And we’re back. It’s about two years since Part 1 of Hip Hop and Hot Sauce Power Rankings. Since then I have traveled high and low, trying new hot sauces, listening to entire discographies and procrastinating. What have I learned through this anthropologic chili and rap themed journey? Hip-hop and hot sauce are exponentially better together. Hip Hop is a revolutionary genre that offers a new way to see the world while hot sauce transcends flavor and presents a new way of eating food. Hip-hop has united cultures and hot sauce has united bland food with tasty zest. Both are profound, important and not for everyone. Lets begin.
A quick refresher of the rules:
- I divided the selections into groups that are organized into 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 reconsider some of your life decisions.
- Ketchup isn’t a hot sauce.
- There are too many hot sauces and artists to include all of them. Deciding which ones to include was akin to picking which toppings I want on a pizza when Domino’s only allows 2 in order to get a sweet deal.
FYI 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’s, the spicier the sauce.
5. El Yucateco Green: A Tribe Called Quest
At every good Mexican restaurant there should be a bottle of El Yucateco on the table. In every good music library there should be a copy of A Tribe Called Quest’s anthology. The flavors of El Yucateco compliment a taco as well as Q-Tip’s smooth lyrics compliment Phife Dawg’s raspy verses. El Yucateco checks the heat like the Tribe checks the rhyme.
Best on: Tacos or Arroz con pollo
4. Dave’s Gourmet: Tupac
1993 was a good year. Bill Clinton’s crib was the White House, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were fresh off their first three-peat, and yours truly was born. Good things were also brewing over in Cali. Tupac released his second studio album that would sell over 1.5 million copies and Dave’s Insanity Sauce came into fruition, setting the golden standard for hot sauce. Both bring as much heat as the California sun and jive harder than the Salsa World Championship.
Best On: Burritos, Guacamole, and your enemy’s food
3. Trader Joe’s: Wu Tang Clan
The only thing I enjoy more than binge watching Parks and Rec on Netflix is throwing on Enter the Wu-Tang (36Chambers) while eating a bowl of mac & cheese dressed with Trader Joe’s Habanero Hot Sauce. The experience is the closest thing I have found to a spiritual awakening. Wu-Tang’s masterful album is a collaboration of memorable verses from the clan over RZA’s sonic soulful samples spliced in between samurai sword fights and kung fu monologues. It’s rambunctious, cinematic and a classic. I once played 36 Chambers for my mom. She turned it off after a particularly slanderous O.D.B. verse and claimed that Fleetwood Mac or Lyle Lovett were classics, not Wu-Tang. It’s not for everyone. The same goes for Trader Joe’s Habanero Hot Sauce. It’s as hot as a live hand grenade and spicier than an Indian buffet.
Best on: Mac & Cheese
2. Cholula: Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G. The King of New York. Big Poppa. Biggie Smalls. The man was not short of nicknames, stature or rhymes, and the same goes for Cholula. Lady Lu. Lola. Miss Mexico. Imported straight from Chapala and delivered to your taste buds faster than Amazon Prime, Cholula is an icon among hot sauces. Its flavor could be described as a cross between a long, romantic walk on the beach during a sunset and taking a shot of tequila that’s been lit on fire while riding on the back of a jet ski. It’s as smooth as Kobe’s fadeawayfade away and more powerful than a Vince Carter dunk contest throw down. It’s as dichotic as Biggie is small. Notorious helped define East Coast hip-hop and Cholula brought world class hot sauce across the border.
Best On: Any breakfast food, except French toast, maybe
1. Sriracha: N.W.A.
Few brands have been able to transcend the medium that they operate within like Sriracha and N.W.A.. N.W.A employed rap as a political platform to voice their frustration and anger they felt towards the LAPD as a minority. They branded their city by wearing the notorious black LA Raiders jerseys and Dodger hats. Their infamous look escalated the N.W.A. brand and fused sports culture with hip-hop. They came straight outta Compton, expressed themselves and their importance is unparalleled. Huy Fong Foods’ Sriracha Sauce has influenced the hot sauce community in similar fashion. It has more flavor than your average pepper sauce. Infused with garlic, sugar and salt, the chili based Sriracha transcends the flavor pallet of Tabasco or Franks and can turn the blandest of meals into the zestiest. Combined its exquisite flavor with a distinguished logo, stark red color and crowned with a lime green cap, the Sriracha bottle is as recognizable as Levi’s jeans, the Nike swoosh or a Big Mac. The FBI sent a warning letter to N.W.A. and the city of Irwindale, California filed a lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods. You can’t be the best without being a little controversial.
Best On: Everything just tastes better with Sriracha