Top 100 Greatest Songs By An XXL Freshman

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Through five years of XXL Freshman classes, there have been plenty of songs to remember. Still fresh off of the announcement of the 2012 Freshman class, it's time to celebrate the music of the many talented acts. Some of the cuts helped these artists secure a spot on the list, while others allowed them to blossom following their appearance on the cover. Commercial success and artistry are both part of the criteria. Here are the Top 100 Greatest Songs by an XXL Freshman.—XXL Staff

100. Mickey Factz “Paradise”

*Mickey Factz “Paradise”

Official Relase Date: July 6, 2010

Official Relase Date: July 6, 2010
Mickey Factz—one of the lesser celebrated members of XXL’s Class of 2009—responded to the naysayers on this hard-hitting banger. “I was the guy to doubt/ They say I wasn’t it...Now they crowd around/Talking about they want a Flip/You know how that sound/Like the dumbest shit.” Word.

99. Cory Gunz "Outta My Mind," Son of a Gun (2011)

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Official Release Date: June 29, 2011
Fresh off of the first season of his MTV show Son of a Gun coming to a close, Cory Gunz let loose this song that he recorded while the cameras were rolling for the series. Maybe he's out of his mind, but he's into his rhymes.

Fashawn Born 10/27/1988

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*Freddie Gibbs, “National Anthem (Fuck the World),” Str8 Killa (2010)

96. Hopsin “Sag My Pants,” RAW (2010)

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Official Release Date: Nov. 19, 2010
Hopsin’s breakout record had the Cali native taking shots and giving a huge middle finger to everyone from Lil Wayne to Soulja Boy to Lupe Fiasco, while also firing shots his former label Ruthless Records and the industry as a whole. The video for the rebellious and unapologetic track received over eight millions views on YouTube.

95. Blu "No Greater Love," Below the Heavens (2007)

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Official Release Date: July 17, 2007
For his breakout, critically acclaimed project with Exile, Below the Heavens, Blu showed his depth and passion for the music. On this love song, the Cali native lets his guard down and opens up.

94. YG “Patty Cake,” The Real 4Fingaz (2010)

YG “Patty Cake,” The Real 4Fingaz (2010)

Official Release Date: February, 2011
To follow up the success of “Toot It and Boot It,” YG returned with another dance-ready anthem, “Patty Cake.” Though the title may make it seem like a nursery rhyme, and YG’s raps didn’t do all that much to dispute that, the other elements of the track, with its infectious hook and beat, made this another joint from the Def Jam signee that got the party started.

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92. CyHi The Prynce "Sideways," Royal Flush (2010)

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Official Release Date: October 14, 2010
When you have success, the haters inevitably start looking in your direction. For the G.O.O.D. Music rapper, he had to get used to the haters looking at him sideways with this cut. It was only love from 2K Sports, though, as they included this number on NBA 2K12.

*Meek Mill, “Rose Red,” Flamers 3 (2010)

Fred The Godson “Too Fat,” Armageddon (2010)

Official Release Date: October 4, 2010
Fred The Godson landed on peoples’ radars on the internet and in New York City thanks to his infectious banger “Too Fat.” The song, which sampled vocals from The Notorious B.I.G., earned spins on New York radio, and was an example of Fred’s talents: he was able to kick witty lines and also sprinkle in his sense of humor.

89. Big K.R.I.T. “Money On The Floor,” Live From The Underground (2012)

Big K.R.I.T. “Money On The Floor,” Live From The Underground (2012)

Official Release Date: September 22, 2011
Serving as the lea dsingle to Big K.R.I.T. impending Def Jam debut, Live From The Underground, “Money On The Floor” was impressive in its ability to stay completely true to what Krizzle had been building up to that point. Not some swing at a contrived mainstream hit, the song was produced by the Cinematic signed rapper and featured 8Ball, MJG and 2 Chainz. A result of the authentic and soulful sound, though, were that the song didn’t pick up as much as K.R.I.T. and the label probably would have liked, failing to crack Billboard.

88. Danny Brown “Wake Up,” Black and Brown (2011)

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Official Release Date: Nov. 1, 2011
The Detroit MC’s voice comes alive alongside Black Milk on “Wake Up,” as Danny tells wild tales of being down and out.

87. Pill, “Pacman,” MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. 1
(2011)

*Pill, “Pacman,” MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. 1
(2011)

Official Release Date: May 23, 2011
Although Pill recently revealed he was never officially a part of Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, the Atlanta rapper certainly sent mixed signals throughout his affiliation with the crew, including appearing on the MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. 1 album. “Pacman” was one of a number of tracks he appeared on the project.

Iggy Azalea - "Work" (2013)

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"Do anything for my mama, I love you/One day I'll pay you back for the sacrifice that you managed to muscle/Sixteen, you sent me through customs."

85. Wale ft. Lady Gaga “Chillin,” Attention Deficit (2009)

*32. Wale ft. Lady Gaga “Chillin,” Attention Deficit (2009)

Official Release Date: April 14, 2009 Wale wasn’t just the only Freshman to record with Lady Gaga, he was the only rapper in history to have a song with the pop princess. While the catchy tune didn’t equate to mainstream success at the time, it served as a precursor to the radio dominance the DC rhymespitter is currently enjoying.

*Joell Ortiz “Hip Hop,” The Brick: Bodega Chronicles (2007)

Official Release Date: April 24, 2007
As snap music slowly began to fade in the wake of Nas’s album Hip Hop Is Dead, a new crop of lyrically-inclined MCs, including Brooklyn’s own Joell Ortiz, began to emerge. Though the antithesis to flash-over-substance, J-O never aimed to scrutinize, but simply provide a balance, as evidence on this gem.

83. Wiz Khalifa “No Sleep” Rolling Papers (2011)

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Official Release Date: August 9, 2011
Wiz certified his spot as the Spring Break Champion with this Benny Blanco banger, which became a Cancun anthem before it was officially released as a single. When the Rostrum/Atlantic collective green-lit “No Sleep” as a single, the track soared up the charts and became the lanky MC’s second Top 10 hit. No doze.

80. Crooked I “Dream Big”

Crooked I “Dream Big”

Official Release Date: May 20, 2008
After years buzzing on the West Coast, a spot on a couple XXL covers, a stint with Death Row, a weekly song series, and more, Crooked I seemed ready to cross over with “Dream Big.” The song, featuring hit-making hook man Akon, proved to be catchy while not sacrificing Crook’s characteristically impressive wordplay. Though the song didn’t become the radio smash it could have, the Long Beach native kept grinding, and soon found a new home with Slaughterhouse.

79. Kid Ink “Time Of Your Life” (2012)

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Official Release Date: March 2, 2012
The tatted-up Cali representer vows that listeners will have the “Time Of Your Life” if they simply let go and let worries wash away on this song that's continuing to pick up spins on radio.

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77. Curren$y “Michael Knight” Pilot Talk II (2010)

Curren$y “Michael Knight” Pilot Talk II (2010)

Official Release Date: October 9, 2010
After linking with Damon Dash and his DD172, as well as producer Ski Beatz, Curren$y began to further cement himself in the game and his fervent following. Crucial in that was his consistency, and “Michael Knight,” released less than three months after Pilot Talk as the lead single from its follow up, was representative of that. The chorus was simple and fun, and Spitta’s lyrics were slick.

*29. Asher Roth “Lark On My Go Kart,” Asleep In the Bread Aisle (2009)

Official Relase Date: March 24, 2009
Asher Roth followed up his breakout smash single, “I Love College,” with a more understated, playful cut about his dreams of taking Lark Voorhies, the hottie from 1990s show, Saved by the Bell, for a ride. The drum heavy track never saw the same success as his college anthem, but it showcased Asher’s sense of humor and clever wordplay, even briefly finding a spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Take that Screech.

75. Lil Twist "Turnt Up" (2011)

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Official Release Date: November 29, 2011
As a follow up to his Lil Wayne collaboration "Love Affair," and as another piece of ammunition to allowed his debut album Don't Get It Twisted to hit shelves, Twist teamed with another of his Cash Money cohorts, Busta Rhymes. The two got "Turnt Up" to the tune of sitting comfortably at the top spot of the 106 & Park countdown for some time.

Gorilla Zoe

*Gorilla Zoe "Hood Nigga," Welcom to the Zoo (2007)

After originally signing to Bad Boy via the Boyz N Da Hood group, Zoe went on to release three studio albums via Bad Boy, but hasn't been reported to be working on anything since 2011.

73. Big K.R.I.T. “The Vent,” Return of 4Eva (2011)

Big K.R.I.T. “The Vent,” Return of 4Eva (2011)

Official Release Date: March 28, 2011
One of the more somber songs in a bluesy catalog, “The Vent” showed Big K.R.I.T. in a personal, somber, thoughtful, and faithful light. The multi-talented act spends the first half of the song rapping, and closes out by singing in the second half. Though it’s not a song built for radio, the video got plays on major networks, and the song is still one of the staple’s of Krizzle’s live performances.

72. J. Cole “In The Morning,” featuring Drake Friday Night Lights (2010)

71. Nispey Hussle, “Feelin Myself,” South Central State of Mind (2012)

*Nispey Hussle, “Feelin Myself,” South Central State of Mind (2012)

Official Release Date: June 10, 2010
Nipsey Hussle’s “Feelin’ Myself,” featuring Lloyd, is the first single from the West Coast spitter’s South Central State of Mind album. Produced by 1500 or Nothin’, the track leaked on net in 2010 but was later revamped with Young Goldie’s pitch on the hook.

70. “Come On Baby (Remix),” The Moral of the Story (2007)

Saigon “Come On Baby (Remix),” The Moral of the Story (2007)

Official Release Date: November 6, 2007
Saigon received a coveted hat tip with his “Come On Baby (Remix),” as both Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz hopped aboard to remake the Just Blaze production. Still, even with three heavyweights joining the Brooklyn wordsmith on record, Sai’s debut album wouldn’t see the light of day until 2011. It wasn’t for lack of hot music, though, as this banger proves.

69. Wale "Pretty Girls," Attentino Deficit (2009)

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Official Release Date: October 6, 2009
For an early single from his debut album, Wale formed an unlikely union with Gucci Mane. The two were able to hit No. 56 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. An official remix featured Fabolous and Chris Brown.

68. Wiz Khalifa “Roll Up” Rolling Papers (2011)

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Official Release Date: February 3, 2011
Young Khalifia followed up “Black And Yellow” with the breezy “Roll Up.” The StarGate-produced track didn’t chart as high as his previous single, but the effort earned Wiz a platinum certification after the ‘tune sold more than 1 million digital copies. Put one in the air for that.

67. Mac Miller “Frick Park Market,” Blue Slide Park (2011)

Mac Miller “Frick Park Market,” Blue Slide Park (2011)

Official Release Date: August 18, 2011
For the lead single to his debut album, Blue Slide Park, Mac Miller stuck with the project’s theme and kept things at home. “Frick Park Market” was named after a local Pittsburgh spot that Mac and his homies used to frequent (he shot the video there), and the song, with its upbeat approach, debuted at No. 60 on the Billboard Hot 100.

66. Diggy “Do It Like You,” Unexpected Arrival (2012)

Diggy “Do It Like You,” Unexpected Arrival (2012)

Official Release Date: December 2, 2011
A follow up to his marginally successful buzz single “Copy Paste,” “Do It Like You” was the kind of song that Diggy needed to lead into the release of his debut album, Unexpected Arrival. With a feature on the hook from Jeremih, Diggy directs this one to the ladies, and surely had high school girls everywhere hanging on his every word. The video climbed the 106 & Park countdown, and hit No. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as No. 11 on the Rap Songs charts.

65. Jay Rock, “All My Life (In the Ghetto),” Follow Me Home (2011)

*Jay Rock, “All My Life (In the Ghetto),” Follow Me Home (2011)

Official Release Date: July 26, 2011
The Lil Wayne-assisted “All My Life” was the first single released from Jay Rock’s debut studio album, Follow Me Home, through Top Dawg Entertainment and Strange Music. “All My Life” is the only single off the set (the follow-up is “Hood Gone Love It”) to enter the Billboard charts. The track’s official remix features Busta Rhymes, The Game and Gorilla Zoe. The album sold 5,300 its first week.

64. Yelawolf “Pop The Trunk,” Trunk Muzik (2011)

Yelawolf “Pop The Trunk,” Trunk Muzik (2011)

Official Release Date: June 16, 2010
Prior to the release of his debut album, Radioactive, Yelawolf’s biggest song was the rambunctious “Pop The Trunk.” As with much of the Interscope signee’s music, particularly some of the fan-favorites, this track was steeped in Yelawolf’s upbringing in Alabama. Not only was the song included on Trunk Muzik, but it made the cut on the retail follow up later that year, Trunk Muzik: 0-60.

63. Lupe Fiasco “Outta My Head,” Lasers (2011)

Lupe Fiasco “Outta My Head,” Lasers (2011)

Official Release Date: May 22, 2011
In an uncharacteristic move that was viewed as labeling to his major label home by some, Lupe Fiasco linked with Trey Songz for this R&B infused radio ready song “Outta My Head.” The female focused record was able to become one of Lupe’s biggest hits to date, though, hitting No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 5 on the Rap Songs chart.

62. Kid Cudi ft. Kanye West “Erase Me,” Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010)

*Kid Cudi ft. Kanye West “Erase Me,” Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010)

Official Release Date: August 24, 2010
For the first offering from his second LP, Kid Cudi--an experimental artist always classify into any particular genre--shocked fans even more by going the pop/rock route. The catchy, radio-friendly tune featured a tongue twisting guest verse from G.O.O.D. Music mentor, Kanye West, and another one of Cudi’s undeniably addictive hooks. File this one under stadium status.

61. Papoose "Sharades,” Sharades (2005)

Papoose "Sharades,” Sharades (2005)

Official Release Date: 2005
With a handful of rappers plagued with legal trouble, Pap tackled the issue head on. Here, he speaks from the perspective of the hip-hop police. The song received heavy airplay—an unusual feat for such a conceptual record. The single also continued to solidify Pap as one of the most creative MCs of the mid-aughts’s mixtape era.

60. Donnis “Gone,” Diary of an ATL Brave (2009)

*Donnis “Gone,” Diary of an ATL Brave (2009)

Official Release Date: August 21, 2009
In conjunction with streetwear company 10 Deep, Donnis released his first mixtape, Diary of an ATL Brave, in 2009. The partnership led to a one-single deal with Fool’s Gold Records to release the single “Gone.” With the help of the success of this song, it was this very mixtape that catapulted Donnis’ career, earning him a spot on the XXL Freshmen list in 2010. Donnis joined the likes of J. Cole, Pill, Big Sean and Wiz Khalifa, among others.

*35. Charles Hamilton “Brooklyn Girls,” Crash Landed (2008)

Official Relase Date: November 18, 2008
When it comes to Harlem/Brooklyn relations, for a time, things weren’t looking too good. See Jay-Z and Dame Dash or Jay and Cam’ron, for that matter. But thanks to this breakout single from controversial Harlemite, Charles Hamilton, all was OK. Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way.

58. Ace Hood ft. Chris Brown “Body 2 Body”,” Blood, Sweat & Tears (2011)

Ace Hood ft. Chris Brown “Body 2 Body”,” Blood, Sweat & Tears (2011)

Official Release Date: July 26, 2011
After giving the fellas the testosterone filled smash, “Hustle Hard,” Ace returned with a gift for the ladies in the form of “Body 2 Body.” Aided by the smooth production of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Chris Brown’s sexy hook, the Miami rapper showed off both his versatility and softer side. Score!

"Lay Low"

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"Philly bitch from Philippine/She feel the watch, feel them shots, I feel the bean."

56. J. Cole “Mr. Nice Watch” featuring Jay-Z Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)

56. J. Cole “Mr. Nice Watch” featuring Jay-Z Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)

Official Release Date: September 14, 2011
Time wasn’t on the Roc Nation rookie’s side when it came to this collaboration. Originally, young Jermaine wanted Hov to join him on “God’s Gift” but as he was wrapping his debut LP the boss still hadn’t recorded a rhyme for his protege. As the clock was winding down, however, Jay-Z instead managed to contribute a timeless verse to “Mr. Nice Watch,” as Cole kept pace.

55. Plies “Plenty Money,” Goon Affiliated (2009)

*Plies “Plenty Money,” Goon Affiliated (2009)

Official Release Date: December 16, 2008
Once a goon, always a goon. Though girl-friendly records had become his bread and butter with his first two hits, Plies always make sure to strike a balance with streets-approved records. Plies kept it gully for the third single to his third album, Goon Affiliated. The song didn’t peak as high as his more radio-friendly efforts, but the streets ate it up.

54. Yelawolf “Throw It Up,” Radioactive (2011)

Yelawolf “Throw It Up,” Radioactive (2011)

Official Release Date: November 11, 2011
Yelawolf’s anticipated collaboration with Eminem lived up to expectations, and then some. The Radioactive standout found Yela and Em kicking rapid-fire verses, sandwiching a verse and hooks from Gangsta Boo. Who had the most memorable verse is up for debate, as Eminem’s wild lyrics were mind-boggling and entertaining, Gangsta Boo’s verse was a vintage offering, and Yela more than held his own. Unfortunately, the three never teamed up for a video for the song.

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52. Mac Miller “Knock Knock,” K.I.D.S. (Kickin’ Incredibly Dope Shit) (2010)

Mac Miller “Knock Knock,” K.I.D.S. (Kickin’ Incredibly Dope Shit) (2010)

Official Release Date: August 13, 2010
The songs with arguably the most staying power from Mac’s breakout 2010 mixtape, “Knock Knock” is inescapably catchy and has a hook made for live performances and audience participation. Despite initially being released when the Pittsburgh MC’s buzz was minimal, the song managed to hit No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100, and remains a fan favorite among his legions of followers.

51. Saigon “Pain In My Life,” Return of the Yardfather (2006)

Saigon “Pain In My Life,” Return of the Yardfather (2006)

Official Release Date: December 3, 2006
At the height of his mixtape run in the mid 2000s, Saigon delivered “Pain In My Life,” a display of raw narrative lyricism. With an R&B hook from Trey Songz, it seemed as though the song would help his The Greatest Story Never Told hit shelves, but even as the video secured rotation on TV, the album didn’t come. Still, Saigitty was at his finest here, exhibiting his street scholar persona with a striking vividness.

50. Wale "Bait," The Eleven One Eleven Theory (2011)

50. Wale "Bait," The Eleven One Eleven Theory (2011)

Official Release Date: November 1, 2011
As he was building hype towards his Ambition album in the summer of 2011, Wale was able to heat up the streets and the clubs with his banger "Bait." The song was included on the deluxe edition of the album, as the D.C. native continued to show he got that work.

49. Future "Magic (Remix)," Pluto (2011)

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Official Release Date: January 24, 2012
Though Future had been buzzing for some time by the second half of 2011, much of what allowed him to continue his musical assault beyond the Southern staple was this club smash. With a guest verse from T.I., Future showed he had another trick up his sleeve. Voila.

48. Kendrick Lamar “Michael Jordan,” Overly Dedicated (2011)

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Official Release Date: Septemper 14, 2010
An ode to arguably the greatest basketball player ever, “Michael Jordan” had Kendrick declaring “And I’m too much for these niggas, I’m three much for these hoes,” cleverly using a metaphor for the No. 23, which Jordan wore through the majority of his career. The track featured K. Dot frequent collaborator and friend, Schoolboy Q.

47. Big Sean, “I Do It,” Finally Famous (2011)

*Big Sean, “I Do It,” Finally Famous (2011)

Official Release Date: June 28, 2011
“I Do It” was released as the first digital promotional single from Big Sean’s debut album, Finally Famous, on May 10, 2011. It was originally planned to be the second single off the LP, after “My Last, featuring Chris Brown, but its official release was cancelled for undisclosed reasons. The single peaked at number twenty on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.

*Nipsey Hussle, "Hussle in the House," South Central State of Mind (2012)

45. Big K.R.I.T. “Country Shit Remix,” Return of 4Eva (2010)

Big K.R.I.T. “Country Shit Remix,” Return of 4Eva (2010)

Official Release Date: March 28, 2011
The original “Country Shit” was included on Big K.R.I.T.’s 2010 breakout mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. But Krizzle cooked up something special for the remix, which was included on his follow up mixtape the next year: he got Ludacris and Bun B to lend verses. The song, full of down South pride, hit No. 50 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and No. 20 on the Rap Songs chart, and remains the Mississippi talent’s biggest hit to date.

44. Lil B "Wonton Soup"

Chris Brown's Birthday Bash

Official Release Date: September 15, 2010
One of Lil B’s breakout moments (and it’s hard to pick one from someone who releases so much content), “Wonton Soup” showed Based God in his element. Chanting, whooping, and cooking, the California native can credit much of his cult-like following and mainstream exposure to this track. Though it’s not the most technically impressive display of rapping, “Wonton Soup” is certainly a serving of Lil B doing what he does best.

43. Kid Cudi ft. Kanye West & Common “Make Her Say,” Man On The Moon: The End Of Day (2009)

*Kid Cudi ft. Kanye West & Common “Make Her Say,” Man On The Moon: The End Of Day (2009)

Official Release Date: June 9, 2009
Kid Cudi’s most traditional hip-hop song is also, coincidentally, his most dirty, thanks to a cleverly placed vocal sample from Lady Gaga. Ironically, that didn’t seem to bother the Grammy board, who nominated the naughty single for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Oh behave.

42. Wale ft. Jeremih & Rick Ross “That Way,” MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. One (2011)

42. Wale ft. Jeremih & Rick Ross “That Way,” MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. One (2011)

Official Release Date: August 30, 2011
Under the tutelage of Rick Ross, Wale made a shocking comeback, starting off with this female friendly banger from Self Made, Vol. One. While it was the seventh single to be released from the compilation, it’s the second most successful, behind only Meek Mill’s “Ima Boss.” You gotta give it to Wale, like Frank Sinatra, he did it his way.

41. Machine Gun Kelly “Wild Boy” Rage Pack(2011)

MGK Publicity Photo 1-LOW RES

Official Release Date: Sept. 27, 2011
The Bad Boy Records signee’s biggest song to date, “Wild Boy” raged its way to over 10 million views on YouTube and a long run on the top of BET’s 106 & Park countdown, the litmus test for what’s hot amongst teenagers. Teaming MGK with Waka Flocka was a no-brainer here. Lace Up!

40. YG “Toot It And Boot It,” The Real 4Fingaz (2010)

YG “Toot It And Boot It,” The Real 4Fingaz (2010)

Official Release Date: June 8, 2010
YG brought his music from the streets to clubs across the nation with his first single, 2010’s “Toot It and Boot It,” featuring Ty$. The song’s catchy hook spread like wildfire, and before the year was out, the track had an official remix where 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg joined the two up and coming West Coasters originally featured. YG’s highest charting song to date, “Toot It and Boot It” peaked at No. 67 on the Billboard Hot 100, and hit No. 12 on the Rap Songs chart.

39. Roscoe Dash “All The Way Turnt Up” (2010)

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Official Release Date: Jan. 22, 2010
Roscoe scored big with this contagious single, which peaked at No. 8 and 46 on the Billboard Hot Rap Song and Hot 100 charts, respectively. The song featured Soulja Boy.

38. Wiz Khalifa “Taylor Gang” Cabin Fever (2011)

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Official Release Date: February 6, 2011
Twin pop singles (“Black And Yellow,” “Roll Up,”) put Wiz on the mainstream map, but prior to dropping Rolling Papers the Marijuana-loving rapper made sure to maintain his hip-hop cred. This Lex Luger-produced banger cemented his buzz as the next to blow and become a staple of his live shows. You already know what he’s reppin’.

37. Yelawolf “Let’s Roll,” Radioactive (2011)

Yelawolf “Let’s Roll,” Radioactive (2011)

Official Release Date: November 21, 2011
Yelawolf linked with Kid Rock for some redneck magic with “Let’s Roll.” The second and more successful single from the Alabama native’s debut album Radioactive, the song showed a crossover approach that could touch both hip-hop and rock audiences. On the track, Yela gives love to his hometown on this one.

36. J. Cole “Can’t Get Enough,” featuring Trey Songz Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)

J. Cole “Can’t Get Enough,” featuring Trey Songz Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)

Official Release Date: August 30, 2011
Being the big man on campus can only get you so far. Cole realized this and recruited Trigga Trey to sing the chorus over some thumping drums and then decamped to Barbados with Rihanna to shoot the video for “Can’t Get Enough.” He came up, he warmed up, now he’s blowing up.

35. B.o.B ft. Lil Wayne “Strange Clouds,” Strange Clouds (2012)

* B.o.B ft. Lil Wayne “Strange Clouds,” Strange Clouds (2012)

Official Release Date: September 27, 2011
Billed as simply a warm up single for Bob’s second opus, this Weezy-featured track took a life of its own and peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The cut was remixed with fellow ATLiens T.I. and Young Jeezy and is still in heavy rotation leading up to B.o.B’s sophomore release.

34. Lupe Fiasco “Hip-Hop Saved My Life,” Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool (2007)

Lupe Fiasco “Hip-Hop Saved My Life,” Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool (2007)

Official Release Date: March 18, 2008
This melodic homage to—yup—hip-hop, as well as the grind itself, earned Lupe praise from fans, critics, and peers. The cut finds the talented word wizard putting his storytelling cap on, as he tells the tale of a struggling Houston-bred rapper trying to make dreams of rap stardom come true. Lupe links us in with the protagonists’ girl, child, and struggle, as he fights his way towards the top. He later revealed that it was based on Slim Thug.

33. Pill, “Trap Goin Ham,” 4180 The Prescription (2009)

*Pill, “Trap Goin Ham,” 4180 The Prescription (2009)

Official Release Date: February 2, 2009
“Trap Goin’ Ham” is the first single off Pill’s 2009 mixtape, 4180: The Prescription. The tape received decent feedback, including from the likes of fellow Atlanta rapper Andre 3000. It was that same year that Pill was featured in XXL Magazine’s Show & Prove section, and a year later, he appeared on the cover of XXL as part of the XXL Freshmen 10 lineup. And, in most recent Pill news, the MC recently denounced any official affiliation with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group.

32. OJ Da Juiceman, “Make Da Trap Say Aye,” Otha Side of the Trap (2009)

*OJ Da Juiceman, “Make Da Trap Say Aye,” Otha Side of the Trap (2009)

Official Release Date: January 27, 2009
“Make Tha Trap Say Aye” was the first official single from OJ Da Juiceman. It was featured on his Tha Otha Side of the Trap album and became an instant radio and hood classic; The track reached No. 8 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, No. 13 on the Rap Songs chart and No. 22 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The remix has guest verses from Cam’ron and Tony Yayo.

31. Kid Cudi ft. MGMT & Ratatat “Pursuit of Happiness,” Man On The Moon: The End Of Day (2009)

*Kid Cudi ft. MGMT & Ratatat “Pursuit of Happiness,” Man On The Moon: The End Of Day (2009)

Official Release Date: September 15, 2009
The third single from Kid Cudi found the 2009 Freshman getting out his dreams over psychedelic guitars and melancholy pianos. Armed with an unapologetic attitude and a killer chorus, the tune helped prove to fans that Cudder would most likely be good in any of his future pursuits, while also earning the artist his second platinum plaque. Happy happy, joy joy.

30. Kendrick Lamar “HiiiPoWer,” Section.80 (2011)

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Official Release Date: April 12, 2010
As the first single off his critically-acclaimed Section.80, “HiiiPoWer” had Kendrick Lamar lyrically exercising over a J. Cole production. The song helped propel Section.80 into becoming a top digital hip-hop release on iTunes for the 2011 Freshman. It also helped pave the way for collaborations with Game and Drake.

29. Meek Mill "House Party," Dreamchasers (2011)

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Official Release Date: October 19, 2011
Meek Mill created another mixtape cut-turned single with his "House Party" alongside fellow Philly native Young Chris. What started as another Dreamchasers banger soon became inescapable on radio and further built Meek's growing star.

* B.o.B “Don’t Let Me Fall,” B.o.B Presents: The Great Adventures of Bobby Ray (2010)

27. Lupe Fiasco "Words I Never Said," Lasers (2011)

Lupe Fiasco "Words I Never Said," Lasers (2011)

Official Release Date: February 8, 2011
For the second single from his third album, Lasers, Lupe Fiasco reminded that he’s not afraid to speak his mind with “Words I Never Said.” Between saying he didn’t vote for fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama for President to talking about Gaza and 9/11, the Atlantic Records rapper stirred up some controversy with the Alex Da Kid-produced song. Even so, it managed to debut at No. 89 on the Billboard Hot 100.

26. Wiz Khalifa “On My Level” featuring Too $hort Rolling Papers (2011)

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Official Release Date: May 28, 2011
Wiz came down from the clouds for “On My Level,” where he unearthed a more menacing tone compared to Roll Up’s previous singles. The song (produced by Jim Jonsin) didn’t fare as well on the charts, but his Taylor Gang followers were satisfied. Champagne all night.

25. Don Trip "Letter To My Son"

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Original Release Date: Oct. 18, 2011
Emotional, moving and as real as it gets, Don Trip spoke to fans about not being able to regularly see his child due to a bitter breakup with his girlfriend. “Please, no pity for a G, Though I've got a son that I barely get to see/I see him for an hour, after that he's gotta leave/On top of that, I only get to see him once a week!” Damn!

24. French Montana “Shot Caller” (2011)

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Original Release Date: June 17, 2011
French scored a huge New York anthem that was good enough to dominate the city’s radio stations. It was also good enough to seal a Bad Boy Records deal for French and get Rick Ross and Diddy to jump on the remix. These two will be key components behind Montana’s, “Excuse My French” album.

23. Wale ft. Miguel “Lotus Flower Bomb,” Ambition (2011)

*30. Wale ft. Miguel “Lotus Flower Bomb,” Ambition (2011)

Official Release Date: October 11, 2011 Who would have predicted that the second single off of Wale’s sophomore album would be his biggest hit to date? Named the No. 1 record on urban radio last December, the song continues to pick up steam, months after first impacting the airwaves. Boasting a smooth hook sung by soul crooner Miguel and sparse, seductive beat by Jerrin Howard, Wale really exploded with this one.

22. Future “Tony Montana,” Pluto (2011)

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Official Release Date: Oct. 14, 2011
Doing his best intonation of Al Pacino from the legendary movie Scarface, Future splashed onto the rap map with a huge street record in “Tony Montana.” Besides having seemingly every rap fan chant Tony Montana in a Pacino-like accent, the song received big backing by Sony, which gave the video treatment a big budget in a Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic shoot.

21. Lupe Fiasco “The Show Goes On,” Lasers (2011)

Lupe Fiasco “The Show Goes On,” Lasers (2011)

Official Release Date: October 26, 2010
After years of purgatory, Lupe Fiasco’s third album, Lasers, was finally able to hit the shelves in 2011, thanks in part to this lead single. The poppy sounding cut, which was produced by Kane Beatz, found Lupe both appeasing his label by adhering to their wishes that he put the song out, and dissing them in the first verse. Even with a mainstream feel, the song, which reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, still exhibits Lupe’s incredible way with words.

20. Plies "Shawty," The Real Testament (2007)

*Plies "Shawty," The Real Testament (2007)

Official Release Date: June 12, 2007
Plies had been making a name for himself down south in the mid 2000s, but this lead single featuring the then-inescapable T-Pain took his buzz nationwide. The single peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and solidified Plies’s status as a lady’s goon. Spearheaded by “Shawty,” The Real Testament earned a gold certification.

19. Lil Boosie "Wipe Me Down (Remix)," Trill Entertainment Presents: Survival of the Fittest (2007)

Lil Boosie "Wipe Me Down (Remix)," Trill Entertainment Presents: Survival of the Fittest (2007)

Official Release Date: 2007
Though Lil Boosie had been doing his thing in the South for some time, he catapulted to the forefront of the consciousness of rap listeners’ nationwide with the “Wipe Me Down (Remix).” The bouncy single, which hit No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on the Hot Rap Tracks, was a remix that also featured Foxx and Webbie. Other artists including Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Jim Jones, and Chamillionaire, would eventually again remake the song, giving it new legs. It remains the biggest hit for Boosie, who is currently locked up.

18. Young Dro ft. T.I. “Shoulder Lean,” Best Thang Smokin’ (2006)

*Young Dro ft. T.I. “Shoulder Lean,” Best Thang Smokin’ (2006)

Official Release Date: July 4, 2006
The first artist to go solo under T.I.’s Grand Hustle umbrella, Dro made the King of the South proud. With his boss riding shotgun on the chorus, this flamboyant slick talker cooked up a dance floor-filler complete with its own popular dance. The single peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100—setting the foundation for Best Thang Smokin’ to get a gold plaque.

17. Big Sean “My Last” featuring Chris Brown Finally Famous (2011)

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Official Release Date: March 1, 2011
Sean started his grind in Detroit when he only dreamed of inking with G.O.O.D. Music. So after joining Kanye’s crew and finally releasing his debut album, who could blame him for wanting to party. Although the Chris Brown-assisted “My Last” only made it to number 30 on the Hot 100, the record became a staple on radio and kept many a festivity going until the wee hours of the morning.

16. Big Sean “Marvin Gaye & Chardonnay” featuring Kanye West and Roscoe Dash Finally Famous (2011)

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Official Release Date: July 12, 2011
Thug says: Fuck that soft R&B shit. Big Sean says: I got you, put this one on and it’ll have her bouncing like a Dame Dash check. She says: Consider the mood set.

14. Mac Miller, “Donald Trump,” Best Day Ever (2011)

*Mac Miller, “Donald Trump,” Best Day Ever (2011)

Official Release Date: March 11, 2011
“Donald Trump” was, hands down, the song that boosted Mac Miller’s career to the top. The track, off Miller’s sixth official mixtape, debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 80 and even got the Donald himself to tweet about it, acknowledging the video on Twitter when it reached 16 million views stating "Who wouldn't be flattered?”

13. Lupe Fiasco “Superstar,” Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool (2007)

Lupe Fiasco “Superstar,” Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool (2007)

Official Release Date: September 25, 2007
Serving as the lead single to Lupe Fiasco’s sophomore album, “Superstar” offered a more pop-leaning sound than the Chicago native’s previous work, thanks to a hook from Matthew Santos. But it also turned Lupe into a “Superstar” himself, as the song hit No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 3 on the Rap Songs charts, and No. 1 in the UK. Young Jeezy and T.I. also blessed Fiasco with an official remix.

12. Plies "Bust It Baby (Part 2)," Definition of Real (2008)

*Plies "Bust It Baby (Part 2)," Definition of Real (2008)

Official Release Date: January 25, 2008
No days off for Mr. Plies. Another year, another gold-selling album spearheaded by a Top 10 chick-friendly, R&B-flavored lead single. This time, the Fort Myers rapper teamed up with Ne-Yo over J. Rotem’s revamping of Janet Jackson’s classic, “Come Back to Me.” The song peaked at No. 7—Plies’s highest-charting single to date—and went gold.

11. B.o.B “Nothin On You,” B.o.B Presents: The Great Adventures of Bobby Ray (2010)

*B.o.B “Nothin On You,” B.o.B Presents: The Great Adventures of Bobby Ray (2010)

Official Release Date: February 2, 2010
Bobby Ray was in danger of becoming a forgotten Freshman when he finally struck platinum (double platinum, actually) with the Bruno Mars-assisted, "Nothin' On You." Released nearly a year-and-a-half after his appearance on XXL's second Freshman cover, the saccharine number reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and set the table for The Great Adventures of Bobby Ray to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The song was also nominated for three Grammys. The single not only gave Bob a much need boost, but it also made Mars a sought after guest star and kicked off his own string of chart-topping singles.

10. J. Cole “Lights Please” The Warm Up (2009)

10. J. Cole “Lights Please” The Warm Up (2009)

Official Release Date: June 15, 2009
Cole is a favorite across radio and music video channels now, but during his come up it wasn’t singles that snagged him fans. Instead, the Fayetteville product’s knack for detail on stirring narratives like “Lights Please” showed the MC’s true promise. Ask Hov, who signed the upstart after hearing this number.

9. Rich Boy "Throw Some Ds," Rich Boy (2007)

*Rich Boy "Throw Some Ds," Rich Boy (2007)

Official Release Date: April 15, 2006
The lead single to Rich Boy's self-titled debut, this Polow Da Don-produced track peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and spawned a star-studded remix featuring Andre 3000, Game, Jim Jones, Nelly, Murphy Lee and Lil Jon. The song helped the LP debut at No. 3 on the Billboard 200—selling 112,000 copies in its first week. The track was so intoxicating, even Kanye West jacked it to set off his Graduation roll out later that year.

8. Ace Hood ft. Lil Wayne and Rick Ross “Hustle Hard (Remix),” Blood, Sweat & Tears (2011)

*Ace Hood “Hustle Hard,” Blood, Sweat & Tears (2011)

Official Release Date: March 1, 2011
Backed by a haunting, trunk rattling beat by Lex Luger, Ace Hood delivered arguably the most passionate performance of his career and consequently also, his most successful. Sure, it took Ace, three albums to get to there, but whose counting; haters were too busy singing along. Mean!

7. Lupe Fiasco "Kick Push," Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor (2006)

Lupe Fiasco "Kick Push," Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor (2006)

Official Release Date: April 18, 2006
Lupe Fiasco’s lead single was an interesting introduction to the world, but fitting in its ability to paint him as a deviation from the sort of artist that was ruling the rap charts in the mid 2000s. The skater’s anthem was nominated for a Grammy, and hit No. 78 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 56 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

6. Big Sean “Dance (A$$) Remix” featuring Nicki Minaj Finally Famous (2011)

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Official Release Date: October 18, 2011
There’s a reason the third time is the charm. “Dance (A$$) Remix” notched Big Sean his first Top 10 hit and the accompanying video, which saw Ms. Minaj (we’re nasty, get it?) pop that thang like a .45, was the envy of many men. Hammer time.

5. Asher Roth “I Love College,” Asleep in the Bread Aisle (2009)

*Asher Roth “I Love College,” Asleep in the Bread Aisle (2009)

Official Release Date: July 13, 2009
Forget The Greenhouse Effect. AR’s proper first single is what had the Morrisville, PA spitter heralded as the second coming. Asher’s offering spoke about keg stands and etiquette for dorm fiestas, but it didn’t stop Bun B, Jim Jones and Ludacris from penning their own unofficial remixes. The song peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is often credited for birthing frat rap.

4. B.o.B ft. Hayley Williams & Eminem “Airplanes, Part II” B.o.B Presents: The Great Adventures of Bobby Ray (2010)

*B.o.B ft. Hayley Williams & Eminem “Airplanes, Part II” B.o.B Presents: The Great Adventures of Bobby Ray (2010)

Official Release Date: October 25, 2010
No fluke, here. Though Bob’s second single fell short of topping the charts—peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100—the Hayley Williams-assisted offering sold triple platinum. A second part also featuring Eminem helped propel the track into a different stratosphere. The song was nominated for two Grammys.

3. Kid Cudi “Day ‘N’ Nite,” Man On The Moon: The End Of Day (2009)

*Kid Cudi “Day ‘N’ Nite,” Man On The Moon: The End Of Day (2009)

Official Release Date: March 20, 2009
“Day ‘N’ Nite,” started it all for Kid Cudi, and, to-date is the Cleveland native’s biggest single. The platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated, electro jam even made it all the way to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100, but more importantly it introduced the world to the lonely stoner and his signature brand of emo hip-hop. The song had such an international impact, it spawned remixes from a slew of European dance outfits, including the Italian duo, Crookers, whose version of the track debuted at No. 2 on the UK Billboard charts.

2. Meek Mill “Ima Boss,” MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. 1 (2011)

*Meek Mill “Ima Boss,” MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. 1 (2011)

Official Release Date: May 23, 2011
“Ima Boss” was arguably the biggest song of the summer in 2011 and made many top ten singles list the same year. The standout track, produced by Jahil Beats, appeared on the Maybach Music Group compilation release, MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. 1. The remix features Lil Wayne, Birdman, Fabolous, T.I. and Swizz Beatz.

1. Wiz Khalifa “Black And Yellow” Rolling Papers (2011)

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Official Release Date: September 14, 2010
After powering through the underground with a number of mixtapes and indie releases, Wiz finally scored a breakout hit with this number dedicated to his hometown. The Pittsburgh representer also performed “Black And Yellow” at the 2010 AFC Championship game between the Steelers and the Packers. Although Big Ben and company failed to win the chip that year, Wiz’s record went all the way, topping Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.