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New videos from Truth By Design, The Doppelgangaz and Masta Ace... Continue>

Beat Street Breakdown

Artist: Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five

Year: 1984

By Andrew Kay | 02 April 2010

1984, at the height of the media love affair with the relatively new art form known as hip-hop and rap-two films competed for authenticity and their place in hip-hop lore. "Breakin'" made by the Cannon Film company and set in Los Angeles, featured Kraftwerk's 'Tour De France" and Ice T's wicked 'Reckless' with aspiring rapper Turbo dancing with a broom.

The second, "Beat Street", set in New York, featured music by Melle Mel, The Treacherous Three' and Arthur Baker's 'Breakers Revenge'

There was no contest: 'Beat Street' won hands down, especially with the battle scene in the Roxy nightclub, (with a young Crazy Legs) the uprocking in the subway station and the real grit and atmosphere conjured up by New York City in the Winter, even if the cinema version was cut to reduce the salty dialogue (reinstated for the video/dvd version).

From the 'Beat Street' soundtrack, we bring you 'Beat Street Breakdown,' a mixture of conscious lyrics- which Melle Mel had started on his ground-breaking song 'White Lines'- and as a tribute to the fictional Latino graffiti artist in the film, Ramon (Jon Chardiet), who ends up getting killed on the deadly third rail by some over-zealous cops. The production on the song features the kind of chunky baselines favoured by many at the time. Melle Mel liked to wear outlandish costumes and this video was no exception. Also, check the lyrics- unfortunately, not much has changed since this track came out. Even the Bronx hasn't seen much social investment in the last 25 years.

The video looks authentic, opening, as it does, with scenes of the New York Subway and the savage poverty that plagued the Bronx in the early 80s, thanks to Reganomics.

'Beat Street Breakdown' and the movie 'Beat Street' are still loved and cherished by those who've always embraced real hip-hop.

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