1989: Young MC - Stone Cold Rhymin’

I can't believe this album is 20 years old already. It seems like yesterday that one of the worst offenses to parental authority was being sent to the principal's office (something that elicits no fear in this post-Columbine world), and busting a move provided more leeway for creative expression than smacking that 'til it gets sore. Mainstream hip-hop sure has grown up to be a sweaty old pervert. Granted, Young MC is still boastful, materialistic, and misogynistic, but there is a palpable innocence in his landmark record that we, as a society, lost somewhere along the way. And yet, no matter how far down the moral sewer civilization gets flushed, "Bust A Move" remains a staple at sporting events and aerobics classes worldwide to this day.

Of course, it's easy to attribute Stone Cold Rhymin's modest staying power to its contributors. The Dust Brothers found their pre-Beastie Boys groove with "Know How" alongside engineer Mario Caldato Junior (who was there for Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty). Stevie Wonder vocalist Crystal Blake added her soulful tones to three tracks, and Quincy Jones produced and mixed one more. Notably, Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist Flea lent his funky goodness to both of the record's charting singles, "Principal's Office" and the immortal "Bust A Move." Certainly, these collaborators influence cannot be understated. After all, emcees are often at the mercy of their producers, and Stone Cold Rhymin' was made before MPCs and digital technology put professional recording capabilities in the hands of Joe Everyman.

Young MC is the name on the cover, though, and there wouldn't have been any hits without his next-level flow. Born Marvin Young in England and raised in Queens, he had been rap battling since the age of 10, honing his skills at parties along the way. His songwriting talent would become evident not only with his own hits, but as the co-author of Tone Loc's only notable tracks "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Madina." He earned a bachelor's degree in economics before Stone Cold Rhymin' dropped, a fact he brags about and should be presented for the achievement it is, but might have been seen as shameful for a member of NWA.

It's not that Young's subject matter is brilliant or anything, but his delivery is bolstered by pristine diction; his metaphors are precise, and his messages are delivered bluntly and honestly. He was targeting an adolescent market, but he never seemed pandering, and although his Regan-speech turn on the anti-drug anthem "Just Say No" clearly tips his political cap -- ruining any chance he had for street cred --he was at the very least real to himself.

In honor of the album's 20th anniversary, Delicious Vinyl has created a deluxe edition with six bonus remixes. Impact's version of "Principal's Office" and the Matt Dike retread of "I Let 'Em Know" really shouldn't have bothered -- neither remix takes the original anywhere new. Even worse, the Aaron LaCrate and Debonair Samir take on "Know How" pushes the track to a banal house realm populated by one of the most annoying horn sounds in history. MEN (two-thirds of Le Tigre) at least turn "Got More Rhymes" into a slinky Indian electro slide that's almost worth the price of admission, while the Southern Comfort mix of "I Come Off" takes a much dirtier funk turn than the original. The main reason to invest in this version, however, is M.I.A./Big Dada producer Diplo's take on "Bust A Move," which includes pulsating bass, space synths, and an intensely punchy beat. If the original album isn't enough for you, these few remixes should put the whole affair over the top.

If there was ever any doubt, the Quincy-produced "Just Say No" established Stone Cold Rhymin' as a mainstream album in its day. This was not the music of the people, per say; it's club fodder made of tight rhymes, choice hooks, and superb production that seems dated because of its sounds, not its ideas. That is why "Bust A Move" won a Grammy over much more relevant singles like "Me, Myself, And I" by De La Soul and "Fight The Power" by Public Enemy. The handful of stellar remixes only cement the album's place in history. Make no mistake, this is essential hip-hop.

1. I Come Off
2. Principal's Office
3. Bust A Move
4. Non Stop
5. Fastest Rhyme
6. My Name Is Young
7. Know How
8. Roll With The Punches
9. I Let 'Em Know
10. Pick Up The Pace
11. Got More Rhymes
12. Stone Cold Buggin'
13. Just Say No
14. I Come Off (Southern Comfort Mix)
15. Principal's Office (Impact Rmx)
16. Bust A Move (Diplo Rmx)
17. Know How Theme (Aaron LaCrate & Debonair Samir Rmx)
18. I Let 'Em Know (Matt Dike Rmx)
19. Pick Up The Pace 1990
20. Got More Rhymes (MEN Rmx)


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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