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40 Hardest Rap Songs of All Time

December 6, 2023
hardest rap songs

I’ve carefully selected the hardest rap songs that pack a punch with their intense beats and powerful lyrics.

This article is your guide to the tracks that define the raw, unfiltered edge of rap music.

Table of Contents

Top hardest rap songs of all time

  • “Ante Up (Robbin-Hoodz Theory)” by M.O.P.
  • “Who Shot Ya?” by The Notorious B.I.G.
  • “Simon Says” by Pharoahe Monch
  • “Made You Look” by Nas
  • “Wicked” by Ice Cube
  • “Bring Da Ruckus” by Wu-Tang Clan ft. RZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon & Inspectah Deck
  • “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” by Rick Ross Ft. Styles P
  • “Get at Me Dog” by DMX
  • “m.A.A.d City” by Kendrick Lamar
  • “Shook Ones (Part II)” by Mobb Deep

1. “Ante Up (Robbin-Hoodz Theory)” by M.O.P.

“Ante Up (Robbin-Hoodz Theory)” was released by the hip-hop duo M.O.P. in 2000, as a part of their studio album Warriorz.

Also known simply as “Ante Up”, the song topped the UK Independent Singles chart upon release.

It samples “Soul Sister, Brown Sugar” by Sam & Dave, and Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame stated that ‘ante up’ is “a saying that we got from my mother”.

The hit essentially details how the two feel they don’t get the recognition they deserve.

2. “Who Shot Ya?” by The Notorious B.I.G.

“Who Shot Ya?” is one of the hardest rap songs out there, released by Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G. with hype man Sean Combs.

It was released during the rap battle between Biggie Smalls and 2Pac, who later both got shot in 1996 and 1997 respectively.

Tupac released an answer song in 1994, although Biggie described that “a legion of his fans interpreted “Who Shot Ya?” as a troll job”, despite never speaking much on the accusation.

The song caused a turning point in the West Coast/East Coast rap rivalries.

3. “Simon Says” by Pharoahe Monch

Pharoahe Monch released his debut single “Simon Says” in 1999, and it soon became known as his most popular song and one of the hardest rap songs of all time.

It was released as the lead single from his debut studio album Internal Affairs.

The hit was featured in the two popular films Charlie’s Angels and Boiler Room, both released in 2000.

Following this, it reached number three on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, becoming a favorite in the hardcore hip-hop genre.

4. “Made You Look” by Nas

“Made You Look” was released by Nas on his sixth studio album God’s Son in 2002.

The song was bourne of the battle between himself and Jay-Z and signified a new direction for Nas.

It became his third most successful single.

“Made You Look” debuted at number nine on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, as well as charting at number twenty-seven on the UK Singles Chart.

It landed itself on many ‘best song’ lists in the following years.

5. “Wicked” by Ice Cube

Ice Cube released “Wicked” in 1992 as the first single from his third album The Predator.

It soon became his first single to reach the Billboard Hot 100, reaching number fifty-five.

Upon its release, it peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart.

It sold upwards of five hundred thousand copies in the United States and was subsequently certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Due to its success, the song has been covered by many artists, including Korn.

6. “Bring Da Ruckus” by Wu-Tang Clan ft. RZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon & Inspectah Deck

“Bring Da Ruckus” opened Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers in 1993.

It is known as one of their classic hits, featuring some other great rappers

It has been streamed over seventy-seven million times on Spotify, making it their sixth most streamed song.

7. “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” by Rick Ross Ft. Styles P

“B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” is a song released as the second single from Rick Ross’ fourth album Teflon Don.

Featuring Styles P and produced by Lex Luger, it proved very popular and sold over one million copies in the United States.

It was subsequently awarded Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The song peaked at number four on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, and number twenty-eight on the US Billboard Rhythmic chart.

8. “Get at Me Dog” by DMX

DMX released “Get at Me Dog” in 1998 as his debut single from his debut studio album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot.

It was his third most successful single overall, shooting to number six on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart.

It also reached the US Billboard Hot 100, charting at number thirty-nine, and the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number nineteen.

It has been used in popular media, including Grand Theft Auto.

9. “m.A.A.d City” by Kendrick Lamar

“m.A.A.d City” was released in 2012 by Kendrick Lamar, as a part of his second studio album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.

The hit features a guest appearance from MC Eiht, a fellow West Coast rapper from Compton.

The song proved a huge success for Lamar, selling over two million copies in the United States and being awarded double platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.

It also reached number ten on the US Hot Rap Songs chart.

See also: Best Kendrick Lamar Songs

10. “Shook Ones (Part II)” by Mobb Deep

“Shook Ones (Part II)” was the lead single on The Infamous…, Mobb Deep’s 1995 studio album.

It is a follow-up to “Shook Ones (Part I)”, but contains far less profanity.

It shot to number seven on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, while also landing in the Hot 100.

The song sold over four hundred million copies in the United Kingdom and also proved popular in Denmark, where it sold over forty-five thousand copies.

The lyrics detail inner-city kids and their financial struggles,

11. “Return of the “G”” by Outkast

“Return of the “G” is a 1998 song by Outkast, a hip-hop duo comprising André 3000 and Big Boi.

It was released as the single on their studio album Aquemini, and showed a more gangsta side of the pair, to address their controversy at the time.

Produced by Rico Wade, he said the song came about when “Big and Dré were coming into their own”. 

12. “I Really Mean It” by the Diplomats

“I Really Mean It” by the Diplomats was released in 2013 as the fifth track on their studio album Diplomats Volume 2.

The song was produced by Just Blaze and samples a live version of Major Harris’ “I Got Over Love”.

The song has over ten million streams on Spotify, making it their third most popular release.

13. “I Don’t Like” by Chief Keef ft. Lil Reese

Chief Keef came in hard with his debut single “I Don’t Like”, which features Lil Reese.

It appears on the albums Back from the Dead and Finally Rich and was released in 2012.

Pitchfork named the song the thirteenth best song of the 2010s.

The music video got taken off YouTube in 2013 but had over twenty-eight million views in its prime.

It got reuploaded to Keef’s Vevo account and amassed a huge one hundred million views.

14. “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J

LL Cool J released “Mama Said Knock You Out” in 1991 as the lead single from their fourth studio album of the same name.

The song came about when people alluded that LL’s career was slowing down, and his Grandmother told him to “knock [them] out”.

The song soared to the top of the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart and sold over one million copies in the United States before being awarded platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.

15. “Keep It Thoro” by Prodigy

Prodigy of Mobb Deep released “Keep It Thoro” in 2006 as the lead single on his debut solo album H.N.I.C. It samples the 1978 hit “Disco People” by Jack Mayborn.

The track is one of Prodigy’s best-performing and has been streamed almost fourteen million times on Spotify.

16. “Ambitionz Az a Ridah” by 2Pac

Tupac Shakur released “Ambitionz Az a Ridah” in 1996 as the leading track on his studio album All Eyez On Me.

The aggressive song was supposedly by a ‘new version’ of 2Pac since being signed to the gritty Death Row Records.

He created the song mere hours after he was released from prison, and the graft paid off.

Mike Tyson, who was a close friend of 2Pac, used it often as his entrance song, and a new version “Ambitionz Az a Fighta” was even created for him.

17. “Come Clean” by Jeru the Damaja

“Come Clean” is a hard rap song that was released in 1993 by Jeru the Damaja as part of his album The Sun Rises in the East.

It performed relatively well in the United States, reaching number six on the US Hot Dance Singles/Maxi-Singles Sales chart.

It also reached number ten on the US Hot Rap Singles Chart, number fifty-three on the US Hot R&B Singles chart, and number eighty-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100.

18. “Many Men (Wish Death)” by 50 Cent

“Many Men (Wish Death)” is a song from 50 Cent’s debut studio album Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

The 2003 song was produced by Eminem, Luis Resto, and Darell “Digga” Branch, and sampled Tavares’ “Out of the Picture”.

The song was an immediate hit, selling over three million copies in the United States and being certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

It hit number eleven on the US Billboard Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles.

19. “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit” by Wu-Tang Clan ft. RZA, Inspectah Deck & Method Man

“Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit” was released in 1993 on Wu-Tang Clan’s popular studio album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).

It is one of their most popular songs, being streamed nearly one hundred and twenty-five million times on Spotify.

20. “L.A., L.A.” by Capone-N-Noreaga ft. Mobb Deep & Tragedy Khadafi

“L.A., L.A.” is a hard rap song by Capone-N-Noreaga, a hip-hop duo from New York.

It was released as the second single on their debut studio album The War Report in 1996 and features guest appearances from Mobb Deep and Tragedy Khadafi.

It was a response to Tha Dogg Pound, a Californian Duo, who released “New York, New York” during the crux of the East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry.

Many people saw this as disrespect, so Capone-N-Noreaga clap back.

21. “I’m Bout It, Bout It” by Master P

“I’m Bout It, Bout It” is well-known as one of Master P’s best-ever releases.

It was released in 2006 on the compilation album No Limit Greatest Hits.

The song is one of Master P’s most popular, with over three million streams on Spotify.

Later, a follow-up single titled “Bout It, Bout It II” was released, which proved even more successful.

22. “Lyrical Gangbang” by Dr. Dre ft. RBX, Kurupt & The Lady of Rage

“Lyrical Gangbang” was released by Dr. Dre on his studio album The Chronic in 1992.

The song features RBX, Kurupt, and The Lady of Rage, who take on this hardcore rap track with a verse each.

See also: Best Dr. Dre Songs

23.“Kick In The Door” by The Notorious B.I.G.

“Kick in the Door” is a diss track to all of the haters, released by The Notorious B.I.G. on his final album Life After Death.

The 1997 song samples “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

Some see it as Biggie’s final hurrah, where he puts all of his critics to rest.

24. “Who Run It” by Three 6 Mafia

Three 6 Mafia released the 2000 song “Who Run It” as the lead single to their studio album When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1.

The track is arranged to have a verse from every group member.

The track proved successful, reaching number twelve on the US Billboard Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart. 

25.“Boyz-n-the-Hood” by Eazy-E

“Boyz-n-the-Hood” was Eazy-E’s debut single, released in 1987 on his debut studio album N.W.A. and the Posse.

The song was produced by Dr. Dre and had lyrics written by Ice Cube.

It was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry after selling over two hundred thousand copies in the United Kingdom and performed well in the United States too.

It landed in the top one hundred of three different charts, kicking Eazy-E’s career off.

26. “I Shot Ya (Remix)” by LL Cool J ft. Prodigy, Keith Murray, Fat Joe & Foxy Brown

“I Shot Ya (Remix)” was a remixed version of LL Cool J’s “I Shot Ya”, which featured Keith Murray and was released in 1995.

The remix was released later the same year and was thought to have fed the East-Coast/West-Coast rivalry.

It reached number fifty-five on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, proving popular.

The song was LL Cool J’s hit back to the haters who were doubting his rhyming and lyrical abilities.

27. “Till I Collapse” by Eminem ft. Nate Dogg

“Till I Collapse” is a song by well-known rapper Eminem, released on his studio album The Eminem Show in 2002. Featuring the “King of Hooks” Nate Dogg, the song has remained the most streamed non-single of all time on Spotify since 2022.

The hit sold a massive eight million copies in the United States, as well as millions in the United Kingdom, Greece, and Denmark.

It hit the charts in fourteen different countries and remains one of the hardest rap songs of all time. 

28. “Gangsta Gangsta” by N.W.A.

N.W.A., which was comprised of rappers Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren, and Arabian Prince, released “Gangsta Gangsta” in 1988 on their studio album Straight Outta Compton.

It portrays the dangers of living in Compton, as well as the upsides to ‘gangsta life’.

It charted in Australia, the United Kingdom, and two charts in the United States and contains samples from many other popular songs.

29. “Slam” by Onyx

“Slam” is the second single from hip-hop group Onyx’s studio album Bacdafucup in 1993.

The song is credited for introducing slamdancing into hip-hop – at the time, it was mainly only prevalent in heavy metal and punk rock genres.

“Slam” performed well around the world, selling over one million copies in the United States and topping five different charts in the countries.

It also charted in New Zealand and Germany.

30. “U Don’t Know” by Jay-Z

“U Don’t Know” is recognized as one of Jay-Z’s best singles.

It was released in 2001 as track six on his studio album The Blueprint.

In the song, Jay-Z details his monetary successes within the rap and drug game.

It was produced by Just Blaze, who wasn’t a fan of the beat.

It was remixed for this reason in 2002 and continued to rise in popularity.

31. “Blockbuster Night Part 1” by Run The Jewels

“Blockbuster Night Part 1” was released by Run The Jewels in 2014 on their studio album Run The Jewels 2.

The album and subsequently the songs were leaked before its full release, so later got released for free.

32. “Rampage” by EPMD ft. LL Cool J

“Rampage”, which is also known as “Slow Down, Baby”, was released as the second track on EPMD’s third studio album Business as Usual in 1991.

LL Cool J was featured in one verse, with Pete Rock adding a remix.

The song shot to number two on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart and number thirty on the US Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Singles chart.

33. “Met Gala” by Gucci Mane ft. Offset

“Met Gala” is a 2017 song by Gucci Mane, released as the fifth single on his studio album Droptopwop and featuring fellow Atlantan rapper Offset.

The lyrics essentially brag about their money, and how girls chase them now the rappers are wealthy.

34. “4th Chamber” by GZA ft. RZA, Killah Priest & Ghostface Killah

GZA teamed up with RZA, Killah Priest, and Ghostface Killah to release “4th Chamber” in 1995.

It is featured as track number seven on GZA’s studio album Liquid Swords.

The title is a reference to the Shaw Brothers’ film ‘36th Chamber of Shaolin’.

Many listeners have alluded to the fact that this absolutely sounds like a Wu-Tang Clan song, as opposed to a GZA rap.

35. “BLKKK SKKKIN HEAD” by Kanye West

“Black Skinhead”, stylized as “BLKKK SKKKIN HEAD”, was released in 2013 by Kanye West on his sixth studio album Yeezus.

The single was hugely popular, selling over three million copies in the United States and charting in ten different countries worldwide.

Daft Punk produced the song alongside West, and the song soon shot to fame.

It was ranked the eighty-ninth best-selling hip-hop song of all time in the United Kingdom in 2017.

36. “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2)” by A$AP Rocky

“Lord Pretty Flacko Joyde 2 (LPFJ2)” was released by A$AP Rocky in 2015 from his second studio album At. Long. Last. ASAP.

The song reached the top of the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.

It also sold over two million copies in the United States, subsequently being certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

37. “Tookie Knows II” by ScHoolboy Q

“Tookie Knows II” was released by ScHoolboy Q in 2016 on Blank Face LP.

He says himself that this is his favorite song from the album. It comes as a sequel to his “Tookie Knows” interlude, which was from the album Habits & Contradictions

38. “Thought It Was a Drought” by Future

“Thought It Was a Drought” is the lead single on Future’s 2015 studio album DS2 (Deluxe).

He raps about his love of drugs and drug dealing, as well as alluding to a breakup with his then-girlfriend Ciara.

The ‘drought’ he speaks of refers to cough syrup, which was removed from the market after being brought up many a time in rap songs.

Future tells us that he isn’t affected by this due to his connections.

39. “4,3,2,1” by LL Cool J ft. Method Man, Redman, Canibus, DMX & Master P

“4, 3, 2, 1” is a well-loved collaboration between LL Cool J, Method Man, Redman, Canibus, DMX, and Master P.

It was released on LL Cool J’s seventh studio album Phenomenon in 1997.

The song performed well, debuting at number five on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart and number ten on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart.

40. “Deep Cover” by Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg

“Deep Cover”, which is sometimes known as “187”, was Dr. Dre’s debut solo single.

It was the first track released after N.W.A.’s breakup and was a soundtrack single for the film of the same name.

It was also Snoop Dogg’s, or Snoop Doggy Dogg as he was then known, the first time featured on a record.

The hit reached number four on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart and number forty-six on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart.

Hardest Rap Songs – Final Thoughts

We touched on Dr. Dre and Biggie Smalls’ rivalry and showed some of the best comebacks from artists who were told they weren’t hitting hard enough.

These artists showed us all what they were made of with some of the hardest rap songs out there!

You may also like: Best Diss Tracks of All Time

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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