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

What makes a great hip-hop song? Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson chooses his favorites.

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Bone Thugs-N-Harmony,
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27. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" (1995)

I'll admit it. Die-hard East Coasters, with our snobby dispositions – having been in the audience during the hip-hop civil war, a.k.a. the 1995 Source Awards – weren't too quick to let Bone Thugs in the door. Which is rather strange, considering our embrace of the art of harmonizing – see The Fantastic Romantic 5, The Force MCs, The Cold Crush Brothers – and the tongue-twisting style that Das EFX introduced some three years before Eazy-E brought his Bone Thugs proteges to the forefront as his last act before his passing in 1994. This song made their follow-up "1st of tha Month" possible, which then was the prefect setup to their mammoth "Crossroads," which thus gave birth to the most effective summit meeting hip-hop has witnessed: '97's "Notorious Thugs," for B.I.G.'s Life After Death opus. That moment freed stubborn East Coast devotees to embrace "Big Pimpin'" all the way to "Niggas in Paris." My first moments of skepticism in hip-hop were with how to deal with this new direction that hip-hop was going in that clearly I was afraid to go. (See: Change scares all types of people.)

The strangest twist of this tale is that it took another super-summit meeting of the minds to contextualize my newfound respect of Bone Thugs: Jazz scat master Jon Hendricks pairing riffs with Bobby McFerrin, George Benson and Al Jarreau for an awesome version of "Freddie Freeloader." Suddenly, from a jazz perspective, I saw the light and became a convert of East 99th's finest for life.

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