Lists, Theory & Essay

10 Hip-Hop Songs Everybody Should Just D*mn Know.

Because if you don’t you suck and need to be slapped with a rusty barnacle and two midgets holding Red Hots.

(As you can see, The Champ and I are really about this enlightenment thing.  And lists.  We like lists.)  Two Friday’s ago, I introduced you all to 10 songs that all Black people should know.  Since so many of you kept trying to throw hip-hop songs into the list – completely erroneously, by the way – I figured that the LEAST I could do was tell you all 10 hip-hop songs that you should know.  And if you don’t know them, basically, you suck.  You won’t lost black points, but you will lose cool points, and your opinion on hip-hop is from here forward, null-and-void.  Know that.

By the way, notice IT DOES NOT SAY BEST HIP-HOP SONGS EVER (though there is definitely overlap between best hip-hop songs and songs THAT YOU SHOULD JUST DAMN KNOW).

10.  Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full (Remix)

Dope beat, dope rhymes.  What more do y’all want? There’s a reason this song is as popular today (amongst hiphop heads) as it was in the 80s.  It’s just that good.  Storytelling raps were never the same after this joint.  “Stop smiling, be still, don’t nothing move but the money”.  Motherf*cking poetry in motion.

Speaking of storytelling…

9.  Slick Rick – Children’s Story

For one, because EVERYBODY has to do the rap about Dave the Dopefiend shooting dope.  If everybody does it and you don’t, you should feel inadequate.  Word though, I hear he doesn’t know the meaning of water nor soap.  When was the last time you heard a rapper use the word “nor”.  No, seriously.

8.  Black Sheep – The Choice Is Yours (Remix)

I mean just be-damn-cause it’s one of the most well known and best loved rap songs in the history.  Guaranteed party starter and energy anthem.  Yo…WHO’S A BLACK SHEEP?  WHAT’S A BLACK SHEEP?!  If you don’t know.  Go cut yourself with a kiwi.

7.  Public Enemy – Fight The Power

I’ve never thought of Chuck D as a great rapper.  Hell, I’ve never been a HUGE fan of P.E.  But this song right here?  Is one of the most important songs in rap history.  Everything was so right about this song its amazing.  Plus, it made everybody want to be militant and do the right thing.  There’s something to be said about a pre-crackhead Flavor Flav actually making an impact on anything.

6.  Naughty By Nature – O.P.P.

Feel good.  Great beat.  And the introduction of Treach’s angry flow and Vinnie’s short arms.  Plus, it just might have the BEST call and response chorus ever in hip-hop.

5.  Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg – Nuthin’ But A G Thang

Even white people know this song…verbatim.  If you’re over the age of 21 and don’t know it, your parents failed you in life.

4.  Notorious B.I.G. – One More Chance (Remix)

I had an argument with one of my boys a few years ago about the definitive Bad Boy song.  This song is it.  Biggie doing what he did best, be fat, black, and ugly as ever, yet still bag the chicks.  I remember hearing this for the first time one summer and playing it the.f*ck.out.

3.  N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton

This song is the reason Ice Cube is Ice Cube in my opinion.  His verse was so scary and sincere that when you found out he had two parents, wasn’t in a gang, and went to college, you refused to believe he wouldn’t kill you.  Ice Cube scared white AND Black people…in 1989-93.  2008?  Not so much.  You just want hug him now.  But “Straight Outta Compton” put N.W.A. on the map, for better or worse and changed hip-hop forever.  So know it.

2.  Rob Base and DJ EZ-Rock – It Takes Two

If you don’t know this song, life has failed you and you sleep alone at night with a teddy bear, a glass of water, and a paperclip.  In fact, if you DON’T know at least the first four bars of the first verse AND ARE OVER 25 I actually don’t know if ever want to meet or speak to you.  Ever.

1.  Pete Rock and CL Smooth – T.R.O.Y.

Because it’s the  As in of all time.  PERIOD.


So, um…top that.  And why?


Filed Under:
Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.


Good Question.

  • PBG

    There is no topping this. This list is the ultimate in Hip-Hop sexxy.

    The End.

    • Panama Jackson

      @PBG, thank you. and thank you.

      • Crystal Marie

        DJ Kool – Let Me Clear My Throat.

    • WuDaMan

      @PBG, I’ll show you cecksie. ‘Come here woman’

  • ladebelle

    i think that all biggie and tupac songs should be up here

    (i clearly just came from seeing the movie… )

    • SouthernGirl

      @ladebelle, please tell me what you thought of it. at first i wanted to see it just cause of my lurve of hip hop but some of those trailers were killing me!!

      but then i’m hearing all these rave reviews and sh!t but not quite sure who’s writing them?!?! i think the la times gave it a good review but that could just be guilt and sh!t…

      • WuDaMan

        @SouthernGirl, yo if you could enjoy learning the little things. n seeing a wack 2pac wack puphie and an awesome biggie and knowing the whole story line. Go see it.

        • SouthernGirl

          @WuDaMan, lol. ok, wu.

      • Dom


        It was okay. Much better than I thought it would be. I thought Angie Bassett did a great job (she sounded JUST like Violetta Wallace), and it was interesting to see the back story. And of course the music was tight.

        Tupac was whack though, and they tried to make Puffy a philosopher. Fail.

  • RedBeanzNRice

    Yeah, it’s a cool list, P – I would add to it, but I don’t feel like hearing ya “boy’s” mouf.

  • Luvvie

    *Taps mic*
    *Clears throat*

    Hi, my name is Luvvie and I’m not an Hip Hop Head. I am only familiar with half of this list. I shall do better.

    *Drops mic*

    • PBG

      @Luvvie, If I had known you were so hip-hoply undernourished, I would’ve bumped all these songs in your ear as you slept so angelically on my sofa this past weekend.

      You. will. learn.

      • SouthernGirl

        @PBG, and i would’ve stood watch with an albino midget clown holding a black squirrel armed with hood pigeons until she did better. if i had been there of course….

        • PBG

          @SouthernGirl, I’m sayin! Luvvie came here and got mad tight w/my precocious teenager and even Tina knows all the words to “A Children’s Story”. She has got to do better.

      • ThePhiladelphiaNegro


        Long live Blastmaster KRS-One.


    • miss t-lee

      BOOOOOO!!!!! Get off the stage….lol

    • blackberry molasses


      I will pray to BBJ for your affliction known has “Dearth of Hip Hop Head-ness”

      You’re welcome.

      • PBG

        @blackberry molasses, We’ll need a powerful prayer circle for this child here. Her and others I see slinking around in the blog, souls half empty due to lack of hip-hopness.

    • Sula-in-training


      ’tis ok… I don’t know the #1 song. But I know I am no Hip-Hop Head so I’m cool. :)

      • blackberry molasses


        ANOTHER case of the “Dearth of Hip Hop Head-ness”

        **Puts on epi thinking cap… what is the common link here… what is the common risk factor for this condition?**

        • Sula-in-training

          @blackberry molasses,

          **Puts on epi thinking cap… what is the common link here… what is the common risk factor for this condition?**

          Growing up outside of the US/North America would be one. Or living in a household that considered such songs “not good for kids” could be another one…

          The reasons are many…

          I know all the songs (finally realized I knew the first one :)) now because my interest was recently piqued into listening to old school hip hop.

          I didn’t grow up listening to hip hop AT ALL… Until I was a rebellious teenager that is, and by that time the Rakim, and Slick Rick and Whodini of the world had already faded somewhat or were no longer as commercial as the Naughty By Nature, Biggie, Pac et al…

          Plus in Francophone Africa, you have to factor in the language barrier. Hip-Hop is visual poetry. If you don’t “understand” or “get” the subtle references, you are missing it all. So it was hard trying to decipher slang from Brooklyn or Compton when there was no cultural reference to go back.

          All of this dissertation to just help you with your understanding of this rather interesting phenomenon :D

          That is all. ;)

    • Bajan Girl


      *picks up mic*

      I have only heard 4 of the songs (2,4,6,7), and I barely know most of the words to them…

      In my defense I am from the islands, grew up in a VERY Caribbean and Christian household.. oh and my dad is a preacher… hip hop, rap, anything remotely like that, was not played in our home and even now as an adult I have not gotten into hip hop…

      Do I have to turn in my card? Can I be helped?

      *putting down mic.. hanging head in shame.. slowly shuffling off stage…*

      • SouthernGirl

        @Bajan Girl, we’ll add you to the prayer/hip hop immersion list.

  • GEMazing

    i would argue that even peri-/post-crackhead Flava Flav made impacts. i mean, he had an impact on my love-hate for reality TV. if it wasn’t for FF, the world may not know lip chap as they do today (thank you Sapphyri). and the hot, raggedy a*s mess that is “New York”?? and lest we forget the public display of his love affair with an awkwardly tall white [and somewhat masculine] woman??

    for better (yeah right) or worse, FF has been imprinted on every one’s mental landscape. *smh* tragic.

    • Miss Patterson

      @GEMazing, slow clap, gemmie…preach!

    • Deviant

      none of that has anything to do with Public Enemy which is what put him on the map and what really matters in the grand scheme of things. PE was the sh!t.

      • GEMazing

        *blank stare* yeah ok your point?? this comment was purposefully aimed at post-PE FF and in direct response to Peej’s comment “There’s something to be said about a pre-crackhead Flavor Flav actually making an impact on anything.”

  • Sowhatiff Jenkins

    HA. I made it on here early! ::does cabbage patch…sike::

    Any way you can get a link to the number 1 song on here? I dunno that one. Great list otherwise, though I would wanna add “The Message” on there somewhere.

    • Panama Jackson

      @Sowhatiff Jenkins, wow…REALLY?!?!! lawdjeefus chile. here’s a link to the song and video:

      you must know, love, and learn this song. posthaste!

    • PBG

      @Sowhatiff Jenkins,

      My first, most visceral reaction to you not knowing the Number One song that the Oh So Sexxy One (yeah, he’s now my BFF for this list but it will only last until the next VSB post) was to completely obliterate your lifespace. But, BBJ took the wheel and made me find the song for you:

      I can barely function when I hear the saxophone opening on this song. PBG goes into a sublime hip-hop trance from the very first note. It’s not a game!

      • miss t-lee

        “I can barely function when I hear the saxophone opening on this song”

        You too huh?! :)

        • blackberry molasses

          @miss t-lee,

          me three!!!!

    • PBG

      @Sowhatiff Jenkins,

      *blank, blinking stare*

      • Sowhatiff Jenkins

        @PBG, My bad yall…I definitely know the song…just never knew the name…

        ::shakes head in shame::

        Thanks for the link.

        • PBG

          @Sowhatiff Jenkins,

          I’m glad you cleared all that up because I was indeed plotting your “untimely demise”.

        • Tazzee

          @Sowhatiff Jenkins, don’t feel too bad. I didn’t know that was the name either – love the song, just never knew the name – although, in my defense, even the video doesn’t list it as an acronym…

        • Luvtheshoes

          @Sowhatiff Jenkins,

          Don’t feel bad. I thought I didn’t know it either until I clicked the link and heard the opening riff…then I knew I knew it.

          Great top 10!

        • The Champ

          @Sowhatiff Jenkins,

          My bad yall…I definitely know the song…just never knew the name…

          you know, i’d argue that there are more than a few people who know this song, as well as the entire chorus and last verse, but dont know the name of it. kind of like a straight version of “bohemian rhapsody”

          • bballmom

            @The Champ,
            Ok, now that I’ve seen the video, I know the song. Never knew the name though. Surprised PJ picked this as the #1 you should know.

            • Panama Jackson

              @bballmom, why a surprise pick?

              • PBG

                @Panama Jackson, If you had picked anything else as #1, I would’ve given you the Side Eye of Death from here on out. I mean, it would’ve been like I never knew ya.

              • bballmom

                @Panama Jackson,

                For me it would have been either your number 2 or 3 choice as number 1.
                But, I am so not a hip hop head and you would slay me in a debate on the subject.
                Just an old ladies opinion. LOL

    • SouthernGirl

      @Sowhatiff Jenkins,

      i mean…how….whaaaa….i just…..hmmmm.


      what you meant to say was you’ve at least HEARD of it you just don’t KNOW all of the words…right?!?!?!

      *watches tiny glitter of hope fade away*

      • Sowhatiff Jenkins

        @SouthernGirl, see my reply…lol.

        ::watches glitter of hope come back:: :)

        • SouthernGirl

          @Sowhatiff Jenkins,

          whew….that was a close one.

        • Shay-d-lady

          @Sowhatiff Jenkins, Im glad it wasnt just me.. when I saw it I was like what the only song from CL smooth and pete rock that should make any list is reminisce….but then I tend to name songs whatever the h-e-ll I want to in my head… LOL

          • Sula-in-training


            Glad you said “reminisce”, Shay-d-lady, (Youtube is prohibited beyond the Great fireWalls), so I googled the lyrics… and YES, I do know the song. I actually think it’s a great song!

            “When they reminisce over you my god”… and then it goes into the sax riff…. Wowsers!

            Yeah, def great list!

    • superwoman

      @Sowhatiff Jenkins, .

      my best on this list is Paid in Full, which i discovered courtesy of one of the Form 5 hotties performing it at the schools talent night…. ah, the sight of Thando (RIP) pacing up and down the stage like a caged lion, gold chains swinging as he blasted into the mike ‘Thinking of a master plan…” oooh wee!!!

      it was so perfect, after that, the entire school discovered hip-hop!! (before then, the extent of our hip-hop had exposure had been LL’s ‘i need love’, faithfully dubbed on tdk cassettes and blasted out of our ‘vibe machines’ – yes, we called our ghetto blasters ‘vibe machines’)

  • SouthernGirl

    i approve this list.

    *takes brass covered wooden stamp out of special hiding place, looking over shoulder for would-be Sparkly Sista paraphernalia stealers*

    *gold star stamp of approval*

    • Panama Jackson

      @SouthernGirl, yay.

    • blackberry molasses


      what is the deal with people (read: Lil ‘T) trying to steal the Sparkly Sista… (wait for it)… SWAG?!?!?

      • SouthernGirl

        @blackberry molasses, lmao. i love it! Sparkly Sistas Swag.

        idk. you know lil t was all up in my mind when i wrote that! keep your eye on redbeanz too.

        • blackberry molasses


          Oh word?!?! **cuts a mean side eye at RedBeanz, while handing her dossier to the Sparkly Drop Squad**

  • Right Her

    Just curious…
    “One More Chance” the original or the more well known remix, which imho is the best remix ever. That’s back when remixes actually sounded different from the original and didn’t just add another rapper and/or R&B artist.

    • Panama Jackson

      @Right Her, the remix. i shall go make that correction in the post. good call. lol.

    • SouthernGirl

      @Right Her, I was thinking the same thing…

    • PBG

      @Right Her, THANK YOU! That remix is the most bananas of all bananas! I actually wanted to BE in that video, like seriously. The DeBarge sample…omg. I get verklempt @ its fabulousness. I stan for it.

      • postmodern pwnage

        @PBG, I accidently downloaded the original version thinking it was the ‘remix’, and was forced to spend an entire day listening to the original on my ipod. It was horrible.

        There is nothing more agonising than realising you downloaded the wrong song on your ipod.

        Ok, there is-Forgetting to charge you Ipod is equally torturous. Why am I talking about Ipods? I will go away now.

        • YGB

          @postmodern pwnage,
          “@PBG, I accidently downloaded the original version thinking it was the ‘remix’, and was forced to spend an entire day listening to the original on my ipod. It was horrible.”

          Poor thang! The original just won’t do – natatall!

    • miss t-lee

      @Right Her,
      Yeah this is one of the best remixes ever! You’re right…remixes used to be a completely different songs. *sigh*

    • Panama Jackson

      @Right Her, ya know, part of the reason i forgot it is bc the “remix” was the single and they never said it was a remix. you didnt’ know it was a remix unless you had the album, which if you think about it was marketing genius. like, how many folks bought the album off the strength of that song? i’m guessing a lot.

      who THEN had to go back and buy the single. lol. money in the bank.

      • miss t-lee

        @Panama Jackson,
        Never thought of it that way…but you’re right.
        I had already bought the album and never got the single since they were playing the hell out of it on radio and in the clubs…lmao

      • The Champ

        @Panama Jackson,

        you can kind of say the same thing about big pun’s “still not a player”. most cats didnt realize that was a remix until they bought the album…even though he also had a video for the original version

        • miss t-lee

          @The Champ,
          True…I forgot about that one too.

  • Stix

    I tried to rack my brain to think of additions but there are none good list and shyt.

  • Jeandra

    I’ve been alot of places and I have yet to go to a place where the people didn’t know, “It ain’t no fun” by the Dogg Pound. It’s not the most pleasant song but dammit, it bangs after several cocktails.

    • Relax, Relate, Alise


      That was a shining moment for Nate Dogg, lol, that song goes hard at 90’s parties fo sho…

    • Panama Jackson

      @Jeandra, definitely a banger that even the most hip-hop of hip-hop heads knows. it would be on my list if i extended it to say, 30 .

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