The Third Unheard: Connecticut Hip Hop 1979-1983
Stones Throw Records
Much like how the Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan inspired suburban youth to pick up guitars and start garage bands, the first rap singles got many urban youth scribbling in notebooks and rapping. If there was a rap equivalent of ’60s garage rock, it’s probably the music contained on The Third Unheard. Documenting the Connecticut hip-hop scene in the years before Run DMC, Stones Throw’s new collection shows that for every Sugarhill Gang, there were probably half a dozen other crews formed around the country that, for whatever reason, never hit it big.
Just because most people have never heard of The Outlaw Four or The Chillie 3 MCs doesn’t mean this compilation contains second-rate material. Sure, these shoestring budget recordings are a little rough around the edges, but the music is every bit the equal of better known old school artists. There’s lots of “hot butter on popcorn” and “rockin’ in stereo” lyrics, but Connecticut also had its own spin on hip-hop. How often does one hear a kazoo solo on a rap record? And I’m sure there aren’t too many rapping ventriloquists out there.
Recorded hip-hop was still in its infancy and you have to give Tony Pearson, aka Mr. Magic, credit for having the vision to commit these artists to wax. Kazoos and “Woody” (the ventriloquist’s dummy) may elicit a snicker, but they’re all part of the charm of these pioneering recordings. Rest assured this isn’t novelty music and The Third Unheard sheds much needed light on the early hip-hop scene outside of New York.