Hip hop is a rhythmic style of music that often features drum beats and rap.
It was developed in the United States by inner-city African-Americans and Latinos, so is associated with an urban lifestyle.
Hip hop artists frequently sample songs from other artists, creating an almost conversational element to the hip hop music scene.
While hip hop stereotypically focuses on sexual attraction, money and drugs, the genre is diverse and artists often create songs about romantic relationships as well.
This list features some of the best hip hop love songs of all time, featuring world-famous names like Jay-Z, Drake, and Snoop Dogg.
1. “My Boo” by Usher and Alicia Keys
This duet from powerhouses Usher and Alicia Keys was released as a single in 2004.
The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for 6 weeks.
The lyrics are from the perspectives of two people that used to be in a relationship, lamenting on the feelings that they will always have for each other.
2. “In My Feelings” by Drake
The music video for this song is shot in New Orleans and directed by Karena Evans, who also directed some of Drake’s previous videos, such as “God’s Plan” and “Nice for What”.
The song was released in 2018 as a single for his fifth album, Scorpion.
“In My Feelings” topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts and stayed there for an impressive 10 weeks.
3. “Love On The Brain” by Rihanna
“Love On The Brain” comes from Rihanna’s Anti album and features a more ballad-like sound compared to her other songs.
Despite this album being released in 2016, Rihanna hasn’t released any albums since, to the frustration of her many fans.
It was the album’s fourth and final single, and is inspired by 1950’s and 1960’s music.
The song reached number 5 on the singles chart in the US.
4. “Miss Independent” by Ne-Yo
“Miss Independent” from Ne-Yo features an iconic opening tune and samples the song “Forget About Me” by Keesha (Lil Bit).
It was the second single from his 2008 album Year of the Gentleman.
The song peaked at No 7 on the Billboard chart.
The music video features cameos from Trey Songz, Kevin Hart and Gabrielle Union.
5. “Bound 2” by Kanye West
Infamous American rapper Kanye West released “Bound 2” as a single for his sixth album, Yeezus (2013).
The song features samples from “Bound” by Ponderosa Twins Plus One and “Sweet Nothin’s” by Brenda Lee.
Underneath his tough exterior, West reveals his more romantic side with this song.
The song’s lyrics talk about being tired of having no one to give their love to, and about the inevitability of falling for someone.
6. “LOVE.” by Kendrick Lamar, Zacari
“LOVE.” was released by Kendrick Lamar and was written by Lamar, Zacari Pacaldo (who features on the track), Teddy Walton, Sounwave, Greg Kurstin, and Anthony Tiffin.
The song is about Lamar’s devotion to his fiancee, Whitney Alford, who he now has two kids with.
The track broke new ground in hip hop, focusing on romantic love rather than sexual desire, as is more common in the genre.
7. “The Light” by Common
“The Light”, from Common’s 2000 album Like Water for Chocolate, was nominated for ‘Best Rap Solo Performance’ at the 2001 Grammy’s.
Common confirmed that the song is about his love for his then-girlfriend Erykah Badu.
Badu features in the music video, which was directed by Nzingha Stewart.
The song was Common’s first to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. “LOYALTY.” by Kenrick Lamar, Rihanna
“LOYALTY.” comes from Lamar’s fourth album, Damn, and features Barbadian singer Rihanna.
Released in 2017, this song won the Grammy award for ‘Best Rap/Sung Performance’.
The song samples Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic”.
The lyrics are about having ‘loyalty’ in a relationship, and about ‘trust’ being all the couple have and all they ask from each other.
9. “I Wanna Be With You” by DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj, Future, Rick Ross
“I Wanna Be With You” from DJ Khaled features some of the biggest names in the industry.
The song was written by all the artists in collaboration.
The song just missed the Billboard Hot 100 chart by one slot.
Just before the release of the song, Khaled publicly proposed to Nicki Minaj.
Minaj said that the proposal wasn’t to be taken seriously, and many believe it was to promote the single.
10. “How To Love” by Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne revealed that the song was partly inspired by Tupac Shakur’s “Keep Your Head Up”.
The music video was written by Lil Wayne himself.
It tells the story of a woman deciding not to have an abortion, and the subsequent life and struggles of the child.
The video then shows an alternative version of the woman’s life, if she had found love, stability and happiness.
11. “I Used To Love H.E.R.” by Common
“I Used To Love H.E.R.” is one of Common’s most well-known songs.
The acronym ‘H.E.R.’ stands for hip hop in its Essence is Real.
The song sings about a woman as a personification of the hip hop genre.
Common sings about the downfall of hip hop since it had become more mainstream and commercialized, losing its essential element.
12. “Drunk in Love” by Beyonce and Jay-Z
‘Drunk in Love” comes from iconic couple Beyonce and Jay-Z.
The two composed the song, along with some other collaborators, for Beyonce’s fifth album.
The single was one of two lead singles released for the album, and peaked at No 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It is seen by many as a follow up to the couple’s ‘Crazy in Love’.
13. “Your Love” by Nicki Minaj
“Your Love” was released in 2010 as the lead single for Minaj’s debut album, Pink Friday.
It features a sample from Annie Lennox’s cover of “No More I Love You’s”.
The song was considered to have brought forth a ‘new brand of hood majesty’ to the genre.
14. “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast, Andre 3000, Big Boi
“Ms Jackson” comes from hip hop duo Outkast, featuring Andree 3000 and Big Boi.
The song reached No 1 in the US Billboard chart and across many other countries, an unusual feat for a hip hop song.
It won the Grammy that year for the ‘Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group’.
15. “Best I Ever Had” by Drake
“Best I Ever Had” was recorded by Drake in 2013 for his debut EP, So Far Gone.
The song peaked at No 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and remained his highest-charting single as a lead artist until “One Dance”, which reached No 1.
The music video was directed by Kanye West, and features fellow artist Trey Songz.
16. “Temptations” by Tupac Shakur
“Temptations” is a song from American rapper Tupac Shakur for his third studio album, Me Against The World.
The song focuses on relationships and infidelity, and was praised by critics for its romantic tone.
The following year, Shakur was shot four times in a drive-by shooting, and passed away six days later.
Rolling Stone ranked Shakur in their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
17. “ROS” by Mac Miller
“ROS” was released in 2016 by Miller, for his GO:OD AM album.
The title is thought to stand for ‘Rain Or Sunshine’, in line with one of the lyrics: ‘I’m still trying to find you / through sunshine or rain’.
The lyrics are about the joys of being in love and the beauty of the person he is singing about.
18. “Interlude (That’s Love)” by Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper released his second mixtape Acid Rap in 2013 as a free digital download.
The rapper admitted that some LSD was used in the production of the mixtape, hence the title.
“Interlude (That’s Love)” is the 8th song on the tape.
The lyrics talk about the importance of love above all other things, above ‘trippin’’, ‘followers’ and ‘dollars’.
19. “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj
“Super Bass” was described by Minaj as being about the budding relationship between a man and woman.
It has been described as ‘bubblegum pop’ and features Minaj’s rapping over a hip hop beat.
The song made it onto Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ list for 2021, in 426th place.
20. “Beautiful” by Snoop Dogg, Pharell
This song shows a more romantic side to Snoop Dogg, as he raps about a beautiful woman alongside Pharell’s singing.
The song reached No 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It was released in 2003 as the second single from Snoop Dogg’s sixth album.
The song was produced by American production duo, The Neptunes.
The Neptunes won “Producer of the Year, Non-Classical” for the song, in the production and engineering genre.
21. “American Boy” by Estelle, Kanye West
“American Boy” was written by Estelle, West, will.i.am and John Legend, as well as some other collaborators.
Legend features as backing vocals on the track.
Legend was Estelle’s mentor, and suggested the idea of her creating a song about meeting an American man.
The song reached No 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
22. “Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado, Timbaland
This duet from Furtado and Timbaland depicts a playful back-and-forth between a man and woman as their relationship begins.
The song became an international success, and was Canadian singer Nelly Furtado’s first US No 1.
The music video was directed by Little X and features both artists, as well as a cameo from Justin Timberlake.
23. “WAIT FOR U” by Future, Drake, Tems
A more recent release, “WAIT FOR U” was released in May, 2022.
The song reached No 1 on the Billboard US Hot 100, making it Future’s second No 1.
The lyrics discuss a romance and the problems that come between the pair, with the relationship sometimes tumbling into toxicity.
One critic argued that the charisma between Future and Drake was ‘notably absent’ from this track.
24. “No Air” by Jordin Sparks, Chris Brown
Jordin Sparks gained fame in 2007 after winning American Idol.
“No Air” was released in 2008 and was Sparks’ second single from her debut album.
The lyrics compare living in a world without their lover to living in a world without air.
25. “Take A Bow” by Rihanna
“Take A Bow” was released for Rihanna’s re-release of her Good Girl Gone Bad album, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded.
The re-release included four new songs, “Take A Bow”, “Disturbia”, “Hatin’ On The Club” and “If I Never See Your Face Again”, with “Take A Bow” and “Disturbia” becoming No 1 hits for Rihanna.
26. “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child
Beyonce Knowles first found fame in girlband Destiny’s Child.
“Say My Name” features on their second album, The Writing’s On The Wall (1999).
It became the group’s second No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Rolling Stone included the song in their list of the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ in 2021, ranking at 285.
27. “21 Questions” by 50 Cent, Nate Dogg
“21 Questions” was released by American rapper 50 Cent and Nate Dogg in 2003.
The lyrics show the narrator asking their girlfriend 21 questions to find out the strength of their love.
The song became 50 Cent’s second chart-topping single, peaking at No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Later that year, Lil’ Mo released an ‘answer track’ to the song, called “21 Answers”.
28. “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” by Chris Brown
Another song from Chris Brown, the lyrics are about seeing a girl for the first time and falling head over heels.
It became Brown’s second No 1 hit in the US.
The music video is directed by Erik White and features model Erica Mena as the love interest.
29. “You Da One” by Rihanna
In this upbeat tune, Rihanna sings about finding the one she thinks about all day, the one she thinks about ‘always’.
The song incorporates elements of reggae and pop, with a West Indian and Caribbean tone.
The music video was shot in East London and directed by Melina Matsoukas, and is supposedly inspired by A Clockwork Orange.
30. “Teenage Love” by Slick Rick
Slick Rick is an English-American rapper and record producer.
One of his songs, “La Di Da Di”, is considered one of the most sampled songs in history.
“Teenage Love” comes from Slick Rick’s debut album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.
The song made it to No 16 on the Hot Black Singles chart.
31. “‘03 Bonnie & Clyde” by Jay-Z, Beyonce
This song was written by many of the biggest names in hip hop, including Jay-Z and Kanye West.
Jay-Z and Beyonce were dating during the song’s release in 2003, but didn’t get married until 2008.
The beat is sampled from Tupac Shakur’s song “Me and My Girlfriend”.
The song became Beyonce’s first top ten single.
32. “Dilemma” by Nelly, Kelly Rowland
This song featured on both Nelly’s Nellyville album and Rowland’s Simply Deep debut solo album.
The song features a call and response style, with the lyrics describing a man interested in a woman that is already in a relationship.
“Dilemma” won ‘Best Rap/Sung Performance’ at the Grammy Awards.
33. “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By” by Method Man, Mary J. Blige
This song is a duet from Mary J. Blige and Method Man, both notable figures in the hip hop world.
The song is a remix of Method Man’s own “All I Need” song, released in 1994.
It has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
34. “Marvin’s Room” by Drake
“Marvin’s Room” is a song from the point of view of someone drunk calling their ex-girlfriend.
It is the lead single from Drake’s Take Care album, released in 2011.
Several artists, such as Chris Brown, JoJo, Lil Wayne, Sammie and Teyana Taylor, released their own versions of the song.
35. “So Sick” by Ne-Yo
“So Sick” reached the No 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as well as the UK Singles Chart, after its release in 2005.
The lyrics are about the pain following the end of a relationship, and the singer’s inability to get over it.
While the song generally received positive reviews, critic Bill Lamb described it as ‘restrained’, wanting more ‘emotional involvement’ from Ne-Yo.
36. “Ya Man Ain’t Me” by Chris Brown
This song from Chris Brown was released in 2005.
The lyrics are about the narrator singing to a girl, trying to convince her that he would be better for her than her current boyfriend.
37. “If I AIn’t Got You” by Alicia Keys
“If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys was inspired by the 9/11 attacks, the death of singer Aaliyah, and other events going on in the world.
The song peaked at No 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
The lyrics are romantic, singing about not wanting anything if they can’t have their lover.
38. “Can’t Help But Wait” by Trey Songz
This song from Songz is about seeing the person you want in a relationship with the wrong person.
It was released in 2009 as the second single for Songz’ Trey Day album.
American actor Jackie Long features in the music video, which tells the story of a girl being abused by her boyfriend, played by Long.
The song was nominated for ‘Best Male R&B Vocal Performance’ that year.
39. “Simple Things” by Usher
Usher found fame after his mother submitted him to singing competitions from the age of 12, where he caught the attention of a record label.
He rose to fame in the late 1990’s.
Usher’s fourth album, Confessions, was released in 2004.
“Simple Things”, the eleventh song on the album, is about how easy it is to forget the simple things in life, like conversations and love, and how important they are compared to money and the finer things.
40. “White Dress” by Kanye West
“White Dress” was released for the soundtrack to The Man with the Iron Fists, released in 2012 by Soul Temple Entertainment.
The Man with the Iron Fists is an American martial arts film, directed by RZA.
“White Dress” contains samples of “I Could Never Be Happy” by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson and “All The Way Gone” by The Game.
41. “Wifey” by Next
“Wifey” from Next reached No 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, after its release in 2000.
Next is an American trio, made up of Robert “R.L.” Huggar and brothers Raphael “Tweety” and Terry “T-Low” Brown.
The song romantically sings to a woman that ‘stood right by’ the narrator and is their ‘only love’.
42. “Angel” by Shaggy
“Angel” is a song from reggae singer Shaggy, who is also famous for his hits “It Wasn’t Me” and “Boombastic”.
The song reached No 1 in 12 countries, including Australia, the UK and the US.
The song samples “The Joker” by Steve Miller Band and “Angel of the Morning” by Chip Taylor.
43. “Say Goodbye” by Chris Brown
“Say Goodbye” was released by Brown in 2006 for his debut album, and is also featured in the movie Step Up.
While it peaked at No 10 on the US Hot 100 chart, it was his first single to not chart at all in the UK.
The music video shows Brown breaking up with a girlfriend before finding someone new.
44. “Excuse Me Miss” by Jay-Z, Pharell
Jay-Z is regarded as one of the most influential hip hop artists and producers.
Pharell Williams sings the chorus on this track, which was co-written and produced by the Neptunes.
The lyrics are about trying to attract a good-looking girl that the narrator has come across.
The song samples “Take You Out” by Luther Vandross and “Big Poppa” by Notorious B.I.G.
45. “Nobody Else But You” by Trey Songz
In this romantic song, Songz sings to a woman he loves, reassuring her that she is the only one for him.
Music critic Maurita Salkey praised the song, saying that “the singer rarely sounded this romantic”.
The song was written by Songz and produced by Isaak.
46. “Incredible” by Future
Future is often regarded as one of the most prominent rappers of this generation.
“Incredible” comes from his sixth studio album, HNDRXX, which was released in 2017.
The album was released one week after his fifth album, and features collaborations with Rihanna, The Weekend, Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj.
47. “Sundress” by ASAP Rocky
“Sundress” was released as a single by ASAP Rocky in 2018.
The song samples Tame Impala’s “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?”.
“Sundress” is upbeat and happy, with pop and disco elements.
The lyrics are about the narrator wanting someone that is with a person that isn’t right for them, saying that they ‘fell into the wrong hands’.
48. “I Need A Girl (Pt 1)” by P Diddy, Loon, Usher
“I Need A Girl (Pt 1)” is a track on the We Invented the Remix album from P Diddy and the Bad Boy Family, released in 2002.
The song features Usher and Loon and peaked at No 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
P Diddy achieved a rare occurrence with this song, as both parts 1 and 2 of the song became chart hits.
49. “What You Want” by Mase, Total
“What You Want” is a single from Mase’s debut album, Harlem World.
The song samples “Right on for the Darkness” by Curtis Mayfield.
The lyrics are about the singer wanting to treat their girl to everything they want, because they like him for him rather than for his status.
50. “Always on Time” by Ja Rule, Ashanti
Jeffrey Bruce Atkins, better known by his stage name Ja Rule, was born and raised in New York city.
His song “Always on Time”, featuring famous American singer and actress, Ashanti, was at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks.
It was named the 33rd most successful song of the 2000’s.
51. “Young Love” by Chris Brown
“Young Love” comes from Chris Brown’s eponymous debut studio album, released in 2005 by Jive Records.
The song wasn’t released as one of the five singles for Chris Brown, but was the fifth track on the album.
The lyrics are about the feelings of teenage love, how it is often disregarded despite being one of the strongest feelings.
52. “3005” by Childish Gambino
“3005” was released as the first single for Childish Gambino’s second album, Because the Internet.
Childish Gambino originally released the song on SoundCloud before releasing it the following day as a digital download on iTunes.
The song’s lyrics are about wanting to be with someone regardless of what they do, and wanting to be with them forever.
53. “Peaches & Cream” by 112
“Peaches & Cream” is a song from American quartet 112.
It was nominated for “Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal” at the 2002 Grammys.
The lyrics are about feeling intense sexual attraction to a girl.
54. “I Just Wanna Love You (Give It 2 Me)” by Jay-Z
Another collaboration between Jay-Z and the Neptunes, “I Just Wanna Love You” was released in 2000 as the first single for Jay-Z’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia album.
The music video features cameos from a host of fellow rappers, including Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Cease and Beanie Sigel.
The first verse interpolates Notorious B.I.G.’s “The World is Filled…”.
55. “Just A Friend” by Biz Markie
One from the 80’s, this song from Biz Markie was the lead single for his The Biz Never Sleeps.
The story-telling element of this song makes it memorable in the world of hip hop love songs.
The lyrics are about trying to get to know a girl, who pretends that she doesn’t have a ‘man’ by calling him a ‘friend’ instead.
“Just A Friend” was by far Markie’s most successful single, so he is often considered a ‘one-hit wonder’.
Hip Hop Love Songs – Final Thoughts
Hip hop artists of today and the past prove their ability to break beyond the hip hop stereotypes and show a more sensitive and emotional side.
The tendency in hip hop to use past works to inspire future songs creates a form of community that is unique to the hip hop world.
This fluidity has allowed hip hop songs to easily cross over into other genres, allowing for its mainstream popularity.
In 2017, hip hop surpassed rock music as the most popular genre in the United States.