Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, the one day we set aside every year to tell our special someone or someones just how much love and/or unbridled passion we have for them. You can find a romantic ditty in pretty much every genre, all of varying styles and quality, and hip-hop is no different. In case you need help putting together a playlist, here's five rap love songs that are legitimately great.
Scarface – "Goin Down" 1994
If you were living in Amish country all last year, you missed several reminders of why 1994 was one of the best years in hip-hop history. Along with classics like Nas' Illmatic and Biggie's Ready to Die, we got Scarface's breathtaking masterpiece The Diary. While, like all Face albums, it has its harrowing and bleak moments, it also gave us "Goin Down." With the sentimentality of attraction buried beneath a slice of life from the Geto Boy, it's a fantastic invite to come "take a ride with the Bradster."
Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige – "All I Need" (Puff Daddy Remix) 1995
You've probably seen some version of Method Man's "All I Need" on any number of romantic playlists. While the album version found on Tical is a great dusted heart-to-heart and the RZA's famous "Razor Sharp" remix allowed Mary J's vocals to adorn a foreboding Wu-Tang soundscape, Puffy's remix gave a polished sheen to the track that the Wu roster didn't often receive during their mid-90s heyday. The Biggie samples and heightened melodic smoothness allows Meth's verses to take on a whole new context, thriving in the Bad Boy Production and giving signs that his mainstream crossover would follow soon.
LL Cool J – "Ain't Nobody" 1996
It almost goes without saying that LL Cool J is the pioneer and master of the romantic rap song, but we're going to anyway. While his classic "I Need Love's" been somewhat tarnished by the countless imitators that clogged rap tracklists in its wake, Cool J's mid-90s output had plenty of love jams you could bump without cringing. An underrated one that found a home on the Beavis and Butthead Do America soundtrack, "Ain't Nobody," covers the heightened ecstasy found within an intimate monogamous relationship.
Pharoahe Monch – "The Light" 1999
Off Internal Affairs, his first full-length after the dissolve of ridiculously consistent rap duo Organized Konfusion, Pharoahe Monch's "The Light" did what few underground rappers of the late '90s could achieve: writing a song about a woman that sounded respectful without sounding like he would have no idea what to do with one. "The Light's" eccentricities sound appropriate coming from an MC as unconventional as Monch, and has become one of the finest aging singles from the Rawkus Era.
Atmosphere – "Happy Mess" 2008
For as much unwarraw flack as insecure underground "critics" give rapper Slug for his number of songs about the fairer sex, the number of great Atmosphere songs surrounding the topic of love impressively run the gamete of pretty much every aspect a relationship, functioning or troubled, could be covered. Perhaps his best, "Happy Mess" from the group's Sad Clown Bad Spring EP lays all the MC brings to a relationship on the table. According to legend, it was written for the woman who has since become his wife. "Happy Mess" gets results!