Pitchfork has posted its latest retrospective list, a ranking of the top 250 best songs of the 1990s. One takeaway is that it embraces a girlboss theme — the top five slots belong to women and the most successful corporate pop act of the decade, Mariah Carey, reigns at number one. Beyond the gender optics, however, crowning a multi-platinum star over an independent artist like, say, Bikini Kill demonstrates how much the site has evolved since its early Aughts indie-centric years. Then there’s the fact that many of the rock selections consist of fan-beloved deep album cuts, while nearly all of the Black music selections are commercially successful singles. Admirably, the list includes some interesting picks: Innerzone Orchestra and DJ Rolando appear, as does Ghostface Killah’s oft-forgotten single “Camay.” Still, its understanding of the nuances of Black music beyond the pop charts feels surface-deep.
The yearlong #HipHop50 celebration has become a microcosm of the myths and reality that continue to define the culture.