For fifty weeks this year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Bruce Warren is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1988.
It’s 1988, and your Walkman collection of cassettes game is strong. You’re holding a new album by this a new Philly hip-hop duo, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, few new releases by The Jungle Brothers, Eric B & Rakim, and some new band called N.W.A. was about to make musical history. New Jack Swing was in full effect, and while you were bummed about Bobby Brown leaving New Edition, you’d wind up playing side one of his solo sophomore release, Bobby, over and over.
It seemed like college radio was the only place on the dial you were discovering new indie records like Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth, Bug by Dinosaur Jr., Jamboree by Beat Happening, and The Pixies. Two debuts came out in 1988 that couldn’t have been be more musically different, but had long lasting influence: Living Colour‘s Vivid, and Tracy Chapman‘s self-titled debut. Rap legends Public Enemy released It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and other albums that came out in 1988 that have stood the test of time included the debut from the supergroup Traveling Wilburys, Jane’s Addiction‘s Nothing’s Shocking and k.d. lang‘s Shadowland.
Other things we remember about 1988? A gallon of gas is about 90 cents. Movie tickets average $3.50 a flick. And while you were at the movies, chances are you caught Rain Man, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Big or Beetlejuice. On television, Miami Vice was still going strong, as St. Elsewhere was ending. In August of that year, Yo! MTV Raps debuted.
Below, have a listen to a sampling of 1988, along with a “bonus” playlist of some of the excellent hip-hop records that came out that year.