Ashanti, Ja Rule, DMX, XZIBIT, Baby Bash, Frankie J and N2Deep in one lineup? Count us in! With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, there’s only one concert that should be on your radar: The Heart of Hip Hop. Taking place the evening of Saturday, February 15 (just one day after V-Day), this will be a night of throwbacks and classics — that old school ’90s R&B we all love and adore.

It’s no secret Ashanti and Ja Rule can perform. In fact, the two recording artists have been touring for almost two decades — shutting down stages all across the world. Both were signed to Murder Inc. in the early 2000s, eventually collaborating on timeless hits “Mesmerize,” “Always On Time,” “Happy,” “Wonderful” and many more.

Of course, DMX will be putting on for all the Ruff Ryders in the building. The New York native is a certified rap legend, paving his own lane with his one-of-a-kind raspy voice and aggressive flows — neither of which has seemingly altered since he started three decades ago. When you think of a pure, genuine rap show, DMX is your guy. No cell phones needed, he’ll be able to turn up a crowd in his sleep.

To prepare for this epic evening of music, Irvine Weekly has compiled the top six records to prepare you for the show. Note: Nostalgia will most likely be present.

1. Ja Rule featuring Ashanti: “Always On Time”

“Baby, I’m not always there when you call, but I’m always on time / And I gave you my all, now baby be mine.” Who doesn’t know the words to this record? This is that early 2000s R&B we all know and love, a timeless era when it comes to romance. Going on to become an international smash, “Always On Time” would become Ashanti’s first Hot 100 #1 single (and Ja Rule’s second).

2. Ashanti: “Foolish”

“Foolish” quite possibly might be Ashanti’s biggest song to date. With over 130 million views on YouTube alone, the visuals highlight a romantic love story with the singer and a man that she can’t help but fall in love with. Regardless of the tears and trials and tribulations, she keeps on running back to him. This will be a song to hold your boo with.

3. DMX: “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem”

It doesn’t get any harder than DMX’ “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.” This isn’t just a song, it’s a whole brand and movement. Produced by the legendary Swizz Beatz, the hit single hails from DMX’ 1998 debut studio album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot. The melody and beat follows a rhythm reminiscent of the military, reflected in the hook’s theme of moving as a unit. That’s how Ruff Ryders roll!

4. XZIBIT: “X”

“Broadcastin’ live to you and yours, it’s Mr. X to the Z, Xzibit.” This beat, this collab with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, these bars, the nostalgia … no one can ever replace the greatness of Xzibit. His raspy voice and aggressive flows matched with his signature style continues to sweep audiences away when it comes to live performances. Plus, he created one of the greatest shows on MTV: Pimp My Ride

5. Baby Bash: “Suga Suga” ft. Frankie J

“Suga suga how you get so fly?” We can all almost instantaneously sing these lyrics in Baby Bash’s voice. This song has romance written all over it, giving you that ’90s R&B vibe and energy we miss. The music video clocks in at over 139 million views and counting, as both artists serenade multiple women.

6. N2Deep: “Back To The Hotel”

“Back to the Hotel” isn’t just N2Deep’s biggest hit, it’s the name of their debut studio album, Back to the Hotel. Hailing from Vallejo, California, the Chicano rap group released the project in 1992 on Profile Records. This set will indefinitely turn the nostalgia levels up in the arena!


The Heart of Hip Hop takes place at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 15 at 7:30 p.m.