Tupac Shakur - Hip Hop - OpinionatedMale.com blog

Dear Hip Hop, We Hardly Knew Ye (Pt II)

Several months back I wrote an article called, “Dear Hip Hop we Hardly knew ‘Ye” in which I touched on an era of hip hop where it was truly that – Hip Hop. You could go to any party and dance to the tunes or simply pop them in the tape deck and bump your speakers. There were no 187’s on any muthafcukin’ cops. No derogatory remarks towards women and no swag of any kind. Don’t get me wrong, some gangsta rap was/is popular and successful, but after a while it becomes hackneyed; especially where there is no pure lyrical flow. For example, Big L was a gangsta rapper, but his flows were so ridiculous (in a good way) you had to listen. Anyhow, for all my music heads, here’s a second installment of my ode to Hip Hop.

1.  Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah - OpinionatedMale.comSong: Unity
Album: Black Reign (1993)

This track came out during a time where you had a strong female presence in hip hop: Rage, MC Lyte, Monie Love, and Yo-Yo just to name a few. Latifah’s ballads were mainly about female empowerment and the fact that not all African-American females were hoochies, hos, skeezer’s (just to coin some derogatory terms during that era). This song was no different.

“Instinct leads me to another flow
Every time I hear a brotha call a girl a b*tch or a ho
Tryna make a sista feel low
You know all of that gots to go.

Plain, simple, and to the point. I might add this had a touch of the blues with the rich sound of the saxophone playing during the chorus with that R&B flavor. It was an uplifting song indeed, and a stark contrast to what we see female artists talking about how much of a bad b*tch they are, or the uber sexual exploits with men they have or had.

2. Lost Boyz

Lost-Boyz - OpinionatedMale.comSongs: ‘So Love’ & ‘Renee’
Albums: Love Peace and Nappiness (1997) / Legal Drug Money (1995), respectively.

The Lost Boyz burst on the scene in the mid 90’s. This quartet (Mr. Cheeks, Freaky Tah, Pretty Lou, and Spig Nice) from Jamaica Queens, New York spawned two successful albums. Although they came into prominence during the middle of the Gangsta Rap era, they managed to have a strong following despite their deviation from the violent content that dominated the airwaves.

These two particular songs were an ode to women. In ‘So Love’ Mr. Cheeks did the solo and spoke about loving his woman unconditionally and not being ashamed to show love and affection for her regardless of what others thought. “I feel your love, it’s so love….I aint afraid to go where some niggaz wont”.  In Renee, you were taken on a journey into the love life of a young black man. The basic premise behind this was a man who met a woman, cultivated a friendship and became lovers until her demise.

Both songs have a soft melody with a nice flow and great back ground instrumentals.

3. Joe Public

Song: ‘Live and Learn’
Album: Joe Public (1992)

This group was a hybrid of New Jack Swing (which was very popular in the late 80’s and early 90’s) and rap. They had short lived success with this song “Live and Learn.” which talked about the trials and tribulations people go through in life and how they deal with it. They have written for many R&B crooners including Keith Sweat and Tyrese.

4. Eric B and Rakim

Eric B and Rakim - OpinionatedMale.comSong: ‘I know you got Soul’
Album: Paid in Full (1987)

This is one of the finest tracks by one of the best (many argue THEE BEST) hip hop artist(s) of all time.  This album from top to bottom was filled with funky beats, excellent hooks, and just pure lyrical mastery in every sense of the word. I can guarantee you this song was played at every club, basement party, and house party back in the day. I’ve been to a few events when the DJ went for that ‘old school flava’, and played this song. Everyone, even the youngins who were merely a gleam in their parent’s eye when this song came out, went on a nostalgic trip.

I know you got soul’ was basically about that – soul. Their content mainly consisted of having fun, spittin’ on the mic, and braggadocio about their ability to flow; and these fellas weren’t lying.

“It’s been a long time I shouldn’t have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to
Think of how many weak shows you slept through
Time’s up I’m sorry I kept you

Thinkin’ of this you keep repeatin’ you miss
The rhymes from the microphone soloist
And you sit by the radio hand on the dial soon
As you hear it pump up the volume…..”

5.  Da Youngstaz

Da Youngstaz - OpinionatedMale.comAlbum: No Mercy (1994)
Song: ‘Hip Hop Ride’
Da Youngstaz came into prominence in the early 90’s where you had a plethora of teenage groups/singers (Kriss Kross, ABC, Chi Ali, Tevin Campbell, Lil’ Vicious, Shyheim, Illegal) on the airwaves. Their first hit single in 1993, ‘Crewz pop‘ was mildly successful and they followed that up in 1994 with this track Hip Hop Ride. They took you on a stroll down memory lane starting with the pioneers including Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash all the way to the current crop around at that time. They even paid homage to the female rappers. Great beat and smooth bass line made this track easy on the ears.

6.  Slick Rick

Slick Rick - OpinionatedMale.comSong: ‘Mona Lisa’
Album: The Great Adventures of Slick (1988)
Slick Rick in his own right was another pioneer in the rap game. Mona Lisa was a ‘dance hall’ rap song, and was also a staple at parties back in the day.  The Great Adventures album was one of the very few to receive 5 mics from The Source magazine. With a familiar jingle, a nice melody and a kick ass beat he told a story.  A simple adventure of him meeting a young woman named Mona Lisa at a pizza shop.  It contained a sample from Dionne Warwick’s  ‘Walk On By’. Speaking of samples, Onyx sampled Slick’s beat on a track from their album Shut ’em down, as countless other artists did.
If you asked the average hip hop fan as to who are his top 10 MC’s of all time, Rick is sure to be on that list.

7. Ice Cube

ice-cube-it-was-a-good-day-OpinionatedMale.comSong: ‘Today was a good day’
Album: Predator (1993)
I know, I know, I said I would deviate from the gangsta rap, but this one was a gem. Although Cube was known for his excessive foul language, violent content, and mysogynistic remarks towards women he was also somewhat of an activist.  He has had his share of tracks where he spoke of the idiosyncrasies of a corrupt society and police brutality. In this ballad, he told a simple story.
As you’re listening to the song you literally felt like you’re spending the day with him. ‘Today was a good day’ was pretty straight forward as Cube didn’t complicate the track but rather kept it simple and to the point.
To start the day he woke up, his mother cooked a great breakfast, (“..Momma cooked a breakfast with no hog”) – presumably he doesn’t eat pork. He played ball and dice with the fellas and won both, watched the LA Lakers game, cruised through the hood, didn’t shoot or get shot at, (“Today I didn’t even have to use my A-K“) didn’t get arrested, got some cutty from a chick named Kim, AND stopped by FatBurger to end his day and fill his belly. It sounds like a good day to me. This was a highly critically acclaimed album and O’Shea Jackson was on a roll during this period. He had major roles in hit movies and churned out hot album after another, and this was no different.

9. Whodini

Whodini - OpinionatedMale.comSong: ‘ Friends
Album: Escape (1984)
Whodini had lots of fanfare and some popular tracks back in the early to mid 80’s. The track ‘Friends’ simply talked about scenarios involving friends, how loyal or not they are and the importance of true friendships. Again, this was nothing difficult or over the top.  ‘Friends’ remains a popular track to this very day. This song has been sampled many times over the years by various artists, most notably Nas and Lauren Hill on the track ‘If I ruled the world‘ from the album ‘It was written’.

10. Cheef Keef

Chief Keef 2 - OpinionatedMale.comAlbum: Finally Rich (2012)
Song: ‘Hate being Sober’
haaa haaa gotcha…..
Peace and God Bless

My motto is, "Live, love and laugh". Check me out in the "Men Behind The Pen" section on OpinionatedMale.com.


  • CG Skipwith

    Classics! I’m a little too young to remember some of these during the time that they were doing their, but they were so timeless that the music still reached me years later. Who is really going to remember most of the artists today after some years?

    • Cortonio

      It’s amazing that these songs especially ones are from the 80’s are still popular. It’s a shame though because I feel the hip hop game has gone down the toilet. Especially with the efemminization of hip hop these days.

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