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 blacks 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 that dark and disturbing should've made it into heavy rotation. That it became such a huge success has as much to do with Scarface's surrealism as Bushwick Bill's suicidal mindset.
17 | A Tribe Called Quest ft. Busta Rhymes - "Scenario" | Download |
This isn't just a summer burner, it's a hip-hop essential. When Busta comes in with his energetic voice, it's sure to set the floor ablaze.
16 | Jay-Z - "Dead Presidents II" | Download |
Jay-Z spells out his lofty goals while kicking some of the illest rhymes rap has ever heard.
15 | The Notorious B.I.G. - "Juicy" | Download |
"Juicy" is the Biggie's most important song. It's a rare moment of self-introspection from him. Biggie died three years later, but this song lives on in the summertime through those who remember the fabulous 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 of Dre's Chronic album and it immediately established him as a supersonic force for years 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 hot 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 Pac's best individual performance ever. Over DJ Daryl's rendition of Zapp & Roger's "Be Alright," Pac delivers a message about staying ahead of the struggle and showing respect to all, regardless of gender.