Make me a comprehensive rap music mixtape, 1986 to 2009.
November 10, 2009 1:37 PM   Subscribe

If you could pick one rap song for every year, what would those songs be? I'll take individuals suggestions or entire lists. I'm looking at 1986 to 2009.

A friend wants an "introduction to rap music" sort of mix CD. I was just going to copy a James Brown album for her, but I decided the best survey would be to pick one song for each year, and make sure I got all the regional diversity in there. Mainstream rap, indie rap, whatever.

I've got my ideas but thought you all might have better ones.

Bonus question: what is an iconic rap album cover or other image that you would use for a mixtape cover? Something that really sums up the music in some way.
posted by kensington314 to Media & Arts (78 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
1994: Regulate by Warren G. and Nate Dogg
1995: Gin and Juice by Snoop Dogg
1996: California Love
2000: The Real Slim Shady

Um, I'm old.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:42 PM on November 10, 2009

Nothin' but a "G" Thang - 1993
posted by nitsuj at 1:42 PM on November 10, 2009

2003: Hey Ya!
posted by rmless at 1:46 PM on November 10, 2009

1988: Straight Outta Compton
1989: Fight the Power

For some reason, I thought Straight Outta Compton was 1989, but Wikipedia disagrees.
posted by mhum at 1:48 PM on November 10, 2009

I am not sure one song a year is such a good idea. 1994, 95 and 96 had such a stream of unbelievable songs (compared to 2006, 07 and 08) that it would be hard to arbitrarily to choose one song from each year. I think a much better idea would be to identify 15 rappers and include an iconic song or two from each of them. You could do ~5 rappers from the different eras for example:

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
Big Daddy Kane
Kool G Rap
Public Enemy

Early 90s
Dr. Dre/Snoop
Mobb Deep
Something from Wu-Tang

Late 90s and beyond:
Mos Def
Kanye (*sigh*)
posted by milarepa at 1:48 PM on November 10, 2009

1989: Fight the Power by Public Enemy.
posted by scody at 1:49 PM on November 10, 2009

1989: Fight the Power by Public Enemy
2004: Fit but you know it by the Streets
1995: Black Steel by Tricky
posted by Fiery Jack at 1:50 PM on November 10, 2009

1986: Run DMC's cover of "Walk This Way." Huge.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:50 PM on November 10, 2009

I think you might be onto something, milarepa - but what about the songs? Eric B. and Rakim had too many songs for me to pick from. Ditto Nas. Ditto Wu-Tang, ditto 2Pac.

Help me out - give me song titles!
posted by kensington314 at 1:51 PM on November 10, 2009

2001: "Heart of the City" -- Jay Z and Jaguar Wright.
posted by hermitosis at 1:51 PM on November 10, 2009

1991 New Jack Hustler by Ice-T (O.G. would work as well.)

And for the '80s you gotta have Run DMC. I'd suggest 1986 - It's Tricky or 1988 - Tougher than Leather.
posted by quin at 1:55 PM on November 10, 2009

I know it's older than your date range, but it's Rapper's Delight essential for any introduction to rap?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:55 PM on November 10, 2009

What, no MC 900' Jesus?
posted by fleacircus at 1:55 PM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

1993: Protect Ya Neck Wu-Tang Clan
posted by Loser at 1:56 PM on November 10, 2009

That's an interesting question, Winsome Parker Lewis. Some gets sacrificed to the gods of the arbitrary: 1986 onward is two discs of 12 songs, which I like.

Otherwise, I think that I was looking at 1987 or 1998 as the birth of modern rap (emphasis on flow birthed by Rakim, Kook G Rap, etc, plus early proliferation of gangsta rap). Then I figured 1986 would let me get Run DMC in there.
posted by kensington314 at 1:58 PM on November 10, 2009

"Bring the Noise" by Public Enemy is a great, great song. 1987
posted by caddis at 1:59 PM on November 10, 2009

"Ms. Jackson" - OutKast (2000 based on the album release; 2001 based on the single release)
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:00 PM on November 10, 2009

If you want to go back to 1982 then I would include "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash.
posted by caddis at 2:04 PM on November 10, 2009

1986: Walk This Way Aerosmith/Run DMC
1987: No Sleep 'Till Brooklyn Beastie Boys
posted by Loser at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2009

1990: Either "U Can't Touch This" by M.C. Hammer or "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice
1991: "O.P.P." by Naughty by Nature
1992: "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot
1993: "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

As lame as it might be to recommend M.C. Hammer and/or Vanilla Ice, the fact remains that those songs owned 1990. The period 1990-1992 was kind of interesting for rap, breaking into the mainstream consciousness in a major way, aided in no small part by accurate Soundscan numbers.
posted by mhum at 2:06 PM on November 10, 2009

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: The Message
Rakim: I Ain't No Joke
Big Daddy Kane: Ain't No Half Steppin
Kool G Rap: Streets of NY
Slick Rick: Children's Story
KRS One: The Bridge Is Over
Public Enemy: Fight the Power
Dr. Dre/Snoop: G Thang
Nas: The World is Yours
Mobb Deep: Shook Ones
Biggie: Juicy
Tupac: Ambitionz of a Ridah/All Eyez On Me
Wu-Tang: Protect Your Neck
Jay-Z: Hard Knocks Life/Big Pimpin'
Outkast: Ms. Jones/Hey Ya
Kanye (*sigh*): Jesus Walks
posted by milarepa at 2:08 PM on November 10, 2009

Chiming back in: for 1986/87, something off the Beasties' Licensed to Ill (I prefer "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" over "Fight for Your Right," but obviously the latter was the much bigger hit); the year depends on whether you're going by when the album was released ('86) vs. the singles ('87). You could also go with something from Paul's Boutique for 1989, but if you're really doing only one song a year, then that would imply dropping "Fight the Power," which, NO.

I too am old.
posted by scody at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2009

I can't believe that nobody has mentioned Jeru the Damaja or Gang Starr (Guru) for the early to mid nineties. How about some love for Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth? Funny, I am a west coast girl, but I always preferred east coast hip hop.
posted by msali at 2:14 PM on November 10, 2009

A question: what is each song supposed to represent? The most popular song of the year? The best (in some critical sense) song of the year? Or the song which most accurately represents the state of rap in that year?
posted by mhum at 2:16 PM on November 10, 2009

Okay, to the PE people:

"Fight the Power" is the obvious contender, though "Bring the Noise" is an obvious one too. What do you think about this: "Burn Hollywood Burn."

Let me explain: It kills three birds with one stone - PE still doing what they did well, Ice Cube rhyming over the Bomb Squad at his absolute peak, and BDK still pretty good.

That is 1990, so it frees up 1987, 1988, and 1991 for other rappers.

Good idea/bad idea?
posted by kensington314 at 2:17 PM on November 10, 2009

I don't know about year-by-year either; it's arbitrary. I'd almost pick artists instead.

First, this, to me, the "definitive" hip-hop album cover:

Inconveniently, my list inadvertently includes a lot of Dre. Straight Outta Compton (NWA), Ain't Nothin But A G Thang (Dre and Snoop), and California Love (which, I think, is a showcase of some of his best rhyming [and Tupac's, for that matter]).

For Biggie (who must, by all means, be represented), I'd pick either Juicy, Things Done Changed, or Mo Money Mo Problems (the latter because it includes Ma$e and "Puff Daddy," who pretty much represent mid-to-late 90's NY rap until Jay-Z hit).

Eminem's best song is Lose Yourself. Anybody who disagrees is wrong.

For Wu-Tang, I'd go with C.R.E.A.M., although Protect Ya Neck is good. Triumph is amazing, but probably way too long.

I can go on for a long time. To think I just wanted to point out the album cover.
posted by General Malaise at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2009

Bring that shit msali. I was just thinking about Daily Operation.

To mhum: I think I just want you to tell me what you would want to represent to someone who didn't know about rap music. Whatever that means to you. In the end I will probably try to balance all three that you mentioned: popularity, quality, and representation. Points will also go to songs that helped determine the sound of the music in some way going forward. So while msali's suggestion of Pete Rock/CL Smooth doesn't hit my favorites, I know I need to put Pete Rock's beats in there somewhere.
posted by kensington314 at 2:20 PM on November 10, 2009

1991 - Naughty By Nature's "OPP"
1992 - House of Pain's "Jump Around"
1993 - Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Brain"
2003 - Outkast's "Hey Ya"
posted by twistofrhyme at 2:21 PM on November 10, 2009

General Malaise: You gotta lobby hard to get any Biggie song in over "Gimme the Loot." Call me crazy.
posted by kensington314 at 2:22 PM on November 10, 2009

1999/2000: Centaur - Buck 65 - single, 1999; 2000, album. Indie Canadian hip-hop, lyrics about the sex and violence around hip-hop and whatnot, featuring a sample from the movie Carrie. The single has a great extended cut, with more strings.

2001: Makeshift Patriot - Sage Francis (the EP came out in 2003, but that song was made a month after 9/11, and put online shortly there-after), covers indie rap.

2008: My President - Young Jeezy, clinched the Democratic nomination for President sez Wikipedia, covers Southern Rap
posted by filthy light thief at 2:22 PM on November 10, 2009

Both Unbelievable & Kick In the Door >> Gimme the Loot.

Sorry kensington314.
posted by milarepa at 2:27 PM on November 10, 2009

Oh man. You're going to send me back to listen to Biggie with a really critical ear, but if he nabs 1994, what happens to Illmatic?
posted by kensington314 at 2:28 PM on November 10, 2009

And skip the year-by-year, focus instead on the over-all progress. If you have something from the Dirty South and follow it with a Hyphy, it might not make as much sense as if you made an attempt at transition.

Also: DJ Shadow, for the instrumental tip (though I really like Midnight In A Perfect World (Gab Mix), 1996) and he also gets into the Hyphy movement.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:29 PM on November 10, 2009

Okay, filthy light thief, what is this transition from Dirty South to hyphy you're suggesting? Would it go: Too Short/E-40, then NOLA, then Atlanta, then back to Oakland/East Bay circa 2004?
posted by kensington314 at 2:31 PM on November 10, 2009

Oh man. You're going to send me back to listen to Biggie with a really critical ear, but if he nabs 1994, what happens to Illmatic?

That was the principle reason that I said the year to year thing was ill-advised. Two of the most influential hip hop albums ever dropped within a few months of each other. And the following year was just as good, if not better.
posted by milarepa at 2:31 PM on November 10, 2009

2006 - Ghostface Killah - Shakey Dog, from Fishscale.
posted by fire&wings at 2:32 PM on November 10, 2009

Oh yeah! Instrumental, Ninja Tune. Definitely some Coldcut.
posted by msali at 2:32 PM on November 10, 2009

I think I just want you to tell me what you would want to represent to someone who didn't know about rap music.

Okey dokey. Here's more suggestions along the representation/popularity axis:

2000: "Big Pimpin'" by Jay-Z (the pinnacle of the big pimpin' genre)
2002: "Lose Yourself" by Eminem (Eminem is a genre unto himself)
2003: "Stand Up" by Ludacris (dirty south*)
2007: Either "This is Why I'm Hot" by Mims or "Crank That" by Soulja Boy (ringtone rap)
2008: "Lollipop" by Lil' Wayne (autotune)

*I would have put Nelly's "Hot in Herre" here except that I have Eminem for 2002.
posted by mhum at 2:40 PM on November 10, 2009

I'm amazed no one has mentioned A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, or the Pharcyde. Some of the suggestions so far are the rap equivalent of calling Britany Spears "rock music."

I won't suggest on a year by year basis, but will instead suggest artists - most of these are from like 1993-2001:

A Tribe Called Quest (huge in the mid to late 90s):
-Award Tour
-Can I kick it?

The Roots (good God...they had the late 90s and early 2000s on LOCK)
-Dat Scat
-Mellow My Man
-What you Want?

Pete Rock and CL Smooth
-They Reminisce over you (this song was HUGE in the early 90s...)
-The Creator

Camp Lo
-Luccini (amazing flow, mid to late 90s)
-Coolie High (one of the best hip hop songs ever made)

The Pharcyde
-Ya Mama (also huge in early 90s, like 93 or 94?)
- Back in the Day
- Drop

Naughty By Nature
-Feel Me Flow

Arrested Development
-Mr. Wendal

-I Got 5 on it

So many more to list... but any of these will make the mixtape more comprehensive.
posted by jnnla at 2:41 PM on November 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Here is my vote for 1997, Sharpshooter's Trust no one
posted by msali at 2:43 PM on November 10, 2009

2001: "Get Ur Freak on" by Missy Elliot

I noticed that there are practically no women rappers being suggested, so here's Missy. Bonus: Timbaland beats. On the other hand, you can get two birds (female rapper and ringtone rap) with one stone by putting in Lil' Mama's "Lip Gloss" from 2007.
posted by mhum at 2:47 PM on November 10, 2009

I'd put in California Uber Alles, if only for rhyming "loophole" with "poop-hole", and If I Only Had a Brain, as per my previous comment, though I don't know how they fit into y'alls stratas and schemes 'n whatnot.
posted by fleacircus at 2:48 PM on November 10, 2009

1998 - DMX Ruff Ryders Anthem
posted by bahama mama at 2:51 PM on November 10, 2009

Please post the finished playilst once you figure it out. I know so damn little about rap, and it'd be nice to have a bit of a primer.
posted by mollymayhem at 2:55 PM on November 10, 2009

I noticed that there are practically no women rappers being suggested...

Oh, yeah. Definitely Missy Elliott. Maybe Lil' Kim or TLC?
posted by runningwithscissors at 2:56 PM on November 10, 2009

With assistance from Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists (and you'll probably also want to check out The Rub's History of Hip-Hop mix tracklists and, for recent years, Wikipedia's by-the-year summaries). (Caveats: I'm stronger on the old stuff, I've got an East-Coast bias, there are plenty of alternative selections for every one of these years, and this is intentionally a very mainstream list--plenty of my favorites are missing, and I'm sure that plenty of yours are as well):

1986: Run DMC - My Adidas
1987: Eric B & Rakim - I Know You Got Soul
1988: Marley Marl f. Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane - The Symphony
1989: I think '89's the best year in hip-hop history, and maybe the chorus saying 'Fight the Power' is right, but please consider Slick Rick's 'Children's Story,' NWA's 'Straight Outta Compton,' 'Bust a Move,' 'Wild Thing,' etc., etc., etc.)
1990: A Tribe Called Quest - Can I Kick It?
1991: Geto Boys - Mind Playing Tricks On Me
1992: Dr. Dre f. Snoop Dogg - Deep Cover
1993: Wu-Tang Clan - Protect Ya Neck
1994: Common - I Used To Love h.e.r.
1995: Notorious BIG - Big Poppa
1996: Jay-Z - Can't Knock the Hustle
1997: Missy Elliot - The Rain
1998: Big L - Ebonics
1999: dead prez - Hip-Hop
2000: Eminem - Stan
2001: Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek - Expansion Outro/For Women
2002: Scarface - My Block
2003: Kanye West - Through the Wire
2004: MF DOOM - Hoe Cakes
2005: Cassidy - I'm a Hustla
2006: Clipse - Mr. Me Too
2007: Young Jeezy - White Girl
2008: Lil Wayne - A Milli
2009: Jay-Z - D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)
posted by box at 2:57 PM on November 10, 2009 [5 favorites]

jnla: Some of the suggestions so far are the rap equivalent of calling Britany Spears "rock music."

I fully admit that many of my suggestions fall into that category. But, that's why I asked whether this list was supposed to be representative of quality or popularity. Like it or not, M.C. Hammer or Vanilla Ice were a part of rap history and sometimes history is ugly (e.g.: The Archies' "Sugar Sugar" was Billboard's year-end number one single for 1969). Classifying them as, say, pop music would, IMHO, be contrary to how they were perceived at the time.
posted by mhum at 2:59 PM on November 10, 2009

Yeah, on the female rapper front I've been thinking of MC Lyte, Salt 'n' Pepa, and Jean Grae too. Missy and TLC are good suggestions, as is Lil Mama and the other suggestions people have made. Thanks.
posted by kensington314 at 3:02 PM on November 10, 2009

Okay, filthy light thief, what is this transition from Dirty South to hyphy you're suggesting?

I have no idea, to be honest, but your suggestion sounds good. The problem is, if you're sticking to a strict chronological progression, making it sound good will be harder. If you're willing to fudge the years a little, you could make it easier on yourself (and you listener).
posted by filthy light thief at 3:06 PM on November 10, 2009

If you're worried about not including enough songs by female emcees:

Roxanne Shante - Roxanne's Revenge
MC Lyte - 10% Dis, Cha Cha Cha
Queen Latifah - Wrath of My Madness, Ladies First
Salt 'n' Pepa - Shake Your Thang, Tramp
Yo-Yo - You Can't Play With My Yo-Yo, Ice Cube's 'It's a Man's World'
Lady of Rage - Afro Puffs
Eve - Love is Blind
Lauryn Hill - Everything is Everything, That Thing
Missy Elliot - The Rain, Work It
Bahamadia - Total Wreck, Commonwealth
Rah Digga - Tight, Imperial
Jean Grae - Thank Ya, My Story

If I've omitted a famous female rapper, e.g. Kim, Foxy, or Trina, it was probably on purpose.
posted by box at 3:17 PM on November 10, 2009

Roxanne's Revenge!! Good choice. Also would love to throw Rah Digga or Eve on here.
posted by kensington314 at 3:20 PM on November 10, 2009

oh yes! ok.

1991: Naughty By Nature - Uptown Anthem
1993: Souls of Mischief - 93 'til Infinity
1994: Nas - It Ain't Hard To Tell
1996: Jeru The Damaja - Me Or The Papes
1997: Eminem - Murder, Murder
1998: Tupac - Changes
1999: Prince Paul - MC Hustler
2000: Binary Star - Masters of the Universe
2001: KMD - Fuck Wit Ya Head
2007: Restoring Poetry In Music - Life Is Change
2008: Ise Lyfe - Bad Word Bounce, or Why? - The Hollows

posted by past at 4:00 PM on November 10, 2009

I can't remember if I posted this to a previous thread - and I post too much to AskMeFi (read: am too impatient/lazy/busy at this second) to track it down in my own profile, but here's a set of two CDs I made recently for just such a project:

"Back to the Old School:"
Kanye West - Stronger (2007)
Pharrell - Raspy Shit (2006)
Outkast - Hey Ya (2003)
Nas - I Can (2002)
Deltron 3030 - Time Keeps On Slippin (2000)
DMX - Slippin (1999)
Fugees - Fu-Gee-La (1996)
TLC - Waterfalls (1995)
Queen Latifah - U.N.I.T.Y. (1993)
snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggy Dogg World (1993)
Beastie Boys - Jimmy James (1992)
De La soul - The Magic Number (1989)
NWA - Fuck Tha Police (1988)

"Back to the New School"
Sugar Hill Gang - Apache (1981)
Run DMC - Mary Mary (1988)
DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince - summertime (1991)
Dr Dre - Nuthin But A G Thang (1993)
Wyclef Jean - Anything Can Happen (1997)
Public Enemy - He Got Game (1998)
Dr Dre - The Next Episode (1999)
Nelly - Hot In Herre (2002)
Black Eyed Peas - Hey Mama (2003)
Kice Of Course - Drama (2004)
Pharoahe Monche - Let's Go (2007)
MIA - Paper Planes (2007)
K'Naan - Dreamer (2009)
posted by knile at 4:54 PM on November 10, 2009

Looking at some of the suggestions already made, I'm not sure I'm grasping whether you're making a distinction between rap and hip-hop. Whatever, I'd include 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted in the mix somewhere.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:38 PM on November 10, 2009

I have not made a distinction between rap music and hip-hop music because I'm not sure that a functional one exists, though obviously there's a debate to be had there. Basically my measure is: Does it have rapping? In addition to having rapping, does it have some connection to the DJ and MC music that developed in NYC in the late 1970's/early 1980's.

So music that doesn't use turntables or a DJ could certainly count (see Kanye, most of Dr. Dre after NWA), but music that has rapping doesn't necessarily count (see Weird Al Yankovic, ironic indie-rock, etc.).

That's the yardstick I'm using at least. Again, certainly a larger conversation to be had.
posted by kensington314 at 8:59 PM on November 10, 2009

I guess an important part of the question here is: Do you want to be academically correct, or do you want her to come out of this loving hip hop like a true fan? Because I'd eschew chronological purity in a nanosecond to double-up on some Lauryn Hill tracks, a lot of Pete Rock/C.L. Smooth "T.R.O.Y.", a healthy heap of Method Man & Mary J. Blige on "You're All I Need". Because those songs are both enormously popular and credible as hip hop, and they're the kind of song that turn "casual" listeners (which, since this is MeFi, I'm assuming is an indie music fan who's mostly turned up her nose at hip hop but is willing to give it a try because of your burgeoning flirtation) into people who are passionate about the music.

Sure, I love P.E., but I'd pick "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" over "Fight the Power" or "Bring the Noise" anyday, for the same reasons of sure seductive value as hip hop fanbait. Absolutely need to have some top 40 rap? Then why not LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out", which at least features some credible wordplay?

You should also step off the beaten path a bit with some of the recommendations -- a lot of these are from folks who are recommending a lot of tracks from 1994 or so, when I think a lot of us were still in high school and listening to new songs. What about Chamillionaire's "Ridin'"? By all means, include Outkast, but not "Hey Ya" when you could throw in "Bombs Over Baghdad". It's easy to pick a signature Wu Tang anthem, but why not something by Ghostface instead?

I don't quibble that folks have listed a lot of commercially popular songs above, but I'd suggest making your goal more about persuading someone to give an incredibly broad set of genres that fall under the title of "hip hop" a fair shake. And that's more likely to happen by curating a set of tracks that meet that need, than by making a purely objective survey of the history of these genres.
posted by anildash at 8:59 PM on November 10, 2009

All good thoughts anildash. I think my goal with chronology was to somehow represent the way this music has sounded through the years.

Trouble is, there are 25 songs I could pick in 1994 that would accomplish that. And "Hey Ya" doesn't necessarily accomplish that at all, even though I think it could still merit inclusion for other reasons. (I love Outkast, but I'm also seriously considering just doubling up on a Goodie Mob track to kill birds with one stone. High quality birds, but still. Similarly, see my thoughts on the PE-BDK-Ice Cube connection on Burn Hollywood Burn, a dozen or so posts ago.)

I'm going to check out "Ridin'." I had tons of songs to pick from until about 2007 but petered out in the 07-08-09 area. There are a few but I've realized I really need to step it up personally as a fan of this music. Can't hang out in Supreme Clientele era forever.

Also - I've decided to put LL's 1985 12" version of Rock the Bells, so that knocks off "Mama Said Knock You Out," which is a great suggestion - good rhymes, LL, Marley Marl production, etc.
posted by kensington314 at 10:36 PM on November 10, 2009

Yeah, again, good thoughts anildash. I was struggling so much over Jay-Z, and came upon "This Can't Be Life" as one of my favorite songs and one I know she will like - it's not a single, it's hardly ever rated any mention, it's off an under-celebrated album, etc. but it has Beanie Sigel and Scarface practically in tears, and it's such a winning song.

Which is not to say the classic singles that people have suggested aren't also great. Great input overall.

Keep 'em coming if people aren't tired of this.
posted by kensington314 at 10:41 PM on November 10, 2009

Also, if fuse theorem is still following this, could you maybe elaborate a bit on your personal distinction between rap and hip-hop? Again, I don't use such a distinction, so maybe your input would be useful?
posted by kensington314 at 10:47 PM on November 10, 2009

box's list is excellent.
posted by rq at 7:25 AM on November 11, 2009

You may want to check out the history of hop hop radio shows by the rub, available in MP3 format. I think they currently go from 79 to 99. For any given year, the song you are looking for is probably in that year's episode.
posted by snofoam at 7:48 AM on November 11, 2009

Contraversial I know, but the Pete Rock remix of Juicy would give you a classic Biggie track and a heavy Pete Rock beat in one. Also how about Daylight by Aesop Rock? You mentioned wanting a diverse spread of tunes and (in my mind) they are pretty much the best of that whole indie/alt rap scene. Seconding the Jeru inclusion as well.
posted by Captain Najork at 9:14 AM on November 11, 2009

2009 - Jay Electronica - Exhibit C. Or, if you want to throw him in as 2010, that works too. Straight fire. So new the official track hasn't come out - just the radio rip. Or if you have to go hov for 2009, I'd actually choose Hater (with Kanye) over DOA. Speaking of introductions, you should rap the intro. Hip Hop is participative. Not that you will, but it would be cool.
posted by cashman at 2:19 PM on November 11, 2009

I've been thinking about it, and, although I love including a song about hip-hop like 'Used to Love h.e.r.,' its rose-colored back-in-the-day nostalgia and vaguely-misogynistic lyrics are two of my least favorite things about hip-hop. More importantly, better to leave out Common than leave out Nas. Here's an alternate version of a few years in the mid-90s:

1993: Notorious BIG - Party and Bullshit
1994: Nas - It Ain't Hard to Tell (Large Pro version with the 'Human Nature' sample, of course)
1995: Method Man f Mary J Blige - I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need To Get By (or Raekwon's 'Criminology' or 'Glaciers of Ice,' or GZA's 'Liquid Swords' or 'Duel of the Iron Mic,' or ODB's 'Shimmy Shimmy Ya' or 'Brooklyn Zoo'--'95 belongs to Wu-Tang.)
posted by box at 3:03 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Can I take a census of those following this still?

If you would scrap the year-by-year trope, say Ay.
posted by kensington314 at 5:54 PM on November 11, 2009

Also, box is really right: '95 really does belong to Wu-Tang. I've been sticking to a previous suggestion about CREAM, but "Duel" or some other solo track that would bring in other Wu faces would work really well.
posted by kensington314 at 6:09 PM on November 11, 2009

I was a rap addict when I was younger, and if I had more time I would get into this thread. All I can say is this.........Freestyle Fellowship - Innercity Griots may be the freshest and most representative album for hip-hop I have ever heard. It will take at least 4 or 5 listens just to start to get it.
posted by jasondigitized at 6:39 PM on November 11, 2009

If you would scrap the year-by-year trope, say Ay.

posted by cashman at 8:09 PM on November 11, 2009

I could go either way. The year-by-year thing is its own framing device, and so that takes the pressure off you to come up with some other kind of narrative. Which is a good thing, I think, because it's hard to communicate in two dozen songs how, for example, Yay Area rap and crunk inspired hyphy, or how the G-funk/gangsta-rap and Good Life scenes came developed almost simultaneously. The flipside of that, though, is that a year-by-year approach might minimize the breadth and depth of hip-hop culture. That's what people are getting at when they complain about female emcees being underrepresented, and the year-by-year approach probably guarantees that your Buck 65s, Jean Graes and The Streetses won't get in without a shoehorn or an agenda.

Also, I think the year-by-year thing forces a sort of evenhandedness, rather than just letting you ignore new-millennium crack-rap (or whatever) in favor of a bunch of golden-age stuff or early-90s backpacker rap (or whatever). The flipside of that, though, is that important developments might be understated, and that you might wind up with the same kind of Great-Man-ist series of milestones that plagues a lot of popular histories. So, do you want to write a hip-hop junior-high textbook, or do you want to write A People's History of Hip-Hop, know what I'm sayin'? (Or are you trying to craft a sales pitch?)
posted by box at 11:32 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry to keep editing, but one more change:

2007: UGK - International Players Anthem

Conspicuous in their absence (an incomplete list): LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Tone Loc, MC Hammer, Tupac, battle rhyming, hip-house, turntablism.
posted by box at 11:52 AM on November 13, 2009

Box: definitely planning to use either Int'l Players Anthem or, if I can fit it, "Pocket Full of Stones." While I've skipped Ice Cube album tracks, he may in the end appear in two places: The D.O.C's "Grand Finale," and PE's "Burn Hollywood Burn." (That last song also gets in Big Daddy Kane while saving some space in another year.) I've decided to expand backwards also, in order to get LL's "Rock the Bells" in. Pac will show up.

Turntablism seems like a whole other world to itself. Battle rhyming I know I need to get in, I just don't know where or who. Thoughts?
posted by kensington314 at 4:14 PM on November 13, 2009

Also, cashman: Jay Electronica is so 2009, the best possible suggestion. The albumless rapper surviving off radio play and MySpace.
posted by kensington314 at 4:35 PM on November 13, 2009

My first draft had 'The Bridge' for '86 and 'The Bridge is Over' for '87, but I couldn't leave out 'The Symphony,' y'know? This thing's like a jigsaw puzzle. (And I didn't want to wait until 'Know the Ledge' to get Eric B & Rakim in there.) Or you could do 'Takeover' (the version from Unplugged with The Roots, even) and 'Ether'--they're both from '01, though, and you've probably got Jay and Nas on there already. Wax battles are mostly wack, so better to use dis songs.

Cube: The other way to include him would be to put an NWA song on it. 'Fuck the Police' for '88, for example (honestly, it was hard for me to justify leaving it out--'The Symphony' might be the best posse cut ever recorded--life's full of hard decisions, y'know?). Or, if you've ditched the year-by-year thing, and you're going against the limits of a CD-R or something, see if you can fit in one of those St. Ides commercials--I suggest 'Jackin for Malt Liquor'.

Turntablism: It might be a ton of extra work, but you could try to find versions of some of these songs from DJ mixes. If you can find Q-Bert assassinating doubles of 'Rock the Bells' on the Shiggar Fraggar Show, or Boogie Blind cutting up 'Wrath of Kane' on his Live from the PJs mix, or if you can lead from Babu's 'Blind Alley' beat-juggling routine into 'Ain't No Half Steppin,' this would go a long way to showcasing the art of the hip-hop DJ. Additionally, just by choosing songs that feature scratching, you'll include some of its history and development.

Somebody may have already said this, but, when you decide on your final track listing, I hope you'll post it in this question.
posted by box at 7:15 PM on November 13, 2009

Flagged as fantastic.
posted by cashman at 11:40 AM on November 14, 2009

Okay folks. This got out of hand. I eventually decided to skip the year-for-year methodology, as many advised. I have a lot more songs now also. Two discs of 16 songs, and an additional disc that is very miscellaneous and basically doesn't follow much rhyme or reason.

I think a lot the selections are less than conventional, but I have reasons for each if anyone has any questions about any of the choices. The years cited refer to album releases for the most part, except where the 12" are noted.

Also, I have paid no attention to transitions and whether one song sounds good next to another. I am terrible at that, and it seemed a bit beside the point of what my friend wanted. Also I think all rap music sounds good next to all other rap music, just as a personal preference.

Finally, send me a message if you'd like all the songs. I'll put them in a .zip and send them along.

And of course, thanks to everyone who contributed. I didn't include everyone's songs, but everyone's suggestions gave me a lot to think about and ultimately led to other choices. This was fun. I think it tells a certain story even if it is not a complete one.

Let me know what you think if you'd like.

Mixtape I (1985 to 1993)

1. LL Cool J, Rock the Bells 12" version (1982)
2. MC Shan, The Bridge (1985)
3. Run DMC, Peter Piper (1986)
4. Boogie Down Productions, The Bridge is Over (1986)
5. Eric B. and Rakim, I Know You Got Soul (1987)
6. The Steve Martin, EPMD (1988)
7. D.O.C. f/ NWA, The Grand Finale (1989)
8. De la Soul, Me Myself and I, (1989)
9. Cha, Cha, Cha, MC Lyte (1989)
10. Public Enemy f/ Ice Cube and Big Daddy Kane, Burn Hollywood Burn (1990)
11. A Tribe Called Quest, Can I Kick It? (1990)
12. The Geto Boys, Mind Playin' Tricks On Me (1991)
13. Dr. Dre, Let Me Ride (1992)
14. Pete Rock and CL Smooth, They Reminisce Over You (TROY) (1992)
15. Scarface, Now I Feel Ya (1993)
16. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Who Am I (What's My Name?) (1993)

Mixtape II (1993 to 2009)

1. Wu-Tang Clan, Bring Da Ruckus (1993)
2. Nas, Represent (1994)
3. Notorious B.I.G., Juicy (1994)
4. Outkast f/ Cee-lo, Git Up, Git Out (1994)
5. Goodie Mob, Soul Food (1995)
6. Can't C Me, 2Pac (1996)
7. Missy Elliott, The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) (1997)
8. Black Star f/ Common, Respiration (1999)
9. MF DOOM, Doomsday (1999)
10. Jay-Z f/ Beanie Sigel, Where Have You Been (2000)
11. Clipse f/ Jadakiss, Styles P, and Roscoe P. Coldchain, I'm Not You (2002)
12. Kanye West, Jesus Walks (2004)
13. T.I. f/ UGK, Front Back (2006)
14. UGK f/ Outkast, International Players Anthem (2007)
15. Wale f/ Lil Wayne, The Cliche Lil Wayne Feature (It's the Remix Baby!), (2008)
16. Jay Electronica, Exhibit C (2009)

1. NWA, Fuck tha Police (1988)
2. Slick Rick, Children's Story (1988)
3. Too $hort, Don't Fight the Feelin' (1988)
4. De la Soul, Peas Porridge Hot (1991)
5. Ice Cube, A Bird in the Hand (1991)
6. Dr. Dre f/ Snoop Doggy Dogg, Deep Cover (1992)
7. The Pharcyde, Officer (1992)
8. Redman, Time 4 Some Aksion (1992)
9. Del tha Funky Homosapien, Wack M.C.'s (1993)
10. KRS-ONE, Sound of Da Police (1993)
11. Common, Chapter 13 (Rich Man vs. Poor Man), (1994)
12. E-40 f/ B-Legit and Mac Shon, Sideways (1994)
13. Jay-Z, Dead Presidents (1994)
14. The Coup, Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night, (1998)
15. Juvenile, Back That Azz Up (1998)
16. Aesop Rock, The Tugboat Complex (1998)
17. Company Flow, Patriotism (1999)
18. Jay-Z f/ UGK, Big Pimpin' (1999)
19. Pharaohe Monche, Mayor (1999)
20. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon, Maxine (2001)
21. Jean Grae, My Crew, (2003)
22. Fatlip, What's Up Fatlip (2005)
23. Cam'ron, I.B.S. (2006)
posted by kensington314 at 12:14 PM on December 19, 2009 [4 favorites]

TYPE EDIT: LL's Rock the Bells is 1985.
posted by kensington314 at 12:42 PM on December 19, 2009

That miscellaneous mixtape is totally my favorite--you've got some great stuff on there, and it's a bit of a people's history versus the other two, y'know? Awesome.
posted by box at 8:06 PM on January 6, 2010

Thanks! It was totally just a what's what of songs that didn't make the cut but should have (i.e. Slick Rick/story rap, Too Short), weird rap curiosities (i.e. "IBS" by Cam), and songs that have been personal favorites of mine. I thought it was a bit unfocused but I'm glad you liked it.

I'm going to work on sending the mp3s to anyone who requested them next week. I gotta do a batch edit on the mp3 tags first.
posted by kensington314 at 9:30 AM on January 7, 2010

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