The 100 Greatest Rap Lines in Hip Hop History

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What makes a good rap line? What makes a great rap line? What makes a rap line one of the greatest in hip hop history?

A few things: sometimes a line is great because a rapper manages to pack in so many meanings into such few words (the way Jay-Z does it); sometime a line is great because it’s an extraordinary showcase of a rapper’s lyrical ability (think Big L’s punchlines); and sometimes a rap line is a great rap line, just because, it’s a fucking great rap line (think 2 Chainz or Lil Wayne).

So allow us to introduce: the 100 greatest rap lines in hip hop history, in chronological order.

“Broken glass everywhere, people pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care”

Artist: Melle Mel

Song: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – “The Message”

Released: July 1, 1982

“La-di-da-di, we like to party, we don’t cause trouble, we don’t bother nobody”

Artist: Slick Rick

Song: Doug E. Fresh & MC Ricky D – “La Di Da Di”

Released: August 13, 1985

“6 in the morning, police at my door, fresh Adidas squeak across the bathroom floor”

Artist: Ice-T

Song: Ice-T – “6 in the Mornin'”

Released: 1986

“I came in the door, I said it before, I never let the mic magnetize me no more”

Artist: Rakim

Song: Eric B. & Rakim – “Eric B. Is President”

Released: 1986

“Now Peter Piper picked peppers, but Run rocked rhymes”

Artist: Run–D.M.C.

Song: Run–D.M.C. – “Peter Piper”

Released: May 15, 1986

“My Adidas walk through concert doors, and roam all over coliseum floors”

Artist: Run–D.M.C.

Song: Run–D.M.C. – “My Adidas”

Released: May 15, 1986

“Cruisin’ down the street in my ’64”

Artist: Eazy-E

Song: Eazy-E – “Boyz-n-the Hood”

Released: March 3, 1987

“It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you, without a strong rhyme to step to”

Artist: Rakim

Song: Eric B. & Rakim – “I Know You Got Soul”

Released: July 7, 1987

“I take seven emcees put ’em in a line”

Artist: Rakim

Song: Eric B. & Rakim – “My Melody”

Released: July 7, 1987

“Put a quarter in your ass ’cause ya played yourself”

Artist: Big Daddy Kane

Song: Marley Marl ft. Kool G Rap, Craig G, Masta Ace & Big Daddy Kane – “The Symphony”

Released: 1988

“Straight outta Compton, crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube, from the gang called Niggas Wit Attitudes”

Artist: Ice Cube

Song: N.W.A. – “Straight Outta Compton”

Released: July 10, 1988

“Fuck the police comin’ straight from the underground”

Artist: Ice Cube

Song: N.W.A. – “Fuck tha Police”

Released: August 8, 1988

“I never ever ran from the Ku Klux Klan, and I shouldn’t have to run from a black man”

Artist: Kool Moe Dee

Song: The Stop the Violence Movement – “Self Destruction”

Released: January 15, 1989

“Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me”

Artist: Chuck D

Song: Public Enemy – “Fight the Power”

Released: July 4, 1989

“One, and here comes the two to the three and four”

Artist: The D.O.C.

Song: The D.O.C. – “It’s Funky Enough”

Released: August 1, 1989

“Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years”

Artist: LL Cool J

Song: LL Cool J – “Mama Said Knock You Out”

Released: September 14, 1990

“I sit alone in my four-cornered room, starin’ at candles”

Artist: Scarface

Song: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

Released: July 1, 1991

“Verbal assassin, my architect pleases, when I was 12, I went to Hell for snuffin’ Jesus”

Artist: Nas

Song: Main Source ft. Nas, Joe Fatal & Akinyele – “Live at the Barbeque”

Released: July 23, 1991

“Back in the days when I was a teenager, before I had status and before I had a pager”

Artist: Q-Tip

Song: A Tribe Called Quest – “Excursions”

Released: September 24, 1991

“Yo, microphone check one, two, what is this? The five foot assassin with the roughneck business”

Artist: Phife Dawg

Song: A Tribe Called Quest – “Buggin’ Out”

Released: September 24, 1991

“Rawr! Rawr! Like a dungeon dragon”

Artist: Busta Rhymes

Song: A Tribe Called Quest ft. Leaders of the New School – “Scenario”

Released: September 24, 1991

“One, two, three and to the four, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the door”

Artist: Snoop Dogg

Song: Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg – “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”

Released: December 15, 1992

“I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian, name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation”

Artist: Phife Dawg

Song: A Tribe Called Quest – “Electric Relaxation”

Released: November 9, 1993

“Ghostface catch the blast of a hype verse, my Glock burst, leave in a hearse, I did worse”

Artist: Ghostface Killah

Song: Wu-Tang Clan – “Bring da Ruckus”

Released: November 9, 1993

“Homicide’s illegal and death is the penalty, what justifies the homicide, when he dies, in his own iniquity?”

Artist: Masta Killa

Song: Wu-Tang Clan – “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’”

Released: November 9, 1993

“I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side”

Artist: Raekwon

Song: Wu-Tang Clan – “C.R.E.A.M.”

Released: November 9, 1993

“I never sleep, ’cause sleep is the cousin of death”

Artist: Nas

Song: Nas – “N.Y. State of Mind”

Released: April 19, 1994

“Visualizin’ the realism of life in actuality, fuck who’s the baddest, a person’s status depends on salary”

Artist: Nas

Song: Nas ft. AZ – “Life’s a Bitch”

Released: April 19, 1994

“I’m out for presidents to represent me”

Artist: Nas

Song: Nas – “The World Is Yours”

Released: April 19, 1994

“Either you’re slingin’ crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot”

Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.

Song: The Notorious B.I.G. – “Things Done Changed”

Released: September 13, 1994

“Birthdays was the worst days, now we sip Champagne when we thirsty”

Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.

Song: The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy”

Released: August 9, 1994

“I met this girl when I was ten years old, and what I loved most, she had so much soul”

Artist: Common

Song: Common – “I Used to Love H.E.R.”

Released: September 27, 1994

“E-I-H-T, now should I continue? Yeah, you left out the G ’cause the G ain’t in you”

Artist: DJ Quik

Song: DJ Quik – “Dollaz + Sense”

Released: October 15, 1994

“I smash mics like cornbread, you can’t kill me, I was born dead”

Artist: Big L

Song: Big L – “Put It On”

Released: November 13, 1994

“I got you stuck off the realness, we be the infamous”

Artist: Prodigy

Song: Mobb Deep – “Shook Ones Part II”

Released: February 7, 1995

“And even as a crack fiend, Mama, you always was a black queen, Mama”

Artist: 2Pac

Song: 2Pac – “Dear Mama”

Released: February 21, 1995

“L’s a clever threat, a lyricist who never sweat, comparing yourself to me is like a Benz to a Chevrolette”

Artist: Big L

Song: Big L – “M.V.P.”

Released: March 28, 1995

“There’s a war goin’ on outside no man is safe from”

Artist: Prodigy

Song: Mobb Deep – “Survival of the Fittest”

Released: April 25, 1995

“Me and the RZA connect, blow a fuse, you lose, half-ass crews get demolished and bruised”

Artist: Raekwon

Song: Raekwon – “Incarcerated Scarfaces”

Released: August 1, 1995

“Through the lights, cameras, and action, glamor, glitters, and gold”

Artist: Nas

Song: Raekwon ft. Ghostface Killah & Nas – “Verbal Intercourse”

Released: August 1, 1995

“Illuminati want my mind, soul and my body, secret society, trying to keep they eye on me”

Artist: Prodigy

Song: LL Cool J ft. Keith Murray, Prodigy, Fat Joe & Foxy Brown – “I Shot Ya (Remix)”

Released: November 21, 1995

“Out on bail, fresh out of jail, California dreamin'”

Artist: 2Pac

Song: 2Pac ft. Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman – “California Love”

Released: December 3, 1995

“And even after all my logic and my theory, I add a “motherfucker” so you ignant niggas hear me”

Artist: Lauryn Hill

Song: Fugees – “Zealots”

Released: February 13, 1996

“We used to fight for building blocks, now we fight for blocks with buildings that make a killin'”

Artist: Jay-Z

Song: Jay-Z – “D’Evils”

Released: June 25, 1996

“I live by the beat like you live check-to-check, if it don’t move your feet, then, I don’t eat, so we like neck-to-neck”

Artist: Andre 3000

Song: OutKast – “Elevators (Me & You)”

Released: July 9, 1996

“I ain’t a killer, but don’t push me, revenge is like the sweetest joy next to gettin’ pussy”

Artist: 2Pac

Song: 2Pac ft. Outlawz & Prince Ital Joe – “Hail Mary”

Released: November 5, 1996

“I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses, can’t define how I be dropping these mockeries”

Artist: Inspectah Deck

Song: Wu-Tang Clan – “Triumph”

Released: February 11, 1997

“I’m not sayin I’m number one, uhh I’m sorry, I lied, I’m number one, two, three, four and five”

Artist: KRS-One

Song: KRS-One – “Step into a World (Rapture’s Delight)”

Released: March 3, 1997

“Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns, as I crush so-called willies, thugs, and rapper-dons”

Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.

Song: The Notorious B.I.G. – “Kick in the Door”

Released: March 25, 1997

“Reunited, double LP, world excited, struck a match to the underground, industry ignited”

Artist: GZA

Song: Wu-Tang Clan – “Reunited”

Released: June 3, 1997

“I’m from where niggas pull your card, and argue all day about, who’s the best MCs, Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas?”

Artist: Jay-Z

Song: Jay-Z – “Where I’m From”

Released: November 4, 1997

“Dead in the middle of Little Italy, little did we know that we riddled some middlemen who didn’t do diddly”

Artist: Big Pun

Song: Big Pun ft. Fat Joe – “Twinz (Deep Cover ’98)”

Released: April 28, 1998

“I said, “What you wanna be?” She said, “Alive”, it made me think for a minute, then looked in her eyes”

Artist: Andre 3000

Song: OutKast – “Da Art of Storytellin’ (Pt. 1)”

Released: September 29, 1998

“Things just ain’t the same for gangstas”

Artist: Dr. Dre

Song: Dr. Dre – “The Watcher”

Released: November 16, 1999

“So what do you say to somebody you hate, or anyone tryna bring trouble your way? Wanna resolve things in a bloodier way? Just study a tape of N.W.A”

Artist: Eminem

Song: Dr. Dre ft. Eminem – “Forgot About Dre”

Released: March 28, 2000

“Will Smith don’t gotta cuss in his raps to sell records, well, I do, so fuck him and fuck you too”

Artist: Eminem

Song: Eminem – “The Real Slim Shady”

Released: April 18, 2000

“I don’t do black music, I don’t do white music, I make fight music for high school kids”

Artist: Eminem

Song: Eminem – “Who Knew”

Released: May 23, 2000

“I’m far from broke, got enough bread, and mad hoes, ask Beavis, I get nothing Butthead”

Artist: Big L

Song: Big L – “’98 Freestyle”

Released: August 1, 2000

“Ayo, I break bread, ribs, hundred dollar bills”

Artist: Prodigy

Song: Prodigy – “Keep It Thoro”

Released: November 14, 2000

“Motherfuckers say that I’m foolish, I only talk about jewels, do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?”

Artist: Jay-Z

Song: Jay-Z ft. Eminem – “Renegade”

Released: September 11, 2001

“Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks”

Artist: Diddy

Song: Black Rob, Mark Curry & Diddy – “Bad Boy For Life”

Released: November 27, 2001

“My grind’s ’bout family, never been about fame, from days I wasn’t able, there was always ‘caine”

Artist: Malice

Song: Clipse – “Grindin'”

Released: May 14, 2002

“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti”

Artist: Eminem

Song: Eminem – “Lose Yourself”

Released: October 28, 2002

“They say I walk around like I got a S on my chest, nah, that’s a semi-auto, in a vest on my chest”

Artist: 50 Cent

Song: 50 Cent – “What Up Gangsta”

Released: February 6, 2003

“Hommo shot me, three weeks later he got shot down, now it’s clear that I’m here for a real reason, ‘cause he got hit like I got hit, but he ain’t fuckin’ breathin'”

Artist: 50 Cent

Song: 50 Cent – “Many Men (Wish Death)”

Released: February 6, 2003

“If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli, truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense, but I did 5 mill’ – I ain’t been rhyming like Common since”

Artist: Jay-Z

Song: Jay-Z – “Moment of Clarity”

Released: November 14, 2003

“Allow me to re-introduce myself, my name is Hov, OH, H-to-the-O-V”

Artist: Jay-Z

Song: Jay-Z – “Public Service Announcement (Interlude)”

Released: November 14, 2003

“She got a light-skinned friend look like Michael Jackson, got a dark-skinned friend look like Michael Jackson”

Artist: Kanye West

Song: Kanye West ft. Twista & Jamie Foxx – “Slow Jamz”

Released: December 2, 2003

“Drinking sake on a Suzuki; we in Osaka Bay”

Artist: Cam’ron

Song: Cam’ron – “Down and Out”

Released: December 7, 2004

“I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man, let me handle my business, damn”

Artist: Jay-Z

Song: Kanye West ft. Jay-Z – “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)”

Released: June 15, 2005

“I used to hit the kitchen lights, cockroaches everywhere, hit the kitchen lights: now it’s marble floors, everywhere”

Artist: Young Jeezy

Song: Young Jeezy – “Thug Motivation 101”

Released: July 26, 2005

“I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven, when I awoke, I spent that on a necklace”

Artist: Kanye West

Song: Kanye West – “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”

Released: May 15, 2007

“Spaceships don’t come equipped with rearview mirrors”

Artist: Andre 3000

Song: UGK ft. OutKast – “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)”

Released: June 6, 2007

“My bitch a choosy lover, never fuck without a rubber”

Artist: Pimp C

Song: UGK ft. OutKast – “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)”

Released: June 6, 2007

“If you die, tell them that you played my game, I hope your bullet holes become mouths that say my name”

Artist: Lupe Fiasco

Song: Lupe Fiasco – “Put You On Game”

Released: December 18, 2007

“I’m a venereal disease, like a menstrual bleed, through the pencil, and leak on the sheet of the tablet in my mind”

Artist: Lil Wayne

Song: Lil Wayne – “A Milli”

Released: April 23, 2008

“Safe sex is great sex, better wear a latex, ’cause you don’t want that late text, that “I think I’m late” text”

Artist: Lil Wayne

Song: Lil Wayne ft. Kanye West – “Lollipop (Remix)”

Released: June 10, 2008

“I father, I Brooklyn-Dodger them, I jack, I rob, I sin, Aw, man—I’m Jackie Robinson, ‘Cept when I run base, I dodge the pen”

Artist: Jay-Z

Song: Jay-Z – “Brooklyn Go Hard”

Released: December 1, 2008

“They call me Jay Electronica—fuck that, call me Jay Elec-Hanukkah, Jay Elec-Yarmulke, Jay Elect-Ramadan, Muhammad as-salaam-alaikum, RasoulAllah Subhanahu wa ta’ala through your monitor”

Artist: Jay Electronica

Song: Jay Electronica – “Exhibit C”

Released: December 22, 2009

“Ironic, you been sleeping on the one that you been dreaming ’bout”

Artist: J. Cole

Song: Kanye West ft. Pusha T, CyHi The Prynce, Big Sean & J. Cole – “Looking for Trouble”

Released: November 5, 2010

“Dark Knight feeling, die and be a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become a villain”

Artist: Jay-Z

Song: Kanye West ft. Jay-Z, Pusha T, Cyhi the Prynce, Swizz Beatz & RZA – “So Appalled”

Released: September 24, 2010

“Too many Urkels on your team, that’s why your wins low”

Artist: Kanye West

Song: Kanye West – “Dark Fantasy”

Released: November 22, 2010

“Had cyphers with Yeezy before his mouth wired, before his jaw shattered, climbing up the Lord’s ladder”

Artist: Rick Ross

Song: Kanye West ft. Rick Ross – “Devil in a New Dress”

Released: November 22, 2010

“Bitch, real Gs move in silence like lasagna”

Artist: Lil Wayne

Song: Lil Wayne ft. Cory Gunz – “6 Foot 7 Foot”

Released: December 16, 2010

“I’m a fuckin’ walkin’ paradox, no, I’m not”

Artist: Tyler, the Creator

Song: Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers”

Released: February 14, 2011

“So I ball so hard, motherfuckers wanna fine me”

Artist: Jay-Z

Song: Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Niggas in Paris”

Released: September 13, 2011

“Fredo in the cut, that’s a scary sight”

Artist: Lil Reese

Song: Chief Keef ft. Lil Reese – “I Don’t Like”

Released: March 11, 2012

“Bitch, you wasn’t with me shootin’ in the gym”

Artist: Drake

Song: Rick Ross ft. Drake & French Montana – “Stay Schemin'”

Released: April 17, 2012

“She got a big booty so I call her Big Booty”

Artist: 2 Chainz

Song: 2 Chainz ft. Kanye West – “Birthday Song”

Released: July 24, 2012

“If I told you I killed a nigga at sixteen, would you believe me?”

Artist: Kendrick Lamar

Song: Kendrick Lamar ft. MC Eiht – “M.A.A.D City”

Released: October 22, 2012

“Hold up, wait a minute, y’all thought I was finished?”

Artist: Meek Mill

Song: Meek Mill – “Dreams and Nightmares”

Released: October 30, 2012

“I’m Makaveli’s offspring, I’m the King of New York, King of the Coast; one hand, I juggle ’em both”

Artist: Kendrick Lamar

Song: Big Sean ft. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica – “Control”

Released: August 14, 2013

“I might sell a brick on my birthday, thirty-six years of doin’ dirt like it’s Earth Day”

Artist: Pusha T

Song: Pusha T – “Numbers on the Boards”

Released: May 10, 2013

“Mitch caught a body about a week ago”

Artist: Bobby Shmurda

Song: Bobby Shmurda – “Hot Nigga”

Released: July 25, 2014

“I’m a gorilla in a fuckin’ coupe, finna pull up to the zoo, nigga”

Artist: Chief Keef

Song: Chief Keef – “Faneto”

Released: October 31, 2014

“I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip flops”

Artist: Future

Song: Future – “Thought It Was a Drought”

Released: July 17, 2015

“I was runnin’ through the 6 with my woes”

Artist: Drake

Song: Drake – “Know Yourself”

Released: February 13, 2015

“I’m runnin’ with the rebels, it’s the three-man weave with the Lord and the devil”

Artist: Jadakiss

Song: Schoolboy Q ft. Jadakiss – “Groovy Tony / Eddie Kane”

Released: July 8, 2016

“My guillotine, drank promethazine”

Artist: Future

Song: Future – “Mask Off”

Released: April 18, 2017

“To all of my young niggas, I am your Ghost and your Rae, this is my Purple Tape, save up for rainy days”

Artist: Pusha T

Song: Pusha T – “If You Know You Know”

Released: May 25, 2018

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