It was perhaps one of hip-hop's most unlikely crossover singles. April 13 marks the 14-year anniversary of Cam'ron's breakout 1998 debut track "Horse & Carriage," off his first LP, Confessions of Fire (we know, we know, not quite 15th anniversary material, but an important marker nonetheless). Highlights? A sublimely quirky chorus anchored by former Bad Boy prince and childhood Harlem friend Mase -- Murda Mase gets his croon on delivering his best Ricky Ricardo impression. Then there's Cam's slick-talking punchlines ("I'll get you that stuff that Gretzky skate on," he drops to the object of his carnal desires) and a song-reference flub of laugh-inducing proportions (Hey Cam, Phil Collins titled his 1981 classic "In The Air Tonight," not "The Heat Of The Night").

"Horse & Carriage" is intriguing in itself. The Latin-tinged track, which went on to peak at No. 41 on the Billboard pop charts and land in the top 10 on both rap and R&B charts, joins the ranks of other animal-centric penned rap statements. Cam'ron has since followed up his solo success by leading his Diplomat rhyme clique to hood rich glory and beyond, and can now be heard delivering brazenly clever lines on Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded track "I Am Your Leader." But it's his first career-breaking hit that inspired The BoomBox to come up with a list of songs that would make the people of PETA smile (or maybe not). On with the show.

"Dogs for Life," DMX

In the figurative sense, the turbulent, enigmatic Yonkers MC truly had love for his dogs ("I would rob and steal with you," the former Ruff Ryders MC declared of his crew on the Dame Grease-produced track). But in the literal sense, DMX's love may not have extended to his actual four-legged friends after 12 pitbulls were removed from his Arizona home in 2007, for being discovered in troubling condition. Where my dogs at, indeed.

"Animal in Man," dead prez

To call the Tallahassee, Fla., Brooklyn, N.Y., connection political would be as much an understatement as labeling Kim Kardashian as tabloid fodder. Stic man and M1 are socially conscious provocateurs, and one such example of their two-fisted defiance is on this George Orwell-inspired allegory. For "Animal in Man," dead prez gave a direct nod to the classic 1945 "Animal Farm" novel. But in DP's version -- when Hannibal the pig attempts a takeover and declares all pigs the ruling class following an animal revolt against their oppressive human masters -- his warm-blooded friends cut him up into little pieces for sale. Yikes.

"No Pigeons," Sporty Thievz

Really, "No Pigeons" all boils down to the simplistic genius of hip-hop. Just as Roxanne Shante volleyed a now landmark 1994 answer-back record to UTFO's "Roxanne, Roxanne," the Sporty Thievz dropped a clever rebuttal to TLC's monster-selling hit "No Scrubs." It should be noted that the rhyme trio had no beef against birds; just women of the bootleg, gold-digging variety.

"Mr. Pigface," Crooked I

When you write a song about a maniacal killer who has no regard for law or human life you can name your track pretty much anything you want. Especially with venomous lines like, "Yesterday I was loadin' my pistol on my Mama's couch." Not even Crooked I's Slaughterhouse cohorts could hold him back.

"Snakes," King Sun

Back in the late '80s, the word was that King Sun sounded too much like lyrical deity Rakim. But you can't take away the sheer lyrical ferocity of the 6-foot, 7-inch member of the Five Percent Nation Muslim sect. His message was straight-no-chaser: no love for the slithering, fork-tongued individuals.

"Deepest Bluest (Shark's Fin)," LL Cool J

Let's cut right to the chase. "Deepest Blue" may stand as LL Cool J's most absurd moment ever recorded on wax. We will spare you with any of the embarrassing lines from one of hip-hop's otherwise true G.O.A.T.'s. Just envision a laughable song recorded for a soundtrack centered on a cult thriller about a genetically engineered killer shark with an amazingly high IQ. Yes, it's as hilarious as it sounds.

"Guerillas in tha Mist," Da Lench Mob

Ice Cube
's crew of militant South Central, Los Angeles spitters wore their black pride on their proverbial sleeves. So much so that the "gorillas" (or the war-ready guerillas, for those keeping score) were the true kings of the jungle, and not that racist "devil" Tarzan. And there was no love for Jane. In fact, Da Lench Mob wanted to run the enemy out of the jungle all together. Who knew?

"Pigs," Cypress Hill

In the world of Cypress Hill, corrupt cops who bully and terrorize law-abiding citizens deserve justice. Indeed, this distorted conceptual take-off of an old nursery rhyme ("This Little Piggy") covers all its bases. There are good piggies (the clean cop who just does his job and eats doughnuts) and there are the bad piggies (there's a cop on the take from the mafia). By the end, the question is asked: how about a ham sandwich?

"Vultures," MF Grimm

What good are vultures? For the lyrically respected MF Grimm, not much. They circle you and wait to pick you clean until there is no semblance of you left. Not exactly hope inspiring stuff, but you get the idea.

"Itty Bitty Piggy," Nicki Minaj

Before she transformed into Young Money's million album-selling, polarizing queen of hip-hop's Technicolor new school, Nicki Minaj was a grinding up-and-coming MC from Queens, N.Y. Yes, Nicki's animal-driven pen game is just in the chorus. But it powerfully symbolizes everything she has become during her current Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded run. She's a hilarious, yet deadly serious force-of-nature who is intent on taking over the world one colorful wig at a time.

See Nicki Minaj's Fashion Evolution


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