Entertainment Music The 100 Best Rap Songs of All Time The hip-hop genre has more than 40 years of history Share PINTEREST Email Print Music Rap & Hip Hop Top Picks Basics Rock Music Pop Music Alternative Music Classical Music Country Music Folk Music Rhythm & Blues World Music Punk Music Heavy Metal Jazz Latin Music Oldies Learn More By Henry Adaso Henry Adaso has written about hip-hop since 2005 and founded the award-winning blog The Rap Up. He has written for "Vibe," MTV, Rap Rehab, and more. our editorial process Henry Adaso Updated December 12, 2018 The best hip-hop songs of all time are the songs that touch our souls. They make us smile, laugh, cry, think, and shake what our mama (or papa) gave us. Covering more than four decades, here are the 100 greatest rap songs of all time: 01 of 10 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. C Brandon / Getty Images 100 | 'Funkdafied,' Da BratThis fun, light-hearted track helped Da Bra-ta-ta shift 1 million units of her debut album. 99 | 'What They Do,' The RootsThe Roots distinguished themselves here from everyone else by laying down the law. 98 | 'The Light,' CommonProduced 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 | 'Bucktown,' Smif-N-WessunSmif-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. 96 | 'Player's Anthem,' Junior M.A.F.I.A. Biggie's crew took a striking leap into the spotlight with this street anthem. "Get Money" went 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 | 'They Want EFX,' Das EFX"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 | 'Gangsta's Paradise,' Coolio"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 | 'Brooklyn Zoo,' ODBBrooklyn 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 | 'Freaky Tales,' Too $hort Too $hort has dropped many a freaky tale since his humble beginnings. "Freaky Tales" stands tall among his best sexploitation tunes. 91 | 'Who Shot Ya,' The Notorious B.I.G.A menacing track by one of the best to ever breathe on a mic. 02 of 10 90-81 WireImage / Getty Images 90 | 'All I Need,' Method Man featuring Mary J BligeThe story goes that Method Man approached this collaboration with some 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 | 'Fame,' GZA Here 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. 88 | 'What U See Is What U Get,' Xzibit 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 | 'All That I Got Is You,' Ghostface Killah featuring Mary J BligeThere are no hard-hitting drums, no hyperbolic threats, just Mary J. Blige's tears, and Ghostface Killah's somber rhymes. 86 | 'Ego Trippin',' Ultramagnetic MC's 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 | 'Fu-Gee-La,' The Fugees 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 | 'I Got 5 on It,' The Luniz "I Got 5 on It" was the official anthem for broke fiends everywhere. It's also special for adding new terminology to hip-hop lingo. 83 | 'Remind My Soul,' Akrobatik Akrobatik reminds his peers to be careful about what they're teaching the young'ins. Ak's code of ethics is simple: If it makes Bob Marley turn in his grave, don't do it. 82 | 'How About Some Hardcore,' M.O.P. M.O.P. earned a near-iconic status in the game because of unforgettable songs such as "How About Some Hardcore" and "Ante Up." This is quintessential M.O.P.: loud, hard, and memorable. How about some respect? 81 | 'It Was A Good Day,' Ice CubeA 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. 03 of 10 80-71 Wu-Tang Clan. Bob Berg/Getty Images 80 | 'Protect Ya Neck,' Wu-Tang ClanUnbeknownst to many, the Wu has been making body threats since '92. You best get that heady bobbin', fool. 79 | 'How I Could Just Kill a Man,' Cypress Hill Admittedly insane-in-the-membrane rappers swap ideas on how to improve world peace. 78 | 'Dreams,' The GameHere is Game at his most imaginative and Kanye West in top form. A hip-hop anthem is born. 77 | 'Still Not a Player,' Big Pun 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 | 'Mama Said Knock You Out,' LL Cool J 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 walk-to-the-ring song for professional boxers in the '90s. 75 | 'Nobody Beats The Biz,' Biz Markie A stunningly amusing song by the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop. 74 | 'N.Y. State of Mind,' Nas What "Empire State of Mind" wants to be when it grows up. 73 | 'Breathe,' Fabolous One of the most impressive emcees of the 2000s cemented his arrival with this Just Blaze epic. 72 | 'Kick, Push,' Lupe FiascoA picturesque hip-hop anthem that showcases Lupe's superb storytelling. 71 | 'Ebonics,' Big L 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. 04 of 10 70-61 Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images 70 | 'Parents Just Don't Understand,' DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh PrinceThe perfect soundtrack to teenage rebellion. 69 | 'Gin and Juice,' Snoop DoggFollowing 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 | 'The 6th Sense,' CommonCommon and DJ Premier caught this lightning 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 | 'Can't Knock the Hustle,' Jay-Z featuring Mary J. Blige Jay didn't come out of the gate banging. After two mildly received singles, the third time proved to be the charm with "Can't Knock the Hustle," a timeless tune that still gets heads bobbing decades later. 66 | 'Everything Is Everything,' Lauryn HillL'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 | 'Umi Says,' Mos DefA sprawling piece from Mighty Mos Def's stellar debut, "Black on Both Sides." 64 | 'Why,' Jadakiss 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 | 'Many Men (Wish Death),' 50 Cent It's as deadly as the bullets that pierced his skin and nearly claimed his life. 62 | '93 'Til Infinity,' Souls of MischiefRumor has it this song has launched more rap careers than Steve Rifkind. 61 | 'Reunion,' Slum Village It's all love in the D, as Slum Villa makes nice over a poignant J Dilla beat. 05 of 10 60-51 Christopher Polk / Getty Images 60 | 'Raw,' Big Daddy Kane Kane in his prime was an unparalleled brute force. 59 | 'I Got It Made,' Special Ed In the land of one-hit wonders, this is undeniable royalty. 58 | 'Mosh,' EminemEminem's shift to political consciousness gave him a new sandbox to play in. It also led to this huge smash in the midst of a controversial election. 57 | 'Tonite,' DJ QuikIt's pure proof of why Quik is one of the illest hip-hop producers of all time. 56 | 'Who Got da Props,' Black MoonThis one crawls into your head like the slug from "The Matrix" and vows to remain there. 55 | 'O.P.P.,' Naughty by Nature Show of hands if you thought the last "P" stood for "property." 54 | 'One Mic,' Nas"One Mic" builds up gradually and explodes into a torrent of explosive rhymes. It's one of Nas' finest moments. 53 | 'Electric Relaxation,' A Tribe Called QuestA Crisco-slick gem from Tribe's masterpiece. 52 | 'Ridin' Dirty,' UGK The essence of the dirty South crystallized in one seminal single. Many Southern rappers owe their success to UGK's influence. 51 | 'Wrong Side of da Tracks,' ArtifactsThis is arguably the greatest graffiti-inspired song in hip-hop history. 06 of 10 50-41 Getty Images for adidas / Getty Images 50 | 'The Symphony,' Marley Marl It's an apt reminder of the days when producers picked collaborators based on poetic prowess, not politics. 49 | 'Hip-Hop 101,' AasimHis 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 | 'Walk This Way,' Run-DMC & Aerosmith Long live the rap-rock collaboration that had everyone biting the kings. 47 | 'Push It,' Salt-N-Pepa It's 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 | 'Temperature,' Zion I featuring Talib Kweli A straight-out-of-nowhere smash by a West Coast duo and an East Coast veteran. 45 | 'Stan,' Eminem An account of an ill-fated psychotic Eminem worshipper. Dido's ethereal crooning adds more soot to the tale. 44 | 'Children's Story,' Slick RickThis masterfully woven narrative is by hip-hop's greatest storyteller. 43 | 'Jesus Walks,' Kanye West West meticulously marries the mainstream and the Messiah and makes it look easy—kinda like walking on water. 42 | 'Ante Up,' M.O.P.This is 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 | 'Ms. Jackson,' OutKastTwo dope boys from the A plead their case before a baby mama's mama. 07 of 10 40-31 Scott Gries / Getty Images 40 | 'I Seen a Man Die,' Scarface Assuming the role of a street prophet, 'Face delivers cautionary tales about remorseless violence in the hood. 39 | 'Time's Up,' O.C.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 | 'Flava in Ya Ear,' Craig Mack Craig Mack may be a one-hit phenom, but we'll always remember him for this larger-than-life tune that combines some of the biggest enchiladas in '90s rap. 37 | 'Slippin',' DMX It's 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 | 'Tha Crossroads,' Bone Thugs N Harmony BTNH repackaged the original "Crossroads" in honor of mentor Eazy-E, who died in March 1995. It's a solemn hymn fit for the summer blues. 35 | 'Ill Street Blues,' Kool G Rap & DJ Polo 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 | 'Dwyck,' Gang Starr featuring Nice & SmoothPremier lays the smooth cuts. Guru, Greg Nice, and Smooth B put the crazy boasts on display. 33 | 'Regulate,' Warren G "Regulate" marked Warren G's arrival, which in turn helped define the G-Funk era, a big moment in hip-hop. 32 | 'La di da di,' Slick Rick & Doug E. FreshAn outstanding performance by an imaginative Slick Rick and beatboxing great Doug E. Fresh. 31 | 'Bow Down,' Westside Connection Cube, WC. and Mack 10 join forces to declare West Coast supremacy on this menacing track. 08 of 10 30-21 Raymond Boyd / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images 30 | 'Mathematics,' Mos Def Expectations for Mos Def's solo debut, "Black on Both Sides," were sky high, following his success with Black Star. Potent tracks such as "Umi Says" and the brain-melting "Mathematics" helped Mos smash those expectations. 29 | 'Slow Down,' Brand Nubian"Slow Down" is rife with wisecracks worth putting on a T-shirt. Sadat X spends his entire verse ridiculing crackheads: "On your crack card you're getting only As and Cs for come back." 28 | 'Ain't No Half Steppin',' Big Daddy KaneMr. Asiatic shows us the definition of microphone presence on arguably his biggest smash yet. 27 | 'Shook Ones Part II,' Mobb DeepHavoc's steely production drives Prodigy's salvo of verbal threats on "Shook Ones Part II." 26 | 'The Breaks,' Kurtis Blow Kurtis Blow's break-fest still rocks parties all across America. Suddenly, you find yourself bobbing and snapping your whole being to this. 25 | 'Get By,' Talib KweliKweli's song about survival helped him make that important transition from "one half of a dynamic duo" to "strong solo artist." 24 | 'Paul Revere,' Beastie BoysBad boys of rap tell a fictional story of the group's formation, while Rick Rubin works up a snake charmer. 23 | 'Paper Thin,' MC Lyte Lyte's tough talk on this song solidified her status as the new queen in town. 22 | 'Passin' Me By,' The Pharcyde This lazy summer song is perfect for lounging on the loveseat while enjoying a cold beverage. 21 | 'Hip-Hop,' dead prez This bouncy anthem showcased DP's versatility while underlining their commitment to activism. 09 of 10 20-11 Al Pereira / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images 20 | 'C.R.E.A.M.,' Wu-Tang Clan 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 is the genius of The RZA. 19 | 'Straight Outta Compton,' N.W.A. 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 | 'Mind Playin' Tricks on Me,' Geto Boys The brooding paranoia of "Mind Playing Tricks", was 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 it became a huge success has everything to do with Scarface's surrealism, Bushwick Bill's suicidal mindset, and Willie D's stone cold flow. It's the Geto Boys at their best. 17 | 'Scenario,' A Tribe Called Quest featuring Busta Rhymes 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 | 'Dead Presidents II,' Jay-ZJay-Z spells out his lofty goals while kicking some of the illest lines he's ever rhymed. 15 | 'Juicy,' The Notorious B.I.G. "Juicy" is Biggie's most important song, with that rare moment of introspection. Biggie died three years later, but this song lives on through those who remember the days of "The Source" and Mr. Magic. 14 | 'Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang,' Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg 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 | 'I Need Love,' LL Cool JThis 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 | 'My Philosophy,' Boogie Down Productions The Teacha instructs his disciples to respect his fresh. 11 | 'Keep Ya Head Up,' 2Pac "Keep Ya Head Up" is arguably 2Pac'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. 10 of 10 10-1 Eric B. and Rakim. Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images 10 | 'Planet Rock,' Afrika BambaataaBambaataa was looking for the perfect beat. Instead, he found the magnetism of electro-rap and changed the game in the process. 9 | 'Fight the Power,' Public EnemyChuck D's politically salient rhymes combined with Bomb Squad's searing, ferocious sound to yield this revolutionary soundtrack. 8 | 'Top Billin',' Audio TwoDaddy-O turns a sampling goof into a sledgehammer. Throw in the well-placed hook and you have a masterpiece. 7 | 'The World Is Yours,' Nas Nas and Pete Rock team up to declare a revolution, which is always a good move. 6 | 'They Reminisce Over You,' Pete Rock & CL Smooth With insane horn riffs, shimmering cymbals, soulful samples, you know it's Pete Rock. On the other end is CL Smooth, channeling controlled emotion through the mic. It's melancholy elegy at its finest. 5 | 'Lyrics of Fury,' Eric B. & RakimRakim 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 | 'Dear Mama,' 2Pac 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 | 'The Message,' Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5"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 | 'Rapper's Delight,' The Sugarhill Gang It holds the dubious title of "the first hip-hop song." Its long-term influence on the culture, however, is undeniable. 1 | 'I Used to Love H.E.R.,' Common SenseWhen Common dropped "Resurrection" in 1994, there was no shortage of great hip-hop albums. Still, he managed to stand out, thanks to songs such as "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, proved that Common's skill, purpose, and approach to storytelling was anything but common.