Many hip-hop hits naturally fall out of memory; there are simply too many songs to fit into its canon. Plus, a lot of music’s longevity is attributable to marketing or just plain luck. Teenage bops attached to dances tend to stick in the memory more than mean mugs and tough talk. A hot single succeeded by a weak-selling debut will kill momentum (and possibly your career). Some songs aren’t meant to last forever; you reminisce on them with a self-depreciating, “Well, this was good.” And there are a few that are just straight-up embarrassments: “No Pigeons” should’ve never happened.
Like any other genre, hip-hop is filled with songs so lost to time and record label rigamaroles that they only pop up in Remember When? blogs and not streaming services. While there are definitely more than 10 examples, these stick out because of the stark contrast between their past relevance and their current popularity.
The songs, and the artists who performed them, aren’t even treated as fun nostalgia—has anyone checked on what Magoo’s been up to these past few years? More importantly, has Timbaland checked on what Magoo’s been up to these past few years? Ja Rule and Smilez & Southstar used the same Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross sample for their big singles, but only one of them is remembered even well enough to be a punchline. Illegal might be in the conversation today had the duo changed their name—it’d be better for Google SEO. Then there are just some hits that, if talked about now, would immediately get laughed out of the paint on Twitter.
Both good and bad shit unfortunately (or thankfully) falls through the cracks. Let’s excavate and remember these songs for the culture. From New York to the west coast, and from Uptown to Love & Hip-Hop, here are 20 Hip-Hop Hits everyone forgot. Magoo, we miss you.