Top 50 Summer Rap Songs of the 90s

Fugees In NYC
The Fugees. Al Pereira / Getty Images

Whether your goal this summer is to party hard or relax by the pool and soak up some rays, this playlist offers the perfect 90s summer tunes to set the mood right.

Here are the 50 best summer rap songs of the 90s, broken down by year. 

The Best Summer Rap Songs of 1990

Public Enemy Performing
Public Enemy onstage in 1990. Joe Hughes / Getty Images

5. Salt-N-Pepa - "Let's Talk About Sex"

Salt-N-Pepa's salacious contribution to the summer playlist is also one of the catchiest rap songs of the 90s.

4. MC Hammer - "U Can't Touch This"

Sorry purists, we couldn't resist putting this one on the list. It was one the biggest hits of the 90s and still moves behinds today, even if it's a bit cheesy.

3. LL Cool J - "Around the Way Girl"

In case you ever forget why the ladies love cool J, throw this on and watch those summer girls fill the dancefloor while grinning big.

2. Public Enemy - "911 Is A Joke"

The Bomb Squad and Public Enemy caught this lightning in a bottle to augment the chaotic sound collage that was Fear Of A Black Planet. It manages to be fun while invoking thoughts of extreme heat in other ways. Equally good for protests and summertime cruising.

1. Digital Underground - "The Humpty Dance"

Remember the video with all those funny glasses, the hilarious dance moves, the catchy chorus, Shock G's clown nose? Perfect summertime groove for getting down and goofy. Or simply "getting busy in a Burger King bathroom."

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1991

The Choice Is Yours

Image courtesy of Amazon

5. Leaders of the New School - "Case of the P.T.A."

Busta Rhymes was once a member of the hip-hop posse Leaders of the New School and this bubbly cut is one of their best songs.

4. Black Sheep - "The Choice is Yours"

"You can get with this or you can get with that. You can get with this or you can get with that." Contrary to your grandma's belief, those Kia Soul hamsters didn't concoct that famous line. It's a rhyme from Black Sheep's '91 masterpiece, "The Choice is Yours," off their best album Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.

3. Ice T - "New Jack Hustler"
"New Jack Hustler (Nino's Theme)" first appeared on the New Jack City soundtrack. Ice T later added it to his O.G. (Original Gangster) LP. The original 12-inch boasts various remixes, including the Sax mix, a Stress mix, and a Dis mix.

2. Naughty by Nature - "OPP"

I spent most of childhood trying to find out what "OPP" stood for. Of course, every adult around lied to me about the true meaning of the acronym—everything from "Other People's Property" to "Other People's Pimples." When I later found out, I felt like a loser. I should have been enjoying this bouncy, call-and-response masterpiece instead. Don't make the same mistake, young Padawan.

1. The Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff - "Summertime"

Ahh, the good ol' days when Fresh Prince rapped about chasing skirts and cruisin' down the street. This is a squeaky-clean summer classic, replete with references to two of our favorite things on earth, BBQ and basketball.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1992

'A Tribe Called Quest' Portrait Session
A Tribe Called Quest. Al Pereira / Getty Images

5. Kool G Rap - "Ill Street Blues"

Inspired by the riffs from Joe Williams' "Get Out of My Life Woman," the Trackmasters cooked up a pot of soulful beat for G Rap to lay his fierce rhymes.

4. Weckx-N-Effect - "Rump Shaker"

No summer party is complete without "Rump Shaker." Put this on and see if anyone remains in their seat.

3. Wu-Tang Clan - "Protect Ya Neck"

Unbeknownst to many, the Wu has been making body threats since 92. You best get that heady bobbin' before the Killa Bees come swarming.

2. Eric B & Rakim - "Don't Sweat the Technique"

It's that mean bassline from Young-Holt Unlimited's "Queen of the Nile." It's Rakim's monotone voice barking instructions. It's a strange combination, but when you hear the rhythm on the radio, you'll find yourself moving to the beat.

1. A Tribe Called Quest - "Scenario"

This isn't just a summer burner, it's a hip-hop essential. When Busta comes in with his energetic voice, it's sure to set the floor ablaze.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1993

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg at the 1993 MTV Movie Awards. FilmMagic / Getty Images

5. Digable Planets - "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)"

This Digable Planets groove is thick, dark, and impossibly cool.

4. Dr. Dre - "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang"

Snoop and Dre drove this Cali anthem all the way to No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1993. This was the first single off Dre's Chronic album and it immediately established him as a supersonic force for years to come.

3. De La Soul - "Breakadawn"

Sick and tired of being labeled a hippie rap outfit, De La decided to shake things up on their third album, Buhloonee Mindstate. "Breakadawn," a lead single from that album incorporates a mix of live instrumentation and musical elements from Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It" to great effect.

2. Pharcyde - "Passin' Me By"

A lazy summer song perfect for lounging on the loveseat while enjoying a cold beverage.

1. Ice Cube - "It Was a Good Day"

The year is 1992. Ice Cube is the hip-hop king of L.A. What better way to celebrate than to record a chilled-out summer number? The video follows Ice Cube through an astonishingly peaceful day in South Central L.A. The song is exactly 4:20 in length, but I'm sure that's a coincidence.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1994

Notorious B.I.G. performs
Notorious B.I.G. WireImage / Getty Images

5. Gang Starr - "Mass Appeal"

Hard to Earn contained several songs, including this tongue-in-cheek hit, that hinted at the Gang Starr's frustration with the rap scene. Musically, it's as smooth as summer songs go.

4. Wu-Tang Clan - "C.R.E.A.M."

Never has there been a wildly influential hip-hop song so soothing by a group so blunt as Wu-Tang's "C.R.E.A.M." That, friends, is the genius of RZA.

3. Notorious B.I.G. - "Juicy"

"Juicy" is our favorite Biggie song of all-time. It's a rare moment of self-introspection from him. Biggie died three years later, but this song lives on in the summertime through those who remember the fabulous days of The Source and Mr. Magic.

2. Craig Mack - "Flava in Ya Ear" (The Notorious B.I.G., Mack, Rampage, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes)

Craig Mack may be a one-hit phenom, but we'll always remember him for this larger-than-life tune which combines some of the biggest enchiladas in 90s rap.

1. Snoop Dogg - "Gin & Juice"

Following 93's "Nuthin' But a G Thang," Snoop teamed up with Dr. Dre for yet another surefire hit in "Gin & Juice," off the critically lauded DoggyStyle. All the splendid elements of west coast g-funk are mashed up in this anthem.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1995

California Love

Image courtesy of Amazon

5. Mobb Deep - "Temperature's Rising"

Havoc and Prodigy wrote this song in the form of a letter, much like Nas' "One Love." The boys keep their friend updated on shady street dealings, while the singer Crystal Johnson adds a soothing touch.

Crystal Johnson did a considerable amount of songwriting in the 2000s, notching credits for her work on Janet Jackson's "So Much Betta" and Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body."

4. AZ - "Sugar Hill"

Following his captivating guest appearance on Nas' Illmatic, AZ built his own solo buzz on the strength of this dose of ghetto pop. "Sugar Hill" dominated the airwaves in summer of '95, thus paving way for AZ's debut LP, Doe or Die, in October of the same year.

Former R&B singer and current radio personality Miss Jones performed vocals on "Sugar Hill."

3. Coolio - "Gangsta's Paradise" (Feat. L.V.)
The mid-90s ushered in a second wave of conscious hip-hop. The game was primed for Coolio's self-criticism "Gangsta's Paradise." Musically, "Gangsta's Paradise" shares its DNA with Stevie Wonder's 1976 gem "Pastime Paradise." Wonder performed the chart-topping song with Coolio and L.V. at the 1995 Billboard Awards.

2. Pharcyde - "Runnin'"

J Dilla and Pharcyde minted a few hits in the 90s, including this dose of motivation. Every couplet in "Runnin'" is ready for summertime reflecting, as the rhymes challenge us to face our challenges head-on.

1. 2Pac - "California Love" (Feat. Dr. Dre)

You don't have to be from Cali to love this song. It's great for warming up a summer party, and it's sure to fill the dance floor in no time.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1996

The Fugees during 1996 MTV Video Music Awards Arrivals
The Fugees. FilmMagic, Inc / Getty Images

5. Junior M.A.F.I.A. - "Get Money"

Biggie's crew took a striking leap into the spotlight with this anthemic jam from. "Get Money" became Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s most popular hit, reaching No.17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and shifting over a million copies in the summer of '96.

4. Bone Thugs - "Tha Crossroads"

BTNH repackaged the original "Crossroads" in honor of mentor Eazy-E, who died in March of 1995. It's perfect for summer blues.

3. Fugees - "Fu-Gee-La"

The Fugees needed a magical moment to compensate for the nasty taste of a mediocre debut album. So, Clef and co went to Salaam Remi with an idea. Remi's sole contribution to The Score would go on to become the Fugees' best-selling single, but not after it was done burning up summer radio. ​

Akon appeared on the Sly & Robbie rendering of "Fu-Gee-La."

2. Nas - "If I Ruled the World"

Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy. "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)," a song about all the things Nas would do if he ruled the world, was the first song to shoot him straight to the sky. Throw in Lauryn's sweet vocals and Hype's exorbitant video and you've got yourself the perfect summer hit.

1. OutKast - "Elevators"

One of the earliest hits from OutKast's catalog finds the duo dreamily laying down metaphors atop a futuristic beat.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1997

Hypnotize 12"

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5. Wyclef Jean - "We Tryin' to Stay Alive"

There was no avoiding this rude little masterpiece in the summer of '97. Ever experimental, Clef distilled the Bee Gees' "Staying Alive" into a lively party track.

4. Missy Elliott - "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"

For those summer days when the heatstroke is so intense that you start wishing for rain. Down a glass off "Supa Dupa Fly" and let Missy wash away your sorrows.

3. Scarface - "Smile" (Feat. 2Pac and Johnny P)

"Smile" blends stirring piano and a posthumous appearance from 'Pac to yield an enduring soundtrack for tough times and hot weather.

2. Busta Rhymes - "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See"

Busta Bus works up a sweat on this smash single from 1997's When Disaster Strikes

1. The Notorious B.I.G. - "Hypnotize"

Sampling a chart-topping song and then turning the remake into a hit is a feat that rarely repeats itself. But that's exactly what D-Dot and Ron Lawrence did when they transformed Herb Alpert's No. 1 tune "Rise" into a hip-hop anthem. Incidentally, "Hypnotize" became a No.1 single as the music community was still coming to terms with Biggie's death in '97.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1998

Puff Daddy at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards
Puff Daddy. WireImage / Getty Images

5. Puff Daddy & The Family - "It's All About the Benjamins"

"It's All About the Benjamins," which features Lil Kim, The LOX & Notorious B.I.G., is one of Diddy's biggest hits ever. It climbed all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and took home a "Viewer's Choice" award at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.

4. Nore - "Superthug"

This bit of braggadocio had a burbly rhythm and fierce strings that matched its title, not to mention lyrics great for answering the phone when trying to avoid a sticky situation.

3. Cam'ron - "Horse & Carriage"

Killa Cam joined forces with fellow Children of the Corn alum for this memorable party anthem. Remember the video with Cam'ron wildin' out at the pool party?

2. Big Pun - "Still Not a Player"

When Pun originally released "I'm Not a Player" from Capital Punishment it reached No. 57 on Billboard. When he tried again with the Joe-assisted remix "Still Not a Player" it soared to No. 24, becoming his biggest hit ever.

1. DMX - "Ruff Ryders Anthem"

"Ruff Ryders' Anthem," the fourth single from DMX's It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, invaded the streets and dominated radio in the summer of '98. X delivered the menacing rhymes, while Swizz Beatz dreamed up the sitar-powered soundscapes.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1999

You Got Me

 Image courtesy of Amazon

5. ODB - "Got Your Money"

This one was tender but with ODB's eccentric kick. "Got Your Money" made Kelis an instant star and gave us a glimpse into Neptunemania.

4. Q-Tip - "Vivrant Thing"

The first single from Tip's solo debut, Amplified is musical cotton candy for your ears.

3. B.G. (Feat. Hot Boys and Big Tymers) - "Bling Bling"

Ah, the song that introduced a new word to hip-hop and—eventually—the English lexicon. With its shimmering riffs, bouncy beat, and lyrics about flossin' and chasing girls, this one was sure to stay on top of the charts for a while.

2. The Roots - "You Got Me"

This Grammy-winning gem from 1999's Things Fall Apart is perfect for winding down while lying in a hammock and enjoying a good book. Ultimately, it's a song about love, so it's always in season.

1. Nas - "Hate Me Now" (Feat. Puff Daddy)

That opening note from the "O Fortuna" section of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana might be the most recognizable song intro ever. The song builds up gradually and finally explodes into a sweltering wallop of mental fortitude.