The 20 Best Rap Songs of the 2000s, Ranked

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We've spoken about the best albums of the 2000s, but let's talk about the best rap songs of the 2000s. As we journey back to the colorful, vibrant era of the 2000s, we encounter a time when the music industry was undergoing transformational changes. This period saw rap music reaching unprecedented heights of creativity and commercial success. The decade offered a mosaic of styles that blended traditional lyrical flows with new electronic soundscapes, proving that rap was not just a genre, but an evolving musical expression. From the conscious lyricism of André 3000 to the melodramatic tales of Eminem, the 2000s gave us numerous rap songs that left their mark on the soundscape of the new millennium. Let's dive into the best rap songs of the 2000s, which beautifully encapsulate the soul and spirit of this golden era.

RELATED: The 25 Best Albums of the 2000s, Ranked

20. Common - "The Light"

Year Released: 2000

When you think about love in rap, Common's "The Light" is an essential example. From his album "Like Water for Chocolate", Common raps heartfelt lines of devotion over a mesmerizing J Dilla beat, which brilliantly samples Bobby Caldwell's "Open Your Eyes." The sincerity in Common's voice resonates with every beat, making this track a testament to love and affection in hip-hop.

19. Kanye West - "All Falls Down"

Year Released: 2004

Kanye West's introspective and poignant perspective of societal pressures and materialism made "All Falls Down" an instant classic. Taken from his debut album, "The College Dropout", West uses catchy melodies and soulful beats to create a timeless rap anthem that reflects his artistry and insight.

18. Ludacris - "Stand Up"

Year Released: 2003

Ludacris, with his charismatic style and infectious energy, captured listeners with "Stand Up". The track's upbeat vibe, coupled with witty lyrics, made it an irresistible crowd-pleaser. Ludacris's unique delivery is the highlight here, making "Stand Up" an unforgettable tune of the decade.

17. Outkast - "Ms. Jackson"

Year Released: 2000

A nuanced exploration of a tumultuous relationship with a girlfriend's mother, "Ms. Jackson" features Outkast at their storytelling best. Andre 3000 and Big Boi's performances over a soulful, melodic beat cemented their place as one of the most creative duos in rap history.

16. Nelly - "Hot In Herre"

Year Released: 2002

The track that catapulted Nelly into the limelight, "Hot in Herre" remains a party anthem two decades later. With its catchy hook and contagious beat, this track not only brought Nelly to the mainstream but also popularized the St. Louis rap scene on a global level.

15. 50 Cent - "In Da Club"

Year Released: 2003

Driven by its unforgettable beat by Dr. Dre and catchy chorus, "In Da Club" heralded the arrival of 50 Cent. This song was a cultural phenomenon, showing 50 Cent's gritty lyricism over a perfectly crafted beat, a combination that made "In Da Club" an iconic rap hit.

14. Missy Elliot - "Get Ur Freak On"

Year Released: 2001

Missy Elliott, with her unique style and creativity, took the rap scene by storm with "Get Ur Freak On". A perfect blend of Indian-inspired beats, distinctive vocals, and inventive lyrics, this track is a testament to Missy's innovative spirit.

13. Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell - "Drop It Like It's Hot"

Year Released: 2004

A track that came to define a cultural moment, "Drop It Like It's Hot" is an electrifying collaboration. With Snoop Dogg's smooth flow, Pharrell's infectious chorus, and The Neptunes' minimalist, clap-filled beat, the song stands as a defining anthem of 2000s West Coast hip-hop.

12. Drake - "Best I Ever Had"

Year Released: 2009

In the realm of love-centric rap songs, Drake's breakout hit "Best I Ever Had" holds a special place. The track, which features on his breakthrough mixtape "So Far Gone", is where we first saw Drake's unique blend of sincere rap and sentimental R&B that would come to define his sound and influence a new generation of artists.

11. T.I. - "What You Know"

Year Released: 2006

T.I.'s southern swagger is on full display in "What You Know", an anthem that helped put trap music on the map. With its cinematic production and memorable hook, T.I. demonstrated his unique brand of southern charm and set a new standard for Atlanta's rap scene.

10. Eminem - "Lose Yourself"

Year Released: 2002

Eminem's gritty storytelling in "Lose Yourself" showcases his immense talent as a lyricist. The song, from the soundtrack of the movie "8 Mile", resonated with millions because of its message about seizing the moment. Eminem's intense delivery over a haunting beat created an iconic rap anthem.

9. Jay-Z - "99 Problems"

Year Released: 2004

Jay-Z's insightful storytelling makes "99 Problems" a standout. He weaves a narrative around his experiences, underpinned by Rick Rubin's hard-hitting rock-rap beat. The track's lyrical cleverness and musical prowess solidify Jay-Z's status as one of rap's greatest.

8. Nas - "One Mic"

Year Released: 2001

Nas's "One Mic" stands as an emblem of his lyrical mastery. This powerful track showcases Nas's raw, insightful lyrics over a minimalist beat that intensifies with his delivery. Nas's emotional and passionate performance in "One Mic" represents the best of 2000s hip-hop lyricism.

7. Lil Wayne - "A Milli"

Year Released: 2008

Lil Wayne's idiosyncratic style is on full display in "A Milli". Over a relentless beat, Wayne delivers an array of clever punchlines, asserting his place among rap's elite. The song, with its addictive hook and innovative production, is a testament to Lil Wayne's eccentric genius.

6. Kanye West - "Jesus Walks"

Year Released: 2004

With its captivating gospel samples and thought-provoking lyrics, "Jesus Walks" remains an unforgettable track that transcends the genre. Kanye's commentary on religion, discrimination, and societal struggles was bold and eye-opening, setting a new bar for what mainstream rap music could discuss.

5. Eminem - "Stan"

Year Released: 2000

Eminem's storytelling reached its peak in "Stan". Over a haunting beat, Eminem spins a dark tale of an obsessed fan in a way that's so vivid, it's chilling. The genius of "Stan" lies not only in its lyrical depth but also in its haunting melody, sampled from Dido's "Thank You". This track showcases Eminem's uncanny ability to combine narrative and music, marking it as one of the most iconic songs of the decade.

4. The Game and 50 Cent - "Hate It Or Love It"

Year Released: 2005

"Hate It or Love It" is a classic underdog story set to music. The Game and 50 Cent reflect on their tumultuous pasts over a soulful, nostalgic beat, creating a compelling narrative of triumph over adversity. This track remains an emblem of 2000s rap.

3. Outkast - "Hey Ya!"

Year Released: 2003

"Hey Ya!" is Outkast at their most experimental. This track blended rap, pop, and funk to create a sound that was unique and irresistible. André 3000's charismatic delivery and the track's energetic beat made "Hey Ya!" a genre-defying masterpiece.

2. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - "Empire State of Mind"

Year Released: 2009

"Empire State of Mind" stands as a modern-day anthem for New York City. Jay-Z's vivid lyrics and Alicia Keys's powerful chorus perfectly capture the spirit of the city, making the track an instant classic. With its elegant piano-driven beat and memorable lines, "Empire State of Mind" beautifully encapsulates the allure and challenges of the Big Apple.

1. Kanye West - "Gold Digger"

Year Released: 2005

"Gold Digger" is Kanye at his most audacious. Featuring a captivating performance by Jamie Foxx, this track serves as a witty, catchy commentary on relationships and fame. The blend of West's punchy verses, Foxx's soulful vocals, and the contagious sample of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" made "Gold Digger" a standout hit.

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