bling

Opinion
By James Pavel

20. Luniz – I got 5 on it

If you didn’t blaze at least one blunt in the 90s to this track, your life may be void of meaning. This track doesn’t disguise that it’s about drugs (see 2015’s ‘I can’t Feel my Face’), instead it celebrates its loyalty to joint rolling and hot-boxing, fresh with a chorus that sounds straight out of the late, great Nate Dogg’s stable.

19. Warren G feat. Nate Dogg – Nobody Does it Better

Nate wasn’t lying. Nobody crushed a hook like him and nobody has since. He was the West Coast maestro, the one who turned a couple sizzling bars into an instant classic. Warren G, Dr. Dre’s cousin (fun fact), brings his A-game and we catch Warren at his finest, singing about how everyone should be proud of their silver medals when they’re looking up at him on the hip-hop podium.

18. Outkast – Rosa Parks

Country music meets rap music, Humans meet ATliens and the world meets Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Two of music’s most eclectic characters dropped one of the funkiest rap tracks of the decade, a trend that continued right up until the 2000s where their career climaxed with a Grammy victory for album of the year. Andre 3000 is now maybe the most overhyped entertainer on the planet and Big Boi maybe the most underrated rapper in the game spitting solo, but we’ll never forget the hot sauce they spilled back in the decade where our greatest fear was computers tripping over a 0 being added to its date calculation.

17. Skee-Lo – I Wish

This track came out after the film Aladdin and when making three wishes to a giant blue man that sounded like Robin Williams was all the rage. Skee-Lo was refreshing because unlike other rappers, he rapped about what he did NOT have. Skee-Lo is self-depreciating and self-aware, two qualities that generally don’t see the light of day in the world of hip-hop.

16. House of Pain – Jump Around

Getting’ white boy drunk is a relatively new saying, but it should have erupted in 1992. These drunken Irishmen threw a party so boisterous that it has people jumping at football stadiums, pubs and weddings to this day. It temporarily turned rap into a mosh pit, but at its core is most definitely a hip-hop banger for the ages.

15. Craig Mack – Flava in Your Ear Remix

Bad Boy Records never sounded so unified. It features Big Daddy Kane’s 80s rhyme play escorted to the future, where Biggie and Mack drop lyrical mind tricks over and over again with LL Cool J helping on the remix with non-sexual lyrics for a change and Busta Rhymes sounding fresh out of the insane asylum.

14.  Master P – Gangsters Need Love too

P loved to squeeze all his signature grunts and yelps into each track, a tactic mimicked by today’s rappers such as Young Jeezy and even Kanye. P was, for a notable period, the wealthiest hip-hop producer on the planet. His label No Limit pumped out albums by Silk da Shocker, Mystikal and even Snoop Dogg, but the greatest album ever produced by the No Limit Soldiers was by P himself. “Ghetto D” is not west coast or east coast, it’s just a common-ground classic.

13. Lil Troy – I Wanna be a Baller

White people have never been so confused by hip-hop lingo when it comes to the term “Baller.” We assume rappers mean playing basketball, despite zero references to free throw shooting or slam dunks. “Ballin” of course means throwing American benjamins in the air, rolling in drop top convertibles, and drinking expensive alcohol that still tastes disgusting. We all want to be ballers, and Lil Troy provides the anthem.

12. LL Cool J – Doin’ it

Rap’s biggest pervert was the mastermind behind some of rap’s dirtiest tracks and made listening to rap more than just a boys club. Women dug LL, as he will remind you in every track, but this one had just enough testosterone to make dudes bob their head to. Based on this track alone, LL is the king of dirty talk and probably takes sexting to a disgusting new level.

11. Mobb Deep – Shook Ones part. II

The Mobb never achieved the glory and success they dreamed of, but what they did do was create one of the hottest rap songs of the 90s. M.O.B.B. was more than just a punch line in a Jay-Z diss track (The Takeover), as proven by the film 8 Mile when Rabbit’s go-to freestyle beat is this instrumental. It’s a stupidly sick beat that Havoc and Prodigy augment with grimy, back alley vernacular that shakes the booties off half-way crooks right across the country.

 

10.  Coolio – Gangster’s Paradise

 Despite his ridiculous haircut, Coolio dropped some serious material in the 90s. The song served as the perfect appetizer for the feature film, Dangerous Minds, executing one of those perfect maneuvers where both song and movie achieve success.

9. Snoop Dogg – Gin & Juice

‘Gin and Juice’ is the defining backyard boogie that horrifies parents with real-life tales of what actually happens when Mom and Dad leave their teenager home alone so they can visit Aunty Betty for the weekend.  Pockets full of rubbers, enough booze to send a choir of students to the emergency room, and enough green in the air to decorate a St. Patrick’s Day parade and it all started with a little endo and a few sips of gin and juice.

8. Jay-Z – Dead Presidents II

It’s the hardest version of Jay-Hova, and therefore the realest version. He snags a sample off his future rival Nasty Nas and as he spits in his eventual diss, Nas made it a hot line, but Hova made it a hot song. It is how every submission in the early 90s coming out of New York tried to sound, except nobody nailed the exam like Jay.

7. Westside Connection – The Gangsta, the Killa and the Dope Dealer

 This song serves as the pinnacle of gangster rap. Not even in N.W.A was Ice Cube this menacing. Someone didn’t just piss in his corn flakes, there’s a full-on cowpie floating around in there, and he’s not happy about it. Normally co-conspirators signal the time to switch songs, but WC and Mac 10 do more than just hold their own with the Don Mega. This song samples Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” but they take the pain down Crenshaw Boulevard instead of a downward spiral via Trent Reznor.

6. Puff Daddy – I’ll be Missing you

 The best hip-hop sample ever? Probably. Puffy takes the Police’s creepy, stalker-tale and turns into a timeless dedication to the memory of Notorious BIG. Say what you will about Bad Boy Records, but they sure did a lot more for the memory of Big Poppa than Death Row ever did for their fallen soldier, Tupac Shakur. From a career standpoint, the track launched Puffy from Biggie’s hype man to a respected solo artist and eventual Grammy winner. This song is now synonymous with Biggie’s death and remains a staple of mourning.

 5. Nas – If I Ruled the World

 Nasty recruits pre-crazy Lauryn Hill and makes people remember what important rap sounds like. No one spits intellect like Nas and not many of his tracks arrive as crystal clear as the message in Rule the World.

4. Bone Thugs n’ Harmony – Crossroads

Eazy-E’s Clevland diciples pay him the ultimate tribute by having their greatest track serve as a toast to his legacy along with other precious, fallen loved ones. Bone went on to have an illustrious hip-hop career, but this track remains their cornerstone to this day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMYAEHE2GrM

3. Notorious B.I.G – Hypnotize

This song could be “Big Poppa,” or “Juicy” but it’s the music video that separates this track as Biggie’s all-time greatest. Remember, there was no YouTube, Netflix, Snapchat, Facebook etc., in the 90s; It was MTV and MuchMusic. So when a video dropped, the whole world paid attention. And no video was cooler (the 90s term for sick) than “Hypnotize.” Diddy was still Puffy and had more swagger than Kanye West and Jay-Z partyin’ at the Grammys. Plus, there’s mermaids. Hot mermaids.

2. Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg – Ain’t nothin’ but a G thang

It’s the best back-and forth in rap history. Pass the hot potato has never been so fun, as both spit delicious, west-coast venom, and pave two roads that lead to hip-hop royalty and millions upon millions of records sold.

1. Tupac Shakur – Live and Die in L.A.

Tupac Shakur was the white Kurt Cobain of the 90s in terms of how he defined it, lived it and died in it. Nobody rapped harder, nobody repped harder and nobody has been missed more than rap’s ultimate poster boy. The track has a funky, floating in the Venice Beach waves which brilliantly juxtaposes the lyrics and Tupac’s life as a whole. The world’s worst kept secret is that we all dream of living in California and nobody exploited that cover-up better than the dude with Thug life tatted across his belly. “Every n**** in L.A. got a little bit of thug in em” was such a genius way of making every wannabe wankster believe that Tupac revered them in some twisted California brotherly manner. Most importantly, Tupac was not just a rapper for black people but for everybody because of his poignant poetry, his ability to point out social injustices and all accomplished with such unmatched thug passion that he remains the greatest rapper to have ever grabbed a microphone.

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