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The 21 Best Rap Songs of All Time

best rap songs

Rap is one of the best and most dominant genres worldwide, having racked up billions in record sales and streams. With so many great artists and songs to choose from, choosing the greatest isn’t easy. Check out our choices for best rap songs of all time.

“Rapper’s Delight” – The Sugarhill Gang 

Sugarhill Gang, one of the first successful rap groups ever, consisted of Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright, Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson, and Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien. 

“Rapper’s Delight,” released on September 16, 1979, is widely considered the first song to commercially popularize rap music around the world. The song reached the top 40 in the United States, top five in the United Kingdom, hit number one in Canada. Considering that it was chosen as the second best hip hop song of all time by Rolling Stone, it’s safe to say that it’s one of the best rap songs of all time.

“The Message” – Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five 

“The Message” was released by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five on July 1, 1982, on the Sugar Hill record label. It was the first prominent rap song to provide a lyrical social commentary and is uniformly considered one of the best rap songs of all time. It made the top spot on Rolling Stone’s aforementioned top 100 Hip Hop Songs list.

Not surprisingly, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five became the first hip hop group inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

“Lose Yourself” – Eminem 

Classic 00s rap track “Lose Yourself” was the lead song on the soundtrack of the movie 8 Mile, which was released on October 28, 2002. Eminem wrote and produced the song in collaboration with Jeff Bass. 

“Lose Yourself” reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list and remained there for 12 consecutive weeks. The song also peaked at number one on 24 national charts.

Awards won by “Lose Yourself” include: Best Song at Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, Best Video from a Film at MTV Video Music Awards, Grammy Award for Best Male Solo Performance, and Best Rap Song. It sold over 19 million copies in the United States alone. 

Because of all these accolades, it’s no wonder why “Lose Yourself” is widely considered the best rap song of this century and one of the best rap songs of all time. 

“Fight The Power” – Public Enemy 

Public Enemy, led by rap legends Chuck D and Flava Flav, released “Fight The Power” in June 1989 on Motown Records. In addition to one of the best rap songs of all time, it is also widely regarded as Public Enemy’s best-known song.

“Fight The Power” peaked at number one on the Hot Rap Singles, number thre on the US Hot Dance Music chart, and #20 on the Hot R&B Singles chart. It was also certified Gold in the America. 

“Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” – Dr. Dre 

“Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” is a song by famous American rapper and record producer Dr. Dre, who co-founded Death Row Records, Beats Electronics, and Aftermath Entertainment. The track featured fellow American rapper Snoop Dogg and was released in June 1992 on Dr. Dre’s debut solo album, The Chronic.

“Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” peaked at number tw on the Billboard Hot 100, number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, and number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs. “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” was also certified Silver in the United Kingdom and Platinum in the United States. The song has sold over two million copies worldwide. 

“Mind Playing Tricks On Me” – Geto Boys 

“Mind Playing Tricks On Me” is featured on the Geto Boys album We Can’t Be Stopped. The group consisted of Scarface, Willie D, and Med Bushwick Bill. 

The iconic track reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100, #10 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles & Tracks chart, and number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. It was also certified Gold in the United States.

Though perhaps a dark horse pick as one of the best rap songs of all time, its place in rap history is undeniable. 

“Juicy” – Notorious B.I.G 

“Juicy” is a song by American rapper Notorious B.I.G off his debut album Ready to Die. Notorious B.I.G. is widely regarded as one of the best rappers. He was killed late at night on March 9, 1997, by an unknown gunman. He was one of the dominant rappers of his time.

“Juicy” certainly has its place among one of the best rap songs of all time, having sold over 10 million copies worldwide. It peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart and has been certified multi-platinum in both the United States and United Kingdom.

“Straight Outta Compton” – N.W.A.

“Straight Outta Compton,” released on August 8, 1988 on Ruthless Records, is a hit off N.W.A.’s first studio album that bears the same name. N.W.A is an abbreviation for “Niggaz Wit Attitudes,” and they were dominant from the late 80s to the early 90s. The group consisted of rap legends Ice Cube, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and Arabian Prince. 

The legendary song, which lent its name to an N.W.A. biopic years later, is certainly one of the best rap songs of all time. It peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, was certified Silver in the United Kingdom, and Platinum in the United States. 

“The World Is Yours” – Nas 

“The World Is Yours” is a single by American rapper Nas, who is widely considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. The song was released on May 31, 1994, and was included in his debut album Illmatic

One of many Nas songs that could be considered one of the best rap songs of all time, it peaked at #27 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart and was certified Gold in the United States.

“Dear Mama” – 2pac 

Rap legend Tupac Shakur released his iconic single “Dear Mama” on February 21, 1995, in dedication to his mother. It was the lead single off his third studio album, Me Against the World

Tupac is one of the most influential and best-selling rappers of all time. He was shot multiple times late at night on September 7, 1996 by an unknown gunman. 

“In Da Club” – 50 Cent 

“In Da Club” is a song by popular American rapper 50 Cent. Released on January 7, 2003, it was written and produced by Dr. Dre and Mike Elizondo.

50 cent is not only a rapper but a businessman and actor who has featured in many top movies. He was discovered by Eminem and was signed to his record label, Shady Records, shortly after. “In Da Club” was a single off his debut album, Get Rich or Die Trying.

“In Da Club” won the award for Best Rap Music Video at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. The song topped the charts across 15 countries worldwide upon its release. It also peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“Keep Ya Head Up” – 2pac 

Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” was released on February 16, 1993. It was one of the hit singles off his second studio album, Strictly for My N.I.G.G.A.Z. 2pac used this song to address the poor treatment of black women.

“Keep Ya Head Up” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart and was certified Silver in the United Kingdom and Platinum in the United States.

“Ms. Jackson” – Outkast 

“Ms. Jackson” is a song by the American duo OutKast. Released on October 24, 2000, it was one of the hit singles off the group’s second album, Stankonia. It features both of the groups members, Andre 3000 and Big Boi. The partnership between both artists began when they were still high school kids. 

The legendary song won many awards, including the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo. The music video won the BET Award for Video of the Year and MTV Video Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Video. It peaked at No.1 across eleven countries and is widely considered one of the best rap songs of all time. 

“Hard Knock Life” – Jay-Z 

Legendary American rapper and producer Jay-Z released “Hard Knock Life” on October 27, 1988.

Jay Z is the founder of Roc Nation, the clothing enterprise Rocawear, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella records, and owner of the 40/40 club, Aspiro, and other companies. Jay Z is also the first hip-hop artiste to become a billionaire.

“Hard Knock Life” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Rap songs chart and was certified Platinum in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Sucker MC’s” – Run-D.M.C 

Run-D.M.C., one of raps first superstar artists, released “Sucker MC’s” in March 1983. The song was the first single from the innovative group.

The song received widespread recognition upon its release and is considered by many to be one of the best rap songs.

“C.R.E.A.M” – Wu-Tang Clan 

“C.R.E.A.M.,” which stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” is a song by the American rap group Wu-Tang Clan. The song was released on January 31, 1994 on Loud records and was produced by the RZA. 

The groundbreaking group was originally based in New York and consisted of the following members: RZA, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Masta Killa. Wu Tang is considered to be one of the most influential rap groups.

“C.R.E.A.M.” peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart and was certified Silver in the United Kingdom and Gold in the United States. 

“Gin And Juice” – Snoop Dogg 

Popular American rapper Snoop Dogg released “Gin and Juice” on January 24, 1994. The legendary track, produced by Dr. Dre, was one of the hit singles off his debut studio album, Doggystyle. Snoop Dogg remains one of the most influential and successful rappers of all time. 

“Fuck Tha Police” – N.W.A. 

“Fuck Tha Police” is a song by the American group N.W.A. and was released on August 9, 1988. The song’s lyrics protested against police brutality and racial prejudice in society.

In addition to being one of the best rap songs of all time, it is also considered one of the most influential songs in the history of 20th-century music.

“Get Ur Freak On” – Missy Elliott

“Get Ur Freak On” is a song by popular American female rapper Missy Elliott. It was released on March 13, 2001 and was one of the hit singles off her third studio album, Miss E., So Addictive.

The legendary rap track peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart and was certified Platinum in the United Kingdom and the United States.

“I’ll Be Missing You” – Puff Daddy and Faith Evans 

Notorious B.I.G. tribute “I’ll Be Missing You” was released on March 27, 1997. It won a Grammy for “Best Rap Performance by a Duo and topped various charts across 15 countries.” I’ll Be Missing You” sold over four million copies worldwide and is one of the best-selling singles of all time.

“Planet Rock” – Afrika Bambaataa and Soul Sonic Force 

“Planet Rock” is a song by American artist Afrika Bambaataa in collaboration with the Soul Sonic Force. It was released in 1982 and produced by Arthur Baker. 

The song, which samples German art rock band Kraftwerk, sold many copies and was certified Gold in the United States. 

What songs did we miss? What songs would you add or take off? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014

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