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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6. Run-DMC, "My Adidas"/"Peter Piper" (1986)

With a one-two punch, Darryl, Joe and Jason fulfilled their self-proclamation of becoming kings. But a different type of leader – the people's choice. Run and D were of the people, people who spoke, thought, related and (most importantly) dressed like they did. Russell Simmons always stressed that his younger brother's group should be stripped down to its barest elements so that the people could relate to it. As a result, their strongest presentations contained as little music as possible. All drums, vocals and turntable, and in case they wanted to change the face of history, they'd add a guitar line or two. But they wouldn't make the mistake that their Sugarhill brethren made before them: blending in with the rock elite for acceptance. Clearly, the "meet us halfway at the 50-yard line" plea was not acceptable. Run-DMC insisted that you had to accept them on their own terms.

Proof of this demand working? Run tells the entire Madison Square Garden to hold one sneaker in the air, knowing a magic moment (and millions) were around the corner. Russell Simmons made certain that the heads of Adidas were in attendance to see over 30,000 people holding up their shell-toes. The eventual endorsement was without question. This was hip-hop's tipping point. No longer just music to annoy your grandparents, hip-hop meant big, big dollars. The gates were open: shows in stadiums, albums going multi-platinum, endorsement deals, awards and accolades. This 12-inch single was the Paul Revere announcement that hip-hop was going absolutely nowhere.

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