The ability to craft an unforgettable hook is a gift that separates great MCs from great hip hop artists. A strong hook can define a song, turning it into an anthem that resonates with listeners across generations. It’s the part of the song that sticks in the listener’s mind, long after the track has ended.

Whether it’s Lauryn Hill’s emotive voice that adds layers upon layers of detail to Method Man’s husky delivery, the art of hook writing in hip-hop has seen some of the rap game’s most iconic figures make their mark. Drake’s undeniable flows, Eminem’s uplifting anthems, and Lil Wayne’s infectious chants, these artists have defined and redefined what it means to create an unforgettable hook.

So let’s get into it. From Nate Dogg’s smooth, soulful singing to 50 Cent’s gritty melodies and Future’s hypnotic trap sounds, here are the top 25 best hook writers in hip hop history.

25. Akon

Best hooks:

  • “Soul Survivor”
  • “We Takin’ Over”
  • “I’ll Still Kill”
  • “Smack That”
  • “Snitch”

For romantic ballads, rappers call Chris Brown, but for gritty street tales, they call Akon. Singing about killing rats on “Snitch” or threatening his doubters on “I’ll Still Kill”, no subject matter is too dark for the singer, contrasting his violent lyrics with some smooth tenor vocals. His theatrical singing is elegant on the surface, but sinister once you pay attention to the words, making Akon the perfect fit to add some dramatic flair to a violent rap song. Flexing the strength of his voice as he sings about running the streets and destroying the competition, Thiam’s cold-hearted hooks elevate every track he’s featured on.

24. Travis Scott

Best hooks:

  • “Antidote”
  • “Drugs You Should Try It”
  • “3500”
  • “Oh My Dis Side”
  • “​Goosebumps”
  • “Pick Up the Phone”
  • “Skyfall”

Whether he’s repeating the same lines like on “Oh My Dis Side” or going for a moodier sound heard on tracks like “goosebumps”, Travis Scott has the wide vocal range to make every hook feel fresh and unpredictable. Layering his voice in autotune, Travis can pull off robotic falsettos as well as deep-voiced, mumbled hooks, adapting well to every track with the songwriting skills and vocal talent to elevate songs of every style. His bars have never been complex, but that’s no insult – utilizing memorable melodies and simple lyrics, Travis knows exactly how to make a seemingly unremarkable line into an iconic hook.

23. Quavo

Best hooks:

  • “Good Drank”
  • “I Get the Bag”
  • “T-Shirt”
  • “Get Right Witcha”
  • “Slippery”
  • “Portland”

Quavo has a case for the catchiest MC in trap history. Rapping most of his hooks with a stuttering, staccato flow like on “T-Shirt” and “Slippery”, every word pops out, making his lyrics that much catchier. He spits his words like bullets, using autotune and similar vocal effects to add some melodic flair to every line, making every hook a standout. If his hooks weren’t hard-hitting enough, the Migos legend inserts high-energy adlibs between every syllable, hyping himself up as he cooks up hypnotic hooks too simple and too catchy for anyone to resist singing along.

22. Kid Cudi

Best hooks:

  • “Mr. Rager”
  • “Christian Dior Denim Flow”
  • “Pursuit of Happiness”
  • “Day ‘n’ Nite”
  • “Gorgeous”
  • “Memories”
  • “Trapped In My Mind”
  • “Welcome To Heartbreak”

With one of the strongest, most distinct voices in hip hop, Kid Cudi was born to be a master hook writer. From a paragraph of lyrics to a simple hum, Cudi can make any hook work thanks to his soothing, baritone vocals. He has an actor’s talent on the mic, but also the sharp hitmaking skills of a popstar, crafting distraught songs about his poor mental health with the head-bopping hooks to keep his music from feeling too heavy. A brutally honest lyricist with an expertise in catchy melodies, the Moon Man never misses on a hook.

21. Chris Brown

Best hooks:

  • “Shortie Like Mine”
  • “Get Back Up”
  • “Show Me”
  • “My Last”
  • “Take It to the Head”
  • “Sweet Serenade”

Chris Brown is the cheat code to a hit song, and it all comes down to his legendary ability as a singer. Whether he’s on backing vocals for Nas on “Make the World Go Round” or taking centre stage on Bow Wow’s “Shortie Like Mine”, the mere presence of Chris Brown is enough to make a track magical, adding some R&B glamour to any song with his flashy hooks and tenor high-notes. Thanks to his romantic pen game, the R&B superstar is the perfect addition to any love song, blessing rap songs with passionate hooks to make each one as smooth as a classic soul track.

20. The-Dream

Best hooks:

  • “Throw It In the Bag”
  • “Gangsta Luv”
  • “Exodus 23:1”
  • “Please Excuse My Hands”
  • “Baby”
  • “Big Boy Dialogue”
  • “Shut It Down”

Long before The Weeknd rose to fame, The-Dream was the go-to singer for a smooth hook to add some R&B elegance to a rap song. Singing his lines in a slow, almost whispered tone, his sensual vocals add an air of romance to any track, perfect for seductive hits like Plies’ “Please Excuse My Hands”. But it would be an insult to say The-Dream only fits on love songs. One of his finest features is on Pusha T’s savage diss track “Exodus 23:1”, where Dream’s laidback hook adds some much-needed pop appeal and catchiness to an otherwise brutal song. Fitting in with the rest of the track or adding some contrast with his glamorous vocals, you can never go wrong with a hook from The-Dream.

19. Kendrick Lamar

Best hooks:

  • “Money Trees”
  • “Backseat Freestyle”
  • “A.D.H.D”
  • “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
  • “Element”
  • “​m.A.A.d city”
  • “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
  • “King Kunta”
  • “Hood Politics”

In his verses, it’s Kendrick’s supreme technical mic skills that makes each one stand out, but when it comes to hooks, his delivery is what makes them special. Pitching up his voice on “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” or pitching it down on “m.A.A.d city”, the Compton native uses various effects to make every hook more memorable. He changes his voice to the point it’s unrecognisable, but never loses his knack for catchy melodies and animated inflections. With unlimited charisma, K.Dot will yell into the mic for one hook and start singing on the next, never running out of iconic lines to make each chorus a compilation of quotables.

18. Missy Elliott

Best hooks:

  • “Work It”
  • “Get Ur Freak On”
  • “Lose Control”
  • “One Minute Man”
  • “Sock It 2 Me”
  • “Nobody’s Perfect”
  • “She’s a Bitch”

Wild vocals and eccentric lyrics are the heart and soul of Missy Elliott’s style. Reversing her lines on the hook for “Work It”, Missy pulls off the idea thanks to her slick delivery and enthusiasm, sounding catchy even in reverse. More traditional hooks like “Nobody’s Perfect” and “One Minute Man” allow her vocals to shine, belting her voice with the strength of an R&B singer but the sharp lyrics of a master MC. From bizarre concepts to straightforward balladry, Misdemeanor injects colour and creativity into every hook, never falling into predictable melodies or derivative ideas. You never quite know what strange idea she will try next, but you can guarantee she will always make it work.

17. Rick Ross

Best hooks:

  • “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)”
  • “Tupac Back”
  • “600 Benz”
  • “Fitted Cap”
  • “The Devil Is a Lie”
  • “So Sophisticated”
  • “100 Black Coffins”
  • “Hold Me Back”
  • “MC Hammer”

Boasting about his riches, bragging about his sex life, or shooting down the haters, no matter what Rick Ross is rapping about, his swaggering delivery makes any hook hit hard. The Miami rap legend has a mic presence like no other, turning the simplest line into an explosive brag thanks to his bombastic delivery and steady flow, adding impact to every syllable. More than just a performer, the MC’s pen game makes his hooks twice as entertaining, finding over-the-top, almost cartoonish ways to hype up his riches. Repeating one line on “Hold Me Back” and spitting comedic brags on “MC Hammer”, each hook is as slow and infectious as a chant, hypnotising the listener to join in.

16. Ja Rule

Best hooks:

  • “New York”
  • “Mesmerize”
  • “Put It on Me”
  • “Down Ass Bitch”
  • “Livin’ It Up”
  • “Down 4 U”

With a voice as rough as DMX but hooks as smooth as Mase, Ja Rule strikes the right balance between New York grime and catchy pop appeal. Collaborating with singers like Ashanti on “Mesmerize” and Case on “Livin’ It Up”, Ja’s husky, commanding delivery offers a nice contrast against the softer tone of his collaborators, making each hook all the more memorable. While his pen game is never the most nuanced, his colourful vocals make up for his simple lyrics, reciting his lines with a growling voice and swaggering presence anyone could recognise. From romantic hits like “Down 4 U” to braggadocious bangers like “New York”, the MC’s melodic sound is the perfect fit for any track.

15. Kanye West

Best hooks:

  • “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
  • “Runaway”
  • “Amazing”
  • “Jesus Walks”
  • “Love Lockdown”
  • “Heartless”
  • “We Don’t Care”
  • “Spaceship”

With one of the most diverse catalogues in rap history, it’s no surprise that Ye has a hook for every style possible. Belting his voice on melodic highlights like “Heartless” or taking a more casual approach on the choir vocals of “We Don’t Care”, there’s no limit to Kanye’s versatility, with the limitless charisma and sharp pen game to pull off hooks both introspective and comedic. Even on tracks like “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Spaceship”, his vocals aren’t on the level of Akon or Chris Brown, but with his raw passion and creative lyrics, every word hooks you in.

14. Pharrell

Best hooks:

  • “Alright”
  • “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)”
  • “Frontin'”
  • “Change Clothes”
  • “Excuse Me Miss”
  • “When The Last Time”
  • “Beautiful”
  • “S.N.I.T.C.H.”
  • “good kid”
  • “Cot Damn”

Singing falsettos like a modern day Curtis Mayfield, Pharrell has the show-stealing high notes of a soul singer, but the nonchalant swagger of an R&B icon. His high-pitched, playful vocals are perfect for any hook, fitting smoothly into the romantic vibes of Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful” and adding to the hopeful atmosphere of Kendrick’s “Alright”. An upbeat pop song or a sinister deep cut, Pharrell can adapt to any style, dropping the radio-friendly persona on grimy tracks like “When the Last Time”, where his swaggering delivery and animated inflections are enough to make the song an earworm.

13. Young Thug

Best hooks:

  • “With That”
  • “Danny Glover”
  • “Wyclef Jean”
  • “Maria I’m Drunk”
  • “Lifestyle”
  • “Offended”
  • “2 Cups Stuffed”
  • “Check”
  • “Family Don’t Matter”

Thug’s unhinged energy can turn the simplest rhyme into a mesmerizing chorus. He bends his voice like an instrument, slurring his words so the raw sound of his vocals are enough to make any hook iconic. Full of eccentric vocal inflections and lightning-fast flows, his hooks are as exciting as his verses, showing off his buttery smooth presence on “With That” and flexing his powerful voice on the unforgettable “Lifestyle”. With his hyper-animated, almost cartoonish delivery, each hook from Thugger is like a vocal exercise, always finding unpredictable new ways to show off his colorful voice.

12. 2Pac

Best hooks:

  • “Hail Mary”
  • “Ambitionz Az A Ridah”
  • “Ratha Be Ya Ni**a”
  • “Life Goes On”
  • “Me and My Girlfriend”
  • “All Eyez On Me”
  • “Against All Odds”
  • “Hit ’Em Up”
  • “Me Against the World”
  • “I Get Around”

It would take a thousand words to list off every reason why 2Pac was a hook-writing genius, but above all else, it’s the rapper’s mic presence that made him special. The hooks on “Me Against the World” and “Life Goes On” might sound simple on the surface, but the MC’s voice elevated them to new heights, conveying a level of charisma and heart few rappers could rival. Unlike many MCs who rely on speed to sound impressive, all of Pac’s hooks were slow and precise, written almost like chants for the listener to shout along. Sprinkling quotables into every chorus, Pac was the complete package – iconic lines, catchy melodies, and unrivaled passion.

11. Lauryn Hill

Best hooks:

  • “Killing Me Softly With His Song”
  • “Fu-Gee-La”
  • “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
  • “Lost Ones”
  • “Ready or Not”
  • “Ex-Factor”
  • “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)”
  • “How Many Mics”

A soul singer and a rapper, Lauryn Hill is a master of both worlds, blessing each track with hard-hitting bars as well as soulful balladry. Lauryn’s emotive voice amplifies the strength of her writing – you can feel her emotions off her vocals alone, without even knowing the words. That’s exactly what makes Hill a hook-writing expert – repeating the same line on tracks like “Lost Ones” and “Doo Wop (That Thing)”, her hooks may look simple on paper, but her strong vocals add layers upon layers of detail to any song. From stunning riffs to elegant harmonies, the Fugees legend has a flawless voice, unleashing its potential on every chorus.

10. Method Man

Best hooks:

  • “C.R.E.A.M.”
  • “Ice Cream”
  • “Wu-Gambinos”
  • “How High”
  • “All I Need”
  • “Bring the Pain”
  • “The What”
  • “Raw Hide”

There isn’t a weak link in Wu-Tang Clan, but when it comes to hooks, is anyone even close to Method Man? The rapper is a natural performer, making every chorus an earworm thanks to his bombastic delivery, buttery smooth flows, and his iconic, gruff voice. The unhinged way Meth delivers his lines, every word has the impact of a quotable, with iconic tracks like “Ice Cream” and “C.R.E.A.M.” twice as famous because of Johnny Blaze’s relentless delivery. It’s that energy that makes Meth the perfect hook writer, inserting colour and enthusiasm into any song he’s a part of.

9. Lil Wayne

Best hooks:

  • “Duffle Bag Boy”
  • “Make It Rain”
  • “Hustler Musik”
  • “Go D.J.”
  • “My Life”
  • “Steady Mobbin’”
  • “Right Above It”
  • “Blunt Blowin”

While his verses are rhyme-heavy masterclasses in wordplay, Lil Wayne’s hooks are the exact opposite, stripping back the technical wizardry to deliver simple, infectious chants. On highlights like “Hustler Musik” and “Make It Rain”, Weezy’s explosive choruses turn the songs into motivational anthems, preaching about the life of a hustler with the flashy autotune vocals to make his words twice as catchy and ten times as powerful. With autotune to back him up, Wayne dominates any song, sprinkling glamour and pop appeal into his hustle-based rhymes with his enhanced vocals. Through all five Tha Carter albums, Weezy has cemented himself as a lyrical GOAT as well as a hook-writing mastermind.

8. T-Pain

Best hooks:

  • “All I Do Is Win”
  • “Welcome to My Hood”
  • “All I Do Is Win”
  • “Low”
  • “I’m So Hood”
  • “Good Life”
  • “Got Money”
  • “Go Hard”

Plenty of rappers use autotune, but none use it as liberally as T-Pain. He adds so many effects to his voice that he almost sounds robotic, but thanks to his unparalleled charisma, Teddy Pain’s personality always shines through, never missing the mark with his hyperactive hooks. Always loud and expressive, the MC is like the ultimate hype man, turning bangers like “Welcome to My Hood” and “All I Do Is Win” into club-shaking anthems with his bombastic choruses. There are sharper lyricists out there, but for raw energy, few rappers light up a track like T-Pain.

7. Future

Best hooks:

  • “March Madness”
  • “Bugatti”
  • “Mask Off”
  • “Love Me”
  • “Racks”
  • “Stick Talk”
  • “Trap Ni**as”
  • “Fuck Up Some Commas”
  • “Honest”

If there was one word to describe Future, it would be hypnotic. Repeating his lines on “Fuck Up Some Commas” or spitting a paragraph of bars for the hook on “March Madness”, Future Hendrix has the versatile flows to pull off any chorus, and the nonchalant presence to make it sound effortless. His subject matter has never been the most diverse – dedicating his pen game to drugs, money, and success – but it hardly matters, because Future has the knack for rhyme and melodic talent to craft a million catchy hooks about the same topic. Walking the line between rapping and singing, his slick brand of melodic rap is instantly recognisable, adding pop appeal to his hypnotic trap sound.

6. OutKast

Best hooks:

  • “Ms. Jackson”
  • “So Fresh, So Clean”
  • “Two Dope Boyz (in a Cadillac)”
  • “Hey Ya!”
  • “Elevators (Me & You)”
  • “Rosa Parks”
  • “Roses”

With worldwide hits like “Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya!”, is it any surprise that OutKast ranked so high? The Southern duo have always been hook-making experts, mastering a dozen styles from the funk-laced back and forth on “Hootie Hoo” to the pop rap balladry of “Roses”. With Andre’s elegant voice and Big Boi’s buttery flows, the MCs complement each other perfectly, taking turns to deliver melodic hooks for the radio and hard-hitting choruses for the rap purists. No matter the style, OutKast have a chorus for every sound in rap music, with the confident flows, strong voices, and unrivaled chemistry to make every hook unforgettable.

5. Nelly

Best hooks:

  • “Ride wit Me”
  • “Country Grammar (Hot Shit)”
  • “E.I.”
  • “Batter Up”
  • “#1”
  • “Hot in Herre”
  • “Dilemma”
  • “‘N’ Dey Say”

When it comes to singers in hip hop, nobody tops Nelly. His silky smooth voice is perfect for sensual ballads like “N’ Dey Say”, but also raunchy bangers like “Hot in Herre”, boasting the effortless vocals of an R&B star but the suave confidence of a hip hop legend. Deeply romantic or unapologetically sexual, Nelly has the hook-writing talent to craft catchy choruses for any mood, with the vocal ability to adapt to every style. Show-stealing falsettos and dramatic ballads aren’t his forte, but for catchy melodic hooks, no one can do it better. Sensual hits or motivational bangers, Nelly has the voice and the lyrical touch to give any song a perfect hook.

4. Eminem

Best hooks:

  • “Lose Yourself”
  • The Way I Am
  • “Forgot About Dre”
  • “My Name Is”
  • “The Real Slim Shady”
  • “Without Me”
  • “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”
  • “Superman”

A generational storyteller and a one-of-a-kind lyricist, Em’s status as a hook-writing legend is just another bullet point in his impressive resume. Slim Shady’s mic presence puts him a level above the competition – delivering every line with manic energy, he never takes himself too seriously, treating each hook as an opportunity to show off his wildest cadences and most animated flows. From twisted stories like the sinister hook on “Kim” to playful moments like the childish chorus of “My Name Is”, there’s no limit to Eminem’s range, boasting as many flows and deliveries as he has creative stories to tell. The motivational anthem “Lose Yourself” shows Marshall in prime form, delivering a historical hook where Em’s passion alone makes it legendary.

3. Drake

Best hooks:

  • “Started from the Bottom”
  • “Know Yourself”
  • “I’m on One”
  • “Successful”
  • “Forever”
  • “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
  • “Hotline Bling”
  • “Jumpman”
  • “She Will”
  • “Furthest Thing”
  • “Marvins Room”
  • “All Me”

Landing almost 300 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, Drake floods charts every year with his charismatic flows and hypnotic hooks. Rapping one chorus then singing the next, Drizzy has perfected the pop rap formula with his slick fusion of R&B and hip hop, using autotune to add an extra punch to his relaxed vocals. Where the MC shines most is in his pen game – whether it be motivational bangers like “Started from the Bottom” or the toxic jealousy of “Marvins Room”, Drake has the showmanship to make any concept into a standout hook. His simple lyrics make every chorus feel relatable, but it’s his laidback vocals that put Champagne Papi a tier above the rest.

2. Nate Dogg

Best hooks:

  • “Regulate”
  • “’Till I Collapse”
  • “The Next Episode”
  • “Bitch Please”
  • “Area Codes”
  • “Multiply”
  • “21 Questions”
  • “How Long Will They Mourn Me”

Everything Nate Dogg touches becomes a classic. His smooth, soulful vocals have been blessing hip hop projects his whole career, dropping generational hooks on every album he’s been a part of. Whether you’re talking about the motivational masterclass that is “Till I Collapse” or the buttery smooth chorus on “Regulate”, Nate can do no wrong, with the strong voice and melodic flair to hook the listener on every word. His baritone vocals command the listener to pay attention – you would have to be deaf not to bop your head the moment he comes on the mic. Adding power, pop appeal, and charisma to every feature, Nate Dogg’s hooks are near unbeatable.

1. 50 Cent

Best hooks:

  • “Many Men (Wish Death)”
  • “What Up Gangsta”
  • “Hate It or Love It”
  • “In da Club”
  • “U Not Like Me”
  • “How We Do”
  • “Ghetto Qur’an (Forgive Me)”
  • “Westside Story”
  • “If I Can’t”
  • “In My Hood”
  • “Patiently Waiting”
  • “High All the Time”

50 Cent may be past his prime, but for his legendary output in the 2000s, he still stands as the greatest hook writer of all time. Although his voice isn’t the strongest, 50 sings almost all of his hooks, refusing to use autotune so the raw passion of his vocals shine through, giving each track a gritty edge. Some rappers sound too boastful, and others too timid, but not 50 Cent – he knows exactly how to sound intimidating without coming off as braggadocious, floating over every instrumental with a nonchalant presence and consistently hard-hitting lyrics. Singing about his countless enemies on “Many Men (Wish Death)” and shooting down the wannabe gangsters on “U Not Like Me”, Curtis has an endless supply of memorable melodies and slick flows, crafting one of the most consistent catalogues in rap history off his hooks alone. From his commercial albums to his underground mixtapes, wherever you look, 50 Cent has a dozen show-stealing hooks to back up his title as the king of hook writers.