To honor the 25th anniversary of Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart, we’re counting down the tally's top 100 tracks ever.
Rap is a victorious genre. Having built its history on songs of overcoming the harshest of hard-knock lives, in addition to observances of all of life's nuances, rap is more than just dope beats and rhymes. Its lyrics tell stories with insights and uncommon honesty, traits that have ultimately taken the genre from niched inner-city beginnings to a longstanding place at the heart of pop culture.
So it was fitting for Billboard to create a chart, in 1989, dedicated to the then-rising genre, birthed out of hip-hop. At the time, MTV's influential "Yo! MTV Raps" was only a few months old, and acts like Ice-T and N.W.A were not only ruling rap but beginning to enter the mainstream music conversation.
While rap has evolved, there’s no denying its ever-growing power. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs chart, we’re counting down the top 100 songs in the tally’s quarter-century history. From Salt-N-Pepa to Macklemore, we've got the genre's past quarter-century covered.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to see how this chart was formulated.
"All of the Lights" - Kanye West
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 2, Peak Date: 4/30/2011
"No Lie - 2 Chainz feat. Drake
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 1, Peak Date: 9/8/2012
"Aston Martin Music" - Rick Ross feat. Drake & Chrisette Michelle
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 1, Peak Date: 12/25/2010
"Loungin" - LL Cool J
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 1, Peak Date: 8/31/1996
"O.P.P." - Naughty By Nature
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 1, Peak Date: 9/14/1991
"Heartless" - Kanye West
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 1, Peak Date: 2/7/2009
"Player's Ball" - OutKast
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 1, Peak Date: 3/26/1994
"Holla Holla" - Ja Rule
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 2, Peak Date: 5/29/1999
"Left/Right" - Drama
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 2, Peak Date: 2/26/2000
"Call Me D-Nice" - D-Nice
Hot Rap Songs Peak: 1, Peak Date: 9/1/1990
The 25th Anniversary Hot Rap Songs ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Hot Rap Songs chart, since the chart’s inception in the March 11, 1989, issue. Rankings are based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 having the greatest value and weeks at lower positions proportionately less. Due to various changes in chart rules, chart length and methodology throughout the years, songs had varying reigns at No. 1 and on the chart. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from all 25 years, certain time frames were weighted to account for the difference in turnover rates from those periods.