This Playlist of 2000s Hip-Hop is the High School Nostalgia You Need Today

This here is the good stuff. The good stuff from the good ol’ days. So, let’s all for a moment forget our boring adult responsibilities and think back to a time when everything was fresh and new…when your hormones made the decisions and when your only worries were what was happening on Friday night (likely nothing) and whether your crush would ask you to Sadie Hawkins (she would not).

Events from high school often become our most vivid and longest lasting memories. It’s what psychologists call the reminiscence bump — the theory that your brain places special meaning on adolescent experiences because this is when you form your identity. It’s when you become you.

Our brains are especially fond of music from this time period, as music stimulates the brain’s pleasure circuit and makes us feel good. Combine this flood of positive emotion with the reminiscence bump and what do you get? Musical nostalgia, a love for your high school soundtrack that endures regardless of how your tastes might otherwise mature. Now, let’s get to it.

Editor’s note: Song previews are available within the individual Spotify players below. You can listen to the playlist in its entirety using the links at the bottom of this post. 

City High – What Would You Do?

  • Released: February, 2001
  • Peak position on the Billboard Hot 100: 8
  • Fun fact: Claudette Ortiz, City High’s only female member, dated both of her male bandmates. The group disbanded after 3 years and released only one album.

Cam’ron – Hey Ma

  • Released: August, 2002
  • Peak position on the Billboard Hot 100: 3
  • (Not so) Fun fact: In 2005, Cam’ron was shot in both arms during a botched carjacking of his diamond studded Lamborghini Gallardo. He then, allegedly, drove himself to the hospital. The shooter got away.

JLo feat. Ja-Rule – I’m Real

  • Released: September, 2001
  • Peak position: 1
  • Fun fact: In 2007, JLo finished number 1 in In Touch magazine’s countdown of Best Bottoms in Hollywood. I think I speak for all teenage boys of the early 2000s when I say well deserved.

R. Kelly – Ignition (Remix)

  • Released: November, 2002
  • Peak position: 2
  • (Not so) Fun fact: In 2003, R. Kelly was arrested on 12 counts of child pornography possession. In 2008, he was acquitted of all charges.

Fat Joe feat. Ja-Rule & Ashanti – What’s Luv?

  • Released: February, 2000
  • Peak position: 2
  • Fun fact: In 2003, “What’s Luv?” was nominated for the Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. It lost to OutKast’s “The Whole World”.

Twista feat. Kanye West & Jamie Foxx – Slow Jamz

  • Released: December, 2003
  • Peak position: 1
  • Fun fact: In 1992, Twista made The Guinness Book of World Records for being the fastest rapper in history. He spit 598 syllables in less than a minute.

Nelly – Ride Wit Me

  • Released: January, 2001
  • Peak position: 3
  • Fun fact: In 2016, Country Grammar became just the 8th rap album to be certified diamond for selling over 10 million copies.

Chingy – Right Thurr

  • Released: May, 2003
  • Peak position: 2
  • Fun fact: A buddy of mine kept Chingy’s Jackpot album in his car CD player for our entire senior year. I’d be fine if I never hurrd Chingy again.

Fabolous – Into You

  • Released: July, 2003
  • Peak position: 4
  • Fun fact: For an even more fabolous version of this song, watch Childish Gambino do it here

Ashanti – Foolish

  • Released: January, 2002
  • Peak position: 1
  • Fun fact: Ashanti dated Nelly for 9 years. They split in 2012.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Ghetto Cowboy

  • Released: November 1998
  • Peak position: 15
  • Fun fact: “Ghetto Cowboy” was originally released as a single off the Mo Thugs album Chapter II: Family Reunion and features only two Bone Thugs members, Layzie and Krayzie.

D-12 – Purple Pills

  • Released: June, 2001
  • Peak position: 19
  • (Not so) Fun fact: In 2006, Proof — D12 band member and longtime friend and Best Man of Eminem — was shot to death in a Detroit nightclub following an altercation over a pool game.

50 Cent – 21 Questions

  • Released: April, 2003
  • Peak position: 1
  • Fun fact: In 2015, 50 cent filed for bankruptcy with a debt of $32.5 million.

Mase – Welcome Back

  • Released: May, 2004
  • Peak position: 32
  • Fun fact: Welcome Back was Mase’s comeback album after he took a 5 year hiatus from the music industry to become a minister.

Eminem – Drug Ballad

  • Released: May, 2000
  • Peak position: Not released as a single
  • Fun fact: The Marshall Mathers LP was criticized by the US State Senate, heavily protested by GLAAD, and of its 14 tracks, 9 depict killing women through choking, stabbing, drowning, shooting, and head and throat splitting. It is the second best selling rap album of all time.

Dr. Dre – The Next Episode

  • Released: July, 2000
  • Peak position: 23
  • Fun fact: In 2016, Dre’s net worth was $710 million, second only to Sean ‘Puff Daddy’ Combs among wealthiest hip-hop artists.

Bubba Sparxxx – Ugly

  • Released: August, 2001
  • Peak position: 15
  • Lyrics burned forever into my brain: Buckle up, cuz it’s gonna get bumpy. I call my girlfriends bettys and my shits grumpies.  

Jagged Edge feat. Nelly – Where the Party At

  • Released: May, 2001
  • Peak position: 3
  • Lyrics burned forever into my brain: The entire Nelly verse.

DMX – Party Up

  • Released: June, 2000
  • Peak position: 27
  • Lyrics burned forever into my brain: Your old man say you stupid. You be like, so? I love my baby mother, I never let her go. 

OutKast – Roses

  • Released: May, 2004
  • Peak position: 9
  • Fun fact: Speakerboxx/The Love Below is currently the best selling rap record of all time. However, being a double album, each disc counts toward total sales. As of 2016, it had sold 11.4 million units, while The Marshall Mathers LP — a single album — had sold 10.6 million.

Trick Daddy – I’m a Thug

  • Released: March, 2001
  • Peak position: 17
  • Lyrics burned forever into my brain: Give me half a pill and some zinfandel, and I’m like fuck it, dog. 

Kanye West – All Falls Down

  • Released: February, 2004
  • Peak position: 7
  • Lyrics burned forever into my brain: Rollies and Pashas done drove me crazy. I can’t even pronounce nothing, pass that ver-say-zee.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Got Your Money

  • Released: August, 1999
  • Peak position: 26
  • Fun fact: YouTube has an isolated vocals version of “Got Your Money”. The quality is poor, but hearing ODB stripped down is worth the listen.

Mystikal – Shake Ya Ass

  • Released: July, 2000
  • Peak position: 13
  • Fact: “Shake Ya Ass” was produced by the Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) and features uncredited vocals from Pharrell.

Ludacris – Rollout (My Business)

  • Released: October, 2001
  • Peak position: 17
  • Lyrics burned forever into my brain: Now, who’s that bucked-naked cook fixing three-course-meals. Getting goosebumps when her body tap the six inch heels. 

Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz & Ying Yang Twins – Get Low

  • Released: February, 2003
  • Peak position: 2
  • Fun fact: ‘Crunk‘ is considered its own sub-genre of hip-hop. Performers of crunk music are sometimes referred to as ‘crunkmeisters’.

Akon – Lonely

  • Released: February, 2005
  • Peak position: 4
  • Fun fact: “Lonely” samples Bobby Vinton’s 1962 “Mr. Lonely“.

Afroman – Because I Got High

  • Released: July, 2001
  • Peak position: 13
  • Fun fact: Afroman told Rolling Stone that “Because I Got High” took 2 minutes and 11 seconds to write and was inspired by some chronic weed. It was nominated for a Grammy in 2002.

Big Tymers – Still Fly

  • Released: March, 2002
  • Peak position: 11
  • Lyrics burned forever into my brain: Wassup Fresh? It’s our turn, baby. 

Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell – Beautiful

  • Released: January, 2003
  • Peak position: 6
  • Fun fact: “Beautiful” was the second single off Snoop’s 6th studio release, Paid the Cost to Be da Boss. This album and its 5 predecessors are all certified platinum.  

The Playlist

Listen to the playlist in its entirety using the links below.

Spotify (free Spotify account required)

YouTube (navigate using the playlist icon in the upper left corner)

Apple Music (Apple Music account required)

Apple Music


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