In a special year-end issue of RollingStone, the iconic magazine ranks the 50 greatest hip hop songs of all time, while commemorating the list with four appropriately powerful covers featuring Eminem, Biggie, Jay-Z, & 2Pac.
As for the list, well, I first off don't get too caught up in rankings or lists. They're fun, especially when you're searching for that suggestion or opinion, but just don't take it too seriously. RollingStone's top 10 is a clear ode to the first big hip hop songs, which I was happy to see. Each of the 50 songs can be viewed online here and it's a fun read for more than just to see what song is where. There is a cool anecdote per song, like that of "Lose Yourself" below.
Eminem's biggest-ever hit plays like Rocky condensed into a five-minute song. It helped that in telling the story of Rabbit – the trailer-dwelling aspiring rapper he played in 8 Mile – Eminem was more or less telling his own, sidestepping demented clowning and pure rage in favor of tough, realist rhymes about overcoming very long odds. Em cut the song during a brief break from filming. "He came in and laid down all three verses in one take," recalled engineer Steven King. "Jaws dropped – we were like, 'Oh, my God!' This story had been building up in him."
Wow. One take?! That made me like my #1 song even more (which I previously thought impossible).
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"One becomes Two; Two becomes Three; and out of the third comes the One as the Fourth."