This isn’t my list of all-time “golden age” favorites. That collection would include at least a few timeless gems that you probably have on your own iPods. What I’m doing here today is some serious brain-wracking and crate digging. I was massively into hip hop during this period and my references run deep. Here are 10 rap tunes from the art form’s greatest era which will hopefully bring a smile to your face – and possibly have you doing the running man down memory lane.
10. Fu-Schnickens – “La Schmoove“
I far prefer their song Ring the Alarm, but had to choose this video for two reasons – First, Phife Dawg is in it. Second, the light skin guy who raps at the end’s dancing used to crack me up whenever I’d watch this back in the day. Chip-Fu, on the other hand was an amazing MC and I’d definitely like to know what happened to him. Hopefully he still has nuttin’ to prove.
9. ATCQ and LONS – “Scenario Remix“
This B-side never had a video but someone’s taken the time to put it on YT and I’m obviously not the only person who thought this song was as good or better than anything on The Low-End Theory (which everyone knows is a classic record). I remember the first rapper on the track, Hood, was supposed to be A Tribe Called Quest’s hot new protege but was shot to death shortly after this was recorded. Too bad because the kid was good.
8. Leaders of the New School – “What’s Next?”
I remember this grossly underrated song had an actual video (I had it recorded on a well-worn Yo! MTV Raps VHS) but could only find this live performance from Arsenio. It’s fun to watch, but the intricate funkiness of the backing track is lost. Have a listen to it here to get a better idea – amazing production. I only had said video tape when I started my second year at Guelph University in 1994 as the CD wasn’t released before my usual summer in Boston was over. I was obsessed with this song, and bombarded my dorm mates with it for the entire month of September that year. You’re welcome.
7. Souls of Mischief – “Make Your Mind Up“
I used to consider the album this song is from, 93 Till Infinity, to be the Sergeant Pepper or Pet Sounds of hip hop. Although in retrospect that vanguard obviously has to go to Paul’s Boutique. Regardless, every song on this record was amazing and I still listen to it frequently. It was hard to select a favorite track, but I finally settled on this one. A rare example of a hip hop record which is comprehensively solid from beginning to end – rap fans know what I’m talking about. If you like this tune watch the video for That’s When Ya Lost and the title track.
6. Organized Konfusion – “Who Stole my Last Piece of Chicken?”
From the Richard Pryor samples to the “days of wayback” lyrical reminisces to the ridiculously funky drum beat – this song is definitely a 90’s sleeper worthy of rediscovery. Most rappers with 2 or more albums have a “this is what I did when I was a kid” song in their repertoire, but this is by far the best of them. The video is as humorous as the song, and I’ve never forgotten the animated chicken dancing on the record label or the fat kid sucking on the chicken bone. It still makes me hungry, too.
God how I miss you, 1990’s hip hop. You were very, very good to us and I’m confident that the reason I think rap today is putrid gutter-slime covered in rat shit is not because I’m old, but because it’s putrid gutter-slime covered in rat shit. This was my own personal list of forgotten 90’s rap songs and I’d love to hear about some of yours in the comments below. Stay tuned for part 2 coming next week, homies.