It’s always fun to reminisce over forgotten hit songs — whether one-hit wonders or bangers buried under catalogs overflowing with success. But what about the songs that never quite clinch the top spot, or in some cases, generate buzz without hitting the charts at all? In a landscape that has changed so significantly over the past two decades, some tracks have just become lost in the shuffle.
Here at HipHopDX, we’ve compiled a list that pays tribute to some amazing songs you likely forgot even existed — or perhaps have never even heard.
The Madd Rapper f. Eminem – “Stir Crazy” (1999)
There was a lot to love about the criminally forgotten 1999 LP Tell ‘Em Why U Madd by Bad Boy Producer Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie’s alter-ego Madd Rapper. For starters, it was the official debut of 50 Cent on the song ”How To Rob.” It was also the debut of a young Kanye West, whom D-Dot managed and mentored in his early days (a role which Ye more accurately described as ghost producing for free). The Chicago icon was behind the boards for this Slim Shady era Eminem feature, unbeknownst to many.
Don Trip – “Allen Iverson” (2012)
Months before appearing on the coveted 2012 XXL Freshmen cover, alongside names like French Montana, Future and Iggy Azalea, Don Trip dropped this Cool & Dre-produced salute to 11-time NBA All-Star Allen Iverson. Interestingly enough, the song was the catalyst for a feud when Don and collaborator Starlito found themselves in a bitter Twitter back and forth with Post Malone five years later. It ensued following comments made during an interview with HipHopDX when the duo was asked about the correlation between ”Allen Iverson” and Malone’s breakout ”White Iverson.”
Dre f. Rick Ross – “Chevy Ridin’ High” (2006)
Super-producer Dre (one half of Cool & Dre) first made a splash as an artist back in 2006 alongside Rick Ross for this single, which peaked at No. 54 on Billboard’s Hot 100. He didn’t release another single until 2018, and it took until 2019 for him to finally release a larger body of work, Family Ties, a collaboration with Fat Joe.
Tracey Lee f. Pirate & Busta Rhymes – “The After Party (The Theme II)” (1997)
How Tracey Lee has slipped through the cracks of Hip Hop’s hindsight will forever remain a mystery. This well-aged single, featuring Busta Rhymes, was a bubbling remix to the D-Dot produced original, which spent 32 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100. His debut album Many Facez also contained one of the last original Biggie guest verses to be released.
Smilez & Southstar – “Tell Me” (2002)
This single was inescapable in the summer of 2002. It peaked at No. 28 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and spent 16 weeks on the charts — on top of the video being on no less than twice every hour on the hour. Unfortunately for the duo, label issues made their debut LP, Crash The Party, their last. Fun fact: they are both now in real estate, and quite successful.
Rufus Blaq – “Outta Sight” (1998)
The peak of Rufus Blaq’s commercial success, this was the lead single off of his slept-on debut album Credentials, which also had a joint featuring The LOX worth revisiting. Adding to the song’s popularity, it appeared on the soundtrack for the film Ride, which starred Malik Yoba, the late John Witherspoon and Sticky Fingaz.
Sway & King Tech f. RZA, Tech N9ne, Eminem, Xzibit, Kool G Rap, Jayo Felony, Chino XL, KRS-One, Pharoahe Monche – “The Anthem” (1999)
Appearing on Sway (host of Sway in the Morning on Shade 45) & King Tech and DJ Revolution’s third collaborative LP This Or That, it’s insane this song seems to have eluded lists of best posse cuts over the years — especially considering some of the matchups never happened again. For example, Eminem and almost everyone on the list except Xzibit and Tech N9ne.
Cool Breeze f. Outkast, Goodie Mob & Witchdoctor – “Watch For The Hook” (1999)
The problem with large groups is that sometimes history only seems to shine its light on those that make the most noise. In the case of Dungeon Family, Outkast was so huge, and Goodie Mob made such an impact that Cool Breeze got a bit lost in the Hip Hop history shuffle. However, it’s impossible (when prompted) not to remember how hard this Organized Noize-produced single indeed was. It peaked at No. 73 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also propelled his album East Point’s Greatest Hit to No. 23 on the Hot 200.
JT Money f. Solé – “Who Dat” (1999)
This song was a monster. Not only did it introduce the world to Solé, who later dropped a pretty successful debut album of her own, but it reached No. 1 on the U.S. Rap chart and No. 5 on the Hot 100. His album Pimpin’ on Wax even cracked the top 10 on the Hot 200, which was no small feat for Miami MCs in 1999.
Rhymefest f. Kanye West – “Brand New” (2006)
Rhymefest’s debut album Blue Collar was a definite sleeper, but it was nonetheless a great body of work. This track was a standout — though the tea was that Nick Cannon admittedly wrote a few of Kanye West’s bars on the song. Specifically, “We don’t need to stunt / I make black history every day, I don’t need a month.” It wasn’t a surprising revelation, considering Rhymefest himself wrote for Ye in the past.
Too $hort f. Erick Sermon, MC Breed & Kool Ace – “Buy You Some” (1996)
This gem appeared on Too $hort’s 10th album, which was supposed to be his last. However, his retirement (like many Hip Hop retirements after his) didn’t last more than a year. This song, in particular, has the distinction of having one of Erick Sermon’s hardest verses — ever.
Gucci Mane f. Young Jeezy – “Icy” (2004)
Before the unpleasant drama where Gucci Mane killed one of Jeezy’s associates during a home invasion gone wrong, the two t-r-a-p-s-t-ar’s both had their first taste of success with this Zaytoven-produced single.
Lupe Fiasco f. JAY-Z – “Pressure” (2006)
When many people think of Lupe Fiasco’s debut album Food & Liquor, they think of the Grammy Award-winning single “Daydreamin’” or the seminal classic “Kick Push.” This JAY-Z featured deep cut — which leaked before the album dropped — seems to take a backseat nowadays.
Lord Have Mercy – “Say What Say What” (1998)
When talking about voices that stand out in Hip Hop, few can lay claim to a baritone as distinct as that of former Flipmode Squad affiliate Lord Have Mercy. This banger was meant to be the lead single from his album Thee Ungodly Hour. Unfortunately, he split from the group due to artistic differences with Busta Rhymes and the album subsequently became indefinitely shelved.
Purple Ribbon All-Stars – “Kryptonite” (2005)
Aside from the lesser-known single “Body Rock,” this stands as the only commercially notable track from the two efforts released by the supergroup (Big Boi, Killer Mike, Sleepy Brown, Konkrete, BlackOwned C-Bone, Rock D and Vonnegutt) via Outkast’s Purple Ribbon Records. The group once included Bubba Sparxxx and Fonzworth Bentley in its original iteration as well.
Archie Eversole f. Bubba Sparxxx – “We Ready” (2002)
This electrically charged song still pops up at sporting events and in commercials from time to time. However, as far as one-hit wonders go, you’d likely be hard-pressed to immediately answer the “who sang this” question at a local trivia night.
Rosco P. Coldchain f. Pharrell – “Delinquent” (2003)
This gem stands as one of Roscoe=’s best-known solo singles. Unfortunately for the Philly MC, politics kept his long-awaited LP Hazardous Life (set to include production from The Neptunes and DJ Premier) shelved. Things got worse in 2008 when he was arrested for a double-murder and incarcerated.
I-20 f. Ludacris & Bone Crusher – “Break Bread” (2004)
This Lil Jon-produced banger peaked at No. 45 on Billboard’s US Rap/R&B Singles chart — making it the only single on the Disturbing The Peace member’s debut album Self Explanatory to see any major success.
Da Bush Babee f. De La Soul & Mos Def – “The Love Song Remix” (1996)
The original itself is an absolute classic, but this remix took it to a whole other level by adding 1996-era De La Soul, fresh off of their Stakes Is High LP. There is something else special about this track, which appeared on the group’s sophomore LP Gravity. In essence, it serves as one of the first recorded appearances of Yasiin Bey, formally known as Mos Def (who appeared on three tracks on the album).
Amil f. Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel & JAY-Z – “4 Da Fam” (2000)
Fans definitely didn’t flock to the store to cop Amil’s music, but the commercial blip that was her debut did produce this gem of a track. Beyond featuring prime Bleek and Sigel, it has one of Hov’s more slept on verses. Had Twitter existed in 2000, the revelation that he was expecting a child likely would have been a New Release Friday trending topic.