What’s the Greatest Rap Hook of All-Time?
Coming up with a new "Question of the Week" every Wednesday is no easy task. Sure, it's way easier than essentially any job any one else has, but still, every so often I need some help. So this week, I thought I'd open things up to RefinedHype Nation, and as always, y'all came through:
@refinedhype Can we talk about hooks? And how good Nelly was at them?
— Jeff Hinton (@jmesquire) September 4, 2013
That, sir, is an excellent idea. We spend so much time talking about lyricism and bars, at least on this site, that we forget sometimes to talk about hooks. While in hip-hop head circles "hook" can be a four letter word - it's code for that shit that makes an otherwise shitty song catchy - the truth is coming up with dope hooks is a true skill, one that every great rapper needs (or needs to have someone on the team that does).
Some quick ground rules. First, I'm using "hook" and "chorus" here interchangably because, you know, they're the same thing. Second, for the record, while we're talking about the greatest "rap" hook of all-time, R&B hooks on rap songs are also in play (aka The Nate Dogg corollary). Third, as in any "greatest" discussion, we're weighing in both inherent dopeness and impact. "Party Like a Rockstar" was a huge hit, thanks in large part to the hook, but that hook makes me want to murder a puppy. Conversely, the hook on "Luchini" is fucking amazing, but outside underground circles, how big of an impact did it really have? If you put it on at a random party, how many people would love their shit singing the hook? Or maybe the hook on "Luchini" is SO FUCKING AMAZING that it outweighs its relatively lesser impact. That grey area is what makes this a complicated discussion worthy of RefinedHype Nation.
Got it? Ok, let's get into the nominees. Sweet baby jesus, I don't even know where to even start.... Ok, as @jmesquire mentioned, you have to hand it to Nelly, that man's one of the best hook rappers/singers of all-time: "Country Grammar" and "Hot in Herre" are both classics in large part because of their hooks. We have to bring Nate Dogg into the discussion, off the top of my head my top three are "Till I Collapse, "The Next Episode" and "21 Questions". Speaking of which, 50 Cent blew up in large part because of his hooks, "In Da Club" might be hard to top; you could put that on in the club or at a wedding and everyone would know the hook. Kanye's , "Gold Digger" is in the running, although the "nigger" that got edited out in the radio version might have limited its reach. Going more underground, dead prez' "Hip-Hop" hook is simple but classic, Blackstar's "Definition" is always a good call. Oh, and don't sleep on the Luniz' "5 On It".
That was just 30 minutes of me brainstorming and I don't think I've even scratched the surface yet. Fuck, this might just be on the hardest questions ever. But as much as I know I'm going to see 20 other songs in the comments I could have picked, I can't punk out. I have to man up and actually make a selection.
Ultimately, I'm going to have to go with Wu-Tang Clan's "CREAM". True, it may not have the mega reach of a more pop hit like "Hot in Herre", but it's the hook that helped launch Wu-Tang as the biggest group in hip-hop history, and if you've ever seen it performed live, everyone loses their shit singing this hook. It's simple, it's powerful, it's the greatest:
Thinking about this has really made me realize that being a great rapper, or even having a great song, isn't the same as having a great hook, although there's a lot of overlap. On hooks alone, how high do you really have Jay-Z ranked? Although..."Big Pimpin" is a fucking hell of a hook. We clearly have a lot of work to do RefinedHype Nation.
Have at it...
This article originally appeared on RefinedHype.com, which has now merged with The DJBooth. For more info, click here.
Written by Nathan S. on 09/4/13
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