This was another great year for Hip Hop, the second year of arguably the strongest 5 year period in Hip Hop ever – 1992 through 1996 – a period that would give us monumental releases from both coasts and from the South & Midwest as well.
1993 was a year filled with quality Hip Hop albums and singles. We have selected 40 of this year’s very best songs for this list. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to give your opinion in the comments!
1. Wu-Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M.
The final single from Wu-Tang Clan’s monumental debut album Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). C.R.E.A.M. offers a haunting lesson in street economics; with excellent verses from Raekwon and Inspectah Deck, and with Method Man‘s unforgettable hook. A Hip Hop super classic.
2. Souls Of Mischief - 93 'Til Infinity
Souls Of Mischief‘s lead track off their slept on 1993 debut album with the same title is an all-time Hip Hop classic.
3. A Tribe Called Quest - Electric Relaxation
Not just one of ATCQ’s best tracks, this ode to women is one of the best tracks in Hip Hop, PERIOD. A masterpiece.
4. Snoop Doggy Dogg - Gin & Juice
“Gin and Juice” is the second single by Snoop Doggy Dogg from his debut album Doggystyle, and one of Snoop’s signature songs. Expectations for Snoop’s debut album were sky-high after his performances on Dr Dre’s The Chronic, and with Doggystyle Snoop (and Dre) delivered, and then some.
5. KRS One - Sound Of The Police
As relevant today as it was over two decades ago, in this song KRS-One addresses police brutality specifically directed at black people, cleverly linking the days of slavery to the way police acts in these modern times. Poignant, powerful and sadly still relevant. One of the many excellent tracks on KRS’ debut album under his own name.
6. Wu-Tang Clan - Protect Ya Neck
The debut single from the Wu-Tang’s classic first album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was a gamechanger. It features verses from eight of the original nine Wu-Tang members. It was an incredible introduction of a new supergroup to the Hip Hop scene and a perfect prelude of equally brilliant things to come.
7 OutKast - Player's Ball
The pimped-out classic that started it all, the first single of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik which would be released in 1994. An incredibly important and influential song, as it was OutKast’s introduction to the world and the kick-off of a decade with brilliant OutKast music. A staple for Hip Hop, not just for the South.
8. 2Pac - Keep Ya Head Up
Being a central part of the gangsta rap culture, 2Pac was no stranger to misogyny in his lyrics. He had another side too, however. This uplifting song is all about betterment for women. The interpolation of The Five Stairsteps’ brilliant “O-o-h Child” makes for a more than pleasing instrumental too.
9. Biggie Smalls - Party & Bullshit
Before we would get to know him as The Notorious B.I.G., Christopher Wallace went by the name of Biggie Smalls. This is his debut single under the Biggie Smalls moniker, from the “Who’s The Man” movie soundtrack. A dope party track, which brilliantly samples Doug E Fresh’s classic “The Show”.
10. A Tribe Called Quest - Award Tour
The first single off Midnight Marauders (with De La Soul’s Dove on the hook) answered all questions when doubters were wondering if ATCQ would be able to follow up The Low End Theory with another masterpiece.
Award Tour set the standard for an album that went from highlight to highlight, with no skippable tracks at all. Hip Hop of the highest quality.
11. Wu-Tang Clan - Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'
The B-Side to the clan’s classic “C.R.E.A.M”, this track is quintessential Wu-Tang. Crazy bars (with especially Ol’ Dirty Bastard taking center stage), full of Quotables, over a sick RZA beat.
12. De La Soul - Ego Trippin Pt 2
This sharp parody of gangsta rap made rappers like 2Pac (who may or not be meant to be the rapper in the pool who is ridiculed at the end of the video) take exception. It may just be a question of ‘if the shoe fits’ – what is clear though is that De La Soul had no need nor patience for tough guy posturing and bling-bling gangsta rap antics.
Sonically the track is awesome too – and with the lyrics interpolating a bunch of classic Hip Hop songs it is a trip down memory lane for those in the know.
13. Jeru The Damaja - Come Clean
“Come Clean” is a 1993 DJ Premier-produced song by underrated emcee Jeru the Damaja from his brilliant 1994 debut album The Sun Rises in the East. The song (and the rest of the album) feature some of the best production work DJ Premier has ever done – and that’s saying something.
14. Run DMC - Down With The King ft Pete Rock & CL Smooth
After the disappointing 1990 album Back From Hell, Run DMC returned to form somewhat for the last time with the 1993 Down With The King album. Absolute stand-out track from that album is this collaboration with Pete Rock & CL Smooth.
Peep the video and see if you can spot all the cameo appearances!
15. Naughty By Nature - Hip Hop Hooray
“Hip Hop Hooray” is one of the biggest hits from Naughty By Nature, and a true Hip Hop anthem.
16. Snoop Doggy Dogg - Gz & Hustlaz
Not one of the major singles off Snoop Doggy Dogg‘s epic debut Doggystyle, but one of the best tracks of that excellent album nevertheless. Snoop at his very best.
17. Lords Of The Underground - Chief Rocka
Lords of the Underground are a group from Jersey consisting of Mr. Funke, DoItAll, and DJ Lord Jazz. “Chief Rocka” is the third single off their excellent debut album Here Come The Lords.
This song perfectly represents that album, with inspired production (from K-Def and Marley Marl) and with the emcees’ delivery that is full of energy and passion – in style somewhat similar to Das EFX and Fu-Schnickens but less gimmicky. Classic jam.
18. Digable Planets - Where I'm From
“Where I’m From” is the second single from Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), the acclaimed debut album by Digable Planets.
All about positivity and empowerment, Digable Planets sadly flew a bit under the radar in a time when gun-toting gangsta posers started to get more and more of the spotlight.
Reachin’ was and is a flawless listen from start to finish though, and it has definitely stood the test of time.
19. Trends Of Culture - Valley Of The Skinz
One of those groups that popped up in the early nineties that kind of got lost in the shuffle. Their 1993 debut Trendz… was all the way decent though, and this jam was one the undisputed highlights of that album.
20. Queen Latifah - U.N.I.T.Y.
Although her debut album may have been more important as a trailblazer for female emcees, her third album Black Reign arguably is Queen Latifah‘s best record. Latifah’s charismatic and powerful personality really comes through on this album, as well as real and heartfelt emotion in some of the songs (partly due to personal tragedy prior to the recording of Black Reign).
Black Reign is most famous for this Grammy-winning anti-misogynist song U.N.I.T.Y., one of Latifah’s signature songs.
21. Cypress Hill - Insane In The Brain
Cypress Hill is an act with massive crossover- and commercial appeal and this is the song that introduced them to new (non-Hip Hop) audiences all over the world.
B-Real high pitched wine combined with Sen Dog’s grunts are not suited for everybody’s enjoyment, but what makes this song – and the rest of the Black Sunday album – a winner anyway is DJ Muggs’ terrific and utterly recognizable production work.
Like Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray” and Onyx’ “Slam”, this jam is an unbeatable party anthem.
22. Black Moon - How Many Emcees
What’s the definition of a classic album? It has to be ‘timeless’, contain no filler tracks, have endless replay value and it has to be groundbreaking and influential. Black Moon’s debut album Enta Da Stage is such an album.
As KRS-One would say: this album is real boom bap – real hard beats and real rap. Rough, rugged & raw, the epitome of the early 90s NYC street sound. We could have included tracks like “Who Got The Props?”, “I Gotcha Opin” and “Buck Em Down” just as easily as this one – all quality Hip Hop.
23. 2Pac - I Get Around ft Digital Underground
2Pac was not always angry, contemplative or heavy-handed. From his second album, Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z., this is a perfect example of a party song done right. With help from his Digital Underground buddies Shock G and Money B, Pac shows us he ‘gets around’.
24. Onyx - Slam
This high-powered banger is the second single released from Onyx’s debut album, Bacdafucup. “Slam” was Onyx’s breakthrough single and remains a popular Hip Hop anthem to this day.
25. MC Eiht - Streiht Up Menace
Taken from the soundtrack of 1993 movie Menace II Society, the lyrics of this song focus on the life of the characters in the movie, acting as a sort of plot summary for the film. One of MC Eiht‘s biggest hits.
26. The Beatnuts - No Equal
On the second single from their debut EP, The Beatnuts do exactly what they would keep doing their whole career: dropping fun, braggadocious lyrics over excellent self-produced beats. The anthemic “Psycho Dwarf” from this EP deserves a mention too.
27. Ice Cube - This Is How We Do
In spirit and overall vibe, an excellent sequel to It Was A Good Day. The stand-out track from Ice Cube’s otherwise slightly underwhelming fourth album Lethal Injection.
28. Wu-Tang Clan - Method Man
The only ‘solo’ track from Wu-Tang Clan‘s epic debut Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), from the first successful solo star to come from the clan: Method Man. With his trademark voice and lyrics, this track is the perfect introduction to Meth.
29. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - I Wanna Rock
This is a dope DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince jam in which Jazzy Jeff gets the spotlight. This track is extra catchy and recognizable because of the sampling of Rob Base’s classic opening lines of the Rob Base & EZ Rock classic “It Takes Two”.
30. Snoop Doggy Dogg - Murder Was The Case
31. Geto Boys - Six Feet Deep
An emotional song about dead friends from Geto Boys‘ Till Death Do Us Part album, with heartfelt verses from Scarface, Bushwick Bill and Big Mike.
32. De La Soul - Breakadawn
On their third effort Buhloone Mind State De La Soul was just as creative and versatile as on their previous two, resulting in yet another classic album, albeit with a little less commercial appeal and less radio-friendly tracks. However, this track is a mellow and subtle tribute to Hip Hop that you can listen to all day, every day.
33. A Tribe Called Quest - Oh My God
One of the many stand-out songs on Tribe’s third album, the classic Midnight Marauders, another masterpiece after the equally brilliant 1991 album The Low End Theory. Hard not to get energized by the Busta Rhymes sample chorus. Oh my God!
34. Scarface - Now I Feel Ya
The World Is Yours, Scarface’s second solo album, may not be the strongest of his whole catalog, but there still is plenty to enjoy. “Now I Feel Ya” is one of Scarface’s best and most impressive songs without a doubt. Seven minutes of heartfelt soul-searching, this track is signature Scarface.
35. Tragedy - Grand Groove
Tragedy‘s second album The Saga Of A Hoodlum is another excellent one, that – like his Intelligent Hoodlum debut album – should have gotten more recognition. Packed with dope tracks, this is but one of them.
36. Wu-Tang Clan - Bring Da Ruckus
Who remembers going to the record store to listen to the debut album of this new crew from Staten Island? This opening track was all you needed to hear to know you were about to be introduced to something revolutionary. “Bring Da Ruckus” is straight fire – perfect RZA production and excellent wordplay by Ghostface, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and GZA.
37. Masta Ace - Slaughtahouse
Even though it’s completely different than his debut album Take A Look Around, Masta Ace’s 1993 sophomore album Slaughtahouse is just as excellent. As Masta Ace Inc. (together with Lord Digga, Paula Perry, Eyceurokk and Leschea), Slaughtahouse is a clever concept album addressing the growing trend of violence glorification in Hip Hop at that time.
In this over-the-top title track of the album, Ace & co satirically ridicule gangsta rap. Songs like “The Big East”, “Boom Bashin’”, “Saturday Nite Live” and “Jeep Ass Niguh” from the Slaughtahouse album probably are even better, but this song is included in this list because of its significance.
38. Eazy E - Real Muthafuckin G's
Without his former N.W.A mates there to provide beats and lyrics, Eazy E‘s solo work was more often miss than hit. This song hits the spot though, and is the perfect answer to Dre dissing Eazy on “Fuck Wit Dre Day”.
39. Ice T - Gotta Lotta love
From Home Invasion, the underrated follow-up to Ice T‘s classic O.G. Original Gangster. Of course, Home Invasion was not as tight as the O.G. masterpiece, but there was still plenty to enjoy. One of the highlights on Home Invasion is this heartfelt song about the famous gang truce in L.A., a celebration of peace and unity.
40. Just Ice - Freestyle
Gun Talk is the fifth album by Just-Ice, the only album of his to have major-label distribution. Despite that fact Gun Talk was a critical an commercial failure. This song – obscure as it is – is one of our personal favorites though, for its raw power and pure energy – and therefore ranked above two dozen songs in the honorable mentions that may be more popular and more deserving.
- Wu-Tang Clan – Ain’t Nuthin Ta Fuck Wit
- Wu-Tang Clan – The 7th Chamber Pt 1 & 2
- Wu-Tang Clan – Can It Be All So Simple
- Wu-Tang Clan – Clan In Da Front
- A Tribe Called Quest – Lyrics To Go
- A Tribe Called Quest – Sucka Nigga
- A Tribe Called Quest – We Can Get Down
- Snoop Doggy Dogg – Da Shiznit
- Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggy Doggy World
- Snoop Doggy Dogg – Who Am I (What’s My Name?)
- De La Soul – I Am I Be
- De La Soul – Area
- KRS One – Mad Crew
- KRS One – Outta Here
- KRS One – Return Of The Boom Bap
- KRS One – I Can’t Wake Up
- KRS One – Uh Oh
- Black Moon – Who Got Da Props
- Black Moon – I Gotcha Opin
- Black Moon – Buck Em Down
- DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Boom! Shake The Room
- Freestyle Fellowship – Respect Due
- Freestyle Fellowship – Everything’s Everything
- Freestyle Fellowship – Heavyweights
- Freestyle Fellowship – Innercity Boundaries
- Souls Of Mischief – That’s When Ya Lost
- Souls Of Mischief – Live And Let Die
- Ultramagnetic MCs – Two Brothers With Checks
- Ultramagnetic MCs – The Saga Of Dandy, The Devil, & Day
- Ultramagnetic MCs – One Two One Two
- Ultramagnetic MCs – Raise It Up
- Digable Planets – Escapism
- Digable Planets – Nickel Bags
- 2Pac – Hollar If Ya Hear Me
- 2Pac – Last Wordz
- Lords Of The Underground – Funky Child
- Lords Of The Underground – Here Come The Lords
- Lords Of The Underground – Flow On
- Queen Latifah – Black Hand Side
- Queen Latifah – Just Another Day
- Queen Latifah – Superstar
- Fat Joe – Flow Joe
- Fat Joe – Bad Bad Man
- Fat Joe – Livin’ Fat
- Del – Catch A Bad One
- Del – No Need For Alarm
- Del – Wack MCs
- The Roots – The Session
- The Roots – Pass The Popcorn
- Masta Ace – Boom Bashin
- Masta Ace – Saturday Nite Live
- Too Short – Get In Where You Fit In
- Too Short – I’m A Player
- Geto Boys – Straight Gangstaism
- Geto Boys – Crooked Officer
- Scarface – The Wall
- Scarface – Coming Agg
- The Coup – Kill My Landlord
- The Coup – Dig It
- The Coup – Not Yet Free
- L.O.N.S. – Classic Material
- Tha Alkoholiks – Likwit
- Tha Alkoholiks – Only When I’m Drunk
- King Tee – Black Togetha Again
- King Tee – I Got It Bad Y’all
- Tragedy – The Posse
- Tragedy – Street Life
- Tradegy – Mad Brothas Know His Name
- Cypress Hill – I Ain’t Going Out Like That
- Cypress Hill – When The Shit Goes Down
- Naughty By Nature – It’s On
- Ice Cube – Really Doe
- Ice Cube – Ghetto Bird
- Eightball & MJG – Comin’ Out Hard
- MC Ren – Mayday On The Frontline
- MC Ren – Fuck What Ya Heard
- MC Ren – Same Old Shit
- K-Rino – Ultimate Flow
- E-40 – Hide N Seek
- E-40 – Federal
- Ice T – It’s On
- Ice T – 99 Problems
- Big Daddy Kane – The Beef Is On
- Big Daddy Kane – How U Get A Record Deal
- MC Lyte – Ruffneck
- MC Lyte – I Go On
- LL Cool J – Back Seat
- LL Cool J – Funkadelic Relic
- LL Cool J – Crossroads
- Poor Righteous Teachers – Here We Go Again
- Conscious Daughters – We Roll Deep
- Conscious Daughters – Somethin’ To Ride To
- Above The Law – Never Missin’A Beat
- Above The Law – V.S.O.P.
- Eazy E – It’s On
- Yo-Yo – You Better Ask Somebody
- Spice 1 – 187 He Wrote
- Spice 1 – Trigga Gots No Heart
- Funkdoobiest – The Funkiest
- Erick Sermon – Stay Real
- Mobb Deep – Peer Pressure
- Jungle Brothers – Spark A New Flame
- Da King & I – Tears
- The Beatnuts – Psycho Dwarf