It was a good year. While 1992 saw the definite rise of West Coast Hip Hop to prominence, there was still plenty of excellent boom bap coming from the East. Also, more acts from the South started making their mark. Mainstream, hardcore, experimental – there was something for everyone in 1992.
We have selected 40 of our favorite 1992 tracks for this list. Are your personal favorites not included here? Share your opinions in the comments!
1. Pete Rock & CL Smooth - They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)
“They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” was inspired by the death of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s close friend Troy Dixon (better known as “Trouble” T. Roy of Heavy D & the Boyz) in 1990. The song was the lead single off their monumental debut album Mecca And The Soul Brother and is now widely regarded as one of the best Hip Hop songs ever.
2. The Pharcyde - Passin' Me By
In a time when gangsta rap was starting to dominate West Coast Hip Hop, these guys didn’t feel the need for gangster posturing and weren’t afraid to show their funny & vulnerable sides.
“Passin’ Me By” is one of the big tracks off their epic debut album Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde and an undisputed Hip Hop classic.
3. Ice Cube - It Was A Good Day
This feel-good hood anthem is not just Ice Cube’s best song, but one of the best songs in Hip Hop, period.
4. Dr Dre - Nuthin' But A G Thang ft Snoop Doggy Dogg
A hugely influential & timeless classic, this ‘G-Funk’ track and lead single off Dr Dre’s seminal The Chronic ushered in a new era in Hip Hop. It established West Coast dominance in rap, and it was the breakthrough moment for Dr Dre’s young protégé Snoop Doggy Dogg.
5. Eric B & Rakim - Know The Ledge
Taken from the ‘Juice’ movie soundtrack and from Eric B & Rakim‘s fourth and final album Don’t Sweat The Technique, this track tells the story of a young thug trying to make it on the streets. Hard-hitting beats and lyrics – a perfect soundtrack to the movie starring a young Tupac Shakur.
6. Gang Starr - Take It Personal
In this song Guru takes a stab at wack artists and former friends, recurring themes in his lyrics. One of the best tracks from Gang Starr’s third album Daily Operation, the album where Premo and Guru seemingly effortlessly continue the high standard they set with their groundbreaking sophomore album Step In The Arena.
7. Beastie Boys - Pass The Mic
8. House Of Pain - Jump Around
THE ultimate party anthem in Hip Hop? This DJ Muggs-produced House Of Pain classic is certainly up there with the best of them.
9. Digable Planets - Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)
Released on November 9, 1992 as lead single for Digable Planets‘ 1993 debut album Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), “Rebirth of Slick” was a critical and commercial success and even won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 36th Grammy Awards. A great song from an underrated group.
10. The Goats - Typical American
“Typical American” is the lead track off The Goats’ debut album Tricks Of The Shade – a highly original concept album, ahead of its time. An underground classic by this forgotten Philadelphia alternative Hip Hop trio.
11. Redman - Time 4 Sum Aksion
12. Bushwick Bill - Ever So Clear
Bushwick Bill’s solo debut single from his solo debut album Little Big Man is a brutally honest and graphic account of the period in his life that led to the (self-inflicted) shooting which caused him to nearly die and which made him lose one of his eyes. (This aftermath of the shooting was immortalized through the album cover of The Geto Boys‘ We Can’t Be Stopped, which shows Bushwick Bill being pushed through the hospital on a gurney the night he was shot.)
13. Boogie Down Productions - Duck Down
One of KRS One’s hardest tracks. Over a wicked drum beat, KRS delivers another clear message to sucker emcees about who exactly holds the crown in Hip Hop.
14. Fu-Schnickens - La Schmoove
Fu-Schnickens were a typical early 90s group who followed the Tung Twista / Das EFX style of rapping. Their debut album F.U. Don’t Take It Personal was a fun and perfectly enjoyable album, even if one excellent emcee (Chip Fu) and a number of stand-out tracks are not quite enough to compensate for the two mediocre emcees and a few filler tracks.
La Schmoove is a timeless party classic however, with a dope guest spot from Tribe’s Phife Dawg.
15. Too Short - In The trunk
“If it ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it”. Never was this saying more applicable than to Too Short and his formula. By 1992, he’d be in the game making music for ten years already – Shorty The Pimp being his fourth studio album. We knew what to expect by then and that’s what we got: Too Short’s (x-rated) stories over bumping beats. One of his best albums with “In The Trunk” being one of the (non-explicit) highlights.
16. The Lench Mob - Guerillas In Tha Mist
This song is HARD, just like the album with the same title it comes from. Hard beats and controversial, hard-ass lyrics that may be difficult to digest for some. But that’s just the intention, isn’t it?
Da Lench Mob is an Ice Cube project and it shows. It bears a lot of similarities (sonically and content-wise) with Cube’s previous year classic Death Certificate – the same anger and hunger can be felt here.
17. Sir Mix A Lot - Baby Got Back
Seattle-legend Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s worldwide smash hit from his third album Mack Daddy was a highly controversial track at the time of its original release, because of its outspoken and blatantly sexual lyrics about women, as well as specific references to the female backside. The video was briefly banned by MTV, which only helped the song reach mega-hit status.
18. Arrested Development - People Everyday
“People Everyday” is the biggest hit of Arrested Development, a group founded in Atlanta in 1988 as a positive, Afrocentric alternative to the gangsta rap popular in the early 1990s.
“People Everyday” was the second single from their debut album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of…. – which stood in stark contrast to the gangsta rap that started to rule the charts in 1992 in its focus on spirituality, peace, and love.
19. Gang Starr - Soliloquy Of Chaos
Guru’s lyrics are thoughtful and deep, and the track is made even more heartfelt by Premo’s brilliant musical backdrop. Can there be any discussion about DJ Premier’s status as one of the three best Hip Hop producers ever?
20. Beastie Boys - So Whatcha Want
This track was and still is HARD – you can’t front on that.
21. MC Serch - Back To The Grill ft. Nas, Chubb Rock & Red Hot Lover Tone
A dope posse cut from MC Serch‘ underrated debut solo album Return Of The Product, with the second pre-Illmatic guest appearance of a young Nasir Jones.
22. Geto Boys - Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta
This track first appeared as an extra track on the 1992 greatest hits compilation Uncut Dope, and it became one of the Geto Boys most famous songs when it was featured in the 1999 ‘Office Space’ movie.
Funny last verse by guest rapper J-Prince, who impersonates the President of the US: “Cuz now I got the world swingin’ from my nuts… And damn it feels good to be a gangsta”
23. EPMD - Headbanger ft Redman & K-Solo
One of EPMD biggest hits, this energetic track gives us guest spots from fellow Hit Squad members K-Solo and Redman. Especially rising star Redman steals the show here with an epic verse (which he himself rated one of his top 20 verses off all time).
24. Das EFX - They Want EFX
If you’re not into to ‘riggedy-diggedy’ tongue-twisting lyrical style these guys developed, this act – and all Das EFX style clones that would follow – can be somewhat tiring and annoying. If you DO enjoy it however, this song (and the rest of their debut album Dead Serious) is a banger.
25. Eric B & Rakim - The Punisher
This track shows us Rakim at his hardest. It’s an unapologetic warning to all emcees who dare step to him – they will get punished. Filled with metaphors, similes, and vivid imagery, this is Rakim at his bragging best.
“Dangerous rhymes are performed like surgery / Cuts so deep you’ll be bleeding burgundy / My intellect wrecks and disconnects your cerebral cortex / Your cerebellum is next / Your conscience becomes sub-conscious / Soon your response is nonsense…”
26. Ice Cube - Check Yo Self ft Das EFX
27. Diamond D - Best Kept Secret
Diamond D’s debut album Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop is an excellent piece of early 90s NYC Hip Hop. Diamond D always was a producer first and an emcee second and it shows. The beats on the whole album are flawless start to finish, “Best Kept Secret” is just one of the many stand-outs.
28. The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy - Language Of Violence
Although not strictly a Hip Hop act, this track from the duo’s (Spearhead’s Michael Franti and Rono Tse) experimental debut album Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury is included in this list nonetheless because it has that ‘Hip Hop feel’. A poignant cautionary tale about homophobia and bullying.
29. Lord Finesse - Return Of The Funky Man
The quintessential Lord Finesse track, from Return Of The Funky Man, Finesse’s second album. As ever Lord Finesse delivers ill rhymes over a dope beat, crafted by D.I.T.C. producer Show(biz).
29. Kool G Rap - On The Run
This cinematic gangster tale really signifies Kool G Rap‘s transformation from a battle emcee to a mafioso gangsta rapper. No matter the subject matter though, G Rap is an emcee second to none.
30. Dr Dre - Let Me Ride
“Let Me Ride” is the third single released from Dr Dre’s monumental The Chronic. Strangely enough not a big hit at the time, but a massive hit later when Dre won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for the song during the Grammy Awards of 1994.
31. Kris Kross - Jump
Commercial as hell, this infectious mainstream track by two youngsters from Atlanta was a worldwide hit, and the second biggest selling Hip Hop single in 1992 (third overall) after Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. Just gotta love “Jump”.
32. Eric B & Rakim - Don't Sweat The Technique
Just another little reminder from Rakim who’s no. 1. In an uncharacteristically jazzy track, Rakim yet again rhymes about rapping and lays down the law for any emcee out there trying to compete. Classic joint.
33. The Pharcyde - Ya Mama
34. Showbiz & AG - Represent ft Big L, DeShawn, & Lord Finesse
Showbiz & AG‘s debut is a flawless album: top notch production from Showbiz (and Diamond D) and guest appearances from Lord Finesse and Big L (among others) – it may just be the best DITC album in a series of excellent albums. Amazingly consistent and entertaining throughout – “Represent” is just one of the highlights, with dope verses especially from Big L and DeShawn.
35. Paris - Days Of Old
“Days Of Old” is one of the lead tracks of another excellent Paris album, after his equally impressive debut The Devil Made Me Do It. It’s a mystery why Paris never blew up like Ice Cube and Public Enemy did – he does the same and he does it just as well. Intelligent, militant, powerful – Paris has dropped some classic material in his career.
36. Compton's Most wanted - Hood Took Me Under
The lead single from Compton’s Most Wanted’s third and best album Music To Driveby. MC Eiht’s signature style and lyricism complement the excellent beats perfectly.
37. Positive K - I Got A Man
Positive K is a NYC Hip Hop veteran, loosely associated with MC Lyte and the Audio Two. This single with massive mainstream appeal is not really representative for the rest of his debut album The Skills Dat Pay Da Bills, which is strictly early 90s NYC boom bap. “I Got A Man” is a dope track and a fun listen anyway, and can not be left out a best of… 1992 list.
38. DJ Quik - Way 2 Fonky
DJ Quik has always been his own man, with his own signature funky and smooth sound and his own ‘stable’ of protegees and affiliated artists. His is his second album was another solid effort, maybe just a little less consistent than his classic debut, but packing a few classic tracks anyway – “Jus Lyke Compton” and this title track among them.
39. Dr Dre & Snoop Doggy Dogg - Deep Cover
“Deep Cover”, also known as “187“, is Dr Dre’s debut single, the first track released after the breakup of N.W.A. The track was recorded for the soundtrack of the film Deep Cover. It is also Snoop Doggy Dogg’s first appearance on record. The prelude to great things to come.
40. Lord Finesse - Yes You May Remix ft Big L
When Lord Finesse discovered a young kid rapping in the back of a record store, he immediately recognized the kid’s talent and ability – and invited him to do a track together – what followed is history.
It is Big L‘s first appearance on wax and he lays down a verse that is more than indicative of what he was capable of. Much like Lord Finesse himself, Big L immediately shows he is one of the best punchline rappers ever, with a natural and unbeatable flow.
- Pete Rock & CL Smooth – Straighten It Out
- Pete Rock & CL Smooth – Return Of The Mecca
- Pete Rock & CL Smooth – Ghettos Of The Mind
- Ultramagnetic MCs – Poppa Large
- Ultramagnetic MCs – Bust The Facts
- Ultramagnetic MCs – Make It Happen
- Common – Take It EZ
- Common – Soul By The Pound
- MC Ren – Mayday On The Frontline
- Dr Dre – Fuck Wit Dre Day
- Dr Dre – The Day The Niggaz Took Over
- Dr Dre – Lyrical Gangbang
- Ice Cube – Wicked
- Showbiz & AG – Runaway Slave
- Showbiz & AG – Soul Clap
- Showbiz & AG – 40 Acres And My Props
- Diamond D – Sally Got A One Track Mind
- Diamond D – A Day In The Life
- The Pharcyde – Otha Fish
- The Pharcyde – Return Of The B-Boy
- The Pharcyde – Officer
- Gang Starr – Ex Girl To Next Girl
- Gang Starr – Hardcore Composer
- Redman – Tonight’s Da Night
- Redman – A Day Of Sooperman Lover
- Eric B & Rakim – Casualties Of War
- Eric B & Rakim – Pass The Hand Grenade
- Hard Knocks – Runaway Child, Running Wild
- Hard Knocks – Strictly From The Bronx
- Hard Knocks – A Dirty Cop Named Harry
- Hard Knocks – Road To The Precinct
- Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Ill Street Blues
- Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Edge Of Sanity
- Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Two To The Head
- EPMD – Crossover
- EPMD – It’s Going Down
- Beastie Boys – Professor Booty
- Lord Finesse – Stop Sweatin The Next Man
- Lord Finesse – Praise The Lord
- Lord Finesse – Yes You May
- Paris – Sleeping With The Enemy
- Paris – Assata’s Song
- Boogie Down Productions – Drug Dealer
- Boogie Down Productions – Ruff Ruff
- Boogie Down Productions – We In There
- Positive K – How The Fuck Would You Know
- Positive K – Shakin’
- Too Short – So You Want To Be A Gangster
- Compton Most Wanted – Compton 4 Life
- UGK – Pocket Full Of Stones
- UGK – Something Good
- UGK – Use Me Up
- Spice 1 – 187 Proof
- Spice 1 – Welcome To The Ghetto
- K-Solo – Letterman
- Grand Puba – 360 ( What Goes Around)
- Grand Puba – Check Tha Resume
- MC Serch – Return Of The Product
- MC Serch – Social Narcotics
- Fu-Schnickens – Ring The Alarm
- Fu-Schnickens – True Fu-Schnick
- DJ Quik – Jus Lyke Compton
- Arrested Development – Tennessee
- Das EFX – Mic Checka
- Chi Ali – Age Aint’ Nuthin But A #
- Double XX Posse – Not Gonna Be Able to Do It
- Brotherhood Creed – Helluva
- Wrecks N Effect – Rump Shaker
- Heavy D ft Guru, Biggie Smalls, Busta Rhymes, Rob-O, Third Eye –Buncha Niggas