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A definitive ranking of AND1 Mixtape songs

From Outkast to Mos Def and Busta Rhymes, here are the songs that helped bring streetball to the masses

30 for 30’s latest documentary, The Greatest Mixtape Ever, took me to a nostalgic place that felt like a lifetime ago — before hoochie daddy shorts and TikTok videos took over the internet — to a time when baggy pants reigned supreme and the only way to catch a viral video was to hit up the bootleggers for a VHS tape. Back then, the AND1 Mixtapes were the only place most of us could see legendary hoopers tear up the streetball circuit and marvel at their unique set of skills. First released in the late 1990s, the electric videos brought streetball to the mainstream, but let’s not forget: The mixtapes were also about music. Each volume featured a handful of album cuts, B-sides and bonus tracks from the hottest artists of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

If you’ve forgotten how dope these songs were, don’t worry. I went through all five volumes and picked the top 25 songs from the entire AND1 collection. From Outkast to Mos Def to Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes, this list includes a who’s who of culture-shaping emcees.

Peep the ranking below and don’t pull a muscle trying to practice between-the-legs dribbles in the mirror.

25. “Do You Remember?” by The Last Emperor, AND1 Mixtape vol. 2: This song was a bit slower than the normal AND1 Mixtape track and it came after two monster cuts by EPMD (ranked higher on this list) that makes this feel like an even slower-tempo track. It’s great as a stand-alone song, though.

24. “S.N.A.K.E.S.” by The Deadly Snakes, AND1 Mixtape vol. 2: This semi-obscure rap crew made up of emcees makes a welcome addition to the AND1 catalog. This joint also makes you wish we’d gotten more music from The Deadly Snakes.

23. “Mystery Man” by DJ Jazzy Jeff feat. The Last Emperor, AND1 Mixtape vol. 5: The Last Emperor is a dope emcee in his own right but this track is all about DJ Jazzy Jeff, whose scratches and production give us that grimy wintertime feel that somehow blends with the outdoor basketball clips.

22. “Have Fun” by Kurupt feat. The Alkaholiks, AND1 Mixtape vol. 5: This song just has the spirit of AND1 all up in it. It has a grimy, slow-paced drum and Kurupt and The Alkaholiks are aggressive with their delivery, but it’s still extremely playful. That’s streetball in a nutshell.

21. “Se Acabo Remix” by The Beatnuts feat. Method Man, AND1 Mixtape vol. 4: You can’t go wrong with Method Man and this is just vintage early 2000s rhymes including a timely “Livin’ La Vida Loca” reference for good measure.

20. “The Streets” by Kool G. Rap, AND1 Mixtape vol. 3: Emceed by Kool G. Rap, one of the most ferocious lyricists of all time, this track is also notable for being the backdrop for some early Hot Sauce clips, so bonus points for that.

19. “Breaker, Breaker” by Genius, AND1 Mixtape vol. 1: Genius is one of the dopest lyricists in rap and this banger backed by RZA helps make that case. Aside from that, it’s interesting to look back on how the mixtapes really personified the underground rap scene at the time.

18. “Oral Sex” by Ras Kass, AND1 Mixtape vol. 2: This unfortunately-named song isn’t quite what you expect. There isn’t much sex talk but there’s lots of Ras Kass double-timing over scratches and boom baps. I might have ranked this higher if I didn’t know the name of the song.

17. “Take That” by Da Beatminerz feat. Flipmode Squad, AND1 Mixtape vol. 4: Volume 4 was AND1’s mainstream arrival with high-quality works that looked more like a TV show than the low-budget look we were used to. This track opens it up and it’s a fly posse cut that sets the mood for the new era of AND1.

16. “Handle Your Time” by Prince Paul, Sadat X and Xzibit, AND1 Mixtape vol. 1: This is a stellar and underrated posse cut from some underground legends. It’s also a reminder that Xzibit was one of the most ferocious emcees in his pre-Pimp My Ride days.

15. “One-Nine-Nine-Nine” by Common feat. Sadat X, AND1 Mixtape vol. 1: This is vintage Rawkus Records and Common greatness. A lyrical barrage where Sadat X also holds his own. Listen to this track enough and a magical backpack appears on your shoulders.

14. “It’s Not a Game” by Dyme, AND1 Mixtape vol. 1: While this song may not be the strongest from volume 1, it’s just so synonymous with the AND1 Mixtape. It closed out the volume and just sounds like streetball with Dyme’s aggressive delivery and the chime ringing off after each snare. It’s one of the definitive AND1 tracks.

13. “Early in the Game” by Naam Brigade feat. Freeway, AND1 Mixtape vol. 5: This is a very Philly connection with Naam Brigade and the budding star emcee Freeway, who goes off on his verse. But it’s the pure chaotic energy of the hook that catches the ear.

12. “On, Onsite” by Kurupt, AND1 Mixtape vol. 4: This track is embedded in my brain because it’s the song that was playing when Hot Sauce put the basketball in his shirt and spun it around in one of the most memorable moments and moves in AND1 history. So, bonus points for that.

11. “First N—a” by Kool G Rap, AND1 Mixtape vol. 4: There are a whole lot of DJ Premier-produced tracks on the AND1 tapes and that’s always welcome. Kool G Rap and Preemo have fantastic chemistry, and the way Kool G Rap bounces across the beat like A.O. handles the rock is superb.

10. “Soul Clap” by Styles P, AND1 Mixtape vol. 5: Styles P was one of the best rappers around when volume 5 dropped and “Soul Clap” from his debut showcases that talent. The only problem is the gunshots are edited out of the song even though they make up pretty much the whole hook. But it’s still a dope listen.

9. “Gangsta” by Killer Mike, AND1 Mixtape vol. 5: Killer Mike has one of the most distinctive voices in rap and it comes through clear as day, sounding like he’s cracking the pavement below the ballers’ feet. There aren’t a lot of Southern rappers on these tapes, so Killer Mike’s joint is a welcome change of pace.

8. “Invincible” by Capone-N-Noreaga, AND1 Mixtape vol. 3: This track is beloved for the Preemo beat, but it’s also the track that provides the backdrop for the A.O. solo feature. The player and the song go hand in hand and it’s one of the best highlight clips of the entire series.

7. “Set It Off” by Snoop Dogg feat. MC Ren, Ice Cube, Rage, Nate Dogg and Kurupt, AND1 Mixtape vol. 3: You see that list of rappers? OK. Cool. Now, remember that Timbaland produced the track and you have a criminally overlooked posse cut full of West Coast legends. This track will make you want to run through a wall.

6. “Intro” by EPMD, AND1 Mixtape vol. 2: Talk about setting the tone for volume 2. EPMD came through with this triumphant beat that they ripped to shreds. If nothing else, the song is going to get you hype for the next 20 minutes of basketball greatness.

5. “We Run New York” by M.O.P., AND1 Mixtape vol. 3: This song was made for Rucker Park. It’s about as New York as it gets with the Brooklyn duo screaming over the track. Try not to break your neck when you hear “I’m the reason Mase found God!”

4. “Symphony 2000” by EPMD feat. Redman, Method Man and Lady Luck, AND1 Mixtape vol. 2: In short: volume 2 belonged to EPMD. They followed the “Intro” with this group cut for the ages. Each emcee ripped the beat to shreds like Rafer “Skip To My Lou” Alston would rip opponents’ ankles.

3. “Do It Now” by Mos Def feat. Busta Rhymes, AND1 Mixtape vol. 2: Black On Both Sides is one of the greatest rap albums of all time and this track from Mos Def and Busta Rhymes is a good example of why. The heater of a beat didn’t stand a chance and it’s almost not fair to include a song from the album on this list.

2. “B-Boy Document” by Mos Def, AND1 Mixtape vol. 1: Another vintage Rawkus Records cut from the golden era. This time it’s the mighty Mos Def letting loose again. The song was so popular that it was also featured on the now-iconic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 video game.

1. “So Fresh, So Clean Remix” by Outkast feat. Snoop Dogg, AND1 Mixtape vol. 4: The AND1 Mixtapes by and large were a Northern phenomenon early on. But when they toured and came down South to snatch up members like Hot Sauce from Atlanta, the scene became more national. So the mixtape reflected that, with a previously unreleased gem from the almighty Outkast featuring Snoop Dogg for a remix of one of the group’s biggest hits. This was a coup, with Big Boi and Andre 3000 trading bars over a whimsically funky beat. Jingaling!

David Dennis Jr. is a senior writer at Andscape and an American Mosaic Journalism Prize recipient. His book, The Movement Made Us, will be released in 2022. David is a graduate of Davidson College.