Clash has been feeling nostalgic of late. If we’re not dipping into our grunge collection, inspired by recently published pieces on Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden, we’re revisiting the sounds of the Wu-Tang Clan’s amazing ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ LP – we spoke to the NYC rap legends here.
‘36 Chambers’ was a massive release of 1993 – but the year didn’t just belong to the Wu. Several other rap acts broke through at the same time, with some properly brilliant debut singles. 1993 might be seen as the end of hip-hop’s golden age, or even – given the quality on show – the beginning of a brief second golden era, one that’d also encompass the brilliant ‘Illmatic’ by Nas and OutKast’s equally fine first LP, ‘Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik’.
Below, Clash has assembled seven of 1993’s most outstanding debut hip-hop singles – a whole lot of party, and not a whiff of bullshit…
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Snoop Doggy Dogg – ‘Who Am I? (What’s My Name)
Having guested on a series of singles by legendary producer Dr. Dre, Snoop (Doggy) Dogg (or Snoop Lion, as he prefers nowadays) released his first solo single, ‘What’s My Name’, to preview his debut LP ‘Doggystyle’. And even now, the self-promoting, introductory track stands as one of the rapper’s most celebrated hits from his two-decade career. Its dangerous infectious chorus, and that funky bassline: it’s easy to hear why this cut became so omnipresent on rap playlists on the west and east coasts.
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Wu-Tang Clan – ‘Protect Ya Neck’
‘Protect Ya Neck’ led the way for the ‘36 Chambers’ campaign, chanelling a disregard for music industry executives and featuring room in its run time for eight of the Wu’s founding nine. Few debuts have laid such impressive foundations for an influential career to follow.
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Souls Of Mischief – ‘‘93 Til Infinity’
Essentially, the lead single from Oakland crew Souls Of Mischief’s album of the same name revolves around “chilling”. However, multiple themes that have become a central process throughout modern hip-hop are also touched upon: sex, drugs, and crime, for the most part. These are combined with a refreshing beat and melody, with flawlessly rhythmic lyrical flows, cementing ‘‘93 Til Infinity’ a place in the California hip-hop walk of fame.
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Biggie Smalls – ‘Party And Bullshit’
A year before Brooklyn rapper Christopher Wallace was “livin’ life without fear” and sipping champagne when he was “thirst-ay” with 1994’s ‘Juicy’, Biggie Smalls released his first single. With a fierce vocal delivery, as well as a video cameo from the then-unknown Sean Combs, ‘Party And Bullshit’ isn’t as strong as the rapper’s debut album’s lead single, but it still marks the musical birth of a hip-hop legend.
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OutKast – ‘Player’s Ball’
Although the Georgia duo’s hiatus makes the future for OutKast’s career uncertain, it’s still hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the release of their debut single. Taken from the outfit’s tongue-twisting ‘Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik’, released in the following year, ‘Players Ball’ is a classic slice of pre-millennium OutKast, as André 3000 and Big Boi flow through their respective verses between the single’s soulful chorus lines.
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Fat Joe – ‘Flow Joe’
It wasn’t until later, in 2001, that Fat Joe really broke the mould with his ‘Jealous Ones Still Envy’ LP, featuring guest appearances from R Kelly, Ja Rule and Ashanti. But the (now not so) overweight rapper’s debut single, ‘Flow Joe’, surfaced long before his peak of mainstream success. With the remarkably cheesy introductory chants aside, the young MC’s flow here is enough to drive the single into 90s classics territory.
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M.O.P. – ‘How About Some Hardcore?’
Back in 1992, Lil’ Fame, of the Brooklyn duo M.O.P., burst onto the underground rap scene, contributing to a compilation entitled ‘The Hill That’s Real’, also featuring offerings from The Big Posse and 411. However, it wasn’t until the following year that M.O.P.’s debut single proper was released. Delivered with an aggressive, forceful tone, rapped by both MCs, ‘How About Some Hardcore?’ also features a rolling beat that’s funkier and much less ferocious than their material that was set to follow.
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Words: Jonathan Hatchman
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