When Biggie Smalls rapped “Grab your dick if you love hip-hop,” you best believe a bunch of hands went to a bunch of crotches. And to this day, when Joan Jett belts out “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”, she knows damn well she’s not alone in digging the sweet, sweet racket made with guitar, bass, and drums. That’s because rap and rock are well entrenched in popular culture. You can’t imagine life without them. But not all genres have that kind of widespread appeal. One man’s earworm is another’s power drill to the brain, and that’s the idea behind this celebration of divisive musical genres.
Had the Notorious BIG urged fans to clasp their wangs if they dug British rap, he’d have gotten some confused stares. That’s partially because he died in 1997, before blokes like Dizzee Rascal and the Streets put U.K. hip-hop on the map. But even if those inroads had been made, Biggie’s fans probably wouldn’t have been along for the ride. Dizzee’s 2003 debut, Boy in Da Corner, is actually pretty great, and the Streets’ Original Pirate Material is even better, but yanks used to hearing rhymes spit in American English will always struggle with foreign accents. Even Brits from the projects can sound posh to stateside ears, and the abundance of confusing sub-sub-genres — grime, bassline, 2-step, garage, etc. — make this an even tougher sell.