2. “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” (1991)

Geto Boys 

“Mind Playing Tricks On Me” is the powerful distillation of the fear and paranoia that permeates our minds in our darkest hours. Most of the song’s lyrics were written by group member Scarface, and though he was only 19​ at the time, his words have the gravity of an old soul’s. Love, revenge, suicidal thoughts, religion, parental responsibility – nothing is out of bounds. And yet the beat​, produced by Scarface and engineer Doug King,​ is mellow and oddly comforting, perhaps because mental anguish is universal. Whether you live by the pen or the sword, in the burbs or on the block, the flame illuminating our four-cornered rooms remains the same. -Max Bell

1. “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” (1992)

Dr. Dre

“Nuthin’t But a G Thang” is two South L.A. hip-hop prodigies hotwiring a dusty relic from the Wattstax era and taking us on the smoothest joyride hip-hop has ever seen. With “G Thang,” Dre and Snoop ushered America into a funky era of rap, as golden as magic-hour sunlight streaming into a fridge full of 40s. They did it by combining a perfect synth refiguring of Leon Heywood’s “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You” with so-polished-they’re-not-even-crass-anymore rhymes. Somehow all these years later it has not lost a single MPH of its groove, swagger, or intensity. Hip-hop had not, actually, ever been on a ride like this before. And, one suspects, it never will again. -Paul T. Bradley

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