Lists of anything are inherently flawed, though it seems Rolling Stone seems to always draw a particular degree of ire. For example, this past December, the magazine attempted to rank the top 100 guitarists of all time. Jimi Hendrix was a shoe-in for the #1 spot, but noted racist Eric Clapton at #2? Kurt Cobain at a respectable #73, but still above J Mascis, Eddie Hazel and Alex Lifeson? C’mon.
Stories like that made me trepidatious about how Rolling Stone would go about tackling the supposed “The 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs” of all time. The genre may still be only less than 40 years old, but the explosion of popularity in the ’80s lead to dozens of stone classics being released a year for almost two decades. As one would imagine from a list from Rolling Stone, the Top 100 is heavily rooted in the pillars of the genre, from proto-rap attacks like Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” (#40) and Funky 4+1’s seminal “That’s The Joint” (#47). Disappointingly, the newest song on the list, “Ni**as in Paris,” (#71) is still five years old. That means no low showings for the great work that Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper or even Drake has done since then, not even to say of the lack of underground rappers on the list. Check out the top ten and a break down by the numbers of the list below.
By the Numbers:
Appearances by Wu-Tang Clan affiliates: 4
Songs from the ’80s: 39
Songs from post-2000: 18
West Coast: 13
East Coast: 30
Songs involving Roxanne Shante, center of the first hip-hop beef: 2
Women on the list: 9
Appearances by The Roots, Common, Queen Latifah, The Fat Boys, Kendrick Lamar, KRS-One, Cam’Ron, Ludacris, DMX, Big L, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Redman, Will Smith, and Big Pun: 0
Rolling Stone’s Top 10 (of 100) Hip-Hop Songs of All Time
10. Eric B. and Rakim-“Paid In Full”
9. N.W.A.-“Straight Outta Compton”
8. The Notorious B.I.G.-“Juicy”
7. Public Enemy-“Fight The Power”
6. Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg-“Nuthin’ But a G Thang”
5. Geto Boys-“Mind Playing Tricks On Me”
4. Run-DMC-“Sucker MCs”
3. Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force-“Planet Rock”
2. Sugarhill Gang-“Rapper’s Delight”
1. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five-“The Message”
What song would you have voted for? Tell us below.