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Top 10 Best Rap Songs of All Time (As of 2015)

Rap emerged in mainstream pop in the 1970s, although its roots go back much farther. The genre covers a lot of ground. In this top 10, rap songs from different stages in its modern era of development are represented. Here are our favorite rap songs of all time as of 2015. Let us know what you think of the song list in the comments.

Mama Said Knock You Out (1990)
LL Cool J

Any reference to violence is purely metaphorical. The song is about being on top of the game as a rap singer. It won a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance and LL Cool J was the first rapper to be on MTV’s Unplugged.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Theme Song (1990)
Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff

The duo won a Grammy for “Parents Just Don’t Understand” in 1989 and had other notables but this mainstream song is worth mentioning. The opener to the early 90’s sit-com of the same name is among the most popular TV theme songs. It also marked just the beginning of Will Smith’s acting career.

Lose Yourself (2002)

Featured in the movie 8 Mile, the song beat out U2 and Paul Simon for an Oscar and is the most commercially successful Oscar winning song. It topped the Hot 100 for 12 weeks. Guitar power chords and a heavy production make it stand out as well.

Fight the Power (1989)
Public Enemy

With its messages of black pride and empowerment, the song was somewhat controversial yet it endures as a statement on young black sentiment at the time.

Juicy (1994)
Notorious B.I.G.

A song about the artist’s beginnings, it was Notorious B.I.G.’s first solo hit. It was also part of the 8 Mile soundtrack.

Can’t Touch This (1990)
MC Hammer

The music is based on “Super Freak”, by Rick James, who got co-writing credits in a settlement. In 1990, the song won two Grammy Awards. It was also parodied by Weird Al Yankovic and featured in the movie Charlie’s Angles: Full Throttle.

C.R.E.A.M. (1993)
Wu-Tang Clan

The title is short for Cash Rules Everything Around Me. Many rappers have cited the song as an influence. It was certified gold in 2009 and charted on the Hot Rap Singles and R&B charts.

Get Ur Freak On (2001)
Missy Elliot

A collaboration with Hype Williams, the song can have many different meanings, according to Elliot. It was also featured in 2015 during Katy Perry’s Super Bowl Halftime Show and actually appeared on the Hot 100 once again following the performance.

Rapper’s Delight (1979)
Sugarhill Gang

The first Top 40 rap song in the U.S. It was used on many TV shows, featured in The Wedding Singer in 1998, and was used in a 2001 commercial for Dasani water.

The Message (1982)
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

The song is more of a social commentary and cultural documentary than a Hip Hop hit. It’s often thought the song changed the tone and direction of rap. Rolling Stone named it the Greatest Hip-Hop Song of All Time in 2012.

From the Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash to Will Smith, to Eminem, this list reflects distinct periods in rap music. Your favorite songs might be different. Our approach has been to identify songs that reflect the evolution of rap in modern pop music.

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