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There’s so much to choose from that so much still gets left out.
For this list, we gave special preference to songs that repped for the city itself.
Clearly this takes place in the summer as evidenced from “rolling down my windows, yeah, I have a air conditioner/But I got the sound I want the whole world to listen ta,” although Ace’s Cypress Hill-style flow would be equally at home in Cali systems.
—As the title track of Cam’ron’s third studio album (and Roc-A-Fella Records debut), “Come Home With Me” marked a watershed moment in the Harlem rapper’s career.
Foxy’s single is the slickest shit I’ve ever heard in my life, and god bless Hov for rocking those fuchsia-tinted Duane Reade-ing glasses in the music video.
The uptempo glide of “I’ll Be” feels rather like soaring in a black sedan through an interstate tunnel post-midnight. It’s funny recalling Shawn Carter before he became a sentient tax haven, when Jay Z was just a hot rapper with several top-notch features. —DJ Premier really gave Group Home some of the best beats he ever made in his life. sounds like it could be the score to an epic Samurai battle.
For those of you keeping track at home, “I’ll Be” is the first of two major Rene & Angela samples that Jay Z hopped on in March 1997, the second being “I Love the Dough” from by the late Notorious B. As for Foxy: Here’s the biggest hit of her career, a feminist mafioso jig that peaked at No. Lil Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker weren’t the best rappers and still managed to give us a classic album. The humming sound in the background always grabs my soul and makes me want to roam the NYC streets during scary hours. It could If you were tasked with explaining the appeal of mid-to-late 1990s underground New York rap to an alien in 2115 or, say, a millennial next week, you could do worse (a lot worse) than simply cueing up J-Live’s “Braggin’ Writes.” In another era—one where artists ran their own labels or were able to efficiently release music sans executive meddling—J-Live might’ve been a star or at least pretty damn wealthy.
Remember a time when “backpack rap” wasn’t a pejorative.Although Dipset had existed in some form for several years, and both Juelz Santana and Jim Jones (along with fourth member Freekey Zekey) had appeared on records with Cam’ron before, it wasn’t until “Come Home With Me” that all three men would appear together on a track.It was clear from the outset that the collaboration just worked, as each rapper dropped a fire verse.Which means New York City and hip-hop are forever intertwined. Staten Island’s main contributions come from one camp but remain significant with Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon.Rap listeners around the world who’ve never been to the Big Apple still know places like Nas’ Queensbridge projects, the slums of Wu-Tang’s Shaolin, and KRS-One’s South Bronx. Even Manhattan has its own Harlem World fresh with stars like Kool Moe Dee, Diddy, and Cam’ron.