It’s hard to believe summer of 1997 was 20 years ago. Back then, the way we experienced music was much different. When an album dropped, you ran to your nearest record store and purchased a copy. Walkmans and CD players were the only portable options, way before smartphones and streaming services became the new normal.
Regardless of new technology, what has remained is the anticipation of summer songs as temperatures rise and the days get longer. In 2017, artists like Cardi B and DJ Khaled ruled the season, but 20 years ago there were other big names on top. Take a trip down memory lane and revisit nine classic songs ruling the charts in summer 1997.
“Ladies Night (Not Tonight Remix),” Lil’ Kim Feat. Da Brat, Left Eye, Missy Elliott & Angie Martinez
The Queen B enlisted all her sister emcees for the club anthem “Not Tonight.” The iconic team-up featured Da Brat, Left Eye, Missy Elliott, and Angie Martinez, and the song sampled the funk R&B hit “Ladies Night” by Kool & the Gang, making it an instant classic. Each of the women flossed about their money, sex appeal, and being a carefree Black girl way before it was a hashtag.
“Hypnotize,” The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G’s “Hypnotize” shot to the number one slot on the Billboard Hot 100 after the Brooklyn rapper was killed in a drive-by shooting at only 24 years old. Biggie’s swag and essence on the bass-heavy beat remains a classic club anthem today. Biggie for life!
“G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T.,” Changing Faces
The ’90s R&B duo delivered the perfect fed-up-with-your-bullshit anthem on “G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T” If you were going through a break up in the summer of 1997, this was your song. The decade is infamous for passionately sung slow jams and this was one of the most successful that year.
“Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems,” The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Puff Daddy & Mase
On “Mo Money Mo Problems,” Diddy predicted the success of the Bad Boy family would live forever. “Ten years from now we’ll still be on top,” he rapped. Twenty years later, he was selling out tours for the Bad Boy Reunion Tour and remains one of the most important figures in hip hop. As he gets closer to knocking on a billion in net worth, it’s clear Diddy can’t stop and won’t stop.
“Return of the Mack,” Mark Morrison
In 1997, British singer Mark Morrison crossed the pond and landed one of the biggest pop/R&B songs of the year. Morrison’s lyrics encouraged the heartbroken to suck up their feelings and embrace the single life. Although a one-hit wonder, “Return of the Mack” continues to appear in pop culture today, like on Aziz Ansari’s Netflix comedy Master of None.
“I Can Love You,” Mary J. Blige Featuring Lil’ Kim
On “I Can Love You,” Mary J. Blige is putting in her bid for a man who is already with another woman. On every verse, she’s reminding him that the grass is greener on her side. MJB won’t stop until she gets what she wants. This popular record became a top 40 hit.
“I’ll Be Missing You,” Puff Daddy & Faith Evans feat. 112
After the sudden murder of Biggie, the Bad Boy Family paid homage to their friend. Diddy, Faith Evans, and 112 got in the studio to record the heartfelt “I’ll Be Missing You,” a memorial record to celebrate the rapper’s life. The song helped the world mourn as it peaked at number one across the globe.
“You Make Me Wanna,” Usher
Towards the end of summer 1997, a fully-grown Usher reemerged with the first single from his breakout album My Way. The heartthrob flirted with the idea of leaving his current girlfriend to start a new relationship with his home girl. The song is definitely an Usher classic.
“Never Make a Promise,” Dru Hill
R&B boy band Dru Hill were on a winning streak in 1997 as their church-grown vocals and harmonies took over the radio and music video stations. “Never Make a Promise” is the anthem for men to make that huge step towards commitment. This is one of a handful of classic R&B songs the group can still brag about today.
Long live summer!