Welcome back to another Hot Rap Songs Review. Let’s get started.
Around The Way Girl-LL Cool J: We start off with one of my favorite LL Cool J songs, Around The Way Girl. This is one of those classic love songs that merges hip-hop and R&B effortlessly with the way they flipped All Night Long and it’s LL’s first Top 10 single. In this song, he’s searching for a girl who’s down-to-earth, the girl next door, the around the way girl. I give this song an A.
Gold Digger-EPMD: No, this isn’t the Kanye West song. Gold Digger is also a single from rap duo EPMD. Let me say this: the beat goes hard. This shit slaps like crazy. Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith are like yin and yang, contrasting their different flows. The song is precisely what the title says, gold diggers or women who have their eyes on men who have a lot of money. So yeah. This is a dope song. It’s getting a B from me.
Treat ‘Em Right-Chubb Rock: You know who deserves some props? Chubb Rock. He was the prototype big dude who was lyrical. I’d argue that Biggie and Big Pun took some inspiration from Chubb Rock because this dude got bars and flow. Look at Treat Em Right. This dude is hitting us with dope bar after dope bar.
Nineteen ninety, Chubb Rock jumps up on the scene
with a lean and a pocket full of green
The green doesn’t symbolize I made it on the top
But Robocop last year was a shock
The man with the plan and the man demands you
Leave the smack and the crack for the wack
Or the vile and the nine; keep a smile like that
Leave the knife and the gun in the store
and ignore temptation, sent by the nation
This, plus a dope ass beat, make for an awesome song. Treat ‘Em Right is getting an A from me.
Looking At The Front Door-Main Source: Main Source is a rap group with members based out of both New York and Toronto. Their best known song is Live At The Barbeque, which featured a then-unknown Nas. But that wasn’t their big hit. No, that was Looking At The Front Door. It’s a fine enough song with a good beat and some cool verses. Not one of my favorite songs, but I wouldn’t skip it if it came on. I give it a B.
It’s A Shame (My Sister)-Monie Love ft True Image: Monie Love returns with It’s A Shame (My Sister). This song takes the beat and chorus from The Spinners’ It’s A Shame and flips it into a conversation Monie has with a fellow sister where she encourages her to not feel hopeless. It’s a good enough song and I’m gonna give it a B.
Daddy’s Little Girl-Nikki D: I don’t know much about Nikki D. What I do know is that she’s the first woman to release an album under Def Jam. Daddy’s Little Girl is a party song that samples Tom’s Diner and it’s just alright. Not bad, not great, just alright. I wish I had more to say about the song, but I don’t. I give it a C.
I Got To Have It-Ed OG & Da Bulldogs: This is one of those songs that I have no opinion on. I don’t love it nor do I hate it, it just exists. It has a decent beat and some standard rapping. Although the first couple of lines turned me off to the song.
I stay hard like an erection
I’m burning, sucker, so wear protection
Now who’s next when Ed’s flexing?
I’m the bread and you are just a crumb off
Jerking your jimmy but you still can’t come off
Yeah, I didn’t need that. I give this song a C.
Mama Said Knock You Out-LL Cool J: Don’t call it a comeback. LL’s been here for years, rockin’ his peers and putting suckers in fear. He’s making the tears rain down like a monsoon, listen to the bass go boom, explosion. Mama Said Knock You Out is one of the hardest songs LL put out with so much intensity that’s perfect for a workout. Anyone who thinks LL is soft should listen to a song like this and reconsider. I give it an A.
You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo-Yo-Yo ft Ice Cube: Yo-Yo is a protege of Ice Cube and is the counter to the hyper-masculinity that conquers most of rap. She lets you know what she’s all about in the song You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo. She’s all about female empowerment and isn’t going to tolerate the sexism over a beat that samples Devotion. Funny enough, the guy who put her on, Ice Cube, took part in the misogyny. Whatever, I dig this song and it’s getting a B.
Rise ‘N Shine-Kool Moe Dee ft KRS-One & Chuck D: Kool Moe Dee was a big-name rapper in the 80s and was known for his feud with LL Cool J. He didn’t achieve a lot of commercial success in comparison to LL, but he did well for himself. He landed himself a number one hit on the Hot Rap Singles chart with Rise N Shine. I’m not too crazy about this song, but it has some good elements. The beat is very early 90s and Kool Moe Dee manages to adapt to the changing times well enough. KRS-One and Chuck D were also dope. I respect that the song wants people to be woke in terms of race, even if the song is okay to me. I give it a C.
Homey Don’t Play Dat-Terminator X: I honestly don’t know what to expect out of a song named after an In Living Color skit. And I didn’t get much from Homey Don’t Play Dat. It’s a pretty standard late 80s-early 90s rap song with a meh beat and meh rapping. I can’t even find the lyrics to this song online, it’s like it doesn’t exist. This is just a song that goes in one ear and out the other. I give it a D.
Pop Goes The Weasel-3rd Bass: The Beastie Boys and Vanilla Ice weren’t the only white boys making a name for themselves in rap. There’s also 3rd Bass and their big hit Pop Goes The Weasel. This song is more critical of the commercialization of hip-hop and took shots at those who took advantage of that commercialization to make profit for themselves without caring about the culture. It also takes a lot of subliminal shots at Vanilla Ice, who is a relatively easy target. Aside from that, the beat is dope and both MC Serch and Pete Nice got bars. MC Serch would be an important figure as he was an executive producer for Nas’ Illmatic. I give Pop Goes The Weasel a B.
Summertime-DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince: I don’t think I have to say anything else about Summertime. It’s one of the best songs that Will Smith has ever made. It’s a laidback party song perfect for family BBQs during the summer or a beach party. It also has one of the best usage of a Kool & The Gang sample in the beat. It’s a great song and I’m giving it an A.
The Chubbster-Chubb Rock: Chubb Rock makes his second appearance with The Chubbster. While it isn’t as great as Treat ‘Em Right, it’s still a good display of Chubb Rock’s skills as an emcee. I don’t have much to say about this song; it’s good. I give it a B.
The House The Dog Built-Jibri Wise One: This is a song that I have no idea existed. I can’t find much useful info on Jibri Wise One or this song as neither have a Wikipedia page. So I’m going into Jibri Wise One completely blind and I kinda see it. The beat is very proto-G-funk and Jibri doesn’t really stand out. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. I give it a C.
Growing Up In The Hood-Compton’s Most Wanted: I was first familiar with Compton’s Most Wanted thanks to Hood Took Me Under, which was in GTA: San Andreas. Before that, there was Growing Up In The Hood, which is exactly what you think it’s about and is featured on the soundtrack to Boyz N The Hood. MC Eiht has a distinct voice as a gangsta rapper and you believe what he’s saying as he actually was a Crip. The weakest part of the song is the beat, it didn’t do much for me. I give this song a C.
O.P.P.-Naughty By Nature: You down with O.P.P.? Because I am. This is Naughty By Nature’s signature song and a 90s classic. The way the beat flips The Jackson 5’s ABC was so dope. This is sampling at its best. It’s also extremely catchy thanks to its call-and-response chorus that stays in your head all day. There’s also the fun in figuring out what the last P in O.P.P. means. I give this song an A.
Fuck Compton-Tim Dog: During the late 80s and early 90s, West Coast hip-hop was blowing up, which didn’t sit well with some on the East Coast. One rapper, Tim Dog, even made a song about it called Fuck Compton. Maybe I’m biased because I live in L.A., where Compton is at, but this song makes Tim Dog look and feel bitter and jealous because the West Coast dudes were getting popular. It reminds me of oldhead rappers who are mad about the new generation of rappers. Overall, I’m not a fan of this song and it’s getting a D.
Mind Playing Tricks On Me-Geto Boys: I did an entire Musical Appreciation on Mind Playing Tricks On Me a couple of months ago. In short, it’s another great gangsta rap song that actually deals with the mental health of someone living in the hood, whether it’d be depression, PTSD, or schizophrenia. While most gangsta rap songs often glorify hood life, this one shows the consequences it would unfold in someone. It’s another example of the Geto Boys at their best and I’m giving it an A.
Can’t Truss It-Public Enemy: And we get a dose of the political with Public Enemy’s Can’t Truss It. It’s a look at systemic racism that has been around since Africans were brought into this country as slaves and the institutions that has kept black folks down since abolition. The beat is bombastic with a post-apocalyptic intro and it’s classic Bomb Squad production. Can’t Truss It is another great political track from Public Enemy and it’s getting an A.
Check The Rhime-A Tribe Called Quest: What can I really say about A Tribe Called Quest? They’re just a dope rap group who provided an alternative to the hardcore/gangsta rap. Songs like Check The Rhime show what Tribe are all about. It has a laidback feel to it thanks to the jazzier beat and the way Q-Tip and Phife Dawg (R.I.P.) rhyme. Is there amazing lyricism? No, but the flows, the beat, and the whole vibe are so great that you don’t even care. Their style would inspire future generations of rappers who want to break from the norm. I give it an A.
Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody-Kid ‘N Play: Here’s Kid ‘N Play’s only charting single on the Hot 100, Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody, which is part of the House Party II soundtrack. The beat and chorus samples the Brick song of the same name and flips it into a song all about having fun and not having any worries. Perfect for a house party and I give it an A.
Blue Cheese-The U.M.C.s: For so long, I thought that The U.M.C.’s were the same as Ultramagnetic MCs, but they’re not. That’s not confusing at all. Anyways, The U.M.C.’s have given us Blue Cheese. It’s honestly forgettable. The beat isn’t that great, the rapping isn’t that great, I’m bound to forget about this song after hearing it. I give it a D.
Mind Playing Tricks On Me
And those were the number one songs on the Hot Rap Songs chart of 1991. Next week, we look at the number one songs on the Hot Rap Songs chart of 1992.