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DIGITS: ALLHIPHOP’S 15 GREATEST HOOD ANTHEMS

Where are you from? A simple question, that usually entails a flush of pride before giving up your answer. That is, unless you don’t like where you come from, and that would be just sad. Being that rappers are a proud bunch, MCs bigging up their hometown in rhyme is a phenomenon as old as emceeing itself. So it goes without saying that some of the greatest verses or songs of these Hip-Hop times have spawned from a rapper giving it up for the set, block, city, state or even country that he or she reps. Here is AllHipHop’s Top 15. Feel free to curse us out and let us know what we missed.WHERE I’M FROM: ALLHIPHOP’S 15 GREATEST HOOD ANTHEMSBoogie Down Productions “South Bronx” Criminal MindedFor the Hip-Hop uninitiated, BDP, still wet behind the ears at the time and fighting to gain a foothold in the game delivered the hardest history lesson in Hip-Hop.  Tracing the lineage from Kool Herc, Grand Master Flash, and Afrika Islam, while bouncing from projects like Patterson and Milbrook, BDP put it down for the crown. From the streetlight powered jams to the violence that plagued them, Kris gave a vivid picture of the early days of Hip-Hop.  This Scott La Rock and Blastmaster KRS-One delivery doubled as a response to Shan’s “The Bridge” and fired the first real salvo in Hip-Hop’s Bridge War. —ODeisel

South Bronx – Boogie Down Productions

Tupac “California Love” All Eyez On Me“California Love” seduced everyone from LA to Mandalay into having love for the Sunshine State. The party inducing anthem deeming Cali as the place to play, party and parlay. The timing was perfect; the late Tupac Shakur had just been released from prison and with the fascination with the late rapper’s star at its peak, Pac made shouting out your “coast” a rite of passage. Featuring vocals from Roger Troutman (ya know, the style T-Pain jacked) singing the hypnotizing chorus claiming that, “California knows how to party,” this is undisputedly one of the best songs of the ‘90s. The song still bumps when blasting at the club or house party. Get your dubs up. —Donyel L. Griffin

California Love (ft. Dr. Dre) – 2Pac

N.W.A “Straight Outta Compton” Straight Outta ComptonWhile most of the mainstream Hip-Hop represented at the time consisted of  boom boxes, and breakdancing, Eazy, Cube, Ren and Dre had a different idea. Their promotion of Compton as concrete Apocalypse changed the very course of the music and put the CPT on the map, both literally and figuratively. The first stanza told you all you needed to know. “When I’m called off, I got a sawed off/Squeeze the trigger and bodies are hauled off.” Radio certainly wasn’t prepared, but ready or not N.W.A. paved the way for the west coast’s ascension half a decade later.  It all came from this song. —ODeisel

Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A.

Common “The Corner ” BeThe premier MC from the ‘Go went a little too far left with that electrical circus of an album. Appropriately to come back center, he used “The Corner” to return home. No Badu, no crochet pants and no flutes or none of the fancy stuff that plagued Electric Circus, Common stuck to the Boom-Bap (courtesy of Kanye), the Chi-city, Folks, ‘Mo’s, Hustlers, and Disciples.  Focus or Fold.  Scratching and Surviving. The struggle to make it off, and the journey to stay alive on the corner. Chicago Stand Up. —ODeisel

The Corner – Common

Juvenile “Nolia Clap”The Beginning of the End…With such a chirpy beat, this track sounds like it was better suited for Birdman, but Juvenile does his thing. Gun talk in N.O.’s Magnolia Projects might not have been the greatest way to introduce Cash Money’s birthplace, but art imitates life…for the most part. Besides, Juvie had the whole country asking if they heard that Nolia Clap like it was a warped public service announcement. Juve let it be known that if you dipped a toenail on his hood without proper clearance, he’d have you pistol whipped, so don’t drop in unexpectedly for coffee. Mos Def tried to change the image of the track when he sampled the beat for “Katrina Clap.” For better or worse, the “Nolia Clap” was still louder. —Kathy Iandoli

Nolia Clap f/ Skip &amp Wacko – Juvenile

Jay-Z “Where I’m From” In My Lifetime, Vol 1. & Jay-Z f/ The Notorious B.I.G. “Brooklyn’s Finest” Reasonable DoubtBrooklyn gets the rap ode treatment every other day by rappers both good and bad, so picking these two cuts, both from Jay-Z no less, will indubitably cause anger if it isn’t your particular fav. But hey, Brooklyn’s own Hov, especially when tag-teaming it with the Notorious B.I.G., along with Clark Kent’s neighborhood shout-outs on “Brooklyn’s Finest” or relaying how real it gets in the old PJs on “Where I’m From” are fisheye views into the Borough of Kings. The pride displayed makes it understandable how even cats that just moved there last week steady yell “Brooklyn!” at the slightest behest. Makes you almost forget about mentioning that “Hello Brooklyn 2.0” debacle. Oops. —Alvin Blanco

Where I’m From – Jay-Z

Brooklyn’s Finest – Jay-Z

Cam’ron f/ Juelz Santana & Jim Jones “Come Home With Me” Come Home With MeIn 2002 New York Hip-Hop couldn’t be questioned as Rap was representing the Rotten Apple right. It was throwback jersey, matching fitted cap and sped up soul sample season. At the forefront of that was Cam’ron. Just fresh from taking over the Roc with his smash “Oh Boy,” the album title track “Come Home With Me” served as gritty inside look at Harlem USA. Cam details his come up in the early 90’s with help of his Diplomats cohorts. A young Juelz Santana perfects the ending the rhyme with the same word swag while Jim Jones certifies that the streets of Uptown are nothing nice. Powerful music. —Martin A. Berrios

Come Home With Me – Cam’Ron

Goodie Mob “Dirty South” Soul FoodIn Hip-Hop questions of who said what or who coined what term first almost always end up in heated and disputed debate. However, in the case of Goodie Mob’s “Dirty South” their claim as lexicon coiners is etched in vinyl, CD, MP3 or whatever you choose to play this brooding anthem on. Just like that, proudly claiming your Southern pedigree went from Hip-Hop handicap to asset. The Goodie M.O.B. and the Dungeon Family crew they hail from, would etch a legacy so steadfast even Cee-Lo rocking a wedding dress in those Gnarls Barkley photos got a relative pass. Well, it should be noted that Cool Breeze lays claim to the phrase, but he’s featured on the song with Big Boi anway, so it’s all good. —Alvin Blanco

Dirty South – Goodie Mob

Scarface “On My Block” The FixScarface let his legion of fans new and old all know with “On My Block” how deep his loyalty to his block (Holloway, Belford, to Scotts in Southern Houston, Texas to be exact) really was. Scarface’s hood ode easily translates to Anyblock, USA and with its nostalgic theme, many fans could relate to the song’s reference to ducking cops, keeping your business low key, smokin’ blunts and embracing street loyalty. Pretty much anyone who is proud of where they come from learn to accept it, flaws and all, and “On My Block” Scarface did just that. –Donyel L. Griffin

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince “Summertime” HomebaseWho can forget Will Smith’s low budget ballin’ days in West Philly? No matter where you live, once the clock strikes summer, this song still permeates the airwaves to this day. “Summertime” embodies every opened fire hydrant, barbecue, and lightning bug that breezes through the season. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince might have been paying homage to summers in Philly, but this legendary seasonal joint is aural nostalgia for anyone who loves the heat. Not to mention, Fresh Prince’s youthful cockiness, “Leanin’ to the side, but you can’t speed through/Two miles an hour, so everybody sees you.” Parking lot pimps finally got their anthem. –Kathy Iandoli

Jermaine Dupri f/ Ludacris “Welcome to Atlanta” InstructionsA head-nodding, celebrative jam from back in 2002, “Welcome to Atlanta” reminded the Hip-Hop world not to neglect “The A. ” The tag team of veteran producer Jermaine Dupri and, at the time, charismatic newcomer Ludacris, delivered an instant hit that glorified the city that was already known for producing class acts like Outkast and Goodie Mob. The success of the song spawned a few remixes including a “Coast to Coast Remix” with the roster of Diddy (P.Diddy at the time), Nelly, Snoop Dogg, and the St. Lunatics all representing their respective cities.  With new artists from A-Town entering the game constantly, it’s clear when we welcomed Atlanta it had no intentions of saying bye-bye. –Donyel L. Griffin

Welcome To Atlanta (remix) – Jermaine Dupri feat. P. Diddy, Snoop, St. Lunatics, and Luda

Queen Latifah “Just Another Day” Black ReignThis song could be the female counterpart to Cube’s “It Was a Good Day.” Latifah has always been pro-Jersey, and this rap melody was a declaration of her hood pride. It’s that love/hate relationship for her stomping grounds that made this track so conflicted yet beautiful. The Queen smoothly spits verses on gun clapping and uhuru fixes to match her hook harmonies that sail over the beat. This song also came at a time when New Jersey was creeping up as the rap haven of the early ’90s. But anyone can ride out to this song and think of the best and worst qualities of where they live, and learn some lessons fromacross the Hudson River. It’s just another day around the way. –Kathy Iandoli

Just Another Day – Queen Latifah

Nas “New York State of Mind” IllmaticYou won’t find too many MCs in their prime that can pen masterful bars while reflecting on their environment; good or bad. Nasty Nas did just that at the age of nineteen with the stunning “N.Y. State Of Mind.” Like a lyrical time capsule, Nas was able to capture the essence of the gritty New York streets in less than five minutes. Tales of stick up kids running wild, fiends bumping amps, and guns being drawn as a necessity painted a clear picture to out of towners on how real it was in the early 90’s. Sonically DJ Premier cooked one of the greatest beats in rap history with a brilliant loop of some thick keys and pounding drums. This is how it should be done. —Martin A. Berrios

N.Y. State Of Mind – NasIce Cube “It Was a Good Day” The PredatorMr. Amerikkka’s Most Wanted waxing poetical over a buttery Isley Brothers sample? The juxtaposition sounds suspect on paper but the resulting “It Was a Good Day” from the Don Mega’s The Predator album proved to be a seamless fusion new school savvy and old school melody. O’Shea Jackson retold the days of a South Central everyman—from waking in the a.m. and grubbing to hitting the court from some b-ball down to avoiding getting jacked—in succinct lyrical. While South Central, LA had the rep for being Baghdad in the U.S.A., Cube offered up not a completely wholesome but realistic side of growing up in the hood. –Alvin Blanco

It Was A Good Day – Ice Cube

Bun B f/ and damn near all of Houston “Draped Up Remix” TrillFor too long The South was be underappreciated while the West and East dominated the Rap charts. But in 2005 there wasn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind that it was the year of Houston. With the rise and dominance of H-Town, the look and sound of Hip-Hop was revamped; in were the diamond encrusted grills and chopped & screwed tunes. To mark this long awaited pinnacle, UGK OG Bun B put together a husky remix of his already popular single “Draped Up.” With Lil’ Keke, Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Aztek, Lil’ Flip, Z-Ro on the track, this extended version plays like the championship victory song. Texas has never been represented better. —Martin A. Berrios

ALLHIPHOP.com: Where Im From Honorable MentionFrom the audio cribbed from Styles Wars to its searing poetry—”The shiny apple is bruised but sweet, and if you choose to eat, you can lose your teeth,” says Mos Def—”Respiration” is three rap giants eliciting the best out of each other while opining on the streets that raised them. -aqua[Black Star f/ Common “Respiration”]

Artist / Song / AlbumBlahzay Blahzay “Danger” Blah Blah BlahBone Thugs-N-Harmony “East 1999″ E 1999 EternalClipse “Virginia” Lord Willin’Crooklyn Dodgers (Buckshot/Masta Ace/Special Ed) “Crooklyn” Crooklyn SoundtrackEve f/ Beanie Sigel “Philly Philly” Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ Fist LadyThe Game “Westside Story” The DocumentaryGang Starr “The Place Where We Dwell” Daily OperationMC Iziah “Riverside Buckett 26″ Ja Rule f/ Fat Joe & Jadakiss “New York” R.U.L.E.Ludacris “Southern Hospitality”Back For the First TimeMC Shan “The Bridge” Down By LawSir Mix-A-Lot “My Posse’s On Broadway” SwassSmif-N-Wessun “Bucktown” Dah Shinin’Kanye West “Homecoming” GraduationXzibit “Los Angeles Times” 40 Days and 40 Nights[DJ Khaled “Born N Raised”]

 

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