Hip-hop is the latest in a long legacy of American musical invention. We came up with Jazz, Blues, Rock 'n' Roll... and now Hip-Hop. Hip-hop can be brash, angry, sensitive, beautiful, instrumental, or any number of other things. But it is always confident, merciless, and catchy.
Let's combine beautiful vinyl tones with hip-hop swag, shall we?
Eminem and Lil Wayne - No Love
If you think Eminem is one of the greatest lyricists of all time – oh and I do – this song might be Exhibit A. Lil Wayne kills it… and can’t even hold a candle to the GOAT.
Hottest Bar: I'm standing on my Monopoly board / That means I'm on top of my game and it don't stop / Til my hip don't hop anymore / When you're so good that you can't say it / 'Cause it ain't even cool for you to sound cocky anymore / People just get sick cause you spit / These fools can't drool or dribble a drop anymore
Tupac – Hit Em Up
Okay, maybe I got a little carried away with that GOAT talk on track 1… because track 2 might be the angriest, gnarliest, greatest offering ever from a father of foundational 90s hip-hop (RIP).
Hottest Bar: First off, f*** your b**** / And the clique you claim / West side when we ride / Come equipped with game / You claim to be a player But I f****d your wife / We bust on Bad Boys / N****s, f*** for life (I told you it was angry)
K-Os - I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman
Don’t we all? This funky actress-inspired song is a straight summer jam if I ever heard one. Bummer it never got the mainstream love it so clearly deserved.
Hottest Bar: Back from the future donned in Japanese kimonos / Even though the streets show love, try to see me grow / I often see me floatin', but my shadow it weighs a ton / Call it baggage, I use it all to advantage
Snoop Dogg - Gin and Juice
How does this song hold up so damn well?! I don’t know, but it does, and I ain’t mad about it.
Hottest Bar: You all know it and sing along with it every time you hear it. Rollin down the street, smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice / Laid back (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind)
Drake and Future – Jumpman
I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you I’m Drake’s biggest fan… but even this (quasi)-hater has to recognize when the man drops a sick beat. With (more than) a little help from Future.
Hottest Bar: Money on the counter, choppers on the floor/ I just caught that tempo, DJ Mustard (woo!)
K’Naan – What’s Hardcore
Side B is going to get a little Indie, a little World, and a lot awesome. K’naan is perhaps Africa’s greatest hip-hop resource, mixing deeply personal and political lyrics with sick minimalist beats to create a loooooooooong resume that includes World Cup anthems and sensitive odes like this one.
Hottest Bar: Journalists hire gunmen there’s violent women / Kids trust no one cause fire burnt them / Refugees die in boats, headed for peace / is anyone scared of death here? Not in the least
Sage Francis – Love the Lie
The father of indie hip-hop. The song that launched a thousand Indie hip-hop careers. I’m not sure if that second sentence is true, but it was a game-changer for yours truly when I discovered this song many years ago. Be prepared to be swept back to middle school, boys and girls.
Hottest Bar: Pedestals for the parents medicine is on the shelf / Put the trophy in the spotlight watch as it melts / Metal would've survive plastic is cheaper / Ran into the fire she asked me to leave her
Kanye West – Jesus Walks
So this isn’t indie, but it is the first huge mega-hit that has been the huge mega-hit career of Kanye West, aka Yeezy aka Mr. Kim Kardashian. Can you imagine him uttering these lyrics today? What happened, Kanye?!
Hottest Bar: My mamma used to say only Jesus can save us / Well mamma I know I act a fool / But I’ll be gone ‘til November I got packs to move I hope / (Jesus Walks)
House of Pain – Jump Around
Yesssssssssssssss. The original Hispanic hip-hop crew that paved the way for all kinds of party animals, serving up their biggest hit, which is still bumping in sports arenas around the country.
Hottest Bar: You know its on as soon as you hear: Pack it up, pack it in / Let me begin / I came to win / Battle me that’s a sin
Jurassic 5 – What’s Golden
Raise your hand if you remember listening to Jurassic 5 in your friend’s parent’s basement at 12 years old, amazed at what you were hearing because it was so fresh, so real, so unlike anything else out there...
Hottest Bar: Well it’s the verbal Herman Munster / the word enhancer, sick of phony mobsters controllin’ the dance floor. / I been in dark places, catch you when you stark naked / your heart races as we pump you for your chart spaces
Jay-Z – Run This Town
We can’t have an ultimate hip-hop playlist without the Kind of New York, rhyming about how he’s the King of New York. You got it, Jay.
Hottest Bar: And our girls are blackbirds / riding with they Dillingers / I get more in depth if you boys really real enough / This is la Familia, I’ll explain later / But for now, let me get back to this paper
Got something better? Prove it! And build your own hip-hop mixtape!
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