1. “Put Your Handz Up” - Whooliganz (1993)
A group of white boys from Beverly Hills that formed a rap-group without coming off as forced and cringe-worthy? Hard to believe, right? “Put Your Handz Up” a typically-jazzy early-90s cut from their shelved 1993 album “Make Way For The W”, the group caught the glazed-eye of Cypress Hill's B Real but fame failed to find them. Oh and the two rapping lads just happen to be Scott “Mad Skillz” Caan (aka son of James and that short blonde bloke from Ocean's Eleven) and Alan “Mudfoot” Marman, who went on to become the slightly-more-respectable hip-hop hit-maker The Alchemist.
2. “Superhoes” - Funkdoobiest (1995)
You may have heard this track from the lady-obsessed Latino rap group Funkdoobiest on the soundtrack to cult-classic 1995 movie “Friday” but the song, as well as a surprising amount of their tracks, still sounds great today – helped to no end by the production of Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs, we're sure. While rapper Son Doobie gained notoriety for moving his, ahem, “talents” into the porngraphy movie industry, the songs from their early output still move with the kind of head-nodding-inducing beat that came to typify the era.
3. “Soul On Ice” - Ras Kass (1996)
A harder cut from rap journeyman Ras Kass' critically-acclaimed '95 LP “Soul On Ice” - a great album marred by patchy production despite Kass' impeccable flow and the penchant for verbosity that saw him team up with fellow thesaurus-botherer Canibus to form The HRSMN (along with Killah Priest and The Dogg Pound's Kurupt). This eponymous single was perhaps the album's choice track and remains a chilling slice of boom-bap.
4. “Jack The Mack” - Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf (c. 1992)
One of the best from one of the first rappers cut down in his prime, “Jack The Mack” was an ATCQ-sampling gem from what would have been his first LP, before he was brutally shot dead in a mugging-turned-murder in 1993. The album “Big Shots” was released posthumously by collaborator and Stone Throw records founder Peanut Butter Wolf in 2003 and offered a slice-of-life look into alt-hip-hop ten years previously and was well-received by both fans and critics.
5. “J To The I” - Da Nonce (1995)
A brilliantly smooth track from Cali rap group Da Nonce, also known by their rather-less smirk-inducing alias Topology Crew. Featuring on their currently out-of-print 1995 LP “Word Ultimate” (released on Rick Rubin's American Recordings label), “J To The I” was a track which would typify their low-key output which focused itself around laid-back jazzy-beats and smart rhymes before the group split in 1999, with Sach going solo and Yusuf Mohammed found murdered the next year.
6. “Fraudulent” - Homeliss Derelix (1994)
A contemporary of Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf, Homeliss Derelix made “Fraudulent” in 1994 but it remained unreleased until 2003 when Stones Throw again came to the rescue, releasing it on 12”. A bass-y joint with shades of Gang Starr permeating throughout, its an age-old stab at phony MCs and fake gangsters with subtle keys and even a little flute thrown in there at the end.
7. “That's How It Is” - Casual (1994)
From the forgotten 1994 album “Fear Itself”, Casual dropped this buzzy track with a killer drum-beat and one of the prototype “hood” music videos. Dropping lyrical bombs with such easy aplomb that many go nigh-on unnoticed, Casual went on to become one of the most recognisable members of the legendary Hieroglyphics crew but “Fear Itself” (released on Jive, the label that went on to house The Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears) remained his singular solo record really worth its salt.
8. “Daylight” (featuring M.L.B.) - Mac & A.K. (1996)
A forgotten G-Funk classic coming in at the tale-end of the sub-genre, Palo Alto outfit Mac & A.K. never got near to emulating their Death Row contemporaries but this track, coming in at the very end of their currently out-of-print album “Drastic Measures”, was amongst the very best of their relatively limited run.
9. “You Ain't Heard Shit Yet” - Rappin' Ron & Ant Diddley Dog (1995)
Quaintly monikered, yes, but Oakland's Rappin' Ron was one of the most underrated and ultimately under-appreciated rappers of the nineties, before his untimely death in a car crash in 1997 aged. With Ant Diddley, Ron released “Bad-N-Fluenz” (see what they did there?) in 1995, featuring appearances from modern rap pioneer Too $hort among others, but it's “You Ain't Heard Shit Yet” which stood out most.
10. “Playahs Mode” - Young Lay (1996)
Young Lay is probably best known for a few of his features with de-facto hip-hop GOAT 2Pac but the San Franciscan was unlucky not to receive attention in his own right. Backed by inexplicably funky sleigh-bell percussion and a G-Funk synth, Lay proceeds to skip about this classic track from his 1996 album “Black N Dangerous” with a playfully over-the-top double-time flow that'll have you reaching for the replay button. His career was curtailed by a shot to the head that left him in a coma and required him to relearn how to speak, the kidnapping of his one-year old daughter, the murder of his wife and a subsequent twelve-year stint in prison for armed robbery.