Friday, 31 August 2007

In which I have hope for mainstream Hip Hop

I had decided to do this post before I heard this track but when I heard it yesterday it really summed up my thinking:

Kero One - Check The Blueprints

To sum his song up he's urging the Hip Hop community, particularly the artists, to look at how Hip Hop should be. He sees importance in analysing what made Hip Hop great in the 80's and 90's, taking those findings and applying it to making new music. Obviously this could lead to music sounding the same and being stuck in the past but what I hope to prove in ten tracks is that this might not be the case but that it actually might be the way forward. Many of these tracks are examples of how cats from back in the day have had to step up to the plate again to show the world how it should be done. I hope artists take note.

Guilty Simpson - Man's World (Produced by J Dilla)
J Dilla was a producer who really took inspiration from the culture of sampling in the 90's.

Q-Tip - Work It Out.mp3
Everyones favourite Tribin' ear cleaner is back and I'd be happy hearing this on the radio.

WC - Voodoo ft. The Game
That West Coast sound still does it for me.

Termanology - So Amazing (Produced by DJ Premier)
Sounding like Premo always does is not actually a bad thing and Termanology entertains.

DJ Jazzy Jeff - The Garden ft. Big Daddy Kane
Two Old School cats bring the freshness.

Mr. J. Medeiros - Silent Earth
This sounds 90's-ish due to it's feel good vibes and sampling.

Marco Polo - Nostalgia ft. Masta Ace
(Old guy + New guy) x 90's influences = good Hip Hop

KRS-One & Marley Marl - Hip Hop Lives
Old guy + Old guy - rivalry = good Hip Hop

Chamillionaire - Hip-Hop Police ft. Slick Rick
When I played this to my brother, he asked "Is this Chamillionaire?", I said "Yes, how can you tell?", he replied "Becasue it sounds like 50 Cent but without the mumbling" - or something like that. Slick Rick is funny. This is probably the most out of place choice here but I do like it.

One more to finish off with:

Jeru the Damaja - One Day
This is a nice short imaginary story personifying Hip Hop and telling of the day when it was kidnapped by the likes of Puff Daddy (or whatever ridiculous moniker he' going under today). Don't worry though, they get Hip Hop back safe and sound.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Back in the Day #1 - Funky 4+1 - That's The Joint

This is the first of a new series of posts concentrating on gems from the vaults of Rap. The concept is simple so I wont insult you by making too much of an explanation. Along side the MP3 of the original track I may also post remixes, music that has been influenced by the original and sampled material.

It is fitting that Funky 4+1 get the first post in the series - they were also the first rap group from the Bronx to get a recording deal and they were the first rap group to perform live on TV (in 1981 on a broadcasting of SNL hosted by homegirl Debbie Harry). Speaking of homegirls and firsts, Sha Rock was one of the first females to be in a rap group.

In 1980 they released what is still probably their best known track 'That's the Joint' on none other than Sylvia Robinsons 'Sugarhill Records'. The record sampled 'Rescue Me' by A Taste of Honey and has since been sampled by the likes of the Beastie Boys (twice) and De La Soul: Pos Rhymes whilst Maseo samples "Run me a score from the Funky Four Plus One More//(It's the joint!)//Rewind that back".

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

The Top 100 Rap Singles

Just to clog up Hype Machine for a hot minute and to collate the top 100 (as voted by the readers of Hip Hop Connection 5 years ago) I've put this post together! Thanks for all the comments so far, there are some good ideas for tracks that should be here.
*Wu-Tang link because track not in zipped file*

Tracks 100-91 zshare link

100. Big Daddy Kane - Wrath of Kane – 1988
99. Public Enemy - Dont Believe the Hype– 1988
98. Mos Def - Universal Magnetic – 1997
97. De La Soul - The Magic Number – 1989
96. Just-Ice - Cold Gettin' Dumb – 1987
95. Dilated Peoples - The Platform– 2000
94. Public Enemy - Bring the Noise – 1988
93. Lords of the Underground - Cheif Rocka– 1994
92. Naughty By Nature - Hip Hop Hooray– 1993
91. Wu-Tang Clan - Triumph– 1997

Tracks 90-81 zshare link

90. Mantronix - Bassline - 1986
89. BDP - My Philosophy - 1988
88. Blak Twang – Red Letter Day – 1998
87. A Tribe Called Quest - Description Of A Fool - 1991
86. EPMD - Headbanger - 1989
85. LL Cool J - Rock the Bells- 1985
84. KRS-One Sound Of Da Police- 1993
83. Hijack - Style Warriors Revenge -
82. Biz Markie - Nobody beats the Biz- 1988
81. Brand Nubian - Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down- 1992
80. EPMD – You Got’s to Chill (zshare)– 1988
Run DMC – Runs House (zshare)– 1985
Eminem – Guilty Conscience (zshare) – 1999
Slick Rick – La-Di-Da-Di (zshare)– 1985
Gang Starr – F ull Clip (zshare)– 1999
Boogie Down Productions – Poetry (zshare)– 1987
A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum (zshare)– 1990
Pharcyde – Ya Mama (zshare) – 1992
Sugar Bear – Don’t Scandalise Mine (zshare) – 1988
Dr. Dre & Snoop Doggy Dogg – Deep Cover (zshare) – 1992
70. Jeru the Damaja – Come Clean (zshare)– 1994
69. Kurtis Blow – The Breaks (zshare) – 1979
68. Man Parrish - Hip Hop Be Bop (zshare) – 1982
67. T La Rock – Breaking Bells (zshare)– 1986
66. Nas – Represent (zshare) - 1994
65. Dr Dre – Still DRE (zshare) – 2000
64. LL Cool J – Going back to Cali (zshare)– 1988
63. Audio Two – Top Billin’ (zshare)– 1988
62. Beastie Boys – Hold it now, Hit it (zshare) - 1986
61. Mobb Deep – Shook Ones pt. II (zshare)– 1995
60. Rammellzee vs. K-Rob – Beat Bop – 1983
59. Marley Marl – Marley Marl Scratch ft. MC Shan (zshare) – 1985
58. JVC Force - Strong Island (zshare) – 1988
57. LL Cool J - I’m Bad (zshare) – 1987
56. Gang Starr – DWYCK ft. Nice & Smooth (zshare) – 1992
55. De La Soul – Buddy (zshare) – 1990
54. Gang Starr – You know my Steez (zshare) – 1997
53. De La Soul – Eye Know (zshare) – 1989
52. Jurassic 5 – Concrete Schoolyard (zshare) – 1997
51. Craig Mack – Flava In Your Ear (zshare) – 1994
50. Nasty Nas - Halftime (zshare) – 1994 – ‘Illmatic’ (buy here)
49. Cypress Hill - How I Could Just Kill a Man (zshare) – 1991
48. Dilated Peoples - Work the Angles (zshare) – 1998
47. Cypress Hill - Hand on the Pump (zshare) – 1991
46. Run DMC - Walk this Way (zshare) – 1986
45. Eric B & Rakim - Microphone Fiend (zshare) – 1988
44. 2Pac - California Love (zshare) – 1996
43. Hardnoise – Untitled (zshare) – 1990
42. Cypress Hill – Insane in the Brain (zshare) – 1993
41. The Crooklyn Dodgers – Crooklyn (zshare) - 1994

40. Big Daddy Kane – Ain’t no Half Steppin’ (zshare) – 1988
39. Gang Starr – Mass Appeal (zshare) – 1994
38. Eminem – Stan (zshare) – 2000
37. NWA – Express yourself (zshare) – 1989
36. Public Enemy - Public Enemy #1 (zshare) – 1987
35. Ultramagnetic MC’s – Watch Me Now (zshare) – 1988
34. Ice Cube – It was a good day (zshare) – 1993
33. Public Enemy – Welcome to the Terrordome (zshare) – 1990
32. De La Soul – Plug Tunin’ (zshare) – 1988
31. NWA – F*** the Police (zshare) – 1989
30. Run DMC – Sucker MC’s (zshare) – 1983
29. Onyx – Slam (zshare) – 1993
28. A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation (zshare) – 1993
27. A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario (zshare) – 1991
26. De La Soul – Me, Myself and I (zshare) – 1989
25. Souls of Mischief - 93 til Infinity (zshare) – 1993
24. Big Daddy Kane – Raw (zshare) – 1988
23. Eric B & Rakim – I know you got Soul (zshare) – 1987
22. Xzibit – Paparazzi (zshare) – 1996
21. Mos Def – Ms. Fat Booty (zshare) – 1999
20. Eric B & Rakim – Paid in Full (zshare) – 1987
19. LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out (zshare) - 1990
18. Slick Rick – Children’s Story (zshare) – 1988
17. Eric B & Rakim – Eric B is President (zshare) – 1986
16. A Tribe Called Quest – Can I kick it? (zshare) – 1990
15. Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – Whitelines (Don’t do it) (zshare) – 1983
14. Eric B & Rakim – Follow the Leader (zshare) – 1988
13. Wu-Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck (zshare) – 1994
12. Boogie Down Productions – South Bronx (zshare) – 1986
11. O.C. – Time’s up (zshare) – 1994

Tracks 10-1 zshare link

10. Pharoahe Monch – Simon Says – 1999
9. House of Pain – Jump around – 1992
8. Sugarhill Gang – Rappers Delight – 1979
7. Wu-Tang Clan – CREAM – 1994
6. Dr. Dre – Ain’t Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang – 1992
5. Public Enemy – Fight the Power – 1990
4. NWA – Straight Outta Compton – 1988
3. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message – 1982
2. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You (TROY) – 1992
1. Public Enemy – Rebel without a Pause – 1987

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Dear SB

Thanks for the comments, I appreciate it very much! Not that I need to defend the worlds original rap magazine but just so you know...

"...the top 100 was compiled from Hip Hop Connection readers votes, those of Hip-Hop Connection's writing staff and a quick poll of a few valued professionals. One crucial point that all entries from 2001 onwards were disqualified. Why? Because a single's real test is whether it can transcend the place and time it was released in and enjoy a life of it's own. All our top 100 clearly have."

If it was my list maybe Snoop, Biggie and Jay-Z would have been there. Keep your peelers open for posts in the future that include omissions (?!).

If you have an opinion on this please post a comment and let's get a discussion going. I'd like to do a post with all the tracks that you readers wanted to see in the top 100 so let me know!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

HHC Top 100 rap singles 10-1

#5&1 - Public Enemy

This is it; the grand finale. The Top 10 is here and some of you could probably guess its contents. Some of you will probably wonder why some tracks made it to the top, I believe they all can be justified; in this post I am going to write why I think each track deserves to be here.

10. Pharoahe Monch – Simon Says – 1999 – Internal Affairs (buy album here or tell me somewhere else where it's actually available and cheap!)
This track is here simply because there never was and never will be another track like it. Monch smashes this club hit that appeals to all kinds of hip hop fan and is guaranteed to make you hit the dance floor (even though you’ll never understand afterwards how it’s possible to dance to this).

9. House of Pain – Jump around – 1992 – House of Pain (buy album here)
It’s here because HoP managed to make a hard track with pop sensibilities, an amazing crossover tune with mass appeal. Not many acts manage to do it with credibility, even if you think you shouldn’t really like this you obviously do and I bet y’all do jump around when it comes on in a club.

8. Sugarhill Gang – Rappers Delight – 1979 – Rappers Delights (buy album here)
Erm…this doesn’t deserve to be here. Psyche! It’s the blueprint: samples (although they are replayed by session musicians), crowd involving party lyrics, boasting lyrics and story telling lyrics all in one hefty track. Where would we be now without this? Forget the controversy surrounding who released the first rap track and who actually wrote these rhymes and honour the Sugarhill.

7. Wu-Tang Clan – CREAM – 1994 – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (buy album here)
This is the anthem for all Hip Hoppers who are trying to make money and definitely the best and most well known acronym in the game and that is why it’s here. Oh and the amazing RZA track (his best?) and carefully thought out lyrics serve to flesh out the concept to perfection.

6. Dr. Dre – Ain’t Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang – 1992 – The Chronic (buy album here)
Why is this here?
a) It introduced Snoop to the world: good move Dre.
b) It’s all you need for cruising in the summertime.
c) This was innovative, Dre totally changed up the sound of Hip Hop all on his ownsome.
d) This is pure freshness…still, 15 years on.

5. Public Enemy – Fight the Power – 1990 – Fear of A Black Planet (buy album here)
The average Telegraph reader would maintain that rap music is mindless and repetitive. Are they right? Of course they’re not! Chuck D presents the idea that ordinary people are involved in politics as much as the politicians are, his methods maybe a little unorthodox (no lobbying, voting or letter writing; just fighting!) but his sentiment is important nevertheless. The subject here is still relevant even if the sound is dated. This track represents Hip Hops intelligence.

4. NWA – Straight Outta Compton – 1988 – Straight Outta Compton (buy album here)
So far we’ve had the underground breakthrough club hit, the party track, the original track, the money song, the summertime cruising song, the politically charged protest track and here we have the angry track in all its teen angst glory. This track needs to be here just for that reason.

3. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message – 1982
If I continue the theme of the comment on the last track then this is the track that has a message, it’s the reality rap, it tells it how it is, it is life in the Bronx documented on wax. This opened up a million and one opportunities for rappers to really open up and tell us how they were living. This tune was the nod of the head that gave the go ahead for MC’s to rap about anything they wanted to rap about.

2. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You (TROY) – 1992 – Mecca and The Soul Brother (buy album here)
Yup, this track is an entirely different sort of track to all the others in the top 10. This is the reminiscing track about and dedicated to a single person (T-Roy). This track could have been sad and melancholy due to its subject matter. Instead the bouncy horn driven beat really is a befitting tribute to T-Roy (he was a dancer) because if this came on in a club you wouldn’t stop dancing to shed a tear, you’d carry on dancing wouldn’t you?

1. Public Enemy – Rebel without a Pause – 1987 – It Takes a Nation of Millions… (buy album here)
Go to your itunes and type 1987 in the search box. Listen to all the other tracks from ’87. Ask yourself this: Does ‘Rebel without a Pause’ sound like them? Then answer thus: No. You could also check every single rap track ever made and ask the same question and still come up with the same negative answer. If this is the best rap single ever to be released we would have to conclude that a good rap track should be sonically original and interesting, that the MC has to mean the lyrics he is spitting and that it should really break the mould as a whole. Personally that sounds like a perfect recipe guideline for how it should be done, all that needs to be added is the personality and vision of the chef.

Obviously just one track does not sum up rap music but after a quick scan of the top 10 and I think you’d all agree that the tracks encapsulate and portray the varied sounds and topics of rap music.

So there we have it; a full 100 rap tracks that you really need to own or to at least have heard. Hit me up with comments such as 'What no Jay-Z?' or 'What no Biggie?'.

‘What next for Certified Banger?’ I hear you (by you I really mean me) ask. Well I’ve got a few ideas lined up and I’m gonna tell you them now but they’re copy written so don’t copy me.

Certified Bangers up and coming features:

‘Singled Out’ – the post where I go downstairs and pick either a tape, CD or vinyl single that I bought over the last 12 years, post the mp3 and write about the track and why I bought it. (Warning: This is gonna be warts and all so beware of ensuing embarrassing tracks)

‘Word Up!’ – the post where I choose a bit of Hippedy Hop slang, give it’s meaning(s) and give you a tune that includes the word in context.

‘Back in the Day’ – I’ve really enjoyed listening to all of these older tracks in the top 100 so I figured I’d post a track a week that was released within the first 5 years of Hip Hop’s birth (which for arguments sake we’ll say is 1979 when a Hip Hop track was first recorded and released)

Sunday, 12 August 2007

HHC Top 100 rap singles 20-11

#20, 17 & 14 - Eric B & Rakim

Onwards and upwards: (Please use the zshare links, not the fileden ones because of this.)

20. Eric B & Rakim – Paid in Full (zshare) – 1987 – Paid in Full (buy album here)
The first rhyme I ever learned – I didn’t have to try. The words of Rakim’s rap seem to naturally flow; it’s almost as if all these words exist just to be in this exact order. This is probably one of my favourite rhymes ever along with the part of Rappers Delight that begins “Well I was coming home late one dark afternoon”.

19. LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out (zshare) - 1990 – Mama Said Knock You Out (buy album here)
“Don’t call it a comeback! I’ve been here for years.” LL used to rhyme hard, now he rhymes for the girls in the clubs – Shame. (Generalisation I know)

18. Slick Rick – Children’s Story (zshare) – 1988 – The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (buy album here)
The be-patched one does what he does best with this track, he tells a story in his lazy London/New York accent. This track, which bore some resemblance to a later misdemeanour and arrest (he shot his cousin), was self produced.

17. Eric B & Rakim – Eric B is President (zshare) – 1986 – Paid in Full

16. A Tribe Called Quest – Can I kick it? (zshare) – 1990 – People’s Instinctive Travels… (buy album here)
I’ve recently been thinking of making a range of products with rap lyrics on them. The inspiration for this was ATCQ, can you imagine a doormat that quotes “Wipe your feet really good on the rhythm rug”? It would be my pride and joy.

15. Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – Whitelines (Don’t do it) (zshare) – 1983
1983! Mental. I can’t believe that this is that old. So many people review old albums and the same old quote comes out: ‘it hasn’t aged’. Often writing that is a blatant lie; I read a recent review of ‘It takes a nation…’ which included those overused words, that album has aged! However, I feel it is justifiable to say that ‘Whitelines’ hasn’t aged, it’s still relevant and it’s still unequalled sonically.

14. Eric B & Rakim – Follow the Leader (zshare) – 1988 – Follow the Leader (buy album here)
The fattest bassline to ever grace a classic hip hop track? You decide. On its own it would be menacing but coupled with the jaunty brass stabs it makes perfect music to saunter down the street to. Be careful what your face looks though; those lyrics will provoke a scowl that frighten the average old lady.

13. Wu-Tang Clan – Protect Ya Kneck (zshare) – 1994 – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (buy album here)
I love that guy who rings up the radio station, he has the coolest ever way of saying ‘because’. This is another Wu track that displays how their unique lyrical stylings fit the gritty beat in a way that other MC’s could only dream of.

12. Boogie Down Productions – South Bronx (zshare) – 1986 – Criminal Minded (buy album here)
Fresh for 86, suckers. For ’07? Not so fresh but good nonetheless.

11. O.C. – Time’s up (zshare) – 1994 – Word…Life (buy album here)
This was one that I hadn’t ever heard until I decided to compile this top 100. I can’t be bothered to go and check but I’m pretty sure this is the hypnotic, heavy beat they use in the battles in 8 Mile.


Thanks to Aaron M (again) I have actually completed the top 100, he just emailed me a link for Blak Twang's, oooh, it's the entire album, '19 Long Time' from 1998. Once opening the .rar file I hope to find 'Red Letter Day' thus making a complete 100. Thanks mate!

...Now I'm just waiting for it to download whilst the tracks for the top 100 upload via a wireless connection - it aint quick...

Here we are:

Blak Twang - Red Letter Day (zshare)

Saturday, 11 August 2007

50 vs. Kanye

Haha, look at his face!

Don't worry party peeps, the next installment of the top 100 is ready but due to me not having the internet any more at home (I deleted my username and password by accident) and the fact that I've been up to other things (like becoming 23 today) I haven't posted it yet. Watch this space over the next couple of days.

One thing I did find out today (via was that 50 Cent has vowed to quit recording as a solo artist if Kanye outsells him on September the 11th. Well after a quick shufty on the interline I've procured these figures to help us think about this:

Kanye's 'Late Registration' debuted at #1, selling over 900,000 copies in its first week.

50's 'The Massacre' reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and the UK Albums Chart and sold 1.14 million copies in its first four days of release, making it the sixth fastest-selling album since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991.

Hmm so by those accounts 50 will win anyway? But...

In its first week of release, 'Get Rich or Die Tryin' (50's first album proper) sold 872,000 records making it the second highest week of sales of any rap album in history.

Kanye's 'The College Dropout' sold 440,000 copies in the first week of its release.

so... Fiddy still wins. but who knows, have the tables turned? I probably wont be buying either of them anyway (partly due to Hype Machine and already leaked songs from both and partly because I'd rather spend my money more wisely) but I will be interested to see the outcome of this confident boast.

I might as well say this now whilst we're on the subject: I respect both rappers for what they do. 50 Cent is a business machine and let's face it, who amongst us wouldn't do what he has half the chance and Kanye is one of today's most innovative and accesible producers. Also 50 is a showman, he put's on an awesome gig and my free ticket to the show was well worth it with Mobb Deep, MOP and Ma$e being thrown in as well, oh, and the Mitchell Brothers (who banged) and the rest of the G Unit monkeys.

Anyway, this war of the ego's should be interesting. My money's on 50 but I sit on the fence as to who I want to win the first day's sales war.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Having fed the 5000...

The 5000th visitor came from Milton Keynes and was referred here from Eclectic Hermit, thanks Tom!

HHC Top 100 rap singles 30-21

#27&28 - A Tribe Called Quest

I’m back, hope you’re hungry. This is probably one of the best run of 10 songs in this countdown so far. I suppose it is expected as now we are nearing the top of the charts. 30 songs to go and I bet most heads could predict which tracks are contained in the higher end of the rundown. The thing I want to know is; what do you think the top 3 will be? Leave me a comment with your predictions.

30. Run DMC – Sucker MC’s (zshare) – 1983 – Run DMC (buy album here)
Personally I welcome the presence of instrumentation and melody in Hip Hop but I would never discredit the minimalist production styles of the 80’s. For younger Hip Hop fans Run DMC aren’t always easy to listen to, let’s face it in this day in age they are dated. Your lil’ sis could do these beats on a casio keyboard, anyone and their dads turntable can do baby scratches and the lyrics are not complex. Having said that, this song has something, that important je ne sais quoi and it is a classic.

29. Onyx – Slam (zshare) – 1993 – Bacdafucup (buy album here)
Woah, 10 years later and my, haven’t things changed? This song displays an entirely different vocal style to that of Run DMC; it’s altogether rugged and raw and downright hard to decipher. The beat is sample-tastic and very 90’s in a ‘mean muggin’ in the club’ kind of way.

28. A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation (zshare) – 1993 – Midnight Marauders (buy album here)
Hang on, 1993 also? Yes, and as far removed from Onyx as could be possible. It is sample driven but an entirely different vibe lounges around this track with it’s feet up. The tribe come totally horizontal here with some rhymes about getting girls. This is why all those other bloggers have ATCQ so high in their top albums lists.

27. A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario (zshare) – 1991 – The Low End Theory (buy album here)
Even the Tribe could produce something on its way towards the banging end of the 90’s Hip Hop spectrum. 2 minutes and 40 seconds in and, who’s that? Busta Rhymes! And he’s bringing it raw - pure rawness, rawity, rawkussnes and rawful. Bussa Buss entirely switches the Tribe vibe up and kills this track. This is why it’s hot.

26. De La Soul – Me, Myself and I (zshare) – 1989 – 3 Feet High and Rising (buy album here)
The more I immerse myself in this top 100, the more I realise that De La were visionaries. 3 Feet…really paved the way out of the 80’s for Hip Hop. If I weren’t only 3 when this came out I’m sure I would have appreciated its freshness and its change of direction even more than I do now.

25. Souls of Mischief - 93 til Infinity (zshare) – Ummm, 1993! – 93 til Infinity (buy album here)
Say wha’? It’s 1993 again, what a year and again another vibe. SoM bring us some sort of a sweltering, in the park tinged track. Basically, if you have a skateboard (you know one of those fat 80’s ones?) get it outta the cupboard and go and rip up a drained pool whilst playing this on your big shiny ghetto blaster or your prototype walkman.

24. Big Daddy Kane – Raw (zshare) – 1988
Sorry about the quality of this and that it has Kool G Rap on it. Ah no, that’s nothing to apologise for. If you were on the receiving of these rhymes, man, you’d be crushed.

23. Eric B & Rakim – I know you got Soul (zshare) – 1987 – Paid in Full (buy album here)
Rakim is the epitome of cool, which US rapper wouldn’t cite him as an influence or idol? The answer: One who models himself entirely upon Rakim. Respect Rakim.

22. Xzibit – Paparazzi (zshare) – 1996 – At the Speed of Life (buy album here)
To quote HHC (circa March 2002) ‘[Xzibit] will never be a part of the paid up superstar fraternity’ – Ha! How times have changed, how wrong they were. I believe I recently read that Xzibit was one of the many sellouts in the game and to me that equals ‘paid up’! I like Xzibit, I like his tunes and this is one of the best; the beat is so melancholy whilst X to the Z is agitated, furious and hungry.

21. Mos Def – Ms. Fat Booty (zshare) – 1999 – Black on Both Sides (buy album here)
If I were to compose one of those question tree things (like they put in tweenage girls magazines) to discern what type of Hip Hop fan the reader was I would definitely have a question that read: Are all 90’s Rawkus releases the definition of real Hip Hop. If the person answered ‘Yes’ they would get this answer in a pink box: ‘True Head: You love Hip Hop more than life itself. You are satisfied only by the best. Don’t listen to the backpack taunts, you know you’re better than the name caller. If the person answered ‘No’ then they would get this in a brown box: ‘Pop Tart: Go and listen to your thousands of bland mixtapes of dross from Dipset, 50 and that weird guy who raps about aliens and abortions. You obviously are happy having your head in the sand.’

Here endeth this post. Your favourite rap single not in here yet? Maybe it’s in the top 20, maybe it’s not – wait and see!