Summer, Summer, Summertime


There’s a gang of songs from 1991 that haven’t gotten any airplay since ’91. There’s a few that will occasionally get a spin for nostalgia’s sake. But if there’s one that without fail gets play every year as soon as June breaks in, it’s “Summertime”. While Will Smith was getting started on bigger and better things in his career, he was still primarily known as a rap star, along with the homie Jazzy Jeff as his DJ and producer.

The first time I heard “Summertime”, I’d imagine, was the same time a lot of people heard it. Fresh Prince of Bel Air was closing up its first season, and as part of the season finale, they aired the video at the end.From then on out, it was officially the song of that summer. It hit the radio instantly and was all over the place. Even as Prince & Jeff were mostly considered to be for the “Pop Tart Charts” by then, this one hit across the board, even with the harder-edged hip-hop audience. Even if their other songs from the Homebase album pretty much fell on deaf ears, “Summertime” was the clear undeniable hit that they probably expected it to be.

Still, I’m not even sure they knew just how long this song’s shelf life was. By the mid-’90s, “Summertime” became similar to those Christmas songs that you can never seem to get away from soon as Black Friday hits. Every June, and no later than July 4th, radio and TV would break it out and sporadically start spinning it through August. The video became a classic just as the song did, and basically set the tone for every “cookout in the park” video that’s ever been made since.

Will continued dippin’ and dabbin’ into his rap career through the ’90s, but it’s mostly played the back to his other endeavors after his acting career turned out to be extra-large. Even though he had major hits prior to “Summertime” and had even bigger ones in the years afterwards, it’s this one that’s become his longest-enduring track. 20 years later, “Summertime” is still getting its obligatory summer spins, and it’s still a winner.

With a laid-back flow (that sounds a lil’ Rakim-ish if you think about it) and a sample of Kool & The Gang‘s  “Summer Madness”, Will & Jeff made a hit that might not be for all seasons, but is apparently one for any year.

Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince “Summertime” (1991) 




So, yeah…

Upon the announcement of this special issue of XXL hitting the stands, I was instantly prepared to do something I haven’t done in a good five years or so: buy a magazine. As the prices have risen over the years, and my interest in the articles has declined, my dedication to buying rap mags generally ended some time ago. I might thumb through ’em in CVS while waiting for my clothes to dry in the laundromat, but that’s where it stops. Still, leave it to a ’90s-related issue to get my money ($8.00!). To those who haven’t seen this neat lil’ piece of nostalgia as of yet, this is an all-inclusive list of what the staff at XXL considers to be the 250 greatest songs of my favorite era.

The criteria wasn’t made quite clear, but judging from the 250 choices, I’m guessing it ranged from quality to popularity to influence, as most lists of this nature do (and should). Of course, there were some that I scratched my head at like crazy (lookin’ at you, “Dazzey Duks“), and the order of certain tracks was a lil’ wild (“How Do You Want It” = higher than “Dear Mama”, “Hail Mary”, “Keep Ya Head Up”, “Hit ‘Em Up”, etc.?)- but nobody ever fully agrees with these things anyway. That’s part of why these kinds of lists exist in the first place; they’re destined to spark debate and scrutiny. One glaring omission I gotta mention, though, is the absence of “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”. There’s some others that I personally would’ve put in the list had it been mine, but that’s one I was sure would be in there. That aside, I can’t be mad at the majority of the tracks that made the cut.

For those who get joy from reading these here blogs and don’t really fuck with the mags much, I’ve done you the liberty of dropping the full list here on DLT90s. I’d be glad to see and speak on some of your views on this list… so yeah, Have At It!

XXL Greatest 250 Hip-Hop Songs 1990-1999

1) Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang – Dr. Dre
2) It’s All About The Benjamins (remix) – Puff Daddy
3) I’ll Be There For You/ You’re All I Need To Get By – Method Man
4) The Choice Is Yours – Black Sheep
5) Tha Crossroads – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
6) Scenario – A Tribe Called Quest
7) California Love – 2Pac
8) One More Chance/ Stay With Me (Remix) – The Notorious B.I.G.
9) Hard Knock Life – Jay-Z
10) They Remimisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) – Pete Rock & CL Smooth
11) How Do You Want It – 2Pac
12) It Was A Good Day – Ice Cube
13) Juicy – The Notorious B.I.G.
14) Minds Playing Tricks On Me – Geto Boys
15) Rosa Parks – OutKast
16) Bling Bling – B.G.
17) Mo Money Mo Problems – The Notorious B.I.G.
18) Shook Ones, Pt. II – Mobb Deep
19) I Got 5 On It – Luniz
20) Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
21) Dear Mama – 2Pac
22) Big Poppa – The Notorious B.I.G.
23) Pocket Full of Stones – UGK
24) Gin and Juice – Snoop Doggy Dogg
25) C.R.E.A.M. – Wu-Tang Clan
26) Read Or Not – The Fugees
27) Back That Azz Up – Juvenile
28) DWYCK – Gang Starr
29) Hit ‘Em Up – 2Pac
30) Regulate – Warren G
31) I Used To Love H.E.R. – Common Sense
32) Hip Hop Hooray – Naughty By Nature
33) Deep Cover – Dr. Dre
34) Protect Ya Neck – Wu-Tan Clan
35) Flava In Ya Ear (Remix) – Craig Mack
36) I Get Around – 2Pac
37) Put Your Hands Where Your Eyes Could See – Busta Rhymes
38) O.P.P. – Naughty By Nature
39) Still Not A Player – Big Pun
40) Passin’ Me By – The Pharcyde
41) Who Shot Ya? – The Notorious B.I.G.
42) Insane In The Brain – Cypress Hill
43) Wicked – Ice Cube
44) Warning – The Notorious B.I.G.
45) U.N.I.T.Y. – Queen Latifah
46) Keep Your Head Up – 2Pac
47) Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat) – Digable Planets
48) Whatta Man – Salt-N-Pepa
49) The Humpty Dance – Digital Underground
50) My Name Is – Eminem
51) Throw Ya Gunz – ONYX
52) Electric Relaxation – A Tribe Called Quest
53) Triumph – Wu-Tang Clan
54) F*ck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’) – Dr. Dre
55) How Many MC’s – Black Moon
56) Mass Appeal – Gang Starr
57) Come Clean – Jeru The Damaja
58) No Vaseline – Ice Cube
59) Hypnotize – The Notorious B.I.G.
60) Bonita Applebum – A Tribe Called Quest
61) Around The Way Girl – LL Cool J
62) Ain’t No Ni**a – Jay-Z
63) Ruff Ryders Anthem – DMX
64) Slam – ONYX
65) Scenario (Remix) – A Tribe Called Quest
66) 93 ‘Til Infinity – Souls of Mischief
67) Git Up, Git Out – OutKast
68) Sound Bwoy Bureill (Remix) – Smif-N-Wessun
69) Hail Mary – 2Pac
70) Let’s Talk About Sex – Salt-N-Pepa
71) Xxplosive – Dr. Dre
72) Time 4 Sum Aksion – Redman
73) 911 Is A Joke – Public Enemy
74) I Ain’t Mad At Cha – 2Pac
75) Who Am I (What’s My Name)? – Snoop Doggy Dogg
76) Method Man – Wu-Tang Clan
77) Shake Whatch Mama Gave Ya – Poison Clan
78) Brenda’s Got A Baby – 2Pac
79) Ice Cream – Raekwon
80) Ha – Juvenile
81) Juice (Know The Ledge) – Eric B. & Rakim
82) Jump Around – House of Pain
83) Get At Me Dog – DMX
84) Doin It – LL Cool J
85) The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly – Missy Elliott
86) Make Em Say Ugh! – Master P
87) Get Money – Junior M.A.F.I.A
88) If I Rule The World (Imagine That) – Nas
89) Let Me Ride – Dr. Dre
90) Murder Was The Case – Snoop Dogg
91) Put It In Your Mouth – Akinyele
92) Jackin’ For Beats – Ice Cube
93) Mama Said Knock You Out – LL Cool J
94) 1st of Tha Month – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
95) Check The Rhime – A Tribe Called Quest
96) Player’s Anthem – Junior M.A.F.I.A.
97) Can I Get A – Jay-Z
98) Elevators (Me & You) – Outkast
99) I Seen A Man Die – Scarface
100) Crush On You (Remix) – Lil’ Kim
101 Feel So Good – Ma$e
102) Money, Cash, Ho*s – Jay-Z
103) Slow Down – Brand Nubian
104) Renee – Lost Boyz
105) Doggy Dogg World – Snoop Doggy Dogg
106) Fu-Gee-La – The Fugees
107) Quiest Storm (Remix) – Mobb Deep
108) What You Want – Ma$e
109) Shut Em Down (Remix) – Public Enemy
110) Hip Hop Junkies – Nice & Smooth
111) I Shot Ya (Remix) – LL Cool J
112) Big Momma Thang – Lil’ Kim
113) They Want EFX – Das EFX
114) I Got A Man – Positive K
115) U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
116) Award Tour – A Tribe Called Quest
117) Money, Power & Respect – The LOX
118) Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz and Benz – Lost Boyz
119) Hate Me Now – Nas
120) Back In The Day – Ahmad
121) Get Me Home – Foxy Brown
122) Sound Of Da Police – KRS-One
123) How High – Method Man & Redman
124) You Got Me – The Roots
125) Shoop – Salt-N-Pepa
126) Down For My N’s – Snoop Dogg/ C-Murder
127) Player’s Ball – OutKast
128) I’m Bout It, Bout It – TRU
129) B*tch Please – Snoop Dogg
130) It Ain’t Hard To Tell – Nas
131) Ten Crack Commandments – The Notorious B.I.G.
132) Welcome To The Terrordome – Public Enenemy
133) Check Yo Self (The Message’ Remix) – Ice Cube
134) Second Round K.O. – Canibus
135) Victory – Puff Daddy
136) Let Me Clear My Throat – DJ Kool
137) New Jack Hustler – Ice-T
138) Natural Born Killaz – Dr. Dre
139) Everything’s Gonna Be Alright – Naughty By Nature
140) Bring The Pain – Method Man
141) I Wanna Rock – Luke
142) Queen B*tch – Lil’ Kim
143) All For One – Brand Nubiam
144) Brooklyn’s Finest – Jay-Z
145) Rump Shaker – Wreckx-N-Effect
146) Soul Food – Goodie MOB
147) All That I Got Is You – Ghostface Killah
148) Dead Presisdents – Jay-Z
149) Uptown Anthem – Naughty By Nature
150) I’ll Be Missing You – Puff Daddy
151) New York, New York – That Dogg Pound
152) Brooklyn Zoo – Ol’ Dirty Bastard
153) Stakes Is High – De La Soul
154) Bow Down – Westside Connection
155) Phone Tap – The Firm
156) How I Could Just Kill A Man – Cypress Hill
157) Funkdafied – Da Brat
158) Po Pimp – Do Or Die
159) Watch For The Hook – Cool Breeze
160) O.G. Original Ganster – Ice-T
161 Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down – Brand Nubian
162) Tear Da Club Up – Three 6 Mafia
163) Front, Back, & Side to Side – UGK
164) Not Tonight – Lil’ Kim
165) Smile – Scarface
166) Shreiht Up Menace – MC Eiht
167) Slippin’ – DMX
168) Nappy Heads (Remix) – The Fugees
169) Superthug – Noreaga
170) Is There A Heaven 4 a Gangsta – Master P
171) Lost Ones – Lauren Hill
172) Treat’ Em Right – Chubb Rock
173) Ruffneck – MC Lyte
174) Banned in the U.S.A. – 2 Live Crew
175) Afro Puffs – The Lady of Rage
176) Hay – Crucial Conflict
177) Space Age Pimpin’ – UGK
178) Sprinkle Me – E-40
179) People Everyday – Arrested Development
180) Head, Head, and More Head – Luke
181) How About Some Hardcore – M.O.P.
182) You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo – Yo-Yo
183) Rampage – EPMD
184) It Ain’t My Fault 2 – Silkk The Shocker
185) Banned From TV – Noreaga
186) Déjà vu (Uptown Baby) – Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz
187) Down With The King – Run-DMC
188) Runnin’ – The Pharcyde
189) 24 Hrs. to Live – Ma$e
190) Case of the P.T.A. – Leaders Of The New School
191) MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know – KRS-One
192) Watch Out Now – The Beatnuts
193) Shimmy Shimmy Ya – Ol’ Dirty Bastard
194) I Wanna Get High – Cypress Hill
195) So What’cha Want – Beastie Boyz
196) Tennessee – Arrested Development
197) One Love – Nas
198) Nuttin’ But Love – Heavy D & The Boyz
199) Mr. Ice Cream Man – Master P
200) Getting’ It – Too $hort
201) Breakadawn – De La Soul
202) Loungin’ (Who Do Ya Luv) – LL Cool J
203) On The Run – Kool G Rap & DJ Polo
204) What Would You Do? – Tha Dogg Pound
205) Crooklyn – Crooklyn Dodgers
206) A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays” – De La Soul
207) Don’t Sweat The Technique – Eric B & Rakim
208) Dirty South – Goodie MOB
209) I Got Cha Opin’ (Remix) – Black Moon
210) Tonight’s Da Night – Redman
211) How To Rob – 50 Cent (His first entry)
212) Definition – Black Star
213) The Ghetto – Too $hort
214) Ms. Fat Booty – Mos Def
215) Dazzey Dukes – Duice
216) Pimps – 8Ball & MJG
217) Gotta Get Mine – MC Breed
218) Gangsta B*tch – Apache
219) Luchini AKA (This Is It) – Camp Lo
220) Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill
221) Holla Holla – Ja Rule
222) Horse & Carriage – Cam’ron
223) 360 (What Goes Around) – Grand Puba
224) Pass The Mic – Beatie Boys
225) Captain Save A Hoe – E-40
226) Just Playing (Dreams) – The Notorious B.I.G.
227) Ebonics – Big L
228) Mad Izm – Channel Live
229) Dairy of a Madman – Gravediggaz
230) Fu*k Compton – Tim Dog
231) Whoomp (There It Is) – Tag Team
232) Nann Ni**a – Trick Daddy
233) The Art of Storytellin’ (Pt. 1) – OutKast
234) Playa, Playa – Big Mike
235) Looking At The Front Door – Main Source
236) Time’s Up – O.C.
237) Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey) – De La Soul
238) Jump – Kris Kross
239) I Wish – Skee-Lo
240) Simon Says – Pharoahe Monch
241) Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check – Busta Rhymes
242) Ain’t No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None) – Snoop Doggy Dogg
243) Chief Rocka – Lords of the Underground
244) Where Dem Dollars At – Gangsta Boo
245) Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka – Heltah Skeltah
246) Gold Digger – EPMD
247) The Most Beautiful Thing in This World – Keith Murray
248) Monie in the Middle – Monie Love
249) Where My Homiez? (Come Around My Way) – Ill Al Skratch
250) Take It Personal – Gang Starr


NEXT WEEK: I may not be droppin’ two-fiddy, but I’ll definitely be droppin’ THE FIDDY. Much like I did it last year, I’ll be celebrating the 2nd birthday of DLT90s the same way. Be sure to be here! June 1st.

The Darkness


By late-1997, the “Shiny Suit Era” was at its absolute peak. A monster had been created, which extended to an overflow of glossy videos and ’80s samples. While I personally enjoyed a good deal of the music that came out of it , some of it was flat-out unfukkinecessary. Regardless, it was the thing of the moment, and the whole world was on it. In the middle of this craze, there was an upcoming artist who was the complete opposite of everything that era represented. As a matter of fact, he seemed like he would’ve fit more into the era that preceded it, when things were a lot more grimy and a lot less polished and mainstream-aimed. His name was DMX, and in spite of what was dominating the charts, ’98 was about to be his year.

Ironically (or maybe not), X’s buzz started building through his appearances on albums by people who were actively jumping into the Shiny Suit Era. In the midst of Ma$e‘s extra glossy-flossy Harlem World, X was stealing the show on “24 Hours To Live”. As The Lox were trying their best to fit into the Bad Boy team with their Money, Power, Respect album, X shut it down on the title track. While LL Cool J was Puff Daddy-in’ it up with the Phenomenon album, there was still “4-3-2-1”, which X appeared on and killed. On top of that, he closed out ’97 with his own single “Get At Me Dog”, which hit hard and fast into the new year.

And from there, it was probably the greatest pre-album buildup ever. It seemed like every other week, he was making a guest appearance on some shit. From DJ Clue tapes, to remixes by Ice Cube and Mic Geronimo, to a currently obscure-as-fuck song by two female MCs named Duo, DMX was unavoidable. By May 19, 1998, X could do no wrong, and that was the level of anticipation he had as It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot hit the stores.

That album was the must-have of the time. Just about everybody I knew had it by the end of that week, and of course I did. I was STILL just getting over “Get At Me Dog” (and its video, which was the perfect introduction for him being the anti-shiny suit), so I was definitely ready to hear what else he had on deck. As expected, he brought the same aggression he’d become known for by then. His lyrics were violent, dark, and at times even comical to a degree, while the in-house production (mostly done by Grease) were both timely and different for its time.

Speaking of the production, It’s Dark was also the album that kicked off the long-running career of Swizz Beatz. He only actually did one track, but that one happened to be “Ruff Ryders Anthem”, which ended up being arguably the album’s biggest song. After that blew up, Swizz spent the second half of ’98 the same way X spent the first half- with his name popping up in some of everybody’s album credits. It was also that song which established the Ruff Ryders label as a brand and sound that would expand and remain relevant for the next couple of years.

As I said earlier, X surely brought the aggression and violence, but there was another angle to his music that I didn’t really expect. On top of all the chaos, he also rhymed about struggle- not just “trying to make ends meet” struggle, but being internally conflicted between living right and doing wrong. There was also a religious angle, most emphasized by his prayer towards the end of the album. While it didn’t dominate the content of It’s Dark, it did seem to flesh it out, especially in the era where who an artist was as an individual became just as important as what an artist said. It also turned out to be very true-to-life, as evidenced by the downfalls in both X’s life and career in the years since It’s Dark.

There’s a friend of mine who in retrospect said, “I can’t believe I used to listen to a nigga who barked on his records”. That is kinda funny when you think about it- I don’t know that if an artist came out nowadays making animal noises of any sort, I could even attempt to take that shit seriously. But it also says a lot about how strong DMX was as an artist at his peak in ’98. Outside of all the growling and barking (and I’m positive I heard him yelp and wimper a few times too), he had a voice that came along at just the right time. For that reason among others, It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot was one of the best and highest-selling albums of ’98, and one that brought the street element back into the forefront.

“Ruff Ryders Anthem”

“Get At Me Dog”


“Stop Being Greedy”

“Niggaz Done Started Something” (feat. The LOX and Ma$e) 


DANJ! Presents: One Hitta Quittas, Vol. 5

If I had to choose a favorite year of hip-hop and R&B from the ’90s, I’d have to go with 1996. It’s a year that was stacked with more good music than I even had time to listen to, and definitely more than I could afford to buy. Regardless of whether it was in heavy radio rotation or only heard on the late-night mixshows, I was listenin’ and lovin’ it all. There was the Bad Boy sound, the early days of the Timbaland sound, the beginning of “Neo-Soul“, a “commercial vs. underground” divide in hip-hop in which good music was coming from both sides of the fence, and of course that “East vs. West” thing back when both were still at the top of the rap game. Sure, there was also stuff like Coolio, but not much I could do about that.Still, amongst all the hitmaking that went on, there were some who were bound to only pull it off once. For every R. Kelly or Fugees, there would have to be a Crucial Conflict or Tony Rich. In that respect, I bring you the fifth installment of “One Hitta Quittas“, with four from ’96 that made it happen… if only for a few months.

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Steady Mobbin’


Yeah, I know right… Been quite a while since the last entry here on DLT90s, but the lights are back on- extra bright, I want y’all to see this. With no further ado, we continue…

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AllTime8: Nate D-O-Double-G


After Nate Dogg had his second stroke in 2008, and news on his condition since then was scarce at best, I had a feeling that his health wasn’t on the up. Still, it was a shock to wake up at 2:30 this morning and see that he had passed last night.

As one of the original “Death Row Inmates”, Nate was the writer and performer of some of the catchiest and most familiar hooks in hip-hop. For years, he was a reliable guest star on tracks by everyone from Snoop and Dre to 50 Cent and Ludacris. I don’t even know what I can say about his influence and importance to the game that hasn’t been said today. But I’ll suffice it to say that he’s participated in a number of classics that may not have been as classic without him.

In paying tribute to Nate’s life, DanjLovesThe90s drops eight of my personal favorite guest appearances by him- here they go:

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Man Behind The Music: DJ Premier


As I’ve said a few times before, I’ve always appreciated hip-hop no matter where it came from. I didn’t care if a nigga was from Iowa– if it rocked, it rocked. That said, there was a particular time where my ears were most partial to what was regarded as the East Coast sound. Unlike these more recent years, New York was breeding great new music on a regular basis. Some of the best from that era weren’t those that made a killing on the charts or radio, but the ones that resonated amongst the underground/street level listeners. When it came to producers that made music more for the late-night mix shows than the regular rotation, few had that corner locked like DJ Premier did.

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