By Gil Kaufman
It's practically the "Stairway to Heaven" of rap, so it's fitting that Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's 1982 landmark single, "The Message," was named the most influential hip-hop song of all time in the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine.
'"The Message' was a total knock out of the park," said Public Enemy leader Chuck D of the song that chronicled the grim realities of drugs, prison, prostitution and youth cut down in their prime in the South Bronx. "It was the first dominant rap group with the most dominant MC saying something that meant something."
The tune, with its classic refrain, "Don't push me, 'cause I'm close to the edge/I'm trying not to lose my head," topped a list that includes a host of songs from old school masters like Run-DMC, NWA, P.E. and the Sugarhill Gang, to new-ish school acts like 50 Cent ("#20, "In Da Club"), Eminem (#28, "Lose Yourself," #39, "My Name Is") and Kanye West (#32 "Jesus Walks").
The top 10 is almost all classics: Sugarhill Gang ("Rapper's Delight," #2), Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force ("Planet Rock," #3), Run-DMC ("Sucker MCs, "#4), Geto Boys ("Mind Playing Tricks on Me," #5), Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg ("Nothin' But a G Thang," #6), Public Enemy ("Fight the Power," #7), Notorious B.I.G. ("Juicy," #8), NWA ("Straight Outta Compton," #9) and Eric B. and Rakim ("Paid In Full, #10).
Other acts on the list include: Wu-Tang Clan (#11), Jay-Z (#16, #33), 2Pac (#18), Beastie Boys (#19), LL Cool J (#21, #29), Nas (#31), Outkast (#36, #50), Missy Elliott (#38) and Lauryn Hill (#45).
The full 50 is online now and also appears in the December 7 issue, which has four different covers featuring Eminem, Jay-Z, 2Pac and Biggie.