Anybody who's ever done the "Macarena"—or refused to do it out of sheer disgust—is familiar with the concept of a one-hit wonder. But what makes a hip-hop one-hit wonder? When VH1 made its list of 100 One-Hit Wonders ten years ago, they included songs like the 1990 chart-topper "Ice Ice Baby," despite the fact that Vanilla Ice had another Top 10 hit that same year with "Play That Funky Music." They even included Biz Markie, one of the most important creative forces in the Juice Crew and a giant of hip-hop culture. One-hit wonder? Not so much.
The usual definition of a "hit" is a Top 40 single, but with rap it's not that simple. Especially in its earlier years, the genre was essentially street music, poorly represented on radio and the charts. Many classic records would not be considered a hit at all by mainstream standards. By the same token, many classic acts like De La Soul and Digital Underground had huge career-defining chart hits ("Me Myself & I" and "The Humpty Dance," respectively) but still enjoyed rich and productive careers. You won't find them on this list.
Nor will you find Gerardo's "Rico Suave" or Partners in Kryme's "Turtle Power" on here because, frankly, they suck. We know Complex readers demand a more sophisticated approach, so we dug deep in the crates to bring you this list of the 100 Best One-Hit Wonders. Thank us later.
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Written by Paul Cantor (@PaulCantor)