100 BEST Rap Songs of All Time

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Top 100 Rap Songs: 100 - 91

Coolio peforms on stage during the I Love the 90s concert at the SSE Arena on September 29, 2017 in London, England. Getty Images/C Brandon / Contributor

The best hip-hop songs of all time are those songs that touch our soul. They make us smile, laugh, cry, think, move and shake what our mama (or papa) gave us. 

I traveled back four decades and dug through a pile of tunes to compile a list of the 100 greatest songs hip-hop has ever witnessed.

Behold: the 100 greatest rap songs of all time.

See also: 100 Greatest Rap Albums | 50 Greatest MCs

100 | Da Brat - "Funkdafied" | Download | Compare Prices
This fun, light-hearted track helped Da Bra-ta-ta shift one million units of her debut album, also titled Funkdafied.

99 | The Roots - "What They Do" | Buy |
In which The Roots distinguish themselves from everyone else by laying down the law.

98 | Common - "The Light" | Download |
Produced by the late great J Dilla and inspired by Common's ex Erykah Badu, "The Light" warmed up many nights throughout the 2000s. It was musical irrigation to our souls the first time it washed over the summer airwaves.

97 | Smif-N-Wessun - "Bucktown" | Download | Compare Prices
Smif-N-Wessun pay homage to the "home of the original gun clappers." When people say they miss that good ol' hip-hop, this is what they're talking about. Reminisce, reminisce, yo.

96 | Junior M.A.F.I.A. - "Player's Anthem" | Download | Compare Prices
Biggie's crew took a striking leap into the spotlight with this street anthem. "Get Money" would go on to become Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s most popular hit, reaching No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and shifting over a million copies in the summer of '96.

95 | Das EFX - "They Want EFX" | Download |
"They Want EFX" was the iggedy bomb in the early 90s. A surefire jam, the song later found its way onto an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

94 | Coolio - "Gangsta's Paradise" | Download |
"Gangsta's Paradise" shares its musical DNA with Stevie Wonder's 1976 gem "Pastime Paradise." Wonder performed the chart-topping song with Coolio and L.V. at the 1995 Billboard Awards

93 | ODB - "Brooklyn Zoo" | Download |
Brooklyn has always played a pivotal role in hip-hop culture. In return, rappers have rewarded the borough with numerous tributes. ODB's love letter to BK remains one of the best hip-hop songs of all time long after Dirty's death.

92 | Too $hort - "Freaky Tales" | Download | Compare Prices
Too $hort has dropped many a freaky tales since his humble beginnings 25 years ago. "Freaky Tales" stands tall among his best sexploitation tunes.

91 | The Notorious B.I.G. - "Who Shot Ya" | Download | Compare Prices
A menacing track by one of the best to ever breathe on a mic.

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90 - 81

Fugees
Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill and Praz of The Fugees. Paul Natkin / WireImage

90 | Method Man ft. Mary J Blige - "All I Need" | Download | Compare Prices
The story goes that Method Man approached this collaboration with slight hesitation. But when Def Jam showed up at his door with a Benz and an opportunity to work with an icon, he reconsidered. The outcome? Arguably the greatest rap and R&B collaboration of all time.

89 | GZA - "Fame" | Download |
In which GZA creatively weaves a story around celebrity names. A concept so powerful that it's been emulated by several emcees. Brownsville rapper Ka reworked the idea on "Off the Record," from 2013's

88 | Xzibit - "What U See Is What U Get" | Download | Compare Prices
Arguably DMX's biggest and brightest hit to date, "What U See Is What U Get" reached No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998.

87 | Ghostface ft. Mary J Blige - "All That I Got Is You" | Download |
No hard-hitting drums, no hyperbolic threats. Just Mary J. Blige's tears and Ghostface Killah's somber rhymes.

86 | Ultramagnetic MC's - "Ego Trippin'" | Download |
Not only is "Ego Trippin'" an undeniable masterpiece, it's also responsible for introducing the world to an eccentric figure named Kool Keith. It merits inclusion based on that point alone.

85 | The Fugees - "Fu-gee-La" | Download |
If anyone ever tells you that it's impossible to blend creativity and commercial appeal, simply cue up "Fu-gee-La" and walk away.

84 | The Luniz - "I Got 5 On It" | Download |
"I Got 5 On It" was the official anthem for broke fiends everywhere. It's also special for adding a new terminology to hip-hop lingo.

83 | Akrobatik - "Remind My Soul" | Download |
Akrobatik reminds his peers to be careful about what they're teaching the youngins. Ak's code of ethics is simple: If it makes Bob Marley turn in his grave, don't do it.

82 | M.O.P. - "How About Some Hardcore" | Download |
M.O.P. earned a near-iconic status in the game because of unforgettable songs like "How About Some Hardcore" and "Ante Up." This is quintessential M.O.P: loud, hard, and memorable. How about some respect?

81 | Ice Cube - "It Was A Good Day" | Download |
A good day in L.A. must have been at a premium when Ice Cube penned this stellar track. The video for "It Was a Good Day" follows Cube through an astonishingly peaceful day in South Central L.A. The song is exactly 4:20 in length, but I'm sure that's a mere coincidence.

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Wu-Tang Clan
Wu-Tang Clan. Bob Berg/Getty Images

80 | Wu-Tang Clan - "Protect Ya Neck" | Download |
Unbeknownst to many, the Wu has been making body threats since 92. You best get that heady bobbin', fool.

79 | Cypress Hill - "How I Could Just Kill A Man" | Download |
Admittedly insane-in-the-membrane rappers swap ideas on how to improve world peace.

78 | The Game - "Dreams" | Listen|
Game at his most imaginative. Kanye West in top form. A hip-hop anthem is born.

77 | Big Pun - "Still Not A Player" | Download|
The original version, "I'm Not a Player," reached No. 57 on Billboard. Pun tried again with the Joe-assisted remix "Still Not a Player" and soared to No. 24, making it the most successful public clarification in chart history.

76 | LL Cool J - "Mama Said Knock You Out" | Download|
A lot of guys probably saw a muscular L.L. at the punching bag and decided they were long overdue in starting their own exercise programs. It was also the proverbial walk-to-the-ring song for professional boxers in the '90s.

75 | Biz Markie - "Nobody Beats The Biz" | Download|
A stunningly amusing song by the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop.

74 | Nas - "New York State of Mind" | Download|
What "Empire State of Mind" wants to be when it grows up.

73 | Fabolous - "Breathe" | Download|
One of the most impressive MCs of the 2000s cemented his arrival with this Just Blaze epic.

72 | Lupe Fiasco - "Kick, Push" | Buy|
A picturesque hip-hop anthem that showcases Lupe's superb storytelling.

71 | Big L - "Ebonics" | Download|
Big L schools the world on urban lingo. I wonder how many inner-city cops were forced listen to "Ebonics" as part of their orientation.

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Lauryn-Hill.jpg
Lauryn Hill. Bernd Muller / Redferns / Getty

70 | DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince - "Parents Just Don't Understand" | Download|
Ah, the perfect soundtrack to teenage rebellion. Memories, man.

69 | Snoop Dogg - "Gin and Juice" | Download|
Following 93's "Nuthin' But a G Thang," Snoop teamed up with Dr. Dre for yet another surefire hit in "Gin & Juice," off the critically lauded DoggyStyle. All the splendid elements of west coast g-funk are mashed up in this anthem.

68 | Common - "The 6th Sense" | Download|
Common and DJ Premier caught this lightening in a bottle at the dawn of the century. It's a quintessential moment of uplift that owes as much to Premier's production as it does to Common's lyrical ingenuity.

67 | Jay Z ft. Mary J Blige - "Can't Knock The Hustle" | Download|
Jay didn't come out the gate banging. After two mildly received singles, third time proved to be the charm with "Can't Knock the Hustle" -- a timeless tune that still gets heads bobbing decades later.

66 | Lauryn Hill - "Everything Is Everything" | Download|
L'Boogie had so many gems on her solo debut, but "Everything Is Everything" was the Stickum that held the rest of the album together.

65 | Mos Def - "Umi Says" | Download|
A sprawling piece from Mighty Mos Def's stellar debut, Black on Both Sides.

64 | Jadakiss - "Why" | Download|
Jadakiss hooked up with Havoc for this moment of reflection on a wide array of social issues. The Common-assisted remix is equally fascinating. It's also the first of many rap songs to namedrop future president Barack Obama.

63 | 50 Cent - "Many Men (Wish Death)" | Download|
As deadly as the bullets that pierced his skin and nearly claimed his life.

62 | Souls of Mischief - "93 'Til Infinity" | Download
Rumor has it this song has launched more rap careers than Steve Rifkind.

61 | Slum Village - "Reunion" | Download| Compare Prices
It's all love in the D, as Slum Villa make nice over a poignant J Dilla beat.

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Eminem.jpg
Eminem. Christopher Polk / Getty Images

60 | Big Daddy Kane - "Raw" | Download|
Kane in his prime was a brute force unparalleled by none.

59 | Special Ed - "I Got It Made" |
In the land of one-hit wonders, this is undeniable royalty.

58 | Eminem - Mosh | Download|
Eminem's shift to political consciousness gave him a new sandbox to play with. It also led to this huge smash in the midst of a controversial election.

57 | DJ Quik - "Tonite" | Download|
Pure proof of why Quik is one of the illest hip-hop producers of all time.

56 | Black Moon - "Who Got da Props" | Download|
This one crawls into your head like the slug from The Matrix and vows to remain there.

55 | Naughty By Nature - "OPP" | Download|
Show of hands if you thought the "P" stood for "property."

54 | Nas - One Mic | Download|
"One Mic" builds up gradually and explodes into a torrent of explosive rhymes. One of Nas' finest moments.

53 | A Tribe Called Quest - "Electric Relaxation" | Download|
A Crisco-slick gem from Tribe's masterpiece.

52 | UGK - "Ridin' Dirty" | Download|
The essence of the dirty south crystallized in one seminal single. Many southern rappers owe their success to UGK's influence.

51 | Artifacts - "Wrong Side of da Tracks" | Compare Prices
Arguably the greatest graffiti-inspired song in hip-hop history.

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50 - 41

Kanye West
KMazur / WireImage

50 | Marley Marl - "The Symphony" | Download|
An apt reminder of the good days when producers picked collaborators based on poetic prowess, not politics.

49 | Aasim - "Hip-Hop 101" | Download| Buy Album
His rhymes are sharper than a ginsu. The beat, courtesy of the late great Roc Raida, will have you reaching for Bengay from too much head motion.

48 | Run-DMC & Aerosmith - "Walk This Way" | Download|
Long live the rap-rock collabo that had everyone biting the kings.

47 | Salt-N-Pepa - "Push It" | Download|
Both a club staple and a gym favorite. You haven't fully lived until you've flexed your Kegel muscles to the tune of "Push It."

46 | Zion I feat Talib Kweli - "Temperature" | Download|
A straight-out-of-nowhere smash by a west coast duo and an east coast veteran.

45 | Eminem - "Stan" | Download|
An ill-fated account of a psychotic Eminem worshipper. Dido's ethereal crooning adds more soot to the tale.

44 | Slick Rick - "Children's Story" | Download|
A masterfully woven narrative by hip-hop's greatest storyteller.

43 | Kanye West - "Jesus Walks" | Download|
West meticulously marries the mainstream and the Messiah and makes it look easy. Kinda like walking on water.

42 | M.O.P. - "Ante Up" | Download|
Further proof that M.O.P albums should come with a warning sticker: "Repeated listens may cause you to run into a wall, especially at the crack of dawn."

41 | OutKast - "Miss Jackson" | Download|
Two dope boys from the A plead their case before a baby mama's mama.

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DMX
DMX. Scott Gries / Getty

40 | Scarface - "I Seen A Man Die" | Download |
Assuming the role of a street prophet, 'Face delivers cautionary tales about remorseless violence in the hood.

39 | O.C. - "Time's Up" | Buy |
O.C. issues an eviction letter to rap's growing crowd of faking jacks, while Buckwild serves up one of the most memorable instrumentals of the era.

38 | Craig Mack - "Flava In Ya Ear" | Download |
Craig Mack may be a one-hit phenom, but we'll always remember him for this larger-than-life tune which combines some of the biggest enchiladas in 90s rap.

37 | DMX - "Slippin'" | Download |
A song about falling off the edge, written by a man on his way down from rap's pantheon. "Wasn't long before I hit rock bottom," he says, an unintentional reminder about the latter part of X's career.

36 | Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - "Tha Crossroads" | Download |
BTNH repackaged the original "Crossroads" in honor of mentor Eazy-E, who died in March of 1995. A solemn hymn fit for the summer blues.

35 | Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - "Ill Street Blues" | Download |
Inspired by the riffs from Joe Williams' "Get Out of My Life Woman," producers Poke & Tone cooked up a pot of soul for G Rap to lay his mean rhymes.

34 | GangStarr ft. Nice & Smooth - "Dwyck" | Download |
Premier lays the smooth cuts. Guru, Greg Nice and Smooth B put the crazy boasts on display. Filthy.

33 | Warren G - "Regulate" | Download |
"Regulate" marked Warren G's arrival, which in turn helped define the G-Funk era. A big moment in hip-hop.

32 | Slick Rick & Doug E Fresh - "La di da di" | Download |
An outstanding performance by an imaginative Slick Rick and beatboxing great Doug E. Fresh.

31 | Westside Connection - "Bow Down" | Download |
Cube, WC and Mack 10 join forces to declare west coast supremacy on this menacing track.

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Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane. Raymond Boyd / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

30 | Mos Def - "Mathematics" | Download |
Expectations for Mos Def's solo debut, Black on Both Sides, were sky high, following his success with Black Star. Potent tracks like "Umi Says" and the brain-melting "Mathematics" helped Mos smash those expectations.

29 | Brand Nubian - "Slow Down" | Download |
"Slow Down" is rife with wisecracks I'd love to put on a T-shirt someday. Sadat X spends his entire verse ridiculing crackheads: "On your crack card you're getting only As and Cs for come back."

28 | Big Daddy Kane - "Ain't No Half Steppin'" | Download |
Mr. Asiatic shows us the definition of microphone presence on arguably his biggest smash yet.

27 | Mobb Deep - "Shook Ones II" | Download |
Havoc's steely production drives Prodigy's salvo of verbal threats on "Shook Ones II."

26 | Kurtis Blow - "The Breaks" | Download |
Kurtis Blow's breakfest still rocks parties all across America. Suddenly, you find yourself bobbing and snapping your whole being to this.

25 | Talib Kweli - "Get By" | Buy |
Kweli's song about survival helped him make that important transition from "one half of a dynamic duo" to "strong solo artist."

24 | Beastie Boys - "Paul Revere" | Download |
Bad boys of rap tell a fictional story of the group's formation, while Rick Rubin works up a snake charmer.

23 | MC Lyte - "Paper Thin" | Download |
Lyte's tough talk on this song solidified her status as the new queen in town.

22 | The Pharcyde - "Passin' Me By" | Download |
A lazy summer song perfect for lounging on the loveseat while enjoying a cold beverage.

21 | dead prez - "Hip-Hop" | Download |
A bouncy anthem that showcased DP's versatility while underlining their commitment to activism.

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Jay Z
Al Pereira / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

20 | Wu-Tang Clan - "C.R.E.A.M." | Download |
Never has there been a wildly influential hip-hop song so soothing by a group so blunt as Wu-Tang's "C.R.E.A.M." That, my friends, is the genius of The RZA.

19 | N.W.A. - "Straight Outta Compton" | Download |
It wasn't just a gangsta rap anthem. It was also a vicious street classic that resonated with the frustrations of the young, black and persecuted in L.A.

18 | Geto Boys - "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me" | Download |
The brooding paranoia of "Mind Playing Tricks" served as a metaphor for the mental disillusionment that often accompanies inner-city angst. There's no way a song this dark should've made it into heavy rotation. But it did. That "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me" went on to become such a huge success has everything do with Scarface's surrealism, Bushwick Bill's suicidal mindset, and Willie D's stone cold flow. Geto Boys at their best.

17 | A Tribe Called Quest ft. Busta Rhymes - "Scenario" | Download |
A summer burner and a hip-hop essential, "Scenario" is a song for all ages. When Busta comes in with his contagious energy, it's sure to set any dance floor on fire.

16 | Jay-Z - "Dead Presidents II" | Download |
Jay Z spells out his lofty goals while kicking some of the illest lines he's ever rhymed.

15 | The Notorious B.I.G. - "Juicy" | Download |
"Juicy" is Biggie's most important song. Period. It has that rare moment of self-introspection. Biggie died three years later, but this song lives on in the through those who remember the days of The Source and Mr. Magic.

14 | Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg - "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" | Download |
Snoop and Dre drove this Cali anthem all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1993. This was the first single from The Chronic and it immediately established him as a supersonic force for decades to come.

13 | LL Cool J - "I Need Love" | Download |
This 1987 smash, often heralded as the first true hip-hop love song, is a reminder that Cool J has been pitching his love to the ladies for a minute.

12 | Boogie Down Productions - "My Philosophy" | Download |
The Teacha instructs his disciples to respect his fresh.

11 | 2Pac - "Keep Ya Head Up" | Download |
"Keep Ya Head Up" is arguably 2 Pac's best song ever. Over DJ Daryl's rendition of Zapp & Roger's "Be Alright," Shakur offers a message about staying ahead of the struggle and showing respect to all, regardless of gender.

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Eric B. and Rakim
Eric B. and Rakim. Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

10 | Afrika Bambataa - "Planet Rock" | Listen |
Bambataa was looking for the perfect beat. Instead, he found the magnetism of electro-rap and changed the game in the process. Not a bad deal.

9 | Public Enemy - "Fight The Power" | Download |
Chuck D's politically salient rhymes combined with Bomb Squad's searing, ferocious sound to yield this revolutionary soundtrack.

8 | Audio Two - "Top Billin'" | Download |
Daddy-O turns a sampling goof into a sledgehammer. Throw in the well-placed hook and you've got a masterpiece.

7 | Nas - "The World Is Yours" | Download |
Nas and Pete Rock team up to declare a revolution. Which is always a good move.

6 | Pete Rock & CL Smooth - "They Reminisce Over You" | Download |
Insane horn riffs. Shimmering cymbals. Soulful samples. You just know it's Pete Rock. On the other end is C.L. Smooth channeling controlled emotion through the mic. Melancholy elegy at its finest.

5 | Eric B & Rakim - "Lyrics of Fury" | Download |
"" Rakim never had to rely on gimmicks to grab ears. His inimitable monotone flow took care of that, as evidenced on the impeccable "Lyrics of Fury."

4 | 2Pac - "Dear Mama" | Download |
2Pac's ode to Afeni Shakur remains the unofficial Mother's Day hip-hop anthem. On this heartfelt piece, Pac pats Mama on the back for working tirelessly to put food on the table while trying to save him from the perils of street life.

3 | Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5 - "The Message" | Download |
"The Message" was arguably the first hip-hop song to detail the harsh realities of the streets –- a sharp contrast to the feel good disco clubs from which the group emerged.

2 | The Sugarhill Gang - "Rapper's Delight" | Download |
It holds the dubious title of "the first hip-hop song." Its long-term influence on the culture, however, is undeniable.

1 | Common Sense - "I Used To Love H.E.R." | Download | Compare Prices
When Common dropped Resurrection in 1994, there was no shortage of great hip-hop albums. Still, he managed to stand out, thanks to songs like "Resurrection" and "I Used to Love H.E.R." Before Common, no one had thought to personify hip-hop. No one thought to assign a gender to it. "I Used to Love H.E.R.," a metaphor for hip-hop's evolution, would go on to prove that Common's skill, purpose, and approach to storytelling was anything but common.

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Adaso, Henry. "100 BEST Rap Songs of All Time." ThoughtCo, Oct. 20, 2017, thoughtco.com/best-rap-songs-of-all-time-2857834. Adaso, Henry. (2017, October 20). 100 BEST Rap Songs of All Time. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-rap-songs-of-all-time-2857834 Adaso, Henry. "100 BEST Rap Songs of All Time." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-rap-songs-of-all-time-2857834 (accessed November 24, 2017).