Welcome to another Hot Rap Songs Review. Let’s get started.
Big Poppa/Warning-The Notorious B.I.G.: We start off with a two-for-one special (the first of three on this list) from Biggie Smalls himself. Big Poppa is a great party song with a smooth G-funk-esque beat sampling Between The Sheets and Biggie getting his mack on with some ladies at a club. Warning, on the other hand, is basically a phone call where Biggie himself is being warned about someone plotting to kill him. Setting aside events that happened in the real world, Biggie shows off some impressive rapping over a cold beat amounting to another Biggie classic. I give Big Poppa an A and Warning an B.
Dear Mama/Old School-2Pac: Well, it took this long, but we finally run into 2Pac. Hell, most of 1995 was dominated by both Pac and Biggie. Just goes to show how big they were at the time. Anyways, Dear Mama. To me, this one of the best hip-hop songs ever made and one of the best songs to come out of the 90s. It’s a song dedicated to 2Pac’s mother and all she went through to raise him and give him a better life than she had. It has a lot of heart and I can’t help but love it. Old School is another dedication song, but towards old school hip-hop and all the memories he have with it. I don’t love it as much as Dear Mama, but it’s a good enough song paying homage to some of the pioneers of the genre that Pac dominated. I give Dear Mama an A and Old School a high B.
Keep Their Heads Ringin’-Dr. Dre: In 1995, Friday was released in theaters and it’s one of my favorite comedies of all time. And it had a soundtrack, which Dr. Dre’s Keep Their Heads Ringin’ was a part of. First off, the beat slaps. It’s more of that funky G-funk that Dre is known for. I don’t go to Dre for amazing rapping, but his (ghost-written) bars aren’t that bad. For a song like this, it’s not about the bars, but it’s about the vibe and this song has one hell of a vibe. I give it a B.
I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By-Method Man ft Mary J. Blige: One of the greatest love songs in hip-hop. Method Man and Mary J Blige took a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell classic and made another classic with I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By. It’s the ultimate dedication to the woman who’ll stand by you, no matter the situation and Method Man delivers the sentiment very well with Mary J Blige on the chorus. I give this song an A.
One More Chance/Stay With Me-The Notorious B.I.G.: I consider One More Chance/Stay With Me to be Big Poppa part II. There’s many different versions of the song, but the one people are most familiar with is the remix. The beat to the remix samples Stay With Me by DeBarge (a song that I really like despite my criticisms of the group) and features Faith Evans, who was married to Biggie at the time. Once again, Biggie is showing off his romantic side, along with some sex talk. I give it a B.
Boombastic/In The Summertime-Shaggy: It’s kinda weird seeing non-rap songs on the hip-hop charts, but that’s a discussion for another day. Anywho, Shaggy and Boombastic. I never was really crazy about this song. It’s just okay. I think the beat is kinda weak, especially on the original version. The remix has a better beat sampling Let’s Get It On. And it’s a sex song. In The Summertime is a cover to the Mungo Jerry song of the same name. And I think I prefer the simple skiffle original because this reggae cover is also just okay. None of these songs are bad, but they’re not the best that Shaggy could do. I give them both a C.
Gangsta’s Paradise-Coolio ft L.V.: Coolio deserves a lot more credit than he’s getting. Maybe it’s the hair or the fact that he did the theme song to Kenan & Kel (love that show, BTW). Even with that, the dude’s got bangers and one of his best is also his biggest hit Gangsta’s Paradise. Like most songs on this list, I already talked about it on my 100 Best Songs of the 90s list, so I’ll be brief. Over a chilling Stevie Wonder sample and L.V. hook, Coolio capture how living in the ghetto feels, like you’re living in a nightmare that you can’t escape from as it changes you into something else. There’s a reason this song was the biggest hit of 1995. I give it an A.
Cell Therapy-Goodie Mob: Goodie Mob is based out of Atlanta and is affiliated with the Dungeon Family. Their big hit is Cell Therapy, a song about the New World Order conspiracy involving the oppression of black people. At times, there is some legitimacy in the rhymes while other times, it seems like they went full B.o.B. Never go full B.o.B. Setting that aside, the beat matches the dark tone of the rhymes and all 4 members of Goodie Mob weren’t that bad. I give this song a low B.
Hey Lover-LL Cool J: And now to wrap things up with LL Cool J working with Boyz II Men on the smooth and chill Hey Lover. In this song, LL has his eyes on a woman who happens to be in a relationship with another man. He’s having fantasies about her, but he knows that they’ll stay fantasies because this lady is in a good relationship. You could question how he knows about her and why he’s still fantasizing about her even though they won’t get together, but LL knows that even though he is one of the most famous rappers of the 90s, some things aren’t meant to be. I give this song a B.
Gangsta’s Paradise, Big Poppa
In The Summertime
And those were the number one songs on the Hot Rap Songs chart of 1995. Next week, we look at the number one songs on the Hot Rap Songs chart of 1996.