The Top 100 Rap Songs of 2007

Aesop Rock performing live rapping


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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 we're not claiming it to be the gospel.

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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.

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Cassidy - My Drink 'N' My 2 Step

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

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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.

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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.

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Scarface - Big Dogg Status

Hip-hop O.G. reaffirms his status as a top shelf artist over N.O. Joe's southern-fried production.

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

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.

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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.

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Fabolous feat. Jay-Z & Uncle Murder - Brooklyn

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.

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Akir feat. Immortal Technique - Treason

Technically, Akir's debut CD Legacymagnum opus.

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Beanie Sigel - What They Gonna Say to Me

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.

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USDA - Corporate Thuggin'

Over a trunk-rattling beat, Young Jeezy questions critics who question his talent.

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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.

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Pharoahe Monch - When the Gun Draws

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 a horror flick.

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T.I. - Big Things Poppin'

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.

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Little Brother feat. Lil Wayne - Breakin' My Heart

Lil' Weezy and Little Brother trade rhymes about the consequences of infidelity in one of the most unlikely collaborations of 2007.

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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.

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

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

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Luckyiam - Classy Joint

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

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Black Milk - Sound the Alarm

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

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

Pimp C tells critics of "country-fried rap tunes" to stop whining and start grinding.

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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.

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EL-P - Everything Must Go

Rocking the world, one furniture store at a time.

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Polyrhythm Addicts - Kerosene

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.

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Guru feat. Common - State of Clarity

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.

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Young Buck - Get Buck

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

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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."

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Phat Kat - Nasty Ain't It

Midwest hip-hop at its braggiest, grimiest, and nastiest.

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KRS-One & Marley Marl - Hip-Hop Lives

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.

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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.

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AZ & Styles P - The Hardest

AZ's breakneck flow meets Styles P's sucker-free swagger.

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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.

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Chamillionaire feat. Slick Rick - Hip-Hop Police

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.

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50 Cent - I Get Money

50 Cent brags about being "stanky rich" on this sky-scrapingly great banger. It's a bright spot on the otherwise mediocre Curtis.

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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.

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Hi-Tek feat Ghostface & Raekwon - My Piano

Other hip-hoppers brag about their wallets and their guns. Hi-Tek brags about his piano, and still sounds amazing.

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

Hey, care for some gangsta with that plate of conscious? Pure proof that we can all get along.

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Talib Kweli - Hot Thing

Kweli has a massive grip on the ingredients necessary for the ultimate girl song: stark honesty, beautiful lyrics, and on the boards.

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Redman - Gimme One

Red Gone Wild wasn't exactly a classic, but it still had some sweepingly awesome tracks, including this one.

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Blu & Exile - Dancing in the Rain

Backed by Exile's jazzy piano riffs, Blu gives his tongue a lyrical workout while his brain works overtime.

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

Clef delivers a stunning comeback hit in the form of a save-a-stripper campaign.

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Hezekiah feat. Bilal - Looking Up

Self-uplifting rhymes from the dude that looks like your neighborhood pest control agent.

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Freeway - It's Over

Philadelphia Freeway spews angst at anyone that cares to listen.

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Snoop Dogg - Sensual Seduction

Hyper-minimal disco backs up Snoop's auto-tuned vocals. If you listen close you'll probably hear Bootsy Collins wailing in the background.

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

Hip-hop and pop fusion only works half the time. Thankfully, this was one of those times.

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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.

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M.I.A. - Paper Planes

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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Aesop Rock - No City

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

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Junk Science - Jerry McGuire

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.

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Strong Arm Steady feat. Talib Kweli - One Step

This is a vicious stomp from Talib Kweli's west coast outfit.

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

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

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C-Rayz Walz & Sharkey - Electric Avenue

Sharkey and C-Rayz party like it's 1982 with their hip-hop interpretation of Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue."

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Chamillionaire - Won't Let You Down

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.

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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.

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Brother Ali - Uncle Sam

This is Brother Ali's status quo., which is sorta like Ron Paul, without the political baggage.

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Little Brother - Sirens

"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'").

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Talib Kweli - Everything Man

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

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Lupe Fiasco feat. Matthew Santos - Superstar

A grandiose record that's both accessible and thought-provoking.

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

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.

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Beanie Sigel - Return of the Bad Guy

Beanie Sigel's stand out song from Philly's Most Wanted.

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Consequence - Don't Forget 'Em

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

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Sean Price - P-Body

Sean Price is already famous for being the most broke 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.

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

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.

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Jay-Z feat. Pharrell - Blue Magic

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").

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Blu & Exile - Cold Hearted

Avant-garde storytelling from one of 2007's most promising newcomers.

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Blue Scholars - Back Home

Blue Scholars echo the sentiment of 70% of Americans and ask for an end to the Iraq war.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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Fabolous feat. Ne-Yo - Make Me Better

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

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Joell Ortiz - Hip-Hop

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.

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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.

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Common - The Game

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

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Marco Polo feat. Masta Ace - Nostalgia

After two decades in the game, Masta Ace still doesn't know how to waste a verse.

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Kanye West - Can't Tell Me Nothin'

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.

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Brother Ali - Take Me Home

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

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Trae feat. Styles P & Jadakiss - Smile

Trae and his D-Block cohorts sound right at home rhyming about the misfortunes of life that make it hard to crack a smile.

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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.

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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 discography ("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").

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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, but it also introduced us to this cool duo. "Black Mags" is a sonic collision of different styles and genres, from hyphy to boom bap.

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Rich Boy - Let's Get This Paper

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.

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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...

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Scarface - Never

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.

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Kanye West feat. Dwele - Flashing Lights

Exuberant hip-pop funk from the Timbaland of this generation.

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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

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Nas - Surviving the Times

"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.

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

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.

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Common - The People

Common rhymes about survival, enlightenment, a Grammy snub, and finding the new Preemo, in one breath.

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Lupe Fiasco - Paris, Tokyo

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.

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

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.

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Kanye West - Stronger

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.

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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.

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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,

thanks to two great verses from Dre and Big Boi.

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Rhymefest - Angry Black Man on an Elevator

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.

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

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.

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Jay-Z - Roc Boys

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.

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UGK feat. OutKast - Int'l Players Anthem

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.