Download: The 79 Greatest Tunnel Bangers
Upon reflection, this deserves more than a drop quote and link. It's quite possibly the best thing I've read on the internet all year and to properly do it justice I've compiled all 79 (yes 79, several entries contain more than one song) tracks in one tagged and ordered album, nearly 6 hours of head knocking, boot stomping bliss. This isn't to say if you haven't checked the post out yet this is a shortcut, because the music alone robs you of all Ciph's great reminisces and little gems surrounding each entry. Think of this as a mobile companion. Complex's Countdowns had made up some of the year's best content before they dropped a compilation of the songs that powered New York Hip Hop's most vibrant and vital scene in the mid to late 90s, but this has a particularly special place in my heart.
Something reading Ciph's countdown helped me realize is just how important the Tunnel was, the de facto pulse of the New York for a short while. Funkmaster Flex, Hot 97s most prominent, influential DJ on the pre Clear Channel station that was the city's soundtrack, used the club as a testing ground for the records he would run back and drop bombs all over every Saturday night on air. Though I never made it to The Tunnel, it's no coincidence Ciph touched on some of my favorite deep album cuts here. It makes sense that albums as seemingly innocuous in retrospect as Ryde or Die Volume 1, We Are The Streets and Da Dirty 30 have such an exalted position in my heart and mind. It was practically force fed on those evenings riding home from the old Yankee Stadium or MSG.
This compilation could stand as the very last time New York was Hip Hop's focal point, the last time the important music produced here by its artists was regionally evocative and representative. Some will grimace at the shiny suit trappings, dismiss any list that Puff Daddy & the Family sit on top of and point to a Rawkus, Def Jux and late Wu-Tang featured round-up as the true sound of the late 90s. But if you want to know what New York was rocking to ten years ago, what was playing in the headphones of 16 year old kids, blasting out of car radios, and knocking in the clubs, this documents that time and place. My hope is you'll enjoy it as much as I do.