11. “The Symphony” (1988)

Marley Marl featuring Masta Ace, Craig G, Big Daddy Kane & Kool G Rap 

A single, constant break and an Otis Redding piano hook lay the foundation for one of the greatest Golden Era triumphs. In its veritable simplicity, “The Symphony” is the quintessential posse cut, and there can be no denying that Marley Marl knew talent. The work’s assembled players, the Juice Crew, features each hall of fame member at his rhyming apex. But it’s Big Daddy Kane who rules them all: “And battlin’ me is hazardous to your health / So put a quarter in your ass, cause ya played yourself”? Un-fuck-with-able. -Paul T. Bradley

10. “Fuck the Police” (1988)


With their black hats, black sunshades, and AK-47’s, NWA struck fear in the heart of many Americans with Straight Outta Compton. “Fuck the Police” speaks out against police brutality and profiling in South Los Angeles; it’s part political statement and, seemingly, part dare for law enforcement to react. (It worked; the FBI sent them a menacing letter.) But whatever the case, the song described the setting that led to the L.A. riots four years later. Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella weren’t the first voices to express their displeasure with the law. They were just the ones who forced America to pay attention to the problem. -Justin Tinsley

9. “Regulate” (1994)

Warren G & Nate Dogg

“Regulate” was a huge hit — #2 on the pop charts — and gave Warren G and Nate Dogg permanent celebrity, much more so than their appearances on Warren’s stepbrother Dr. Dre’s album The Chronic. With an audio clip from Young Guns, an eerie, whistling hook, and sample of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin,’” you’re in the passenger’s seat of Nate Dogg’s ride on Long Beach’s east side, under the moonlight, searching for girls and the homie, Warren G. Things go awry, but “Regulate” shows off one of the one of rap’s most memorable earworms, and some of the best story-telling in G-funk history. -Artemis Thomas-Hansard

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