The warm Copenhagen weather has prompted us to gear up for springtime by kicking out our favourite 90s hip hop jams.
90s hip hop, what killed you off? Was it the colourful retrofuturism of the 80s revival with its angular machine fetishism that made your organic, jazzy beats and effortlessly lazy flow seem drab and boring - too understated and plain in comparison?
Since 90s hip hop isn’t an actual person and therefore unable to answer for itself, we’ll just go ahead and venture a guess on its behalf: there’s no doubt that some kind of paradigm shift occurred when we entered the new millennium. One that made organic, independent hip hop somewhat uncool, maybe even outrightly cheesy in the eyes of the hip and the happening.
But hey, maybe it’s time to reassess things a smidgen. Remember Fugees before they were shit? A Tribe Called Quest before they were old and bitter? Digable Planets when they were Cool Like Dat? Recollect when lyrics were more often than not politically conscious/consciously political and black/white videos were the height of urban sophistication? In terms of hip hop, everything was a tad more reflective and chilled out back in the good, old 90s.
With that in mind, AIAIAI present you with a playlist that remembers a time before a tidal wave of all things loud, synth-y and in-your-face washed over popular culture. Get high on The Chronic, Beats, Rhymes and Life and the impending spring by checking out this assortment of soulful jams compiled for cruising, BBQing and hanging out. If this doesn’t get you sprung for the worriless tomfoolery of spring you need to go see a doctor. And that doctor’s name is:
Dr. Dre Feat. Snoop Dog - Nuthin but a G Thang
Christ, this is still good. Flawless delivery, bumpin video and precisely the kind of laidback beat that makes you go: 'fuck it, let's sit on a doorstep and drink from a brown paper bag until it gets dark.' A bonafide masterpiece.
Arrested Development - Tennessee
Looking back now, standing on the other side of countless years of 'irreverent' snark and irony, it's somewhat hard to get your head around the fact that this ultra-earnest, tree-hugging group of non-ironic youngsters got a record deal. It's essentially James Brown's 'Funky Drummer' with afro-centric lyricisms and styles woven into it, and that doesn't make 'Tennessee' any less badass. Perhaps the most 'so 90s' track of the entire list.
Pete Rock & C.L Smooth - They Reminisce over You
What can we say about this that hasn't already been said? how about: This pretty much encapsulates everything that's great about jazzy hip hop'. No?
Masta Ace - Born to Roll
Before there was 'Ridin dirty', there was 'Born to Roll', the latter of which is a vastly superior cruising track in our humble opinions. Anticipating the now ubiquitous bass movement by an adundance of years, Masta Ace's low-end tribute to cranking up the car stereo remains as fresh as ever.
Souls of Mischief - From '93 till Infinity
Quite possibly one of the greatest hip hop tracks of the 90s. Which is interesting because Souls of Mischief were kind of a one-hit wonder. But that shouldn't deter you from enjoying a track that was practically made for hanging out with your friends in a park while shooting the shit about this and that and getting in the mood for someone's house party later in the evening. Classic stuff.
Digable Planets - Where I'm From (remix)
The chillest grooves, the hottest female MC (in a tomboyish sort of way), and the best videos was what Digable planets had. It's not a huge surprise that Ishmael Butler, the group's lead MC, is part of Shabazz Palaces, one of the most interesting hip hop acts of the new decade.
Camp Lo - Luchini
'This is is, what! Luchini Pouring from the sky, let's get rich, what!' The smoothest motherfuckers on the block - the block being our 90s hip hop playlist - come correct with crazy leather hats and bohemain steez like it ain't no thang. Brap. Woops, wrong decade. And country, for that matter. Next video!
Pharcyde - Passin' Me By
Apparently Kanye West dig Pharcyde and it's easy to see why. When these hepcats were at the top of their game, they were more or less unstoppable.
Gangstarr - You know My Steez
Guru, we know your steez. Your steez has been proved a gazillion times over. Irreprehensible steez is your middle name. Except that it's not because that would sound pretty weird.
Mc Solaar - Nouveau Western
French rapper sampling Serge Gainsbourg; now there's a recipe for ill-conceived, prententious wank. The thing is it works out beautifully even though the odds are stacked against it to fail miserably.
Black Sheep - The Choice Is Yours
You can get with THIS, or you can get with that. Nuff said.
A Tribe Called Quest - Electric Relaxation
'I Like 'em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican and Haitian'. When you listen more intently to the lyrics of the great Tribe Called Quest, you'll find that they were a surprisingly horny bunch of brothers. Not on par with 2 Live Crew, of course, but actually not that far removed either.
Wu Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M.
Did you really think we'd make a 90s hip hop playlist without mentioning the Wu? You did? Well...whatever.
N.W.A - 100 Miles And Runnin
Not this Los Angeles-based crew of angry, young, black men's preeminent effort, but we had to keep it strictly 90s and rules are rules. And we couldn't not have N.W.A in there.
A Tribe Called Quest - Check the Rhime
Yes, yes, y'all, check the rhime, y'all, ATCQ made the list again...y'all. Actually, you could make the argument that this list is just an excuse to post Tribe videos. And we're not saying you'd be wrong per se if you were to make that case...
Nas - It Ain't Hard to Tell
Is DJ Premier the best hip hop producer of all time? He's certainly pretty goddamn close. Nas' 'Illmatic is one of those albums that you keep coming back to. Hell, we'll probably be rocking back and forth on a porch somewhere while in our 80s with a raggedy blanket covering our withered lap and 'It Ain't Hard To Tell' booming in our ears. Yes, it's that good.
Alright, it's probably time to call it quits lest we keep this going well into the weekend. That concludes our list of favorite hip hop jams compiled to get us and you pumped up for springtime. Say no go, crack is wack, stay in school and peace out!