The golden era of Hip Hop music (Rap) was during the late 1980’s to the mid 1990’s. Through those years, the landscape of the culture changed the perception of rap music. The content became more creative and fashion statements were made with gold chains and Gucci jumpsuits. Artists were banding together to form crews. Rap groups like EPMD had the Hit Squad while Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy E created N.W.A. Teaming up with other artists to create musical powerhouses became trendy and it’s still a standard in the Hip Hop culture to this day.
Before there was G Unit, Cash Money, Wu Tang, The Roc or the Bad Boy movement, there was the Juice Crew. Assembled by legendary producer Marly Marl, the unit consisted of Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan, Biz Markie, Masta Ace, Grand Daddy I.U., Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, T.J. Swan, Mr. Magic, Craig G, Tragedy Khadafi and Roxanne Shanté (Cover Girl).
Each artist treated the world with multiple hit songs during the crew’s historical tenure. As we take a walk down memory lane, it is important to recognize one of the trendiest Hip Hop crew that left a mark in the culture and overall black history.
For this issue, we give you our Top Ten Juice Crew’s songs.
- Me and the Biz – Masta Ace
Masta Ace is one of the most underrated MCs. Known for his catchy phrases and similes. His single was “Me and the Biz” showcased his humorous side of his artistry. I still remember the video of him driving around in a convertible with a giant size Biz Markie Muppet.
- Something New – Grand Daddy I.U.
Juice Crews’ Grand Daddy I.U. was the next artist in line when he debut out in 1990 with “Smooth Assassin”. The album’s first single “Something New” was well received. I.U. was well known for his monotone voice and witty punch lines like “I’ll take your pride like a stick-up kid”. This song proved once again that The Juice Crew was the conduit to break new artists with another hit record.
- The Symphony – Marly Marl Featuring Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Craig G and Masta Ace
Explosive! That’s the only word to describe this song. One of the earliest records that featured multiple artists, the song showcased budding artist at that time in Craig G, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane.
- The Bridge – MC Shan
This record was merely the sounding voice of Queensbridge rappers and its culture. The instrumental track was a set apart from the music of its time and when MC Shan’s voice grazed the microphone, he and producer Marly Marl told the entire country of New York’s musical best-kept secret, The Bridge.
- Ill Street Blues – Kool G Rap & DJ Polo
During his reign, there was no other rapper like Kool G Rap. Period! His swift delivery and gritty punch lines set him apart from EVERY artist in his era. The single “Ill Street Blues” was a prime example of his lyrical prowess.
- Just A Friend – Biz Markie
Biz Markie transcended Hip Hop with this song. Not necessarily known for his singing, but “Oh baby. You got what I need…” was one of the first times a singing chorus was done by a non-singing rapper. The record quickly became a hit and crossover on mainstream by reaching national and global notoriety. Biz Markie capture the country with his infamous tales of his girlfriend’s infidelity.
- Smooth Operator – Big Daddy Kane
The Brooklynite Kane is one of the greatest MC’s of all times (GOAT). His lyrics and persona forever changed the culture of Hip Hop. “Smooth Operator” is one of many songs from Kane that set him apart from every other artist past and present.
- Ain’t No Half Steppin’ – Big Daddy Kane
Stepping out of the shadows of being a writer, Big Daddy Kane’s first single was a smash hit. It set precedence of the being “lyrical” in the Hip Hop culture. “What you on, huh? Dope or dog food?” is still one of the brilliant analogies in the rap music genre.
- Vapors – Biz Markie
When a song becomes part of the culture’s dialect, you know it’s a hit. Officially dubbed as “You caught the Vapors”, Biz Markie explains how key members of the Juice Crew got their opportunity to succeed. The groovy track with the jazz horn and reality rap phrases like “…please, you work for UPS” told a tale on how you can realize your dreams and naysayers will come around pretending to be your friend once you are in the limelight. I still play this song and it’s heavy in my rotation. Can you feel it?
- Have a Nice Day – Roxanne Shanté
Roxanne Shanté is one of the first female rappers to come out with a full-length album. Essentially, she was the First Lady of The Juice Crew who was known for her battle raps in the Queensbridge area of Queens. In “Have a Nice Day”; she was the first female artist to creatively diss a male rapper in KRS One. Her rebuttal on KRS One and BDP was for their attack on MC Shan’s “The Bridge” record. She also battled UTFO with “Roxanne’s Revenge”. The ENTIRE Hip-Hop community took notice and a star was born.