"I've escaped it, a life wasted/And I'm never going back again." - Pearl Jam, "Life Wasted"

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Top 20 Rap songs

Perhaps rap is music at its most minimalistic - thumping bass, percolating beats and spoken lyrics.

Perhaps rap is the easy way out of learning all the music notes.

Either way, it's the most popular genre nowadays, especially in the Dubya nation. Here are some of the best.

20 The Message - Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five
Where hardcore rap got its, erm, message. Probably the first rap song to move away from the party-happy vibes of early rap, and present the grim ghetto street life. So original was this rant, that the biggest hacker of them all, Puff Daddy, stole its synth almost 15 years after. Spine-tingling moment: Through gritted teeth, Grandmaster intones: "Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge."

19 Crossroads - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
This quartet from Cleveland spin the fastest and most melodic raps that propel to the top of their game in the mid-1990s. Too bad, their gangster lifestyle caught up. One of them is in jail I think. See you at the crossroads. Spine-tingling moment: Their light-as-breeze-yet-swift-as-wind rapping is pretty unique, even now.

18 California Love - 2Pac
The G-Funk anthem, so ubiquitous in its funky beats and catchy music. Kudos to Dr Dre for setting the standard in rap background music. Everybody now..... Spine-tingling moment: Shake it, shake it, shake it......

17 Gimme Some More - Busta Rhymes
Surely, one of the most insane rappers. And the most colourful. God, his music videos made me laugh so hard. Spine-tingling moment: You people had enough? GIMME SOME MORE!

16 It's Tricky - Run-D.M.C.
Oh yes, primitive rap, sampled music, scratched beats. The first rap superstars stick to their roots and churn out this classic about how hard it is to rap. But they can. Spine-tingling moment: Besides the "My Sharona" sample, it's hard not to shout along to the chorus: "It's tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time, it's tricky!"

15 (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) - Beastie Boys
The coolest white rappers ever. Credit to them for sticking to their old-school rapping all these years, yet retain their adventurous musical spirit. Sounds paradoxical isn't it? Listen to this then - rap with metal riffs, about 10 years before rap-metal became trendy. Spine-tingling moment: "Your momma threw away your best porno mag." Oh nooooooooooooo.....

14 Rebel Without A Pause - Public Enemy
The most vital rap group, period. This song shows how - Chuck D's strident protests, Flavour Flav's jokester counterpoints and, most overlooked of all, Terminator X's unbelievable samples and beats. Spine-tingling moment: The thumping drum and bass alone makes this song a classic.

13 Hey Ya - Outkast
Damn, if this song ain't catchy. Andre 3000 flows through this luminous ditty with bouyant glee, and every one, young and old, caught on. Spine-tingling moment: "Shake it, shake it, shake it like a polaroid picture."

12 You Got Me - The Roots feat. Erykah Badu
Possibly the best rap love song ever. Over a folksy arrangement, two lovers pledge not to let their love die. Compare this with the other sex-minded rappers' testosterone-filled outputs, and you sigh. Spine-tingling moment: Badu's almost-weeping voice in the chorus: "If you are worried 'bout where I been or who I saw, or what club I went to with my homies, baby don't worry you know that you got me."

11 Get Ur Freak On - Missy Elliott
Wow, the perfect rump-shaking anthem. She and Timbaaland make the most oddball rap music sound absolutely catchy, like this eastern-drenched stomp. Spine-tingling moment: Out of nowhere, an Arabic chant floats in. A "wtf??" moment.

10 Fuck Tha Police - N.W.A.
The most notorious rap song is also its angriest. Hearing Ice Cube, MC Ren and Easy-E pour out their frustration with the police is scary, but also sobering. Dr Dre adds gunshot sounds and police sirens in the background, and it adds up to a brutal sonic treat. Spine-tingling moment: Near the end, Ice Cube screams: "That's a lie! That's a goddamn lie! I want justice! I want justice!"

9 Stan - Eminem
Beneath the never-ending controversies, Eminem is a razor-sharp lyricist. Perhaps that's why he gets so much flak. This haunting song about a crazed fan is biting because Eminem hits home with every line. Of course, nobody gives him credit, preferring to focus on his misogynism. Whatever. Spine-tingling moment: "It was you. Damn."

8 Slow Jamz - Twista feat. Kanye West
Rip-roaring humour from rap's newest talents. While Twista is mind-bogglingly fast, West writes classic lines like... Spine-tingling moment: "She got a dark-skinned friend that looks like Michael Jackson/She got a light-skinned friend that looks like Michael Jackson."

7 O.P.P. - Naughty By Nature
Purely for that thumping beat and the Jackson Five sample. Absolutely killer, lascivous lyrics aside. Spine-tingling moment: "You down wit' OPP! Yeah you know me!"

6 Bombs Over Bagdad - Outkast
Before they hit mainstream, Big Boi and Andre 3000 are the most flamboyant rappers around. Listening to them trying to keep up with the frenetic beats on this song is a rush. Spine-tingling moment: A sly political dig: "Don't even bang unless you plan to hit something/Bombs over Bagdad!"

5 Triumph - Wu-Tang Clan
Ten rappers and one microphone. It's like verbal jamming, as the best from Staten Island let loose their barrage of thuggish imagery. Super-charged with minimal musical intervention. Pure. Spine-tingling moment: Listen to them tag-team, with all different rapping styles, is a unique rush.

4 99 Problems - Jay-Z
Probably the best rapper in the business, Jay-Z's final hit (if he keeps to his retirement promise) is a hard-hitting anthem, filled with metallic guitar flourishes courtesy of guest producer Rick Rubin. With lyrics so crystal-clear, he details the lives in the ghetto with so much swagger. Spine-tingling moment: Definition of swagger: "If you're having girl problems, I feel bad for you son/I got 99 problems but the bitch ain't one."

3 Lose Yourself - Eminem
Rap is a way out of poverty for most rappers, and this song details why. Eminem's fiercest lyrics paints a determination to get out of the slums, unlike most gangsta rap which revels in it. He also finds the dilemma of being called a sell-out for getting out of the 'hood. Bloody brilliant. Spine-tingling moment: A sombre piano intro gives way to a grinding guitar riff as Eminem builds his anger.

2 Sabotage - Beastie Boys
The white boys return to their punk roots and whip out this spit-fire rap amid a tremendous guitar riff. Incredibly catchy, frenetic and funny, this is the only rap song you can mosh to. That'll do. Spine-tingling moment: When the immortal riff returns after a pause.

1 Fight The Power - Public Enemy
Like punk, rap has the power to incite. None have been more effective than this diatribe from the most political rap group ever. Chuck D rails against racial oppression and preaches all black people to do what his song title says. It's a fiery statement that still burns true today. Spine-tingling moment: The dense squalor of lyrical brilliance from Chuck D. No other rapper sounds as immediate as him.


Blogger Mike said...

I like the 80s hip hop music the most. There are many other groups though and lesser known ones that are good.

80s Hip Hop Music

7:13 AM


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