Rap music has been around for decades, and over the years there have been some truly iconic songs that have set the tone for the genre.
From classic tracks to modern bangers, countless rap songs have gone down in history as some of the best rap songs of all time.
Whether you’re a fan of old-school hip-hop or modern trap, there’s something special about the best rap songs ever that no other genre can quite replicate.
Table of Contents
- 1. “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash
- 2. “N.Y. State of Mind” by Nas
- 3. “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” by Geto Boys
- 4. “Fight The Power” by Public Enemy
- 5. “Shook Ones, Pt. II” by Mobb Deep
- 6. “Ms. Jackson” by OutKast
- 7. “It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube
- 8. “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang
- 9. “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A.
- 10. “C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan
- 10. “In Da Club” by 50 Cent
- 11. “A Milli” by Lil Wayne
- 12. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem
- 13. “Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G.
- 14. “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” by Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg
- 15. “Sucker M.C.’s (Krush‐Groove 1)” by Run DMC
- 16. “Slow Down” by Brand Nubian
- 17. “Grindin’” by Clipse
- 18. “Ice Cream” by Raekwon
- 19. “B.M.F.” by Rick Ross ft. Styles P
- 20. “Strictly Business” by EPMD
- 21. “Bling Bling” by B.G.
- 22. “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)” by UGK
- 23.Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
- 24. “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West
- 25. “F*** Da Police” by N.W.A.
- 26. “Ain’t No Half‐Steppin’” by Big Daddy Kane
- 27. “99 Problems” by Jay-Z
- 28. “The Choice Is Yours” by Black Sheep
- 29. “Flava in Ya Ear” by Craig Mack
- 30. “Top Billin” by Audio Two
- 31. “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow
- 32. “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar
- 33. “Gin And Juice” by Snoop Dogg
- 34. “Empire State of Mind” by JAY-Z ft. Alicia Keys
- 35. “South Bronx” by Boogie Down Productions
- 36. “My Name Is” by Eminem
- 37. “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” by Pete Rock & CL Smooth
- 38. “Big Pimpin’” by UGK
- 39. “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
- 40. “I Know You Got Soul” by Eric B. & Rakim
- 41. “Lost Ones” by Lauryn Hill
- 42. “Children’s Story” by Slick Rick
- 43. “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy
- 44. “Rock The Bells” by LL Cool J
- 45. “Passin’ Me By” by The Pharcyde
- 46. “Mass Appeal” by Gang Starr
- 47. “Paper Planes” by M.I.A.
- 48. “Roxanne, Roxanne” by U.T.F.O.
- 49. “The Bridge” by MC Shan
- 50. “Get Low” by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz
- Best Rap Songs of All Time – Final Thoughts
1. “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash
No list of the greatest rap songs of all time can be complete without “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash.
This classic rap song is one of the most iconic and influential songs in the genre, with its instantly recognizable hook and clever wordplay.
Released in 1982, “The Message” was among the first rap songs to tackle social issues and has been praised for its revolutionary lyrics and musical composition.
2. “N.Y. State of Mind” by Nas
Released in 1994, “N.Y. State of Mind” by Nas has become a classic rap track that has been celebrated for its powerful storytelling and ingenious wordplay.
The song has become one of the most iconic rap songs and has been featured on many lists of the best rap songs.
3. “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” by Geto Boys
“Mind Playing Tricks On Me” by Geto Boys is considered a classic rap song, it features a combination of southern hip hop and horrorcore rap.
It was featured as the lead single from their fourth studio album, We Can’t Be Stopped.
The song proved to be a huge success and has since become one of the most famous rap songs, often considered one of the best old rap songs ever made.
4. “Fight The Power” by Public Enemy
“Fight The Power” is one of the most popular songs in the genre of hip hop.
This track is featured on the album, Fear of a Black Planet.
It was written and produced by Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, and Gary G-Wiz.
The song peaked at number one on both the Hot Rap Tracks and Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales charts in the US and has become one of the most influential rap songs, regularly appearing in lists of the top hip hop tracks.
5. “Shook Ones, Pt. II” by Mobb Deep
Mobb Deep, who consists of rappers Prodigy and Havoc, are two of the best rappers in history.
“Shook Ones, Pt. II” was their most famous and successful single and became a top hip-hop track that still resonates today.
The track reached number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and made it to number 5 on the Top 10 Rap Songs of All Time list.
The song was released in 1995 as a part of their album The Infamous.
6. “Ms. Jackson” by OutKast
OutKast is a hip-hop duo consisting of rappers Andre 3000 and Big Boi who were key figures in the development of Southern rap.
Throughout their career, OutKast has been critically acclaimed for their lyrical skills and fusion of genres including funk, soul, rock, and hip-hop.
Released in 2000, “Ms. Jackson” is a single from OutKast’s fourth studio album Stankonia.
The song became an instant success and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was even nominated for the Grammy Award.
7. “It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube
A great rapper and songwriter, Ice Cube has been at the forefront of the West Coast hip-hop scene since the late 1980s.
In 1993, “It Was a Good Day” was nominated for Best Rap Performance at the Grammy Awards.
The single also appeared in various films, television shows, and video games.
The relaxed beat and memorable lyrics make “It Was a Good Day” one of the best rap songs ever.
8. “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang
Released in 1980, “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang was the first hip-hop single to become a Top 40 hit in the United States.
The single appeared on the group’s album, Sugarhill Gang, and reached number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“Rapper’s Delight” is widely considered to be the first successful rap song to become popular and it helped establish The Sugarhill Gang as one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time.
9. “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A.
Released in 1988, “Straight Outta Compton” is a rap song that features a famous beat and addresses the hard realities of inner-city life.
It quickly became a popular rap song in history and is still often considered a top rap song.
It showcased the lyrical prowess of the best rappers of all time including Dr Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E, and its hard-hitting, yet groundbreaking production style quickly propelled it to become one of the best old rap songs out there.
10. “C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan
“C.R.E.A.M.” (an acronym for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me”) is a song by the American hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, released as the third single from their 1993 debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
The song’s lyrics are about the struggles of growing up in poverty and the allure of making money through illegal means.
The song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and also is considered an anthem for the Wu-Tang Clan.
10. “In Da Club” by 50 Cent
“In Da Club” by 50 Cent has memorable lyrics, mesmerizing flow, and an addictive beat.
It has remained a fan favorite for over 15 years and is a testament to 50 Cent’s talent as one of the best rappers of all time.
“In Da Club” has been praised by critics and fans alike and continues to be a timeless classic in the world of hip-hop music.
11. “A Milli” by Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” is an enduring classic that has earned its place among the top rap songs of all time.
Released in 2008, this song was featured on the album Tha Carter III and has gone on to become a famous rap song.
It was nominated for two Grammy Awards and won Lil Wayne a BET Award for Best Hip Hop Track.
Lil Wayne is widely recognized as an amazing rapper, with his illustrious career spanning over 20 years and producing some beloved rap songs.
12. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem
Eminem is widely considered among the greatest and most influential rappers.
He has sold over 240 million records worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists.
His works have earned numerous awards and accolades, including 15 Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards, and an Academy Award.
Released in 2002, “Lose Yourself” was the lead single of Eminem’s 8th studio album.
13. “Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G.
“Juicy” is a song by American rapper The Notorious B.I.G., released as the lead single from his 1994 debut album Ready to Die.
It was produced by Puff Daddy and The Hitmen, and features a sample of Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit.”
The song was a commercial success, reaching number 27 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and it was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
14. “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” by Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg
The song features Snoop Doggy Dogg, who at the time was an up-and-coming rapper signed to Death Row Records, which was run by Dr. Dre.
The song was produced by Dr. Dre and features a sample of Leon Haywood’s “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You.”
The song’s lyrics are about the laid-back, party-centric lifestyle of West Coast gangsta rappers and the G-funk subgenre of hip-hop.
The song was a hit, reaching number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
15. “Sucker M.C.’s (Krush‐Groove 1)” by Run DMC
The lyrics of the song are considered groundbreaking, as Run-DMC rapped about their own skills and abilities, rather than the more typical themes of drug dealing and street life that were common in early hip-hop.
It was also considered the first “diss” record of the hip-hop era.
The song is considered a pioneering track in the development of hip-hop, as it was one of the first rap songs to feature a heavily rhythmic, beats-driven sound.
16. “Slow Down” by Brand Nubian
Released as the second single from their 1990 debut album One for All. The song was produced by Grand Puba, Lord Jamar, and Sadat X, and it was written by all three members of the group.
The song was a commercial success, reaching number 36 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and it helped to establish Brand Nubian as one of the leading acts in the emerging hip-hop scene.
17. “Grindin’” by Clipse
Clipse is a duo from Virginia Beach consisting of brothers Pusha T and No Malice.
They are both renowned lyricists and producers and have been named some of the best rappers.
Their debut album Lord Willin’ was released to critical acclaim and featured several singles, including the famous rap song “Grindin’”.
To this day, “Grindin’” remains one of the top rap songs.
18. “Ice Cream” by Raekwon
“Ice Cream” is a song by singer Raekwon, released as the lead single from his 1995 debut solo album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…
The song features Ghostface Killah and Cappadonna, who are fellow members of the Wu-Tang Clan.
The song’s lyrics are about the lavish and opulent lifestyle of drug dealers and the allure of wealth and power.
19. “B.M.F.” by Rick Ross ft. Styles P
The song is an anthem for the opulent lifestyle, a celebration of excess and luxury, with Rick Ross painting a picture of a world where fast cars, designer clothes, and stacks of cash are the norm.
The lyrics are braggadocious, Ross’ flow is effortless, and the production is massive, making for a truly unforgettable song.
It’s a song that exudes confidence and swagger, with Ross commanding the listener’s attention from the first beat to the last.
20. “Strictly Business” by EPMD
EPMD is a pioneering hip-hop duo from Long Island, New York, known for their distinctive style of rapping, which often featured a back-and-forth dialogue between the two members.
The song’s lyrics are about the struggles of inner-city life and the importance of self-awareness and self-empowerment.
The song was an instant success, reaching number 36 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
21. “Bling Bling” by B.G.
Many people consider B.G. one of the best rappers of all time, and “Bling Bling” is a testament to that title.
With its catchy hook and memorable lyrics, it’s no wonder this track remains a top hip-hop track over two decades later.
This song is no doubt one of the top rap songs of all time and will be remembered as a classic for years to come.
22. “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)” by UGK
The song was released as a single in 2007 and appears on UGK’s final studio album, Underground Kingz.
The song is known for its smooth, laid-back production and its catchy chorus, where OutKast member André 3000 sings “I choose you, baby”.
The song’s music video, directed by Bryan Barber, features a humorous, wedding-themed storyline and received critical acclaim.
The song is considered one of the standout tracks from Underground Kingz and has been praised for its blend of southern hip-hop and R&B.
23.Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Released in 1996 as a single from their album E. 1999 Eternal.
The song is a tribute to the group’s deceased friend and mentor, rapper Eazy-E, and is dedicated to the theme of death and the idea of meeting loved ones in the afterlife.
The song’s lyrics are emotional and reflective, with the group members expressing their grief over Eazy-E’s death and their desire to see him again.
24. “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West
“Jesus Walks” was a critical and commercial success, receiving widespread acclaim from critics and fans alike.
The song earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Song and it was also included in many “best of” lists.
It’s considered one of Kanye West’s most iconic songs and it’s widely considered one of the most powerful and impactful hip-hop songs of the early 2000s.
25. “F*** Da Police” by N.W.A.
“F*** Da Police” is a song by American hip hop group N.W.A, released in 1988 as a single from their debut album, Straight Outta Compton.
The song is a protest against police brutality and misconduct, with the group’s members expressing their anger and frustration at being targeted and harassed by law enforcement.
The lyrics of the song contain explicit language and graphic descriptions of violence, and it was considered controversial upon its release.
26. “Ain’t No Half‐Steppin’” by Big Daddy Kane
The song’s lyrics are a display of Kane’s impressive lyrical prowess and confidence, with Kane delivering a series of clever and complex rhymes that showcase his skill and virtuosity as a rapper.
“Ain’t No Half‐Steppin’” was a success, reaching number 12 on the Hot Rap Songs chart.
27. “99 Problems” by Jay-Z
“99 Problems” is a song by rapper Jay-Z, released in 2003 as a single from his album The Black Album.
The song features a sample of Billy Squier’s “The Big Beat” and was produced by Rick Rubin.
It’s known for its aggressive tone and Jay-Z’s assertive delivery, as he reflects on his personal and professional struggles.
The song reached number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it was also a hit on the R&B and Rap charts.
28. “The Choice Is Yours” by Black Sheep
Black Sheep is a hip-hop duo from Queens, New York, consisting of Andres “Dres” Tito and William “Mista Lawnge” McLean.
“The Choice Is Yours” is a classic example of the socially conscious and positive themes that were prevalent in the Native Tongues collective.
The song’s lyrics encourage the listener to make positive choices in life and to take control of their own destiny.
29. “Flava in Ya Ear” by Craig Mack
“Flava in Ya Ear” is a song by Craig Mack, released as the lead single from his 1994 debut album Project: Funk da World.
The song was produced by Easy Mo Bee and it was written by Craig Mack and Easy Mo Bee.
Craig Mack was a rapper from Long Island, New York, who gained fame in the early 90s for his unique style and flow.
He was best known for “Flava in Ya Ear” and he was signed to Bad Boy Records, which was run by Puff Daddy.
30. “Top Billin” by Audio Two
“Top Billin'” is considered a classic of old-school hip-hop and is known for its catchy and memorable chorus, “Top Billin’, Top Billin’!”
The song’s lyrics are about the importance of making money and being successful in the music industry.
The song was produced by Audio Two themselves and it was written by the group’s members, Milk Dee and Gizmo.
31. “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow
“The Breaks” is considered a landmark song in the history of hip-hop, it was one of the first rap songs to become a mainstream hit, and it helped to establish the genre as a commercial force.
The song’s lyrics, which detail the struggles of inner-city life and the importance of perseverance, are a reflection of the challenges faced by many urban communities at the time.
The song’s message of determination and self-empowerment is one that continues to resonate with listeners to this day.
32. “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar
This amazing song was released as part of Lamar’s critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly and is considered a staple on any top rap songs list.
The song was hugely popular and made it onto numerous rap playlists.
With its inspiring lyrics and powerful production, “Alright” has become one of the most recognizable songs ever created.
33. “Gin And Juice” by Snoop Dogg
This incredible song by Snoop Dogg has made its way to our list of the best rap songs of all time.
Released in 1994, “Gin and Juice” was Snoop Dogg’s first single, and it quickly became a top 50 rap hit.
Not only did the single become an instant classic, but it also went on to become a major part of hip-hop culture.
34. “Empire State of Mind” by JAY-Z ft. Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys is an iconic singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress.
Her 2009 hit song “Empire State of Mind” is a hip-hop classic and one of her most recognizable songs.
The single features Jay-Z, who was also featured on the full-length album version.
The song’s title and lyrics refer to New York City, where Alicia Keys was born and raised.
The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it Alicia Keys’ third number-one single in the US.
35. “South Bronx” by Boogie Down Productions
With an infectious beat and KRS-One’s powerful rhymes, it’s no surprise why this track has been featured on best rap playlists for decades.
Boogie Down Productions are definitely one of the prominent names of hip hop music and “South Bronx” is an example of why they are.
36. “My Name Is” by Eminem
Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, has become one of the most influential rappers of all time.
His controversial and witty lyrics paired with his unique sound made him stand out from other rappers.
“My Name Is” showcases Eminem’s personality and creativity and is truly one of the top rap songs of all time.
The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance, and it also reached #36 on the Billboard Hot 100.
37. “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” by Pete Rock & CL Smooth
Pete Rock & CL Smooth is a hip-hop duo from Mount Vernon, New York, consisting of rapper CL Smooth and producer/DJ Pete Rock.
“They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” is considered a classic of hip-hop and is known for its emotional and nostalgic lyrics, which pay tribute to their deceased friend and roadie Troy Dixon.
The song was produced by Pete Rock and it was written by Pete Rock, CL Smooth, and Troy Dixon.
38. “Big Pimpin’” by UGK
This amazing song by the legendary Hip Hop duo UGK is a famous rap song and a worthy addition to our list of the 50 best rap songs ever.
“Big Pimpin’” stands as one of UGK’s signature tracks and has been included in multiple top rap song lists.
The song was released in 2000 as a part of their album Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter.
39. “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
Released in 1988, “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock is a popular rap song.
The song appeared on the duo’s debut album, It Takes Two, and was an instant success, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In addition to the commercial success of the song, it has also been recognized as one of the best rap songs ever, being included in VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.
40. “I Know You Got Soul” by Eric B. & Rakim
Eric B. & Rakim brought their unique brand of Hip Hop to the music scene with “I Know You Got Soul”.
With its amazing beat, Rakim’s smooth flow, and its brilliant sampling of Bobby Byrd’s “I Know You Got Soul”, it quickly became a mainstay of hip hop culture.
41. “Lost Ones” by Lauryn Hill
“Lost Ones” is a song by singer-songwriter and rapper Lauryn Hill, released as the lead single from her debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998.
The song was produced by Lauryn Hill herself and it was written by Hill.
It was nominated for several awards, including the Grammy award for Best Female Rap Solo Performance.
42. “Children’s Story” by Slick Rick
This song was released in 1988 and it was included on the album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.
In fact, Rolling Stone magazine listed it as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
It tells a story from the perspective of a young man who steals a gun and gets in trouble with the law.
It’s full of vivid imagery and its impact on rap music can’t be understated.
43. “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy
Released as the lead single from their 1987 album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show.
The song was produced by the group’s member Hank Shocklee, and written by Chuck D, Hank Shocklee, and Eric Sadler.
It is considered a classic of old-school hip-hop known for its aggressive and confrontational tone, as well as its powerful and politically charged lyrics.
44. “Rock The Bells” by LL Cool J
Released in 1985, this amazing song was the lead single of LL Cool J’s debut album Radio.
It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is still one of the top 50 rap songs today.
It has also been mentioned as the best rap song ever on many hip-hop lists.
45. “Passin’ Me By” by The Pharcyde
“Passin’ Me By” is considered a classic of alternative hip-hop and is known for its introspective and melancholic lyrics, which detail the struggles of unrequited love.
The Pharcyde is a hip-hop group from South Central Los Angeles, known for their distinctive, playful, often humorous lyrics and innovative production style.
46. “Mass Appeal” by Gang Starr
Gang Starr is an influential hip hop duo, and their song “Mass Appeal” is a prime example of why.
Released in 1993 as the lead single from their third studio album Hard to Earn, the song is considered one of the greatest rap songs.
The song features an amazing beat produced by DJ Premier and Guru’s classic rhyme scheme with insightful lyrics about the lure of fame and fortune in the rap game.
47. “Paper Planes” by M.I.A.
“Paper Planes” is a song by British-Sri Lankan rapper and songwriter M.I.A. It was released as the third single from her second studio album, “Kala,” in 2008.
The song was also used in the trailer and the film of the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy award for Best Rap Song.
48. “Roxanne, Roxanne” by U.T.F.O.
“Roxanne, Roxanne” by U.T.F.O. was released in 1984 and is still widely popular today.
The song’s lyrics are a classic example of rap storytelling, and its simple yet effective beat makes it a perfect song for any rap playlist.
This song is a fan favorite and no playlist of rap songs is complete without this masterpiece.
49. “The Bridge” by MC Shan
“The Bridge” by MC Shan is a magnificent song that deserves to be on our list.
The track was released in 1986 and quickly established itself as among the best rap songs of the era.
The beat is classic hip hop and Shan’s storytelling skills are on full display throughout the song.
This song is a must-have for any rap playlist.
50. “Get Low” by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz
This track, released in 2002, was an instant hit in the rap and Hip hop scene, quickly becoming a classic and reaching the number 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song features vocals by Lil Jon himself, along with fellow rappers Big Sam and Lil Bo, who take turns spitting lyrics to accompany the banging beat.
The energy of the song is undeniably infectious, making it a go-to staple on any rap playlist.
Best Rap Songs of All Time – Final Thoughts
It’s amazing to look back on the greatest rap songs of all time and see how far the genre has come.
Our list of the top 50 rap songs of all time represents an amalgamation of the best hip-hop songs from a variety of artists, styles, and eras.
No matter what type of rap music you prefer, there’s sure to be something for everyone on this rap playlist.
We hope you enjoyed our list and create your own rap playlist featuring some of these amazing songs.