When Sex Pistols’ svengali Malcolm McLaren first heard hip-hop, he equated it to “the black punk rock,” which may account for the not-quite-racist-but-still-makes-you-feel-kinda-weird name for his first album. Duck Rock is, essentially, a hip-hop and world music mix-tape. McLaren’s actual, musical contributions to the album remain mostly unclear. As the mastermind behind Duck Rock (or, at least, the person who took credit for it), though, McLaren proved unnervingly prescient: “Double Dutch” and “Buffalo Gals” became major chart hits in the UK, signaling rap’s overseas commercial viability; the album forecasts pop music’s mid-80’s obsession with African sounds; the framing device of the World Famous Supreme Team’s radio show that weaves in and out of the album created a mold for both hip-hop album structures (like De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising and De La Soul Is Dead) and mix-tape influenced albums (like Sublime’s 40 Oz. To Freedom); Duck Rock’s open mind toward the sounds that could sound good together influenced luminaries like Timbaland (world music) and OutKast (the album ends with “Duck For The Oyster,” an actual hoe-down); plus, a handful of the studio musicians who worked on the album—including former Buggle Trevor Horn—took some of their between-song noodling and used it to kick-start The Art Of Noise. So McLaren had his finger on the pulse of a generation not once, but twice—first with punk rock, then with Duck Rock—which not only gives him a solid edge over Col. Tom Parker in a Celebrity Death Match, but gives us one of the most wide-reaching, genre-overhauling, anachronistic albums of 1983.
-Marty Brown, 2007