“Hypnotize” by The Notorious B.I.G. (1997)

The first time I heard “Hypnotize” on the radio, I knew it was gonna be huge. Biggie’s impeccable flow had seemingly improved in the two-plus years since he’d released his debut Ready To Die. Puff Daddy and his Hitmen sampled Herb Alpert’s 1979 disco hit “Rise” in a way that had equal appeal to the… Read More “Hypnotize” by The Notorious B.I.G. (1997)

“The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground (1990)

Folks, the early ‘90s were a much simpler, more innocent time. It was a time in which you could believe that Shock G, the mastermind behind Oakland-based funk/rap collective Digital Underground and Humpty Hump, the outfit’s Groucho-nosed comedian, were two different people. At least I believed they were two different people. What can I say?… Read More “The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground (1990)

“Hot Sex” by A Tribe Called Quest (1992)

“Hot Sex” isn’t one of the more thoughtfully constructed Tribe songs. The track didn’t even make it to an official Tribe album-it appeared on the soundtrack to the 1992 Eddie Murphy/Halle Berry flick Boomerang (without even appearing in the movie! I wonder what that was about!) The song’s somewhat tossed-off nature, though, is what I… Read More “Hot Sex” by A Tribe Called Quest (1992)

“Hey Mama” by Kanye West (2005)

There are lots of “mom dedication” songs in the annals of Black pop music. They didn’t start with hip-hop, either. The Intruders’ “I’ll Always Love My Mama”, The Spinners’ “Sadie”, even Jermaine Jackson’s utterly banal “Oh, Mother” all predated rap music’s popularization of open-hearted paeans to mama. One of the most, if not the most,… Read More “Hey Mama” by Kanye West (2005)

“He Comes” by De La Soul feat. Ghostface Killah (2004)

One major way that hip-hop is different from all other types of music is that a single verse can turn a track from good to “holy shit”. Case in point: Ghostface Killah’s absolutely bonkers verse on De La Soul’s 2004 album cut “He Comes”. Trugoy and Pos are great rappers; by 2004 they’d come a… Read More “He Comes” by De La Soul feat. Ghostface Killah (2004)

“Grindin'” by Clipse (2002)

“Grindin’” is hard as shit. It has proverbial ice running through its proverbial veins. It’s an interesting marriage of two pieces I can find problematic individually. I can’t say I’m crazy about hip-hop (or any music) that leans too hard into drug dealing. I think there’s a fine line between street reporting/storytelling and glorification, and… Read More “Grindin'” by Clipse (2002)

“Gold Digger” by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx (2005)

Sometimes a thing that can seem a little too obvious and on the nose can actually work. Case in point: Kanye West and Jamie Foxx going back to the well for “Gold Digger”. To backtrack: Kanye’s breakthrough moment as an artist was as a guest artist on Twista’s “Slow Jamz” (Twista was credited as the… Read More “Gold Digger” by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx (2005)