The 50 best rap lyrics of all time: Complete list

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Last week, we took a look at the fifty worst rap lyrics of all time. Going through all the dreck and drivel to get to the crème de la crème of crappiness was tedious and rather exhausting. This week, we even things out by taking a look at the other end of the spectrum and examining rap lyrics to find cleverness and wordplay worthy of being praised. Selecting the very best lyrics from a library of oh so many is a tough task. Is technical skill the prime consideration? Poetic quality? Historical significance? Keep reading for the full countdown to see which rhymes struck as some of the best of all time.

See also:
- The 50 worst rap lyrics: The complete list
- The 50 worst rock/pop lyrics of all time: The complete list
- The ten best storytellers in hip-hop

50. Mos Def - "Mathematics"

"Crack mothers, crack babies and AIDS patients/Youngbloods can't spell, but they could rock you in PlayStation."

Mos Def raises the stakes of this rhyme in the first line by presenting the challenges humanity faces in this day in age. He then pairs this with a commentary on the priorities of the day's youth, who are more concerned with video games than practical knowledge. When combined, the gap between what we need and what he have is clear and startling.

49. Wale - "Is There Any Love?"

"You niggas so-so like a seamstress."

Wale is a cool cat, and his wordplay here is seamless. The image of a seamstress sitting at her machine, running through mundane line after line, just seems to fit with a mediocre rapper, so the simile is so apt. And he makes it sound easy and fluent -- like a finger roll in basketball. It's tough to make it look so simple.

48. CL Smooth - "They Reminisce Over You"

"T to the R-uh-O-Y, how did you and I meet?/In front of Big Lou's, fighting in the street/But only you saw what took many time to see/I dedicate this to you for believing in me."

The whole purpose of this song, as indicated in the title, is to honor memory and reminisce about a friend who's passed. The story of how Troy and CL met may seem incidental, but it is those kinds of idiosyncratic specifics that make the story so genuine and the nostalgia so poignant. The believability of the meeting story makes CL's thank-you to Troy that much more powerful.

47. Lauryn Hill - "Zealots"

"And even after all my logic and my theory/I add a "Motherfucker" so you ignorant niggas hear me."

Lauryn Hill gives a taste of her biting wit and humor, commenting on the state of music -- hip-hop in particular. It's a great line, because the "motherfucker" does stand out in Lauryn's otherwise clean verse; it perks you up, but she's still using the word in an enlightened manner, thus getting the point across without compromising the quality of her lyrics.

46. Scarface - "No Tears"

"I got this killa up inside of me/I can't talk to my mother so I talk to my diary."

It's funny how it can be easier to talk to the world than to your own mother. Scarface's rap was his diary, and this song comes off his album named, that's right, The Diary. This line speaks to how important rap is -- how important any form of expression is -- to the artist as more than just a career or way to entertain. Some rappers pour their souls into their lyrics, and you can bet that a rapper like Scarface wouldn't dare use a potentially effeminate word like "diary" unless he was doing just that.


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43 comments
NERG
NERG

Dude.. cmon. You just listed a bunch of clear channel crap. Listen to real Hip Hop then you can make an article. WU TANG. WU TANG.


OnebelOfan
OnebelOfan

don't try and deceive me, you only deceive you,

what you thought was invisiblez

RealHipHopHead
RealHipHopHead

I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies
And hypotheses can’t define how I be droppin these
Mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery
Flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me
Battle-scarred shogun, explosion when my pen hits
Tremendous, ultra-violet shine blind forensics
I inspect view through the future see millenium
Killa Beez sold fifty gold sixty platinum
Shackling the masses with drastic rap tactics
Graphic displays melt the steel like blacksmiths
Black Wu jackets Queen Beez ease the guns in
Rumble with patrolmen tear gas laced the function
Heads by the score take flight incite a war
Chicks hit the floor, diehard fans demand more
Behold the bold soldier, control the globe slowly
Proceeds to blow swingin swords like Shinobi
Stomp grounds I pound footprints in solid rock
Wu got it locked, performin live on your hottest block

RealHipHopHead
RealHipHopHead

This list is WHACK!! Come on man, No Canibus, No GZA, No Ghostface, No Outkast, No JayZ...Who ever made this list DOES NOT listen to HIPHOP!!!

m_cloyd
m_cloyd

I like that hops in is on this list, but Lil Wayne and shit? HELL NAW. Ever heard of Tech N9ne or Potluck? This list was shit. ONLY good lyrics were hops in and 2pac. -_-

teababe27
teababe27

Honestly, #6 is a witty lyric, but it makes me sad because Jay Z knows he doesn't have to try to be good anymore, and that saddens me. Because he used to be good. And like I, and other people, have said, just because you're aware of sucking, doesn't mean you're excused for sucking.

sago2013
sago2013

"you see a mouse trap, I see free cheese and a fucking challenge"

- Scroobius Pip


arianplatt
arianplatt

This list is very accurate, needs to be updated some, but accurate. :)

ghostt488
ghostt488

Temperatures rises 
Niggaz blinded by my lyrical disguise 
No time to plot retreats 
Niggaz shiver and die 
Multiple rounds found laced 
In his body and face 
Wrapped in plastic the acid, erased all traces 
Criminal tactics the rap game 
Became so drastic 
Military mind mashed all the walls they blasted 
If we bleed then they suffocate 
Chokin in terror 
So we strive singularize we reflect in the mirrors 
The prophecy is clear 
Niggaz lock n load disappear 
Strategize with no fear 
Waging war for years - (street fame)


And though my soul was deleted, I couldn't see it
I had my mind full of demons tryin to break free
They planted seeds and they hatched, sparkin the flame
inside my brain like a match, such a dirty game-(so many tears)

what y'all niggaz crazy-pac destroyed the rap game..

Robb Pierce
Robb Pierce

"all soft on your couch, now you got Siemens furniture"

Russ Hollar
Russ Hollar

Immortal technique. K rino. Canibus. Tech 9. These are real rappers not corporate puppets.

Tylr Tre
Tylr Tre

Wtf^ Jay z is the most lyrical mc ever to pick up a mic. If you dont at least consider him top 5 DEAD OR ALIVE besides being a idiot you know nothing about rap music.

Marcelino Casias
Marcelino Casias

Who put this together, a bunch of 12 year olds? There is absolutely no way any contemporary talkers or Jay-Z should be anywhere near the top 10.

Tom Ballard
Tom Ballard

Rapper's Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang.

nemesisesq
nemesisesq

There's several different level's to devil worshiping, horses heads human sacrifices, cannibalism candles and exorcism. Animals and having sex with them camels, mammals and rabbits but I don't get into that I kicked the habit....

I got a lion in my pocket I'm lying, I got a 9 in my pocket and baby I'm just dying to cock it.


Em's Verse from Dead Wrong was SICK



Audrey Reyes
Audrey Reyes

What about, A Tribe Called Quest?! Dr. Dre?! "Why do I need I.D. to get I.D., if I had I.D. I wouldn't need I.D." - Common. Horrible list!

Ryan Dillon
Ryan Dillon

HAHAHAHA "What's would you have added?"

Rich Carollo
Rich Carollo

I read this if I didn't have to go through 10 pages.

Jim Kelly
Jim Kelly

When rap broke into the mainstream (more-or-less) in 1987 or 1988, it was urgent and had something important to say. It wasn't good music, but it was sort of an urban punk rock and I now appreciate it for being the CNN of the poor black community back then. The big three were Ice T, NWA, and Public Enemy, but it didn't take long for the entire genre to be watered down by the realization that there was a ton of money to be made, selling the overwhelmingly negative inner-city sound to upper middle class white kids. Now, it's just a parody of itself and the platform from which that obnoxious bass sound drones, for all intents and purposes dead as an ideal, murdered by its own greed.

Cody Todd
Cody Todd

This is a sad tribute, probably penned by a writer born after 1985. If you were, in fact, born before then, I really and deeply feel sorry for you. For example, Lil Wayne is not a hip-hop artist. He is a performer. Why he places twice in this list is confusing and altogether false. The writer of this article is rather wrong and, to my mind uninformed.

Jason Dunn
Jason Dunn

Back before whoever wrote this was born, there was Eazy-E and N.W.A. and they threatened to unravel the fabric of civilization. -One sucker dead, LA Times, front page.

Jim Kelly
Jim Kelly

This document should be blank, since rap is intellectually, morally, and creatively bankrupt. Branding something "best rap lyrics" is like winning the Special Olympics.

Jeremy Coss
Jeremy Coss

I believe it. With so many songs about bitches and ho's and shooting up someone, I'm sure it's hard to find 50 rap lyrics that don't promote violence and mysogeny.

amrawdawg1
amrawdawg1

whoever made this list with little wayne pitiful rappin ass on it 3 or 4 times and no black thought,no common. You've got to really be some kinda fuckin idiot... You think the lyric "real g's move in silence like lasagna" is a top lyric????? someone should choke the life outta you're contarded ass!!!  yes contarded... confused and retarded!!!


stockhammer1996
stockhammer1996

One does not simply create such a list without Gang Starr: DWYCK

Scott R. Shriver
Scott R. Shriver

Why does this keep coming up on my feed. Seriously stahp it

Chris Arms
Chris Arms

Terrible list. Really Nas #1 lyrics of all time. Only in Denver

maurice71081
maurice71081

Jay-Z has great delivery and flow but lyrically, Jay-Z is average at best.

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