The 100 Best Native Tongue Songs

This list is great. One could argue that there’s too much Chi Ali and not enough Queen Latifah, or that “Jazz (We’ve Got)” doesn’t belong in the top 10, or that the list would be better if they opened it up to Native Tongue “affiliates” such as The Beatnuts or Pharcyde. But, really, it’s fine. The tighter focus on the core Native Tongue members makes it more cohesive and gives the playlist a flow as it progresses from the rougher sketches that dominate the early tracks (the playlist is in reverse order) to the tighter, tauter “classic” songs in the top 20. Why this all only kind of works, and one of the great tragedies of the digital era, is that only 57 of the 100 greatest Native Tongues tracks are currently available on Spotify. This is largely, though not entirely, due to sample clearance issues around De La Soul’s catalog. De La does show up on “Fallin’,” their collaboration with Teenage Fanclub from the “Judgement Night” soundtrack. The song reminds us of everything we love about that group — their competing pull of whimsy and melancholy; the back-of-the-classroom absurdity that gives way to twilight-youth pathos and then comes full circle as that sadness loses focus and dissipates into fits of giggling.