Questlove's Top 50 Hip-Hop Songs of All Time


Public Enemy, "Shut 'Em Down (Pete Rock Remix)" (1991)

public enemy
Ebet Roberts/Redferns

The passing of the torch in hip-hop is never a happy occasion. It's mostly filled with bitterness and shit talking. Chuck D clearly knew that PE's five-year reign was coming to a close. Once you realize and come to grips with this fact. you can either fight the power, or play diplomat and go out like a champ. If only every act in hip-hop thought like this. Thank God Chuck D chose the latter and let young upstart Pete Rock take over the boards to give PE's "aight" song the decade' second best facelift. (The first goes to Black sheep's "The Choice is Yours.") This song marks the renaissance period of New York hip-hop that was more jazz-centric over the usual Southern soul bed it was used to. A marvelous closing-credits soundtrack to a storied streak of revolutionary madness from the best group in hip-hop.

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