We approached hundreds of hip-hop and music experts — critics, industry figures, artists, academics — and from 15 countries across six continents responded by filling in an online poll in August and September Each critic voted for five songs, ranking them from one favourite to five 5th favourite. We awarded 10 points for first ranked track, eight points for second ranked track, and so on down to two points for fifth place. The song with the most points won. We split ties by the total number of votes: songs with more votes ranked higher. Any ties remaining after this were split by first place votes, followed by second place votes and so on: songs with more critics placing them at higher up the lists up ranked higher. Biba Adams, Critic US 1. Players, Slum Village 2. Push It, Salt-N-Pepa 4.
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It was perhaps the final evolutionary form — a mealy and edgeless arena ballad — of the rapper-singer collaborations that, over the prior two-plus decades, had come to dominate hip-hop and, increasingly, pop. By that point, the formula — a rapper brings narrative, and a singer brings pathos, joy or sensuality — was still largely unquestioned. But in truth, songs like this had become rote and unimaginative. That same year, someone finally noticed, and in one fell swoop, solved the problem. Drake exploded the notion that those component parts had to be delivered by two different people, and also deconstructed what was expected from each of them. His hip-hop was fluid, not dogmatic. And in so remaking it, he set the template for what would eventually become the global pop norm. At that time, however, the genre had just come out of an intense Auto-Tune phase; the notion that a rapper might lean heavily on melody was largely considered heresy. He fundamentally rewrote the rules of what it meant to be a rapper in the s. He was able to be tough and tender, write chest-puffing boasts that felt shocking and also the catchy hooks that made them go down easily.
We had a hard time coming up with 10 hip-hop albums , but when it comes to songs, we had to stop ourselves at Yep, songs and mixtapes murdered albums in Dolla recorded this slow cooker just days before he was murdered in L. Once in a while, alt-rap specialists like Blackalicious and various members of the Hiero clan pop up to remind us that the west coast isn't all hyphy and big basslines.
The first national Miami bass hit came from Lady Tigra and Bunny D, teenagers with personality for days who met as dancers on a local TV show and had rhyme battles with boys in the high school lunchroom. In , it blew up into one of the unlikeliest Top 10 jams ever. With a vocal from Keys, the song took on an angelic power. An Afrocentric crew who rapped about not dating crackheads were hardly natural stars. But Brand Nubian were so good they made it seem like a sure thing. At the time, Bone Thugs had lost several loved ones, including Eazy E, who signed them in Over amped-up sax and marimba, A-Plus, Tajai, Opio and Phesto traded flicking, word-spilling vignettes with uncanny exuberance. Digital Underground mastermind Shock G wrote the bass line for this funky free-form party jam and invented a fictional fake-nosed character named Edward Ellington Humphrey III to perform it. In , Brooklyn trio U. Bay Area O.