instruments as the piano and the guitar’ – I’m having a tough time with this statement, unless you mean ‘instruments’ in the broadest sense of the word, then I might agree.

      Like

  2. A nice time to remember how subjective music can be. One man’s trash is another man treasure and all that…I’ve never enjoyed listening to a single rap track but other’s seem to enjoy it just fine.

    Liked by 1 person

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