Hip Hop Hooray

Album: 19 Naughty III (1993)
Charted: 20 8

Songfacts®:

  • This celebration of hip-hop is built on the "hip-hop hooray" chant that comprises the chorus. It's a variation on the phrase "hip hip hooray," which was said in merry ol' England to celebrate a person or event with three cheers. For example:

    "Three cheers for Dashing Dan on his stellar performance during the fox hunt.

    Hip hip... hooray!
    Hip hip... hooray!
    Hip hip... hooray!"

    In Naughty By Nature's variation, we're toasting to hip-hop.
  • In the '80s, many MCs (notably Kurtis Blow), would engage the crowd in call-and-response, often yelling out "hey!" or "ho!" to get it answered back. "Hip Hop Hooray" took this to a new level, with the crowd see-sawing from "hey" to "ho" throughout the chorus. It quickly became a modern classic, with rappers invoking the chant anytime they needed to hype a crowd.
  • Rappers and hype men have been imploring us to throw our hands in the air and wave them like we just don't care since the dawn of hip-hop, but when we hear this song, we do it without being asked. The music video shows the moves: arms in the air, to the left on "hey," to the right on "ho." It's irresistible.
  • In the verses, Naughty By Nature show off their lyrical dexterity with lots of rapid-fire rhymes, covering a lot of topics but sticking to the theme of hip-hop exaltation. The group helped progress the genre in the early '90s with songs that made social statements while retaining pop appeal, all done with the kind of flows that wowed their successors, like Eminem. Witness these lines from the song spit by NBN rapper Treach:

    A raid afraid of what I made and played it, plus a funky fit
    So save yo' flips and tricks for that music and the monkey bit


    Kids could rap along to Run-DMC, but you had to be a professional to pull this off.
  • The groove is a sped-up sample of a 1975 Isley Brothers song called "Make Me Say It Again Girl (Part 1 & 2)." The drums come from a 1968 song called "Don't Change Your Love" by the Five Stairsteps. The Isley Brothers are listed as songwriters on the track along with Naughty By Nature.
  • The "smooth it out now" line comes from the group's 1991 track "Everything's Gonna Be Alright."
  • "Hip Hop Hooray" was a #1 R&B hit that also crossed to the pop charts, reaching #8 on the Hot 100 at a time when MTV and many radio stations were playing rap artists like Salt-N-Pepa and Snoop Dogg alongside Janet Jackson and Ace Of Base. In 1993, there were a lot of novelty-ish rap songs that had their moments ("Whoomp! There It Is" by Tag Team, "Informer" by Snow), but "Hip Hop Hooray" had staying power, going down as a rap landmark.
  • Naughty By Nature had a big hit in 1991 with "O.P.P.," which is where most of us heard them for the first time. In "Hip Hop Hooray," Treach makes mention of that song in the line, "You said, 'I know you, Mr. O.P.P. man.'"
  • This has been used in the following movies:

    Show Dogs (2018)
    Dope (2015)
    Love, Rosie (2014)
    The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
    Freedom Writers (2007)
    Who's the Man? (1993)

    It also featured in the 2020 ESPN documentary series The Last Dance, which is about the Chicago Bulls of the '90s with Michael Jordan. The song plays in a vignette celebrating the 1992-1993 season, when the Bulls were at the top of their game.
  • Rita Wilson, who along with her husband, Tom Hanks, was one of the first celebrities to contract the coronavirus, posted a video of her rapping the verses to this song while recovering under quarantine on March 22, 2020. Wilson had learned the song for her role in the 2019 movie Boy Genius, where she plays a tutor. When she posted the video, she braced for ridicule but was surprised to hear that Vin Rock from Naughty By Nature loved it. Rock put together a remix with her vocals that was posted on April 6, with proceeds boing to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. "'Hip Hop Hooray' is like modern day Shakespeare," Wilson said of the song. "It took me a month to learn because it's so complex and nuanced."

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