As the 90s rolled around, hip hop rose to prominence as one of the most dominant musical genres of the era. This was a time where the music was raw and full of energy, with its artists exploring complex issues of race, class, and politics. The beats were infectious, the lyrics were clever, and the attitude was bold.
It was a decade that saw the emergence of groundbreaking artists that revolutionized hip hop music. From the East to the West Coast, every corner of the genre was filled with remarkable songs that we still vibe to till this day.
“Juicy” – The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Juicy’ is an iconic hip hop track that encapsulates the essence of what the genre really stands for in the 90s. It exudes confidence, swagger, and determination, all the while retaining a sense of authenticity that is rare to find in today’s rap scene.
The catchy chorus and nostalgic beat make it nearly impossible to not bounce along to the rhythm of Biggie’s flow. It’s obvious why this song maintains its prominence in history as one of the best 90s hip hop anthems.
“Gin and Juice” – Snoop Dogg
“Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg is an absolute banger that captures the essence of 90s hip hop with its groovy beats and soulful melodies. The track perfectly represents Snoop’s laidback and carefree persona which has become synonymous with the West Coast hip hop scene. The lyrics are playful and witty, interwoven with poetic metaphors and pop culture references that make the song both relatable and intriguing.
The track is a classic anthem for partying and having a good time, making it a must-listen for anyone looking to get in the 90s hip hop vibe.
“California Love” – 2Pac ft. Dr. Dre
“California Love” is a West Coast rap anthem by 2Pac featuring Dr. Dre. With its infectious hook and head-bobbing beat, the song skyrocketed to mainstream success, becoming a staple of 90s hip hop culture. The track samples Joe Cocker’s “Woman to Woman” and Roger Troutman’s “Computer Love,” and 2Pac’s verse lays down his signature aggressive flow.
The video features a desert party complete with low riders and party people, embodying the vibe of the California lifestyle. “California Love” is a timeless classic of 90s hip hop that perfectly captures the energy and spirit of the era.
“Regulate” – Warren G ft. Nate Dogg
“Regulate” by Warren G featuring Nate Dogg is an absolute banger that never fails to get hips swaying and heads nodding. Its smooth beats and catchy hooks are complemented by Warren G’s storytelling prowess and Nate Dogg’s soulful crooning.
It’s the perfect representation of the G-funk sound that dominated 90s hip hop and has rightfully earned its place in the hall of fame of classic hip hop hits.
“Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” – Puff Daddy ft. Mase
Track six on the list of best 90s hip hop songs is a legendary track, pumping through the ears of music enthusiasts like adrenaline. The track, packing a punch and heart-shattering lyrics, is a high energy collaboration between two stars.
It stands as a staple from the era, a classic that has been passed down from generation to generation. It will make you want to move, groove, and get lost in the music from the first beat. The catchy tune leaves you with an infectious
“It Was a Good Day” – Ice Cube
Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” is a seminal work in the 90s hip hop canon, telling the story of a day in a young man’s life in South Central LA where everything goes right. The production features a laid-back, funky sample from The Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps in the Dark,” over which Ice Cube delivers his trademark storytelling with his gritty voice.
The song’s message of positivity and the celebration of a “good day” in the face of systemic oppression and poverty has made it a cultural touchstone for hip hop fans and beyond.
“I’ll Be Missing You” – Puff Daddy ft. Faith Evans and 112
This track, featuring Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, and 112, showcases a prime example of ’90s hip hop producing classic sentimental ballads with rock-solid beats and captivating melodies.
Touching on the issue of loss and paying tribute to a fallen friend, this song truly captures an emotional essence through a skillful blend of poignant lyrics and a nostalgic groove that leaves a lasting impact on the listener.
“Hip Hop Hooray” – Naughty By Nature
“Hip Hop Hooray” by Naughty By Nature is a bona fide banger that, even to this day, is guaranteed to get any crowd hyped. With its infectious beat and catchy hook, it’s no wonder that this track became an instant classic of 90s hip hop.
Whether you’re throwing a party or cruising in your whip, “Hip Hop Hooray” is a must-add to your playlist. Don’t sleep on this one, folks.
“Jump” – Kris Kross
“Jump” by Kris Kross is one of the quintessential hip hop songs of the 90s. With its infectious beat, catchy chorus, and signature fashion statement of wearing clothes backwards, Kris Kross was a force to be reckoned with in the rap game.
The song’s energy and enthusiasm captures the carefree spirit of the era, while also showcasing the lyrical dexterity of the teenage duo. It’s a prime example of the fun, upbeat side of 90s hip hop that will leave you jumping and dancing along.
“Baby Got Back” – Sir Mix-A-Lot
“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot is a classic 90s hip hop track with a heavy and catchy beat, paired with tongue-in-cheek lyrics celebrating and objectifying women’s curvy figures. This song was a commercial success and garnered widespread popularity, becoming a cultural phenomenon in the 90s and beyond.
Sir Mix-A-Lot’s clever wordplay and playful humor make “Baby Got Back” a standout track in the history of hip hop.
“U Can’t Touch This” – MC Hammer
MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” brought a burst of energy to the 90s hip hop scene with its infectious beat and catchy lyrics. The song’s sample from Rick James’ “Super Freak” and its accompanying music video featuring Hammer’s infamous hammer pants made it a pop culture sensation.
Its unique blend of hip hop and dance music helped it become a crossover hit, reaching the top 10 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Rap charts. Even today, “U Can’t Touch This” remains a quintessential party song that never fails to get people moving.
“Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J
LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” is a spot-on depiction of 90s hip hop’s raw energy. With the thumping beat, explosive delivery, and vivid lyrics, the song is an embodiment of the vibrant culture that defined the era. LL’s aggressive flow and trademark confidence shine through with ferocity as he spits out rhymes that were simply mesmerizing.
The song’s brutal honesty and in-your-face attitude made it an instant classic and cemented its place in the pantheon of the best 90s hip hop songs.
“Scenario” – A Tribe Called Quest ft. Busta Rhymes
A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Scenario’ commands unparalleled respect among hip hop purists. Featuring Busta Rhymes’ high-energy flow and a legendary verse from Phife Dawg, this classic tune balances introspective musings on success with a funky bassline and percussion that’ll have you nodding your head.
It’s the perfect vibe for a chill weekend party, whether you’re a true fan of 90s hip hop or just looking for a memorable beat.
“The Humpty Dance” – Digital Underground
“The Humpty Dance” is a wicked track by Digital Underground. The rhymes are tight and the beat is bangin’ – this song is a classic, with some of the most frantic and clever wordplay ever. The production is also top-notch, with a funky bassline and catchy drums that make you want to nod your head endlessly. Overall, “The Humpty Dance” is a must-listen for any 90s hip hop fan.
“Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
“Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince is a classic 90s hip hop song that oozes with smooth vibes and chill energy. It is a groovy and laid-back track that perfectly captures the essence of summertime, making it a timeless hit that will keep the party going.
With a catchy beat and smooth rhymes, this song is a must-have for any 90s hip hop playlist and promises to transport listeners back to the golden era of the genre.
“Rump Shaker” – Wreckx-N-Effect
“Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect is an undeniable party anthem from the 90s that still gets the crowd moving today. The classic beat, catchy hook, and smooth verses make it a timeless track that perfectly captures the fleeting spirit of the decade. The song’s combination of funk, hip hop and soul elements creates an explosion of sound that demands attention and shakes up any crowd.
Its naughty but nice lyrics further add to its aura of rebellious mystique. “Rump Shaker” is the ultimate 90s hip hop jam that continues to defy expectations.
“Whatta Man” – Salt-N-Pepa ft. En Vogue
“Whatta Man” by Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue is a representation of confident and empowered women in 90s hip hop, featuring the sweet vocals of En Vogue paired with Salt-N-Pepa’s aggressive flow. The powerful lyrics describe the ideal man who is respectful, supportive, and loving. The song exemplifies the feminist movement in hip hop and showcases the group’s unique style and creativity.
“Jump Around” – House of Pain
“Jump Around” by House of Pain is an iconic 90s hip hop song that screams energy with its vibrant beats and catchy chorus. It’s a quintessential party starter and a go-to track for getting your body moving.
The electric delivery of its vocals and the fresh rhymes over the infectious beat have made it a timeless anthem that still gets people jumping around on the dancefloor after all these years.
“I Got 5 on It” – Luniz
Luniz’s ‘I Got 5 on It’ is a real banger from the 90s that uses clever wordplay and a dope beat to create a hypnotic and infectious track. With an unapologetically west coast sound, Luniz delivers verses that blend street smarts with humor and sass, making this song a classic of the era.
The catchy chorus and memorable production ensure ‘I Got 5 on It’ is still a crowd-pleaser today and a must-have on any old-school hip hop playlist.
“Hip Hop Junkies” – Nice & Smooth
Nice & Smooth’s ‘Hip Hop Junkies’ is a classic 90s hip hop track that grooves with its jazzy organ sample and funky bass line. The duo’s playful storytelling, combined with their impressive rhyme schemes and dynamic flow, create an exuberant, high-energy sound that captures the spirit of the genre’s golden era. Check it out and get ready to move!
“Bust a Move” – Young MC
“Bust A Move” by Young MC is a quintessential 90s hip hop song that incites a palpable energy and enthusiasm in listeners. The song boasts a mix of old school hip hop beats with a high tempo and adrenaline-pumping lyrics, making it an ideal track for parties and events.
The song’s infectious chorus has been widely recognized over the years, serving as a nostalgic reminder of the peak of 90s hip hop culture.
“Tennessee” – Arrested Development
‘Tennessee’ by Arrested Development is straight fire! It’s got this funky, soulful vibe that just gets you grooving. The lyrics are deep and meaningful, talking about growing up in the South and the struggles faced by black Americans.
The rhymes are buttery smooth and the hook is catchy as hell. It’s no wonder this song won a Grammy in ’93. It’s a definite must-listen for anyone who loves 90s hip hop.
“Buddy” – De La Soul ft. A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, and Monie Love
“Buddy” by De La Soul is some real dope 90s hip hop. The collab features A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, and Monie Love, creating an unpredictable fusion of lyrical flows and musical senses. It’s a playful and experimental tune that stood out in an era full of hits. Don’t miss out on this iconic piece of hip hop history.
“Flava In Ya Ear (Remix)” – Craig Mack ft. The Notorious B.I.G., Rampage, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes
One of the hottest remixes of the 90s, this track features a funky beat, sick rhymes, and a posse of legendary rappers. Produced by one of the biggest names in the game, this banger showcases some of the most iconic verses of the decade. With killer lines and an infectious hook, it’s no wonder that this song remains a classic of 90s hip hop.
“C.R.E.A.M.” – Wu-Tang Clan
Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” was a surefire hit amongst hip hop enthusiasts of the 90s. Its lyrics packed a punch and spoke volumes about the struggles of the impoverished and underprivileged. The track’s catchy hook and gritty beat also helped contribute to its lasting popularity, remaining an influential song within the genre to this day.
“Shook Ones Part II” – Mobb Deep
Mobb Deep’s ‘Shook Ones Part II’ is an embodiment of the gritty, street-centric sound that defined 90s hip hop. Spitting haunting verses over a sinister beat, Prodigy and Havoc paint a picture of survival in the midst of violence and corruption. The song’s raw intensity and catchy hook that quickly slipped into the vernacular of hip hop fans elevates it to cult-like status in the genre’s history.
“All About the Benjamins” – Puff Daddy ft. The Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim, and The LOX
This track from Puff Daddy featuring The Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim, and The LOX packs a serious punch with its energetic beats and memorable lyrics. It showcases the raw talent of some of the biggest names in 90s hip hop and has remained a classic to this day. The song’s catchy hook and undeniably cool vibe make it the perfect addition to any hip hop playlist.
“Hypnotize” – The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Hypnotize’ is an iconic 90s hip hop track that captured the essence of the era. With infectious beats and captivating rhymes, the song takes listeners on a journey into the lavish lifestyle of the Brooklyn-bred rapper.
The glossy music video added to the allure of the track, featuring fast cars, beautiful women, and Biggie’s signature swagger. The song remains a testament to the late rapper’s undeniable talent and influence on the genre.
“Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” – Snoop Dogg
This song is a classic representation of 90s West Coast hip hop, with Snoop Dogg’s distinctive flow and Dr. Dre’s trademark production style. The track’s infectious chorus and hypnotic beat made it an instant hit upon release, and it’s since become an enduring anthem of the gangsta rap era.
Snoop Dogg’s playful, irreverent lyrics contrast sharply with the song’s gritty subject matter, creating a potent blend of street credibility and commercial appeal that would establish both artists as major players in the rap game.
“Gangsta’s Paradise” – Coolio ft. L.V.
In the grand scheme of 90s hip hop, “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio featuring L.V. was a game-changer. Its soulful yet gritty sound, combined with Coolio’s introspective lyrics on survival and social injustice, resonated with listeners from all backgrounds.
The track’s infectious hook and memorable chorus made it a chart-topping hit, solidifying it as not only one of the best hip hop songs of the 90s but also a cultural touchstone for the decade.
“How Do U Want It” – 2Pac ft. K-Ci & JoJo
This Tupac hit featuring K-Ci and JoJo is a 90s hip hop classic that speaks to the struggles of love and relationships. Its smooth and melodic sound paired with powerful and reflective lyrics make it a standout track of the era, showcasing Tupac’s versatility and range as an artist.
It’s a must-listen for fans of the genre and continues to be a popular track today, proving its timelessness and impact on hip hop culture.
“Keep Ya Head Up” – 2Pac
“Keep Ya Head Up” by 2Pac is a poignant and inspirational ballad that speaks to the struggles of black women and the broader social issues that affect them. With its uplifting message and soulful sound, this track is a standout example of 90s hip hop at its most socially conscious and emotionally resonant.
Its inclusion on any list of the era’s best hip hop songs is a testament to the power and importance of music as a means of addressing and reflecting on the issues facing marginalized communities.
“Dear Mama” – 2Pac
“Dear Mama” is an emotionally charged rap by 2Pac that expresses love and appreciation for his mother despite her struggles to provide for him and his siblings. The song’s deeply personal lyrics and 2Pac’s raw delivery invoke a sense of vulnerability and authenticity seldom seen in mainstream hip hop.
With its poignant message and soulful beat, “Dear Mama” is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with fans decades after its release.
“Changes” – 2Pac
“Changes” by Tupac Shakur is a thought-provoking and introspective song that delves into the complexities of race relations, police brutality, poverty, and self-reflection. The song’s powerful lyrics and soulful chorus, mixed with Tupac’s raw and emotional delivery, make it a timeless masterpiece that resonates with audiences today just as strongly as it did when it was released in 1998.
Tupac’s ability to convey his message of hope and unity amidst a turbulent and divisive time through his music is a testament to his brilliance as an artist and his impact on the genre of hip hop.