I've been on a big hip-hop kick lately. No, I don't know why. But I thought I'd do a detailed list of my current top twenty favorite hip-hop songs. (Notice how I said that? "My favorites." Meaning I don't necessarily give a shit about what rap is the best ever. I like what I like.) My list probably won't look like yours, and that's ok. You might even think mine's wrong. That's ok too. Dance to the beat of your own drum, dude. Mine's taken. These aren't in any particular order. Who needs order? It's overrated. Oh, and all links go to YouTube. Which is ubiquitous. Like Jesus, and the clap.
Now, no bitching. We all know that rap is chock full of questionable lyrics and misogyny. And drugs and drinking and killing people. And hos and blunts and, well, shit, just about everything. I won't get on a soapbox here about people who use any form of entertainment to blame for dirty deeds (Columbine and Manson, anyone?), but people seriously need to get their shit together. Bad parenting is bad parenting with or without a song that says "...slowly she gets in and I begin to lynch her with sixty-six inches of extension cord." If your kid is that damned impressionable then you need to take him to a shrink. And if you bought your twelve year old that CD with the parental advisory sticker on it, knowing damn good and well that your kid isn't ready for that kind of content... well, then FUCK YOU.
Anyway, here's my list. Like it. Or don't.
20. Eminem ft. Dr. Dre - Guilty Conscience. This song is hysterically funny (if you consider armed robbery and double homicide funny, which I do, in some instances). The interplay between Dr. Dre (the angel) and Slim Shady (the devil, naturally) is amazing. Slim even tosses in a line about Dre's run in with assault and battery on Dee Barnes, the not very famous hip hop artist also known as D Zire. If anybody could get away with talking that kinda shit to Dre, it's the white boy from Detroit. "Uhhh-aahh! Temper temper! Mr. Dre? Mr. N.W.A.? Mr. AK comin' straight outta Compton y'all better make way?"
19. LL Cool J - Rock The Bells. First of all, if this beat doesn't rattle your trunk, you must be driving a Vespa. Secondly, Cool James practically invented swagger with this track. Don't know how awesome LL really is? Listen to this song, he'll tell you. You bring the wood pecker, he'll bring the wood. And boy, will he.
18. DMX - Damien. Way before X went bonkers and started impersonating police officers, he gave the world Damien. "Where's my guardian angel. Need one. Wish I had one." This rap is a classic case of "be careful what you wish for." Damien is an awesome guardian angel. He talks DMX into shooting dudes and driving a Benz. "You know if you was goin' down I'd be the one to save you. But yo I need a favor, these cat's across town hate me."
17. Notorious B.I.G. - Hypnotize. Who's better, Pac or Biggie? Who gives a shit, really? I love them both, and treat them like apples and oranges, because they really were. This is my favorite Biggie song, by far, although I know there are better. "Sometimes your words just hypnotize me," for real. I can put this song on repeat and listen to it for hours. HOURS. And them I'm all like... "what?"
16. Shaggy ft. Prince Mydas - Hope. I love this song for a lot of reasons, it's inspirational, tells a story, and it's title is my middle name. A lot of people don't like Shaggy, he's too commercial for them. Fuck them. She said, “Son there’ll be times when the tides are high and the boat may be rocky, you can cry... just never give up." Can't understand what Shaggy's saying when he raps? Google the lyrics, lazy ass.
15. Cypress Hill - Insane In The Brain. This one is a classic, and it's pretty much loved by just about everybody, even Garth Brooks fans. No rap playlist is complete without it. But how many of us have yelled "INSANE IN THE MEBRANE" at least once in our lives? Usually right after downing half a case of Red Dog. Remember that shit? Do they even make it anymore?
14. 50 Cent - P.I.M.P. - (Link goes to the edited version, goddamnit. Sorry.) Mr. Jackson is funny as hell. Talking about getting his stripper girlfriend to buy him shit and give him her money. The video is funny. "PIMP, PIMP, HOORAY!" And Snoop Dogg wearing Billy Bob teeth. Awesome. "I don't know what you heard about me, but a bitch can't get a dollar outta me." Ladies, if you're looking for a sugar daddy, skip this half dollar.
13. Flo Rida - R.O.O.T.S. I have to say, I love Flo Rida's flow (punny? you decide), especially on this song. In it, he talks about struggling with poverty and crime but never forgetting where he's from or how he got where he is now. "Top Ramen noodles, thank pappy for the fact I was fed." A lot of folks don't like his stage name, but I can't fault a guy that represents. This one's another trunk rattler and deserves more attention than it got.
12. T.I. - What You Know. The synthesizers in this one drive me nuts. It was hard to decide between this one and Whatever You Like, so I'll mention this one here, too. Sue me. T.I. I.S. A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Really. I know I throw that word around a lot, but it's my blog. I like him because his southern accent comes through in his delivery, and southern accents make me feel like I'm home. Sort of. Granted, the lyrics aren't the deepest in the world: "You know it ain't nothing to drop a couple stacks on you." At least the hos know that T.I. is willing to buy them all their earthly desires.
11. Ludacris - Coming 2 America. Admittedly not his best track, but the line "Uh-oh, Spaghetti-O's! Luda's oodles of noodles" tickles the shit out of me, every time I hear it. Besides, what's there not to like about the king of the dirty, filthy South? Luda is always funny as hell and entertaining. This song deserves a listen if you haven't heard it.
10. Yelawolf - Get The Fuck Up. Wait. Another White Boy Rapper? Hell to the yeah. And he's talented as hell, too. He's got an album coming from Slim Shady's record label sometime in September and I, for one, can't wait. Side Note: Did you see Ford Fairlane with Andrew Dice Clay? In it, he had this massive stereo system hooked up to an alarm and,when it went off, it played Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze at ear shattering volumes. If I had that alarm clock, this is the song it would play. "EVERYBODY GET THE FUCK UP." Hell yeah. People would be falling out of their beds and shit. It would be AWESOME. Side note number two: Yelawolf is cute as hell. Srsly.
9. Eminem - Elevator. Yeah, bet you thought that fifteen of my top twenty would be Eminem songs, right? Haha. Shows you how much (or how little) you know. "Eighty something million records worldwide later, I'm living in a house with a fucking elevator." The hook is about conversations that Em had with his friend Proof about making it big. This song should have made the Relapse cut.
8. Missy Elliott - The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly). There aren't a lot of well respected and famous female rappers, but Miss Missy gets hers, and manages to be original and ground-breaking when she does it. This is one of her earlier songs, and still one of my favorites. When she hit, I was beyond excited and wanted to hear more. So far, she hasn't disappointed. "I can't stand the rain, against my window." The hook is almost too understated for the beat, but manages to work perfectly. Also: Missy and Timbaland go together like white on rice.
7. D12 - Purple Pills. Ok, so three out of twenty... so far. The Dirty Dozen. I hear they're making a new album. Interesting note: I took lyrics from this song to use as a screen name for several websites. "Something, something, something, something, something, something, something." This ode to illegal, but easy to obtain, medication still rules as one of my favorite songs of all time. I don't listen to it often, though. It makes me want to get high. Side note: The edited version was called Purple Hills. WTF?
6. Biz Markie - Just A Friend. Ah, unrequited love. Does it suck ass, or what? The lyrics in this song are so believable and relatable. "You, you got what I need. But you say he just a friend." Haven't we all yelled that (off key) at some point? But poor dude. Did he ever have any other hits? Now days I just see him on tv selling some computer program that "auto magically" does some shit.
5. Tupac ft. Dr. Dre - California Love. If it's possible to be from the East Coast but to prefer the West Coast sound, then I definitely do. The video, with it's Mad Max vibe, is a masterpiece. And the beat on this song is freaking classic. California Love makes me want to move to Compton and get some money, and hoes, and go flossin. Whatever the hell that is. Somehow I think it has nothing to do with dental hygiene. (Urban Dictionary says...well... UGH.) But California knows how to party. (That's what Katy Perry said, too, but that's a different list.)
4. The Beastie Boys - No Sleep Till Brooklyn. (This one has an ad for the live action Smurf movie. God forbid.) There is a toss up between this one and Intergalactic for my favorite Beastie song. "I'll be rocking this party eight days a week!" Man, I wish I could still party like that. Alas. This song is your basic, balls out, Beastie track with an incredible beat and a catchy hook. The guitar work on it is, you guessed it, awesome. In all honesty, EVERY song on License To Ill was damned near flawless.
3. Onyx - Slam. It's debatable whether I like this version or the one with Biohazard best. They're both wicked cool. I know this song so well I can rap along with Sticky Fingaz. Granted, fat white girls look like complete idiots shouting "And unless you got ten sticky fingaz, it's a imitation, a figment of your imagination!" This song is classic rap at it's best and almost always makes in into my drunken winamp playlist. Unless I'm already drunk and forgot about it.
2. Snoop Dogg - Gin N Juice. Classic west coast gangster rap. This is probably one of the most memorable beats in all of hip hop. Ever. Hands down. This was the first of Snoop's songs that I ever heard and still my favorite of his. "With so much drama in the LBC, it's kinda hard bein' Snoop D-O-double-G." This song is so recognizable that my mother probably knows it. Yes, the song made me want to try gin. I did. It's disgusting. But the lyrics "Rollin' down the street smoking indo sipping on cherry margaritas" just doesn't flow. With my mind on my money and my money on my mind. Somewhat related: Check out The Gourd's version. Hillbilly rap, indeed.
1. Ice T - New Jack Hustler. "H-U-S-T-L-E-R hustler." Yeah, in 1991 I had no fucking clue what a New Jack Hustler was. I did, however, already know who Ice T was. Believe it, or don't. (Fuck you, if you don't.) But New Jack City was one hell of a gritty movie, and the scariest part of it was that it mirrored some cases of true life. I was from a little bitty southern town in Virginia and didn't know a damned thing about crack cocaine or gangs or, well, anything... really. "I care nothing bout you, and that's evident. All I love's my dope and dead presidents." Awesome and creepy/scary at the same time. And if this beat doesn't make you dance, you better be crippled.
Honorable mentions: Eminem - 3am (especially the Travis Barker remix). Ice Cube - It Was A Good Day. Public Enemy - Fight The Power. Nas - The World Is Yours. Wu Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M. Warren G - Regulate. Everlast - White Trash Beautiful. Ice Cube and Dr Dre - Natural Born Killaz.
That's my list, and I'm sticking to it.