Prowl through our hit list of 1990's killer tunes, lyrics and riffs 1. FASTER PUSSYCAT Rubaiyat "You're So Vain" (Elektra). For anyone who's ever secretly desired to headbang to Carly Simon, here's a chance to get off royally.
2. JANET JACKSON Rhythm Nation: 1814 "Black Cat" (A&M). Doing her best Joan Jett impersonation, Jackson proves how nasty she can really be. The guitar licks alone are dirty enough to make brother Michael blush!
3. SCRAWL Smallmouth "Tell You What" (Rough Trade). Ted Nugent nut Marcy Mays comes down with a bad case of cat scratch fever on this slice of Seventies speedway rock. Who ever said six-string wanking was for guys only?
4. SCATTERBRAIN Here Comes Trouble "Don't Call Me Dude" (In-Effect). Not only a fluently executed rifforama, but also a funny, on-target tirade against the dreaded d word.
5. LUSH Scar "Baby Talk" (4AD). Cocteau Twins dreaminess collides with thrashy guitar chorales. Versatile listening--from the easy chair or the mosh pit.
6. JANE'S ADDICTION Ritual de lo Habitual "Stop" (Warner Bros.). All the proof you need that David Navarro pumps out the meanest power chordage in postmodern metal.
7. DREAD ZEPPELIN Un-Led-Ed "Your Time Is Gonna Come" (I.R.S.). In the absence of any new Cult singles, this qualifies as one of the year's most hilarious Zeppelin parodies.
8. BONHAM The Disregard of Timekeeping "Guilty" (WTG/CBS). See No. 7.
9. DWARVES Blood, Guts & Pussy "Let's Fuck" (Sub Pop). Punk finally delivers its deformed progeny with this twisted slab of amped-out fuzz.
10. PIXIES Bossanova "Rock Music" (4AD/Elektra). A violent guitar maelstrom and seductively dark lyrics combine to form the ultimate teen-suicide soundtrack. And to think some parents are picking on Judas Priest!
The Purest Poets
1. PUBLIC ENEMY Fear of a Black Planet "Welcome to the Terrordome" (Def Jam/Columbia). "Here's your ticket/Hear the drummer get wicked." When Chuck D hits the last word "WICK-it!" like a Baptist preacher, you gotta throw ya hands in the air. More than a hint that the rapper can get any party, political or otherwise, started right.
2. DIGITAL UNDERGROUND Sex Packets "Doowutchyalike" (Tommy Boy). "Straight hair, curls, casual or glamour/From Connecticut or from Louisiana/Bad table etiquette, too much chatter/Very well-spoken or real bad grammar/A minority token, a brother in the slammer/A free civilian with a house in Santa Ana/If ya got a million and live in Atlanta/If ya got a weak bladder or can't climb a ladder/What we're sayin' is it really doesn't matter." The melting-pot trip as dance-floor orgy. A thoroughly pomo hip-hop answer to Sly Stone's "Everyday People."
3. A TRIBE CALLED QUEST People's Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm "Bonita Applebum" (Jive/RCA). "Satisfaction, I have the right tactics/And if ya need 'em, I got crazy prophylactics." This isn't just your average safer-sex PSA. Q-Tip's song-stopping rhyme captures all the tenderness, awkwardness and hilarity of fumbling around in the dark for your jimmy hat.
4. BOOGIE DOWN PRODUCTIONS Edutainment "Beef" (Jive/RCA). "Just before it dies, it cries/In the slaughterhouse, full of germs and flies." KRS-One's sobering tour of a meat factory is the hypest vegetarian spot since the k.d. lang commercial.
5. ICE CUBE Amerikkka's Most Wanted "This Is a Man's World" (Priority). The song begins with a sample survey of the word "bitch." It ends, for all intents and purposes, with woman rapper Yo-Yo destroying Cube: "Ya come in a room with ya three-inch killa/Thinkin' you can do damage to my backbone/Leave ya child in the yard until it's full grown." Yo-Yo sounds as tough next to Ice Cube as any of his former N.W.A rapmates, making this the best hard-core hip-hop love-hate duet yet.
6. 3RD BASS The Cactus Re-Mix "The Gas Face" (Def Jam/Columbia) "Nelson Mandela's not free/Because he can't even vote in his own country." A rhetorician for racial equality, 3rd Bassman M.C. Serch takes time on this rhyme, a Cactus Album carry-over, to dig as deep into white supremacy as any rapper ever has.
7. TWO NICE GIRLS Like a Version "I Spent My Last $10 on Birth Control and Beer" (Rough Trade) "Before that last heartbreak/Nothing made me more sick/Than a hairy chested,/ Cheap double-breasted/Suited man with a hard dick." The ultimate lesbian honky-tonk ballad of 1989 shows up again on our lists, just as fresh, heading toward timelessness.
8. CANDYMAN Ain't No Shame in My Game "Knockin' Boots" (Epic/CBS). After Candyman and a fan knock boots, she says, "Ooh, boy, I love you so/Never, ever, ever gonna let you go/I hope you feel the same way, too-oo." Then he rhymes, "Girl, I do." Some long-overdue romance in the age of Bell Biv DeVoe/ Mellow Man Ace sexist pap rap. Makes the rapper a Candyman among boys.