G. Love & Special Sauce are a longtime Philly institution, with funky hits like “Cold Beverage” and “Stepping Stone” finding the nexus between blues, old-school rap and coffeehouse acoustics. Mr. Love compiled a playlist for Rhapsody of his favorite hip-hop songs, with track-by-track commentary. Enjoy.
Arrested Development, “Tennessee”
The first time I heard this song on the radio in Philly, it changed my life. Speech blends rap and melodic singing.
Boogie Down Productions, “Stop the Violence”
This was a great hip-hop anthem of the ’80s, and KRS-One is one of my favorite emcees.
Brand Nubian, “Concerto in X Minor”
Sadat X takes the lead vocal on this track, and I love his flow.
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, “Return of the Mecca”
Pete Rock is one of my favorite hip-hop beatmakers, and C.L. Smooth’s flow is laid back and tight.
Cypress Hill, “The Phuncky Feel One”
The first Cypress Hill record is one of my favorite hip-hop records of all time, so any track off this record is one of my favorite hip-hop tracks.
Digable Planets, “Where I’m From”
Digable Planets were produced by my Philly brother King Britt and they came out with a really live, jazz-oriented feel that I connected with.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, “Summertime”
This was another Philly anthem and a huge hip-hop anthem. You can feel the heat coming off this one.
Eric B & Rakim, “My Melody”
This was one of the most important hip-hop records ever made. Completely unique and heavy!
Funkdoobiest, “Bow Wow Wow”
Funkdoobiest was produced by T-Ray, who produced my Philadelphonic record. I always liked his dirty-ass flow.
Lords of the Underground, “Chief Rocka”
Lords of the Underground just come with the real energy. Not as much finesse as some other crews but they’ve got some hits fo’ sho.
The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Method Man, “The What”
I like this track because it’s got Notorious B.I.G. and Method Man trading verses back and forth; two of the great voices in hip-hop.
Scarface, “On My Block”
This track is one of my favorite hip-hop tracks of all time. That piano sample sets it off, and you gotta love a tour through the neighborhood.
High & Mighty, “Hands on Experience”
This is a dope track from my Philly brothers. Featuring Kool Keith, “Hands on Experience,” who can’t relate?
Gang Starr, “You Know My Steez”
This rhyme is so dope. Guru has the monotone smooth flow. He doesn’t get enough credit, but in my book he’s one of the greatest, most original emcees.
G. Love & Special Sauce feat. Shamarr Allen, “Weekend Dance”
This is a dope collab with New Orleans up-and-comer Shamarr Allen. The beat was a progression that Craz from Soulive hooked up. It’s a party jam, man!