I wrote this for my friend Lucy’s Girl-audience magazine about the nineties, and I love the theme so much that I have decided to make it a weekly thing.
Here ya go
Hip-hop is dead. It has been for years. Well, new hip-hop is dead, since our old nineties tracks are still very much alive. Try to listen to a rap tune today that doesn’t have some sort of 90s hip-hop beat behind it. With new rappers sampling old rappers genius beats on their awful, overly-produced tracks, only rapping about wearing high-end Central St Martins graduate designers while throwing money at bitchez n hoes, its all the same recycled garbage over and over again. That is why I am going to reintroduce you to the roots. Play this to the newbies in the queue of an overpriced A$AP Rocky gig, I dare you. It might even make them commes the fuck down.
The first classic that I must introduce to you with love is a personal favourite,
Tribe Called Quest – Check the Rhime
First off: Watch the music video. It will show you that impromptu concerts on top of the local Laundromats, in fact, used to exist. The first five “UHs!” that come out and the killer vibe for the first 30 seconds of the song will make any early-morning, squished tube ride that much better. The great thing about Tribe is that they always rhyme off one another; the entire song is an open conversation, making it an instant 90s classic.
Naughty By Nature – OPP
Who down with O.P.P.? EVERYBODY! I will say when I would sing along to this one at the top of my lungs, I had no idea in hell what O.P.P. actually was. One thing that makes this a classic and likeable tune is the fact that the song is sampled instrumentally by none other than family favourite by The Jackson 5-ABC. (Also Melvin Bliss’s “Synthetic Substitution, but never mind that). This hip-hop hit was a USA chart #6 and a UK 35, making it an instant pop hit, bringing hip-hops rhymes of life’s struggles and politics to the forefront. By the way, O.P.P. stands for “Other Person’s Pussy/Penis” as in, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone who has another significant other. Genius, I tell you!
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince-Summertime
OK – Don’t laugh. You know he is called the Fresh Prince for a reason. And before Will Smith was an actor, he was a pretty awesome rapper, often teased by the big gangsters for including zero curse words in his music, one cannot deny the beauty and bliss that comes to mind when hearing the words Summertime. With a punchy, colourful music video, the teens of the 90’s were jamming this song at every block party. The Fresh Prince’s catchy honesty and positive vibes only shine through in this tune. A few years later, the Prince sticks to what he knows, and dishes about a certain city, immortalising the word Miami forever.
Dr Dre ft. Snoop Dogg-Nuthin But a G Thang
Does this need an introduction? Both still very relevant rappers and producers on the scene today, this song honestly speaks for itself. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, but was also so hot that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selected it for one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll. See, this song is so good it crosses loads of genres! That familiar, windy tune in the beginning that just makes you want to shake your booty? Sampled from Leon Haywood’s “I Wanna Do Something Freaky to You”. Now turn it on and get freaky!
2PAC-Keey Ya Head Up
Last, but certainly not least. Not including Tupac on this list would be downright blasphemous. This song gets to the basics of what rap is really about – struggle. 2Pac consoles a female who is concerned about her self worth, because of a guy. Look at that! A rapper not talking about big booty hoes? With lyrics like “Please Don’t cry/dry your eyes/never let up/forgive but don’t forget girl/keep your head up” makes you wonder how all this misogynistic shit got here in the first place. Seriously-listen closely, Tupac is rapping about men that mistreat women. What’s not to like?