Whenever anyone brings up hip hop’s golden era, chances are they’re talking about the ’90s. Originating in the Bronx in the 1970s, the genre that would later become a global phenomenon grew substantially in the ’80s and, by the time the ’90s rolled around, had fully matured both artistically and commercially.
When you think about hip hop in that decade, two names hover above the rest: 2Pac (“California Love”) and The Notorious B.I.G. (“Hypnotize”). If you’ll recall, though, the ’90s was also a period in which hip hop expanded from being purely a coastal phenomenon. Southern anthems like “Back That Thang Up” by Juvenile and Fiend, Silkk, Mia-X and Mystikal-featured Master P song, “Make Em Say Uhh!,” dominated the charts. Meanwhile, the East and West Coasts held it down with their own distinctive hits, respectively, including Jay-Z’s “Can I Get A…” and Warren G ft. Nate Dogg’s “Regulate.” If any of the aforementioned songs come on right now, in any region, hip hop fans will react. And that ackowledgment likely manifests with head bobbing, rapping along, or dancing.
So, what are you waiting for? VH1 is celebrating hip hop’s “golden era” with our long-running series, The Greatest: 40 Greatest Hip Hop Songs of the ’90s, and the full list starts here! Don’t forget to listen to our collection of timeless tracks on Spotify and, while you’re at it, subscribe here to VH1′s 40 Greatest Hip Hop Songs of the ’90s playlist.