Producer: A Tribe Called Quest
Album: The Low End Theory
Label: Jive, RCA

What, you thought a crew called the Native Tongues were soft? The lyrical content might not have been as gangsta as the gangsta rap that was beginning to take hold in '91 (or maybe it was: "Bust a nut inside your eye, to show you where I come from" is pretty damn g), but "Scenario" is as hard as any rap song before or since. From the ominous bass and keys intro (that predated the similar effect found in "Deep Cover" by six months, for what it's worth) to the snare and double-kick combo to the call and response vocals, "Scenario" defined boom bap in the era when the boom bap ruled. But it's not an angry track. In fact, "Scenario" represents everything positive about rap: joyful, playful rapping for the sake of fuckin' rapping among a group of young dudes hungry to outdo their friends. It threw a spotlight on Busta Rhymes as a solo star and featured as many quotables per couplet as any song in the canon—no time for hibernation, only elation. —Jack Erwin

Best Verse: Busta Rhymes