Essential Listening: The 30 best hip-hop songs of 1994
(Credit: Hip Hop Hero)


Essential Listening: The 30 best hip-hop songs of 1994

The 1990s was a bittersweet decade in hip-hop. Fans got fantastic music but, at the same time, lost a lot of talent along the way. The 1980s saw hip-hop sweep across the nation and heard the ingenious creation of various subgenres. From Miami Bass music to Hyphy and Electro, the sound of the late-’70s was evolving.

The 1980s saw socially conscious acts such as NWA and Public Enemy rise up and use hip-hop as a political force to mobilise the youth and challenge the establishment. This attitude continued into the following decade. However, some of the anger saw MCs turn on each other.

The West Coast vs East Coast feud that plagued hip-hop during the 1990s, as much as it may have entertained the culture, was an amalgamation of bloodshed and pure horror that ultimately ended with the deaths of two amazingly talented rappers: 2pac and Biggie Smalls.

The Death Row empire of California found itself locking horns with the Bad Boy empire of New York. Although the ending was tragic, the music released by these record labels and others in this period was undoubtedly phenomenal.

Aside from Biggie Smalls, New York was packed with talent. In the Bronx, Ruff Ryders were moulding Swizz Beatz and DMX, and in Brooklyn, you had Dame Dash and Jay-Z hustling CDs and units of vinyl with Roc-A-Fella.

Similarly, on the West Coast, 213, Tha Dogg Pound, Warren G, Nate Dogg and iconic North California MCs such as Too $hort and G-Shock were making waves. However, it was more than just these two hubs that were thriving. In Philadelphia, The Roots were running the show. In the south, following in the footsteps of the Geto Boys, UGK was making a name for themselves.

Broadly the ’90s saw hip-hop expand again, this time further than before. With so much creative energy and music being produced, we selected the 30 best hip-hop tracks of 1994, you can see our picks below.

The 30 best songs from 1994:

  • The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Juicy’
  • Nas – ‘N.Y. State of Mind’
  • Method Man – ‘Tical’
  • E-40 – ‘Captain Save A Hoe’
  • The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Big Poppa’
  • Redman – ‘Rockafella’
  • Warren G ft Nate Dogg – ‘Regulate’
  • Method Man – ‘Bring The Pain’
  • Ice Cube – ‘Natural Born Killaz’
  • The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘One More Chance (Remix)’
  • A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Electric Relaxation’
  • Public Enemy – ‘Give It Up’
  • Big Daddy Kane ft Big Scoop, Jay-Z, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Sauce and Shyheim – ‘Show & Prove’
  • Slick Rick – ‘Behind Bars’
  • Smif-N-Wessun – ‘Bucktown’
  • Ice Cube – ‘Bop Gun (One Nation)’
  • A Tribe Called Quest ft Busta Rhymes – ‘Oh My God’
  • Craig Mack – ‘Flava In Ya Ear’
  • Gang Starr – ‘Mass Appeal’
  • Nas – ‘Life’s A Bitch’
  • The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Who Shot Ya’
  • Outkast – ‘Git Up, Git Out’
  • Bone Thugs-n-Harmony – ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone’
  • Lady Of Rage – ‘Afro Puffs’
  • The Fugees – ‘Nappy Heads’
  • Common – ‘I Used To Love H.E.R’
  • Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Take You There’
  • Big L – ‘Put It On’
  • UGK – ‘Front, Back & Side to Side’
  • Raekwon – ‘Heaven & Hell’