Rolling Stone magazine recently listed their 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs. I read through the entire list, and while it was a nostalgic trip down memory lane, I had some disagreements with their order. I grew up listening to hip hop, so I fancy myself a rap connoisseur of sorts. In addition to the jacked up rankings, there were some classics that were completely left off the list. We’ll get to those in a bit, but first…
MY MOUNT RUSHMORE OF HIP HOP SONGS
Public Enemy-Fight the Power (Rolling Stone rank: 7)
People don’t understand how influential Public Enemy was. Watch this video and marvel at how this song/video from 1989 is still relevant today. (Also, see if you can find the decepticon symbol.)
Best Lyric: Cause I’m Black and I’m proud
I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped
Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five-The Message (Rolling Stone rank: 1)
This one came out in 1982, so I was too young to understand the full political message. However, I DID understand how rap could be about more than just partying and having a good time. Apparently, so did many others as this single song went on to influence Public Enemy, N.W.A and Rage Against the Machine.
Best Lyric: My son said, Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school
‘Cause the teacher’s a jerk, he must think I’m a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
Notorious B.I.G.-Juicy (Rolling Stone rank: 8)
No one in hip hop’s history could tell a cohesive story as well as B.I.G. Juicy is Biggie’s rag to riches tale about his life. You can tell that unlike many of his contemporaries, Biggie wasn’t just trying to impress. He was genuinely letting you into his world.
Best Lyric: We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us
No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us
Birthdays was the worst days
Now we sip champagne when we thirst-ay
Dr. Dre Feat. Snoop Doggy Dogg- Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang (Rolling Stone rank: 6)
I have to admit, there are other songs that I personally like more than this one. However, I can’t deny its influence on a whole generation of performers. We also need a representative from the “gangster rap” genre. That’s not to say that this isn’t a worthy addition to the list. Dre’s slick production mixed with Snoop’s signature drawl created a hit that’s still played in clubs today.
Best Lyric: One, two, three and to the fo’
Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the do’
Ready to make an entrance so back on up
Cause you know we’re about to rip s#!% up
In lieu of honorable mentions, I’m going to use the remaining space to list some notable omissions from the Rolling Stone list.
Grab a school desk and get to jammin’ with the heel of your hand for the bass and your knuckles for the snare drum.
Digable Planets-Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)
Probably one of the most underrated hip hop songs of all time. Jazzy.
Boogie Down Productions-My Philosophy
I’m almost ready to declare the Rolling Stone list invalid just because it left this one off. KRS One-hip hop’s first teacher.
A hip hop mosh pit.
Poor Righteous Teachers-Rock Dis Funky Joint
This is just a personal favorite. Simplistic but effective.
Scarface-Never Seen a Man Cry
Scarface post Geto Boys. Haunting.
MC Lyte- Poor Georgie
I believe female’s were underrepresented. My favorite MC Lyte jam.
I could go on all night. Tell me, hip hop fans, what did Rolling Stone miss?