Top 100 Rap Songs of 2008

Grab your iPod and get ready to fill it with some hip-hop goodies. Hopefully, this list will bring back memories of your favorite rap songs and introduce you to a few new ones. Here's a countdown of 2008's Top 100 Rap Songs. Enjoy!

100
Jay-Z - "Jockin' Jay-Z (Dope Boy Fresh)"

THISDAY's Africa Rising Music and Fashion Festival
Chris Jackson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Backed by Kanye West's thunderous bass concoction, Jay-Z brushes the dirt off his shoulder and hurls a curve ball at Noah Gallagher. The drum-powered "Jockin' Jay-Z" is a buzz cut from Blueprint 3. [Audio]

99
Amanda Diva - "Windows Over Harlem"

Hip-hop and soul converge beautifully on this nostalgic single from Amanda Diva's criminally underrated Life Experience EP. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

98
Illa J - "R U Listening" (Feat. Guilty Simpson)

© Delicious Vinyl
Good music truly does flow in the Yancey family. Illa J, the 21-year old brother of late hip-hop icon J Dilla, is working relentlessly to keep the Yancey flag flying high. He holds his own on this nostalgic smash from the Dilla-produced debut album, Yancey Boys. Buy from Amazon »

97
Cool Kids - "Gettin' It" (Feat. Lil' Wayne)

Cool Kids.

The Cool Kids urge kids to say their ABCs not "Ay Bay Bays," while Weezy brags about treating women like *gasp* queens. Everybody wins. [Audio] Buy from Amazon »

96
Nappy Roots - "Good Day"

Taken from Nappy Roots' The Humdinger (their first major album in 5 years), "Good Day" hardly deviates from the formula for success: hard-hitting, catchy, and absolutely inspirational. Buy from Amazon »

95
EPMD - "Roc Da Spot"

EPMD - We Mean Business
EPMD - We Mean Business. © Universal
Fans of Senior Citizen Rap will be ecstatic to learn that Parrish and Erick Sermon will still be rhyming well into their 60s. As long as they keep making 'em like this, no one's complaining. Buy from Amazon »

94
N.E.R.D. - "Anti Matter"

© Scott Gries/Getty Images
This rare moment of pure rapping on shows that Skateboard P can kick a mean 16 when he's not busy indulging in fashion references. Buy from Amazon »

93
Wale & Brother Ali - "2nd Time Around"

Despite Wale's 2-verse onslaught, Brother Ali is the real star of "2nd Time Around." Ali's verse is unsurprisingly nasty, as he hurls a plethora of insults at wankstas, "People are starving and you're talking about balling?" The killer rhyme arrives at the end though: "You can't even scan, your fans are downloading you. There's no connection, so they're not supporting you." [Audio]

92
Kidz in the Hall - "Love Hangover" (Feat. Estelle)

© Duck Down

To hear Estelle and Kidz in the Hall tell it, love can be pretty freakin' awesome! [Video] Buy from Amazon »

91
Big Boi - "Sumthin's Gotta Give" (Feat. Mary J Blige)

© ZLG

"Sumthin's Gotta Give," the leadoff single from Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, takes stock of America's economic woes and culminates with an Obama endorsement. Indeed, 2008 was the year of Obama Rap. [Audio

] Buy from Amazon »

90
A.C. - "New Soul"

"These dudes are making commercial songs, but they ain't doing tracks from commercials," new rapper A.C. laments at the beginning of "New Soul." A.C. then proceeds to flip Yael Naim's "New Soul," popularized by Apple's Macbook Air commercial, into a hip-hop banger. [Video]

89
Eminem - "I'm Having a Relapse"

Eminem. © Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Eminem proves that his lyrical chops are still intact on this radio freestyle announcing his comeback album, The Relapse. [Audio

]

88
Crooked I - "Dream Big" (Feat. Akon)

An unlikely collaboration between the West Coast's most underrated lyricist and pop megastar Akon yields a compelling tune about grass-to-grace ascension.

87
Breeze Evahflowin' - "Radio Song"

Breeze Evahflowin - Radio
Badly-named Cali rapper Breez Evahflowin' pays a heartfelt tribute to hip-hop on this stripped-down banger.

86
Guilty Simpson - "Run" (feat. Sean Price & Black Milk)

Black Milk's board work on "Run" is further proof that the Detroit native was 2008's hip-hop producer of the year. [Audio

] Buy from Amazon »

85
Sway - "Jason Waste"

The courthouse jester of UK hip-hop unleashes his sociopathic alter-ego Jason Waste for an exercise in third-person rap. [Audio]

84
Skyzoo - "The Necessary Evils"

With its ambitious subject matter and acute delivery, Skyzoo's "Necessary Evils" should be required listening for anyone who doubts the continued relevance of cutting-edge hip-hop. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

83
Freeway - "When I Die" (Feat. James Blunt)

© Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Freeway's breathtaking narrative about the rise and fall of Roc-A-Fella reminds us why he's everyone's favorite bearded rapper. [Audio]

82
Busta Rhymes - "I Got Bass"

© About.com

Busta Rhymes is back in fine form, Ladies and Gentlemen. Noise-poppers squelch, funk riffs whistle, and Busta Bus goes for the gusto on this trunk-rattler from Back on My B.S. [Listen]

81
Rukus - "The Boom and The Bap"

Houston-based rapper Rukus rocks one of the crispiest flows I've heard in years. "The Boom and The Bap" finds him reflecting on his passion for hip-hop over a jazz-rap soundbed. Buy from Amazon »

80
Charles Hamilton - "Brooklyn Girls"

Charles Hamilton's playful ode to the foxy, feisty femmes from his favorite borough. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

79
Mickey Factz - "Don't Be Light"

Anchored by the Neptunes remix of Air's "Don't Be Light," Mickey Factz delivers a candid narrative about grabbing life by the horns. [Audio]

78
Soulbrotha - "Born for a Purpose"

Whether he's spitting over a reggae-inspired soundtrack or dishing social insight on a soul palette, Soulbrotha always has his Steve Urkel-esque eyeglasses fixed on the big picture. [Video]

77
Lil Wayne - "Mr. Carter" (Feat. Jay-Z)

© Universal
Dwayne Carter meets Shawn Carter for a match made in hip-hop heaven. You know you're in for a treat when two successful rappers are spitting with the hunger of newcomers. Buy from Amazon »

76
GZA - "Paper Plate"

The Genius calmly belittles 50 Cent and his camp on the heavily-buzzed about "Paper Plate" diss song, in which he proceeds to "spray the Flea-Unit with pesticide". Ouch! Buy from Amazon »

75
Ill Bill - "Society Is Brainwashed"

Ill Bill - The Hour of Reprisal
Ill Bill - The Hour of Reprisal.

Ill Bill gives the middle finger to greedy corporate honchos and wimpy people everywhere. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

74
Little Vic - "Sister Morphine"

Little Vic - 'Each Dawn I Die'
Little Vic - 'Each Dawn I Die'. © Orena Records
Little Vic storytells his way through social commentary on this marvelous track from his debut album, Each Dawn I Die. Buy from Amazon »

73
The Game - "My Life" (Feat. Lil Wayne)

© Geffen

The Game takes out a lifesize mirror and gets reflective for a moment, while Wayne assists with a hook so raw he had to borrow T-Pain's robo-voice thingy to deliver it. [Video

] Buy from Amazon »

72
Atmosphere - "Guarantees"

After a rough day, Slug heads to a local bar in search of company. He finds the bar empty and resorts to monologue. "I don't want to go home yet. So I'm a talk to my cigarette and that television set. It doesn't matter what brand or station. Just anything to take away from my current situation." Notice how the guitar plucks get increasingly louder as the tension in his voice rises. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

71
Raekwon - "The G-Hide" (Feat. Ghostface Killah)

© Scott Gries/Getty Images.

Raekwon kicks a mean 16, then hands the mic to his partner-in-rhyme who lunges into some disturbing, movie-like tale like only Tony Starks. [Audio

]

70
Estelle - "American Boy"

© Atlantic

British hip-hopper Estelle dreams up a world where cross-cultural love is the norm, while her American collaborator Kanye cracks wise like a guy about to get laid. [Video

] Buy from Amazon »

69
Murs - "Can It Be (Half A Million Dollars and 18 Months Later)"

Murs - Can It Be?
Murs - Can It Be?.
Sometimes it's necessary to step away from a work of art and observe it from a distance in order to offer the best possible creative criticism. That’s exactly what Murs has done here. He took time off from rap and watched the game from the sideline. That translates into sharp, informed criticism of the hip-hop culture he loves so much on "Can It Be?" Buy from Amazon »

68
Ludacris - "I Do It for Hip Hop" (feat. Nas & Jay-Z)

Whenever Jay-Z and Nas team up for a collaboration, something special always happens. This standout track from Luda's Theater of the Mind is no exception. Buy from Amazon »

67
88 Keys - "Stay Up" (Feat. Kanye West)

© Decon

Like he does on much of Death of Adam, 88 Keys keeps his sound drenched in atmospheric production and witty rhymes. This is the illest ode to the blue little pills yet. [Live Video] Buy from Amazon »

66
Wale - "Go Mode" (Feat. Bun B & Pusha T)

Armed with a ferocious Best Kept Secret beat and flanked by two veterans, Wale turns in one of the year's best odes to unparalleled superflyness. [Audio]

65
Fonzworth Bentley (feat. Kanye West & Andre 3000) - "Everybody"

Fonzworth Bentley, who was introduced to the MTV audience as Diddy's umbrella-wielding butler on Making the Band, has quietly crept in through the doors of hip-hop. His Sa-Ra-produced single strikes a balance between funky and improvisational sensibility. The video is reminiscent of OutKast's "Hey Ya!" [Video]

64
Bun B - "Damn I'm Cold" (Feat. Lil Wayne)

© Rap-A-Lot.

It's not unusual to hear Lil Wayne rapping about how awesome Lil Wayne is. But what makes "Damn I'm Cold" great is that Weezy actually sounds awesome on this. Buy from Amazon »

63
Young Jeezy - "Put On" (Feat. Kanye West)

© Def Jam

Jeezy and Yeezy merge forces on this chart burner from The Recession. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

62
Ill Bill - "My Uncle"

"My Uncle," off Ill Bill’s The Hour of Reprisal, takes an uncompromising look at his relationship with one of the most influential individuals in the MC's life: his drug-addled Uncle Howie. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

61
EMC - "Traffic" (Feat. Little Brother)

eMC - The Show
eMC - The Show.
Masta Ace and company daydream about "ass-watching" and turning New York streets into a block party. Buy from Amazon »

60
The Grouch - "Artsy"

While there's a new wave of abhorrence for ringtone rap and Auto-Tune, let's not forget the true enemy of humanity: overly artsy people. [Video]

59
N.E.R.D. - "Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom)"

This hilarious paean to booger sugar had all the girls -- and some guys -- fiending for more N.E.R.D goodness. Oh yeah, that piano break is nasty. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

58
Blu - "It's Okay" Pt.1

The sly wit and amazing insight of Blu's lyrics are in full display on "It's Okay," as the Cali MC recalls every single dumb activity from his teenage years. [Audio]

57
Ice Cube - "Gangsta Rap" Remix (Feat. Scarface & Nas)

Other rappers would be eager to bury their sordid past after becoming Hollywood bigwigs, but Ice Cube is not one to bite his tongue. Cube teams up with Nas and Scarface to defend hip-hop from its harshest critics. [Audio] Buy from Amazon »

56
DJ Muggs & Planet Asia - "9MM"

Legendary producer DJ Muggs crafts an aesthetic of chaotic sonics, augmenting the concoction with horror-movie squeals and feverish drums. Planet Asia's acute lyricism is just icing on the cake. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

55
The Roots - "Rising Down" (feat. Mos Def & Styles P)

© Def Jam
Racial profiling abounds, complacency rules, the world is going to hell in a basket, and these angry realists want you to give a sh*t? "Between the greenhouse gases and the earth spinning off its axis/got mother nature doing backflips." Buy from Amazon »

54
Foxy Brown - "Too Real" (Feat. AZ)

© Koch
This AZ-assisted heater will make you forget all the misfires on the crappy Brooklyn's Don Diva. Both Crooklyn MCs hold their own on the lyrical end, but Statik Selektah's heartwarming concoction is a show-stealer. Buy from Amazon »

53
Termanology - "How We Rock" (Feat. Bun B)

Boston's own Termy Montana teams up with Texas veteran Bun B for a Premo-produced banger. If you can’t feel this, check your pulse. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

52
Jay Electronica - "Exhibit A (Transformations)"

Jay Electronica exhibits some lyrical ingenuity over this hard-hitting Just Blaze beat. [Video

]

51
Scarface - "Emeritus"

Scarface reminds us -- figuratively and literally -- that he's still in top form. "Emeritus" is a single from Face's album of the same title. Buy from Amazon »

50
Royce da 5'9" - "Shake This"

Don't be fooled by the shallow title, "Shake This" is not a club romp about shaking what ya momma gave ya. Rather, it's a motivational song about overcoming rumors and embarrassing hard-ons in public. In fact, this Royce-Premo track sounds nothing like their previous collaborations ("Hip-Hop," "Boom," etc) but it's a neck-snapper regardless. [Video]

49
Snoop Dogg - "Neva Have 2 Worry"

© Geffen
S-N-Double-OG defends his foul mouth ("freedom of speech, 'beeyatch' is a word you can't ban"), reflects on his shortcomings ("swimming with the sharks and I almost drowned"), and thumps his chest ("15 years in the game, man, and I'm still relevant"), without ever raising his voice. Buy from Amazon »

48
Atmosphere - "You"

Slug showcases his newfound penchant for optimism, while Ant whips up a snake charmer. The morale of the story: Love your job, no matter how crappy it is. See, kids, hip-hop is mucho inspirational. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

47
Statik Selektah (w/ Bun B & Cory Mo) – "Get Out the Way"

This one finds Statik pairing Cory Mo and PA’s finest, Bun B, on a mid-tempo banger. I’m feeling this, and that’s not just because the beat has Premier’s fingerprints all over its DNA. Hearing Pimp C’s line from “White Girl,” “You need to learn the game before you try to play,” gave me shivers. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

46
Pacewon and Mr.Green - "Children Sing"

"Children Sing" starts off like a lullaby you'd sing to a toddler, then turns into a buoyant rap gem. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

45
Killer Mike - "Pressure" (Feat. Ice Cube)

What do Killer Mike and Ice Cube have in common? Well, for starters, neither is interested in cookie-cutter music. "Pressure" is a rough, rugged, and raw cut from Killer Mike's I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II. Buy from Amazon »

44
The Alchemist - "Therapy" (Feat. Evidence, Blu & Kid Cudi)

© KOCH
Freshly squeezed hip-hop goodness from Alchemist’s Cookbook EP. Kid Cudi continues to impress, and Blu proves he still doesn’t know how to waste a rhyme. Buy from Amazon »

43
Pharoahe Monch - "Broken Heart"

"Broken Heart" is vintage Pharoahe Monch -- soulful, imaginative, scintillating. Perfect. [Audio]

42
Common - "Gladiator" (Feat. Pharrell)

© Geffen
Sound architects The Neptunes and rhymelord Common effortlessly demonstrate their range while showcasing party-starter music. Buy from Amazon »

41
Black Milk - "Give the Drummer Sum"

"Give the Drummer Sum," the lead single from Tronic, finds Black Milk stacking his much much improved lyrical chops atop live horns and gritty drums. This isn't hip-hop, it's art in motion. Buy from Amazon »

40
Q-Tip feat. Norah Jones - "Life Is Better"

© Universal Motown

Norah Jones continues her streak of brilliant hip-hop collaborations ("Soon A New Day" with Talib Kweli and "Take Off Your Cool" with Andre 3000?) with this silky smooth funk-jazz banger. Buy from Amazon »

39
Saigon - "Believe It" (feat. Red 5)

© Henry Adaso

Saigon leaked this street anthem on his way out of Atlantic Records. This soulful drop finds Sai-Giddy addressing his ordeal at the label while simultaneously speaking to the struggle of America's urban youth. [Audio]

38
Joell Ortiz - "Memories"

Former Dr. Dre signee Joel Ortiz recalls his fondest hip-hop memories over Salaam Remi's sample-heavy production. [Video]

37
Joe Budden - "Who"

On this 15-minute tirade (released in 3 separate installments), Joe Budden brilliantly dissects hip-hop's ups and downs with the stark honesty of an artist who's seen both ends of the spectra.

36
Ludacris - "Undisputed"

&copy DTP / Def Jam

On this Don Cannon-tracked heater, Luda bristles with brutish bark: "I been scouring the earth / making my fans catch the Holy Ghost at my shows like your grandma at church." [Video] Buy from Amazon »

35
Large Professor - "The Hardest" (Feat. AZ & Styles P)

Two of the hardest MCs ever + One of hip-hop's greatest sound architects = 4 minutes of bliss. Buy from Amazon »

34
The Game - "Letter to the King" (Feat. Nas)

The Game - LAX
The Game - LAX. © Geffen

"Letter to the King" is the most compelling track on Game's L.A.X. Game pays homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the Civil Rights movement, with Nas riding shotgun. Buy from Amazon »

33
Pacific Division - "Taste"

Set to jubilant keys and pillowey synths, Pac Div's "Taste" is an intoxicating neck-snapper. [Video]

32
B.O.B. - "Generation Lost"

Note to new rappers: When all else fails, try a song about zombies.

31
The Knux - "Cappuccino" (Remix)

While Krispy and Al Millio may look like Kid-N-Play, they actually sound like a cross between Hieroglyphics and OutKast. The OG version of "Cappuccino" is poignant, but this boom-bap remix makes the latter comparison a bit more prominent.

30
Sheek Louch - "Good Love"

© D-Block/Koch Records

D-Block Genral Sheek Louch lets his guard down and rhymes about his fruitless search for true love. "Met a lot of women out there on tour/Ran through 'em all, but I'm just not sure," he raps on the lead single from Silverback Guerilla. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

29
Jadakiss - "From Now Til' Then"

© Def Jam
Mix some hardboiled rhymes with a flawless Premo beat and you have Jada's most fascinating contribution to rap in 2008.

28
Lil Wayne - "A Milli"

Lil Wayne. © James Crump/Getty
Weezy goes on a free-verse rampage, rambling about everything under the sun. But you simply can't turn it off because his flow is so damn infectious. Buy from Amazon »

27
Q-Tip - "Gettin' Up"

Q-Tip issued "Gettin' Up" as the lead single from The Renaissance, effectively setting the tone for an album that delivered a non-stop joyous listening experience.  Buy from Amazon »

26
Kidz in the Hall - "Drivin' Down the Block (Low End Theory)"

© Duck Down
It's rare to find a rap song that sets out to be the ultimate car anthem and actually delivers on its promise. Thankfully, "Drivin' Down the Black" is the beautiful exception to that trend. It's big, bassy, and ridiculously addictive. Buy from Amazon »

25
Wale - "The Kramer"

An usually lighthearted Wale gets serious on "The Kramer," in which he weighs in on the N-word debate.

24
J Live - "The Upgrade" (Feat. Posdnuous & Oddisee)

Sounds like it was lifted right off a contemporary jazz station. So fresh and so clean. Buy from Amazon »

23
Rhymefest - "Stolen"

J Records

"Stolen" is an early buzz cut from Rhymefest's sophomore album, El Che. 'Fest weaves three different narratives of African struggle, while referencing conflict-torn regions like Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Rwanda. The video is set in a classroom full of students as diverse as the countries in question. [Video]

22
Nas - "Sly Fox"

© Def Jam

Nas delivered more than just a scathing indictment of Fox News Network, he also teamed up with the political organization Moveon.org to deliver over 620,000 petitions against the news network in protest of what Nas described as the network's racist attacks on the African-American community. How real is that? [Video] Buy from Amazon »

21
Buckshot & 9th Wonder - "Hold It Down" (feat. Talib Kweli & Tyler Woods)

9th Wonder & Buckshot. © Duck Down Records
Buckshot brings the earnest lyrics; Kweli brings the sweet message; and 9th Wonder supplies the breezy tune that will surely charm any fan of good music.

20
Black Milk - "Losing Out" (Feat. Royce da 5'9")

Black Milk © Fat Beats.

Two of Detroit's finest, Black Milk and Nickel Nine combine for a volley that reminds us there's something in the Motor City water.

19
Young Jeezy - "My President" (Feat. Nas)

© Def Jam
The ultimate political rap anthem of 2008 came from the Snowman's rhyme book. Who would've thunk it??

18
T.I. & Jay-Z - "Swagga Like Us" (Feat. Kanye West & Lil Wayne)

Kanye's braggart rhymes, Jay-Z's strong presence, Lil Wayne's unique delivery, and T.I.'s multi-syllabic flow make this a quadruple whammy of star power. Throw in an ingenious sample of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" and you have the perfect street anthem. Buy from Amazon »

17
Jay-Z - "History"

Jay-Z © Nick Laham/Getty.
Jay-Z has never been one to get political on the mic, but this year he was front and center stumping for Barack Obama's presidential campaign like his rap contract depended on it. While "History" is not directly about Obama, Jay-Z couldn't resist an opportunity to find the victory in history and release a musical counterpart to the sense of optimism Obama's campaign portrayed.

16
Ludacris - "MVP"

© Henry Adaso/About.com
Ludacris dismantles the apparatus of mediocrity and replaces it with his strongest cut in years.

15
T.I. - "No Matter What"

© Atlantic

In the business of turning pain into pleasure, T.I. is King. This brooding track from Paper Trail finds Tip patting himself on the back ("Lyrics so sick with it/Set the standard in Atlanta on how to get, get, get it") and displaying strength in the face of adversity ("I lost my partner and my daughter in the same year/Somehow I rise above my problems and remain here.")

14
Statik Selektah - "To the Top" (w/Saigon, Cassidy, Termanology)

Statik Selektah may never win a spelling bee, but he sure as hell knows how to assemble a team of collaborators. A true test of a good producer is how well he’s able to match the right artists with the right beat, and Statik passed that test with flying colors on "Take It to the Top." [Video]

13
B.o.B. - "I'll Be in the Sky"

B.o.B. is one of the brightest new rappers to emerge in 2008. And "I'll Be on the Sky" is attention grabbing for all the right reasons — smart, funky artrap and a strong prelude to his album. Buy from Amazon »

12
Nas - "Black President"

"Nas"© Scott Gries/Getty
"Black President" best captures the sentiment behind Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid. In line with Obama's message of hope and optimism, Nas takes 2Pac's skepticism ("Although it seems heaven sent, we ain't ready to see a black president") and transformed it into a powerful assertion of progress in American politics. It's by far the best Obama tribute ever. Buy from Amazon »

11
Q-Tip - "Move/Renaissance Rap"

"Move" is an upbeat gem from Q-Tip's The Renaissance. It's bouncy enough for the club and frenetic enough for the gym. The latter half of the song reminds us of the many reasons Q-Tip is so special. With a flip of the beat, a bubbly rap song descends into a somber subway banger, as Tip recalls his days as a young MC. Buy from Amazon »

10
Jake One (Feat. Brother Ali & Freeway) - "The Truth"

"The Truth" slams into hip-hop perfection with its infectious beat and catchy hook. Freeway's gasoline flow alone will keep your rewind button fully employed. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

9
Kid Cudi - "Day 'N' Nite"

Kid Cudi crafts a trippy psych-jam for the lonely stoner who wishes to "free his mind at night." Buy from Amazon »

8
Elzhi - "Motown 25" (Feat. Royce da 5'9")

© Fat Beats
This giddy lyrical back-and-forth is a good enough reason to pick up eLZhi's The Preface. El and fellow Motor City MC Royce engage in a fierce rhyming contest over Black Milk's sample-heavy concoction. "Motown 25" is 4 minutes of non-stop multi-syllabic rhyme schemes. Buy from Amazon »

7
Busta Rhymes - "Don't Touch Me (Throw da Water on 'Em)"

© Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Accompanied by steady-rolling congas and glistening hi-hats, Busta Rhymes delivers a swaggering jam that explodes into an energetic romp as soon as you press play. Busta hasn't sounded this fierce since he went dreadless. Buy from Amazon »

6
The Roots - "Rising Up" (Feat. Wale & Chrisette Michele)

© Okayplayer

The glorious midtempo throb of "Rising Up" outshines everything on Rising Down.. From the go-go drums to Chrisette Michelle's soulful chorus and Wale's flawless verse, this is what a hip-hop masterpiece sounds like. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

5
Lil Wayne - "Dr. Carter"

Lil' Wayne. © Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Dwayne Carter dons his overalls and proceeds to stitch his ailing patients one after the other. Wayne devotes each verse to a specific element of hip-hop, doling out countless quotables along the way. Easily the year's best concept rap song. Buy from Amazon »

4
Nas - "Queens Get the Money"

© Def Jam
Jay Electronica's brooding piano on "Queens Get The Money" is a perfect match for Esco's stream-of-consciousness rhyming on this dashing intro to the Queens rapper's Untitled album. Buy from Amazon »

3
Reks - "Say Goodnight"

Reks
Reks. © myspace.com

Reks' passion for hip-hop is so intense you can hear it in his voice. DJ Premier's napalm drums provide a suitable soundbed for Reks' angst-driven lyrics, as the newcomer channels Chuck D's passion on his best track yet. [Video] Buy from Amazon »

2
Jay Electronica - "Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)"

Jay Electronica is no ordinary rapper. And "Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)" is no ordinary rap song. Jay flips the theme music from Eternal Sunshine into a gorgeous hip-hop gem. Powerfully plumbed with acoustic guitar, though the production is lo-fi. Its simplicity only accentuates the sound of Jay’s heart breaking. No hip-hop song in recent memory captured so perfectly the sentiment of despair and the possibility of hope. [Audio]

1
Big Boi - "Royal Flush" (Feat. Raekwon & Andre 3000)

"Royal Flush" is the perfect rap song -- clever, fun, and memorable. Interestingly enough, it's Dre who registers the longest verse on this Big Boi gem. No one's complaining though. How could we, when he's cranking out intoxicating rhymes like, "Crack and I have a lot in common. We both come up in the '80s and we keep that bass pumping." Big Boi and Raekwon also post some poignant lines of their own, but Dre's verse will stick to your memory even after "Royal Rush" has pumped out its last bass. Then you hit the repeat button. Buy from Amazon »