Artist: Wu-Tang Clan
Wu-Tang Clan is foundational old-school rap, and the huge success of their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) confirmed their immortality in the hip-hop world. “Triumph” comes from their second—and also hugely successful—1997 album Wu-Tang Forever. Centred around themes of immortality and power, this song provides a great mix of dirty drops and hard bass hits with lyrics dripping in allusion, best represented in Ol’ Dirty Bastards second line “I’m the Osirus of this shit / Wu-Tang is here forever.”
Album: F.U. Don’t Take It Personal
Fu-Schnickens gained their notoriety with comical song themes and heavy references to pop culture. “True Fu-Schnick” perfectly captures the group’s high-intensity performance style, spitting lyrics at crazy fast speeds, only taking breaks to yell “hey / what / hip-hop hooray!” Despite absolutely dripping in ‘80s run-off beats, the track maintains a fresh vibe vis-a-vis its crazed nature laid over relaxed back beats.
“Rock the Bells”
Artist: LL Cool J
“Rock the Bells” is all about pounding bass and over-the-top sounds—which, ironically, don’t feature a single bell. The record scratch dominates at least half of the sound and makes the track slightly discomforting to listen to, but LL Cool J’s lyrics and delivery tone give the song a next-level dynamic.
“A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturday”
Artist: De La Soul
Album:De La Soul Is Dead
It’s not often that hip-hop songs also double as one of the hottest dance songs of the year, but that’s exactly what De La Soul achieved with their 1991 hit “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays.’” Featuring Saturday Night Fever-esque background mixes over smooth lyrics like “Hey, pretty diamond, do you like the way I’m dressed?”, De La Soul managed to fuse funk, rap, and club beats all in one eclectic and eccentric track of rave-light romance.