Occasionally I write a post asserting that various songs are the “Most Perfect Rap Song Ever Written” – often to others consternation and dissenting opinion. To further stir up controversy, I’ve included a list of B-sides that I considered for Most Perfect Rap Song Ever Written but for one reason or another couldn’t go through with it.
Soul Assassins (DJ Muggs & Goodie Mob) – Decisions, Decisions
I’ve often felt that DJ Muggs was an underrated producer. People get hype when they hear “How I Could Just Kill A Man”, “Hits From the Bong”, and “Insane in the Membrane”, but this cut is a masterpiece that slipped through the cracks.
Goodie Mob drops some serious jewels to a haunting, hypnotic melody, and the boom bap drumming perfectly lines up with the vocals. T-Mo lays down some of his best lyrics, talking about the LAPD (“who are the biggest gangs?”) and OJ Simpson:
Osmosis, with that thang up under the pillow crush
Caught in the crossfire between Yankees and 49ers
Rivals, but the South remain calm
Neutral but we see blood that make homeboys hate at each other’s lives
Over colors and thangs, that they can bring
To the next plain, but the toots in blue, badges
Who are the biggest gangs?
In Babylon, dyin slowly but surely
Malicious drivers with hairpin triggers
On the loose like juice
And white America couldn’t stand it
LAPD plannin incriminatin evidence
Jurors under jag order
But we talking outside the courtrooms
Shootin birds at the judges
F*** Texaco employees
Destroying documents or complaints from black workers
The song’s hook is pretty simple but it’s a killer:
The battles no longer physical, it’s from within
You live to die and you die to live again
But you can’t win for losin, what sides are you choosin?
Decisions, Decisions to make
Decisions, Decisions to make
It is a track that stays with you long after you’ve listened to it. Much like “Cell Therapy” (off the Soul Food album) it catches your attention, because it is direct and uncompromising in its message. Unlike “Cell Therapy” there aren’t many mainstream stations you would have heard this on–unless it was college or Co-op radio. It is arguably the best track on that Soul Assassins compilation.
Souls of Mischief – 93 ‘Til Infinity
This classic from 1993 features pieces of Graham Central Station “The Jam”, and a sped up sample of Billy Cobham’s “Heather”. The early 90’s was an idyllic period for the San Francisco Bay Area. The A’s and Giants were highly competitive ballclubs. The 49ers were consistently the second best team in the NFL, and the Warriors were playing and exciting and entertaining brand of basketball. The Hip Hop scene boasted local artists like Hammer, Digable planets, Del The Funky Homosapien, Digital Underground, E-40, Celly Cel, Rappin 4’Tay and Too Short.
The song immediately conjures up feelings of good vibes and the innocuous lyrics about chilling, smoking weed, and chasing honey’s (a past time that many people can relate to in their youth) couldn’t be more Californian. If you’ve been to California–in particularly the Bay Area, then get that “to chill” is not just an action, it is a state of mind. In fact, “chill” or a derivative of the word “chill” comes up at least 31 times on this track. You can chill with this cut at a barbecue, throw it on the PA as house music at a concert, or put it on at a party.
2 Live Crew – Pop That P%$$y, Me So Horny
Some will find the inclusion of these tracks blasphemous, but there would be no Southern rap if it weren’t for the doors that Luther Campbell and his crew opened in the region. These guys ushered in the era of danceable Hip Hop that represented the tastes in that part of the United States. Victories against obscenity laws aside, Luther Campbell was the first real Hip Hop mogul to control his own manufacturing and distribution.
Besides creating the Miami Bass sound, the 2 Live Crew were the first to use Dolemite and Richard Pryor samples, and in “Me So Horny”, the use of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket immediately catches the listener’s attention. Sure the lyrics are doo-doo, but the humor in these songs cannot be ignored, and in an era where rap was taking itself too seriously, it was a refreshing change.
One can argue that Luke and 2 Live Crew are partially to blame for all the “objectification of women in Hip Hop music, and oversexed lyrics, and raunchy videos, but how is what they did any different from those old Warrant and Van Halen videos? And before you turn your nose up and click out of this article, I want you to go back and listen to both of these songs. The breakdown from 4:09-4:36 on “Me So Horny” is pure Hip Hop. If you told someone from the 1970’s that Mass Production’s “Firecracker” could be scratched, cut and mixed in such a vulgar way, they would have bugged out on you. The same could be said for Billy Stewart’s “Summertime” –especially from the 3:49-4:16 mark.
Notorious B.I.G. & Bone Thugs N Harmony – Notorious Thugs
First of all, this is long a** song – especially by singles standards. This song was written at the absolute height of violence and beef in Hip Hop, and the violent imagery reinforces the climate at that time (Biggie of course would die shortly after the album Life After Death was finished). Biggie had a smooth delivery that worked well with more melodic tracks, but what surprised many people was his ability to lay down a flow that was as quick and as poetic as his Cleveland counterparts.
It is easy to forget that though other midwest artists could rap as fast as Bone (Twista, Crucial Conflict, 3-6 Mafia), no one was laying down melodic raps on top of beats like they were. This was a surprising collaboration for many, and was ultimately the song that won me over to Biggie Smalls as a rapper. What is often overlooked due to the gang affiliations, macho posturing, and violent lyrics is that these young men were ultimately poets. I’d argue that this Biggie verse belongs in the canon of his all time work.
Also in the discussion:
Outkast – Elevators
This eerie organ piece laid down to a pensive drum beat, became a song about finding fame; but with little money to accompany it. One of Andre 3000’s more memorable verses about running into an old schoolmate out in public gave listeners a hint about the kind of talent for storytelling that he possessed.
Goodie Mob – Black Ice (Sky High)
Big Gipp throws down some abstract lyrics for three stanzas until Big Boi and Andre 3000 flip the script at the tail end of the track. This is another Organized Noize produced track that features haunting organ chords, some well placed funky guitar licks and an extremely catchy hook.