Top 25 Hip Hop Beats of All-Time

As a little kid, the most euphoric part of any given day was when my older cousin had his boys over to chill after school. I was a precocious runt, just looking for acceptance so I would try to memorize lyrics from the most popular Hip Hop songs at the time and spit them back as if they were my own. Kriss Kross was my golden ticket; any line from “Jump Jump” had them treating me like I was a part of the click. That’s why the art of Hip Hop is so profound to me. No other genre has broken down more borders and infiltrated more cultures, and it all starts at the beat. One infectious beat partnered with the right rapper can and will, adhere to more listeners than anything Bob Dylan could do in a decade. So I did my due diligence in compiling the greatest 25 beats that have ever graced this planet while following certain guidelines:

Not rating any beats on a technical level: so I won’t be factoring in rifts, samples, eclectic rhythms, or any other producer jargon. Just the Malcolm Gladwell Blink factor or in other words, how I immediately felt when I heard the beat.

The white/brown guy factor: a good beat is not just cornered in the black community. The ultimate beat is the crossover beat so while we all laugh at that white/Indian guy that peels off in his civic with 50 cent on full throttle; That displays the kind of transcendence that I’m talking about when I say a good Hip Hop beat is more influential than a Bob Dylan track.

The Artest factor: upon hearing the beat, do you suddenly blackout and wake up with your boy slumped over, foaming at the mouth. A tough beat makes you want to knock out anybody in close proximity whether it be a childhood friend, defenceless girl, a baby, grandma, or a complete stranger. Nobody’s off limits!!!

Longevity: can you listen to this beat 5 years down the line and still legitimately get amped off of it.                            

25. Get On My Level (Trillville) – Had to start this off proper. Passes the whole checklist but its rowdy factor comes more from the dudes that are flowing on the beat.

24. Whoop Dat Trick (Three 6 Mafia) – Would be higher if the white/brown guy factor was more relavent. Being on the Hustle and Flow soundtrack wasn’t enough main stream luster to crossover.

23. Know the Ledge (Eric B and Rakim) – The Dirty South definatley runs this category but at the end of the day it’s all possible because of right coast beats such as this one.

22. Untouchable (2Pac and Krayzie Bone) – AM I WRONG CUZ I WANNA GET ON TILL I DIE!! Another day at the office for Swizzy. The white/brown guy factor is hurting here but the Artest factor more than makes up for it.

21. I’m Cool Like That (Digable Planets) – Taking the Hip Hop/Jazz fusion essence from A Tribe Called Quest and putting their own spin on it. The Artest factor can apply here if you’re a true Hip Hop head.

20. Step Into a World (KRS-One) – Classic that hits every phase and has been the unofficial embassador of Hip Hop since it was first unleashed in 97.

19. Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J) – LL had his career on the line Nas style after being called out by Ice-T. It’s safe to say that he’s still eating today because of this masterpiece.

18. Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See (Busta Rhymes) – You can always gage the phatness of a beat by how many freshies jump on it.

17. Mass Appeal (Gang Starr) – DJ Premier must be on this list!! I’ll lose all credibility if he wasn’t.

16. Ambitionz As a Ridah (2Pac) – Officially made everyone want to pack up and move to LA. I may or may not have been throwing up the West sign and yelling thug life in grade 6 because of this song.

15. Shook Ones (Mobb Deep) – Havoc one of the pioneers of the gritty beats. The Nirvana of Hip Hop if you will, and this beat was at the forefront of the invasion.

14. Still D.R.E. ( Dr. Dre) –  Simple yet deadly!! Everyone knows where they were the summer this came out and what this meant for Dre when everyone was sh*@#ing on him. Can’t tell if I really love this beat, or if I’m suffering from a Pavlovian like hypnosis from the girls in that video.

13. Banned From TV (Noreaga) – Only Swizz Beats can get Noreaga on any type of top 25 list.                                           

12. What You Gon Do (Lil Jon, the East Side Boyz, and Lil Scrappy) – Can’t count on my hands and feet, plus your hands and feet; how many dudes I was obligated to knock out because of this beat.

11. Devil’s Son (Big L) – This is the type of beat that athletes take in before a huge game. Showbiz was an idiot savant during the production of this collasal project.

10. 187 Undercover Cop (Dr. Dre and Snoop) – The beat that made middle aged Republicans jump out of their gated communites to oppose Hip Hop. Any beat that forces these men to shake off their senility to fight for the kids of tomorrow, because they feel it’s their duty, qualifies itself as a top 10 beat in my opinion.

9. Thug Motivation 101 (Young Jeezy) – Has a man started a debut album any harder than this? Give me this song and the right system, with 20 guys from Finch, and the War in the Middle East would be done within the hour.

8. Bring the Pain (Method Man) – Anyone who knows me, knows that a musical top 25 list is null and void without the names Method Man or Rza. No Producer has had the run that Rza had in the 90’s and this beat was his 9th Symphony.

7. Second Coming (Juelz Santana) – Everytime I here this beat, the word that always comes to mind is EPIC!! If a UFC fighter comes out to this as his entrance music then the battle is semi-over. JUST BLAZE!!

6. Ruff Ryder Anthem (DMX) – Passes the evaluation chart with flying colours except the longevity. This beat will always have a place in my childhood but it’s not higher because the years haven’t been kind to it. With that said, it’s still the most influential beat of the 90’s and ushered in a young Swizz Beats. A man that has made his mark all over this list.

5. Relax and Take Notes (8 Ball, MJG, and Project Pat) – We are now in the danger zone!! Every beat from here on out has caused bodily harm to someone. If Boyz in the Hood were to be remade today (and you know it will with Lance Reddick as Furious) the background music during the scene where Ice Cube brushes Rickey’s killer would be Relax and Take Notes.

4. Knuck if You Buck (Crime Mob) – The greatest Crunk song ever made!! Period! Ry Mommaz went to work in producing this and I’ll take it one step further by stating that Diamond’s verse is one of the greatest rowdy verses by a female rapper ever. I know there is a lot of “ever” statements being thrown around but It’s not being used as hyperbole. You can be in a corporate board meeting, discussing your quarterly earnings; the minute this track comes on you get ignorant like Dave Chappelle in his skit where he was barking like Dmx and yelling Wu-tang!

3. Rebel Without a Pause (Public Enemy) – Please take this in. This came out in 88, when Jay-Z was getting chased through Nas’s building and it’s still holds up. A ridiculous beat for the most important and radical music group of my generation.

2. Hood Hop (J-Kwon) – Say what you want about Jermaine Dupri, but he’s as close to the Quincy Jones of Hip Hop as your going to get. And this was the beat that put him over the hill for me.

1. Triumph (Wu-Tang Clan) – “I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypothesis can’t define how I be droppin these mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery”. Everyone agrees that this is the greatest opening verse in Hip Hop history but it’s the shock of the beat that propels it. When that base kicks in I still get chills down my spine and I’ve been listening to this on an endless loop since 97. So safe to say that it passes the longevity litmus test. Plus this beat was so gross that it tricked me into thinking that U-God was a half decent rapper.

Making this list was harder than the time Ben had to choose between his life or his daughters in Lost. But I’m quite content, and before this list causes social unrest, think to yourself which one of these beats do you take off if you disagree? Growing up in a Hip Hop world has spoiled me and I wouldn’t change it for anything……..sorry Bob Dylan.

Honourable Mentions:

Jump Jump (Kriss Kross)
Das EFX (They Want) – Beat doesn’t sound like much until you see Will’s swag
The Funeral (Clipse)(Neptunes)                                                                                                                                                                                          
La la la (Jay-Z)(Neptunes)
Put You On The Game (The Game)(Timbaland)
Nazareth Savage (Nas)
Made You Look (Nas)
Your All I Need (Method Man and Mary J Blige)(The Puffy Version)
Now Your Mine (Gang Starr)
Jesus Walks (Kanye West)
In the Music (The Roots)
Scenario (A Tribe Called Quest and The Leaders Of The New School)(Pete Rock)
All The Way Turnt Up (Travis Porter)
Keep it Hood (Project Pat)
I’m On It (Purple Ribbon All-Stars)
Simon Says (Pharoahe Monch)
Grindin (Clipse)(Neptunes)
You Don’t Know (Jay-Z)(Just Blaze)
Make em Say Uhh (Master P)


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