Corey Harris

Whether your goal this summer is to party hard or relax by the pool and soak up some rays, this playlist offers the perfect 90s summer tunes to set the mood right.

Here are the 50 best summer rap songs of the 90s, broken down by year.

The Best Summer Rap Songs of 1990

Public Enemy Performing
 Public Enemy onstage in 1990. Joe Hughes / Getty Images

5. Salt-N-Pepa – “Let’s Talk About Sex”

Salt-N-Pepa’s salacious contribution to the summer playlist is also one of the catchiest rap songs of the 90s.

4. MC Hammer – “U Can’t Touch This”

Sorry purists, we couldn’t resist putting this one on the list. It was one the biggest hits of the 90s and still moves behinds today, even if it’s a bit cheesy.

3. LL Cool J – “Around the Way Girl”

In case you ever forget why the ladies love cool J, throw this on and watch those summer girls fill the dancefloor while grinning big.

2. Public Enemy – “911 Is A Joke”

The Bomb Squad and Public Enemy caught this lightning in a bottle to augment the chaotic sound collage that was Fear Of A Black Planet. It manages to be fun while invoking thoughts of extreme heat in other ways. Equally good for protests and summertime cruising.

1. Digital Underground – “The Humpty Dance”

Remember the video with all those funny glasses, the hilarious dance moves, the catchy chorus, Shock G’s clown nose? Perfect summertime groove for getting down and goofy. Or simply “getting busy in a Burger King bathroom.”

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1991

The Choice Is Yours
Image courtesy of Amazon

5. Leaders of the New School – “Case of the P.T.A.”

Busta Rhymes was once a member of the Hip hop posse Leaders of the New School and this bubbly cut is one of their best songs.

4. Black Sheep – “The Choice is Yours”

“You can get with this or you can get with that. You can get with this or you can get with that.” Contrary to your grandma’s belief, those Kia Soul hamsters didn’t concoct that famous line. It’s a rhyme from Black Sheep’s ’91 masterpiece, “The Choice is Yours,” off their best album Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.

3. Ice T – “New Jack Hustler”
“New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme)” first appeared on the New Jack City soundtrack. Ice T later added it to his O.G. (Original Gangster) LP. The original 12-inch boasts various remixes, including the Sax mix, a Stress mix, and a Dis mix.

2. Naughty by Nature – “OPP”

I spent most of childhood trying to find out what “OPP” stood for. Of course, every adult around lied to me about the true meaning of the acronym—everything from “Other People’s Property” to “Other People’s Pimples.” When I later found out, I felt like a loser. I should have been enjoying this bouncy, call-and-response masterpiece instead. Don’t make the same mistake, young Padawan.

1. The Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff – “Summertime”

Ahh, the good ol’ days when Fresh Prince rapped about chasing skirts and cruisin’ down the street. This is a squeaky-clean summer classic, replete with references to two of our favorite things on earth, BBQ and basketball.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1992

'A Tribe Called Quest' Portrait Session
 A Tribe Called Quest. Al Pereira / Getty Images

5. Kool G Rap – “Ill Street Blues”

Inspired by the riffs from Joe Williams’ “Get Out of My Life Woman,” the Trackmasters cooked up a pot of soulful beat for G Rap to lay his fierce rhymes.

4. Weckx-N-Effect – “Rump Shaker”

No summer party is complete without “Rump Shaker.” Put this on and see if anyone remains in their seat.

3. Wu-Tang Clan – “Protect Ya Neck”

Unbeknownst to many, the Wu has been making body threats since 92. You best get that heady bobbin’ before the Killa Bees come swarming.

2. Eric B & Rakim – “Don’t Sweat the Technique”

It’s that mean bassline from Young-Holt Unlimited’s “Queen of the Nile.” It’s Rakim’s monotone voice barking instructions. It’s a strange combination, but when you hear the rhythm on the radio, you’ll find yourself moving to the beat.

1. A Tribe Called Quest – “Scenario”

This isn’t just a summer burner, it’s a hip-hop essential. When Busta comes in with his energetic voice, it’s sure to set the floor ablaze.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1993

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg
 Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg at the 1993 MTV Movie Awards. FilmMagic / Getty Images

5. Digable Planets – “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”

This Digable Planets groove is thick, dark, and impossibly cool.

4. Dr. Dre – “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”

Snoop and Dre drove this Cali anthem all the way to No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1993. This was the first single off Dre’s Chronic album and it immediately established him as a supersonic force for years to come.

3. De La Soul – “Breakadawn”

Sick and tired of being labeled a hippie rap outfit, De La decided to shake things up on their third album, Buhloonee Mindstate. “Breakadawn,” a lead single from that album incorporates a mix of live instrumentation and musical elements from Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It” to great effect.

2. Pharcyde – “Passin’ Me By”

A lazy summer song perfect for lounging on the loveseat while enjoying a cold beverage.

1. Ice Cube – “It Was a Good Day”

The year is 1992. Ice Cube is the hip-hop king of L.A. What better way to celebrate than to record a chilled-out summer number? The video follows Ice Cube through an astonishingly peaceful day in South Central L.A. The song is exactly 4:20 in length, but I’m sure that’s a coincidence.

Best Summer Rap Songs of 1994

Notorious B.I.G. performs
 Notorious B.I.G. WireImage / Getty Images

5. Gang Starr – “Mass Appeal”

Hard to Earn contained several songs, including this tongue-in-cheek hit, that hinted at the Gang Starr’s frustration with the rap scene. Musically, it’s as smooth as summer songs go.

4. Wu-Tang Clan – “C.R.E.A.M.”

Never has there been a wildly influential hip-hop song so soothing by a group so blunt as Wu-Tang’s “C.R.E.A.M.” That, friends, is the genius of RZA.

3. Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy”

“Juicy” is our favorite Biggie song of all-time. It’s a rare moment of self-introspection from him. Biggie died three years later, but this song lives on in the summertime through those who remember the fabulous days of The Source and Mr. Magic.