The Best Rawkus Records Singles

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By Max Weinstein

It's not uncommon to meet people who are familiar with Black Star, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Reflection Eternal. But far too often the word "Rawkus" doesn't ring a bell with these same people, signifying little besides a home for the more popular tracks on this list. Similarly, many who know about Rawkus and see an article on the "20 Best Rawkus Singles" may expect to see their own beliefs reenforced by the songs that the writer chooses in an effort to make objective what is so obviously a subjective venture. Here is a spoiler: everybody's "best" Rawkus records will be different.

Take a second to ask yourself why you read music criticism and blogs: to validate your pre-existing opinion, or to have your established faith challenged. Hopefully it's the latter. It's in that spirit that I wrote this list. If you're curious to know what made Rawkus such a revolutionary force in the industry early on, here's the raw evidence.

A little while ago we broke down how Rawkus was started by two dudes and Rupert Murdoch’s son while touching on some of the crucial artists that made the label become as legendary as it now is. This time we’re taking it back to when Stretch was doing hip-hop remixes of Merciless and Terror Fabulous, when Jay Swift was having fun with drums, and Cutmaster DC had a horse with no name. Rawkus was even releasing electronic, ambient, and jungle music in the early to mid-90’s. They didn’t care what style the music was—as long as it was dope. This list could easily be 30 records long, but for the sake of focus and the shortened attention spans of millennials, let’s cut all this talk and get to the 20 best singles released by Rawkus Records.

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  • Aaron Smarter

    I call shenanigans on this whole list. I get that you want to bring exposure to some of the more underrated and underpromoted jams… But come on, man. Stop lyin’. Reflection Eternal ALONE had at least three of the most fire singles on that label. Skillz isn’t on this list at all. “Simon Says” isn’t on this list. “Move Something”, “Ms. Fat Booty”, “Umi Says”? Knock it off.

  • ex-employee

    you fucked up and didnt even list Simon Says

  • BIG LOUIE

    HI-TEK PRODUCED “1999″ DUMBASS!