Hip hop has a rich history of incredible b-sides that have stood the test of time and become classics in their own right. These hidden gems are often overlooked by the mainstream and reserved for the true fans who dig deeper into an artist’s catalog.

These b-sides harken back to the early days of vinyl, when 12-inch records were the lifeblood of the hip hop community. DJs would spin these records at block parties, effectively laying the foundation for a cultural revolution that would soon sweep the globe. The b-side of a single, usually featuring a lesser-known or exclusive track, became a treasure trove for true fans who craved a deeper understanding of their favorite artist’s creative process.

As hip hop evolved through the 1980s and 1990s, b-sides continued to hold a special place in the hearts of fans. Often more experimental and unpolished than their a-side counterparts, these tracks offered a glimpse into the raw talent and unique perspectives that defined an artist’s individual style. From the gritty street tales of Nas and Biggie Smalls to the introspective lyricism of Tupac Shakur and Lauryn Hill, b-sides provided a space for artists to push the boundaries of their craft.

The advent of the digital age in the 2000s and 2010s saw the decline of vinyl and the rise of digital platforms like iTunes and streaming services such as Spotify. While the concept of a b-side began to fade, the spirit of these hidden gems lived on through bonus tracks, mixtapes, and exclusive releases.

So, whether you’re a seasoned hip hop head or a curious newcomer, get ready to embark on a musical journey through the annals of hip hop history as we explore the 23 greatest hip hop b-sides of all time.

Raekwon – “Incarcerated Scarfaces”

Released: September 25, 1995

B-side to: “Ice Cream”

Appears on: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…

Gang Starr – “DWYCK”

Released: December 29, 1992

B-side to: “Take it Personal”

Appears on: Hard to Earn

Run-D.M.C. – “Peter Piper”

Released: May 29, 1986

B-side to: “My Adidas”

Appears on: Raising Hell

EPMD – You’re a Customer

Released: 1987

B-side to: “It’s My Thing”

Appears on: Strictly Business

Slick Rick – “Mona Lisa”

Released: June 15, 1989

B-side to: “Hey Young World”

Appears on: The Great Adventures of Slick Rick

Big Daddy Kane – “Warm It Up, Kane”

Released: August 3, 1989

B-side to: “Smooth Operator”

Appears on: It’s a Big Daddy Thing

Wu-Tang Clan – “Method Man”

Released: May 3, 1993

B-side to: “Protect Ya Neck”

Appears on: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

Main Source – “Live At The Barbeque”

Released: 1991

B-side to: “Just Hangin’ Out”

Appears on: Breaking Atoms

Ice Cube – “No Vaseline”

Released: October 29, 1991

B-side to: “Steady Mobbin'”

Appears on: Death Certificate

Gang Starr – “Check The Technique”

Released: 1991

B-side to: “Step In The Arena”

Appears on: Step In The Arena

The Notorious B.I.G. – “Unbelievable”

Released: August 9, 1994

B-side to: “Juicy”

Appears on: Ready to Die

Raekwon – “Glaciers of Ice”

Released: June 27, 1995

B-side to: “Criminology”

Appears on: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…

Jay Z – “Ain’t No Ni**a”

Released: February 20, 1996

B-side to: “Dead Presidents”

Appears on: Reasonable Doubt

Redman – “How To Roll A Blunt”

Released: August 25, 1992

B-side to: “Blow Your Mind”

Appears on: Whut? Thee Album

Nas – “The World Is Yours (Tip Mix)”

Released: May 31, 1994

B-side to: “The World Is Yours”

Appears on: N/A

MC Shan – “The Bridge”

Released: 1986

B-side to: “Beat Biter”

Appears on: Down by Law

Jay Z – “A Million And One Questions / Rhyme No More”

Released: February 3, 1998

B-side to: “The City Is Mine”

Appears on: In My Lifetime, Vol. 1

Audio Two – “Top Billin'”

Released: October 15, 1987

B-side to: “Make It Funky”

Appears on: What More Can I Say?

Big Daddy Kane – “Wrath of Kane”

Released: 1988

B-side to: “I’ll Take You There”

Appears on: It’s a Big Daddy Thing

Run-D.M.C. – “Sucker M.C.’s”

Released: August 10, 1983

B-side to: “It’s Like That”

Appears on: Run-D.M.C.

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

Released: August 13, 1985

B-side to: The Show”

Appears on: N/A


The Notorious B.I.G. – “Who Shot Ya?”

Released: February 20, 1995

B-side to: “Big Poppa”

Appears on: N/A

Eric B. & Rakim – “My Melody”

Released: 1986

B-side to: “Eric B. Is President”

Appears on: Paid in Full

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