Old-school hip-hop for a new-school audience

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Prodigy and Havoc of Mobb Deep

Looking back at the last 15 years in hip-hop, one can’t help but reminisce about the classic tracks that have given hip-hop its longevity.

Though these tracks may not boast the latest synthesizer or drum machine, the following list of old-school hip-hop anthems will reinvigorate old listeners’ nostalgia and introduce the basics to newcomers.

“C.R.E.A.M.” " Wu-Tang Clan
An acronym for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” this track is taken from Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, Enter the 36 Chambers. Both Raekwon and Inspectah Deck’s verses are incredible and allow a unique look into growing up in urban New York.

“Shook Ones Pt. II” " Mobb Deep
Queensbridge hip-hop duo Prodigy and Havoc released “Shook Ones Pt. II” as part of their 1995 blockbuster release, The Infamous. It’s perhaps the most identifiable track from this East Coast outfit and essential for anyone’s hip-hop collection.

“Picture Me Rollin’” " 2pac
The late, great 2pac Shakur rapped about the transition from poverty to stardom. This track is loaded with lyrical stylings that contemplate FBI surveillance, the implications of friends and money and, of course, calling out all those who wronged him in the past.

“Da Graveyard” " Big L
Though Lifestyles ov da Poor & Dangerous did not receive much airplay or video-play, the album became a lynchpin of hip-hop in the mid-90s. This track in particular showcases Big L at his most raw and features a young Jay-Z shortly after the release of his freshman album, Reasonable Doubt.

“Warning” " Notorious B.I.G
The most defining characteristic of this song is its graceful fusion of a basic drumbeat with lyrics that come off as poetry. The track is part of Notorious B.I.G.’s freshman recording, Ready to Die and is a staple of his vivid yet strangely hardcore style.

“Dead Presidents” " Jay-Z
Labelling an older Jay-Z track as one of his finest is no easy task. But if there’s one song worthy of mention, it’s “Dead Presidents” off of Reasonable Doubt as it showcases Jay-Z’s lyrical dexterity in its early stages. Though it’s not quite recognizable as the Jay-Z we know today, it’s interesting to see where this hip-hop legend started out.

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