Top Hip Hop Songs of the 90s
The 90s were a wonderful time for music. From the emergence of fresh, exciting talent across a range of genres to the liberating tunes associated with pride, culture and diversity that brought music into a fresh new era. From the hip hop artists making waves in the US of A to Cool Britannia across the pond, the hip hop genre really came into its own this decade. So sit back, relax and take a trip down memory lane as we chart the top hip hop songs of the 90s!
What Are Your Favorite 90's R&B Songs?
When it comes to music in the 1990’s, we were really spoiled for choice. The evolution of the music industry as we approached the millennium led to a crossover of genres and a magical fuse of musical collaborations and creations that left us both delighted and enchanted in equal measure.
Whether we were heading to the dancefloor, heading to a friend’s house or heading to a festival, this decade will certainly live long in the memory and as well as the countless hip hop classics that were spawned from the 90s, it was also a memorable time for R&B as fans of the genre were left spoilt for choice when it came to new hits.
In particular, the 90s were a golden time for female R&B artists and gave us such classics as ‘Give it to Me’ by SWV, ‘Creep’ by TLC and ‘All Night Long’ by the magnificent Mary J. Blige. Other tracks making waves within this genre in the 90s included ‘Before You Walk Out of My Life’ by Monica, ‘Ex-Factor’ by Lauryn Hill, and of course ‘One in a Million’ by Aaliyah.
There were simply so many to choose from that you could be forgiven for being left a little light headed by the R&B offerings in the 90s, a decade that truly belonged to R&B women as they brought the game – and the dance hits – to their male counterparts. Whatever your favorite tune, there was something for everyone as R&B showed once again what a diverse and cross-generational genre it truly is. Picking a favorite really is a thankless task!
What Are The Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of The 90s?
We’re sure that this is a debate that could probably go on for another decade, given the strength of the hip-hop offerings throughout the golden age of the 1990s. The list of iconic artists here is insane – from Dr. Dre and Eminem to 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G and Nas - you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just died and gone to hip-hop heaven. Choosing an order for these sensational albums that brought so much joy to fans is simply too hard a task, but here’s our selection of the top 10 hip-hop albums of the 90s.
Tupac Shakur - All Eyez On Me (1996)
Where else could we start? The last album released during the great man's lifetime, All Eyez On Me is quite possibly the greatest hip-hop album of all time and is the rightful opener to this list. The album coincided with Pac being at the peak of his fame when released and has since sold over 10 million copies in the United States alone.
The diversity of the album really underpins its strength and the length of the offering left fans with memories to last a lifetime. As well as ‘California Love’ and ‘Only God Can Judge Me’ there were songs like ‘Heartz of Men’ and ‘Ambitions Az A Ridah’—all of which proved beyond doubt this was a true hip-hop legend.
Snoop Dogg - Doggystyle – (1993)
Without doubt Snoop Dogg is one of the most recognizable and influential figures in hip hop history and he has been responsible for some of the top hip hop songs of the 90s. When it comes to albums, however, his 1993 offering 'Doggystyle', which marked his debut and provided a collaboration with his friend and fellow rap god Dr. Dre, stands head and shoulders above so many others and rightly makes our top 10.
For such a popular and well-loved artist, it is testament to the strength of this album that it remains his greatest success story to date, with 11 million albums sold worldwide and surely many more to come. Doggystyle helped to really define the gangster rap culture and put Snoop Dogg on the path to the kind of legendary status he enjoys to this very day with hip hop fans all across the world.
Nas - Illmatic (1994)
The landmark album, Illmatic, from the New York rapper Nas is widely considered a pivotal moment in the hip hop genre and looked upon as a turning point in terms of what lyrics can do when applied in a certain context. Throughout this album, Nas displays not only the remarkable ability to produce lyrics that would define his own illustrious career but set the benchmark for how hip-hop has come to evolve in the present day and why this artist is so revered.
The album moved away from the stereotypical gangster battles that defined the streets of NYC at the time and attempted to bring together the various cultures and personalities that defined the era. It is a true testament to its lyrical genius and the skill of the artist that it stands the test of time on music platforms to this day as one of the most successful and popular hip hop albums ever.
Dr. Dre - The Chronic (1992)
Like many hip-hop lovers, we are huge fans of Dr. Dre. 'Dre' (as he was affectionately known) released his debut solo studio album, The Chronic, in 1992, through Death Row Records, and announced his arrival on the global stage as a hip hop mega star in his own right. In the wake of this remarkable debut, Dr. Dre scored a number of awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for his single, ‘Let Me Ride’ which is considered to be one of the top hip hop songs of the 90s. The album is littered with classics and also featured a collaboration with fellow hip-hop royalty Snoop Dogg.
The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die (1994)
The Notorious B.I.G. (real name Christopher Wallace) needs no introduction to true fans of the hip-hop genre and we are placing this album in our top 10 without any hesitation. Widely thought of as one of the greatest rappers that has ever lived, his debut album named 'Ready to Die' was truly a lyrical masterpiece and offered a glimpse into what hip-hop was evolving into all wrapped up in one jaw-dropping album that was way ahead of its time.
His classic vocals are perfectly mixed with humor, intelligence and phenomenal flow to leave his peers and his fans in awe of the abilities of a remarkable rapper that was taken from us far too soon.
A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory (1991)
This entry may surprise one or two but this trailblazing album from A Tribe Called Quest simply could not be kept off our top ten list of the greatest hip hop albums of the 90s. A departure from the band’s debut, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, it is widely lauded as a milestone in alternative hip-hop. Minimalist to the core, it utilized bass, drum-breaks and jazz samples in a way that was so revolutionary.
Modern-day rap artists, in particular the likes of Little Simz, Kendrick Lamar and Tyler, the Creator (who often cites the album as an inspiration in interviews), owes a lot to The Low End Theory for blazing a path to the kind of rap they are now masters of. A Tribe Called Quest continually pushed the boundaries and this album was the start of a remarkable journey.
Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt (1996)
Jay-Z may be keeping a more low-profile as a rap king turner businessman these days but his origins in the 90s are far too legendary to forget. This debut offering entitled 'Reasonable Doubt' set the stage for one of the true greats of his era to really take off. Staying true to his Queens upbringing, the album is noted for its relatability of the time. For Jay-Z, this is one of the most visceral, slick and timeless pieces of art any hip hop fan could hope to stumble upon and is so typical of an artist that defined an era and left fans wanting more.
Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (1993)
This album is choked with classics; it is virtually impossible to single out a breakout track on Wu-Tang Clan’s seminal debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang. Whether it was the remarkable expressionism of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the slick and clever turns of phrase from GZA, or the bombastic and gut-busting verses from Raekwon, all of the members got their chances to shine on '36 Chambers' to give it its alternative name. This was truly a one-off album that has seldom had any rivals before or since given its uniqueness.
Eminem - The Slim Shady LP (1999)
The Slim Shady LP was the second studio album from the newly-crowned King of Rap, Eminem. After bursting onto the scene earlier in the 90s, Marshall Mathers delivered an album that truly announced himself on the world stage and allowed him to take the throne at the end of the decade, setting the stage for more dominance within the genre. Looking back now, after the success of the earlier, 'My Name Is' record, it’s pretty hard to fathom the massive impact this album had as the 90s came to an end.
A sublime mix of G-funk and other styles from the west coast that have since defined his career, it's pretty easy to pinpoint this as the moment that Eminem really shot to stardom with this burning collection of tracks. As well as ‘My Name Is’ the album also introduced Eminem’s powerful and at times controversial humor as one of his greatest weapons when it comes to spitting a verse and the overall result was this masterpiece to see in the millennium in style.
Dr. Dre - 2001 (1999)
With its iconic '2001' title, you'd be forgiven for thinking this album was actually released after the turn of the millennium, however it took the world by storm in 1999, the final year of the 90s decade and is often rightly regarded as one of the greatest albums in hip hop history.
The album features a ton of legendary collaborations that all go forwards one amazing piece of hip-hop history with this album. In fact, Dre used many of the stars he’d actually help to launch throughout the 90s decade. As well as well-known and prolific collaborators of his Snoop Dogg and Eminem, the album also features rappers Nate Dogg and Xzibit providing one again that Dr. Dre is the collaboration king. The album rightly rivals The Chronic as Dre's greatest ever album and one of the greatest the decade produced overall.
What Are Some Good RnB Songs From The 90s Till Now?
RnB and hip-hop are often referred to as musical cousins and indeed some artists have even been able to pull off storied careers dipping in and out of both genres. From the 90s until now, there have been some truly classic RnB offerings, with some of the best including No Diggity by Blackstreet, Pony by Ginuwine, Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd, Waterfalls by TLC, Fantasy by iconic Mariah Carey and Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child to name but a few.
Which Rap Song Was The First To Top The US Charts?
This is a topic which has become quite contentious over recent years as the debate has swirled over what actually qualifies as a ‘rap’ song and what doesn’t. Vanilla Ice’s iconic ‘Ice Ice Baby’ (released in 1990) was previously believed to be the first ever rap song to top the US charts but research into the rap genre, which previously existed as more of a subculture prior to Vanilla Ice’s hit song, has discovered that the accolade should actually belong to Blondie’s 1981 hit ‘Rapture’.
Prior to Blondie stormed the charts with this iconic track at the beginning of 1981, rap music was very much a subculture within the United States that was quite unknown to the average American - even those with an interest in music. In fact, the only rap song of note that had entered the US charts was when The Sugarhill Gang cracked the Hot 100 in 1979 with ‘Rapper’s Delight’ - which just goes to show how out of the mainstream music genre rap was prior to the 80s.
However, Blondie, a band formed in New York with a reputation for doing things their way, developed the classic 'Rapture' track that surely qualifies as a rap song and stormed to the number 1 spot in early 1981, becoming the first of its kind to do so. While the track probably pales in comparison to some of the more well-known rap songs that duly followed in the 1990s, Blondie certainly set the genre on the path to becoming the mainstream phenomenon that it is today and many artists that followed surely owe them a debt of thanks.
What Are Some Old-School, Feel-Good Hip Hop Songs?
Now that we’ve paid homage to the unforgettable hip-hop period that gave is some of the top hip hop songs of the 90s, let’s take a little trip down memory lane and take a look at some of the more old school, feel-good hip hop songs that have brought us so much joy which haven’t had a mention so far.
The list is pretty endless and includes Audio Two - "Top Billin", Doug E. Fresh and MC Ricky D - "La Di Da Di", Ice-T - "6 in the Mornin'", Eric B. & Rakim - "My Melody", Public Enemy - "Shut 'em Down (Pete Rock Remix)", Schoolly D - "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?", LL Cool J - "Rock the Bells", Big Daddy Kane - "Raw (Remix)", Marley Marl - "The Symphony" and Boogie Down Productions - "South Bronx".
Staying true to the musical offerings detailed above, these are truly some of the top hip hop songs of the 90s and indeed various other decades and there are, of course, so many more to choose from within this wonderful genre and we tried to bring you something different to add to the nostalgia or even put together a little playlist of feel-good tunes to reminisce to.
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