From its humble beginnings in the Bronx to its current global impact, hip-hop has continuously evolved, with beats serving as the lifeblood of the genre. The greatest hip-hop beats of all time have not only provided the perfect backdrop for unforgettable verses and hooks but have also shaped the sonic landscape and influenced countless artists and producers in the process.
Whether it’s the soulful vibes of Pete Rock on “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”, the gritty boom-bap of DJ Premier on Jeru the Damaja’s “Come Clean”, or the laid-back West Coast grooves of Dr. Dre on “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” these beats have etched themselves into the fabric of hip-hop history.
In this article, we’re saluting the architects behind these iconic beats. So, all you hip-hop heads, prepare for a sonic journey through the rich history of hip-hop production, as we explore the tracks that have defined eras, challenged conventions, and left an enormous impact on the culture we all live and breathe.
From “Still Tippin’”, “In da Club” and “93 ’til Infinity” to “C.R.E.A.M.”, “Shook Ones Pt. II” and “Grindin’”, here are the 50 greatest hip hop beats of all time.
50. The Diplomats – “Dipset Anthem”
Few tracks have captured the essence of the early-2000s New York hip-hop scene quite like The Diplomats’ “Dipset Anthem.” This bombastic banger, produced by the legendary Heatmakerz, stands out as a prime example of the Dipset sound, showcasing the crew’s inimitable blend of streetwise braggadocio and gritty, sample-driven production.
49. Future – “Mask Off”
Producer: Metro Boomin
“Mask Off” stands as a testament to Metro Boomin’s ability to seamlessly blend moody atmospherics with hard-hitting trap beats. With a hypnotic flute sample as its backbone, the producer weaves in heavy 808 basslines and sharp hi-hats, crafting a dark, menacing soundscape that effortlessly mirrors Future’s raw, toxic lyrics.
48. Luniz ft. Michael Marshall – “I Got 5 On It”
Producer: Tone Capone
Drawing from Club Nouveau’s “Why You Treat Me So Bad,” Tone Capone infuses a laid-back West Coast groove and a catchy bassline that render the track instantly recognizable. The smooth, head-nodding beat flawlessly underpins Luniz’s memorable verses about pooling money for marijuana, securing “I Got 5 On It” a well-deserved spot among the greatest hip-hop beats of all time.
47. Cam’ron ft. Juelz Santana – “Oh Boy”
Producer: Just Blaze
Just Blaze’s masterful production on Cam’ron’s “Oh Boy” exemplifies his genius for transforming samples into innovative beats. By flipping a snippet from Rose Royce’s “I’m Going Down” into a bouncy, infectious backdrop, Just Blaze creates a unique soundscape that flawlessly captures the energy and charisma of the Cam and Juelz.
46. House of Pain – “Jump Around”
Producer: DJ Muggs
“Jump Around” by House of Pain, produced by DJ Muggs, stands out as a high-energy classic that propelled the group to global recognition. The raucous production hinges on an infectious horn sample from Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle,” melded with a driving breakbeat and an iconic bassline. DJ Muggs’ expert crafting of this adrenaline-pumping beat provided the perfect foundation for House of Pain’s lively delivery, solidifying “Jump Around” as an unforgettable entry among the best hip hop beats of all time.
45. Jay Z ft. UGK – “Big Pimpin”
With “Big Pimpin,” Timbaland’s genre-defying production propelled Jay Z and UGK’s collaboration to new heights – the track remains the Port Arthur duo’s only top 40 hit to date. Harnessing the allure of Middle Eastern music, Timbaland intricately weaves a mesmerizing flute melody throughout the track, crafting a one-of-a-kind exotic soundscape. The beat’s complexity, punctuated by syncopated percussion and Timbaland’s signature stuttering hi-hats, perfectly complements the braggadocious verses of Jay Z and UGK. One of Timbaland’s greatest creations, “Big Pimpin” is absolutely one of the greatest rap beats ever made.
44. Talib Kweli – “Get By”
Producer: Kanye West
“Get By” showcased Kanye West’s early production prowess, as he masterfully blended soulful samples with hard-hitting drums. The track featured a sped-up sample of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman,” infusing the beat with a sense of urgency and determination. This captivating soundscape provided the perfect backdrop for Talib Kweli’s introspective and socially conscious lyrics.
43. Jay Electronica – “Exhibit C”
Producer: Just Blaze
“Exhibit C” displayed Just Blaze’s ability to produce a beat that was simultaneously minimalist and powerful. Relying on a haunting piano loop and crisp drums, the track allowed Jay Electronica’s complex and intricate lyricism to take center stage.
42. DMX – “Ruff Ryders Anthem”
Producer: Swizz Beatz
Swizz Beatz’s iconic production on DMX’s “Ruff Ryders Anthem” encapsulated the gritty, aggressive energy characteristic of DMX’s delivery. With a distinctive synth melody and stomping drums, the unforgettable anthemic sound emerged as a timeless production that cemented DMX’s status as one of hip hop’s hottest new rappers.
41. Lil Wayne – “A Milli”
On Lil Wayne’s “A Milli,” Bangladesh’s production proved to be as unique and addictive as the track itself, with a syncopated beat and a repetitive, chopped vocal sample that created a mesmerizing backdrop for Lil Wayne’s intricate wordplay. The unconventional production and sparse instrumentation allowed Wayne’s vocals to shine, distinguishing “A Milli” as a standout in his extensive discography.
40. Schoolly D – “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?”
Producer: J.B. Weaver Jr.
As one of the first gangsta rap songs, Schoolly D’s “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” achieved its iconic status largely due to the beat crafted by J.B. Weaver Jr. Boasting a minimalistic approach, the slow, heavy drum machine, and electronic bassline provided a sinister foundation for Schoolly D’s raw and gritty lyrics, leaving a lasting impression on hip-hop’s evolution.
39. Common – “The Light”
Producer: J Dilla
J Dilla’s soulful and innovative style shone through in Common’s “The Light.” The track, built around a sample from Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes,” featured smooth keys, a subtle bassline, and crisp drums that impeccably complemented Common’s heartfelt lyrics.
38. Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell – “Drop It Like It’s Hot”
Producer: The Neptunes
The Neptunes’ minimalist approach to production shines on this massive hit. Featuring a simple yet infectious beat comprised of tongue clicks and a catchy synth line, the sparse production allows Snoop Dogg’s laid-back flow and Pharrell’s smooth hook to take center stage.
37. Rick Ross ft. Styles P – “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)”
Producer: Lex Luger
Lex Luger’s production on “B.M.F.” is the epitome of trap music at its finest. Combining thunderous 808s, ominous horns, and rapid-fire hi-hats, the beat creates an intense atmosphere that perfectly matches the aggressive performances of Rick Ross and Styles P.
36. Noreaga – “Superthug”
Producer: The Neptunes
As two of the greatest hip hop producers of all time, The Neptunes boasts a catalogue that most beatmakers can only dream of. And it all started with “Superthug”, one of their very first hits. The track’s relentless, driving beat, complete with pounding drums, futuristic synths, and a catchy keyboard riff, solidified its status as an unforgettable late ’90s rap classic.
35. 2Pac ft. The Outlawz & Prince Ital Joe – “Hail Mary”
On 2Pac’s “Hail Mary” featuring The Outlawz & Prince Ital Joe, Hurt-M-Badd’s dark, moody, and haunting production seamlessly complemented 2Pac’s intense delivery and introspective lyrics. The eerie piano loop, somber bells, and heavy drums created a chilling and memorable track.
34. EPMD – “You Gots to Chill”
Producer: Erick Sermon
Golden era hip-hop was epitomized by EPMD’s “You Gots to Chill,” produced by Erick Sermon. Using a catchy sample from Zapp & Roger’s “More Bounce to the Ounce,” the smooth basslines and laid-back drums showcased EPMD’s effortless flow.
33. Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Ni**as in Paris”
Producer: Hit-Boy, Kanye West, Mike Dean, Anthony Kilhoffer
An unforgettable high-energy anthem, “Ni**as in Paris” by Jay-Z & Kanye West, demonstrated the production prowess of Hit-Boy, Kanye West, Mike Dean, and Anthony Kilhoffer. The track’s heavy bass, buzzing synths, and memorable vocal sample from the film “Blades of Glory” highlighted the best of both Jay-Z and Kanye West.
32. Raekwon ft. Ghostface Killah, Method Man and Cappadonna – “Ice Cream”
Creating atmosphere was RZA’s forte in Raekwon’s “Ice Cream” featuring Ghostface Killah, Method Man, and Cappadonna. Sampling Earl Klugh’s “A Time for Love,” RZA’s beat was both smooth and gritty, utilizing a hypnotic piano loop, raw drums, and a subtle bassline that perfectly matched the storytelling and wordplay of the featured artists.
31. T.I. – “What You Know”
Producer: DJ Toomp
DJ Toomp brought the heat on T.I.’s “What You Know,” cementing its place in Southern rap history with a beat that hits like a freight train. The triumphant brass stabs, earth-shaking bass, and neck-snapping drums provide the anthemic atmosphere that elevates T.I.’s reign as the undisputed King of the South.
30. Black Rob – “Whoa!”
Buckwild’s beat for “Whoa!” is a shining example of the gritty, head-nodding production that defined the late 90s and early 2000s hip-hop. With a haunting piano sample, aggressive drums, and a pulsing bassline, the track provides the perfect backdrop for Black Rob’s energetic flow. Word on the street is that a bunch of Roc-A-Fella rappers, including Hov himself, passed on this beat before Black Rob got his hands on it.
29. Three 6 Mafia ft. UGK & Project Pat – “Sippin’ on Some Syrup”
Producer: DJ Paul, Juicy J
The fusion of dark, haunting Memphis hip-hop and smooth Southern rap is epitomized in Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” featuring UGK and Project Pat. Producers DJ Paul and Juicy J crafted a beat that’s equal parts hypnotic and sinister, blending eerie synths, slow-rolling drums, and an entrancing vocal sample. The result is a syrupy, laid-back flow that showcases the talents of these rap legends.
28. dead prez – “Hip Hop”
With a powerful and thought-provoking beat, dead prez’s “Hip Hop” remains a timeless anthem for those seeking a message within the music. Hedrush’s thunderous drums, pulsating bass, and haunting piano loop set the stage for dead prez’s unapologetic and politically charged lyrics. This track continues to resonate with listeners who appreciate hip-hop as a medium for social commentary and activism.
27. Kendrick Lamar ft. MC Eiht – “m.A.A.d city”
Producer: Sounwave, THC, Terrace Martin (add.)
Kendrick Lamar’s gripping storytelling and MC Eiht’s veteran presence come alive on the cinematic beat of “m.A.A.d city.” A collaborative effort from producers Sounwave, THC, and Terrace Martin, the beat fuses a driving bassline, haunting strings, and frantic drums to create a raw and intense soundscape. This standout track from Kendrick’s discography showcases the power of masterful production paired with captivating lyrics, making it one of K.Dot’s greatest tracks ever.
26. Cypress Hill – “Insane in the Brain”
Producer: DJ Muggs
As a cornerstone of early 90s West Coast hip-hop, Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Brain” still stands as an undeniable classic. DJ Muggs’ iconic production, characterized by funky basslines, eerie organ stabs, and hard-hitting drums, sets the stage for the group’s playful and energetic rhymes.
25. A Tribe Called Quest – “Award Tour”
Exemplifying the jazzy, soulful sound that made them legends, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Award Tour” is an irresistible track that’s aged like fine wine. Q-Tip’s masterful production, built around a sample from Weldon Irvine’s “We Gettin’ Down,” features a catchy piano loop, smooth bass, and laid-back drums.
24. OutKast – “So Fresh, So Clean”
Producer: Organized Noize
OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” oozes that smooth, Southern-fried sound, courtesy of Organized Noize’s slick production. Funky guitar licks, a laid-back bassline, and crisp drums set the stage for Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s effortless swagger, making this track an undeniable classic from the Atlanta duo.
23. Jay-Z – “D’Evils”
Producer: DJ Premier
DJ Premier’s mastery of moody, atmospheric beats is on full display in Jay-Z’s “D’Evils.” A melancholic piano loop is paired with vocal samples from Snoop Dogg’s “Murder Was The Case” and Prodigy’s verse on “I Shot Ya (Remix)” to create this haunting soundscape. Combined with Hov’s superb storytelling of a friendship gone wrong and it’s safe to “D’Evils” is the Brooklyn rapper’s greatest work to date.
22. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”
“Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard showcases RZA’s ability to switch gears, with a production that’s equal parts playful and grimy. A deranged piano loop, catchy melody, and energetic drums work together to capture ODB’s inimitable style in this unforgettable beat.
21. Nas – “The World Is Yours”
Producer: Pete Rock
Pete Rock’s jazzy, soulful touch on Nas’s “The World Is Yours” transports listeners straight to the golden era of hip-hop. A velvety piano loop, warm bass, and crisp drums set the scene for Nas’s thought-provoking lyrics, resulting in an introspective and timeless track.
20. UGK ft. OutKast – “International Players Anthem (I Choose You)”
Producer: DJ Paul, Juicy J
UGK and OutKast’s collaboration on “International Players Anthem (I Choose You)” is an instant classic, thanks to DJ Paul and Juicy J’s masterful blend of a soulful Willie Hutch sample and the bouncy, bass-heavy Southern hip-hop sound. The celebratory horns, soaring choir, and hard-hitting drums create a triumphant vibe that perfectly complements the chemistry and energy of UGK and OutKast.
19. G.O.O.D. Music – “Mercy”
Producer: Lifted, Mike Dean (add.), Mike Will Made It (add.), Kanye West (add.), Hudson Mohawke (add.)
The star-studded production lineup on G.O.O.D. Music’s “Mercy,” featuring Lifted, Mike Dean, Mike Will Made It, Kanye West, and Hudson Mohawke, brings together a unique fusion of trap music and electronic elements. With its pulsating bass, ominous synths, and the unforgettable Fuzzy Jones vocal sample, the beat provides the perfect sonic playground for the G.O.O.D. Music collective.
18. Missy Elliott – “Get Ur Freak On”
Timbaland’s unparalleled creativity shines through in Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On,” with its groundbreaking mix of Eastern instrumentation, stuttering drums, and futuristic synths. The one-of-a-kind beat effortlessly complements Missy Elliott’s energetic and charismatic performance, making it a staple in hip hop production history.
17. Juvenile ft. Mannie Fresh & Lil Wayne – “Back That Azz Up”
Producer: Mannie Fresh
With “Back That Azz Up,” Mannie Fresh delivers a defining example of the infectious, bounce-infused sound that put late 90s Cash Money Records on the map. Juvenile, Mannie Fresh, and Lil Wayne ride the wave of the catchy piano melody, booming 808s, and energetic drums, resulting in an irresistible track that stands the test of time.
16. The Notorious B.I.G. – “Who Shot Ya?”
Producer: Nashiem Myrick, Jean-Claude Olivier, Sean Combs
The production on “Who Shot Ya?” is a revolution in creating tension and drama on a hip hop track. Producers Nashiem Myrick, and Jean-Claude Olivier (guided by Puffy), craft a haunting beat, featuring eerie piano chords, booming bass, and crisp drums, providing the perfect backdrop for Biggie’s menacing lyrics and storytelling prowess. Despite what Puff and Big may have said at the time, “Who Shot Ya?” was as much a diss track as 2Pac put out.
15. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – “The Message”
Producer: Edward G. Fletcher, Sylvia Robinson
“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five is a seminal track in hip-hop history that not only set a new standard for the genre but also shifted its direction. Edward G. Fletcher and Sylvia Robinson’s visionary production, complete with a funky bassline and instantly recognizable synthesizer melody, provided the ideal foundation for the group’s groundbreaking socially conscious lyrics. Prior to “The Message,” hip-hop was largely focused on party jams and braggadocious rhymes, but this track ushered in a new era of lyrical content that tackled social issues and the harsh realities of urban life.
14. Craig Mack – “Flava in Ya Ear”
Producer: Easy Mo Bee
“Flava in Ya Ear” by Craig Mack is a prime example of the catchy boom-bap sound that defined Bad Boy’s music in the mid-90s, courtesy of Easy Mo Bee’s masterful production. The hypnotic bass loop, crisp drums, and eerie horn sample provide the perfect canvas for Craig Mack’s unique, charismatic flow. The remix knocks even harder.
13. Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Doggy Dogg – “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang”
Producer: Dr. Dre
The iconic “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg showcased Dre’s prowess in creating smooth, laid-back grooves that would come to define the West Coast sound. Sampling Leon Haywood’s “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You,” the beat’s infectious synths and relaxed rhythm set the stage for the undeniable chemistry between Dre and Snoop, as well as the West Coast takeover of the early ’90s.
12. Gang Starr – “Mass Appeal”
Producer: DJ Premier
Gang Starr’s “Mass Appeal” stands as a testament to DJ Premier’s ability to create timeless, head-nodding beats that resonate with hip-hop fans. Built around a hypnotic, looping piano sample, the track’s hard-hitting drums and steady bassline lay the perfect foundation for Guru’s smooth delivery and thought-provoking lyrics.
11. Audio Two – “Top Billin’”
Producer: Daddy-O, Audio Two
The power of simplicity in hip-hop production is epitomized by Audio Two’s “Top Billin’,” produced by Daddy-O and Audio Two themselves. The raw, energetic vibe of the beat stems from its stripped-down drum pattern and the infectious, looping vocal sample taken from The Honey Drippers’ “Impeach the President,” which perfectly complements Audio Two’s braggadocious lyrics.
10. Jeru the Damaja – “Come Clean”
Producer: DJ Premier
With “Come Clean,” Jeru the Damaja and DJ Premier deliver a potent concoction of gritty, boom-bap beats and razor-sharp lyricism. Premier’s production skillfully weaves together a dark, nightmarish soundscape with hard-hitting drums, setting the stage for Jeru’s commanding delivery and streetwise knowledge dropping.
9. Mike Jones ft. Slim Thug and Paul Wall – “Still Tippin’”
Producer: Salih Williams
Salih Williams captures the hypnotic essence of early 2000s Houston hip-hop in his production for “Still Tippin’,” featuring Mike Jones, Slim Thug, and Paul Wall. The beat’s haunting aura, conjured by eerie strings, chopped and screwed vocal samples, and booming 808s, envelopes the listener and perfectly complements the laid-back, confident flows of the three Southern legends.
8. 50 Cent – “In da Club”
Producer: Dr. Dre, Mike Elizondo, DJ Quik
“In da Club” showcases a seamless fusion of West Coast and East Coast hip-hop influences, masterfully crafted by Dr. Dre, Mike Elizondo, and DJ Quik. The beat’s pulsating synth melody, hard-hitting drums, and booming bassline create a powerful, head-nodding canvas for 50 Cent’s memorable hooks and self-assured delivery.
7. Souls of Mischief – “93 ’til Infinity”
A-Plus’s production on “93 ’til Infinity” by Souls of Mischief transports listeners back to the early 90s West Coast alternative scene, defined by its jazzy, laid-back sound. The beat’s smooth piano loop, warm bass, and crisp drums paint a relaxed and introspective soundscape, effortlessly complementing the introspective and skillful rhymes of Souls of Mischief.
6. The Pharcyde – “Runnin'”
Producer: J Dilla
J Dilla’s timeless, soulful production on The Pharcyde’s “Runnin'” stands as a testament to his unparalleled artistry. The beat’s catchy piano loop, funky bassline, and crisp drums meld together to create a foundation that perfectly supports The Pharcyde’s reflective lyrics and smooth flows, resulting in a track that continues to resonate with listeners.
5. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”
Producer: Pete Rock
Pete Rock’s masterful production on “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” featuring C.L. Smooth is considered one of the greatest hip-hop beats ever crafted. The melancholic saxophone sample, smooth bassline, and crisp drums effortlessly capture the nostalgic and emotional essence of C.L. Smooth’s heartfelt lyrics.
4. Wu-Tang Clan – “C.R.E.A.M.”
“C.R.E.A.M.” exemplifies RZA’s ability to create gritty, sample-based beats that embody the essence of the group. Featuring a haunting piano loop from The Charmels’ “As Long As I’ve Got You,” crisp drums, and a driving bassline, the beat provides the perfect backdrop for Chef and Deck’s introspective and streetwise lyrics.
3. Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg – “Still D.R.E.”
Producer: Dr. Dre, Mel-Man
As the lead single of 2001, Dr. Dre, alongside Snoop Dogg, reasserted his legendary status with the timeless beat for “Still D.R.E.” With a hypnotic piano loop, catchy string melody, and hard-hitting drums, the West Coast sound is on full display, complemented by Snoop’s silky-smooth delivery and Dr. Dre’s confident verses. Side note: Jay-Z wrote both Dre and Snoop’s part on this song.
2. Mobb Deep – “Shook Ones Pt. II”
Creating a dark and menacing atmosphere in “Shook Ones Pt. II,” Havoc’s production was a perfect match for Mobb Deep’s gritty and raw lyrics. The beat, with its eerie piano chords and haunting sample from Herbie Hancock’s “Jessica,” is nothing short of a masterclass. Not only is “Shook Ones Pt. II” one of the greatest hip hop beats ever, it’s arguably the best ’90s rap song of all time.
1. Clipse – “Grindin’”
Producer: The Neptunes
The Neptunes showcased their innovative prowess with the minimalist production on Clipse’s “Grindin’.” The raw, sparse, and syncopated drum pattern, catchy woodblock melody, and looped vocal sample create an unforgettable beat that perfectly complements Clipse’s no-nonsense street stories. The combination of The Neptunes’ production and Clipse’s lyrical skills secures this track’s place as the greatest hip hop beat of all time.
How do you NOT think of the beasties any place ?!
Lol Oh Boy made your list but “NY State of Mind” didn’t.
Smh who gives these writers with no real grip on Hip Hop authority to make lists like this?? Lol
Devil in a New Dress???
Mad-izm by channell live??
Devil in a new dress??
PAUL REVERE ….THE NEW STYLE….HOLD IT NOW HIT IT. If anything give the Beasties credit for some of the best 808 bangers ever recorded. We already know yall just gonna act like Pauls Boutique never happened.
De La Soul should be in the top 10.
Decent list but ciipse definitely not #1, no run dmc? L.L.?
Jam on it!!!!!
Car drive by with the booming system???
Go back to ranking dresses on the none hip hop runway you come from!
All about the Benjamin’s isn’t on this list! SMH
Here I go by mystical is the best beat ever
Where is rock the bells, it’s yours, and planet rock