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100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

What makes a great hip-hop song?

100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

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We asked 33 artists and experts – from Rick Rubin to Big Boi, Mike D to Chuck D – to vote for their favorite hip-hop songs.

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56

Clipse, “Grindin”

Hitmaking production duo the Neptunes (featuring Pharrell Williams) cooked up a chilling electro-funk beat for their Virginia homies the Clipse, and the result was a coke-rap classic: “From ghetto to ghetto/To backyard to yard/I sell it whipped, unwhipped/And soft, to hard,” Pusha T rapped. Come and get it.

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55

Grandmaster and Melle Mel, “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)”

The funkiest anti-drug record ever, Melle Mel’s opening salvo after splitting with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was also, alongside Blondie’s “Rapture,” one of the first rap/New Wave hybrids. Like the song says, it’s something like a phenomenon.

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54

Snoop Doggy Dogg, “Gin and Juice”

Enshrining the line “with my mind on my money and my money on my mind” as a hip-hop tenet, “Gin and Juice” was Cali G-funk’s laidback victory lap. “Little white kids come up to me, and it makes me feel damn good,” Snoop told Rolling Stone in 1993. “It’s the feeling of a straight ghetto man finally proving his stuff to the whole society.”

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53

Run-DMC, “King of Rock”

“I’m the king of rock, there is none higher/Sucker MCs should call me Sire,” barks DMC on this hugely influential rap-rock anthem, before guitarist Eddie Martinez drops detonating riffs. “King of Rock” came with a hilarious video where Run-DMC bum-rush a “rock & roll museum.” In 2009, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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52

The Notorious B.I.G., “Big Poppa”

With its plush, slow-jam feel and ghetto-fabulous video, Biggie’s first Top 10 hit sold America on a burly Brooklyn corner kid. Said co-producer Chucky Thompson, “Ice Cube was big at that time as well, and if you look at [Cube’s] ‘It Was a Good Day,’ and then you look at ‘Big Poppa,’ it was on the same wavelength.”

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51

Public Enemy, “Bring the Noise”

“Bring the Noise” was truth in advertising – from Chuck D’s megaphone-blast delivery to Terminator X’s teeming turntable scratches to the Bomb Squad horn, siren, snare-and kick-drum samples to Flavor Flav’s cartoonish absurdism (“We can do this, like Brutus”). Chuck D noted the urgency of the song’s 1987 recording: “Eric B. and Rakim and Boogie Down Productions … fucking changed the world, man,” he said. That meant “Bring the Noise” had to be “faster, funkier and also saying something serious that the people could feel.”

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