Hip-Hop 50: The Soundtrack of a Culture

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The rap group Run DMC poses at the 31st annual Grammy Awards in New York City on March 2, 1988. From left, Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and Jason Mizell "Jam Master Jay." (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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So, with Hip-Hop celebrating its 50 years of existence, it’s only right to spotlight the songs that voiced the culture. In a perfect world, it would be great to list a banger ballad for every year of the genre’s inception since 1973; however, most records weren’t technically Hip Hop created tunes but more so break-beat records used for the block and house parties. So for this list, it’s best to start when the first documented studio-created Hip Hop record was produced in 1979 until 2019, to make it even.

1979

  1. Sugar Hill Gang – Rapper’s Delight
  2. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – Superrappin’
  3. Lady B –  To the Beat Ya’ll
  4. Spoonie Gee – Spoonie Rap
  5. The Sequence – Funk You Up

1980

Kurtis Blow credit by On this Date in Hip Hop. Strictly for editorial purposes. No copyright infringement intended.
  1. Funky Four Plus One – That’s the Joint
  2. Kurtis Blow – The Breaks
  3. Blondie – Rapture
  4. Trickeration – Rap, Bounce, Rockskate
  5. Jimmy Spicer – Adventures of Super Rhyme

1981

  1. Doctor Ice – Calling Dr. Ice
  2. Sugar Hill Gang – Apache
  3. Treacherous Three – Put thee Boogie in your Body
  4. Kurtis Blow – It’s Getting Hot
  5. Kool Kyle the Starchild – It’s Rockin Time

1982

Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five credit by AP
  1. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message
  2. Whodini – Magic’s Wand
  3. Busy Bee Starski – Making Cash Money
  4. Grand Wizard Theodore – Can I Get a Soul Clap(fresh out the pack)
  5. Nairobi – Funky Soul Makossa

1983

  1. Mellie Mel – White Lines
  2. World’s Famous – Malcolm McLaren (Supreme Team)
  3. Jonzun Crew – Space is the Place
  4. The Fearless Four – Problems of the World
  5. West Street MOB – Break Dance(Electric Boogie)

1984

The rap group Run DMC poses at the 31st annual Grammy Awards in New York City on March 2, 1988. From left, Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and Jason Mizell “Jam Master Jay.” (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
  1. Run DMC – It’s Like That
  2. Fat Boys – Fat Boys
  3. Whodini – Freaks Come Out at Night
  4. Newcleus – Jam On It
  5. Kurtis Blow – 8 Million Stories

1985

LL Cool J credit by Bloomberg
  1. LL Cool J – Rock the Bells
  2. Run DMC – King of Rock
  3. Schoolly D – P.S.K. “What Does it Mean?”
  4. LL Cool J – Rock the Bells
  5. U.T.F.O – Roxanne, Roxanne

1986

  1. Run DMC – Walk This Way
  2. Doug E Fresh Ft Slick Rick – The Show
  3. Afrika Bambaataa – Planet Rock
  4. RUN DMC – My Adidas
  5. Salt N Pepa – Push it

1987

Eric B & Rakim credut by Soul'd Out Festival
  1. LL Cool J – I’m Bad
  2. Eric B & Rakim – Paid in Full
  3. Ice T – 6 N in the Morning
  4. BDP – South Bronx
  5. MC Shan – The Bridge

1988

Slick Rick credit by Sony Hall. Strictly for Editorial Purposes. No copyright infringement intended.
  1. NWA – Straight Outta Compton
  2. Slick Rick – Children’s Story
  3. J.J. Fad – Supersonic
  4. Juice Crew – The Symphony
  5. MC Lyte – Lyte as A Rock

1989

FILE – De La Soul’s Vincent Mason, left, and David Jude Jolicoeur perform at Rachael Ray’s Feedback Party at Stubb’s during the South by Southwest Music Festival on Saturday March 18, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Jolicoeur, known widely as Trugoy the Dove and one of the founding members of the Long Island hip hop trio De La Soul, has died at age 54. His representative Tony Ferguson confirmed the reports Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP, File)
  1. Public Enemy – Fight the Power
  2. Special ED – I Got it Made
  3. The D.O.C. – It’s Funky Enough
  4. MC Lyte – Cha Cha Cha
  5. De la Soul – Me Myself and I

1990

  1. Chubb Rock – Treat’Em Right
  2. Digital Underground – The Humpty Dance
  3. MC Hammer – U Can’t Touch This
  4. LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out
  5. Biz Markie – Just a Friend

1991

  1. MC Lyte – Poor Georgie
  2. Naughty by Nature – OPP
  3. Geto Boys – Mind Playing Tricks on Me
  4. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime
  5. A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario

1992

Ice Cube, also known as O’Shea Jackson, performs during Louder Than Life at Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
  1. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – T.R.O.Y.
  2. Wreckx-N-Effect – Rump Shaker
  3. Digable Planets – Rebirth of Slick(Cool Like That)
  4. Ice Cube – Today Was a Good Day
  5. The Pharcyde – Passin Me By

1993

FILE – Rapper Tupac Shakur attends a voter registration event in South Central Los Angeles, Aug. 15, 1996. Authorities in Nevada confirmed Tuesday, July 18, 2023, that they served a search warrant this week in connection with the long-unsolved killing of the late rapper Shakur. (AP Photo/Frank Wiese, File)
  1. Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg – Ain’t Nuthin But A G-Thang
  2. Onyx – SLAM
  3. 2Pac – I Get Around
  4. Salt N Pepa – Shoop
  5. Naughty By Nature – Hip Hop Hooray

1994

Snoop Dogg seen at the Essence Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday, July 6, 2018, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
  1. Warren G ft. Nate Dogg – Regulate
  2. Snoop Dogg – Gin & Juice
  3. Bone Thugs – Thuggish Ruggish
  4. Craig Mack – Flava in Ya Ear – Remix
  5. OutKast – Player’s Ball

1995

** FILE ** Notorious B.I.G., who won rap artist and rap single of the year, clutches his awards at the podium during the annual Billboard Music Awards in New York, in this Dec. 6, 1995 file photo. A prison inmate who implicated a former Los Angeles Police Department officer in the murder of B.I.G., says he lied about the officer’s involvement, a move that provides another twist in a complex and unsolved killing. Waymond Anderson, a former R&B artist now serving a life sentence for murder in a separate case, made the statement in a deposition first reported Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007, in the Los Angeles Times.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
  1. Luniz – I Got 5 On It
  2. Notorious B.I.G. – One More Chance -remix
  3. Method Man & Mary J Blige – I’ll Be There for You
  4. Scarface – I Seen a Man Die
  5. Coolio – Gangsta’s Paradise

1996

Nas. Strictly for editorial purpose. No copyright infringement intended
Nas. Strictly for editorial purpose. No copyright infringement intended
  1. Nas – If I Ruled the World
  2. Outkast – ATLiens
  3. LL Cool J – Doin It
  4. The Fugees – Ready or Not
  5. 2Pac – California Love

1997

  1. Notorious B.I.G. – Hypnotize
  2. Busta Rhymes – Put Your Hands
  3. Missy Elliot – The Rain
  4. Puff Daddy – It’s All About the Benjamins
  5. Lil Kim – Not Tonight(Ladies Night)

1998

Jay-Z performs on the 4:44 Tour at Barclays Center on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
  1. Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life
  2. Outkast – Rosa Parks
  3. Juvenile – Ha
  4. Big Pun – Still Not a Player
  5. DMX – Ruff Ryders

1999

Ms. Lauryn Hill photographed by T. Eric Monroe
  1. Mobb Deep – Quiet Storm -remix
  2. Lauryn Hill – Everything is Everything
  3. B.G. – Bling Bling
  4. Juvenile – Back That Azz Up
  5. Busta Rhymes – What’s It Gonna Be

2000

Nelly arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story” at the Writers Guild Theater on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
  1. Trick Daddy – Shut Up
  2. Nelly – Country Grammar
  3. Black Rob – Whoa
  4. Dr. Dre – Forgot About Dre
  5. Jay Z & UGK – Big Pimpin

2001

FILE – In this April 6, 2016 file photo, actress and rapper Eve attends the LA Premiere of “Barbershop: The Next Cut” in Los Angeles. Eve will replace Aisha Tyler as co-host of CBS’ “The Talk,” joining Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne and Sheryl Underwood. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)
  1. Eve – Let Me Blow Ya Mind
  2. Jay – Z – Izzo (H.O.V.A)
  3. Diddy – Bad Boy for Life
  4. Ludacris – Area Codes
  5. Outkast – Ms. Jackson

2002

  1. Nelly – Hot in Herre
  2. Lil Jon – Get Low
  3. Snoop Dogg – Beautiful
  4. Busta Rhymes – Pass the Courvoisier
  5. Cam’Ron – Oh Boy

2003

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson attends the “Power” FYC event at The Jeremy on Thursday, May 3, 2018, in West Hollywood. Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
  1. Outkast – Hey Ya
  2. Lil Kim – Jump Off
  3. 50 Cent – In Da Club
  4. Joe Budden – Pump It Up
  5. Bonecrusher – Never Scared

2004

FILE – In this Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, file photo, Kanye West accepts the video vanguard award at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. After six weeks of streaming exclusively on Tidal, the Jay-Z-backed music service, West’s latest album, “The Life of Pablo,” was finally released to other streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music and put up for sale on his website. West tweeted on Feb. 15, 2016, that the album “will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale.” (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)
  1. T.I. – Bring’em Out
  2. Fat Joe – Lean Back
  3. Kanye West – Jesus Walks
  4. Jadakiss – Why
  5. Snoop Dogg – Drop It Like It’s Hot

2005

  1. Kanye West – Gold Digger
  2. Lil Kim – Lighters Up
  3. Three 6 Mafia – Stay Fly
  4. Missy Elliot – Lose Control
  5. Jeezy – And Then What

2006

FILE – In this Jan. 27, 2018 file photo, T.I. attends the Roc Nation pre-Grammy brunch in New York. Police say rapper T.I. has been arrested for disorderly conduct and public drunkenness as he tried to enter his gated community outside Atlanta. Henry County Police Deputy Mike Ireland said T.I. was arrested around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 16, after he got into an argument with a security guard. Media reports say the rapper, whose real name is Clifford Harris, lost his key and the guard wouldn’t let him into the community. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
  1. Jim Jones – We Fly High
  2. Jeezy – I Luv It
  3. Chamillionaire – Ridin
  4. T.I. – What You Know
  5. Too $hort – Blow the Whistle

2007

  1. Rich Boy – Throw Some D’s
  2. UGK – Int’l Players Anthem
  3. Kanye West – Can’t Tell Me Nothing
  4. DJ Khalid – We Takin Over
  5. 50 Cent – I Get Money

2008

Lil Wayne performs at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
  1. Lil Wayne – Lollipop
  2. Shawty Lo – Dey Know
  3. T.I. – Swagga Like Us
  4. Snoop Dogg – Sensual Seduction
  5. Jeezy – My President

2009

Drake performs on stage on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
  1. Kid Cudi – Day N’ Nite
  2. Gucci Mane – Lemonade
  3. Drake – Forever
  4. Jay Z – Empire State of Mind
  5. Rick Ross – Magnificent

2010

Rick Ross credit by Pamela Littky. Strictly for editorial Purposes. No copyright infringement intended.
Rick Ross Mastermind Press photo 2014
  1. Rick Ross – B.M.F,
  2. Kanye West – Power
  3. Wacka Flacka – No Hands
  4. DJ Khaled – All I Do is Win
  5. Snoop Dogg – I Wanna Rock

2011

FILE – Wiz Khalifa arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Police say rapper Wiz Khalifa cut short a concert in suburban Indianapolis as people began fleeing the outdoor venue Friday night, Aug. 26, 2022, leaving three with minor injuries, following a disturbance. People started exiting the Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville about 10:30 p.m. after a reported disturbance on part of the amphitheater’s lawn (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
  1. Jay- Z & Kanye West – N****z in Paris
  2. Wiz Khalifa – Black and Yellow
  3. Tyler the Creator – She
  4. Kanye West – All the Lights
  5. DJ Khaled – I’m On One

2012

CORRECTS TO MEEK MILL NOT MEEK MILLS Rapper Meek Mill comes out to ring a Liberty Bell replica before the first half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers, Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
  1. Meek Mill – Dreams and Nightmares
  2. Nicki Minaj – Beez in the Trap
  3. Trinidad James – All Gold Everything
  4. Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools
  5. Waka Flocka Flame – Round of Applause

2013

  1. ASAP Rocky – Fuckin Problems
  2. Lil Wayne – No Worries
  3. French Montana – Pop That
  4. J.Cole – Power Trip
  5. Drake – Started from the Bottom

2014

Nicki Minaj attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between exhibition on Monday, May 1, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
  1. Bobby Shmurda – Hot N***a
  2. Rich Gang – Lifestyle
  3. Nicki Minaj – Anaconda
  4. T.I. ft. Young Thug – About the Money
  5. TG ft Drake – Who Do You Love

2015

Kendrick Lamar performs at Coachella Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on Sunday, April 16, 2017, in Indio, Calif. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
  1. Future – March Madness
  2. Nicki Minaj – Truffle Butter
  3. Kendrick Lamar – Alright
  4. Wiz Khalifa – See You Again
  5. Fetty Wap – Trap Queen

2016

Quavo, from left, Takeoff and Offset, of Migos, present the award for best record-breaking performance at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
  1. Rae Sremmurd – Black Beetles
  2. YoGotti – Down in the DM
  3. Drake – Controlla
  4. Migos – Bad and Boujee
  5. Fat Joe & Remy Ma – All the Way Up

2017

GoldLink credit by WUNC/NPR. Strictly for editorial purposes. No copyright infringement intended.
Goldlink’s new single is out now.
  1. Goldlink – Crew
  2. Kendrick Lamar – Loyalty
  3. Future – Mask Off
  4. Cardi B – Bodak Yellow
  5. Jay-Z – Family Feud

2018

FILE – In this Sept. 12, 2019 photo, Cardi B attends the 5th annual Diamond Ball benefit gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Cardi B and husband Offset announced they are expecting their second child together during a performance at the BET Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2021. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP, File)
  1. Migos – Stir Fry
  2. Kendrick Lamar – All the Stars
  3. Nipsey Hussle – Grinding All My Life
  4. Cardi B – Bartier Cardi
  5. Lil Baby & Gunna – Drip Too Hard

2019

DaBaby credit by AP
  1. Tyler the Creator – Earfquake
  2. DaBaby – Bop
  3. Dojo Cat – Juicy
  4. J.Cole – Middle Child
  5. City Girls – Act Up

For these classics and more, click HERE for Hip Hop Songs for the Summer playlist.

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