Every 20 years, it seems pop culture recycles itself. That means the 90’s are back y’all. Cue my childhood; grunge flannel shirts, ripped jeans, that Clueless movie, and the meteoric rise of rap.
During the 90’s, hip-hop, like an eager adolescent teen, up and left its home in the Bronx and spread its wings for the West and East Coasts. This sparked the infamous feud which took the lives of rap superstars Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.—a feud forever etched in the memory of music culture, illustrating both the glory and tragedy of hip-hop. But before their passing, ‘Pac and Biggie were making major club bangers, along with other great ‘90’s rappers. Check out the list below for my take on the Top 20 hottest hip-hop tracks during rap’s golden era, starting with 20-11. (Part 2 coming soon!)
20. Puff Daddy: “I’ll Be Missing You” (1997)
Here’s Puff Daddy’s most heartfelt ode to his lost friend, Biggie Smalls. The remix king created one of the best-selling singles of all time by sampling The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” and including Biggie’s former wife, Faith Evans, on this heavenly rap ballad. R.I.P.
19. Jay-Z: “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem): (1998)
Hova is the first rapper to use a Broadway musical, Annie, to paint a picture of broke-ass life in the inner city ghettos. Years later, he’s now a multi-millionaire producing the same musical, Annie, hip-hop style. He’s not a businessman, he’s a business, man.
18. Busta Rhymes: “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” (1997)
The song that officially introduced me to innovative hip-hop videos, complicated rap schemes, and neon glow paint. Life change.
17. Method Man ft. Mary J. Blige: “I’ll Be There For You / You’re All I Need To Get By” (1995)
Before Mary was the queen of hip-hop soul, she was just a passionate young’n pouring her heart out. And that she did all over Method Man’s slick love rhymes in this Grammy award-winning duet.
16. Missy Elliot “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” (1997)
A peerless MC and producer, Missy Misdemeanor brought the black trash bag suit and Hype Williams’ fish-eye video to hip-hop culture, along with her unpredictable rhymes.
15. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony: “Tha Crossroads” (1996)
First of all, gangsta rappers singing in sweet harmony was completely unheard of. Secondly, dedicating a song to the late Easy-E. gave the Cleveland quintet a Grammy award-winning classic. See you at the crossroads.
14. Juvenile: “Back That Azz Up” (1999)
Look Miley, THIS is how you twerk. We all dropped it like it was hot to this Southern rap hit. (It helped put Southern rap on the map). Yes that video was all kinds of ghetto, but it was so much fun! (Plus peep the Lil’ Wayne cameo.)
13. Snoop Dogg: “Gin & Juice” (1994)
One of Snoop Dogg’s biggest barks that introduced the world to West Coast rap. Laid back.
12. Salt-N-Pepa ft. En Vogue “Whatta Man” (1993)
The anthem for good men everywhere, these femcees saluted brothers doing it right! You so craaaazy, I think I wanna have yo baby!
11. Sir Mix-A-Lot: “Baby Got Back” (1992)
The anthem of black women everywhere, Sir Mix-A-Lot glorified the big booty in a way that made it a beauty staple. Controversial upon its release, however, “Baby” was briefly banned by MTV (Sir Mix-A-Lot was standing on a ginormous buttock after all!). But it went on to become the # 2 top-selling song of the year behind Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”.
We ain’t done yet. Tune in soon to see the top ten hottest hip-hop songs of the ‘90’s!