Contact Us

20 of the Greatest Hip-Hop Beats

Jamie McCarthy (2) / Scott Dudelson (2), Getty Images
Jamie McCarthy (2) / Scott Dudelson (2), Getty Images

What’s the formula for a hit record? Sure, lyrics provide the substance (there’s no doubt about that), but it’s impossible to deny the power of the right instrumental. This is the reason that talented rappers team up with hit-making producers in hopes of finding success. The right producer can bring out the very best in an artist and create magic in the studio.

So what happens when a producer makes a beat that’s so powerful that all it needs is the right bars to make it massive? A few instrumentals that naturally come to mind are The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya,” co-produced by Diddy and Nashiem Myrick. The record is the beat of choice used by Funkmaster Flex for his infamous rants during his radio show on Hot 97. Then there’s Jay Z‘s 1996 Ski-produced track “Dead Presidents.” The beat has been used for countless rappers’ freestyles from Lupe Fiasco to Drake to Lil Wayne, among others.

More contemporary examples, though, like Desiigner’s “Panda,” produced by U.K. producer Menace or Jahlil Beats’ lauded “Hot Boy” record for Bobby Shmurda show that the original artist doesn’t necessarily make the beat live up to its full potential, but rather it can sometimes be the other way around. This, in turn, brings the producers themselves to the forefront, becoming just as popular as the rapper who spit on the beat.

Hip-hop has a long history of genre-defining beats — records that can take a rapper’s lyrics to the next level. These beats produce undeniable game-changing (as well as life-changing) hits, define summers and stir up nostalgia no matter when their played. Here at XXL, we’re highlighting 20 classic hip-hop beats — and of course there’s many more in the game to choose from. Rappers, grab your pens and let the lyrics flow.


“Shook Ones Part 2″

Mobb Deep

 

 

Produced by Havoc.

 

“Come Clean”

Jeru Da Damaja

 

 

Produced by DJ Premier.

 

“Mass Appeal”

Gang Starr

 

 

Produced by DJ Premier.

 

“N.Y. State of Mind”

Nas

 

 

Produced by DJ Premier.

 

“Scenario”

A Tribe Called Quest

 

 

Produced by A Tribe Called Quest.

 

“In Da Club”

50 Cent

 

 

Produced by Dr. Dre with co-production by Mike Elizondo.

 

“Deep Cover”

Dr. Dre

 

 

Produced by Dr. Dre.

 

“Who Shot Ya”

The Notorious B.I.G.

 

 

Produced by Diddy with co-production by Nashiem Myrick.

 

“Grindin'”

Clipse

 

 

Produced by The Neptunes.

 

“Dead Presidents”

Jay Z

 

 

Produced by Ski.

 

“Victory”

Puff Daddy

 

 

Produced by Diddy, Stevie J and the Hitmen.

 

“Top Billin'”

Audio Two

 

 

Produced by Daddy-O and Audio Two.

 

“Step Into a World (Rapture’s Delight)”

KRS-One

 

 

Produced by Jesse West.

 

“Touch It”

Busta Rhymes

 

 

Produced by Swizz Beatz.

 

“Superthug”

Noreaga

 

 

Produced by The Neptunes.

 

“The Light”

Common

 

 

Produced by J Dilla.

 

“Runnin'”

The Pharcyde

 

 

Produced by J Dilla.

 

“Whoa”

Black Rob

 

 

Produced by Buckwild.

 

“Flava in Ya Ear”

Craig Mack

 

 

Produced by Easy Mo Bee.

 

“Keep It Real”

Milkbone

 

 

Produced by Mufi.

 

Recommended For You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://www.xxlmag.com using your original account information.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for XXL Mag quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!