100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

What makes a great hip-hop song?

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8. The Notorious B.I.G., "Juicy"

The greatest rapper who ever lived, at his absolute peak: hilarious, incisive and insanely inventive as he balances urban realism ("Birthdays was the worst days") and playalistic excess ("Now we sip champagne when we're thirsty"). The funky first single from the Notorious B.I.G.'s world-smacking 1994 debut, Ready to Die, was a departure from the rugged East Coast rap sound of his 1993 debut single, "Party and Bullshit," and a far cry from the gangsta-don image he originally wanted to project. But executive producer Sean "Puffy" Combs insisted Big flow over a simple, club-friendly loop of Mtume's early Eighties dance-party jam "Juicy Fruit." (Producer Pete Rock says Combs got the idea from him.) "I wanted to release music that let people know he was more than just a gangsta rapper," Combs said later. "He showed his pain, but in the end, he wanted to make people feel good." 

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