Slaughterhouse - Welcome to: Our House
Royce Da 5’9” “Bad Meets Evil,” The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Why It's Essential: As the only non-Dr. Dre feature on Eminem’s debut album, Slim’s fellow Detroit native displayed his humor and lyrical prowess with this appearance.
Royce Da 5’9” “Boom,” Rock City (2000)
Why It's Essential: Teaming up with DJ Premier, the Midwest upstart heightened his underground buzz with two verbally vicious verses.
Royce Da 5’9” “Hip Hop,” Death Is Certain (2003)
Why It's Essential: This lead single from Royce’s sophomore album included immaculate production from DJ Premier and took it to the culture’s essence.
Why It's Essential: Back when he was signed to Def Jam, Joey burst onto the scene with this Just Blaze-produced single. Though it wasn’t indicative of his more emotional often found in his music, it helped him make a name for himself in hip-hop.
Crooked I “Boom Boom Clap” (2005)
Why It's Essential: This catchy joint helped Crook’s buzz as he was gaining momentum in the middle of the 2000s.
Crooked I “Say Dr. Dre” (2006)
Why It's Essential: The Long Beach native was once considered as a new torchbearer for the West. This reference track for Dr. Dre’s Detox proved his potential.
Why It's Essential: In this creative take on a narrative, Budden told what unfolded as a heartbreaking story of jail, molestation and violence from the perspective of its three key players, while providing a nuanced social commentary.
Why It's Essential: The Brooklyn native showed love to his profession and the culture on which he was raised on this melodic, yet gritty homage from his debut. A remix featuring Jadakiss and Saigon would later be released.
Why It's Essential: To close out his first album, Joell dances over a soulful production and gets introspective while still kicking lines that packed power.
Why It's Essential: This lengthy, hook-less mixtape joint finds the New Jersey rep in his most natural of elements, using his music as a diary for deeply personal considerations.
Joe Budden “Who (Full)” (2008)
Why It's Essential: During a time when hip-hop was deeply invested in questions of its state and future, triggered by both what was popular and Nas’ Hip Hop Is Dead album, among other factors, Budden took out more than fifteen minutes of his time on this joint to assess and address the culture.
Crooked I “Dream Big” (2008)
Why It's Essential: This single, with Akon on the hook, had the sound of a crossover record, but sacrificed nothing in the way of lyrics or content, as the West Coast MC delivered personal bars and witty similes.
Why It's Essential: Plain and simple, this was the first time that the four lyricists (along with Nino Bless) got together on wax, and it showed listeners and the artists themselves the potential of the union.
Crooked I “Hip Hop Weekly 52 (The Finale)” (2008)
Why It's Essential: Before Kanye West brought you G.O.O.D. Fridays, Crooked I was delivering potent freestyles every seven days with his Hip Hop Weekly series. And he did it for an entire year. This brought the (first session) to a close.
Why It's Essential: Crook speaks candidly on his family, upbringing, and come up—all while keeping his pen sharper than your favorite rapper's favorite rapper.
Why It's Essential: This vivid and gruesome tale of the loss of what is arguably a man’s most essential part (with apologies to the brain, heart, and lungs), Royce flexed his imagination and narrative skills.
Why It's Essential: Joell crafted one for the ladies with this Novel-assisted single, which was initially featured on a mixtape from the two, and later made it onto his sophomore disc.
Joell Ortiz “Run This Town Freestyle” (2009)
Why It's Essential: The YAOWA rapper dismantled this instrumental from his fellow Brooklynite as he oozed creative wordplay.
Why It's Essential: The four fellas address their industry history and kindly ask all onlookers to “move on” with this remix of a joint that originally only included Joe and Joell. It was an early indication of how they’d be able to deliver personal content while maintaining elevated lyrical standards.
Why It's Essential: On the opening track of their debut album, the group abides by the song’s title and sounds off, as each unload rounds of lyrical ammo, seemingly hellbent on not being bested by any other member.
Why It's Essential: On this mixtape cut, Mr. Ortiz spit five minutes of venom with an unparalleled passion.
Why It's Essential: With its pop production and Bruno Mars hook this Bad Meets Evil (Eminem and Royce) cut was a deviation from Nickle’s normal sound, it peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and there’s no overlooking that.
Joe Budden “Just to Be Different,” Halfway House (2008)
Why It's Essential: Joey discussed why he doesn’t fit into hip-hop’s mainstream norms, nor is he willing to conform, on this anthem of self-acceptance.
Slaughterhouse “My Life,” welcome to: OUR HOUSE (2012)
Why It's Essential: With Cee Lo riding shotgun, the MCs with underground sensibilities take their sound mainstream, but show it doesn’t mean they need to sacrifice lyrics to do so.