While the UK certainly has a rap scene, hip hop and rap began in the US. Nowadays, American hip hop charts all over the world.

It’s difficult to pick the best rap songs as each of the greatest rappers has plenty of songs to choose from. However, certain rap songs are considered classics and should feature in any rap playlist.

Here are some of the best American rap songs. Of course, this list is non-exhaustive.

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The Notorious B.I.G. - Juicy

If you’re looking for some of the most iconic rappers, 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. are a good place to start and though once friends, they were famous for their feud and the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry of the early 90s.

It’s hardly surprising that Biggie makes the list.

Where was Notorious B.I.G. from?
In his short career, the Notorious B.I.G. made some excellent rap music. (Source: Free-Photos)

With only two albums, Biggie was considered one of the greatest East Coast rappers. His first album, Ready to Die, reached 13th on the Billboard 200 and went quadruple platform. His second album, Life After Death, was also a huge success.

Juicy was featured on his first album from 1994. This hip hop and rap song is a classic.

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Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message

The Message is a song that came out in 1982 and featured Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5 (Cowboy, Melle Mel, The Kidd Creole, Rahiem, and Scorpio). It’s one of the pillars of American rap.

At the end of the 1970s, the DJ, musician, and rapper Grandmaster Flash joined forces with 5 other artists to form Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. Freedom in 1980 and The Message in 1982 were hits.

It’s also one of the first popular rap songs to mention politics, society, and inequality by discussing the daily life of those living in The Bronx in the 1980s. The song has been sampled many times, notably by Ice Cube and Puff Daddy.

In this article, we'll be looking at some of the best rappers from the USA and their greatest rap songs. Of course, we can't list every single one so if you have any suggestions for the best rap music from America, let us know.

Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg - Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang

Dr. Dre is widely considered one of the best rap producers of all time, but he’s also an excellent rapper that got his start in 1984 in N.W.A. before embarking on a solo career with the debut album The Chronic.

He took the young rapper, Snoop Dogg, under his wing and they did several songs together.

Some of his best include:

  • The Chronic
  • Fuck wit Dre (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)
  • Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang
  • Let Me Ride
  • Still D.R.E.
  • The Next Episode

Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang is the first track on the album The Chronic. It’s a perfect example of festive gangsta rap that you could listen to in your car or chilling at home. The Californian rapper has a good ear for groove.

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Public Enemy - Fight the Power

Fight the Power is an iconic American Rap song that was written in 1989 for the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing. Public Enemy is an East Coast rap group that focused on political themes.

Which is Public Enemy's most popular song?
Public Enemy is another rap act representing New York City. (Source: RyanMcGuire)

Public Enemy regularly denounced inequality and racial tensions in the US. Their third album Fear of a Black Planet, which features Fight the Power, was nominated for a Grammy Award.

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N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton

N.W.A., the group featuring Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Ren, Arabian Prince, and DJ Yella, perfectly epitomises West Coast rap. Throughout the late 80s and early 90s, the group sold over 10 million albums in the United States alone.

“The most dangerous group in the world” also had hits like Fuck tha Police, Gangsta Gangsta, Express Yourself, and Straight Outta Compton. The latter was featured on the album of the same name.

Check out our favourite British rappers

Wu-Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M.

The Wu-Tang Clan is an American hip hop group from New York that originated in 1992. There are many members of the group including Method Man, RZA, and GZA to name a few. Considered by many to be the best rap group of all time, their first album, Enter the Wu-Tang from 1992 is arguably one of the best hip hop tracks of all time.

The song C.R.E.A.M. which stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” is one of the most popular songs on it. It talks about the importance of money and underlines the fact that selling drugs isn’t a great way to live.

2Pac - Dear Mama

The iconic West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur needs no introduction. Widely considered to be one of the best rappers of his time, he left many excellent rap songs with us before his murder in 1996.

When did 2Pac die?
Tupac Shakur was shot in 1996 and despite having a relatively short career, is still considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. (Source: Didgeman)

Dear Mama was released in 1995 on his album Me Against the World and pays homage to the rapper’s mother Afeni Shakur. This is one of Eminem’s favourite songs.

“Everything will be alright if you hold on

It's a struggle every day, gotta roll on

And there's no way I can pay you back, but my plan

Is to show you that I understand: you are appreciated” - 2Pac - Dear Mama

Take your time to listen to this one carefully.

Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx - Gold Digger

Kanye West, alongside Lil’ Wayne, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Tyga, and Drake, is one of the biggest rappers of a generation.

The song Gold Digger with actor Jamie Foxx was released in 2005 on his second album Late Registration for which Kanye won a Grammy Award in 2006.

Eminem - The Real Slim Shady

Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, is a rapper that will probably feature on most lists just based on the sheer number of single sales he has.

Where is Eminem from?
Eminem grew up in the Midwest and spent a lot of time in Detroit, where his career started. (Source: albertoadan)

His career started with rap battles in the late 80s and continues to this day with his latest album Music to Be Murdered By released in 2020.

Eminem has plenty of tracks we could have mentioned. Here are a few of them:

  • My Name Is
  • Stan
  • Without Me
  • Lose Yourself
  • Sing For The Moment
  • Mockingbird
  • Not Afraid
  • Rap God

We’ve chosen The Real Slim Shady because this song won the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year and the Grammy Award for the Best Rap Solo Performance. The song talks about Eminem’s alter ego, Slim Shady, while also criticising the stars of the time.

Check out our favourite American rappers

Missy Elliott - Work It

We’ll finish with a track from Missy Elliott and although the world of hip-hop may appear male-dominated, there are plenty of excellent women out there rapping who could have also been featured in this list. Nothing stopped Missy Elliott from breaking into the world of hip hop.

She’s worked alongside greats like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Lil’ Kim, Janet Jackson, and G-Dragon and has won 5 Grammy Awards and sold over 30 million albums in the United States alone. She deserves her place on this humble list.

Work It is one of Missy Elliott’s most famous songs. It was featured on her fourth album Under Construction and won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. The song sexualises and objectifies men to reverse the common tropes of hip hop music.

Since this list is hardly exhaustive, here are even more great rap songs by some excellent rap artists:

  • Sugarhill Gang - Rapper’s Delight
  • Eric B. and Rakim - Paid in Full
  • Jay-Z feat. UGK - Big Pimpin’
  • Queen Latifah feat. Monie Love - Ladies First
  • Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
  • 50 Cent - In Da Club
  • Lil’ Kim - Queen Bitch
  • Nas - N.Y. State of Mind
  • Outkast - Rosa Parks
  • Ice Cube - It Was a Good Day
  • Salt-N-Pepa - Push It
  • Coolio and L.V. - Gangsta’s Paradise
  • Kendrick Lamar - m.A.A.d city
  • Lauryn Hill - Ex-Factor
  • Megan Thee Stallion - Savage

These are just a few of the greatest American rap songs of all time. To find out more, check out our other articles.

You could even get private tutorials in rap and hip hop from one of the tutors on Superprof. There are thousands of tutors all over the country so if you're interested in learning how to rap or how to sing, get in touch with one today.

Remember that many of the tutors on the Superprof website offer the first lesson for free. Use these free lessons to try a few tutors and teachers out before deciding which one is right for you and what you want to learn.

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Joseph

Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.