3 Titans: A Hip-Hop Ode To Knowledge And 'College'

3 Titans i i

In "College," the fifth-grade MCs in 3 Titans unleash a charmingly clever and upbeat jam. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist
3 Titans

In "College," the fifth-grade MCs in 3 Titans unleash a charmingly clever and upbeat jam.

courtesy of the artist

An all-time great piece of hip-hop cover art appears on the back of a 1987 album by Dominating MC's, Knowledge Bound. The trio appears in a school library, decked out in colorful, Olympics-inspired gear. One member inexplicably holds a large, corded phone to his ear — is he pretending to be rocking an early-generation cellie, or perhaps conferring with the principal about classroom size? It all comes off as goofy, yet earnestly endearing.

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "College"
  • Artist: 3 Titans
  • CD: 7"
  • Genre: Hip-Hop

That image of Dominating MC's springs to mind upon hearing 3 Titans rapping in the song "College": "C O double L E G E / College is no fantasy / C O double L E G E / For me, it will be reality." These fifth-grade MCs aren't exactly baby Jay-Zs, as far as flow is concerned, but there's charming cleverness to their ode to the importance of higher education. You'd have to have a cold, cynical heart not to be at least slightly moved by Khalil Jackson, Jorden Plaines and Dallas Ifill's optimism. After all, when was the last time you heard a hip-hop-flavored public service announcement that wasn't court-ordered?

Hailing from Brooklyn, 3 Titans' members are backed by the Menahan Street Band, which contains members of Antibalas and The Dap-Kings. Two years ago, MSB came to the public's attention when Jay-Z sampled its song "Make the Road by Walking" for his "Roc Boys" single; this time, it constructs a thunderous old-school track of hard drums, brawny basslines and blaring horn hits on the chorus.

Sure, a line like "I fix my tie / I fix my collar / I'll always work hard / because I'm an excellent scholar" lacks a certain sexy, dangerous panache. And don't misunderstand: Hip-hop should be broad enough to include plenty of rhyming about sex, drugs or violence. But after years of hearing rap herald the importance of street knowledge, this refreshing throwback reminds listeners that book knowledge is worth celebrating, too.

Listen to yesterday's Song of the Day, and subscribe to the Song of the Day newsletter.

Related NPR Stories

Web Resources



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.