It’s no surprise that New York City dominates the list, with teams in particular trumping solo artists. Sugarhill Gang (Rapper’s Delight), Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five (The Message), Wu-Tang Clan (CREAM), Public Enemy (Fight The Power), Eric B & Rakim (Full Pay) and A Tribe Called Quest (Electric Relaxation ) all get nodes. Nas’s grimy NY State Of Mind and Mobb Deep’s sinister Shook Ones (Part II) keep nodding.
It’s also a specific era of East Coast dominance that garnered top marks in the poll: Five of the top 10 songs are undisputed New York classics released between 1989 and 1994. “Golden Age” broader weight of the hip-hop can be felt in the rest. from the survey as well. Twelve of the Top 25 songs were released between 1992 and 1995. By contrast, only seven of the Top 25 were released after 1998.
However, not all East Coast heavyweights are represented. With Nas and The Notorious BIG on the list, it’s apparent that JAY-Z, usually the third in this triptych of rap legends, is left out. There are strong arguments throughout JAY-Z’s catalog for including him (Hard Knock Life, Big Pimpin’, to name just two), and the fact that critics nominated 18 different songs from him may have split the votes. . But one notable absentee from the polls is Empire State of Mind, a song whose presence should be undeniable. A cultural and commercial success, the rapper’s first number one is a New York City soundtrack.
The year 2019 marked a resurgence for women in hip-hop with Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion taking the throne and Missy Elliott finally being recognized as one of the greatest songwriters of her generation. Representation is an ongoing battle, but it’s refreshing to see Queen Latifah and Lauryn Hill receive recognition on the list. Queen Latifah’s UNITY was a defiant call to feminism in 1993, and she still resonates with queens everywhere fitting her crowns. Lauryn Hill carried the torch as the multi-hyphenate and talented doyenne. Her work on The Fugees or any number of tracks from The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill could make the list, but Doo Wop (That Thing) is apt. Queen Latifah’s Ladies First (featuring Monie Love) and Lil Kim’s Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix) featuring Left Eye, Angie Martinez, Da Brat and Missy Elliott are equally worthy anthems. Not Tonight is often cited by the new generation as the model for female rap unit.