- On May 3, 2023
Hip-hop music during the 1990s is often considered the golden era for the genre. One of the core reasons hip-hop was so potent as a dance floor filler is due to its catchy beats and infectious rhythms.
Many of the key tracks from that era had chunky basslines and groovy drum patterns, which made it easy for B-Boys and B-Girls to really get loose. In addition, the 1990s saw the rise of popular dance styles like breakdancing and krumping.
West Coast hip-hop which was heavily inspired by 70s funk easily translated to fun, dance-floor material. Hip-hop’s unique way of telling stories while blending catchy hooks, samples, and funk-inspired beats made it very popular in clubs and bedrooms alike.
Jump – Kris Kross (1992)
American duo Kriss Kross’ first single became an instant hit thanks largely to the then-new producer on the block Jermaine Dupri. The production features a mix of funky samples and uptempo drum programming, and the very young duo’s energetic delivery and rhymes about partying and having fun.
Can I Kick It? – A Tribe Called Quest (1990)
Yes you can, and thankfully they did so for a long time. To create this hip-hop masterpiece, the trio combined elements of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, Ian Dury’s What A Waste, rap, and classic seventies funk. In 2022, Pitchfork ranked it at number 25 in their 250 Best Songs of the 1990s.
Hip Hop Hooray – Naughty by Nature (1993)
Treach, Vinnie and DJ Kay Gee crafted this party favourite and ode to hip hop together thanks to a long list of samples including Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer. The song spent one week at number one on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
Nuthin’ But A G Thang – Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg (1992)
One of the first but certainly not the last collaboration between these two ex-Death Row hip hop gangstas, this G-Funk staple featured on the mythical LP The Chronic. The song was selected by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll. Nuff said!
Well, I’m peepin’, and I’m creepin’, and I’m creepin’
But I damn near got caught, ’cause my beeper kept beepin’
Now, it’s time for me to make my impression felt
So, sit back, relax, and strap on your seatbelt.
Gin and Juice – Snoop Doggy Dogg (1994)
Not to be outdone, The Doggfather soon released his own G-Funk classic via his ground-breaking debut, Doggystyle. For those invested in more debauched party-related antics including drugs, sex and 40s this song is totally for you.
Jump Around – House of Pain (1992)
Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin. Produced by DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill, this was the first single from the House of Pain’s debut album. The song reached number three in the United States and still has the whole world jumping.
Insane In The Brain – Cypress Hill (1993)
DJ Muggs, Sen Dog and B-Real were very much sane when they concocted this gang-related banger. The track struck number one on the US rap chart, the song also was a mainstream hit, reaching number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993.
U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer (1990)
This fun track is easily considered MC Hammer’s signature song and it was the first rap song to be nominated for a Grammy Award for Record of the Year at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards in 1991. Tell me you’ve never tried the Hammer dance!
Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice (1990)
Just as impactful as Mr Hammer, Mr Ice became a 90s cultural icon just off the back of this track. Amongst a list of accomplishments, the track was the first hip-hop single to top the Billboard Hot 100.
Whoomp! (There It Is) – Tag Team (1993)
Whoomp! (There It Is) catapulted the Miami bass sound into the minds of people all around the world. The track has remained popular to this day thanks in part to multiple placements in film, television, and advertisements.
Rump Shaker – Wreckx-N-Effect (1992)
Teddy Riley and all his machinations often danced between hip hop, new jack swing and R&B but this was straight silky hip hop. A beach romp call to action that many have answered over the decades.
Turn to seduction from face hips to feet
A wiggle and a jiggle can make the night complete
Now since you got the body of the year, come and get the award
Here’s a hint, it’s like a long sharp sword.
Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (1991)
Summertime won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 1992 Grammy Awards. Whether you’re in Philly or Australia, the track is still great for a warm, chilled afternoon with friends and beers.
Hypnotize – The Notorious B.I.G. (1997)
Featuring some of the slickest lyrics ever penned on a club track, baby baaaby! Rolling Stone ranked the song as number 30 on their list of the 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time.
Intergalactic – Beastie Boys (1998)
Intergalactic was released as the first single from their fifth studio album, Hello Nasty. On top of being a perfect example of Beastie brilliance, the accompanying music video was super entertaining parody of Japanese Kaiju films.
Scenario – A Tribe Called Quest (1992)
Time included the song on the list of its All-TIME 100 Songs. The track is often considered a key moment for Leaders of the New School member Busta Rhymes, who was 19 when this song was released. The music video features cameos by Kid Capri, Spike Lee, Brand Nubian, De La Soul, Fab Five Freddy, and Redman.
No holds barred, no time for move-fakin’
Gots to get the loot so I can bring home the bacon
Brothers front, they say the Tribe can’t flow
But we’ve been known to do the impossible like Broadway Joe, so.
Who Ride Wit Us – Kurupt feat. Daz Dillinger (1999)
American West Coast beats don’t get much heavier than this! This was one of many tracks produced by Fred Wreck taken from Kurupt’s explosive second solo album Tha Streetz Iz A Mutha.
The Humpty Dance – Digital Underground (1990)
More fun and colourful West Coast hip hop courtesy of the late great Shock G and Digital Underground. In 2008, The Humpty Dance was ranked No. 30 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop and No. 65 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s in 2007.
Juicy – The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)
Biggie’s first single is still considered to be one of the greatest hip-hop songs ever produced. With timeless rags-to-riches lyrics, this track was juicy in name and sound.
Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill (1998)
Doo Wop (That Thing) became L. Boogie’s first and only US Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit while earning her multiple awards including two Grammys. It also became the first US number-one written, produced and recorded by one sole woman since Debbie Gibson’s Lost in Your Eyes (1989).
De La Soul – Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey) (1991)
Here De La Soul showcase their left side, jazzy hip hop style on a party jam about overzealous fans pursuing them to pass on demo tapes. The song was a top 10 hit in various spots including Germany, Belgium, Australia, Austria, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the UK.
Once again it’s another rap bandit
Fiending at I and I can’t stand it
Wanna be down with the Day-Glo
Knocking on my door, saying, “a yo yo”
California Love – 2Pac feat. Dr. Dre (1995)
The song was released as 2Pac’s comeback single after his release from prison in 1995 and was his first single as the newest artist of Death Row Records. Also featuring vocals from legendary funk artists Roger Troutman, the track was a pure celebration of west coast fun and sun.
Phenomenon – LL Cool J (1997)
Phenomenon was the first single released from his seventh studio album of the same name. A killer bass groove and composition drawn from various samples drove this quintessential LL joint.
Rosa Parks – Outkast (1998)
Inspired by civil rights activist Rosa Parks (despite her suing the group over the name), this is widely considered one of Outkast’s best songs and a great example of the group’s unique southern hip-hop roots.
It’s Like That – Run-DMC vs. Jason Nevins (1997)
It’s Like That was Run-DMC’s debut single released in 1983 by Profile Records. The Nevins version blurred the lines seamlessly between rap and dance music. In the UK, it became Britain’s third biggest-selling single of 1998.
I Got 5 On It – Luniz (1995)
Numskull and Yukmouth delivered this weed-smoking along with vocalist Michael Marshall. The single was certified Platinum by the RIAA on October 31, 1995 and sold one million copies domestically.
Drop – The Pharcyde (1995)
Drop is still memorable not just because of its trippy film clip but also due to its crisp production from the legendary J. Dilla. The track was released in 1995 as the second single for the group’s second album, Labcabincalifornia.
Don’t Sweat The Techinque – Eric B & Rakim (1992)
Rakim is still considered one of if not the GOAT and here he’s in fine form alongside his soon-to-be-absent partner in rhyme Eric B. Rakim’s lyrics soar like arrows over Eric B.’s jazzy, soulful production. Does anybody else remember hearing this on the NBA Jam Session VHS? Anybody?
Classical too intelligent to be radical
Masterful, never irrelevant mathematical
Here’s some soothing souvenirs for all the years
They fought and sought, the thoughts and ideas
It’s cool when you freak to the beat
But don’t sweat the technique.
How Do You Want It – 2pac feat. KC & Jo Jo (1996)
This was one of several slick dance floor fillers from 2pac’s historic All Eyez On Me double LP. It was released on June 4, 1996 as a double a-sided single with California Love from the same album and was sadly his final single to be released during his lifetime.
Cold Rock a Party – MC Lyte (1996)
This club banger was originally produced by Rashad Smith and sampled Audio Two’s Top Billin’, however, the single version featured Missy Elliott and was produced by Sean Combs who sampled Diana Ross’ 1980 hit Upside Down.
Ruff Ryders’ Anthem – DMX (1998)
This track brought Swizz Beatz and the Ruff Ryders crew into the spotlight. Its vocals and beat follow the rhythm of a military march that many hip-hop heads are still marching along to (even after DMX’s untimely death in 2021).
Simon Says – Pharoahe Monch (1999)
As epic as the sample (taken from the 1964 film Mothra vs. Godzilla), Simon Says was Pharoahe Monch’s debut single. With grumbling horns and a tonne of head nodding, this classic could be heard in underground hip-hop dens as well as massive music festivals.
Shimmy Shimmy Ya – Ol’ Dirty Bastard (1995)
ODB’s unmistakable rhyme style is placed in full view on this RZA-produced hip-hop anthem. It was the second single released from the album Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version.
Chop that down, pass it all around
Lyrics get hard quick cement to the ground
For any emcee in any fifty-two states
I get psycho killer, Norman Bates.
Woo Hah! Got You All In Check – Busta Rhymes (1996)
Busta’s debut single was a critical and commercial success showcasing his trademark manic delivery. The song peaked at number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and also peaked at the same spot in New Zealand and the UK.
In California – Daz Dillinger (1998)
Another ode to LA’s sun-filled city, Daz joined Lady “V” on this Soopafly-produced track. From the album Retaliation, Revenge, And Get Back the song bangs harder than a million gang bangers’ shotties.
Big Momma Thang – Lil Kim (1996)
Taken from Lil’ Kim’s album Hardcore te track featured rappers Jay-Z andLil’ Cease. An incredible gooey funk-driven beat drawn from Sylvester’s Was It Something I Said? and laced with Lil Kim’s trademark racy bars.
I used to be scared of the dick
Now I throw lips to the shit
Handle it like a real bitch
Heather Hunter, Janet Jack-me
Take it in the butt, yah, yazz wha.
O.P.P. – Naughty By Nature (1991)
O.P.P. AKA “other people’s P…” was one of the first hip-hop songs to become a commercial success when it hit No. 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 35 on the UK Singles Chart. The track showed the wonderful early chemistry between MCs Vin Rock and Treach.
Got Ya Money – Ol’ Dirty Bastard feat Kelis (1999)
The song was produced by the Neptunes and was R&B singer Kelis’ first appearance on a record. Pitchfork Media included the video on its list of the Top 50 Music Videos of the 1990s.
1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New) (Timber Mix) – Coolio (1996)
Coolio reached the top 10 in several countries, including France, Iceland, the United States, and New Zealand, thanks to this track. Thumping bass and sharp rhymes from the late great MC were quite a contrast to his previous singles.
It Was A Good Day – Ice Cube (1992)
Something more laid back and chill from Ice Cube, this track drew a narrative from the flip side of gang life in LA. In 2008, it was ranked #28 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.
Drunk as hell, but no throwin’ up
Halfway home, and my pager’s still blowin’ up
Today, I didn’t even have to use my AK
I gotta say it was a good day, shit!
Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are) – Pras Michel feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard & Mýa (1998)
A delightful blend of R&B and hip hop, this track featured on Pras’ (The Fugees) debut album as well as the Bullworth soundtrack. The track was a critical and commercial success worldwide, peaking at number two in the UK, Sweden, and Australia.
The Next Episode – Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg (1999)
Who could mistake the opening notes from this follow-up to Dre and Snoop’s 1993 hit Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang. The beat behind the track featured Dr. Dre’s signature style along with additional input from fellow Aftermath producer Mel-Man.
Tennessee – Arrested Development (1992)
Tennessee won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1993. Group member Speech wrote the song about the experience of losing two loved ones so close together.
Regulate – Warren G feat. Nate Dogg (1994)
The prototype G-Funk track was an MTV staple and featured on Warren G’s Regulate… G Funk Era and on the Above the Rim soundtrack. Here, Warren G and Nate Dogg trade verses on a track about a series of ghetto misadventures.
16 in the clip and one in the hole
Nate Dogg is about to make some bodies turn cold
Now they droppin’ and yellin’, it’s a tad bit late
Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate.
I Wish – Skee-Lo (1995)
A rather sad, lamenting song in many ways but relatable in many too. The track charted well in several countries including the UK, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and New Zealand.
Fu-Gee-La – Fugees (1995)
Pras, Lauryn and Clef went platinum thanks to this jam produced by Salaam Remi. Fu-Gee-La was the lead single from their critically acclaimed album, The Score.
Still Not a Player – Big Punisher feat. Joe (1998)
Big Pun could do nothing wrong around the late 90s to early 2000s with club bangers, punchy lyrics and street bravado. Still Not a Player showed off a few things and people loved it.
Check Yo Self – Remix – Ice Cube feat. Das EFX (1993)
Sampling the epic beat from Grandmaster Flash’s The Message, Ice Cube’s third single from the huge album The Predator still gets most parties started.
Protect Ya Neck – Wu-Tang Clan (1992)
Wu-Tang is not just a hip-hop group, it is a movement and Protect Ya Neck was where it all started. Along with featuring in TV shows and video games, the song is still a true classic and those opening strings are guaranteed to set off any hip-hop head.
Dollaz & Sense – DJ Quik (1995)
Alongside No Vaseline and Hit Em Up, this has to be one of the greatest dis records ever recorded. Quik even performed the song live during a Death Row medley at the controversial 1995 Source Awards.
Remember Compton’s in the house, and Quik is in the hood
Sippin’ yak with all my niggaz ’cause it’s tooted good
So don’t knock it till you try it, ’cause Eiht he tried to knock it
But he’s still walkin’ round with my nuts in his pocket.
Ms Fat Booty – Mos Def (1999)
Released on August 2, 1999 through Rawkus Records, this would have to be Mos Def’s (later Yasiin Bey) most thumping dance floor track. The song’s sequel, Ms. Fat Booty 2 featuring Ghostface Killah was equally banging.
These other 90s hip-hop music tunes also had to get a little nod:
- Saturdays – De La Soul (1991)
- Full Clip – Gang Starr (1999)
- The Game – Def Squad (1998)
- Time 4 Sumaksion – Redman (1993)
- Vivrant Thing – Q-Tip (1999)
You can enjoy the playlist on Spotify below at your next function: