EWA100 - #28. Boogie Down Productions - The Bridge is Over

#28: Boogie Down Productions - The Bridge Is Over (B-Boy. 1987. From the LP Criminal Minded)

Mike Dikk: In order to relate to all you nerds out there, I will use a nerd comparison here. That piano bit in “The Bridge is Over” is just like Darth Vader’s Imperial Death March. Once you hear it, you know it’s on. It’s a simple melody ingrained into every aging hip hoppers head, more classic than Shell Toe Adidas and Gazelles.
I’m not so sure that this song translates well to the younger generation. The song’s subject is about a rap beef people stopped caring about a long time ago and KRS uses that faux Jamaican patois flow that isn’t at all new or fresh anymore. At the same time, I feel all the best stuff is usually something that involves a good idea, but also revolves around a simple approach. I mean, I mainly don’t care about hip hop made before 1988, and this song enters slightly below my imaginary cutoff date, but I don’t like most of the other stuff because it’s all kinds of corny.
Let me bust it for you. There have been around ten billion video games made over the last five hundred years. Personally, I prefer things like Madden and lately I’ve been addicted to MLB: The Show 07, along with some Marvel Superheroes game where you do all kinds of wacky shit and have to solve clues and press multiple button combinations in order to shoot lightning from your face. Now I’m sure there are a ton of other people out there that find those games fun, but you could take all of those people and let them have babies with each other for 50 years until all the babies of the babies became horrendous freaks of incest with fingers growing out of their eye sockets and tongues for toes, and that still wouldn’t add up to the amount of people who’ve played and enjoyed Tetris or Pac-Man
Both aren’t my favorite games by far, but you can’t knock their hustle. There is no one out there who can’t have a good time playing Tetris, which is a game where you fit blocks together in a uniform pattern, so that makes it almost a derivative of those Shape-In-Hole tests you give to two year olds to make sure they aren’t retarded (yet). Pac-Man is a game that takes place in a simple maze, and your only real objective is to not get eaten by a ghost. Again, real simple shit.
I don’t want to get off track too far here, but my point is, if simple shit is done right, it’s going to outlast complicated flashy shit every time. There are a few other songs on this list that fall into that category but we haven’t gotten to them and I don’t want to blow my load. There is nothing complicated going on in “The Bridge is Over”. The drum pattern is: KICK KICK SNARE/SNARE KICK SNARE, with hardly any changes. I don’t know how to play the piano, but I don’t imagine it would take me too long to learn that melody. Still though, this song sounds as good as it did the day I first heard it. “The Bridge is Over” is the difference between “Classic” and “Dated”. While most of the stuff from that time period sounds dated, this song is a classic. I doubt that was intentional, since this song was initially used as a cheap attention getter, but that’s how it turned out in the end.

Raven Mack: First time my little country boy ass went to the big city of New York was in 1988 (I was fifteen, for the record), and this tape had been in constant rotation amongst my circle of young upwardly mobile drug-dabbling delinquents by that point. The one thing I remember riding into NYC on the charter bus my public school locked down for the trip was that the scenery - all the crazy clustered chaos that a large congestion of humanity like New York City will deliver - it looked like Criminal Minded sounded. Seriously. Maybe I was a chump ass kid thinking that, and I didn't really tell anybody else I thought that because being a music faggot who thought up stupid shit like that was not necessarily, nor should it ever be, something to be proud of and share, except on the anonymous internet. That field trip we stayed at the YMCA (small southern town public school class for sure) and I remember me and this other dude sneaking off on the last day to blow all our money on bongs and swords in Times Square to smuggle back to Farmville, VA, to sell at a nice mark-up, and some dude actually called us aside to try and sell us crack. (My folks gave me $300 for the trip, which at the time I didn't think much of, but knowing my family and the times, that was probably their life savings, and I came back with no money left, not telling them about the bongs and swords, which I sold and pocketed the money, although I think I eventually gave my dad one of the bongs a year or two later.)
And no matter how weird hip hop music gets, it is something that was born in New York. I am not from New York, nor do I even attempt to speak for it. Shit, I'd prefer to never go back again, because even though most anything awesome you can think of is going on somewhere in NYC, at the same time the most fucked up shit imagineable is going on there too - dudes having Barbie dolls pulled from their ass to simulate birth in S&M clubs and shit. But when you hear a pure New York song like "The Bridge Is Over", there is no denying it's hip hopness. No denying it. And right now, everybody's on this "the south sucks" kick, which it does, but it's pop rap and pop rap has always sucked. But instead of having actual roots-oriented hip hop coming out, dudes are throwing "the New NYC Anthem" bullshit songs at the wall hoping it sticks so they can be the savior of NYC. And all of it sucks. Because it's not New York (again, I'm speaking out my ass here).
I remember reading some shit a year or two back where someone was talking about how Dipset sounded like New York City, perfectly encapsulating the vibe, and all that did was make me think I was glad I had gone to NYC back in '88 and not in '05 or whatever. I had heard things had been cleaned up and Disneyfied sterilized homogenized, but if Dipset sounded like New York City looked... fuck, I can probably do without.
The great thing about this song, too, is the Hip Hop Lives CD that came out this year, where Marley Marl and KRS came together for a nice trip down nostalgia lane, and there was mention of how this beef was allowed to happen, which created KRS's career. But at the same time, this shit really just made MC Shan obsolete. Not eventually, but immediately. And I guess if KRS gets Shan onto a Sprite commercial in the mid-'90s and then there's mention of him again nowadays, it's all good, but seriously, he destroyed Shan.
Also, as a final note of internet rap nerd dorkery, I'll just tell you, the tape this comes off of is probably, to me, the greatest pure hip hop record that was ever made. I have never dorked out and doodled on scrap paper my penultimate list of the Ten Must-Have Desert Island Hip Hop Records and not had this drawn in on the first draft.

Download: BDP - The Bridge is Over

I never knew this had a "real" music video. Here it is, and it looks to be around 400 years old: