The 10 Best Throwback Rap Songs Of All Time

I should have “Making Sick Playlists” listed as a skill on LinkedIn. A well made compilation can serve as a soundtrack to pivotal and memorable times in your life. For example, I’m immediately reminded of high school whenever I hear Kanye’s “Slow Jamz” or Cam’ron’s “Hey Ma.” Last time around, I shared a list of songs that reminded me of Modesto Junior College (shoutout to fellow alumni George Lucas and Jeremy Renner) and kicking it with the homies at Tyler’s house. This time though, I would like you to listen to my summer of 2009.

Whenever I think of the perfect, idyllic summer, I think back to 2009. I was months away from studying abroad (or two) in Barcelona and less than a year away from finishing college at San Diego State. In previous years, I was preoccupied with summer courses, family issues or deep growing pains. But there was none of that to be found in 2009. Instead, I spent those precious three months at home in Modesto, with no responsibilities outside of my summer job. It was perfect. I was saving up money for Spain and hanging out with my friends on an almost nightly basis. I had no worries. What follows is the soundtrack to that epochal summer.

Drake “Best I Ever Had”

You had to be really bad at the internet and pop culture in general to not know who Drake was in 2009. His debut mixtape “So Far Gone” was everywhere. You couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing a Drake song or a Drake verse. “Bedrock”, I’m looking at you. “Best I Ever Had” is not my favorite Drake song, but I heard it so often that summer that it makes the list based on nostalgia.

Jay Z f. Rihanna and Kanye West “Run This Town”

This star studded jam served as Jay’s first single from his forthcoming release, The Blueprint 3. Fun fact, The Blueprint 3 leaked the night before I took off to Barcelona. I had it on repeat from SFO until I landed in Catalunya.

Jamie Foxx f. Kanye West, Drake and The-Dream “Digital Girl” Remix

Forget Tinder or Hinge. You ever spit game on AIM? Sick remix to Foxx’s ode to computer loving.

Freddie Gibbs “G.I. Pride”

For a while, I had seen Freddie Gibbs’ name come up on various rap forums. His mixtape, The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs was seriously hyped up. It didn’t disappoint. Although Gibbs never became a star, he developed quite a following and has worked with Madlib, Jay Rock , Daz Dillinger and other prominent rappers. Also, it’s thanks to Gibbs that most of my friends know about Gary, Indiana.

Mos Def “Life in Marvelous Times.”

Mos Def’s 2006 release True Magic was meh at best. But he followed it up with the acclaimed The Ecstatic in 2009. “Life” was the first single from the album and came out in late 2008. Somehow, I missed the note on this one as I didn’t hear the song until I copped the album on the release date.

Wiz Khalifa “Say Yeah”

Speaking of being late to the game, I completely missed the Wiz Khalifa hype train in 2008. I don’t know who put me on to Wiz and this song, but whomever and wherever you are, thank you. I’ve had many great jogs and lifting sessions to this track.

Wale & 9th Wonder featuring Mike Posner, Big Sean and Ken Starr “Wonder Why”

OMG, my body was so ready for the Wale and 9th Wonder mixtape, Back To The Feature. Wale had a huge buzz, a forthcoming album and a hot single with Lady Gaga and 9th Wonder, who handled the production, was and is one of the most iconic producers in hip-hop. It’s a shame too, that Mike Posner is mostly known today for taking pills in Ibiza. He had some hot songs early on and sings the hook on this track. Still have no clue who Ken Starr is, though.

Jeremih “Birthday Sex”

“Girl you know I-I-I..” You could file this under “Guilty Pleasure” but it was such a hot song so I’m not even going to front, we bumped this loudly and often. Nothing like four or five dudes packed into a Ford F-150, driving through Modesto, singing along to Jeremih.

Big Sean, Kid CuDi and Jackie Chain “Rollin” Remix

At the time, Big Sean and Kid Cudi where two of the most promising rappers on Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label. This remix to the Jackie Chain song was one of their earliest, if unofficial, tracks together. You have no clue how many hours I spent trying to find this version. The internet wasn’t as good back then.

Rick Ross f. John Legend “Magnificent”

Ross makes bangers and John Legend makes anything sound good. I love this song mostly because of their contrasting styles. It may not be either one of their best known hits, but it was perfect for lounging to.

The Spotify playlist that inspired this article is titled “09 till Infinity.” Most rap fans will get the reference. But more than an homage to Souls of Mischief, I titled it as such because of the fond memories that summer evokes. I was twenty-one years old, shielded from the Great Recession, and getting one last go at an idyllic and carefree existence with my family and friends. In a year, I would graduate from school and into a difficult and changing economic reality. But for one last time, I could revel in adolescent fun, with these songs bumping in the background of the party known as The Summer of 2009.

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