The Top Five Queens Rap Anthems (As Chosen By Hip-Hop Artists)


Talk of patriotism might be all up in the BBQ-scented air at this time of year, but rap artists are equally as proud of their local roots, not least when it comes to the great masses who hail from Queens. With the Q-Boro having provided perhaps more great rappers than any other section of New York City, we got in touch with some of Queens’ most estimable hip-hop stars—Prodigy from Mobb Deep, Psycho Les from the Beatnuts, Das Racist’s pal Big Baby Gandhi and DJ Rob Swift—and asked them to pick their all-time favorite Queens hip-hop anthems.

5. LL Cool J feat. 50 Cent, Kool G Rap, Prodigy & Tony Yayo, “Queens”

Prodigy: “Lyrically, I was talking about how you come from certain parts of Queens and how people sleep on Queens ’cause it’s a lot of houses and residential areas. You got projects, too, but it’s a lot of residential areas where you can get killed in and people really don’t know that ’cause of how it looks. I was talking about places like Jamaica and Cambria Heights, all that kind of stuff.”

4. Nas, “Made You Look”

Big Baby Gandhi: “This might be the Queens anthem. I was young when I first heard it and saw the music video for it. Everything about it was just so powerful. My favorite bit is the part at the end when the beat cuts out and Nas is doing it a cappella. [Starts rapping] ‘Females, who’s the sexiest? It’s always the nastiest…'”

3. The Jungle Brothers, “Jimbrowski”

Prodigy: “The Jungle Brothers had a song called ‘Jimbrowski’ back in the days and they was shouting out LeFrak [City], and that’s where I grew up at. The song was like our anthem. It was the slang in the street. Everybody knew what they were talking about—your private parts and protecting yourself.”

2. Mobb Deep, “Shook Ones (Part 2)”

Rob Swift: “‘Shook Ones’ is an early Queens anthem. When I hear it to this day, I just lose it. Prodigy’s entire first verse for me basically sums up the mentality of a 19-year-old Queens kid at that time in New York City.”

Psycho Les: “A lot of Mobb Deep comes to mind when you think of Queens, but this song says it all.”

Big Baby Gandhi: “It’s ‘Shook Ones,’ you know? It’s one of those songs that’s around and you end up knowing it without realizing it. The song is embedded in your life and you don’t even know how—it’s like ‘Happy Birthday.'”

1. MC Shan, “The Bridge”

Prodigy: “The first rap song that made me proud to be from Queens was MC Shan’s ‘The Bridge.'”

Rob Swift: “I’m not from Queensbridge—I’m from Jackson Heights —but just the fact that there was a prominent MC from Queens that was repping the borough, and explaining how Queens made an impact on hip-hop music, for me that definitely made me proud.”

Psycho Les: “That’s a classic. I had doubles of that shit on vinyl, the original pressing. That beat was crazy; it was just hard drums and a nice sample they cut up. [Starts rapping]’ ‘Queensbridge, the Bridge, the Bridge!'”

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