Top 100 Rap Songs of 2007

2007, despite its numerous disappointments, spawned many memorable moments. Like the theme music to a good movie, these songs underscored a unique year in hip-hop. Ladies and Gentlemen, grab your iPods! Cue the time machine! It's time to rewind 2007 and explore the year's best 100 rap songs.

[Disclaimer: The songs were ranked on production quality, lyrical appeal, and overall impact. It's a highly subjective list and I'm not claiming it to be the gospel.]

Anime - Tell Myself I'm Happy

Every now and then you'll come across a song that everyone can identify with, irrespective of status or background. Anime's "Tell Myself I'm Happy" is one of those songs.

Cassidy - My Drink 'N' My 2 Step

Backed by Swizz Beatz, Cassidy delivers an instruction on how to multitask in the club. Buy from Amazon »

Ja Rule feat. The Game - Sunset

Ja toasts to the Golden State ("I'm from New York, but I love California-e") alongside one of its favorite sons.

CunningLynguists - Mexico

The best rap group with the worst name contribute to one of the year's highlights with this irresistibly catchy tune about eloping to Mexico. Buy from Amazon »

Scarface - Big Dogg Status

© Rap-A-Lot
Hip-hop O.G. reaffirms his status as a top shelf artist over N.O. Joe's southern-fried production. Buy from Amazon »

Hell Razah feat. Tragedy & R.A. the Rugged Man - Renaissance

© Nature Sounds
Sure Hell Razah and Tragedy held their own on this, but it was R.A.'s lung-snapping wordplay that made this one a keeper. Buy from Amazon »

LL Cool J feat. Kool G Rap, Mobb Deep, 50 Cent & Tony Yayo - Queens

It's a Queens thing, as LL and friends shout out their New York neighborhood. L sneaks in a subliminal slap at Def Jam (then headed by Jay-Z and L.A. Reid). But even without the Def Jam snipe, this is still one of uncle L's better songs in years.

Fabolous feat. Jay-Z & Uncle Murder - Brooklyn

© Def Jam
No, it's not a response to LL's "Queens," but it's an equally endearing 'hood tribute. Aided by a familiar Biggie line ("Where Brooklyn at?"), Fab and Jay get majestic over a booming bass that sounds like you just crashed a block party, with Uncle Murder riding shotgun. Buy from Amazon »

Akir feat. Immortal Technique - Treason

© Babygrande
Technically, Akir's debut CD Legacy was released two years ago via Viper Records. But, Babygrande Records snatched up the project and re-issued it in July 2007 to give those who slept on this great record a chance at redemption. "Treason," a surreal social protest, is the album's magnum opus. Buy from Amazon »

Beanie Sigel - What They Gonna Say to Me

© Roc-A-Fella

A nasty exercise in braggart rap. Sigel huffs and puffs, but delivers the goods in the end. Too bad, the rest of The Solution didn't live up to par.

USDA - Corporate Thuggin'

Young Jeezy Presents: U.S.D.A. - Cold Summer &copy Def Jam.
Over a trunk-rattling beat, Young Jeezy questions critics who question his talent. Buy from Amazon »

Donny Goines - Never Let My Talent Die

The strings are ethereal and the drums are breathtaking, but it's upstart Donny Goines' hunger that makes this a thriller.

Pharoahe Monch - When the Gun Draws

© SRC/Universal
Pharoahe Monch follows up Organized Konfusion's "Stray Bullet" with the graphical "Gun Draws." Monch tackles gun violence from the perspective of a bullet and the video plays like horror flick. Buy from Amazon »

T.I. - Big Things Poppin'

© Atlantic
A synth-bounce track that is sure to bring any downer out of their shell. It's not "What You Know" but it gets the job done. Buy from Amazon »

Little Brother feat. Lil Wayne - Breakin' My Heart

© ABB Records
Lil' Weezy and Little Brother trade rhymes about the consequences of infidelity in one of the most unlikely collaborations of 2007. Buy from Amazon »

Busta Rhymes feat. Q-Tip & Talib Kweli - Lightworks

Busta, Tip, and Kweli pay homage to a music icon. This is space-rap inspired by Dilla's funky production.

DJ Khaled ft. Jeezy, Juelz Santana, Rick Ross, Wayne, Fat Joe - Brown Paper Bag

© Koch
Lyrically, it's everything you expect from a lineup that includes four crack-rap enthusiasts. Sonically, it's a fever dream of burbling keyboards. Buy from Amazon »

Luckyiam - Classy Joint

Luckyiam, a funny moonlighting solo artist from the Living Legends, lets the listener into his world on this jazzy track. Buy from Amazon »

Black Milk - Sound the Alarm

© Fat Beats

Detroit's brightest rookie begins the fight to keep his city on the hip-hop map. Even Dilla would approve. Buy from Amazon »

UGK feat. Willie D & Charlie Wilson - Quit Hatin' the South

© Jive
Pimp C tells critics of "country-fried rap tunes" to stop whining and start grinding. Buy from Amazon »

Public Enemy - Harder Than You Think

You know you're in for a great year when one of the best songs is from a crew that started out 20 years ago. This is P.E.'s comeback party, and everyone's invited.

EL-P - Everything Must Go

El-P. &copy Def Jux
Rocking the world, one furniture store at a time.

Polyrhythm Addicts - Kerosene

Polyrhythm Addicts - Break Glass
Polyrhythm Addicts - Break Glass. © Babygrande Records
Three decent male rappers and one talented female singer/rapper attempt to fill some big shoes: "We get compared to the Fugees, but all of us can rhyme." Not even close, but they're on the right track for now. Buy from Amazon »

Guru feat. Common - State of Clarity

© 7 Grand Records

Backed by sunny piano loops, Guru and Common exchange views on soul-searching and moving past the little things that keep us from fulfilling our mission in life. Buy from Amazon »

Young Buck - Get Buck

© G-Unit

Buck Marley dispels any notion of his crew's demise with this exuberant Polow da Don concoction from Buck the World. Buy from Amazon »

Blitz - Hands of Time

Blitz rewinds his favorite hip-hop moments, blending snippets of timeless tunes like Biggie's "Unbelievable" and Nas' "New York State of Mind."

Phat Kat - Nasty Ain't It

Phat Kat. © Look Records
Midwest hip-hop at its braggiest, grimiest, and nastiest. Buy from Amazon »

KRS-One & Marley Marl - Hip-Hop Lives

© Koch

After 20 years and 16 albums, you'd think that KRS-One would be out of hip-hop terminologies by now. Instead, the Teacha finds a million more ways to symbolize Hip-Hop on the title track from Hip-Hop Lives . Buy from Amazon »

Royce da 5'9" - Rewind

Royce imagines what could have become of three flourishing rappers that died before they ever had a chance to live out their dreams.

AZ & Styles P - The Hardest

AZ. Universal
AZ's breakneck flow meets Styles P's sucker-free swagger. Buy from Amazon »

Outlawz feat. Young Buck & Dion - Drivin' Down the Freeay

Aided by Hi-Tek's boardsmanship and Dion's inspiring chorus, Young Buck and Outlawz invent a new genre: hardcorerapsoulnica.

Chamillionaire feat. Slick Rick - Hip-Hop Police

© Universal
Master storyteller Slick Rick assists in this witty narrative about the "hip-hop police," a fictional law enforcement unit that arrests artists solely on account of obscene lyrics.

50 Cent - I Get Money

© Interscope
50 Cent brags about being stanky rich on this sky-scrapingly great banger. It's a bright spot on the otherwise mediocre Curtis. Buy from Amazon »

Skyzoo feat. Torae - Click

You don't have to be a Jay-Z to get a beat from the legendary DJ Premier, just Jay-Z good. And Skyzoo lives up to expectation here.

Hi-Tek feat Ghostface & Raekwon - My Piano

Hi-Tek. © Babygrande
Other hip-hoppers brag about their wallets and their guns. Hi-Tek brags about his piano, and still sounds amazing. Buy from Amazon »

Lupe Fiasco feat. Snoop Dogg & Pooh Bear - Hi-Definition

Lupe Fiasco. © Getty Images/Donna Ward
Hey, care for some gangsta with that plate of conscious? Pure proof that we can all get along. Buy from Amazon »

Talib Kweli - Hot Thing

Talib Kweli - Hot Thing. © Warner Bros.
Kweli has a massive grip on the ingredients necessary for the ultimate girl song: stark honesty, beautiful lyrics, and on the boards. Buy from Amazon »

Redman - Gimme One

© Def Jam
Red Gone Wild wasn't exactly a classic, but it still had some sweepingly awesome tracks, including this one. Buy from Amazon »

Blu & Exile - Dancing in the Rain

© Sound in Color
Backed by Exile's jazzy piano riffs, Blu gives his tongue a lyrical workout while his brain works overtime. Buy from Amazon »

Wyclef ft. Lil Wayne, Akon, & Niia Bertino - Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)

© Columbia
Clef delivers a stunning comeback hit in the form of a save-a-stripper campaign. Buy from Amazon »

Hezekiah feat. Bilal - Looking Up

© Rawkus
Self-uplifting rhymes from the dude that looks like your neighborhood pest control agent. Buy from Amazon »

Freeway - It's Over

Philadelphia Freeway spews angst at anyone that cares to listen. Buy from Amazon »

Snoop Dogg - Sensual Seduction

Snoop Dogg. © Geffen
Hyper-minimal disco backs up Snoop's auto-tuned vocals. If you listen close you'll probably hear Bootsy Collins wailing in the background. Buy from Amazon »

Timbaland feat Keri Hilson, D.O.E. & Sebastian - The Way I Are

Timbaland. © Geffen
Hip-hop and pop fusion only works half the time. Thankfully, this was one of those times. Buy from Amazon »

Evidence - Mr. Slow Flow

Evidence embraces what many considered a liability -- a cool, calm, and careful delivery. It's pure proof that rap doesn't have to be drop-dead fast to be enjoyable. Buy from Amazon »

M.I.A. - Paper Planes

M.I.A. © Interscope
The beat is intoxicating. The chorus is infectious. But the lyrics are so heavy that you're not sure if dancing should be the appropriate response here. Buy from Amazon »

DJ Khaled ft. Akon, T.I, Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Baby & Lil Wayne - We Takin' Over

The chipmunk-voiced DJ assembles a lineup of hit-makers for one of the year's best posse cuts. Buy from Amazon »

Eightball & MJG feat. Project Pat - Relax & Take Notes

© Bad Boy
Ball & G invoke the ghost of Biggie on this rewind-worthy stomp jam from their 10th album, Ridin' High.

One Be Lo - Headlines

A critique of modern society delivered through the eyes of a frozen caveman who gets thawed back to life by melting icecaps.

Aesop Rock - No City

A pernicious piece of genius from one of alt-rap's best. Buy from Amazon »

Junk Science - Jerry McGuire

Junk Science - Grandad's Tonic.
A friend once asked me for help with her resignation letter. I pointed her to the fleet of polished and professional resignation letter templates on our Job Search site. Next time, I'll just make her listen to "Jerry McGuire," a funny 12-step program on how to quit your job and probably get fired at your next job. Buy from Amazon »

Strong Arm Steady feat. Talib Kweli - One Step

Vicious stomp from Talib Kweli's west coast outfit. Buy from Amazon »

Skillz feat. Freeway - Don't Act Like You Don't Know

Skillz. © Okayplayer
All guts and glory. Skillz and Freeway rap as if their lives depend on this chest-pumping heat rock.

C-Rayz Walz & Sharkey - Electric Avenue

© Babygrande
Sharkey and C-Rayz party like it's 1982 with their hip-hop interpretation of Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue." Buy from Amazon »

Chamillionaire - Won't Let You Down

Chamillionaire. © Marlon Ross

Few rap songs are simultaneously inspirational and anthemic. Now you can add "Won't Let You Down" to that list. If you're feeling lucky, check out the 18-minute Texas All-Star remix.

Ghostface feat. Beanie Sigel - Tony Sigel (aka Barrel Brothers)

Ghost brings the ruckus. Beans brings the burner. It's a match made in trigger-happy paradise. Buy from Amazon »

Brother Ali - Uncle Sam

© Rhymesayers
Brother Ali rails against the status quo. Sorta like Ron Paul without the political baggage. Buy from Amazon »

Little Brother - Sirens

Little Brother.
"Sirens" is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it rebukes hip-hop haters for ignoring society's larger issues ("Like most black folks living below the poverty line"). On the other hand, it repudiates a complacent hip-hop environment ("I had to tell my son, 'Cut that bulls**t off. Them ain't videos, that's psychological warfare'"). Buy from Amazon »

Talib Kweli - Everything Man

© Blacksmith

Over a tiptoeing Madlib beat, Kweli comes to the realization that he can't be everything to everyone at the same time. Buy from Amazon »

Lupe Fiasco feat. Matthew Santos - Superstar

A grandiose record that's both accessible and thought-provoking. Buy from Amazon »

Devin the Dude feat. Lil Wayne & Bun B - Lil Girl Gone

© Rap-A-Lot
See, life for Devin isn't all weed, wine and women -- actually, it is. "Lil Girl Gone" connects three stories about a girl gone wild despite her proper upbringing. Buy from Amazon »

Beanie Sigel - Return of the Bad Guy

© Def Jam
Beanie Sigel specializes in songs that are grim enough to make even the toughest villains whimper, and this is a perfect example of that. This was the original title of his fourth album, which was later renamed The Solution.

Consequence - Don't Forget 'Em

© GOOD Music

Armed with Kanye's staccato drum blasts, Quence assures his family that he won't forget 'em once he makes it big time. Buy from Amazon »

Sean Price - P-Body

Sean Price. © Duck Down
Sean Price is already famous for being the brokest rapper you know. P's knack for alliteration ("Pound for pound perfection, and punch potholes in pretenders") adds yet another feather to his NY fitted hat.

Wu-Tang Clan feat. Erykah Badu - The Heart Gently Weeps

© SRC/Universal
There was so much hoopla about the process behind "The Heart Gently Weeps" that many forgot just how brilliant the song is. Backed by a warm acoustic guitar, "The Heart Gently Weeps" is meditative storytelling at its finest. Buy from Amazon »

Jay-Z feat. Pharrell - Blue Magic

Jay-Z. © Def Jam

This was billed as a bonus track on American Gangster because Jay-Z wasn't sure if it belonged on that album. He's right: The musical charm that is "Blue Magic" is in a world of its own. From the Pharrell's barebones production to Jay's sophisticated rhyme scheme ("Blame Oliver north and Iran-Contra/I ran contraband that they sponsored"). Buy from Amazon »

Blu & Exile - Cold Hearted

© Sound in Color
Avant-garde storytelling from one of 2007's most promising newcomers. Buy from Amazon »

Blue Scholars - Back Home

© Rawkus
Blue Scholars echo the sentiment of 70% of Americans and ask for an end to the Iraq war. Buy from Amazon »

CRS - Us Placers

There's a certain magic to this song that I don't want to ruin by trying to dissect the ingredients. Thankfully, it's just one of many gems to come from this hip-hop supergroup that consists of Kanye, Pharrell, and Lupe Fiasco.

Pharoahe Monch - Welcome to the Terrordome

Seventeen years after it was first laced on wax, Public Enemy's "Welcome to the Terror Dome" gets a facelift from Pharoahe Monch. Buy from Amazon »

NYOil - Shout it in the Streets

With the emergence of so many new artists, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. But NYOil has no intentions of taking the easy way out. "Shout it in the Streets" is a vicious follow-up to the memorable 2006 hit "Y'all Should All Get Lynched." Buy from Amazon »

Jazzy Jeff feat. C.L. Smooth - All I Know

The Jazzmeister cooks up a soulful concoction, while the Smoothsmith lays his rhymes in the cut. Buy from Amazon »

Fabolous feat. Ne-Yo - Make Me Better

Fabolous © Def Jam.

Let's do the math: Fabolous in Ladies Man mode + Ne-Yo on the chorus = slam dunk. Buy from Amazon »

Joel Ortiz - Hip-Hop

© Koch
Let's get this straight: No other newcomer delivered an endless supply of gritty rap anthems like Brooklyn's own Joel Ortiz. Of all the 5,279 songs titled "Hip-Hop," this one's a breath of fresh air.

Prodigy - Mac 10 Handle

Your inner cynic may frown at Prodigy for sticking to familiar territory on "Mac 10 Handle." That's until you hear Alchemist's arrestingly upbeat production and P's cinematic rhymes kick in and reaffirm that he's capable of pumping life into a banal concept. Buy from Amazon »

Common - The Game

© Geffen

Beat by Kanye West; Scratches by DJ Premier. Exactly what an MC's dream session sounds like. Buy from Amazon »

Marco Polo feat. Masta Ace - Nostalgia

[Video] After two decades in the game, Masta Ace still doesn't know how to waste a verse. Buy from Amazon »

Kanye West - Can't Tell Me Nothin'

Kanye West - Cant Tell me Nothing.
This piece of genius -- with a chorus so repetitive it will lodge itself in your memory for months -- is as gorgeous as anything 'Ye has recorded in years. Buy from Amazon »

Brother Ali - Take Me Home

© Rhymesayers

Ali showcases his spirit, soul, and versatility over Ant's slap-happy drums. Buy from Amazon »

Trae feat. Styles P & Jadakiss - Smile

© Rap-A-Lot
Trae and his D-Block cohorts sound right at home rhyming about the misfortunes of life that make it hard to crack a smile. Buy from Amazon »

Termanology - So Amazing

Forget sending a demo tape, Termanology exhibits his skills on "So Amazing" with DJ Premier on the boards. In an ideal world, this song would trigger an intense bidding war among all the majors. Buy from Amazon »

Skyzoo feat Torae - Get It Done

The great thing about this song -- besides the obvious fact that Preemo is still the producer to beat -- is that the theme changes depending on who's clutching the mic. Skyzoo indulges in a lyrical exercise that references 2 decades worth of Preemology ("I'm in a 'New York State of Mind' when I 'Kick in the Door' with 'A Million and One Questions' when I'm bringing it on"), while Torae compares the collaboration to past classics ("It's reminiscent of Nas & Jay or Billy & Womack").

The Cool Kids - Black Mags

2007 was the year of Chicago. Not only did the Windy City contribute 3 albums to 07's best top 10 joints, it also introduced us to this cool duo. "Black Mags" is a sonical collision of different styles and genres, from hyphy to boom bap. Buy from Amazon »

Rich Boy - Let's Get This Paper

© Universal

What does it say of the music industry when the best song on your album ends up as a hidden track? Rich Boy's clever indictment of societal imbalance will make even the grimiest gangbanger put down his gun and pick up a book. Proof that smart is the new gangsta. Buy from Amazon »

Hi-Tek feat. Talib Kweli & Dion - Time

Maybe it's Hi-Tek's soul-drenched production. Maybe it's Kweli's masterfully interjected pauses when he says "We ain't got no time to kill...each other." Whatever it is, this one's sure to withstand the test of... Buy from Amazon »

Scarface - Never

Scarface. © Scott Gries/Getty Images
Scarface once swore of rap music, but all that did was make us miss him badly. As this hard-hitting banger affirms, 'Face learned one hard lesson during his break: Never say never. Buy from Amazon »

Kanye West feat. Dwele - Flashing Lights

Kanye West.
Exuberant hip-pop funk from the Timbaland of this generation. Buy from Amazon »

Wu-Tang Clan - Campfire

All three Clansmen on this song brought their A-game along for the ride. Combine their vigorous lyrical exercise with a RZA beat so great even Memphis Bleek could've made it a hit, and you've got the best song on 8 Diagrams. Buy from Amazon »

Nas - Surviving the Times

Nas - Greatest Hits © Columbia.

"Surviving the Times" is a relentlessly introspective and sincere summary of Nas' rap career. It chronicles his early days as an unsigned MC who "didn't even know what a record advance meant" to his emergence as a living legend. Buy from Amazon »

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony feat. Akon - I Tried

© Interscope

They lost their record deal, regained it after several years, then lost a group member. So, Bone Thugs did what any wise crew would do: they turned their struggle into rhymes and asked Akon to sing his heart out. Talk about music therapy. Buy from Amazon »

Common - The People

Common - The People. © Geffen
Common rhymes about survival, enlightenment, a Grammy snub, and finding the new Preemo, in one breath. Buy from Amazon »

Lupe Fiasco - Paris, Tokyo

Lupe Fiasco. © Getty Images/Donna Ward

No, he didn't apologize to Tribe Called Quest fans for briefly flubbing his "Electric Relaxation" performance at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors, but this throwback masterpiece will surely appease all fans of the Jungle Brothers era. Buy from Amazon »

Ghostface feat. Raekwon & Method Man - Yolanda's House

Ghostface - Big Doe Rehab. © Def Jam
One glance at the lineup conjures images of typical Wu-Tang heist. Instead, we get a spellbinding story about Ghost's run-ins with the law. This one takes an unpredictable twist, as Ghost decides to seek refuge in Yolanda's house. Amidst the chaos, he runs into one of the rooms only to find Method Man with his draws half-drawn (literally). Three minutes will have passed by the time you realize that this is a song, not a hood flick. Buy from Amazon »

Kanye West - Stronger

Kanye West. © Getty Images
Kanye abandons his signature sped-up samples for a foray into Euro synth-pop. In his quest for perfection, 'Ye scraped the original version of the song and brought in master producer Timbaland to tweak the drums. Buy from Amazon »

Rakim, Nas, Kanye, & KRS-One - Classic (Better Than I've Ever Been)

Three legendary MCs and one MC known for his legendary high-handedness celebrate Nike's Air Force 1 sneaker.

DJ Drama feat. OutKast & Marsha Ambrosius - Da Art of Storytelling 4

By all standards, Andre 3000 had a terrific run in 2007. No other MC was as consistently exciting as Ice Cold. Everything he touched was magic. That probably explains his presence on three of the top 10 songs on this list. "Da Art of Storytelling" was undoubtedly the outstanding track on DJ Drama's forgettable debut, Gangsta Grillz, thanks to two great verses from Dre and Big Boi. Buy from Amazon »

Rhymefest - Angry Black Man on an Elevator

© J Records
Classic Rhymefest humor ("I'm Saddam, except I got weapons") sprinkled with Classic Rhymefest musings ("They sold MySpace for $500 million/They sold YouTube for $1.6 billion/And you're in the project fighting over a building"). Theme music for any revolution.

Devin the Dude feat. Andre 3000 & Snoop Dogg - What a Job

© Rap-A-Lot
Ever dreamed of becoming a music superstar? Well, you won't, after hearing Devin Copeland and friends highlight the travails of a demanding music industry. The delight of the song, of course, comes from Andre's candid storytelling. Buy from Amazon »

Jay-Z - Roc Boys

&copy Def Jam

Hip-hop emeritus brings his requisite gravitas to this unapologetic toast to the good life. Not to be outdone by Jay's celebratory rhymes, Diddy and his Hitmen toss some triumphant horns into the mix. Buy from Amazon »

UGK feat. OutKast - Int'l Players Anthem

UGK. Photo © Jive Records
Two revered groups merge forces for the first time and yield a pulverizing hip-hop moment. From the goofy concept to the way the beat is tailor-made to suit each artist, "Int'l Players Anthem" is flawless. It doesn't matter if you're a backpacker, a purist, or a southern rap aficionado, this is one anthem you won't forget anytime soon. Buy from Amazon »