If you hear rap music blaring out of a 2003 Pontiac Montana minivan in northern Michigan, it just might be me playing the following hip hop playlist.
“Smoke Theme” Nick Catchdubs
When I first heard this instrumental, I sent it to our CEO with a message: “This will help you put your game face on.”
“Hey Ya!” OutKast
For some reason I really like this song again. It’s fun. If you need a bit more intellectually, read Charles Duhigg’s great book “The Power of Habit,” and discover how the song was positioned to become a hit.
“Outta Here” KRS-One
Punch in your face hip hop is one of my favorite things in the world. KRS-One is one of the best. Want more? Watch KRS-One’s freestyle tutorial, from the documentary “The Art of Rap.”
“Can I Kick It?” A Tribe Called Quest
In 1990 two cassette tapes were on rotation in my boom box. “3 Feet High and Rising” by De La Soul, and “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” by A Tribe Called Quest. “Can I Kick It?” is one of my favorites, and is a staple on any hip hop playlist. Bonus! Here is a live video of De La Soul’s “The Magic Number.”
“Definition” Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli)
I remember listening to “Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star” for the first time. I was a senior in college, and “Definition” reminded me of how great hip hop is.
The other album I discovered that year is “Mule Variations” by Tom Waits. “Definition” and Waits’ “Big in Japan” are forever linked in my memory.
“Just A Friend” Biz Markie
Much like the OutKast song above, I just really like this song again. After listening to James Altucher’s “worst interview EVER,” with the Biz, I’ve been listening to “Just a Friend” more and more.
“Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” Digable Planets
Put simply, this is one of the best damn hip hop songs of all time.
Speaking of great hip hop songs – here is the best damn hip hop song to use as your alarm clock.
Aggressive and poetic, I really enjoy hip hop songs with intellect, and commentary on weighty or interesting issues. Propaganda is great at this (here is a critique of pastors who quote the Puritans, even though the Puritans accepted slavery – even acting as chaplains on slave ships).
“Sum of Us” Jurassic 5
Hard to pick from all of the great J5 tunes, but I pick this one for Chali2Nas first verse.
“Bionic” Theory Hazit
From Theory Hazit’s most recent album, this song has left me feeling conflicted, not knowing how much head bobbing I am allowed to do at my desk.
“Step Into a World (Rapture’s Delight)” KRS-One
This is one of the first songs I heard on Beats 1 Radio, which I tested out while cutting the grass.
You cannot argue with lyrics like: “I’m not sayin’ I’m number one. Uh, I’m sorry, I lied. I’m number one, two, three, four and five.“
There you have it! A hip hop playlist for minivan driving dads, and everyone else!
What hip hop song would you add to the list?