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.