Well, we’ve made it to the Top 20. This is where things got really difficult for me. I mean, each of these could easily be in anyone’s Top 10. Each one is a classic, in it’s own right, and you won’t be disappointed.
20. De La Soul | “Me, Myself And I”
3 Feet High and Rising is such a treasured hip hop album. The lead single, “Me, Myself And I,” became a huge hit in 1989 and kicked off a long tenure of success for De La Soul. When I was a kid, my cousin was 4 years older than me and played it ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME. I loved it as a child, and even have it as my ringtone today.
19. Geto Boys | “Still”
The Houston boys showed LA and NYC what Houston gangsta life was like, and it was HARDCORE. This song is intense as hell. Like many, I was introduced to Geto Boys’ “Still” through the movie Office Space. One day in early 1999, my little brother and I convinced our grandmother to spring us from school and take us to see Office Space in theaters. Needless to say, mom wasn’t happy when I kept singing “Back up in your ass with the resurrection” while I beat up our printer.
18. Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg | “Still D.R.E.”
Dr. Dre’s epic come back, and he was kinda pissed people forgot about him. With his sidekick, Snoop, this was a trunk-banging return to glory, if only for a year or two. Cuz we’re still waiting on his follow-up to Chronic 2001, Detox, to drop (it never will). Side note: Did you know this was co-written by Jay-Z?
17. Jay-Z feat. UGK | “Big Pimpin'”
Jay-Z may have faltered the last few years, but “Big Pimpin'” was Jigga in his PRIME… and he wasn’t even the best part of this track. H-town heroes Pimp C and Bun B take this summer jam and utterly slaughter it. The two UGK verses are arguably some of the greatest hip hop verses of all time. If you didn’t know about them Texas boys, you sure as hell did after this.
16. Notorious B.I.G. feat. Puff Daddy & Mase | “Mo Money, Mo Problems”
Released after Biggie’s death, “Mo Money, Mo Problems” was a proper send off for Big Poppa. It has Ma$e at the top of his game, a perfect Biggie verse, Kelly Price singing the hook, and Puffy even managed to not be terrible. And it featured a fantastic sample of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out.” The video, as ridiculous as it may have been, was a testament to how larger-than-life Notorious really was, and how many people were going to miss him.
15. Nelly | “Country Grammar (Hot Shit)”
It seems kind of messed up to take a children’s hand-clap game and turn it into a hook about a drive-by, but nobody seemed to care. “Country Grammar,” and Nelly, were inescapable from the years 2000-2003, and this kicked it all off. From Nelly’s slick flows to the kicking bass drum, this song is still spinning at the clubs.
14. Juvenile feat. Mannie Fresh & Lil’ Wayne | “Back That Azz Up”
If conservative white folks thought Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” was offensive, Juve and the Cash Money crew must have put them into cardiac arrest. “Back That Azz Up” showed me how to appreciate a good booty, and how I should spray water all over it. This was also Lil’ Wayne’s introduction to the world, at the ripe old age of 16, coining the “drop it like it’s hot” phrase that will NEVER GO AWAY… and we can never forgive Juvenile for that.
13. T.I. | “Rubber Band Man”
Man, young T.I., how I’ve missed you. His slow flow and David Banner’s thumping and clapping production was nothing short of glorious. Trap Muzik put T.I. up there with Atlanta legends like Outkast, and “Rubber Band Man” is easily one of the top hip hop tracks to come out of Atlanta.
12. Atmosphere | “Guns & Cigarettes”
Unlike 90% of this list, Atmosphere have never had much time on the charts, but the fact that they are still so well-known warrants them infinite respect. The reason I chose “Guns & Cigarettes” is Slug’s second verse. Never I have seen someone throw out more brutal lines at an ex-girlfriend. I mean, that shit would shake someone down to their core. Here’s a taste: “A few years ago an ex-girl of mine asked me to keep her name out of my rhymes//So I said this rhyme that I’m about to say, it came from the heart and it went this way: Go to hell girl, you make me sick! I hope your new boyfriend gets cancer in his dick//What the fuck makes you think I’d put your name on my record?//Yeah, now I feel a lot better”
Dude. That is HATEFUL.
11. Eazy-E | “Boyz-N-The-Hood (Remix)”
In hindsight, Eazy must have felt like an idiot for trying to turn this song down. I mean, Ice Cube writes one of the greatest hip hop songs ever, and you say “Nah.” The remix is definitely my favorite version, perhaps due to rock group Dynamite Hack doing a hilarious cover in 2000.