The 20 Best Rap Songs of All-Time

Biggie Smalls Juicy

So here it is, my list of The 20 Best Rap Songs of All-Time. While it’s often hard to differentiate “best” from “favorite,” I’d like you to think about this list in another way — if you were introducing someone to rap music, this would be a great place to start. This list was compiled after many hours of pouring over CD jackets, researching reader submissions, and countless hours of listening.

Also check out our list The 20 Best Rock Songs of All-Time.

Here they are, in order:

1) Juicy — The Notorious BIG

2) Hit Em Up — Tupac

3) Still Dre — Dr. Dre

4) Notorious Thugs — The Notorious BIG & Bone Thugs and Harmony

5) Big Poppa — The Notorious BIG

6) Changes — Tupac

7) Ain’t Nothin But a G-Thang — Snoop Dogg

8)Victory — Puff Daddy & the Family

9) Today Was a Good Day — Ice Cube

10) Growing Pains — Ludacris

11) Hypnotize — The Notorious BIG

12) Get Money — The Notorious BIG & Junior Mafia

13) If I Ruled the World — Nas

14) The Way I Am — Eminem

15) Welcome to Atlanta — Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri

16) Been Around the World — Puff Daddy & Mase

17) EI — Nelly

18) CREAM — Wu Tang Clan

19) Ready for Whatever — TI

20) I Got 5 On It — Luniz

Honorable Mention: Brenda’s Got a Baby — Tupac
What surprised me about how this list ended up? No Jay-Z, Kanye, or 50 Cent. Only one Eminem song. Lots of Dre, Snoop, Biggy, and Tupac as expected. There are so many other awesome songs that could have made this list easily.
Other songs considered seriously include: Kanye West — Through the Wire, 50 Cent — In Da Club, Master P — Make Em Say Uh, Eminem — My Name Is, Eminem — The Real Slim Shady, Ruff Ryders — Ruff Ryders Anthem, Dr. Dre — The Next Episode, Snoop Dogg — Who Am I, Ghost Face Killer — Shakey Dog, Snoop Dogg — Gin and Juice, Bone Thugs and Harmony — Crossroads, Wu Tang Clan — Triumph, Outkast — Bombs Over Baghdad, Dr. Dre — California Love, Jay-Z — Young Forever, 50 Cent & the Game — Hate It Or Love It, Twista — Celebrity Overnight, Tupac — Keep Ya Head Up, Tupac — Dear Momma, Snoop Dogg — Law Low, Puff Daddy and the Family — Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down, Nas — New World
Make a mix tape from this list. Pump that nonsense.
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65 Comments

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65 responses to “The 20 Best Rap Songs of All-Time

  1. j-bone

    If I am introducing someone to rap I am keeping them as far away as possible from Jurmaine Dupri, the guy is a muppet. Jay-z has to be on the list, 99 problems or brooklyns finest get my vote

    • I know, I just couldn’t put any single song of his in the top 20. I considered “Money Ain’t a Thang” and “Big Pimpin” as well. Brooklyn’s finest is a good song, but I think 99 problems is terrible.

  2. A. Rab Money

    i love how twista- celebrity overnight was in there as a consideration. this is clearly one of your favorites but cannot be considered even close to the best rap song of all time. One that was not mentioned and is probably the most influential rap song in history is Public Enemy- fight the power.

    • Oh, it was considered as well. I literally listened to every rap song I could think of, I’m sure I missed plenty but I listened to some pretty hilarious tracks as well. R. Kelly “Fiesta” included.

  3. A. Rab Money

    also, great image for the post

  4. As much as I like all of the songs (well most) that you have listed above I grossly dissagree with the oder in which they are listed. If anything, Nas would be my number 1 hands down, and I agree with JBone that JayZ deserves something in the top. When Is the last time you listened to Blue Print 1 or 2 or even American Gangster. Comeonson. LOL. But seriously, this is a fairly decent list. I see that you are a Biggie fan but whatever. Maybe I’ll post a list and you let me know what you think.

    • I’ll definitely let you know what I think if you post a list. Yes, I am a huge Biggie fan admittedly. Nas’ New World come very, very close to also making this list. As for Jay-Z, I felt bad leaving him off the list. I listened to a bunch of his stuff, and he’s got as many good songs as almost anybody but none of them stood out as a top 20 song of all-time to me.

    • big papa j

      ye man total agree with what your sayin id like to see your list get it put on the net and al let u know wata think

  5. Teck

    Agree with the need for Jay-Z…but you have overlooked one of the greatest songs in your list. Nate Dogg & Warren G – Regulators should be on that top 20 def over Nelly and Welcome to Atlanta

  6. Kevin Youkillis

    great choice on Notorious Thugz, cant believe i forgot about that one.

    As to Jay-Z id say maybe Renegades.. then you could introduce the person to both Em and Jay Z and once and free up another spot.

    The only song i am really disagree with being up there is Welcome to Atlanta. I also found it humorous you have 2 ludacris songs because i now associate him with just being a joke who does songs with justin beiber. (although growing pains is pretty damn good)

    overall a very quality list..now im gonna go listen to my Puff Daddy and the Family No way Out cd..

  7. J-bone

    I agree ludacris welcome to atlanta doesn’t really introduce to anything other then jay d’s kid loving ass

  8. J-bone

    Jay-d puts nothing on the map

    • Jay-D is first and foremost a producer, and he’s responsible for the “Welcome to Atlanta” beat, which is awesome. Yea he raps on this track, but he also kicked us a little Luda, which is awesome.

  9. Alan Weeks

    Coolio should have been here…and you know this.

  10. J-bone

    Jay d has produced nothing. He is a clown

  11. J-bone

    Oh sorry he has produced legends such as bow wow, kriss kross, and jagged edge who could forget their crucial contribution to the rap industry

  12. dmxcrb

    You gotta have at least one song from Illmatic on there…”Life’s a Bitch”….”The World Is Yours”. Most of your list seems like its based on popularity. But based on introducing someone to rap your list has a decent variety for someone to get started. But I definitely would have also included “So Many Tears”.

    • Illmatic is certainly one of the best rap cd’s of all time and one of my favorites. I was similarly surprised to see that only one song off of my favorite rap cd, Chronic 2001, made the list. Sure much of the list seems to be based off of popularity, but for a reason — they are the best artists’ most significant songs. There’s tons of other fantastic songs on any Nas, Biggy, Dre etc album, but they aren’t on the level of these songs in my eyes.

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  14. Teck

    I think we can add one more to this list…Justin Bieber’s “Speaking in Tongues Freestyle” in which he calls out Tom Brady at around the :25 mark. This will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest!

  15. Joe Pro

    So your saying…Ludacris is more important and better then anything on illmatic? You need to replace the ludacris with maybe a nas song or something off of Mobb Deep’s Infamous.

    • I love Illmatic and was surprised nothing off of the CD made the list. I just can’t pick one song from the CD that I think belongs ahead of these. Thoughts?

  16. BabyBabyyy1

    where is Biggie’s One More Chance remix, that song is every bit as epic as Juicy!!

  17. Timothy

    Are you serious!? No dance with the devil by immortal technique? Thats like one of the greatest rap songs ever and it doesn’t even get considered, let alone on the list.

    • Wow, I have to admit I had never even heard it. Just had a listen — I like it a lot. Great rhymes, delivered well, over a simple beat with a little piano thrown in. Thanks for the recommendation.

  18. J

    I’m a little late but where the hell is Immortal Technique? “Dance with the Devil” is one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard. It definitely tops that Nelly, TI, Wut Tang bullshit.

  19. AC

    This list is horrid…sorry but it is. I know its just a opinion….but what were u thinking? Ever heard of Grandmaster Flash? Slick Rick? Big Daddy Kane? Kurtis Blow? I luv Pac for sure and Big but wow. No Run-DMC? Christ even LL could be mentioned. Pac and Big are up there for sure, but not the whole list basically. Eric B. & Rakin? Kool G Rap? NWA? Geto Boys? KRS-1? Jesus…African Bambata and Soul Sonic Force jumped off rap…look up planet rock. Common? Keith Murray? Masta Ace? Eric Sermon? EPMD? Outkast? Do or Die? If your list was post 93 all of these oversites i guess could be acceptable. Like I said its all opinion, but your list is awful.

    • That’s fine, your welcome to your opinion. That said, this is a list of the best rap songs. Most of the names you mention are artists that were influential in rap’s early history. That said, most of those artist don’t have songs that have the staying power to still be played a lot today. Outkast was very close to making the list with a few of their songs. For example, Common is a great rapper and I like him, but you can’t even pretend he’s got one of the 20 best songs ever. Not a single one of his songs touches this list. Naming founders of rap does not impress me or get your name on this list — hits do.

  20. abdul

    stan should surely be there! other songs i would put there would be halftime ny state of mind knowtheledge 16 on death row.made nig–s ! But surprised stan is missing

  21. abdul

    anyways i really appretiate your effort!ant easy to pick from an ocean of quality!! rappers like pac biggie rakim nas dre eminem should n will always be loved and forever remembered! Miss the good ol days

  22. Robert Seals

    This is not even close
    No Boogie down Productions..No Slick Rick..No Public Enemy…This list is about as wrong as kissing a woman with an adams apple

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  24. John Matthers

    You should include Not Afraid to it, wouldnt u?

  25. Havoc

    what’s about “Shook Ones Part II” from Mobb Deep?

  26. ocloc

    no mobb deep? survival of the fittest?
    for real man no RDMC or public E? are you on crack?
    fight the power is the single most influenchial rap song ever, how can you even say it doesnt transcend generations…….
    commom didnt make the list? shit son get your shit together
    i used to love h.e.r. is top five all time
    childrens story: slick rick come onnnn son

    • Ok, first off — one of the things I struggled with when making this list is how important is “influential.” While many RDMC and Public E songs are very influential and did a lot for rap, are they as good of songs as the ones on my list? Are they a top 20 rap song of all time? I don’t thinks so. Think of all the rap songs ever made, and you need to narrow it down to 20. While there are tons of great songs out there, does slick rick have one of the 20 best songs ever? I think not.

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  28. Zacsheep

    Chamilitary mayne…………Where the F*ck is he

  29. WhiteBoy_RapHistorian

    I appreciate the list and the SEO, but I am a little taken back by the lack of history here. I read through most of the comments and responses and agree with you that there is a big difference between a track, an album and the artist’s complete body of work.

    With that said, here are a few of my favorite individual tracks:
    1. Run DMC – Peter Piper, Beats to the Rhyme; 2. Rakim – Guess Who’s Back; 3. Kool Moe Dee – I Go to Work; 4. Busta Rhymes – Put Your Hands Where my Eyes Can See; 5. Pete Rock and CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You; 6. Method Man – Bring the Pain; 7. Nas – Made you Look

    And here are a few not-as-mainstream favorites:
    1. Big Daddy Kane – It’s Hard Being the Kane; 2. Lost Boyz – Get Up, Renee; 3. Run DMC – Can you Rock it Like This; 4. Method Man w. Busta Rhymes – What’s Happenin’; 5. Mos Def w. Busta Rhymes – Do it Now; 6. NWA – Appetite for Destruction; 7. LL Cool J – I’m Bad.

    Two standouts mentioned above:
    1. For sure Children’s Story has to be up there – tell me you don’t know every word?
    2. Public Enemy – Fight the Power

    I’m sure I will think of a few gems after I press the button, but nice work and thanks for the post.

    • I’m happy you liked it and thanks for the feedback. I like most of your picks, and will check out the few i’m not as familiar with.

      • WhiteBoy_RapHistorian

        Did some more digging …

        -Digable Planets – Rebirth of Slick
        -DMX – Lord Give me a Sign (in my personal top 10), What’s my Name?
        -Raekwon and Co – Ice Cream, Incarcerated Scarfaces
        -A Tribe Called Quest – Check the Rhyme, Award Tour
        -Eric B & Rakim – Follow the Leader, Know the Ledge
        -Jungle Brothers – I’ll house you (technically house, but rap in my eyes), On the Run, Black is Black (see my soul, not my face), Done by the Forces of Nature
        -Ice-T – New Jack Hustler
        -The Fugees – Ready or Not

        OK, I’ll stop, I can go on forever …

      • Good stuff, thanks for the input WhiteBoy.

  30. ColMustard5

    shouldnt Luniz – I got 5 on it be up there?
    immortal technique – the point of no return
    geto boys – damn it feels good to be a gangster
    if those arent hits I dont know what is

  31. Moha

    where is Lose Yourself by Eminem?

  32. Nerte

    7 out of 20 are Biggie. No wonder he’s greatest rapper of all time!

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