How they Was Rappin’ in 1997

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ICYMI: Check out our previous entries/playlists from the 1990s:

After a brief absence, we’re back again with the latest entry into our 90s Rap Playlist series, and this time, it’s crazy to think we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of these landmark tracks and albums – a perfect fit for a #ThrowbackThursday like today!

When I think of 1997, a ton of rap classics come to mind but when I really look back, it reminds me that it was something of a transitional year for the genre.

Complex “rappity raps” began making way for shiny suits as looped beats were getting jacked from a score of the big radio hits of yesteryear in order to create chart-topping productions. On the flip side, the underground backpacker movement was gaining steam thanks to the rise of the likes of Scribble Jam, Lyricist Lounge, and Rawkus Records.

It was also the year in which the greatest rapper of all-time died on March 9th.

As always, Spotify‘s (@Spotify) unfortunate licensing restrictions again threw a wrench into our efforts to make this as comprehensive a playlist as possible.. but such is life. At 45 cuts deep, however, we don’t think you’ll be too disappointed. Let us know your thoughts on this one in the comments below!

biggie97

The best rapper of 1997 (according to Complex) : THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.

A few tracks we would have added if not for catalogue restrictions:

Company Flow – Funcrusher Plus

Gravediggaz – The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel

Jay-Z – In My Lifetime, Vol. 1

No I.D. – Accept Your Own & Be Yourself (The Black Album)

Soul Assassins – DJ Muggs Presents…the Soul Assassins, Chapter I

Various Artists – In tha Beginning …there Was Rap

  • Company Flow: It’s wild that El-P (@therealelp) is now a mainstream rap icon after spending the better part of the previous two decades as a star of the underground. He’s managed to maintain his dirty and dusty production style but back in the Co-Flow days, he was FAR more lyrical. Shouts to Bigg Jus and Mr. Len (@therealmrlen)! The impact of this crew cannot be overstated.
  • Gravediggaz: This album comes nowhere near the quality of its predecessor, 6 Feet Deep, and that’s almost certainly due to the lack of Prince Paul‘s (@DJPrincePaul) involvement. The beats are just not on par with the menacing feel of the debut. Still some jams here, though.
  • In tha Beginning …there Was Rap: Contemporary rappers covering old school hip hop joints. Just a great concept and one possibly worth revisiting? I’ve always loved the Bone Thugs rendition of “Fuck tha Police”.
  • Jay-Z: Timeless album. I really wish Jay still made tracks with Ski (@Skibeatz).
  • No I.D.: Now known as the former head of G.O.O.D. Music, mentor to Vince Staples (@vincestaples), and most recently, the sole producer enlisted on Jay-Z‘s 4:44, No I.D. once put out a solo album of his own – and it’s really great! The original Black Album still holds up in spite of its relative obscurity. Check this one if you’re unfamiliar.
  • Soul Assassins: An amazing guest list rapping over a bunch of tough beats. Muggs (@DJ_Muggs) was still on his Temples of Boom tip so this one is dark, mean, and grimy. In making this post, I just discovered that Muggs has me blocked on Twitter for some reason. I wonder what I did, hahha.

Notably, 1997 also marked the releases of the Rhyme & Reason soundtrack and the first volume of Soundbombing.

Don’t forget, you can FOLLOW ALL OF THE INDIVIDUAL PLAYLISTS ON SPOTIFY – grab ’em in the links at the top of this post if you’re just catching up!

Two decades since these gems dropped! Enjoy ’em!

Back again “next year”! ✈️ 1⃣️ 9⃣️ 9⃣️ 8⃣️

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin’ in 1998! 🎤

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