What do hip-hop and hot sauce have in common? Not a lot. One is a rhythmic music genre that features dope beats, slick rhymes and has defined itself as an underground subculture, while the latter is a chili-based condiment that has turned any meal into a competition. This is where I arbitrarily rank my favorite hot sauces and pair them with a hip-hop counterpart. Quick disclaimer: ranking hot sauces and hip-hop is totally subjective. I personally prefer the cookie when it comes to the Oreo. If you like the cream more, you might not agree with this list.
Here are a few ground rules:
- I divided the selections into three groups that are organized in accordance to historic eras of hip-hop.
- If you don’t like hot sauce, you might learn something about rap, and vice versa. If you don’t like hot sauce or hip-hop, you should reassess your life.
- There are too many hot sauces and too many artists, so it’s impossible to list all of them. Deciding which ones to include was akin to picking the articles of clothing I really need to wash when that ever-so-rare laundry day comes around.
- Ketchup isn’t a hot sauce.
Side note: The Scoville scale is a measurement of potency of chili peppers as a unit. It basically determines how spicy a sauce is. The more Scoville units, the spicier the sauce.
Part 1: The Bronx is to Hip-Hop as Louisiana is to Hot Sauce
4. Frank’s RedHot: Grandmaster Flash
Frank’s RedHot is the first of four OG hot sauces. Not a lot happened in Louisiana in 1920, except the introduction of Frank’s. The distinguished hot sauce didn’t get its break until 1964 when it became the primary ingredient in the first buffalo wing sauce. It’s now a classic. Even if you think you’ve have never had Frank’s RedHot, you probably have—and the same goes for Grandmaster Flash. His 1982 South Bronx hit “The Message” has been sampled over 180 times. That’s almost the number of three-point field goals that Trevor Cooney has attempted this season.
Best on: Chicken wings and just about everything.
3. Louisiana Hot Sauce: Run D.M.C.
Aged peppers, vinegar, and salt. Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and Jam Master Jay. As you can tell, good things come in groups of three—Louisiana Hot Sauce and Run D.M.C. uphold this testament. Aside from being a mild tasting, household name hot sauce that is good on pretty much everything, Louisiana Hot Sauce has arguably the best label in the game. This isn’t a beauty contest but the red, yellow, and blue bottle stands out on the grocery shelf. The same goes for Run D.M.C.’s iconic white, black, and red insignia design. It borders on claiming the title of most popular Urban Outfitter’s T-shirt design, only behind Che Guevara’s mug.
Best On: Pizza.
2. Crystal Hot Sauce: Beastie Boys
Crystal Hot Sauce and the Beastie Boys are tangy. Hot sauce enthusiasts claim Crystal is as authentic as it comes—they swear by it. I’ve met people who put it on everything from mac and cheese to their last will and testament (not really, but you get the idea). The Beastie Boys maintain a similar cult following. Aside from having some of the greatest music videos, they’ve been in the game for a long time. Since 1981 Mike D, MCA (rest in peace), and Ad-Rock had a consistently unique, innovative, and destructive sound that lasted for 40 years. They taught us that we have to fight for our right to party and that it’s still pretty cool to rap in your 50s.
Best On: Mashed potatoes, grilled cheese.
1. Tabasco: The Sugarhill Gang
Three years after the American Civil War ended, Tabasco hot sauce was invented. This was almost 40 years before the Wright Brothers’ first flight and about a decade before the invention of the light bulb. Betty White was winning her first Emmy around the same time and about 100 years later, The Sugarhill Gang dropped “Rapper’s Delight,” which is considered the first rap song ever. Tabasco and the Sugarhill Gang can confidently call themselves the first, and since then, only a few have done it as well as they have. If you’ve never eaten an omelet with original Tabasco sauce or listened to all 14 minutes of “Rapper’s Delight,” you are withholding a fundamental and historic piece of American culture from yourself.
Best On: Eggs, Bloody Mary.
To be continued… Stay tuned for Part 2.