Yesterday (September 18), Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music released its highly anticipated debut, Cruel Summer. Though the record label was formed shortly after West stormed on the scene with his 2004 debut, The College Dropout, it took eight long years for the crew to finally put something out collectively. Still, the clique’s long been potent—having collaborated across solo LPs and mixtapes for quite sometime, G.O.O.D.’s catalogue is top notch. Here, excluding Kanye's solo songs—Kanye songs featuring members of the G.O.O.D crew made the cut—XXL lists the 50 Greatest G.O.O.D. Music Rap Songs.—XXL Staff (@XXL)
50. "Getcha Some" *
Before there was “My Last,” “Dance (A$$),” or even “What You Doin? (Bulshittin’)” Big Sean created a viral hit with his FF2 mixtape cut—that was also intended for his debut album— “Getcha Some.” Not only did Kanye appear in the music video, but it was also directed by video director extraordinaire Hype Williams. Get that.
49. "Christmas in Harlem" *
48. "Welcome to Heartbreak" *
This track embodies Kanye's state of mind during his 808 phase. He opens up on the toll being superstar takes on simple things like love and quality family time, rhyming, “My godsister getting married by the lake/But I couldn't figure out who I'd wanna take/Bad enough that I showed up late/I had to leave before they even cut the cake.” The cut was sort of Cudi's introduction to G.O.O.D as he provides a gloomy hook that complements 'Ye's mood perfectly.
47. “Sideways” *
On his G.O.O.D. mixtape debut, Prynce CyHi created a gem that even found its way on EA Sports’ NBA 2K12 video game and soundtrack.
46. "Paranoid" *
This fourth single from Yeezy’s oft-maligned, oft-praised album 808s & Heartbreak found the hitmaker doing far more singing than rapping. With an auto-tune-tinged voice, ’Ye directs the lyrics of the song at a female who is “worried ’bout the wrong things.” The black and white music video starred Rihanna.
45. "Marijuana" *
Cudi blazes one for the books—that being his sophomore album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager—with his dreamy ode “Marijuana.” The dramatic ode to ‘Mary Jane finds Cudder lighting one up for the stoners and adding another appeasing tune to his catalog.
44. "Trouble on My Mind" *
Generations merge and coke rap meets shock value on this Fear of God II standout. Push taps then newcomer Tyler, the Creator for a hipster's wet dream on this haunting Neptunes production. The song's visual took the song to another level.
43. "Amen" *
Feeling like the earth is about to be cracked open, Kanye West, Pusha T and Young Jeezy spit stone-cold, harsh bars that are absolutely unforgiving. All three rhyme slingers paint pictures of the absolute hungriest, most destitute, down-and-out cats that are looking to do first, ask questions later. Mean. Amen!
42. "The People" *
Making feel-good, fist-raising music is a specialty of Common’s. As the first single off Common’s second G.O.O.D. Music effort Finding Forever, “The People,” was breezily flowing with Dilla-esque melodies. With Dwele’s vocals adding additional accents to the tone of the song, the record became one of the most critically acclaimed rap records of 2007.
41. "Make Her Say"*
Featuring a sample of Lady Gaga’s vocals off her hit, “Poker Face,” this cut comes alive with successive verses from Kid Cudi, Kanye and Common. What stands out? Yeezy spitting, “I got seniority with the sorority, so that explain why I love college/Gettin’ brain in the library, ’cause I love knowledge.”
40. "Southside" *
By 2007, ‘Ye had fully proven himself as a capable MC, while Common made an impactful comeback with Be. On this Chi-Town tribute anthem, the two Windy City representatives are found bouncing off each other, spitting rhymes galore dedicated to their beloved hometown. Offering references to some of city’s notables and shouting out rappers raised in the City of Wind, the song stands as one of Chicago’s essential bangers.
39. "Solo Dolo" *
The dark, melancholic backdrop of Cudi’s Man on the Moon record made for the perfect canvas for the G.O.O.D. crooner to pour his heart out. It’s clear why this sits as a fan favorite.
38. "Teleport" *
This single from the debut album of Cudder’s rock group with Dot Da Genius, WZRD, is a longing ode to the Cleveland native’s girlfriend. The lyrics are brief but meaningful, and even for a Cudi song it relies heavily on his moody vocals and the lasting effects of his melodies. His pain as he misses a loved one comes off unforgivingly authentic.
Taking expounded on Biggie’s “Beef” theory on this summer leak. Fittingly, a few subliminals believed to be targeting Drake ignited what was perceived to be, well, beef between Push and YMCMB. Though he denied dissing Drizzy, Lil Wayne and Nicki fired rounds towards the Clipse rapper’s way. He never responded. The song isn’t slated to appear anywhere in particular. It’s simply another example of Push flexing his lyrical muscle, but boy, did it cause a frenzy.
Common's no stranger to lyrical exercises. On "Chi-City," he reps for his hometown on full throttle, while calling out wack rappers. (“What you rapping for? Get fame, or get rich? I slap a nigga like you, and tell’em Rick James, bitch!”) It's rap music at its finest.
35. "Memories" *
“Real shit,” as Sean opens the mixtape-turned-album track, is the best way to describe the KeY Wane-produced “Memories.” Other than wanting to make his fantasies into real life, the former XXL Freshman wears his heart on designer sleeves and creates a memorable record that holds up in his G.O.O.D. catalog.
34. Common "Be," Be (2005)
First, it was silence. Then there were small licks of acoustic bass riffs that transformed into a melody. Soon, keyboard synths further accentuated the sound, followed by a Caesar Frazier sample with drum loops that completed the backdrop for a classic opening on arguably Common’s best album, Be. Bouncing back from the experimental Electric Circus, a newly reinvigorated Common approved his message (“Bush pushing lies, killers immortalized, we got arms, but won’t reach for the sky”), but didn’t waste more than 24 bars to start off an incredible body of work. The intro certainly served its purpose, but it was so good that it eventually stood out on its own. Jordan Brand even used it as the soundbed to one of their campaigns years after the song's release.
33. "Faithful" *
Is that Common believing God to be a woman? The Chi-town wordsmith explores faith by addressing religion and relationships in this soulful ensemble. Produced by Kanye West, with live instrumentation (keyboards, percussion), and vocals from John Legend and Bilal, the record remains a highlight from Be.
32. "I Do It" *
This buzz single for Sean Don’s debut album didn’t quite make the commercial impact of some of his other releases, but it wasn’t for lack of worthy raps over a bouncy beat. The Detroit native took one of his favorite adlibs and turned it into a No I.D.-crafted banger.
31. "Christian Dior" *
There were a number of things that we dope about Kanye West’s album build up process known as G.O.O.D. Fridays. First, it meant fans could expect a new song from Yeezy (just about) every week. Second, and equally as exciting, was that it often brought together star-studded casts. This release was an example of that, as Kanye linked with Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Lloyd Banks and Ryan Leslie, and Pusha spit the truth when he kicked, “Let's be clear and let’s be fair/The best things in music’s being offered here.”
30. "Erase Me" *
The first single off Cudi’s sophomore album scored big, as it earned a gold certification from the RIAA. Can’t erase those stats.
29. "See Me Now" *
Here, Kanye boasts his beats are “a mix between Fergie and Jesus” and it doesn’t even seem like that ludicrous of a claim. That’s just what happens when Kanye, Lex Luger, and No I.D. hit the lab together like they did on this warm sonic backdrop. Kanye’s in full show off mode here, grabbing back up vocals from Beyonce and Charlie Wilson. A new verse from Big Sean appeared on the track as a bonus cut on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
28. "aone in vegas" *
This Nottz-crafted joint was included on both Pusha’s debut solo mixtape, Fear of God, and its retail follow up, Fear of God II: Let Us Pray. The song closed out each project, and offered yet another example of the Virginia rep coming off focused, as he attempts to “let you see the higher me” by splicing in more personal moments with his typically raw references.
27. "G.O.O.D. Friday" *
Feel-good with bars a plenty, Yeezy spreads the wealth and puts his team on strong on “G.O.O.D. Friday.” The solid track includes Kanye boasts like, “I mean, my whole team about to smash the streets” and “Did I mention G.O.O.D. Music, yeah, forever we hot/Muthafucka, are you ready or not?”
26. "They Say" *
While Kanye produced almost every track off Be, he only offers a full verse on “They Say” along with John Legend on the hook. The original version featured Consequence, but his verse was removed when the album leaked prematurely. The first three pillars of G.O.O.D. Music come together harmoniously on this feel-good record where Common spits with reinvigorated energy and braggadocio, while ‘Ye assures his friends that he’s aware of the media’s encroaching interest in those who are famous. While the standings of three artists having changed over the years, at the time, this record signaled a preview of greatness in the making.
25. "Drive Slow"
Yeezy provides soothing driving music here—foregoing pedal-to-the-metal sonics for a more jazzy approach. The song quickly a fan-favorite—serving as Late's fifth single and spawned a remix featuring T.I. for the video version.
24. "My God" *
Pusha T had the blogosphere ablaze after the release of his brazen, face-numbing Fear of God single, produced by fellow G.O.O.D. maestro Hit-Boy.
To follow up their memorable collaboration “Down and Out,” a single from Cam’s 2004 album Purple Haze, Yeezy and Killa joined forces once again for this album cut from ’Ye’s sophomore album. The song, which also featured Consequence, was guided by a soulful sample and various orchestral elements, magnified by a mini-beat switch four minutes in. Each rapper put their storytelling cap on for this one.
22. "Looking for Trouble" *
G.O.O.D. Fridays had been demanding J. Cole’s inclusion for a few weeks. They got their wish when word got back to Kanye. Word is Cole got a tight deadline to pen his verse, but by the sounds of his scene-stealing verse, time constraints aren’t a problem. “Fuckin’ hard, but y’all still ain’t push me/They say you are what you eat, but I still ain’t pussy,” he rhymes on the clean up verse. The song stands as one of the most memorable leaks to not make MBDTF.
21. "My Last" *
It's the song that rescued Big Sean from label purgatory. After several delays, Sean's debut LP, Finally Famous, earned a release date largely behind the success of this No I.D-produced summer banger. Featuring Chris Brown, the leaked at No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and received a gold certification.
The latest single off the G.O.O.D compilation finds Sean, ‘Ye and Jay reminding listeners while their clique is second to none. Though Jigga isn’t G.O.O.D per se, he stresses that he’s the crew’s drug dealing cousin in addition to boasting on affiliations with LeBron James, Rihanna, and of course his wife Beyonce. This song is poised to pick up where “Mercy” leaves off when it finally loses steam. It also would have been much better ranked, if it wasn’t so new.
Despite the melancholic mood and even dreary message about his inner demons and guilty pleasures, Cudi’s “Mr. Rager” made for an enticing listen when it appeared on his 2010 Man on the Moon sequel. Two years later, it still reigns as one of the essential records off his already impressive catalog.
18. "The Food" *
The first single off Common’s Be, the song was premiered on Chappelle's Show. It was Com's first offering post Electric Circus and since signing to G.O.O.D. The song found Com in Resurrection form from the nimble flow to the potent lyrics, while 'Ye took the song to another level with a substantial hook. The song would eventually be released officially, but the Chappelle version wound up on Be. Most importantly, the song signaled Common's comeback to musical greatness.
17. "Blame Game" *
16. Kanye West "We Major"
Yeezy made a huge splash with this Late Registration album cut, recruiting the God MC Nas to spit several bars alongside him and G.O.O.D. music affiliate Really Doe. But not only did ’Ye secure the stellar guest appearance, but he seemingly managed to stump God’s Son, who opened up his verse pondering, “I heard the beat and I ain’t know what to write/First line should it be about the hoes or the ice?” We major! C’mon homie we major!
15. "Made" *
Before there was a beef rumor to even speculate about, Big Sean and Drizzy collaborated this leaked gem that eventually ended up on Sean’s Finally Famous: BIG mixtape. Though it was originally intended for his official studio debut, Finally Famous, the record proved to be damn G.O.O.D. nonetheless.
14. "I Don't Like (Remix)" *
Chief Keef’s breakout single was already bubbling heavily earlier this summer, but it crossed over when West decided to do a remix of the song—exposing Keef to a much wider audience. Initially a leak to feed G.O.O.D. fans in anticipation for Cruel Summer, the song got so much feedback it made the album’s final cut.
13. "Soundtrack 2 My Life" *
"I hear they say I’m happy, that’s just the saddest lie.” Cudi dragged his heart in the mud for Man on the Moon: The End of Day’s ardent track. Venting lines like, "I got 99 problems and they all bitches, wish I was Jigga Man, carefree living” and "Happy ending would be slitting my throat," Cudder struck a cord. The end result? One of his best tracks to date.
12. "So Appalled" *
One of two tracks initially recorded during Watch the Throne sessions, it was eventually kidnapped by Kanye and released as a G.O.O.D. Friday leak. The song would later appear on MBDTF. Push and Cy did well, and any type of RZA and Kanye West collaboration was long overdo, but the song more importantly signaled that Hov and ‘Ye were in a special zone together as the world would later get to see on Watch the Throne.
11. "Testify" *
With an accompanying sample, the song illustrates a court drama, where Common tells a compelling tale of a woman losing her husband to the system, with a dramatic plot twist that leaves the listeners in awe.
10. "Good, Bad Ugly" *
Consequence’s debut album from G.O.O.D. Music, didn’t garner neither the commercial attention nor the critical acclaim it expected to gain. While its lead singles “Grammy Family” and “Callin’ Me” were radio-friendly, the record that really stood out was “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” in which Cons and ‘Ye trade bars on a masterfully looped instrumental of Al Green’s “I Wish You Were Here” sample. Though the song initially surfaced some time before the album’s release, the vintage Kanye production (during a time when ‘Ye parted ways from soul samples) had fans nostalgic for them heartfelt chipmunk croons.
9. "Grammy Family" *
This celebratory song put on for the first generation of G.O.O.D. Music, as it includes Consequence and Yeezy shouting out guys like GLC and Really Doe during his verse. There was no need for humility on this one, as Khaled, Kanye and co. let it be known what kind of level they thought their music was on.
8. "The Corner" *
Officially the second single off Common’s critically heralded Be, the song reached moderate commercial success, but was beloved by the critics. While it applied “You Make the Sun Shine” by The Temprees and “What It Is” by The Temptations, “The Corner” showcased no sense of love breeze, as it displayed slicing Chicago wind gusts with gritty bars (“In they socks and they souls holding they rolls/corners leave souls opened and closed hoping for more”) and appropriate production.
7. "A$$" *
Sean completed his hat trick of smash hits with Finally Famous's third single. Sampling MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This" for an undeniable dance floor-filler, the remix featuring Nicki Minaj quickly followed—helping the song to become Sean's first Top 10 hit. Well over a year later, it still garners spins and is a nightclub staple.
6. "Pursuit of Happiness" *
“Everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold”, crooned Cudi on this anthemic trippy-ballad off his critically acclaimed debut. Contrary to Scotty’s hook however, the single did shine and went platinum last year.
5. "Marvin & Chardonnay" *
Sean quickly put one-hit wonder talk to rest with his second consecutive certified gold single, “Marvin & Chardonnay.” The song is so good, word is West even considered including it on his Jay-Z collaboration, Watch the Throne. Powered by a quirky, yet catchy production and karaoke-friendly hook from Roscoe Dash, the single boosted Sean’s profile.
4. "New God Flow" *
Powerful and unforgiving rhymes…the kind any hip-hop head craves. That’s what Yeezy and his G.O.O.D. Music accomplice, Pusha T, deliver with no remorse on “New God Flow.” From rap’s Ric Flair unabashedly exclaiming, “I believe there’s a God above me, I’m just the God of everything else,” to Yeezy boasting, “Hold up, I ain’t trying to stunt, man/But the Yeezys jumped over the Jumpman,” it’s conceivable that this song came from a higher power.
3. "All of the lights"
This hit single was a bit unorthodox, but it was also probably just a case of Kanye being Kanye; the Chicago MC brought in a whopping 14 featured guests to lend vocals to the recording. The fourth single from MBDTF, the cut ended up winning the Grammy for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and had a controversial, seizure-inducing, Hype Williams-directed video to accompany it. With artists like Rihanna, Kid Cudi, Fergie and Elton John on wax, the song became not only a favorite among hip-hop fans, but a mainstream hit, as well. The remix featured Big Sean, Drake and Lil Wayne.
2. "Runaway" *
1. "Mercy" *
G.O.O.D. Music kicked off its Cruel Summer with an All-Star posse cut earlier this year. The awesome foursome take turns trying to best each other on the track, but it’s Sean and 2 Chainz, respectively batting lead off and clean up, who take center stage here. The song was hands down the hottest of the summer and is presently second to none for the year. It peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, is certified platinum and probably won’t fade anytime soon.