#MusicMonday: The 90s Were Dope


A few weeks ago I saw Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope, a Sundance darling executive produced by music industry veterans Pharrell Williams and Sean P. Diddy Combs. Implausible premise and scattered plot aside, the movie’s endearing protagonist trio – adolescent self-proclaimed 90s hip-hop-heads – allowed me to do some thinking on the acts that originally drew me to the genre. While my hip-hop tastes are currently saturated by the gangsta coos of Fetty Wap and Young Thug, it was many a marijuana-fueled moment with “Machine Gun Funk” that turned me from a normal, “oh, I love Kanye” type-o-girl to a “I’m going to learn every word to Ready to Die and rap it alone in my bedroom just to see what it feels like to be a genius” type-o-obsessed freak.


In one of the film’s early scenes, a local drug dealer played by pretty-mother-fucker A$AP Rocky lures protagonist Malcolm to his car to ask him about his strange 90s-inspired dress. In a scene showcasing my long-held suspicion that A$AP harbors homosexual tendencies (“gun shot / gun cock / gonna lick a boy”), the two engage in flirty banter about hip-hop’s golden era. Malcolm uses Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Jay-Z’s The Blueprint as markers, neither of which, A$AP playfully points out, were made in the 90s. Regardless, the movie continually reminds us with its diverse soundtrack that the 90s gave us a great deal of gems. Known for strong jazz influences, positive spirit, and social conscience (did I just hear a Marx reference?), the following tracks are a far cry from today’s rap scene’s current obsession with getting turt (although Kim and Biggie loved to party…and bullshit). Enjoy!


Listen here: 90 90 90


  1. “Unbelievable” – Notorious B.I.G. (Ready to Die, 1994)

  2. “Izzy Izzy Ahh” – Missy Elliott (Supa Dupa Fly, 1997)

  3. “San Francisco Knights” – People Under the Stairs (The Next Step, 1998)

  4. “All Eyez On Me” – 2Pac (All Eyez On Me, 1996)

  5. “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” – Busta Rhymes (When Disaster Strikes, 1997)

  6.  “Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)” – Jay Z (Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, 1998)

  7.  “Drugs” – Lil Kim (Hard Core, 1996)

  8. “Lost Ones” – Lauryn Hill (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, 1998)

  9. “Got Your Money” – Ol’ Dirty Bastard feat. Kelis (Nigga Please, 1999)

  10. “Still Not a Player” – Big Pun (Capital Punishment, 1998)

  11. “East 1999” – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (E. 1999 Eternal, 1995)

  12. “Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac)” – Outkast (ATliens, 1996)

  13. “Doin’ It” – LL Cool J (Mr. Smith, 1996)

  14.  “Sucka Nigga” – Tribe Called Quest (Midnight Maurauders, 1993)

  15. “Bucktown” – Smif-n-Wessun (Dah Shinin’, 1995)

  16. “Above the Clouds” – Gang Starr (Moment of Truth, 1998)

  17. “Ms. Fat Booty” – Mos Def (Black on Both Sides, 1999)

  18. “Dynamite!” – The Roots (Things Fall Apart, 1999)

  19. “Drop” – The Pharcyde (Labcabincalifornia, 1995)

  20. “Represent” – Nas (Illmatic, 1994)

  21. “Concrete Schoolyard - Instrumental” – Jurassic 5 (Jurassic 5, 1998)

  22. “Where I’m From” – Digable Planets (Reachin (A New Refutation of Time and Space), 1993)

  23. “93 ‘til Infinity” – Souls of Mischief (93 ‘til Infinity, 1993)

  24.  “Shook Ones, Pt. II” – Mobb Deep (The Infamous, 1995)

  25. “Wildflower” – Ghostface Killah (Ironman, 1996)

  26. “Niggaz Theme” – Ja Rule (Venni Vetti Vecci, 1999)

  27. “Slippin” – DMX (Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, 1998)

By Anna Dorn

Photograph courtesy of Dope the Movie official trailer on YouTube

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