Making fun of modern day backpackers is definitely one of my favorite hobbies, but truth be told, I was obsessed with the original era of so-called “backpack rap” in the mid-to-late ’90s. At the same time that hip-hop’s bigger-than-life jiggy era was in full bloom, an alternative scene sprung up, centered around independent vinyl releases, lyrical experimentation and a rejection of “the industry.”

Most of these classic records were only issued on 12″ single in the years before file-sharing exploded, and as a result, many of these artists and songs have been forgotten. To me, the backpack era officially ended in 1999, when Eminem blew up and Funk Flex started playing Pharoahe Monch’s “Simon Says” on Hot97. I’ve compiled 40 of my favorite joints from the era for your listening pleasure.


1. Company Flow f/ BMS “Vital Nerve”
2. The High & Mighty f/ Eastern Conference All-Stars “Open Mic Night”
3. Black Attack “My Crown”
4. Cage “Agent Orange”
5. J-Live “Braggin’ Writes”
6. 7L & Esoteric “Be Alert”
7. Mr. Live f/ Tony Bones “Placebo”
8. The Cenobites f/ Bobbito “Kick A Dope Verse”
9. Street Smartz “Problemz”
10. Mos Def “The Universal Magnetic”
11. East Flatbush Project “Tried By 12”
12. The Juggaknots “I’m Gonna Kill You”
13. Scienz of Life “Scienz of Life (Metaphysic)”
14. Rawcotiks “Live Your Life”
15. I.G. Off & Hazardous “Hip-Hop Till I Die”
16. Natural Elements “Paper Chase”
17. Masterminds “I’m Talented…”
18. Shabaam Sahdeeq f/ Eminem, A.L., Kwest & Skam “5 Star Generals”
19. Mood “Karma”
20. Siah & Yeshua DapoED “A Day Like Any Other”


1. Reflection Eternal f/ Mos Def & Mr. Mann “Fortified Live”
2. Indelible MC’s “The Fire In Which You Burn”
3. F.A.T.A.L. Foundation “All About Wars”
4. MF Doom “Dead Bent”
5. Eastern Conference All-Stars “Know A Little Nigg”
6. Siah “Repetition”
7. Afu-Ra “Whirlwind Thru Cities”
8. Dr. Octagon “Blue Flowers”
9. L-Fudge f/ Mike Zoot, Talib Kweli, Skam & Shabaam Sahdeeq “What If?”
10. Dilated Peoples “Global Dynamics”
11. Mr. Complex “Visualize”
12. Network Reps f/ Punch & Words “Yeah”
13. Necro “Get On Your Knees”
14. Mood Swingaz “The Blessin'”
15. Natural Resources “Negro League Baseball”
16. Mountain Brothers “Galaxies: The Next Level”
17. The High & Mighty f/ Mos Def & Mad Skillz “B-Boy Document 99”
18. Bad Meets Evil “Scary Movies”
19. Company Flow “Linda Trip”
20. Pharoahe Monch “Simon Says”



  1. Pingback: WELCOME TO THE NEW UGGH…NICE WATCH! « Uggh…Nice Watch

  2. Come on BFred, no Scaramanga?! I’m borderline offended. LOL.

  3. how is this an ‘album’? It’s a collection of indie rap MP3s anyone in their right mind already knows. get ye to unkut and be done with it, new jack.


  5. low powered attorney

    I was about to say,I already have a lot of these.On VINYL….

  6. Lol, this is like a replay of my life in high school! Co-sign noz about Jigmastas (“The J-I-Gs be droppin’ real!”) Tried by 12 and Negro Baseball League are the only track I still bang, though.

  7. Missing:

    East Flatbush Project – Tried by 12
    Dialted Peoples – Work The Angles
    Pacewon – I Declare War
    High & Mighty – BBoy Document

    • I appreciate the input, but Tried By 12 is on there. Also, I decided to put B-Boy Document 99 instead of the original. Also, I always liked “Global Dynamics” better than “Work The Angles”. Also, I didnt include Pace Won because he was on a major label, and because Psycho Les produced the Nod Factor.

      I should probably point out to everyone that this was never intended to be a collection of EVERY underground joint of this era…it’s more just a collection of the songs I was personally most into during this era.

  8. its strizzy hoe

    what no anticon? lol

  9. Absolutely fantastic recap of those marvellous times, so big up yaself every time! And about all these songs omitted – Siahs Repetition is included – nuff said. One could on for days and days about “Wheres KGB “Bless ya life, Screwball, Troubleneck, Jemini, Dark Skin Assassin” and so on, but thats besides the point. Apart from Necro, excellent selection!!
    From Sweden, peace…

  10. question marc

    F___ the haters
    This is pure D-O-P-E !


  11. I dig this. Some songs are far better than others, and the “middleground” of the time always had better music than the extremes, but these are good for those of us who didn’t grow up to faggot elitists bitching about already having these in their ipod or their blessed vinyl crates crowding up their parents’ basements.

  12. Excellent

  13. Excellent.

  14. phatmac of the vcc

    okay okay okay. yes, an ill compilation. but to end at ’99 and deprive heads of another shout out to cannibal ox? bfred, whudefukman?

  15. You whats weird? You saying that bit about Flex playing monch just sparked this crazy memory. They had been plying that track on 89.9 the night before and when I woke up to my Hot 97 clock radio it was playing the same Monch joint! I was like how the F*ck did my tape of last nights cm famalam play in my alarm clock? When I realized what was going on I was like oh no…no….NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

  16. yea great blog !! a lot of usefull infos thanks and keep up the good work!! PS: take a look at my blog

  17. I’m trying to find a mirror of the SIDE B of this but can’t. It’s a great mix and I wish I had access to it.


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