Tuesday, 1 December 2009
The best rap singles of the noughties ('99 - '09)
A few of you may possibly remember when Y.N hinted on the XXL site back in its halcyon days of 2006 (Bol and Noz posting everyday, Y.N himself comin' through with old KMD and Raekwon audio intervews, Sickamore being rechristened Yung Lipgloss after posting an extremely suspect picture of himself, DJ Drama gettin' run off the internet due to the torrent of abuse every post of his brought forth, the angry Bun B cameo in Bol's post about Pimp C etc etc) that there was gonna be a new Ego Trip's Book Of Rap List due in 2009 to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the first book on. So, ummm, yeah - what happened there then?
The Ego Trip book bodies "socio-political examinations of hip hop culture" like Can't Stop, Won't Stop because it concentrates on what's really important : rap music. The often amusing lists which make up 3/4 of the book provided the blueprint for what would make up the contents of rap message boards and blogs the past decade, but it's the lists of the best singles and albums from 1979 - 2008 in the last 1/4 of the book which elevate it to the bible of rap literature; they aren't always right because Don't Sweat The Technique, All We Got Iz Us and Street Gospel not making the album lists is some never-forgive action and there are numerous key omissions littered throughout the singles lists (Space Is The Place and Pack Jam by Jonzun Crew, Gettin' Money by Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde, Street Girl by Spoonie Gee, High Rollers and New Jack Hustler by Ice-T, I Shouldn't Have Done It and Sittin' In My Car by Slick Rick, What's On Your Mind by Eric B. & Rakim, Real Muthaphuckin' G's by Eazy-E, Toss It Up and Rakin' In The Dough by Zhigge, 4 Deep and Birds In The Kitchen by C-Bo, Check It Out remix by Grand Puba & Mary J. Blige, Pocket Full Of Stones remix and It's Supposed To Bubble by UGK, Rugged Neva Smoove by M.O.P, What Would U Do by Tha Dogg Pound, What's Going On, Black by Azie and Case Dismissed by Pretty Tone Capone, Comin' Out Hard and Listen To The Lyrics by 8Ball & MJG, Havin' Thangs by Big Mike ft. Pimp C, Sugarhill and Mo' Money, Mo' Murder "Homicide" by AZ, The Ghetto's Trying To Kill Me and I Miss My Homies by Master P, 1 Luv and Flashin' by E-40, Evil Streets by Onyx, Pimp Of The Year and Can You Feel Me? by Dru Down, Y'All Ain't Ready Yet and Here I Go by Mystikal, Firm Biz remix by The Firm with Half-A-Mill, On My Way and If U Stay Ready by Suga Free, Lookin' At Me by Ma$e, Luchini and Black Nostaljack by Camp Lo, Soulja Rag by Juvenile, How Ya Want It Native Tongues remix by Jungle Brothers et al, and Piece Of The Action by Godfather Don are some personal favourites conspicuous by their absence), but, fuck it, I can forgive them such transgressions since compiling the first 19 years of rap into list form must have been such a mammoth, brain-frying task.
So, since we aren't getting our promised new Ego Trip book I've had to nerd-out and come up with my own lists of singles for the past ten years. As this decade has progressed and we've seen formats like vinyl become near extinct it's become harder to define what actually constitutes a single nowadays, so here's my criteria : it must have come out as an actual single on 12"(or cd/tape) or/and have received video treatment. Like the Ego Trip book, I'm also considering b. sides on 12"s to count as singles and it's one song per artist a list unless they dropped something under a different moniker. Got it? We're good to go then :
1. Pharoahe Monch - Simon Says
2. UGK - Wood Wheel
3. Lil' Wayne - Tha Block Is Hot/Juvenile - U Understand?
4. Mystikal ft. OutKast - Neck Uv Da Woods
5. Screwball - F.A.Y.B.A.N
6. Mobb Deep ft. Lil' Kim - Quiet Storm remix
7. Slick Rick ft. Big Boi - Street Talkin'
8. Dr Dre ft. Snoop, Kurupt & Nate Dogg - The Next Episode
9. Common ft. Sadat X - 1999
10. Bumpy Knuckles - A Part Of My Life
11. Gang Starr - Full Clip
12. Silkk The Shocker ft. Mystikal - It Ain't My Fault
13. Project Pat ft. Gangsta Boo - Ballers
14. Beatnuts - Watch Out Now
15. Young Bleed - Give And Take
16. Sir Menelik ft. Grand Puba & Sadat X - 7XL
17. O.D.B ft. Kelis - Got Your Money
18. Pastor Troy - No Mo' Play in G.A
19. The Clipse - The Funeral
20. R.A The Rugged Man - Stanley Kubrick
Since the Ego Trip book finished in '98 and '99 - '09 is a full decade we begin here. Nas Is Like? Pffft - you've come to the wrong blog if you expected that overrated clunker to be anywhere near this list. Simon Says is a bit of an obvious choice for # 1, but in this instance it just about seems the right one.
1. M.O.P - Ante Up
2. Black Rob - Whoa
3. Ghostface & Raekwon - Apollo Kids
4. 8Ball & MJG - Pimp Hard
5. Prodigy - Keep It Thoro
6. Mystikal - Shake Ya Ass
7. Sadat X ft. Diamond D - X-Man
8. C-Murder ft. Magic & Snoop - Down For My N's
9. Beanie Sigel - The Truth
10. Three 6. Mafia ft. UGK - Sippin' On Some Syrup/Project Pat ft. La' Chat & DJ Paul - Chicken Head
11. Scarface - It Ain't Part II
12. OutKast - Ms. Jackson
13. Ruff Ryders ft. Snoop, Yung Wun, Scarface & Jadakiss - World War III
14. Shyne ft. Barrington Levy - Bad Boyz
15. Philly's Most Wanted - Suckas
16. CNN ft. Foxy Brown - Bang Bang
17. Jay-Z ft. Memphis Bleek & Beanie Sigel - Change The Game
18. Cormega - Take Mine
19. De La Soul ft. Redman - Oooh
20. Mac Dre - Off Tha Rictor
It seems a lifetime ago now when hardcore NY street records like Whoa, Bad Boyz, Keep It Thoro, and Ante Up could become these huge pop hits and radio mainstays, huh? Honourable mentions go to Boom by Royce Da 5'9" and Kryptonite by Big Scoob.
1. OutKast ft. Sleepy Brown - So Fresh, So Clean
2. MF DOOM - I Hear Voices
3. Z-Ro ft. Trae - I Found Me
4. Beanie Sigel - Beanie (Mack Bitch)/State Property - Roc The Mic
5. Ghostface & Raekwon - The Watch
6. UGK ft. Devin The Dude - Ain't That A Bitch
7. G. Dep ft. Faith Evans - Everyday remix
8. Nate Dogg - I Got Love/Ludacris ft. Nate Dogg - Area Codes
9. Jadakiss ft. Styles P - We Gonna Make It
10. Mystikal - Bouncin' Back (Bumpin' Me Against The Wall)
11. M.O.P - Cold As Ice
12. Mobb Deep ft. Big Noyd & Vida - Burn
13. AZ - Problems
14. 8Ball & MJG ft. DJ Quik - Buck Bounce
15. Casual - Turkey And Dressing
16. Fabolous - Young'n (Holla Back)
17. Juvenile - Set It Off
18. Trick Daddy - I'm A Thug
19. Busta Rhymes - As I Come Back
20. Backbone - Five Duce Four Tre/Dungeon Family - Trans D.F Express
Despite the fact that most rap fans were enamoured with the beef between that dude who went on to pork Beyonce and that other dude who'd get fleeced by Kelis this year, there was so much better music elsewhere as this list proves. Takeover may have turned Prodigy into Harry Caul at the end of The Conversation, but make no mistake that Mobb's Burn bodied any single released in '01 by Jay-Z. Honourable mention go to Don't Say Shit To Ruck by Sean Price and Ugly by Bubba Sparxxx.
1. The Diplomats & Master P - 'Bout It, 'Bout It Part 3
2. Nore - Nothin'
3. Nelly - Hot In Herre
4. Scarface - My Block
5. Trick Daddy ft. Cee-Lo & Big Boi - In Da Wind
6. The NYG'z - Giantz Ta This
7. Bubba Sparxxx - Lovely
8. E-40 ft. Fabolous - Automatic
9. AZ ft. Nas - The Essence/Nas - Made You Look
10. Devin The Dude - Lacville '79
11. Edan - Emcees Smoke Crack remix
12. OutKast ft. Killer Mike - The World World/Killer Mike - Akshon (Yeah!)
13. Grand Puba - Issues Pete Rock remix
14. Trina ft. Ludacris - B R Right
15. Big Noyd - Shoot 'Em Up (Bang Bang)
16. The Clipse - Grindin'
17. Styles P ft. Pharoahe Monch - The Life
18. Ludacris ft. Mystikal & Infamous 2.0 - Move Bitch
19. 504 Boyz - Get Back
19. Tragedy Khadafi ft. Littles - Stay Free
Honourable mentions go to Built For This by Cormega, Are We Cuttin'? by Pastor Troy ft. Ms Jade, From Tha Church To Tha Palace by Snoop and Connected For Life Mack 10 ft. Ice Cube, Butch Cassidy & WC.
1. The Dipset - Dipset Anthem
2. Ghostface ft. Jadakiss - Run
3. Baby ft. The Clipse - What Happened To That Boy?
4. Freeway ft. Jay Z & Beanie Sigel - What We Do
5. Three 6. Mafia ft. Lil' Flip - Ridin' Spinners
6. King Geedorah ft. Mr Fantastik - Anti-Matter
7. T.I - Rubberband Man
8. David Banner - Cadillac On 22s
9. OutKast - Ghetto Musick/Killer Mike ft. Big Boi - Adidas
10. E-40 ft. Turf Talk - Gasoline/The Federation ft. E-40 - Hyphy
11. Ludacris - Stand Up
12. Gang Starr ft. Jadakiss - Rite Where U Stand
13. Bubba Sparxxx - Jimmy Mathis
14. Blaq Poet - Poet's Comin'
15. Bonecrusher ft. Cam'ron, Jadakiss & Busta - Never Scared remix
16. Beanie Sigel ft. O.D.B & Peedi Crakk - When You Hear That
17. Juelz Santana - Dipset (Santana's Town)
18. Mobb Deep - Gangstaz Roll
19. Fabolous - Can't Let You Go remix
20. G-Unit - Stunt 101
See, I always think of 2000, 2002 and 2005 as being my favourite years this decade, but I look at this list and I'm like "Damn!" Stay Real by Black Moon, and Fall Back by Peedi Crakk & Freeway receive honourable mentions, although the video version of the latter sans Freeway which emerged a few years later was preferable to the original.
1. Nas - Thief's Theme/AZ ft. Nas - Serious
2. Slim Thug - Like A Boss
3. Z-Ro ft. Scarface - These N*ggaz
4. Mac Dre - Feelin' Myself
5. Ghostface ft. Method Man, Streetlife & Trife - The Drummer/Cormega ft. Ghostface - Tony Montana
6. Lil' Wayne - Go D.J
7. MF DOOM - Hoe Cakes/Madvillain - All Caps
8. Devin The Dude - Right Now
9. Body Head Bangerz ft. Young Bleed & Lil' Boosie - I Smoke, I Drank
10. Keak Da Sneak ft. E-40 - White Tee, Blue Jeans & Nikes
11. Too $hort - Burn Rubber
12. KanYe West ft. Twista & Jamie Foxx - Slow Jamz/Twista ft. KanYe West - Overnight Celebrity
13. The Federation - Go Dumb
14. Slim Thug, Mike Jones & Chamillionaire - Still Tippin'
15. The Diplomats - Crunk Muzik
16. B.G - I Want It/Juvenile ft. UTP - Nolia Clap remix
17. Pete Rock ft. CL Smooth - Appreciate
18. 50 Cent - Ski Mask Way
19. Lil' Wyte ft. DJ Paul - Bye 2 Da Bad Guy
20. Common ft. KanYe West - The Food
For me this is the full stop on Nas's career because after Thief's Theme and his verses on AZ's Serious this retarded tin-eared cretin ceases to exist in my world. This is also the year when Texas and the Bay really started killin' it with banger after banger, and when Ca$h Money Records alumni thought possibly washed up on smack dropped three of the best singles of their career. Real Big by Mannie Fresh is an honourable mention alongside Breathe by Fabolous, I Tried by Geto Boys, Lessons by R.A The Rugged Man, Drop It Like It's Hot by Snoop, Game Of Death by Roc Marciano, Game Over by Lil' Flip, and No Problem by Lil' Scrappy.
1. Beanie Sigel - Feel It In The Air
2. Bun B ft. Pimp C, Z-Ro, Young Jeezy & Jay Z - Get Throwed
3. AZ - Never Change
4. Boyz 'N Da Hood - Dem Boyz/Young Jeezy ft. Jay-Z - Go Crazy remix
5. The Jacka - Barney (More Crime)
6. Sean Price - Onion Head
7. Cam'ron - Girls, Cash, Cars
8. Purple Ribbon Allstars - Kryptonite/Killer Mike ft. Big Boi - My Chrome
9. Z-Ro ft. Paul Wall & Lil' Flip - From The South
10. T.I - ASAP
11. M.O.P - Instigator
12. Ludacris - Number One Spot
13. Black Rob - Star In The Hood
14. Saigon ft. Kool G. Rap - The Letter P remix
15. O.D.B - Lift Ya Skirt
16. Mac Mall & Mac Dre ft. E-40 - Dredio/Mac Dre ft. Boss Hog, B-Luv & Husalah - Hustle
17. Common ft. KanYe West & The Last Poets - The Corner
18. Slim Thug ft. Young Jeezy, Killa & Slick Pulla Diamonds Mannie Fresh remix
19. Three 6 Mafia ft. Young Buck & 8Ball & MJG - Stay Fly
20. Juvenile - Get Ya Hustle On
Possibly my favourite year for singles this decade. Honourable mentions go to Super Sic Wid It by Mistah F.A.B ft. Turf Talk & E-40, Sittin' Sidewayz by Paul Wall ft. Big Pokey, Rumors by Maino, Drive Slow by KanYe et al, Mic Check by Juelz Santana, Window Shopper by 50 Cent, Hate It Or Love It by Game ft. 50 Cent, Gotcha by Camp Lo & Tyler Woods, Got Dat Drank by Frayser Boy ft. Mike Jones & Paul Wall, and Gilla House Check by Redman.
1. Trae ft. Z-Ro - No Help
2. Prodigy - Mac Ten Handle/Mobb Deep - Put 'Em In Their Place
3. Young Bleed - Put Your Stamp On It
4. UGK - Game Belongs To Me
5. OutKast - The Mighty "O"
6. AZ ft. M.O.P - Sit 'Em Back Slow
7. Tha Dogg Pound & Snoop - Cali Iz Active
8. E-40 ft. Keak Da Sneak - Tell Me When To Go
9. Ghostface - The Champ
10. 8Ball & MJG ft. Project Pat - Relax And Take Notes
11. Byrd Gang - Life's Like A Movie/Agallah - Club Hoppin'
12. T.I ft. UGK - Front Back/Young Dro ft. T.I - Shoulder Lean
13. Young Jeezy - Bury Me A G
14. D. Block - Take Everything You Got
15. Trap Squad ft. Fabo - What's Happenin'/D4L - Betcha Can't Do It Like Me
16. Bubba Sparxxx ft. Killer Mike & Cool Breeze - Claremont Lounge
17. Too $hort - Blow The Whistle
18. Curtains - That's What It Is
19. The Pack - Vans
20. Lil' Boosie ft. Webbie - I Represent
The last year in this list where near enough every single came out as a 12", bar the Young Bleed and Prodigy tunes which were released as internet videos. The Prodigy clip pretty much saved his career after the G. Unit dickriding, but I really liked Put 'Em In Their Place too even if nobody else did. The Pharcyde and Y'All So Stupid had been seen sporting various Sk8 His and Eras on LP sleeves in the 90s, but nobody foresaw a group of young upstarts from the Bay droppin' rap's first musical ode to the footwear of one Paul Van Doren.
1. Lil' Boosie - Fresh Cut/Foxx ft. Lil' Boosie & Webbie - Wipe Me Down remix
2. Cam'ron - Wet Wipes/Max B - Why You Do That
3. UGK ft. OutKast - Int'l Players Anthem
4. Prodigy - Return Of The Mac
5. KanYe West - Can't Tell Me Nothing
6. Devin The Dude ft. Snoop & Andre 3000 - What A Job
7. Camp Lo - Material
8. DJ Jazzy Jeff & Peedi Crakk - Brand New Funk 2k7
9. Styles P ft. AZ - The Hardest
10. Ghostface ft. Styles P, Beanie Sigel, & Solomon Childs - Barrel Brothers
11. Huey ft. Bow Wow & T-Pain - Pop, Lock And Drop It remix
12. Byrd Gang - Sour Diesel
13. Rich Boy - Boy Looka Here/B.O.B ft. Rich Boy - Haterz Everywhere
14. Dude N Nem - Watch My Feet
15. Crime Mob - Circles
16. Rhymefest ft. Lil' Jon - Angry Black Man On An Elevator
17. Common ft. DJ Premier - The Game
18. G-Side - I Feel Like I Look
19. Wu-Tang Clan - Take It Back
20. Shawty Lo - Dey Know
Usually, these single lists give a good indication of my listening habits per year, but that wasn't the case in '07. Freeway and Scarface both released great albums with dud singles, and nary a single was plucked from my 2 favourite albums of '07 - Turf Talk's West Coast Vaccine and Husalah's Huslin' Since Da 80's. Still, it seems churlish to whine about such minor trivialties in the year which gave us that top 13 and a fair portion of the list on crisp black wax 12" singles as the format was dying on its arse.
1. Trae ft. Slim Thug - Nuthin' 2 A Boss
2. Blaq Poet - Don't Give A Fucc
3. Pete Rock ft. Jim Jones & Max B - We Roll/Max B - Picture Me Rollin'
4. Big Boi ft. Raekwon & Andre 3000 - Royal Flush
5. AZ ft. Styles P - The Hardest Part 2
6. E-40 ft Ice-T - Earl
7. Lil' Wayne - A Milli
8. Consequence ft. KanYe West - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
9. All $tar - Alphabet Soup
10. Hot Stylz ft. Yung Joc - Lookin' Boy
11. Curren$y - The Reagan Era
12. Prodigy - Dirty New Yorker
13. Young Jeezy - Crazy World
14. T.I - What Up, What's Happenin'
15. Lil' Will ft. Soulja Boy - My Dougie
16. Jackie Chain ft. Jhi Ali - Rollin'
17. Busta Rhymes - Don't Touch Me (Throw Da Water On 'Em)
18. Laroo & The Jacka - 20 Bricks
19. Curtains - Night Of The Living Dope
20. Maino - Hi Hater
A few of these became official singles long after they dropped (The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, We Roll and Nuthin' 2 A Boss), and it's a good thing they did because great singles weren't exactly overflowing in 2008. Can't complain about the singles released this year, though, (especially that top 10) and every tune other thsn Royal Flush and We Roll were afforded a video. As much as I love the format of the 12" single, at this point i'll take a video on Youtube or WSHH over a piece of wax in a plain cardboard sleeve which I'm running out of room to store.
1. Lil' Boosie - Mind Of A Maniac
2. DJ Quik & Kurupt - 9 Times Outta 10
3. DOOM - Gazzillion Ear
4. Curren$y - Elevator Musik
5. Raekwon ft. Method Man & Ghostface - New Wu
6. Big Boi ft. Gucci Mane - Shine Blockas/Gucci Mane - Lemonade
7. Young Chris & Freeway ft. Beanie Sigel - Last 2/Beanie Sigel - The Ghetto
8. Cam'Ron - I Used To Get It In Ohio
9. G. Mane ft. G-Side - No One Duz It Betta/G-Side ft. P.T - My Aura
10. UGK - Da Game Been Good To Me
11. Lil B - I'm God
12. A-Wax & Gonzoe ft. C-Murder - Natural Disasterz
13. Young Jeezy - Circulate
14. De La Soul - Excursions '09
15. Jacka & Berner ft. Fed-X & Lee Majors - Traffickin'
16. Tha Dogg Pound ft. Turf Talk - Y'All Know What I'm Doin'
17. Royce Da 5'9" - Shake This
18. Rich Boy - Drop
19. Witchdoctor - Rich And Poor
20. Treal Lee & Prince Rick ft. Wideframe - Mr Hit Dat Hoe
All of these got the video treatment, bar De La's Excursions remake that appeared on an 12" EP of the best tunes from that J. Period tribute to Q. Tip/ATCQ mixtape, which is a nice way to end the decade.
*EDIT* And on we go :
1. Max B - Where Do I Go?
2. Lil' Boosie - Top To The Bottom
3. Yelawolf - Pop The Trunk
4. Gucci Mane - Normal/Waka Flocka Flame - Hard In Da Paint
5. AZ - Feel My Pain
6. Young Jeezy ft. Yo Gotti - All White Everything remix
7. Lil B - Good Morning
8. $tarlito - What Was I Thinking?
9. E-40 - Undastandz Me
10. Raekwon - Canal Street
11. Big K.R.I.T ft. Killa Kyleon & Curren$y - Moon & Stars remix
12. CNN ft. Imam Thug & MussoliNY - Thug Planet/N.O.R.E - Nutcracker
13. Dru Down ft. The Jacka - Hello, Hello, Hello
14. Eddi Projex & Beeda Weeda - Gettin' G's
15. Danny Brown - Re-Up
16. B.o.B ft. T.I & Playboy Tre - Bet I Bust
17. Curren$y - Life Under The Scope/Curren$y & Fiend - Flying Iron
18. Max Minelli - Louisiana Sky
19. Zed Zilla - I'm Da Boss
20. Big Boi ft. Cutty - Shutterbugg
Honourable mentions go to 1000 Grams by A-Mafia, Slidin' by NhT Boyz, Heart And Soul by Red Cafe with Pete Rock, EARL by Earl Sweatshirt and 30 Thousand, 100 Million by Soulja Boy & Lil B.
1. Waka Flocka Flame ft. Kebo Gotti - Grove St. Party
2. DB Tha General - Upgrade 'Em 2
3. Gunplay ft. Waka Flocka Flame - Rollin'
4. Slim Dunkin - I Gotta Eat/Waka Flocka Flame & Slim Dunkin - Twin Towers 2 Intro
5. AZ - The Calm
6. Meek Mill ft. Rick Ross - Tupac Back
7. E-40 - Concrete
8. Webbie ft. Lil' Phat - What's Happenin'
9. DJ Quik ft. Gift Reynolds - Luv Of My Life
10. Soulja Boy - Zan With That Lean Part 2
11. King Louie - Man Up Band Up remix (Get Money)
12. $tarlito & Don Trip - Life
13. Young Bleed - Holla At Uh Dog
14. Riff Raff SODMG & TKO Capone - Cocky Bastard
15. A-Mafia ft. 2 Chainz - Real Live Pro
16. Yo Gotti ft. Stuey Rock - Single
17. Lady - Yankin'
18. N.O.R.E - NORE Shot Somebody
19. Jackie Chain ft. Bun B - Parked Outside
20. Bo Deal ft. Mellow G. Blanca - Safe Sex
Honourable mentions go to Stressed Out by Foxx, Swagger Fresh Freddie by Mouse On Tha Track, What Yo Name Iz by Kirko Bangz, Louis Gucci by TKO Capone, and Larry Bird by Riff Raff SODMG.