How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1996


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


I had almost forgotten how crazy a year 1996 actually was for hip-hop. So many tracks kept coming to mind when creating this that, for the second time (the first being ’93), the playlist swelled past the usual 2¬Ĺ hours / 35 songs – this time, we crossed the three-hour mark with our first 45-song playlist.

Personally, this playlist might be my favourite thus far. A ton of head nodders and a whole bunch of incredible came out this year. 1996 also holds the distinction as being the last year prior to the rise of the “shiny-suit” era of rap.

Surprisingly, Spotify (@Spotify) managed to come through with a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t have expected them to have the rights to so I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out – should be a good summer listen to reminisce over for the hip-hop heads anyway!

Happy #FlashbackFriday and to all my Guelphites, have an amazing Hillside (@HillsideFest) weekend Рhopefully some of you will be able to take this playlist with you to the campground.. or maybe even inside of the fabled Volly Village!


The best rapper of 1996 (according to Complex) : 2Pac

For those who aren’t aware and/or have been living under rocks, Jay-Z¬†(@S_C_) pulled his entire catalogue from Spotify due to his interests in the competing streaming service, TIDAL (@TIDALHiFi) – the absence of Reasonable Doubt should come as no surprise to most. However, as is usually the case, there are always a few others that manage to elude the reach of Spotify and 1996 has been no different in that regard.

The ideal ’96 rap playlist would have also included cuts from each one of these gems:

da Bush Babees ‚ÄstGravity

De La Soul ‚Äď Stakes is High

DJ Honda ‚Äď DJ Honda

East Flatbush Project ‚Äď Tried by 12 (single)

Frankie Cutlass ‚Äď Politics & Bullshit

Ja√Ņ-Z ‚Äď Reasonable Doubt

Jeru the Damaja ‚Äď Wrath of the Math

Juggaknots ‚Äď Clear Blue Skies

Siah & Yeshua DapoED ‚Äď the Visualz

Trigger tha Gambler ‚Äď Life’s a 50/50 Gamble (unreleased)

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

See you “next year”!¬†‚úąÔłŹ¬†1‚É£ÔłŹ¬†9‚É£ÔłŹ¬†9‚É£ÔłŹ¬†7‚É£ÔłŹ

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1997! ūüé§

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How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1995


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

After the horrible news last week of the passing of Prodigy (@PRODIGYMOBBDEEP), we took a brief hiatus from our 90’s rap playlist series in order to mourn and pay tribute to the Infamous P! In spite of the fact that he had been battling sickle cell anemia since he was a child, it was still a shock to learn that one of hip hop’s greatest MC’s had passed away at the age of 42.

Regardless of the circumstances, leaving this Earth in your 40s is tragic and far too young. R.I.P.


Keep it thoro, Kiko.

Saying that, it’s a strange coincidence that we were on track to focus upon the year of 1995, aka the year¬†Mobb Deep dropped their magnum opus, The Infamous.

Being another seminal year for rap, ’95 also launched debut albums from the likes of Smif-N-Wessun (@Smifnwessun), AZ (@quietAZmoney), Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Goodie Mob (@GoodieMobMusic), Mic Geronimo, Three 6 Mafia, and Raekwon‘s classic (@Raekwon) Purple Tape!

There can be no disputing the notion that the 90s remains as the golden era of RAP.¬†ūüĎĎ

Hope you enjoy reminiscing with these #TuesdayTunes!


The best rapper of 1995 (according to Complex) : THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.

Thankfully, Spotify‘s (@Spotify) licensing issues didn’t provide much of a barrier for 1995 – I managed to fit in just about all of the tracks I had hoped to…with four notable exceptions:

Count Bass D ‚ÄstPre-Life Crisis

Crooklyn Dodgers ’95 ‚ÄstReturn of the Crooklyn Dodgers

Miilkbone ‚ÄstDa’ Miilkrate

Questionmark Asylum ‚Äď The Album

Count Bass D (@CountBassD) has become an extremely prolific artist since his debut from over 20 years ago but Pre-Life Crisis remains my personal favourite. He came to prominence with 2002’s Dwight Spitz but I still feel his first album is a light, fun, and incredibly musical album that can be thrown on at any point throughout the year. Having played almost all of the live instruments on this album, it has a decidedly different feel from later Bass D albums where he began leaning heavily upon the MPC. This record is a low-key classic.

The Crooklyn Dodgers was a rap supergroup idea that took form on the soundtrack to the Spike Lee¬†(@SpikeLee) film, Crooklyn. “The Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers” appeared on the soundtrack for Lee‘s next movie, Clockers. Instead of Buckshot (@Buckshot), Masta Ace (@mastaace), and Special Ed (@SpecialEd) over Q-Tip (@QtipTheAbstract) production, the return features Chubb Rock, O.C. (@therealocizzle), and Jeru the Damaja (@Jeruthedamaja) over a DJ Premier (@REALDJPREMIER) instrumental. Shame that Spotify doesn’t have the rights to this track but the original joint does appear on our ’94 playlist!

Miilkbone may be best known these days as part of the answer to a rap trivia question: “Which white rappers did Eminem (@Eminem) diss in the second verse of ‘Just Don’t Give a Fuck'”? However, Da’ Miilkrate stood on its own merits. Hailing out of New Jersey as a loose Naughty by Nature affiliate, this album has aged better than it may have been receiving upon its release. Solid rhymes with above average production.

Questionmark Asylum may have been the diet version of The Pharcyde (@thepharcyde) but their lone release, appropriately titled as The Album, is a fun listen that the average hop-hop fan may be unfamiliar with. Definitely worthy of a listen for those who dig some good raps mixed with old-school sing-songy melodies.

Hope you dug this entry! Get ready for the next entry because 1996 was a monster! Please feel free to share this blog/playlist, BE SURE TO FOLLOW ALL THE PLAYLISTS ON SPOTIFY, and thanks for reading! Comments are also most welcome!

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1996! ūüé§

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How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1994


ICYMI: Check out our previous entries/playlists centred upon 1991, 1992, and 1993 respectively!

I hope two weeks was enough time for all of our¬†Spotify (@Spotify) streamers¬†to fully digest our journey into ’93. Now that we’re just about set to take a look back to 1994, our trek comes with both good and bad news:

A bit of a disappointment as I had planned on integrating some lesser known faves of mine among the hits from the year. Nevertheless, I’m quite pleased with this playlist and still managed to incorporate a few overlooked and forgotten cuts. What a great year this was!

We’re also back onto our¬†#WaybackWednesday¬†shit for this week – happy hump day!¬†ūüźę


The best rapper of 1994 (according to Complex) : NAS

If not for Spotify‘s unfortunate limitations and related licensing standoffs, these classic cuts would have also been included:

da Bush Babees ‚ÄstAmbushed

Extra Prolific ‚ÄstLike it Should Be

Kurious ‚Äď A Constipated Monkey

Native Nuttz ‚Ästthe Nativez Are Restless

Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth ‚Äď the Main Ingredient

Scientifik ‚Äď Criminal

In your opinion, did I miss any other significant tracks from ’94?

What do you think of these rap chronicles thus far – are you digging the playlists? Have a favourite playlist so far between 1991 and 1994? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for listening!

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1995! ūüé§

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How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1993


ICYMI: Check out our previous entries/playlists centred upon 1991 and 1992, respectively!

Back again with a new retrospective rap playlist for¬†all of you Spotify (@Spotify) streamers out there, this time with a focus upon the landmark¬†year of 1993. So much good music came out at this time that I had to bump the playlist up¬†from 35 tracks to 40. This makes this iteration¬†approximately 20 minutes longer than its predecessors –¬†I doubt the heads will complain!

Subsequent to my 1992 post going up, I made the decision¬†to¬†move¬†all future¬†installments away from #WaybackWednesday¬†in order to¬†position them as¬†#ThrowbackThursday posts going forward. However, upon awaking to the horrific news of Chris Cornell‘s (@chriscornell) unfortunate passing last week, I instead spent the previous Thursday reminiscing to Soundgarden‘s (@soundgarden) unbelievable¬†back-catalogue for the majority of the day (as well as several more thereafter). Another once-in-a-generation talent gone far too soon. R.I.P.¬†ūüíĒ

Now, the last thing I want to do is turn this into a somber post when I’ve got such a badass playlist on tap for you. So grab some headphones and take a trek¬†back through¬†one of the most solid¬†years ever in hip-hop!


The best rapper of 1993 (according to Complex) : SNOOP DOGGY DOGG

Again, due to¬†Spotify¬†and the unfortunate limitations presented by¬†its catalogue, we’re missing a few¬†key inclusions taken from the following critical albums:

Akinyele ‚ÄstVagina Diner

De La Soul¬†‚ÄstBuhloone Mindstate

Funkdoobiest – Which Doobie U B?

Illegal¬†‚Ästthe Untold Truth

Mobb Deep¬†‚ÄstJuvenile Hell

the Roots – Organix

Tragedy Khadafi – Tragedy: Saga of a Hoodlum

It’s also a real shame Spotify doesn’t have the remix to¬†LL Cool J‘s (@llcoolj) “Pink Cookies” (as seen below). The original is tight but this beat here cooks…¬†ūüĒ•

In particular, of the albums above, it really sucks to see that Akinyele album missing from the Spotify catalogue – in my opinion, it’s arguably the best complete¬†production that Large Professor (@PLargePro) has ever put out. More people need to hear it – it’s now out of print but still holds up!

On the other hand, I prefer the album version to the above Illegal track more than I do its video counterpart. Go figure.

One way or another, at 40 tracks deep, I feel this is a thorough playlist that does a fairly comprehensive job overall of covering the key highlights throughout the entirety of year.

Really hope you dig this trip¬†back to¬†1993 –¬†a milestone year for¬†the genre! If you enjoy it, please be¬†sure to click to ‘follow’ the playlist!

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1994! ūüé§

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How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1992


In continuation of my blog¬†about How they Was Rappin’ in 1991, I’m back again with a new playlist to cover some of the best hip-hop tracks out of ’92!

Similar to its predecessor, this playlist sits at 35 tracks and clocks in at exactly 2¬Ĺ hours¬†in duration. Click below to¬†enjoy this aural time capsule on another¬†fabulous¬†#WaybackWednesday!


The best rapper of 1992 (according to Complex) : REDMAN

Sadly, due to Spotify (@Spotify) and the limitations presented by its catalogue, there are some especially significant absences here, most notably:

Dr. Dre – the Chronic

Diamond D & the Psychotic Neurotics – Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop

Da Lench Mob¬†–¬†Guerillas in tha Mist

Hard Knocks¬†–¬†School of Hard Knocks

In spite of these omissions, I still feel this playlist provides a comprehensive look (and listen) into the landscape of hip-hop, back as it existed in 1992. Please let me know your thoughts on these in the comments below Рhope everyone is digging the series so far!

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin‚Äô in 1993! ūüé§

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How they Was Rappin’ in 1991


Rap music is the best.

Moving forward, I’ve decided to curate some Spotify (@Spotify) playlists specific to the most integral years of hip-hop, starting¬†with the year of 1991.

Unfortunately, there are some¬†significant gaps in the Spotify¬†catalogue. Due to this, I¬†was unable to include cuts off landmark albums such as De La Soul‘s (@WeAreDeLaSoul) De La Soul is Dead, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth‘s All Souled Out EP, Tim Dog‘s iconic Penicillin on Wax, Godfather Don‘s Hazardous,¬†Words from the Genius by the Genius / GZA¬†(@theRealGZA), and From Pyramids to Projects by Two Kings in a Cipher. And in spite of its divisive reputation, it would have been nice to have had the option to include a track off of¬†Big Daddy Kane‘s Prince of Darkness.

Nevertheless, at 2¬Ĺ hours long and 35 tracks, hopefully the¬†playlist below provides you with a comprehensive look into¬†how the¬†hip-hop landscape was operating back in ’91.


The best rapper of 1991 (according to Complex) : Q-TIP

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin’ in 1992! ūüé§

Helmet’s BETTY: 20 Years Ago Today

Limited Edition Blue Jewel Case Version

On this date in 1994, Helmet (@Helmetmusic) would create what would arguably end up as their creative masterpiece.

Whether or not you agree with that statement, it cannot be denied that Betty is by far the bravest and most experimental offering from within their catalogue.

Releasing this album as the follow-up to commercial and critical darling, Meantime, was a straight-up ballsy move.

Perhaps, the degree of confidence the band were operating under at the time is why the album continues to hold up to this day.

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After wrapping up a collaboration with House of Pain (@houseofpain1) for the Judgment Night soundtrack in 1993, Helmet seemed bit by the rap bug.

Drummer John Stanier was already a noted fan of hip-hop music and his familiarity with the genre may have also played a role in selecting producer T-Ray to helm the Betty sessions.

T-Ray would eventually go on to win several Grammy Awards for his production work with Santana and Ozomatli (@ozomatli) but at the time, he was primarily working with the likes of the Soul Assassins crew, cutting a lot of records for the likes of Cypress Hill (@cypresshill) and Funkdoobiest.

Nowadays, T-Ray (legal name Todd Ray) runs a damn freak show that is the subject of its own reality television program. DAFUQ???

But that’s another story…

Not many people are aware that Betty is the album that allowed T-Ray to get his foot in the door of the rock universe.

I guess in a weird way, we can sorta blame Page Hamilton for that shitty Santana / Rob Thomas (@ThisIsRobThomas) song through association.

Given that this was T-Ray‘s first professional foray into rock music, all of his rap hallmarks remain on full display.

The piercing crack of the piccolo-sounding snare, the massive boom of the bass-heavy kick.. it is obvious that Stanier is beating the hell¬†out of his drums on these recordings but it¬†sounds like he’s playing a rap kit from the early 90s¬†(albeit one that doesn’t sound thin as shit).

And his drums really drive this album.

Have a peek at the intro to “I Know” just before it dives into the heaviest thing ever:

Bassist Henry Bogdan, the most unsung (no pun intended) member of the classic Helmet line-up, is also in rare form here, as he seems to be given a lot more freedom to deviate from following the guitar on this record.

He also earned two co-writing credits here, one of them for one of their weirdest songs:

I would also argue that the often buzz-heavy bass tone on Betty is fairly unique, especially for the the genre during the era of the early-to-mid 90s.

Rap music is very bass-and-drum heavy and being rooted in that foundation allowed for other areas of focus to shine as bright as the guitars usually tend to.

Don’t get me wrong – as with all Helmet records, it’s all about the riffs.

But whereas many rock records treat the more percussive instruments as supporting ones, T-Ray managed to spotlight Hamilton, Bogdan, and Stanier as individuals, with each component being no more vital than the other.

Speaking of Hamilton, his jazz training typically comes across by way of odd time signatures and unique bar phrasing on his rock recordings.

But on this record, he introduces an instrumental piece entitled “Beautiful Love” written by Dizzy Gillespie. And then it gets all Helmet-y at the end.

Betty is also notable for being the only Helmet album to¬†employ a wide variety of¬†vocal effects, most notably on “Biscuits for Smut”.

There were a lot of chances taken on this record at a time when the band was¬†being affixed with “next-big-thing” labels and unrealistic expectations from jerk-off record executives like Jimmy Iovine.

Although critics highly praised the effort, it was a commercial flop, with many fans seemingly expecting Meantime II.

When Helmet contributed the Butch Vig produced “Milktoast”¬†(renamed as “Milquetoast” on the Betty pressings) to the Crow soundtrack,¬†it doubled as a teaser single for the forthcoming Betty,¬†due to drop a month after the release of the film.

What resulted was an album created with eyes forward rather than a comfortable attempt at standing still.

Three years later, Helmet would release Aftertaste, an album that was more in line with fans’ expectations.

However, after going so far left on their previous effort, to be constrained by old band tropes proved too much and the band split shortly thereafter.

The band has since reunited with an ever-evolving cast (Hamilton being the only remaining original member) but have yet to produce a work on par with the quality of their 90s output.

Betty has been looked upon much more favourably in hindsight by the Helmet fanbase.

Most likely because they are now able to compare it against the likes of Seeing Eye Dog.

For me, though, it is an album that has stayed in my rotation for two decades now. And I’ve called it my all-time favourite since practically day one.

* Fun fact: the record was mixed by the god, Andy Wallace.

HELMET '94 L-R: Bogdan, Stanier, touring guitarist Rob Echeverria, Hamilton

L-R: Bogdan, Stanier, Rob Echeverria, Hamilton

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OtherBetty Videos

Wilma’s Rainbow

Biscuits for Smut