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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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59

Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew, “The Show”

A record that’s like a variety revue on wax. Fresh’s giddy human beatboxing and Slick Rick’s sly flair made “The Show,” which was backed with the equally classic “La-Di-Da-Di,” a global hit. “I was 17, and I’d made a million dollars,” Fresh recalled. “It was huge.”

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58

Eminem feat. Dido, “Stan”

Eminem’s scariest song because, for once, the horror seemed real. Anchored by a sample of U.K. singer Dido’s “Thank You” (which also became a hit), the song followed an obsessed fan who acts out Em’s deranged fantasies. “I try to help him at the end of the song,” Em said. “It kinda shows the real side of me.”

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57

The Pharcyde, “Passin’ Me By”

Hooking up in a South Central music workshop, the Pharcyde brought fresh artistry and exuberance to hip-hop. Over a track that bopped like the Bomb Squad on a beach getaway, four distinct rappers complemented each other with quippy charm – to member SlimKid3, this song was like “a beautiful bird circling our heads all day.”

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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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