What’s so special about a title track on a hip hop album? For the most part, rappers use title tracks as a way to represent an album’s core message

Take Nas’ “Stillmatic,” for example. The title track announced his comeback to a rap landscape that had written him off, and served as a rallying cry for his fans. Similarly, Jay-Z’s “Blueprint” reflected on his life and the people who helped him get to his current position, setting the tone for one of the most iconic albums in hip-hop history.

But it’s not just about defining an album’s core message. Title tracks can also be used as thematic starting points or to establish a particular sound or mood. OutKast, for example, used title tracks on their first three projects to define their unique sound and style, setting them apart from their peers and helping to establish them as one of the most influential hip-hop duos of all time.

On this list, we celebrate the 50 greatest title tracks in hip-hop history, from Ice Cube’s “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” to Warren G’s “Regulate” and Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full.”

Honourable mentions:

OutKast – “Stankonia (Stanklove)”

Released: October 31, 2000

Album: Stankonia

Producer: Earthtone III

Isaiah Rashad – “Cilvia Demo”

Released: January 28, 2014

Album: Cilvia Demo

Producer: Joseph L’Étranger

J. Cole – “4 Your Eyez Only”

Released: December 9, 2016

Album: 4 Your Eyez Only

Producer: BLVK, J. Cole, Elite, Childish Major

Big K.R.I.T. – “Cadillactica”

Released: November 10, 2014

Album: Cadillactica

Producer: DJ Dahi, DJ Khalil

Wu-Tang Clan – “Iron Flag”

Released: December 18, 2001

Album: Iron Flag

Producer: RZA

Jay-Z – “American Gangster”

Released: November 6, 2007

Album: American Gangster

Producer: Just Blaze

Rapsody – “Laila’s Wisdom”

Released: September 22, 2017

Album: Laila’s Wisdom

Producer: Nottz

Kids See Ghosts – “Kids See Ghosts”

Released: June 8, 2018

Album: Kids See Ghosts

Producer: Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Plain Pat, Andrew Dawson, Justin Vernon, Noah Goldstein

The Game – “The Documentary”

Released: January 18, 2005

Album: The Documentary

Producer: Jeff Bhasker, Jeff Reed

Lauryn Hill – “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”

Released: August 25, 1998

Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Producer: Lauryn Hill

Birdman & Lil Wayne – “Like Father, Like Son”

Released: October 31, 2006

Album: Like Father, Like Son

Producer: T-Mix

50. Ice Cube – “The Predator”

Released: November 17, 1992

Album: The Predator

Producer: DJ Pooh

49. Boogie Down Productions – “Criminal Minded”

Released: March 3, 1987

Album: Criminal Minded

Producer: DJ Scott La Rock, KRS-One

48. Run-D.M.C. – “King of Rock”

Released: January 15, 1985

Album: King of Rock

Producer: Larry Smith

47. Cyhi the Prynce – “No Dope on Sundays”

Released: November 17, 2017

Album: No Dope on Sundays

Producer: Mark Byrd, Lex Luger, Novel, Shawty Redd, HighDefRazjah, Young Love

46. OutKast – “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik”

Released: April 26, 1994

Album: Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

Producer: Organized Noize

45. DMX – “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood”

Released: December 22, 1998

Album: Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood

Producer: Swizz Beatz

44. Eric B. & Rakim – “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em”

Released: June 19, 1990

Album: Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em

Producer: Eric B. & Rakim

43. DJ Quik – “Safe + Sound”

Released: February 21, 1995

Album: Safe + Sound

Producer: DJ Quik, G-One

42. Method Man – “Tical”

Released: November 15, 1994

Album: Tical

Producer: RZA

41. UGK – “Underground Kingz”

Released: August 7, 2007

Album: Underground Kingz

Producer: Pimp C

40. Jay-Z – “4:44”

Released: June 30, 2017

Album: 4:44

Producer: No I.D.

39. Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock – “It Takes Two”

Released: August 9, 1988

Album: It Takes Two

Producer: Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, William Hamilton

38. Rakim – “The 18th Letter (Always and Forever)”

Released: November 4, 1997

Album: The 18th Letter

Producer: Father Shaheed

37. Missy Elliott – “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”

Released: July 2, 1997

Album: Supa Dupa Fly

Producer: Timbaland

36. Drake – “Take Care”

Released: November 15, 2011

Album: Take Care

Producer: Jamie xx, 40

35. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – “Piñata”

Released: March 18, 2014

Album: Piñata

Producer: Madlib

34. Big L – “Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous”

Released: March 28, 1995

Album: Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous

Producer: Lord Finesse

33. Schoolboy Q – “Blank Face”

Released: July 8, 2016

Album: Blank Face LP

Producer: Sounwave, Tony Russell

32. Gang Starr – “Moment of Truth”

Released: March 31, 1998

Album: Moment of Truth

Producer: DJ Premier, Guru

31. The Notorious B.I.G. – “Ready to Die”

Released: September 13, 1994

Album: Ready to Die

Producer: Easy Mo Bee

30. Tyler, the Creator – “Goblin”

Released: May 10, 2011

Album: Goblin

Producer: Tyler, the Creator

29. The Fugees – “The Score”

Released: February 13, 1996

Album: The Score

Producer: Diamond D, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Pras, Jerry “Te Bass” Duplessis

28. Run the Jewels – “Run the Jewels”

Released: June 26, 2013

Album: Run the Jewels

Producer: El-P, Little Shalimar

27. EPMD – “Strictly Business”

Released: June 7, 1988

Album: Strictly Business

Producer: EPMD

26. Lil Wayne – “Carter II”

Released: December 6, 2005

Album: Tha Carter II

Producer: T-Mix, Batman

25. Kendrick Lamar – “Good Kid” / “M.A.A.D City”

Released: October 22, 2012

Album: good kid, m.A.A.d city

Producer: Pharrell Williams / Sounwave, THC, Terrace Martin

24. Young Jeezy – “Thug Motivation 101”

Released: July 26, 2005

Album: Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101

Producer: Shawty Redd

23. UGK – “Ridin’ Dirty”

Released: July 30, 1996

Album: Ridin’ Dirty

Producer: Pimp C

22. Big Daddy Kane – “Long Live the Kane”

Released: June 21, 1988

Album: Long Live the Kane

Producer: Marley Marl

21. 2Pac – “Me Against the World”

Released: March 14, 1995

Album: Me Against the World

Producer: Soulshock and Karlin

20. Common – “Resurrection”

Released: October 4, 1994

Album: Resurrection

Producer: No I.D.

19. OutKast – “ATLiens”

Released: August 17, 1996

Album: ATLiens

Producer: OutKast

18. GZA – “Liquid Swords”

Released: October 10, 1995

Album: Liquid Swords

Producer: RZA

17. Eric B. & Rakim – “Follow the Leader”

Released: July 25, 1988

Album: Follow the Leader

Producer: Eric B. & Rakim

16. Run-D.M.C. – “Raising Hell”

Released: May 27, 1986

Album: Raising Hell

Producer: Rick Rubin

15. 2Pac – “All Eyez On Me”

Released: February 13, 1996

Album: All Eyez On Me

Producer: Johnny “J”

14. Jay-Z – “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)”

Released: September 11, 2001

Album: The Blueprint

Producer: Bink

13. Nas – “Stillmatic (The Intro)”

Released: December 18, 2001

Album: Stillmatic

Producer: Hangmen 3

12. Mobb Deep – “Front Lines (Hell on Earth)”

Released: October 4, 1996

Album: Hell on Earth

Producer: Havoc

11. Meek Mill – “Dreams and Nightmares”

Released: October 30, 2012

Album: Dreams and Nightmares

Producer: The Beat Bully

10. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – “The Message”

Released: July 1, 1982

Album: The Message

Producer: Edward G. Fletcher, Sylvia Robinson

9. LL Cool J – “Mama Said Knock You Out”

Released: September 14, 1990

Album: Mama Said Knock You Out

Producer: Marley Marl

8. Warren G – “Regulate”

Released: April 28, 1994

Album: Regulate… G Funk Era

Producer: Warren G

7. Ice Cube – “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted”

Released: April 17, 1990

Album: AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted

Producer: The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube (co.), Sir Jinx (co.)

6. Jay-Z – “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”

Released: September 29, 1998

Album: Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life

Producer: The 45 King

5. Eric B. & Rakim – “Paid in Full”

Released: July 7, 1987

Album: Paid in Full

Producer: Eric B. & Rakim

4. Common – “Be (Intro)”

Released: May 24, 2005

Album: Be

Producer: Kanye West

3. OutKast – “Aquemini”

Released: September 29, 1998

Album: Aquemini

Producer: OutKast

2. Souls of Mischief – “93 ’til Infinity”

Released: September 28, 1993

Album: 93 ’til Infinity

Producer: A-Plus

1. N.W.A. – “Straight Outta Compton”

Released: July 10, 1988

Album: Straight Outta Compton

Producer: Dr. Dre

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