Yo Quiero Actual Musicians

B-Sides talks to Alejandro Escovedo, explores hip-hop's essential albums

"Anyone who doesn't have this in their collection, their collection isn't complete. And I don't mean hip-hop collection; I mean music collection," says Tom Silverman, founder of pioneering hip-hop label Tommy Boy and the force behind this compilation, which began appearing late last year. (The final volumes are now in stores.)

Forget explaining hip-hop to aliens. Silverman is faced with a tougher job: trying to explain it to today's young fans, who think "old school" means Nas, Jay-Z and Snoop. Silverman says he undertook the project after becoming concerned that the media aren't doing much to keep the record straight about hip-hop's origins. "I'd been really worried, because I'd been going to these VH1 Hip-Hop Presents events," Silverman says. "And it seems to me that they're rewriting hip-hop history in a different way than how it happened."

Each album features a cross-section of releases, so you'll find, for example, a number-one smash like Tone-Loc's "Wild Thing" alongside an obscure old-school classic, such as Masterdon Committee's 1982 single "Funk Box Party." The series features rare photos from hip-hop's past, and the liner notes are penned by music's top chroniclers: authors Nelson George, Jeff Chang, Greg Tate and Brian Coleman. Coleman's introduction to volume five rejects clichés about the kinder, gentler hip-hop of the old days.

Alejandro Escovedo: Back and better than ever with The Boxing Mirror.
Jennifer Silverberg
Alejandro Escovedo: Back and better than ever with The Boxing Mirror.
Mario Viele and Maysam Attaran
Mario Viele and Maysam Attaran

"It's overdue," legendary DJ Red Alert says of the compilation. "If people would take time to listen to the hip-hop of the past, they'd see where hip-hop today comes from." — Dan LeRoy

St. Louis Scene Trading Cards
Name: Mario Viele and Maysam Attaran
Birthdates: October 24, 1982;
October 27, 1981
High School: Lafayette High School
Can Be Found: Running the record label Roadhouse Tunes. Maysam plays drums and Mario plays guitar for both the Sex Robots and the Pubes. The two also collaborated on the yet-to-be-released film Mulehorse!, which features music by local bands.
Career Highlights: Maysam is most proud of the newest Sex Robots record, while Mario cites touring with Bunnygrunt (one of his favorite bands) as the cherry on his sundae.
Fun Facts: Mario is a walking encyclopedia of Watergate factoids, while Maysam always wears sunglasses onstage to cope with his stage fright.

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