A rapper displaying his signature pose
The most famous rappers have a unique persona and style. Once people learn the art of rap, they develop a flair and panache only found amongst the rappers. (Source: Unsplash)

Rap music has been around for decades, and it's no surprise that it has been one of the world's most popular music genres for many years now.

Famous rappers like Eminem, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls, to mention a few, have helped to make rap a global sensation and established the groundwork for what it is today.

Where did rap music come from? Rapping has been practiced in Africa for thousands of years.

The "griot" custom extends back to the dark years of slavery when Africans were kidnapped and transported to America as slaves.

They used to sing to cope with the great agony and loss. This created the foundation for modern-day rap culture.

Who invented rapping? Rap, as we know it now, began in the Bronx, New York, in 1973. So DJ Kool Herc is the first name that comes to mind when we think about the whereabouts of rapping.

DJ Kool wanted to try something different at one of these gatherings, so he used his two turntables to extend a children's song breakbeat portion as long as he wanted.

He did this by playing the track on both turntables and switching to the other turntable as one segment ended, effectively allowing him to play the song for as long as he desired.

Rap music epitomizes the hip-hop genre and serves as its foundation. So how did rap music start?

This genre is thought to have originated in working-class street gangs and is now a staple of African-American culture.

Rapping, a grassroots musical genre that sprang from working-class areas is covered in mystique stereotypes, making artists apprehensive of jumping into rapping.

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Top American Rap Songs Of All Time

A record player besides a sketch pad
Rap music has been prevalent for decades. But, where did rap music come from? Although DJ Kool Herc is credited for its discovery in the 1970s, it is believed that rapping came into existence way before when Africans were sent to America as slaves. (Source: Unsplash)

Let's take a look at the top rap songs ever (not in any particular order)!

The Rain – Missy Elliot (1997)

The first impression does matter, and the picture of Missy Elliot for "The Rain" video is hard to forget. But, well, a once-in-a-lifetime song calls for an equally unique video.

Timbaland's production is more like funk-genre than a rap on this track. However, Elliott knows his way around! As a result, you're left in an epic trance by the debut single.

Set It Off – Big Daddy Kane (1988)

Beats were secondary to Big Daddy Kane tracks, even though they frequently utilized outstanding samples. This is demonstrated in the first scene of "Set It Off."

You'd listen to Kane spit acapella and hang on every word. His hypnotic speed rap style peaked on "Set It Off," a lyrical showcase that cemented his status as an icon.

I'm Bad – LL Cool J (1987)

"I'm Bad" is a classic in every way. It's LL Cool J's definitive, swaggering lyric statement, and it should be one of the first things that cross your mind when you are thinking of the peak LL.

With the lyrical intensity of a typhoon, LL stepped into another era with a lead singer from "Bigger and Deffer." No one can compete with him as rap's most prominent solo star.

Hard Knocked Life – Jay-Z (1998)

Since 1998-99, Jay-Z has launched a slew of hit singles and albums. As a result, it's not easy to remember who he was before "Hard Knocked Life."

Without question, Shawn Carter has always been a great lyricist, but he hadn't yet climbed the rap mountain.

"Hard Knocked Life and its brilliant "Annie" sample also helped Jay-Z to quickly fill the vacuum left by Biggie and 2Pac's deaths.

Songs seldom bring generations together like this, at the point when your parents ask you about the rapper rapping on their beloved musical.

I Feel Like Dying – Lil Wayne (2007)

Lil Wayne's most impactful track, recorded at the height of his lyricist skill, is the song about drug use that incorporates a consciousness narrative stream that would change the role of drugs in rap music.

It's an understatement to say that "I Feel Like Dying" is frank. Wayne's song encouraged a generation of rap musicians who used cannabis, molly, or lean and felt compelled to relate their stories.

"I Feel Like Dying" impacted some of the biggest hip-hop tunes of the last decade.

Money Trees – Kendrick Lamar (2012)

On "Money Trees," Kendrick Lamar doesn't bother with any complex rapping since he doesn't have to. He's already got one of his career's best catchphrases in "It go Halle Berry or hallelujah."

Lamar also has a secret weapon in the form of his label mate Jay Rock, who delivers one of the best guest verses in rap history.

Forgot About Dre – Dr. Dre (2000)

Eminem's appearance on "Forgot About Dre" came between the popularity of "The Slim Shady LP" and the release of "The Marshall Mathers LP."

Em obliterates the song's second stanza by rhyming about choking a guy with a Charleston Chew that's hotter than a Mercedes with the temperature reaching the mid-80s.

In a career full of unforgettable moments, it's one of the most memorable.

The Message – Nas (1996)

Nas is at his poetic best on "The Message," which says a lot considering it comes after "Illmatic." Nas' storytelling abilities, on the other hand, only improved with the song's second stanza, which is among the best.

On a musical level, it's the sound of Nas embracing the Mafioso rap genre. In addition, the movie-like atmosphere creates a degree of suspense that 2Pac would despise ("Fake thug, no love, you get the slug...").

Things quickly turn bloody. Nothing is ever going to be "Illmatic." However, "The Message" is on par with anything Nas has ever done.

Flashing Lights – Kanye West (2007)

In terms of orchestration, synth sounds, braggadocio lines, and humor, no other Kanye West song compares to "Flashing Lights."

It's everything West has been renowned for, yet it was published a decade before he would infiltrate every aspect of mainstream culture.

West was hinting at the heights to which his talent would go. He was always the first to recognize his greatness.

You Gots To Chill – EPMD (1988)

EPMD, in spirit, was a New York hip hop trio that prefigured the sounds of West Coast hip hop.

Eric Sermon and Parrish Smith delivered "You Gots to Chill," the essence of groovy rap with the legendary opening line "Relax your mind, let your conscience be free..." a few years before Dr. Dre gave G-funk to the mainstream.

It was in stark contrast to other New York emcees' harsher boast raps, which established EMPD as trailblazers.

Get Your Freak On – Missy Elliot (2001)

"Get Your Freak On" is an absolute riot. The wacky beat that was the talk of the hip-hop world in 2001 belongs to Timbaland.

Missy's insane song, on the other hand, has become synonymous with her determination to push things to their absolute breaking point.

Any other artist would consider hocking a loogie in the middle of a song undesirable. However, it's just another day at the workplace for Missy.

Criminology – Raekwon (1995)

A superb crime caper song is required on every great Mafioso album. It's "Criminology" on "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx." It's important to note that Raekwon's debut album is primarily a collaboration with Ghostface Killah.

"Criminology" is the ideal tune to showcase the duo's synergy, starting with a classic "Scarface" sample before exploding with horns, snare drums, and keys.

Then, the rhymes pour in fast and furious. It's like seeing two fantastic basketball players pass the ball back and forth for back-to-back alley-oops.

Mass Appeal – Gang Starr (1994)

"Mass Appeal" by Gang Starr is maybe the best example of DJ Premier's mission. The song's premise and effervescent sound were designed to ridicule rappers who compromise their principles to reach the top of the pop charts.

Premier purposefully constructed a catchy sound for Guru's intended rhymes ("Because I don't need gimmicks/Gimme a fly beat and I'm all in it...") to dump knowledge on popular music audiences.

Gin & Juice – Snoop Dogg (1993)

Snoop Dogg was positioned to be the biggest celebrity in rap following his show-stealing performances on Dr. Dre's "The Chronic." And boy, did he make the most of it.

The first single from "Doggystyle," "What's My Name?" was a top-10 hit. However, the follow-up "Gin and Juice" became a pop-cultural staple in the years that followed.

"Gin and Juice" solidified Snoop as hip hop's biggest star, demonstrating that Dre's G-funk had become rap's distinctive sound.

99 Problems – Jay-Z (2004)

Jay-Z wanted to work with every renowned producer he could when making his "farewell" album. But, unfortunately, on "The Black Album," some of those collaborations didn't work out.

But the one with Rick Rubin on "99 Problems" had the most impact and continues to date.

The song brings together two of hip-most hop's influential tastemakers. Rubin returns with the same old-school rock sounds that made LL Cool and the Beastie Boys famous.

Jay-Z adds the swagger and the premise, creating a story with an edgy catchphrase fit for T-shirts. Jay-Z demonstrated that he wasn't a businessman even on his "last" album. But, he was a businessman, for sure.

Alright – Kendrick Lamar (2015)

Rap songs like Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" aren't as common as they once were. Rarely does such an uncompromisingly political song become such a worldwide hymn.

Since "Fight the Power," there hasn't been one. But, of course, timing is crucial. The message in "Alright" would be amplified by the last decade's police brutality.

Even though "Alright" is about the tragic circumstances that impact the Black community and the ensuing fury, there is a sort of comfort that comes with Lamar's instant classic.

"We gon' be alright!" is a phrase that can be used again and over again.

New York State Of Mind – Nas (1994)

In 1994, "New York State Of Mind" was not exactly a cultural event. Nas' debut album didn't even have a single with the song. Yet, in hindsight, it's all here.

On possibly the greatest hip-hop album of all time, rap history's most significant producer and poet join forces. The beat alone is so incredible that it may be intimidating for the typical emcee.

On the other hand, Nas rises to the situation, combining two of rap's best verses.

His rhymes are next level, a blend of Mafioso rap from Kool G Rap, swagger from LL Cool J, and political tones from Chuck D. "New York State of Mind" is hip hop at its pinnacle in every way. There's nothing more you can ask for.

Nuthin But A G – Dr Dre (1992)

On N.W.A.'s second album, Dr. Dre experimented with G-funk themes. Other hip-hop artists, such as EPMD and Public Enemy, had also used funk samples in their music.

Hip hop was all about a hefty rhythm and a hard beat up to "The Chronic." But, then, on "Nuthin' but a G' Thang," Dre smoothed everything up.

Dre made hip-hop melodic in a way that no one had done before, adapting it to the masses in a way that no one had done before.

It's a landmark single in terms of both pioneering production (which altered rap for the 1990s) and the emergence of Snoop Doggy Dogg as hip hop's next excellent star.

What Does The Future Of Rap Music Looks Like?

A rapper performing with his team in a concert
The craze and popularity for the art of rap continue to grow with each passing day. In most cases, tickets are sold out for shows featuring a rapper. Also, people love attending underground rap battles. (Source: Unsplash)

People used to value storytelling and lyricism, but that attention has evolved in recent years. As a result, people are on the lookout for the next big thing.

Today's audience wants something instantly memorable and can get them in the mood, such as TikTok.

Lyrics are no longer the primary focus; instead, the beat is becoming increasingly important. So if you want to know how to get good at rapping, keep this in mind.

Party rhythms of the same sort have taken the place of good, lyrically sound rap music due to easy accessibility and a shorter attention span.

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Want your name on the top rap songs ever list as well? Then you need to learn the art of rap! Lucky for you, Superprof has tutors who can guide you.

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