“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)

“Get Ur Freak On” by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott (2001)

At the beginning of “Get Ur Freak On”, Missy Elliott proclaims that this is “some new shit”, and, indeed, “Get Ur Freak On” was totally unique song. “Cutting-edge” was already a term often used to describe Missy and her co-conspirator Tim “Timbaland” Mosely, but “Get Ur Freak On” was particularly innovative. Seven years before Slumdog… Read More “Get Ur Freak On” by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott (2001)

“Get Money” by Junior M.A.F.I.A. feat. The Notorious B.I.G. (1995/Remix, 1996)

When The Notorious B.I.G. blew up at the end of 1994, he wasted no time putting his people on. The Junior M.A.F.I.A. (Masters at Finding Intelligent Attitudes) boasted a bunch of Big’s homies from Bed-Stuy, and their debut album, Conspiracy, hit stores in the summer of ’95, just as their mentor was topping the charts… Read More “Get Money” by Junior M.A.F.I.A. feat. The Notorious B.I.G. (1995/Remix, 1996)