Top 10 Rap Songs of the 2000s
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Tiffany Ezuma. This decade continued with the diversification of styles in hip hop, such as crunk, snap and alternative, and saw an increase in its mainstream popularity around the world. This is part of a series of videos from the birth of rap music to the 2000s. For this list, we're choosing what we feel are the most iconic rap songs of the decade based on a mix of their popularity, commercial success, production and lyrical quality, and cultural impact. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Rap Songs of the 2000s.
Special thanks to our users HugeMLDs, Hayden Stone, Muhammed Muhsin, Billy Batson and Liza Davydzenkava for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by Tiffany Ezuma.
This decade continued with the diversification of styles in hip hop, such as crunk, snap and alternative, and saw an increase in its mainstream popularity around the world. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Rap Songs of the 2000s.
This is part of a series of videos from the birth of rap music to the 2000s. For this list, we’re choosing what we feel are the most iconic rap songs of the decade based on a mix of their popularity, commercial success, production and lyrical quality, and cultural impact.
#10: “Get Ur Freak On” (2001)
With an insane beat that borrows from an Indian musical style called bhangra, “Get Ur Freak On” translated well with international audiences and various commercial projects. The song’s message celebrates dancing with abandon and having a good time, with Missy rapping about letting her freak flag fly. In addition to reaching the seventh spot on the Billboard Hot 100, the track also earned Elliott her first solo top ten in the UK.
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott
#9: “What You Know” (2006)
Used as the theme song to the movie “ATL,” this hip-hop and trap track became much bigger than the film. Boasting a catchy hook and chorus, “What You Know” also has T.I. calling out wannabes and pretend gangstas. At the time of its release, he was actually fairly new to the scene so his attitude and delivery make him both intimidating and powerful as they showed he wasn’t afraid of the big dogs. Also found on his fourth effort, the double platinum-certified song won him a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance.
#8: “A Milli” (2008)
Weezy is one of the most prolific rappers of the early 21st century, and this song is his calling card. He holds nothing back and goes hard over an addictive beat. His wordplay is at its best as evidenced by “A Milli”’s many quotable lines. Before being included on Tha Carter III, the track appeared on multiple mix-tapes and won Lil Wayne a Grammy at the awards ceremony held in 2009.
#7: “The Light” (2000)
As a socially conscious rapper, Common is always at the top of the game. This personal track explores his love for his girlfriend at the time. The song is much more sensitive and woman-centered than most hip-hop tunes, marking it as one of the true and best love songs from the genre. “The Light” also cemented Common’s place in the industry, earning him a Grammy nomination and his highest charting entry on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 44.
#6: “Southern Hospitality” (2000)
Ludacris never let his Southern upbringing stop him from making a splash in the East versus West Coast-dominated scene. With help from The Neptunes and several other producers, he brought Southern rap to the forefront and this particular song serves as anthem for the sound. It’s loud, catchy, and in-your-face and has Luda rapping about where he’s from. “Southern Hospitality” was also accompanied by a memorable music video featuring some of his now-signature dance moves.
#5: “Gold Digger” (2005)
While we could’ve called out “Jesus Walks,” “Through the Wire” or “Stronger,” it’s this track, more than any other Kanye song that really had a big impact in pop culture after it infiltrated the airwaves. It’s easy to see why—“Gold Digger” has a playful beat, a catchy chorus, and its subject matter is something we’re all familiar with. Jamie Foxx’s crooning and the use of a Ray Charles sample give it that bluesy feel, and pair oh-so-nicely with Kanye’s rhymes. It also spent ten weeks on the top of the Billboard charts and sold over three million copies.
Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx
#4: “Ms. Jackson” (2000)
This tune has grown to be one of OutKast’s most popular hits and serves as a signature for their funky sound, along with other notable tracks like “B.O.B.” and “Hey Ya!” Originally starting off as an acoustic number, “Ms. Jackson” was turned into an alternative hip-hop track after André 3000 thought this would make it easier for an audience to connect with. Directed to the mother of his ex-girlfriend Erykah Badu, it went on to top the Hot 100 and win the duo a Grammy for Best Rap Performance.
#3: “In da Club” (2003)
As the protégé of Eminem and Dr. Dre, audiences were expecting a lot from 50 with his commercial debut. Luckily, he more than delivered: this track was his first single and an instant success, selling over 2 million copies and hitting the charts at number one. Featuring a drum beat pounding in the night that works nicely with 50’s gruff vocals, “In da Club”’s lyrics call for a celebration. Just try to find one music fan who hasn’t heard this song—it’s virtually impossible!
#2: “99 Problems” (2004)
Even to this day, this song continues to be used to parody countless situations. But when you have a strong hook like this Jay-Z number does, it’s not surprising that it’s become an earworm for the masses. Jay borrowed the hook and chorus from Ice T’s single of the same name but he improved upon the original by giving it a rock-influenced beat produced by Rick Rubin. With Jay telling the story of how he came up from the streets, “99 Problems” is as political as it is catchy. “Big Pimpin’” may’ve reached higher on the charts, but it’s single from The Black Album that’s got us hooked!
Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Hip-Hop” (2000) Dead Prez
- “Grindin’” Clipse (2002)
- “Get By” Talib Kweli (2002)
- “Hate It or Love It” (2005) The Game feat. 50 Cent
- “Ridin’” (2005) Chamillionaire feat. Krayzie Bone
#1: “Lose Yourself” (2002)
This song is arguably one of the best rap anthems of all time. Eminem is at his rawest and most personal, and while this follows along the same vein as his earlier hit “Stan,” it’s “Lose Yourself” that tops our list. Why? It’s simply one of the best lyrical descriptions of the feeling of battling for something and being ready to triumph over the naysayers. The song also received five Grammy nods and won an Oscar, becoming the first rap song to do so.
Do you agree with our list? Which early 2000s rap song is your favorite? For more classic Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.