20 | Wu-Tang Clan - "C.R.E.A.M." | Download |
Never has there been a wildly influential hip-hop song so soothing by a group so blunt as Wu-Tang's "C.R.E.A.M." That, my friends, is the genius of The RZA.
19 | N.W.A. - "Straight Outta Compton" | Download |
It wasn't just a gangsta rap anthem. It was also a vicious street classic that resonated with the frustrations of the young, black and persecuted in L.A.
18 | Geto Boys - "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me" | Download |
The brooding paranoia of "Mind Playing Tricks" served as a metaphor for the mental disillusionment that often accompanies inner-city angst. There's no way a song this dark should've made it into heavy rotation. But it did. That "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me" went on to become such a huge success has everything do with Scarface's surrealism, Bushwick Bill's suicidal mindset, and Willie D's stone cold flow. Geto Boys at their best.
17 | A Tribe Called Quest ft. Busta Rhymes - "Scenario" | Download |
A summer burner and a hip-hop essential, "Scenario" is a song for all ages. When Busta comes in with his contagious energy, it's sure to set any dance floor on fire.
16 | Jay-Z - "Dead Presidents II" | Download |
Jay Z spells out his lofty goals while kicking some of the illest lines he's ever rhymed.
15 | The Notorious B.I.G. - "Juicy" | Download |
"Juicy" is Biggie's most important song. Period. It has that rare moment of self-introspection. Biggie died three years later, but this song lives on in the through those who remember the days of The Source and Mr. Magic.
14 | Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg - "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" | Download |
Snoop and Dre drove this Cali anthem all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1993. This was the first single from The Chronic and it immediately established him as a supersonic force for decades to come.
13 | LL Cool J - "I Need Love" | Download |
This 1987 smash, often heralded as the first true hip-hop love song, is a reminder that Cool J has been pitching his love to the ladies for a minute.
12 | Boogie Down Productions - "My Philosophy" | Download |
The Teacha instructs his disciples to respect his fresh.
11 | 2Pac - "Keep Ya Head Up" | Download |
"Keep Ya Head Up" is arguably 2 Pac's best song ever. Over DJ Daryl's rendition of Zapp & Roger's "Be Alright," Shakur offers a message about staying ahead of the struggle and showing respect to all, regardless of gender.