Best Hip-Hop Songs of 1994

A hip-hop cannon was created in 1994. Nas, Notorious B.I.G., Outkast, Gang Starr, Beastie Boys and Scarface all released breakout albums that were epochal and genre-defining. Some of these tracks — “One Love,” “Juicy,” “Mass Appeal” — have been so rhapsodized and overplayed that it’s difficult to listen to them with fresh ears, or to even believe that there was a time in hip-hop when these tracks were new. Illmatic, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and Hard to Earn were all released within the span of a little more than a month. Hip-hop’s bench in 1994 was also deep, and Mosi makes a point in his write-up to state that these “were the years when hip-hop became universal.” Classic tracks also came in from the West Coast (“Captain Save a Ho,” “Playaz Club”) and the South (“Front, Back and Side to Side”). As a note, Mosi uses singles released in 1994, even if their albums came out in the previous year, which explains the presence of tracks from Doggystyle and Enter the 36 Chambers .