The 1990s was a golden age for hip hop. From Nas to Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, there was undeniably a lot of talent in the culture. However, there was also a lot of drama. The West Coast vs East Coast feud that plagued hip hop during the ’90s, 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.
During the 1980s, New York was undoubtedly the city holding the torch for hip hop, but during the 1990s, most would agree that, although New York still had good artists, the sound of G-funk was ruling the charts, and the majority of people were looking to Los Angeles for their hip hop. With albums such as The Chronic, Doggystyle and Dogg Food topping the Billboard 200 chart on a regular basis.
When we’re looking back at hip hop in the 1990s, we’re looking (for the most part) at two feuding record labels, Death Row Records on the West Coast and Badboy Entertainment on the East Coast. Both companies had their own stars, with 2pac signed to Death Row and Biggie Smalls signed to Bad Boy. Respectively, these two artists, with their affiliates i.e. Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Lil Kim and Diddy, were ruling the rap charts and selling unfathomable amounts of records with their feud actually fuelling sales.
But there was talent beyond the feud. In New York, crews like the Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep and The Lox were gaining notoriety, while in Oakland, The Click Crew was producing notable rappers like E-40. Many cities across America were blossoming in the 90s, in fact, some were just getting on the map despite the fact the genre had been around for a little over a decade. For example, in Miami, Trick Daddy Dollars and Trina were having huge amounts of success with their song ‘Naan’ doing very well. Eminem was on the rise, and Nas had already made huge waves in the genre. Even Houston crew Geto Boys had a foot-in.
The 1990s also saw a rise in the popularity of mixtapes. As opposed to vinyl singles, during the ’90s, DJs such as DJ Clue and KaySlay were undoubtedly making an impact with their cassettes flying around the underground putting people on to new music and new talent locally and internationally. With a vast Caribbean population in the city of New York, cousins were sending these cassettes to their UK families and more.
The 1990s really was a golden age for hip hop so below we have curated a playlist of the 25 best songs from the 1990s take a look at our picks below.
25 best hip hop songs of the ’90s:
- ‘Regulate’ – Warren G ft Nate Dogg
- ‘Nuthin But A G Thang’ – Dr Dre ft Snoop Dogg
- ‘Gin And Juice’ – Snoop Dogg
- ‘California Love’ – 2pac ft Dr Dre
- ‘One More Chance (remix)’ – The Notorious B.I.G.
- ‘C.R.E.A.M. – Wu-Tang Clan
- ‘I’m Not A Player’ – Big Pun
- ‘Black Trump’ – Cocoa Brovaz ft Raekwon
- ‘Freestyle With Remy Martin’ – Big Pun ft Remy Ma
- ‘Get At Me Dog’ – DMX ft Sheek
- ‘Brooklyn Zoo II’ – Ol Dirty Bastard
- ‘Turn It Up (remix)’ – Busta Rhymes
- ‘Juicy’ – The Notorious B.I.G.
- ‘Fresh From Yard’ – Beenie Man ft Lil Kim
- ‘Xxplosive’ – Dr Dre ft Hittman, 62, Nate Dogg & Xzibit
- ‘Protect Ya Neck’ – Wu-Tang Clan
- ‘Nann Nigga’ – Trick Daddy ft Trina
- ‘Dead Presidents II’ – Jay-Z
- ‘N.Y. State Of Mind’ – Nas
- ‘Nas Is Coming’ – Nas ft Dr Dre
- ‘Summertime’ – DJ Jazzy Jeff ft The Fresh Prince
- ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ – Lauryn Hill
- ‘One’ – Busta Rhymes ft Erykah Badu
- ‘Big Poppa’ – The Notorious B.I.G
- ‘Crush On You’ – Lil Kim