14. "Please Listen To My Demo" EPMD Unfinished Business
Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith shared the story of their humble begininings over a breezy loop that was a stark contrast from the hardcore sound of "Unfinished Business." Rappers don't always tell the truth, but this song has a degree of validity and humility that's audible.
15. "Grand Puba, Positive, & L.G." Brand Nubian One For All
This track is so infectious and funky there was no need for a clever title. Grand Puba shines on this cut from the street classic without his Brand Nubian brothers. Positive & L.G. filled in nicely and had you wishing more songs were a lot like this.
16. "Represent" Nas Illmatic
The centerpiece of one of hip hop's greatest albums. Nas conveys of the harsh realities of urban life over DJ Premeir's trademark boom-bapstic production. With casual references of rap beefs ("Before the BDP conflict with MC Shan/Around the time when Shante dissed the Real Roxxane") Nas pulls you into his state of mind and doesn't let go.
17. "Drink Away the Pain (Situations)" Mobb Deep feat. Q-Tip The Infamous
An jazzy ode to alcoholism disguised as just another street story from the Queensbridge duo, taken from "The Infamous." Q-Tip shares production credit and offers a artful verse that appeals to both the fashion conscious and criminal minded. "Daney take me away, Daney take me away."
18. "So Far To Go" Common featuring D'Angelo Finding Forever
Produced by the late J. Dilla, this track is a welcome shift on the Kanye West-dominated "Finding Forever." I'd like to pretend this song proves the reclusive R&B singer featured on the hook still has it, but the track was several years old when it was released here. It's timelessness is a testament to the extraordinary talents of the producer and the artists.
19. "Thirtysomething" Jay-Z Kingdom Come
The former Def Jam CEO birthed adult contemporary rap with this track from "Kingdom Come." Over a Dr. Dre beat, Mr. Carter welcomes the wisdom that comes with aging and makes it sound cool to be older that Lil' Wayne. A bold stance to assume in the face of hip hop's relentless youth movement.