With Tech N9ne in town this weekend, we started thinking about gangster rap and called Lars Larson for a Top Ten list of the most underrated rap songs ever. Get out you r%@$*# lipliner and/or Starter jackets, %@$*#. %@$*# !
As hip-hop and mainstream rap collide into pop records and Top 40isms, Ye Ole Rap faithful turn biter and angry as we hear our once great art form get auto-tuned into pop garbage filling the meat markets downtown (If I hear one more T-Pain song, my brain is going to explode into Nickelodeon slime). To quote Erik Sermon, rappers have become soft like cake, more worried about their wardrobe than their music. Long gone are the low key days of simple black shirts, Starter hats and a simple pair of all white sneakers. Back then, it wasn't all about the fashion, it was about skills and storytelling on the mic, being the CNN of the hood. It takes a DVD player to revisit those days -- pop in Boyz N the Hood, South Central, Menace II Society, CB4 and flashbacks ensue.
But if Cuba Gooding Jr. doesn't do the trick (as he often doesn't), here are 10 Underrated Gangsta Rap songs that maybe you missed while you were burning out your Dre Day "Chronic" tape and getting your DRS gangsta lean on. These are in no order, because...well that wouldn't be too gangster now would it?
(Note: This list will not include anyone from N.W.A, Tupac, Too $hort)
P.S.K. What Does It Mean? - Schooly D Considered by many to be the first gangster rap song ever recorded. While it might sound prehistoric to the young Lil Wayne's out there, at the time this sound was groundbreaking with the storytelling and scratching. Schooly heavily influenced Ice-T, considered to be the godfather of gangster rap, to the point of lifting lines from this song for use in his famous "Six In the Morning". Now only if Ice-T can repay Schooly by hooking him up with some of that "Law and Order" money.
Hittin Corners - K-Dee While most were bumping "Regulate" from there Grand -Ams and Buicks, it took a real head to get on Ice Cube protégé K-Dee. Similar in style and production, K-Dee was the underground Warren G. A one album wonder, the most play he got was this song being played in the background during the first "Friday" movie. Pretty much all his work is non-existent now. Shout out to Josh for spilling milk on the only copy of this CD I had. Dumb ass.
For Life - Mack 10 Another Ice Cube protégé, when this song came on it knocked so hard you wanted to either C-Walk on the spot or join the nearest gang and start claiming. While I wouldn't be surprised if Ice Cube was ghostwriting this, Mack 10 was pretty G when he first came out. Then had to mess it all up with funny braids years later. Rumor is this is the song that swooped his ex-wife T-Boz (TLC) off her feet. How romantic. For life?
6 Feet Deep - Ghetto Boyz While is wasn't all sun and fun in the fast paced life of a G, you also had to deal with death and loss, and this song is the epitome of it all. Many songs could have been chosen from the Ghetto Boyz catalog, but this one I felt best represented the era with the piano, spooky guitar and slow pace. Sit back and reminisce about your lost ones and pour a little out...
Gang Stories - South Central Cartel The name sums it up. This song was so hardcore, that during the music video it had the latest LA body count scrolling along the bottom of the television. A favorite on the long off the air "Box". The lone Def Jam attempt at gangster rap. This song also wins the award for the most times the term "foot up in the ass" is used in one song.
Rest in Piss - Brother Lynch Hung This man is so loved by the gangster enthusiast. It's hard to say something about him because I don't want to end up shot if I say something wrong. He carries a Jack Nicholson level of respect within the Hip-Hop community. Pretty much him and Spice One were the soundtrack for drive-bys back in the day. Oops....*ducks away from window*
187 Proof - Spice One Speaking of Spice One, this man single handed sprouted up and spread gangs to the... outer ring cities. When I started seeing white kids in Elk River in locs and throwing up signs, I knew a Spice One tape was in their car, right next to N Too Deep. I could of filled this whole list with Spice One, he was that good, but I picked this one because this beat was so funky. Side note, first time I ever heard Spice One was on a mix tape mixed with Babyface, Silk and Bob Marley-- suffice it to say my friend never made it as a DJ.
Dippin - King Tee Flirting with The Liks and Dr Dre fame, King Tee had this banger in 1994 on his "IV Life" record. Friends would call up and say "let's go dippin" even though I rolled a crappy Pontiac 6000 that only bounced because the shocks were shot. But this song banged in the factory speakers as we drove around "dippin" looking for a court or some fly honeys...
Dollaz & Sense - DJ Quik DJ Quik could easily be one of the most underrated producers and rappers in the game ever. This diss track about MC Eiht is probably one of the greatest diss tracks around, rapping true tales about his street encounters with Eiht. He also took shots at his once label mate AMG. Everyone was open to attack, as around this time Quik had the confidence and back up of then powerful Suge Knight and Death Row Records. Today the once powerful Death Row is under control of one Susan Berg, not sure if she has Quik's back.
I'm Not a Gentlemen - Ghetto Boyz Now this song isn't exactly gang banging quality, but the message is as gangster as it can get. We all know the lack of respect for women was the "in" thing to do during this era. It is a Ghetto Boyz classic appearing on the "We Can't Be Stopped!" record. Great song to listen to if you just got played, dumped or cheated on. I know this song by heart now. (Sad)
-- Lars Larson