While many consider the early 1990s as a hip-hop high water mark, the end of the decade was just as special. To be more specific, the year 1998 was huge for the genre. Platinum and gold plaques were raining from the sky, hip-hop culture finally began to crossover into the mainstream in a major way and stars of various sounds and regions were popping up all over the U.S.

The hip-hop map was expanding, and there was more than enough money and fame to go around. Yonkers' own DMX became a superstar off the strength of "Get At Me Dog" and "Ruff Ryders Anthem," while Juvenile was all the way in New Orleans, spreading Dirty South flavor all over the nation with "Ha" and the eternal party starter "Back That Azz Up." Big Pun's playful "Still Not A Player"—anchored by a hook from R&B singer Joe—was ubiquitous on the airwaves, while OutKast's funky and unique single "Rosa Parks" took the world over in the same year. N.O.R.E.'s "Superthug," Xzibit's "What U See Is What U Get" and Silkk the Shocker's "It Aint My Fault" couldn't sound any more different from each other, but all three tracks racked up spins nationwide.

The year 1998 also saw a future rap legend take his first step into superstardom. Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" turned Hov from a well-respected NYC rapper to a household name. The song was everywhere, pushed along by Jay's incredible charisma and the strikingly innocent sample from the Broadway play Annie. The rest was history, and he eventually grew into the rapper and "business... man" that we all know and love.

This era was also a great time for conscious rap. Black Star, a group consisting of Yasiin Bey (then known as Mos Def) and Talib Kweli, was well on its way to becoming one of the most-beloved hip-hop duos with the song "Definition." Gang Starr, already legends at the time, had another wave of popularity with their memorable single "You Know My Steez." Rap had flair and ferocity—all at the same time.

Hip-hop's variety of styles and evolution into pop culture was apparent 20 years ago. These were the days when you had to go to actual music retailers and buy CDs or cassettes, and swap your favorites with your friends. These are the songs that soundtracked barbecues, parties, and summer nights around the neighborhood. Hip-hop has been beautiful in it's own special way through every year of its existence, and the quality of its run in 1998 reinforces that point. Check out the hip-hop songs turning 20 in 2018 below.

  • "Back That Azz Up"

  • "Banned From TV"

    N.O.R.E. Featuring Big Pun, Cam'ron, Jadakiss, Styles P and Nature
  • "Changes"

    2Pac Featuring Talent
  • "Da Art Of Storytellin' Part 1"

    OutKast Featuring Slick Rick
  • "Definition"

    Black Star
  • "Doo Wop (That Thing)"

    Lauryn Hill
  • "Ebonics"

    Big L
  • "Get At Me Dog"

    DMX Featuring Sheek Louch
  • "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)"

    Pras Featuring Mya and Ol' Dirty Bastard
  • "Gimme Some More"

    Busta Rhymes
  • "Ha"

  • "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)"

  • "He Got Game"

    Public Enemy
  • "Horse & Carriage"

  • "I'll Bee Dat"

  • "Intergalactic"

    Beastie Boys
  • "It Ain't My Fault"

    Silkk the Shocker Featuring Mystikal
  • "Money Power Respect"

    The Lox Featuring Lil Kim and DMX
  • "Pushin' Weight"

    Ice Cube Featuring Mr. Short Khop
  • "Rosa Parks"

  • "Ruff Ryders Anthem"

  • "Shut Em Down"

    Onyx Featuring DMX
  • "Slippin'"

  • "Still A G Thang"

    Snoop Dogg
  • "Still Not A Player"

    Big Pun Featuring Joe
  • "Superthug"

  • "They Don't Dance No Mo'"

    Goodie Mob
  • "What U See Is What U Get"

  • "What's It Gonna Be"

    Busta Rhymes Featuring Janet Jackson
  • "You Know My Steez"


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