Sam Wollaston looks back at the music that inspired his gangster youth in Dollis Hill
Sure, How Hip Hop Changed the World was a Channel 4 top 50 countdown show, clips'n'pundits (the correct term isn't actually clips'n'pundits, it's clips and something else that I'm not allowed to write). But as top 50 clips'n'pundits shows go, this one was about as good as it gets.
For one, the clips were pretty good: Public Enemy in all their military stuff; Outkast in their crazy stuff; a lot of girls around pools in very little stuff at all. And Kool Herc driving his badass convertible around the Bronx in the 1970s with his monster soundsystem in the back.
And then the pundits were pretty good too: Nas, Rakim, Snoop Dogg. Snoop was the best. "It felt so good and so confident to you ears, because it was actually what you were going through," he said. "You mighta not didn't go through getting shot at and the gangbanging, but just about the expression of being young and being challenging and dealing with life and having to make the choice of: am I going to do right, or am I going to do wrong?"
What's he talking about? G-funk, and Snoop Dogg himself, of course. Hey, Mr Dogg, how do you know I wasn't getting shot at up here in Dollis Hill, and gangbanging and all that? When I first heard Doggystyle I decided I was going to do wrong.
And MC-ing it all: Idris Elba, Stringer Bell himself. From a suitable urban rooftop. With attitude. But there was no mention of Gil Scott-Heron, which I thought was odd. How can you have Wham! in there, and Vanilla Ice, the dance troupe Diversity and the London Olympics logo, but not the Godfather of Rap?
But then these shows are about disagreement, and starting a debate. And it wasn't just about music, and musical influence; it was about a bigger picture ? how rap entered the mainstream, commercialism and language, and even politics. It was about how hip-hop changed the world. And it was fabulous.