Rap/hip hop songs started to make a mark in the music industry during the 80s and the 90s. Aside from the amazing talent showcased through rapping, it is also considered an art and a means of expression. Below, we have listed the top 12 hip hop songs that greatly influenced the music industry and its listeners.
12. Holy Grail
Holy Grail by American hip hop artist Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake entered the charts in different countries and sold over 3 million copies in the United States. The song features some parts of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. It won an award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in the Grammys and was part of Billboard’s Top 100 Hot Rap Songs of All Time.
11. In Da Club
This song by American rapper 50 Cent was part of his 2003 album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. In Da Club topped the US charts for weeks, and was regularly played by DJs in clubs. Its music video shows 50 Cent training to become a superstar. The song was nominated for Best Male Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song in the Grammy Awards, and won Best Rap Video and Best New Artist for the MTV Music Awards.
10. Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang
This duet by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dog from Dre’s single in 1992 ranked second in Billboard’s Hot 100 and first in Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. The G in the title stands for ‘Gangsta,’ and is a standard rap song that talks about music, money, and violence. Though it was produced in the 90s, this song is still popular and is played in parties and clubs.
Juicy is sang by hip hop singer The Notorious B.I.G. in 1994, and was his first hit. This song was dubbed as one of the greatest hip hop songs of all time by Rolling Stone, and sold over 607,000 copies. Juicy is about how he rose to fame, and the famous hip hop singers who influenced him in this craft.
8. Mind Playing Tricks on Me
Recorded by the Geto Boys in their 1991 album We Can’t Be Stopped, this song talks about paranoia and depression. Mind Playing Tricks on Me describes different mental problems like post-traumatic stress disorder. The song reached the Billboard charts and is named as one of the best hip hop songs released in the 90s.
7. Lose Yourself
Lose Yourself was recorded by American rapper Eminem as the lead single of the soundtrack for the movie 8 Mile in 2002. The song topped the charts in a lot of countries, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2003. It was also awarded the Best Rap Song and Best Rap Solo Performance in the 2004 Grammy Awards. Eminem was critiqued for his excellent rapping ability, and his song was proclaimed to be one of the best hip hop songs of all time.
6. Started from the Bottom
This song recorded by famous Canadian hip-hop singer Drake has been listed in charts in many countries. The song talks about the singer’s beginnings and how he struggled even if he did not come from the ghetto. He used the song to explain his life before getting into the industry, instead of just going into interviews.
5. Dear Mama
Dear Mama, performed by American hip hop artist 2Pac, was released in 1995 for his album Me Against the World. The song is very meaningful, with the lyrics dedicated to his mother and describing their poverty. It talks about how despite his mom’s drug addiction, his love and respect for her would always prevail. The song topped the Billboard charts and earned a Platinum in the same year it was released.
4. What Would You Do
This song released in 2001 by the American R&B hip hop group City High has been their most successful single so far. It reached different Billboard charts and was included in the soundtrack of the 1999 film Life. The story talks about the things a mother would do to feed her child. Bastille also did a cover of this song in their 2013 album.
3. Empire State of Mind
This is another song by Jay-Z together with singer Alicia Keys. The song is about the two artists’ hometown, New York, and has a catchy chorus that makes both New Yorkers and Non-New Yorkers sing along. The song talks about Jay-Z’s rise to New York – the Empire State. The song won Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in the Grammy Awards and reached the top 10 in charts in many countries.
2. Get Ur Freak On
Get Ur Freak On was recorded by American singer Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott in 2001. The song was inspired by Punjabi music, using an Indian instrument called a tumbi. This song entered the Top 10 in charts in many countries. A remix of this song was used for the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and other movies.
1. Where Is the Love
Where is the Love by hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake is about the situation after the 9/11 attack. The meaningful song was loved by many, and topped the charts in many countries. A newer version was done in 2016 with #WHERESTHELOVE together with other famous artists. The latest version addresses issues like social justice, and the proceeds were given to educational programs.
Rap/Hip hop music isn’t something that would fit everybody’s music taste, but we hope that people would consider looking deep into the meaning of the music. You will find that rap isn’t just pure talent, it also sends a message to everyone.