Playlist: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop

It’s been a few years since hip hop surpassed rock as the most popular genre in the US. It’s easy to see why. Since its pioneers created their early beats in New York City, the genre has been one of music’s most powerful means of expression, an ongoing legacy of incredible talent and producing innovation.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip hop, our creative team has assembled a mega-sized playlist that takes us back to where the genre began. Treat yourself to over eight hours of ear candy from The Sugarhill Gang, to N.W.A., to Wu-Tang Clan, some of the best to ever do it.

Plus, read on to hear from some of the Made Music team as they share some of their experiences with these songs, in a tribute to the artists who’ve made an immeasurable impact on the music we love today. Here’s to the next 50.


“Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit” by Wu-Tang Clan | 1993

Written by Wu-Tang Clan, produced by RZA


Where would hip hop be without the cultural phenomenon that is Wu-Tang Clan? And what song could portray their masterful flows, lyrical dominance, and raw & rugged attitude more than the anthem “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit”?

In this one-of-a-kind masterpiece, beatmakers RZA and Method Man blend haunting mystery and bombastic energy into perfection.

Kicking off with a lo-fi sample of the 1977 kung fu movie Executioners from Shaolin, eerie vocal samples and finger snaps creep in to set the scene. Reminiscent of a square-up of Sharks vs Jets, the snaps stagger around the beat. Domain Generator. Then as if out of nowhere, a surprise attack: the beat explodes with a bassline that makes your head bob feel like you’re slipping punches. It’s an all-out musical brawl as the vocal samples paint a picture of the foes being left in their wake.

Holding nothing back, the group takes lyrical action in a warning to anyone who dares challenge them in the rap game. Each member aggressively looks to one up the other with “Fatal Flying Guillotine chops” and “quarterback sacks from L.T.”

To put it bluntly, it’s nothing short of a lyrical a**-whooping, and in the end, you’ll know why Wu-Tang Clan “Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ wit”.

– Mike Stango, Brand Partnerships Manager

“Bust a Move” by Young MC | 1989

Written by Marvin Young, Matt Dike, and Michael Ross, produced by Matt Dike and Michael Ross


I’ve been to karaoke once in my life. I stood in the back and shook a tambourine, watching my college yearbook buddies sing Taylor Swift and Alicia Keys. I think I left early, scared of the stage and the flashing lights.

Here’s the thing: when people ask “Danielle, what’s your karaoke song” I tell that story. I say “no way, yikes, that’s terrifying, I played the tambourine once.” But the real answer? I’d do “Bust a Move.” Because by some combination of local radio on sleepy car rides to school and my dad’s boombox, this was quite possibly the first song I learned all the words to. By osmosis, it seemed, thanks to 99.1 KGGI, Riverside’s Hottest Hit Music.

Did I know what it meant to “perpetrate a tan”? No. Was I familiar with Poindexter? Absolutely not. What I did know was that this was one “jam for all the fellas” that I couldn’t shake, despite my lack of understanding of the lyrics at the time. It was different, new. A peculiar mix of West Coast rap and pop influences, even indefinable by Young MC himself because of its unique sound. It’s not just a hazy memory from the radio days, but an enduring groove through and through.

– Danielle Gutierrez, Writer + Senior Marketing Manager

“White Lines (Don’t Do It)” by Melle Mel | (1983)

Written by Melle Mel and Sylvia Robinson, produced by Sylvia Robinson, Melle Mel, and Joey Robinson Jr.


Thrasher: Skate and Destroy had the misfortune of being released two months after the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game. THPS became a total blockbuster, selling millions of copies, and consequently overshadowing Skate and Destroy.

Thrasher employed a crushingly difficult realism to its gameplay as opposed to THPS’s super-heroic acrobatics. But soundtrack-wise, Skate and Destroy was wall-to-wall classic hip-hop, which gave the game a more relaxed hang-out feel, compared to the anthemic, energetic punk of THPS, which fueled white-knuckle marathon gaming sessions.

One such classic hip-hop track was Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It).” Interpolating a bass line from Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern,” the track is aurally stunning, with a crystalline quality that mirrors its subject matter.

– Joseph Ohegyi, Director, Content Studio

“Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang | 1979

Written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, produced by Sylvia Robinson


“Have you ever went over to a friend’s house to eat and the food just ain’t no good? I mean the macaroni’s soggy, the peas are mushed and the chicken tastes like wood.” 

I was shocked when I first heard this verse in “Rapper’s Delight.” You see, my entry point to hip-hop came when I was a tween in the early 2000s, with Ludacris recounting his many lurid fantasies, Mystikal and Juvenile demanding action from our posteriors, and Marshall Mathers teaching us the perils of forgetting about Dre. I couldn’t believe that great rappers would put something as mundane as a somewhat bad meal in a track.

And to be fair, it may be that great rappers never would.

No disrespect to Wonder Mike, Master Gee, and Big Bank Hank, but it is an open secret that hip hop’s first hit record wasn’t recorded by any of the true pioneers of the art. Instead, the creative genius behind “Rapper’s Delight” was a woman named Sylvia Robinson, who produced the track.

Many of the early hip-hop artists like DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Lovebug Starski, and DJ Hollywood, were reluctant to record their music at first. So instead of waiting around and trying to put together the perfect crew of hip-hop heavy hitters, Sylvia put together the good-enough crew, interpolated an infectious sample from Chic’s “Good Times,” and recorded the legendary hit song in a single take.

Because in its early days, hip hop was like a nice 2 a.m. slice of NYC pizza — even when it was bad, it was still great.

– Lucas Murray, Supervising Music Producer

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