6. A Tribe Called Quest "Jazz (We've Got)" (1991)
Producer: A Tribe Called Quest
Album: The Low End Theory
It's a shame that Tribe are pigeonholed as forerunners of "jazz rap," because their influences and sample sources run the gamut of genres. However, it cannot be denied that they consciously cultivated the notion that their complex, melodic, bassy take on hip-hop was a direct descendant of jazz, broadly defined.
Rumor has it that Pete Rock found the horn sample from Lucky Thompson's "Green Dolphin Street" and Q-Tip ran with the idea. Whatever the case, this is a beautiful, somber song, the kind you cannot picture anyone else other than Q-Tip and Phife flowing over. Songs like this more or less relegated staccato rap to the "old school" and inspired a new generation of producers to sharpen their skills and think bigger.