MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Top 20 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs From the 1990s (Part 2)

And we’re back.  Recently, we started our Top 20 countdown of hottest hip-hop jams of the ‘90’s.  With the likes of The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Coolio, M.C. Hammer and Lauryn Hill leading the way, the decade produced hit after hit – laying the foundation for a now international culture.  Both urban and suburban America hitched their rides to the meteoric rise of rap.

We finished with Number 11 last week; let’s finish the countdown with Numbers 10-1.


10. Lil Kim: “Crush On You” (1997)

The colors! The wigs! The choreo! The Aaliyah cameo!  Brightest classic from the Queen of Hardcore Rap.


9. Eminem: “My Name Is” (1999)

And then there was Slim Shady.  Conservative White America = officially terrified.


8. Will Smith (The Fresh Prince) & DJ Jazzy Jeff: “Summertime”

Will Smith was once just a charming family friendly rapper on one of the most popular TV shows of the decade, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  Now he is the biggest superstar on the planet.  But this jam about maxing, relaxing and enjoying the summer was pure kiddie Will, and it became a Grammy-winning classic.


7. The Notorious B.I.G ft. Puff Daddy & Mase: “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” (1996)

Most quoted money line ever? Check.  And it introduced the world to Puff Daddy’s shiny-suit-era.


6. M.C. Hammer: “U  Can’t Touch This” (1990)

Probably one of the most quoted lines in music history, MC Hammer (and his hammer pants) was a cross-over smash for multiple generations.  Even my dad was dancing in the living room like, “STOP! Hammertime!”


5. Tupac “California Love” (1995)

Just the image of ‘Pac racing across the sands like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in this epic video was a big win for Cali in the East Coast / West Coast rivalry.


4. Coolio: “Gangsta’s Paradise” (1995)

BOO!! The year was 1995, and a crazy-haired rapper put White America on blast as to what it was really like in the inner city.  The insightful haunting gangsta tale became a theme song for Dangerous Minds and won a Grammy.  Finally, every suburban kid had a way into the ghetto.


3. The Notorious B.I.G.: “Juicy”(1994)

It was all a dream for Biggie and Puff Daddy, but that dream became one incredible legend.


2. Lauryn Hill: “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” (1998)

Knocking it out the park with wicked rap skills and a throw-back ‘60’s retro feel, L.Boogie’s cautionary tale won her two Grammys.


1. Tupac: “Changes”  (1998)

The heart and soul of a concrete rose shot down in his prime.  Changes showcased ‘Pac’s political stance against an American society still quagmired in systemized racism against blacks.  Reverse-prophetic line?  “And although it seems heaven sent, we ain’t ready to see a black President.”  Wish ‘Pac were alive today.

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About the Author


Mic check 1,2,1,2. Not the words you expect to bust out of Orange County, California, but that's where Deborah Jane found her funk. Daughter of Guyanese immigrants, Deborah grew up in an all-white suburb where she was one of the only black kids in her school. (Fun fact: She didn't make her first black friend until attending Stanford University). Hip-hop gave her a voice and helped her discover her roots. Now she is an emcee and writer who both spits raps and writes editorials, TV shows and films - especially hip-hop musicals!

At Stanford, she wrote and produced an award-winning hip-hop musical, Strange Fruit: The Hip-Hopera (www.strangefruithiphopera.com) - now in development as a feature film. Deborah also launched her hip-hip theatre webseries, The HOTT (www.youtube.com/TheHOTTtv), published in Urban Cusp Magazine. Currently, she is penning her first hip-hop album, Do You Love Me Deborah Jane? And do you? She truly hopes you all love her.

Posted in: Featured, Hip Hop Music


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