THE BEGINNING

Even after a year or two, some of the best raps seem absurdly dated. Here’s our top 10

hiphop-raps

Rock’n’roll is the sound of rebellion, but hip-hop is the sound of now. Not now as in September 2013; now as in always, resolutely in the present. We’re already taking bets on who’ll name-check Uniform Dating in a rap. Odds on it’s Kanye West.

Rock’s problem is that it date-stamps itself with zeitgeist hair and thick or thin trousers, whereas hip-hop agreed on a timeless, oversized look decades ago and has more or less stuck to it. We all know that mop-tops were ’62 to ’66 and mullets ’71 to ’75, but Google an image of Jay-Z in the ’90s and another from yesterday and he just looks happier.

Musically the two do a Freaky Friday, with rock treading carefully to make sure its songs about girls and boys are non-committal of time or place (you can always ‘Love Me Do’), and rap dropping references that could only come from today. Problem is that today is soon yesterday, and so hip-hop, if you’re listening closely enough, is littered with dated references that are either endearing or embarrassing, depending on whether you wrote them or not. Rather ironic, that – that the heart of hip-hop, the lyricism, should be rap’s golden goose of relevance and simultaneously its crow’s feet and saggy arse.

Here’s our top 10 nowness namedrops that just wouldn’t fly if you heard them today… or, y’know, yesterday.

1. “I’m too sexy for jail like I’m Right Said Fred.” – ‘The Ruler’s Back’, Jay-Z.

2. “They get jealous when they see ya with ya mobile phone.” – ‘Changes’, TuPac.

3. “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis / When I was dead broke, man I couldn’t picture this.” – ‘Juicy’, Biggie Smalls.

4. “There’s a new Tower Records / I’m bout to stop and get a fill-up / Pick the new Cypress Hill up.” ‘American Psycho 2’, D-12.

5. “And I was almost famous / Now everybody love Kanye / I’m almost Raymond.” ‘Last Call’, Kanye West.

6. “I lead a very very very wild lifestyle / Heidi and Audrina eat your heart out.” ‘Pass Out’, Tinie Tempah.

7. “MTV is runnin’ this rap shit / Viacom is runnin’ this rap shit / AOL and Time Warner runnin’ this rap shit.” – ‘The Rape Over’, Mos Def.

8. “You won’t find us on Alta Vista / Cult classic, not bestseller.” – ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’, The Streets.

9. “My wrist so bright, look like Sunny Delight” – ‘Do Ya Thing’, Cam’ron.

10. “I got a Jaguar, call it the shaguar / Austin Powers that bitch.” – ‘Mr Downtown’, T-Pain.

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