25 Hip Hop Classics of the Decade

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Photo by Alexander Mussard
Let's face it: this was a fucked up decade for hip hop. It was a fucked up decade for just about everything, really, but any timespan that starts with both mainstream and indie rap looking bound for a next golden age and ends with a race to write the genre's most fatalist eulogy is one people are going to be puzzling over for a while. And good luck canonizing it - depending on who you ask, hip hop was either defined or destroyed by East Coast classicism, the South's ascendance, R&B/club crossover, international overtures, skinny-jeans iconoclasts or Internet-hyped mixtape phenoms.

If anything characterized hip hop in the 2000s - at least aside from the fact that nobody's ever going to go sextuple-platinum again - it's that nobody could agree on how to define hip hop. So this isn't exactly a definitive 25 best hip hop tracks of the year, at least in the sense that you probably couldn't get most fans to agree on more than, say, half of this list. It's actually more of a cross-section, which is why I decided to limit it to one headlining appearance per artist in favor of getting a bigger picture of the way things went down. And while I personally think all these tracks are classic, I guarantee that every other diehard hip hop fan will find at least one they love unreservedly and one they think is absolute total irredeemable garbage - so maybe that does make this list definitive, in a way.

OutKast, "B.O.B." (2000)


Wu-Tang Clan, "I Can't Go to Sleep" (feat. Isaac Hayes) (2000)

M.O.P., "Ante Up (Robbin Hoodz Theory)" (2000)

Eminem, "Stan" (2000)

Missy Elliott, "Get Ur Freak On" (2001)


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