Top Songs of 2011


Every year has its own distinct soundtrack. There are the songs that mark moments, seasons, and stars. These days, with so much music flooding the 'net and the airwaves, it takes something special to craft a song with staying power. Everyone has personal favorites; this particular list isn't about best, though. Here, XXL looks back at the Top Songs of 2011: From inescapable songs of the summer to breakout singles to undeniable mixtape cuts that picked up momentum on radio and in the clubs, these are the tracks that helped to define 2011. —XXL Staff

100. Pharoahe Monch ft. Phonte & Styles P “Black Hand Side,” W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) (2011)

100. black-hand-side

Official Release Date: March 3, 2011
For the third single from his first solo album in four years, Pharoahe Monch teamed up with two like-minded vets Styles P and Phonte for “Black Hand Side.” The three rhymers teamed up to tell socially-aware tales rooted in their experiences, looking to uplift those around them and their communities.

99. YG “Patty Cake,” Just Re’d Up (2011)

99. yg patty cake

Official Release Date: February 1, 2011
Originally leaked in 2010, 2011 was truly the year for YG’s “Patty Cake.” Exhibiting similar qualities to “Toot It and Boot It” which first put the California rapper on the national map, this cut was a radio-ready, fun-filled anthem.

98. Jay Electronica ft. Jay-Z & The Dream “Shiny Suit Theory,” Unreleased(2011)

98. jay-electronica-shiny-suit-theory-11

Official Release Date: November 15, 2011
Jay Elec threw this Hov-assisted super lyrical heat out there for the public to enjoy and announce his new allegiance with Roc Nation. Although, listeners can’t find it on iTunes, it’s a true rap fan’s absolute delight.

97. Eminem, Slaughterhouse & Yelawolf “2.0 Boys,” Unreleased (2011)

97. 2_0_Boys_Official_Song_Ft_Slaughterhouse_Yelawolf

Official Release Date:March 2, 2011
Shortly after appearing on the March issue of XXL, announcing their joining of forces, the newly formed Shady 2.0, consisting of Eminem, Slaughterhouse and Yelawolf, liberated this coming out party. Not surprisingly a lyrically-inclined banger, the wordplay display showed that the six-man squad was going to be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the year and beyond.

96. Mobb Deep ft. Nas “Dog Shit,” Unreleased (2011)

96. mobbdeep

Official Release Date: April 4, 2011
The second track that Mobb Deep dropped following Prodigy’s release from prison early in the year, “Dog Shit” reunited the duo with their Queen brethren Nas for the first time in a decade. The trio picked up where they left off, not missing a beat on the Alchemist and Havoc-produced gutter track, littered with eerie keys.

95. Diggy Simmons “Copy Paste,” Untitled Debut (2012)

95. diggy-copy-paste

Official Release Date: May 27, 2011
The first official single from Diggy’s first official album, “Copy, Paste” offered a glimpse of the young rhymer’s skill, as he strung together solid bars and crooned the hook himself. The 2011 XXL Freshman still doesn’t have a date for his debut, but this single, which peaked in the Top 25 on the Billboard Rap Songs chart, was a step in the right direction, and one that he complimented with R&B features and a follow up single.

94. Pusha T, “My God,” Fear of God

94. PushaT-MyGod

Official Release Date: February 12, 2011
G.O.O.D. Music producer Hit-Boy specifically produced this masterpiece of a beat for the Clipse MC and Pusha knew exactly what to do. The song will be forever be remembered as one of Push’s shining moments. Amen.

93. Yelawolf ft. Gangsta Boo & Eminem “Throw It Up,” Radioactive (2011)

93. throw it up

Official Release Date: November 11, 2011
Yela’s in-your-face riot-starter featuring Gangsta Boo and Shady himself, was a fierce cut that not only marked Boo’s return, but cemented Catfish Billy as one not to overlook.

92. Red Café ft. Ryan Leslie & Rick Ross, “Fly Together,” ShakeDown (2012)

92. redcafe-1

Official Release Date: September 13, 2011
Red Café’s debut major label Bad Boy album has been in limbo for quite some time, but he seems on his way to climbing himself out of that hole, thanks in large part to this single. With a verse from Rick Ross and a hook from Ryan Leslie, the Brooklyn native heated up New York radio in late 2011, as the song hit No. 22 on the Billboard Rap Songs chart.

91. Styles P ft. Rick Ross & Busta Rhymes “Harsh,” Master of Ceremonies (2011)

91. Styles-P-Harsh-Download-Busta-Rhymes-Rick-Ross-Single

Official Release Date: August 16, 2011
Styles invited Ricky Rozay to join him and fellow New York rap vet, Bussa Buss on this futuristic, yet traditional East Coast-sounding collabo. The result was the exact opposite of the song's title. In other words, smooth as silk.

90. Wale ft. Rick Ross “Tats on My Arm,” Self Made, Vol. 2 (2012)

90. tats on my arm rick-ross-wale

Official Release Date: October 3, 2011
With a thumping beat and an electric keyboard playing throughout, Wale teamed up with Rick Ross to drop this buzz single that will likely serves as the lead single to Maybach’s second collaborative album. With 2011 as Wale’s best year to date, it’s no question as to why the former XXL Freshman was tapped to make this street smash. He’s got ambition.

89. Yelawolf ft. Kid Rock “Let's Roll,” Radioactive (2011)

89. lets roll

Official Release Date: November 21, 2011
Yelawolf makes his own lane with this Kid Rock-assisted record, taking listeners to Alabama and back in his pickup. Let’s rooooll!

88. Lil Wayne ft. Jadakiss & Drake “It’s Good,” Tha Carter IV (2011)

88. lil-wayne-7

Official Release Date: August 24
Rap fans were shocked when this song leaked prematurely. Did Lil Wayne just diss Jay-Z? Did he threaten to kidnap Beyoncé? Will this start a rap war between Hov’s Roc Nation and Weezy’s Young Money? What’s Jada got to do with this? Birdman, Jr. couldn’t have bought better publicity for his upcoming album at the time. Ultimately, the song didn’t result in any battles between the two rap powerhouses, but boy was it exciting.

87. Wiz Khalifa & Snoop Dogg ft. Bruno Mars “Young, Wild & Free,” Mac & Devin Go To High School Soundtrack (2011)

87. snoop-wiz

Official Release Date: October 4, 2011
After a rough version of this early Snoop and Wiz collabo leaked in February, word spread that the two professional chiefers were working on a project and a movie together. The official version dropped—with Bruno Mars on the hook— in October. The lead single to the soundtrack to their Mac and Devin Go To High School flick, the song was what was expected from the pairing and the title: a carefree take on partying and having a good time. The track hit No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

86. Drake “Club Paradise,” Unreleased (2011)

86. drake-club-paradise-500x366 copy

Official Release Date: September 10, 2011
As he was building anticipation (which was already there) for his sophomore album, Take Care, Drake took to his blog one late night in September to let loose three new joints, one of which was “Club Paradise.” Though the song didn’t make the album, it still made ripples, offering the same rapping and singing balance over gloomy production that would mark the album. Drizzy even named his tour after the song (or maybe he named it after the club in Toronto for which the song itself was named).

85. Big K.R.I.T. ft. Ludacris & Bun B “Country Shit (Remix),” Return of 4Eva (2011)

85. big-krit-bun-b-ludacris

Official Release Date: March 28, 2011
After winning over fans with his incredible 2010 mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, the 2011 XXL Freshman recorded the audio version of a victory lap with this remixed version of the tape’s stand out cut, “Country Shit” with Southern legends, Ludacris and Bun B. Not only did the track validate the Mississippi rapper/producer’s undeniable talent, it also added legs to a banger that deserved play in both the cities and the suburbs across the U.S.

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

83. Picture-14 copy

Official Release Date: April 12, 2011
The lead single to Kendrick Lamar’s lauded summer iTunes release Section.80, “HiiiPoWer” was a well-received song named after the Top Dawg rapper’s movement. Over a melting production by J. Cole, the 2011 XXL Freshman balanced lyricism, conscience, history and hunger. The single, which picked up on Satellite radio, helped the album hit No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

82. Drake ft. Lil Wayne ”The Motto,” Take Care (2011)

82. drake-wayne

Official Release Date: November 1, 2011
Drake chose this bouncy bonus cut for his third official single from Take Care. The sparse track, which features a lone bass line and some hyphy 808s, provided the perfect backdrop for Drizzy and Lil Wayne to try out some new melodic flows and offer advice to listeners: You Only Live Once.


80. Wiz Khalifa ft. Chevy Woods “Taylor Gang,” Cabin Fever (2011)

80. Wiz-Khalifa-Taylor-Gang

Official Release Date: February 17, 2011
Wiz repped his set well on this simple, yet catchy chant record. Taylor, Gang. Taylor, Gang. Though excluded from his debut, Rolling Papers, the track took on a life of its own and Wiz performed it during the BET Hip Hop Awards and MTV Video Music Awards.

79. Maybach Music Group “Pandemonium,” Self Made, Vol. 1 (2011)

79. MMG-Pandemonium-Rick-Ross-Meek-Mill-Wale

Official Release Date: January 5, 2011
One of the earliest collaborations between Rick Ross and his two new Maybach Music Group cohorts Meek Mill and Wale, “Pandemonium” first dropped in January but ended up making it’s way onto Self Made, Vol. 1. The song offers the typical high-energy of the crew, and each rapper displays what they can do lyrically, as well.

78. Drake “Dreams Money Can Buy,” Unreleased (2011)

78. Drake

Official Release Date:   May 20, 2011
On the heels of his scene-stealing guest appearance on DJ Khaled’s “I’m on One,” Drake leaked this Noah “40” Shebib” gem—initially rumored to be the intro to Take Care—setting the tone for a series of releases (“Marvin’s Room,” “Free Spirit,” “Club Paradise”) to build anticipation for his blockbuster sophomore album.

77. Machine Gun Kelly ft. Waka Flocka “Wild Boy,” Rage Pack (2011)

77. Machine-Gun-Kelly-Wild-Boy-Music-Video-fire

Original Release Date: September 27, 2011
Cleveland’s tatted-up bad boy and Atlanta’s East side wild child teamed up to make a song that would only be fitting for them. “Wild Boy” shows off MGK’s Twista-influenced flow and Waka’s Southern rap style. With a beat catered to both artists, it’s clear only these two could produce this theme song.

76. Don Trip “Letter 2 My Son,” Drop That 178 (2011)

76. Don-Trip

Official Release Date: October 18, 2011
Dedicating this heartfelt single to his son, Don Trip chose to release a track based on something real and not the typical imaginary lifestyle portrayed in most rap songs. Aside from speaking on a personal situation, Trip educates the male population on what happens when you don’t wrap it up. “Thinking that I loved her when I shouldn’t of even liked her,” it doesn’t get any deeper than that.

75. Young Jeezy ft. Jay-Z & Andre 3000 "I Do," Thug Motivation 103: Hustlaz Ambition (2011)

75. youngjeezyjayz

Official Release Date: November 18, 2011
The blaring TM103 star-studded single became an instant favorite at the album’s previous listening session a few weeks ago. A month later, it’s arguably one of Jeezy’s best singles to date.

74. Wale ft. Rick Ross and Jadakiss "600 Benz," Self Made, Vol. 1 (2011)

74. wale_benz

Official Release Date: April 5, 2011
Released as another Maybach–branded single—an ode to an elite, luxury car—“600 Benz” brought together Mr. Folarin, Rozay and Jadakiss to drop a top-of-the-year street heater. Whether it’s a Maybach or a Benz, Wale and Ricky have music sales in extravagant mobility covered.

73. Rick Ross “I Love My Bitches,” God Forgives, I Don’t (2011)

73. rick-ross

Official Release Date: October 7, 2011 Rick Ross "I Love My Bitches," God Forgives, I Don't (2012) Fans craving a Rick Ross/Just Blaze collaboration were cruelly teased on MMG's "Self Made"—a JB-produced track on which the Bauwse introduced his crew without dropping a single bar. Rozay more than made up for it on one of two leaks to lead off his upcoming fifth album. Though the Nicki Minaj-assisted “You the Boss” peaked at No. 83 on the Billboard Hot 100, the Just-manned, “I Love My Bitches” fulfilled his core fan base’s yearning.

72. Pusha T ft. Tyler, The Creator “Trouble On My Mind,” Fear of God II: Let Us Pray (2011)

72. Trouble-on-My-Mind-7

Official Release Date: July 12, 2011
After the March release of his mixtape Fear of God, Pusha T began the summer by heating things up in anticipation of his follow up. Linking with Tyler, the Creator, who himself had just released his debut album, Goblin a couple months prior, Pusha bridged the generational gap as the two imagery-experts traded verses over a Tyler beat.

71. Rick Ross ft. Drake “Made Men,” Unreleased (2011)

71. rick-ross-drake-3

Official Release Date: January 4, 2011
Rick Ross bookends a solid Drake verse on this movie-like, braggadocios track, also giving fans a taste of their sound together. The song didn’t end up on either of their official projects, as Drizzy didn’t drop until November, and Rozay only came out with his group album this year. Still, this track shines if for no other reason that Aubrey’s Rihanna line.

70. Common ft. Makeba Riddick “Blue Sky,” The Dreamer, The Believer (2011)

70. common-blue-sky-3

Official Release Date: October 4, 2011
“Ghetto Dreams” with Nas and subsequent news of a Comm/Godson collabo album may be the talk swirling around this particular project, but this inspiring cut is certainly a formidable record in its own right.

69. J. Cole ft. Jay-Z “Mr. Nice Watch,” Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)

69. nice watch

Official Release Date: September 15, 2011
So, what Cole wants, Cole doesn’t always get. The upstart MC crafted “God’s Gift,” for his debut album with the intent of giving his fans the long-awaited second collaboration between himself and his boss, Jay-Z. But weeks prior to the release of the LP, Young Simba was resigned to the fact that Hov might not even make an appearance on his project. But the boss man got his Mariano on and saved the day with a scorching 16 for “Mr. Nice Watch,” including a dial-friendly: “I got a Hublot, I call Tebow, strap that bitch with a Gator band.” Ugh.

68. Young Jeezy ft. Lil Wayne "Ballin," Unreleased (2011)

68. jeezy

Official Release Date: April 12, 2011)
With Thug Motivation 103 in limbo, Jizzle resurfaced with this Wayne-assisted banger. Though it wound up being cut from TM103’s final version, the track momentarily restored faith that Jeezy’s LP would finally drop soon, at the time of its release.)

67. Wiz Khalifa “The Race,” Rolling Papers (2011)

67. the race wizkhalifa1

Official Release Date: March 8, 2011
Yet another cut off Rolling Papers that found its way onto the charts this year—peaking at No. 66 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track features Wiz’s growing penchant for sing-songy hooks over a melodic beat provided by I.D. Labs.

66. Tyga ”Rack City,” Well Done 2 (2011)

66. rack city

Official Release Date: December 6, 2011
Though it only officially dropped last week, Tyga's latest single leaked months ago. Far less sugary than the album’s first official single, “Far Away,” Tyga heads to the strip club on this cash-heavy joint that made it onto iTunes before the year ended. Rack city, bitch; rack, rack city, bitch!

65. Big Sean "I Do It," Finally Famous (2011)

65. bigsean061511

Official Release Date: May 8, 2011
Over the chest-pumping No I.D. produced single off his Finally Famous debut, Sean delivers a triumphant single as he flexes his lyrical wit and cunning wordplay.

64. Young Jeezy ft. T.I. "F.A.M.E," Thug Motivation 103: Hustlaz Ambition (2011)

64. jeezy fame

Official Release Date: September 29, 2011
The slow paced Justice League production allowed enough legroom for Jeezy and Tip to dish out their emotions and fire back at the public’s criticism. Tip delivers arguably one of his best verses since returning home from prison.

63. Meek Mill ft. Young Chris “House Party,” Dreamchaser (2011)

63. house party

Official Release Date: October 19, 2011
Coming as one of the first records to show that Philly’s finest didn’t need his MMG crew to stand on his feet, Meek Mill showed why he’s a star with this track. House parties will never be the same.

62. Kirko Bangz “Shawty What Yo Name Iz,” Procrastination Kills 2

62. kirko1-e1306452759761

Official Release Date: April 13
Originally included on his first mixtape, 2009’s Procrastination Kills, Houston upstart Kirko Bangz reintroduced the slow, stand out cut earlier this year after signing with Warner Bros. And the video, which dropped last April, has amassed over one million views on YouTube. Awlready!

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

61. wiz khalifa roll

Official Release Date: February 3, 2011
Following the massive breakout success of “Black and Yellow,” fans and critics were curious to see how Wiz Khalifa would follow up. “Roll Up,” the second single from the Taylor Gang general's Atlantic Records debut, Rolling Papers was just that. A pop-laced green and girls anthem, the song was heavy on Wiz carrying a tune, and charted at No. 2 on Rap Songs, No. 7 on R&B/Hip-Hop, and No. 13 on the Hot 100.

60. Bad Meets Evil “Fast Lane,” Hell: The Sequel (2011)

60. Bad Meets Evil "Fast Lane"

Official Release Date: May 3, 2011
Em and Nickle 9 show time apart has done little to diminish their chemistry on the lead single to the Detroit duo’s EP. Though more substance than flash—Em and Royce take turns rhyming their asses off—the single peaked at No.32 on the Billboard Hot 100.

59. Waka Flocka ft. Drake “Round of Applause,” The Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family (2011)

59. round of applause

Official Release Date: October 14, 2011
As Atlanta’s most recent strip club anthem, “Round of Applause” shows that Waka Flocka has once again found a way to supersede airwaves from North to South. Coming with a hot beat and his unique brand of lyrics to match, it’s clear the Brick Squad member isn’t going into retirement any time soon. With Drake lending a verse, this song found a wide range of appeal.

58. A$AP Rocky “Purple Swag,” LiveLoveA$AP (2011)

58. purple swag

Official Release Date: July 5, 2011
Borrowing Houston’s chopped and screwed sound, A$AP Rocky’s “Purple Swag” sparked the new age Harlemite’s buzz. Premiered via a viral video—in which a blonde white girl lip-syncs the n-word, the track laid the foundation for Rocky to ink his $3 million deal with Polo Grounds Records.

57. Uncle Murda "Warning,” Unreleased

57. warning

Official Release Date: July 29, 2011
It’s the siren that had NYC, and clubs throughout the country, on tilt for months. The Brooklyn MC, Uncle Murda delivered an instant banger that was hard to overlook.

56. Future “Magic,” True Story (2011)

56. Future "Magic"

Official Release Date: August 18, 2011
Rap fans may have been chanting “Tony Montana” every chance they could get this year, but Future’s hypnotic “Magic” was able to bubble onto the radar, too, smashing the clubs and ensuring that the dreaded ATLien was more than a one trick pony.

55. French Montana “Shot Caller,” Coke Boys 2 (2011)

55. French Montana

Official Release Date: June 17, 2011
After his “Choppa Choppa Down” and its remix had New York City buzzing, French Montana came back with another street smash, “Shot Caller.” Just a few months after the song dropped, and the same day that he went up to 106 & Park to debut the video, the Bronx soldier announced that he signed to one of the game’s biggest shot callers, Diddy, as he inked a deal with Bad Boy.

54. Wale “Bait,” The Eleven One Eleven Theory (2011)

54. wale bait

Official Release Date: August 17, 2011
This record that started out as a regional hit helped cook up buzz for not only Wale’s The Eleven One Eleven Theory mixtape, but the D.C. MC also used it as a springboard to power the first-week sales (164,000) copies of his album Ambition (which included bait as a bonus cut) a few months later. Recently, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, and Trey Songz joined forces for the official remix.

53. Common ft. Nas “Ghetto Dreams,” The Believer, The Dreamer (2011)

53. common-nas-ghetto-dreams

Official Release Date: July 6, 2011
A backpacker’s dream. The Windy City veteran and the QB poet finally connected after years on this Preemo-esque soundscape provided by No I.D. Nasty Nas brought out the Southside in Com Sense and the two traded sharp bars and witty punchlines. The record didn’t crack any charts or notch any awards, but it earned Common something more valuable: respect in the streets.

52. Game ft. Lil Wayne “Red Nation,” The R.E.D. Album (2011)

52. red nation

Official Release Date: April 12, 2011
Talk about a sample! To power his No. 1 album off first-week sales, Game hit hard with this Weezy-assisted single that sampled “Kernkraft 400,” which is often played to rally crowds at sporting events. And that’s, B’s up, hoes down!

51. Birdman ft. Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj “Y. U. Mad,” Bigga Than Life (2012)

51. YU-Mad-Birdman-feat.-Lil-Wayne-Nicki-Minaj-Explicit

Official Release Date: September 13, 2011
Coach Birdman adds another heater to his résumé with two of his YMCMB all-stars, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne, in tow. Stunna actually holds his own next to his fire spitters and sets the tone with menacing opening bars. “Man, fuck y’all niggas, get down or lay down/shoot up anything except a school or a playground,” he spits. The song is the first release from Birdman’s Bigga Than Life, due out next year.

50. T.I. ft. Big K.R.I.T. “I’m Flexin’,” Trouble Man (2012)

50. flexin-ti-krit

Official Release Date: October 4, 2011
Though he had jumped on the remixes to a few songs since he came home from jail in the fall, T.I. mounted his official return with “I’m Flexin’.” Cracking No. 66 on the Billboard Hot 100, this also marked the first time that the King of the South and one of the leaders of the New South, Big K.R.I.T. (who produced the track), worked together.

49. Maino ft. Roscoe Dash, “Let It Fly,” The Day After Tomorrow (2012)

49. maino5

Official Release Date: May 23, 2011
When in search of a radio smash, rappers who tapped Roscoe Dash in 2011 usually had some success. The talented hook-man lent one, as well as a verse, to Maino for this single from the Brooklyn brawler’s upcoming sophomore album. Though the album has been pushed back a couple times and still hasn’t dropped, the song was well-received, charting on Billboard and igniting a remix with Meek Mill, Wale, Jim Jones, Ace Hood and DJ Khaled.

48. DJ Drama ft. Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa, & Roscoe Dash “Oh My,” Third Power (2011)

48. drama6

Official Release Date: April 7, 2011
The synthesizing club banger off DJ Drama’s Third Power had a tight grip on the summer with its Loso and Wiz feature, but it was Roscoe that outshined the line up with his potent hook.

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

47. no sleep wiz-rolling-papers-tour-3

Official Release Date: March 22, 2011
Wiz followed up his breakout hit, “Black and Yellow,” with this woozy number, which scored him his second Top 10 hit. Backed by Benny Blanco and Details’ production, the pride of Pittsburgh kicked a laid back refrain about the high life. Pun intended.

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

46. strange clouds

Official Release Date: September 27, 2011
Ready to launch another assault on the mainstream with his sophomore album, B.o.B made his first solo attempt since his debut with the Lil Wayne-assisted “Strange Clouds,” a single that shares a title with his upcoming album. Debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, it quickly became clear that the former XXL Freshman hadn’t lost his touch.

45. Lloyd Banks ft. Jeremih “I Don’t Deserve You,” H.F.N. (Hunger For More) 2 (2010)

45. lloyd-banks

Official Release Date: June 17, 2011
To follow up the success of “Start It Up,” from his debut album's sequel, Lloyd Banks took a softer approach, enlisting Jeremih and creating a ladies-leaning song with “I Don’t Deserve You.” Making ripples on both radio and the Billboard Rap Songs and R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts, the release showed a still lyrical, but less ferocious side of the Punch Line King.

44. J. Cole ft. Trey Songz "Can't Get Enough," Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)

44. trey2

Official Release Date: August 30, 2011
As one of the few tracks released on Cole’s debut album to be produced by someone other than himself, “Can't Get Enough” brought the North Carolina MC and his Virginia brethren Trey Songz together for an upbeat cut for the ladies that the fellas could get on board with, too. The second single from his debut album, the song cracked the Billboard Hot 100.

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

43. Wale-Lotus-Flower-Bomb

Official Release Date: October 11, 2011
Building off the success of “That Way,” the Jeremih-assisted smash off of MMG’s Self Made compilation, Wale recruited the singing talents of Miguel for his own solo track aimed at hip-hop’s female fanbase. Funkmaster Flex didn’t have to drop a bomb on this record for it to explode on radio.

42. Nicki Minaj, “Did It on ‘Em,” Pink Friday (2011)

42. did it on em

Official Release Date: March 7, 2011
Nicki returned to her mixtape roots on this Bangladesh-produced fan favorite off of Pink Friday—arguably the most unabashedly hip-hop record on the album. Showcasing her awe-inspiring ability to talk shit, Ms. Minaj attacks her competitors, proudly declaring that if she had a penis she “would pull it out and piss on ’em.” With that said, please do it again Nick.

41. Lupe Fiasco ft. Skylar Grey “Words I Never Said,” Lasers (2011)

41. lupeperformpt7

Official Release Date: February 8, 2011
The Skylar Grey-enhanced single off Lupe’s latest album came with real and honest lyricism. Not hiding his dislike for the government or American politics, the Chi-Town artist used the controversial Lasers single to provoke thought through sheer expressive talent. Lupe took it back to real hip-hop with words he did say.

40. Nas “Nasty,” Life Is Good (2012)

40. nasty

Official Release Date: August 9, 2011
Still steaming from guest spots with Mobb Deep (“Dog Shit”), Raekwon (“Rich and Black”) and Common (“Ghetto Dreams”), a rejuvenated Nas took it back to the essence on this stripped down Salaam Remi production. Spitting rapid fire flows, the Queensbridge legend made it clear that he’s as nasty as ever 20 years into the game.

39. Wiz Khalifa ft. Too $hort “On My Level,” Rolling Papers (2011)

39. tooshortwiz copy

Official Release Date: May 28, 2011
A follow up to his radio-geared “Roll Up,” which was a follow up to his organically grown breakout hit “Black and Yellow,” Wiz Khalifa came back with a harder approach for “On My Level.” Getting an assist from Too $hort, Wiz used a Jim Jonsin-produced beat to craft a party anthem that would reach No. 10 on the Rap Songs chart and crack the Hot 100, as well, helping his rise to new levels continue.

38. Jay-Z and Kanye West “H.A.M.,” Watch The Throne (2011)


Official Release Date: January 25, 2011
Jay-Z and Kanye West agreed that this Lex Luger-laced track was too over the top in its heavy synthetic, orchestral sound that even ventured to bring opera to hip-hop. However, one could argue that if it weren’t for this record, that Hov and ’Ye wouldn’t have honed in on what became a successful Watch the Throne album.

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

37. ace-hood-chris-brown

Official Release Date: July 11, 2011
For the follow up single to his blockbuster street anthem, “Hustle Hard,” Ace did a complete 180 and appealed to the ladies. With a sleek, sexy composition from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and radio- friendly hook from Chris Brown, the 2009 XXL Freshman made another anthem, but this time it was for the bedroom.

36. DJ Khaled ft. Ace Hood, Ludacris, T-Pain, Busta Rhymes, Twista, Mavado, Birdman, Ace Hood, Fat Joe, Game, Jadakiss, Bun B, and Waka Flocka Flame “Wecome to My Hood (Remix)” We the Best Forever(2011)

36. welcome to my hood rmx

Official Release Date: March 14, 2011
The complaint is Khaled’s anthems all sound the same. But damn, if that same sound still isn’t good. The Miami radio jock and record executive recruited a slew of artists for his latest remix making this wax assembly popping like a Sunday night at LIV.

35. Bad Meets Evil ft. Bruno Mars “Lighters,” Hell: The Sequel (2011)

35. fast-lane-shoot-1

Official Release Date: July 5, 2011
Taking a break from their more dark, hardcore subject matter, Eminem and Royce Da 5’9” made sure to include this more easily accessible song on their collaborative EP. As forecast, the song—which focuses on each artist’s varying struggle for success—became a huge hit, peaking at the No.4 position on the Billboard Hot 100.

34. Lupe Fiasco ft. Trey Songz “Out of My Head,” Lasers (2011)

34. Lupe-Fiasco-post

Official Release Date: March 4, 2011
With Trey Songz on the hook and Lupe handling the bars, the Chi-town MC scored a second Top 40 hit to help propel Lasers towards his second gold plaque. La-sers!

33. Dr. Dre ft. Eminem & Skylar Grey "I Need A Doctor," Detox (TBD)

33. img_9858_dr-dre-i-need-a-doctor-explicit-ft-eminem-skylar-grey

Official Release Date: January 27, 2011
Right after “Kush,” Dre gave everyone hope that the mythical Detox project would soon see the light of day. With Eminem anchoring the Alex Da Kid-production, the single would garner a 2012 Grammy nod for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Rap Song.

32. Waka Flocka ft. Kebo Gotti “Grove St. Party,” Flockaveli (2010)

32. grove street party

Official Release Date: February 15, 2011
The fourth single from Waka's rambunctious debut Flockaveli, “Grove St. Party” again showed that the dreaded Atlanta representative knew how to make a hit. With a simple and catchy hook to go with entertaining if unsophisticated bars, the song hit No. 10 on the Rap Songs chart and had a solid run on radio and in the clubs. Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa and Ace Hood all remixed the record for their own parties.

31. J. Cole "Work Out," Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)

31. work-out-video-jcole

Official Release Date: June 15, 2011
J. Cole digs in the crates and successfully transforms Kanye’s ’04 “The New Workout Plan” and Paula Abdul’s ’88 “Straight Up” into an irresistible radio and club jam. It was slow picking up, but once the Roc Nation signee’s fans came out and gave him a No. 1 album, the song began to pick up even more.

30. 2 Chainz ft. T.I. "Spend It (Remix)," T.R.U. Realigion (2011)

30. spend it 2 Chainz 2

Official Release Date: July 18, 2011
As the first single released from Codeine Cowboy, “Spend It” solidified the ATL MC’s transformation from Tity Boy to 2 Chainz. Serving as the A’s “get money poster child,” 2 Chainz reinvented himself and his music the moment this track hit the airwaves. Once he came home from his bid, T.I. jumped on the remix, certifying the song and Tity 2's heatwave.

29. Wale ft. Jeremih & Rick Ross “That Way,” Self Made, Vol. 1 (2011)

29. that way

Official Release Date: August 30, 2011
By far the most mellow song from the Maybach Music Group compilation, this cut picked up for Wale on radio, and ended up as a bonus track on his solo album, Ambition. The smoothed out jam is one for the ladies, and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

28. Drake ft. Nicki Minaj “Make Me Proud,” Take Care (2011)

28. 1003269-drake-nicki-minaj-617-409

Official Release Date: October 13, 2011
Beaming with positivity and an inescapably catchy hook, Drake’s woman empowering second single off of Take Care, became the album’s highest charting single so far—peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100—which made Baby very proud.

27. Big Sean ft. Nicki Minaj “Dance (Ass) Remix,” Finally Famous (2011)

27. ass-2

Official Release Date: October 18, 2011
With the video to the side, Sean turned heads when he hooked with the Black Barbie to jump on his undeniable party jam. Not only did it mark Nicki’s return to guest appearances, but it also jumpstarted the promo run for her forthcoming LP. Meanwhile, it certified Sean with another club smash.

26. Lil Wayne “How to Love,” Tha Carter IV (2011)

26. lilwayne

Official Release Date: June 13, 2011
At first listen, this record wasn’t everyone’s instant cup of tea. But as time progressed, Wayne added yet another double platinum Top 10 Billboard record to his catalog. It was his “Lollipop” of C4: a poppy, crossover hit that set the stage for close to a million in first-week sales.

25. Rick Ross ft. Lil Wayne, “9 Piece,” Ashes to Ashes (2010)

25. 9 piece

Official Release Date: May 10, 2011
When two of hip-hop’s biggest powerhouses team up, you know it’s going to be a hit. This Lex Luger-produced track made its way to Billboard’s Top 20 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart and earned repeat radio play from coast to coast. The original version that appeared on Rozay's Ashes to Ashes mixtape last Christmas featured T.I. (and was a heater in its own right), but the version with Weezy is what really took off.

24. Future, “Tony Montana,” True Story (2011)

24. Future

Official Release Date: September 19, 2011
Atlanta’s latest on fire MC landed in the top 20 of Billboard’s Hot Rap Tracks chart. Hitting the streets to heat up the summer, “Tony Montana” was an undeniable and helped Future secure a deal with Sony. The Jessy Terrero-directer clip—filmed in the Dominican Republic—added to the song's cachet.

23. Mac Miller, "Donald Trump," Best Day Ever (2011)

23. Screen-shot-2011-03-04-at-5.33.54-PM

Official Release Date: May 17, 2011
From a XXL Freshman cover appearance to having the No.1 album in the country (and doing so independently), Mac Miller has certainly had a lot of best days ever. Over a playful, cartoon-ish beat, the 19-year-old Pittsburgh MC introduced his own brand of party music. Without any radio play, the song became Mac's launchpad, amassing an astounding 38 million views on YouTube. Even the Donald noticed—bigging up Mac for the success of the song and crowning him the next Eminem.

22. Tyler, the Creator “Yonkers” Goblin(2011)

22. yonkers

Official Release Date: February 10, 2011
Uploaded to YouTube a week before the Odd Future front man made his breakout late night debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, “Yonkers,” with its brooding chords and black and white cinematography became a viral sensation and propelled Tyler to stardom. On the strength of his self-produced single, Tyler went on to score a VMA for Best New Artist. Swag!

21. Kreayshawn “Gucci Gucci,” Life With Loopy (2012)

21. Kreayshawn-Gucci-Gucci

Official Release Date: June 14, 2011
Powered by the viral success of its accompanying video, “Gucci Gucci” was largely ignored by radio and didn’t strike a dent on the Billboard charts. But the film school dropout and her White Girl Mob chanted the anti-basic bitch anthem with cheeky glee and eventually laughed all the way to the bank—Sony inked the Oakland rapper to a reported $1 million deal for her recording services and she later was nominated for a MTV Video Music Award. That shit Kreay!

20. Lil Wayne ft. Rick Ross “John,” Tha Carter IV (2011)

20. Screen shot 2011-05-13 at 12.32.18 PM

Official Release Date: March 24, 2011
Lil Tunechi offers up another lyrically dense verse with Rozay riding shotgun. The song’s striking resemblance to Ross’s “I’m Not a Star” didn’t matter much. The cut—Wayne’s second single off Tha Carter IV— peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and was certified gold.

19. Big Sean ft. Kanye West and Roscoe Dash “Marvin and Chardonnay,” Finally Famous (2011)

19. seankanye

Official Release Date: July 12, 2011
No one-hit wonder, here. Big Sean dropped the second of three consecutive Top 40 hits with this party anthem. The song wasn’t only a win for Sean, but for Roscoe as well—as he continued his quest to become hip-hop’s next hook man du jour.

18. Drake “Marvin’s Room,” Take Care (2011)

18. marvins room

Official Release Date: June 9, 2011
Drizzy Drake continued his onslaught of hot music with this ultra personal cut reminiscent of his So Far Gone days. Though only a promotional single—the first leak that made Take Care’s final cut—the single peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100.

17. Lil Wayne ft. Drake “She Will,” Tha Carter IV (2011)

17. LilWayneSheWill2-617x413

Official Release Date: August 12, 2011
The tantalizing T-Minus production allowed the proper stage for Drizzy to croon his soothing hook while Wayne talks his shit over this drunken strip club anthem, which worked its way up to certified gold status. The fourth C4 single, the song peaked at No. 1, 2, and 3 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Rap Songs, and Hot 100, respectively.

16. Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer “Give Me Everything,” Planet Pit (2011)

16. give me everything

Official Release Date: March 21, 2011
Say what you want about the pop-lead direction that Pitbull has taken his music since earlier this decade, when he was emerging with other Florida-bred artists like Rick Ross; that won’t change the success he’s seen in his new lane. Pit’s biggest smash to date, “Give Me Everything” is four times platinum in the U.S., hit No. 1 on over 10 different Billboard charts around the globe, including the Hot 100. The song became a huge dance hit, and lasted throughout the year, unavoidable at nighttime hot spots.

15. Drake “Headlines,” Take Care (2011)

15. Drake-Headlines-First-Single

Official Release Date: July 31
To kick off the hysteria for his highly anticipated sophomore album, Drake made sure to drop a song that would get people talkin’. Not only did the track address all of Drizzy’s doubters, but it also signaled his return to the charts, debuting at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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

14. lupe-fiasco-the-show-goes-on-video

Official Release Date: October 26, 2010
Although it was released in 2010, Lupe’s triumphant first single off his highly anticipated Lasers LP blew up this year, garnering a platinum certification. Over a pop/rock sampling beat, Lu throws shots at his record label and hip-hop’s detractors, citing himself as an example of positivity within the culture while trying to uplift kids in the hood or facing other struggles growing up.

13. Nicki Minaj ft. Drake “Moment 4 Life,” Pink Friday (2010)

13. moment 4 life

Official Release Date:  December 7, 2010
Nicki was expected to hit big with a pair of poppy singles (“Check It Out,” “Right Thru Me”), but it’s with her third single—an introspective rags to riches tail— that the Southside Jamaica Queens femcee finally cracked the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The song peaked at No. 13 and the cut’s video—featuring Nick and Young Money brethren Drake getting married and simulating a kiss—sent the internets into a frenzy.

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

12. Hustle_Hard_Remix_lilwayne

Official Release Date: May 10, 2011
Although everyone from Young Jeezy to Lil’ Kim to Trey Songz released their own versions of Ace’s Lex Luger-produced street smash, the Florida-bred MC chose Ross and Weezy for the official remix. Released months after the original, which appeared on Hood’s 2010 mixtape, The Statement, this menacing banger continues to give Ace spins on radio and in the club to this day. Unfortunately, most DJs focus solely on Wayne’s stellar verse, instead of the entire track.

11. Meek Mill ft. Rick Ross “Tupac Back,” Self Made, Vol. 1 (2011)

11. TupacBack_isneach

Official Release Date: April 5, 2011
Meek and Rozay—who handles the hook—take turns referencing all things ‘Pac and Death Row on the addictive lead single to MMG’s Self Made compilation. The single inspired countless freestyles, including tributes to fallen greats like The Notorious B.I.G. and Big Pun.

10. YC ft.Future “Racks” Racks Single

10. racks

Official Release Date: April 5, 2011
This auto-tune smash introduced the world to these two Atlanta rhyme slingers, both of whom inked recording contracts this year. An onslaught of remixes kept “Racks” fresh throughout the year and with the Superbowl around the corner, best believe your favorite NFL player will toss a few thou up in the air for your favorite stripper’s favorite stripper’s favorite song.

9. Lil Wayne ft. Cory Gunz “6 Foot 7 Foot” Tha Carter IV (2011)

9. 6 Foot 7 Foot (Explicit) ft. Cory Gunz(RaHuL {tHe HuNk}).mkv_snapshot_04.01_[2011.03.12_19.18.39]

Official Release Date: December 16, 2011
For his first post-prison solo effort, Weezy recruited Bronx bomber Cory Gunz and the Young Money top dawg also proved he could still handle bars like a biker. Over Bangladesh’s rollicking production, a clean Lil Wayne didn’t let a lack of syrup stop him. The record didn’t top the charts or earn the Martian a Grammy nod, however, it heated him back up as it built anticipation for his chart-topping C4.

8. Big Sean ft. Chris Brown “My Last,” Finally Famous (2011)

8. my last

Official Release Date: March 1, 2011
After making a name for himself in the mixtape circuit with his Finally Famous series, Big Sean made a splash on mainstream radio with an assist from Chris Brown. As the story goes, Sean penned the hook and originally planned to croon the chorus himself before Breezy heard the record and offered to lend his vocals. The pairing resulted in a bullet on Billboard’s Rap Songs chart as the track made its way to number one. Boyee.

7. Nicki Minaj “Super Bass,” Pink Friday (2010)

7. super bass

Official Release Date: May 13, 2011
Though initially released as a bonus cut, Nick’s syrupy single—the fourth release off Pink Friday—wound up becoming the Harajuku Barbie’s biggest hit to date.  Peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song—which was certified triple platinum—spawned renditions ranging from kid ballerinas on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to emerging cover duo, Karmin, featuring The Roots’s Questlove.

6. Kanye West ft. Rihanna “All of the Lights,” My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

6. all of the lights

Official Release Date: January 18, 2011
Immediately one of the fan-favorite's on Kanye's acclaimed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, “All of the Lights” became the project's fourth and, ultimately, most successful, single. The feverish cut peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on both the Rap Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. According to album credits, the song featured vocals from not only West himself, but also Rihanna, Kid Cudi, Tony Williams, The-Dream, Charlie Wilson, John Legend, Elly Jackson (of La Roux), Alicia Keys, Elton John, Fergie, Ryan Leslie, Drake, Alvin Fields, and Ken Lewis. The track was nominated for Song of the Year, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2012 Grammys. A remix featuring Lil Wayne, Drake and Big Sean hit the 'net in March.

5. Jay-Z & Kanye West “Otis,” Watch the Throne (2011)

5. otis-jay-z-kanye-west

Official Release Date: July 20, 2011
Hov and ‘Ye introduced their collabo LP with a little too much bluster via the Lex Luger-powered “H.A.M.” But then Yeezy tapped on the MP a few times and chopped up Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” like he was a master chef and suddenly the duo were back in business. The back-to-basics track was cheered for tag-team delivery, high energy sample work and its lack of a traditional chorus. Despite it’s F.U. radio appeal, the song peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and eventually earned The Throne a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap song. Now that’s hard as a muthafucka!

4. Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes “Look At Me Now,” F.A.M.E. (2011)

4. Chris_Brown-Look_at_me_Now-music_video-feat-Lil_Wayne-and-Busta_Rhymes

Official Release Date: February 1, 2011
This rapid-fire song from early in the year steadily proved to have the staying power to last for months. With Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Busta Rhymes all spitting quick-tongued verses, the catchy, danceable cut soared to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 1 on both the Rap Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. The song spawned innumerable unofficial remixes, with everyone from rappers to singers to unknowns looking to flex their lyrical chops and keep up with the speedy precedent that Busta Rhymes set.

3. Meek Mill ft. Rick Ross “Ima Boss” Self Made, Vol 1. (2011)

3. rick-ross-meek-mill

Official Release Date: May 23, 2011
Ricky Rozay may be running things as evident by the crew he assembled on his MMG roster. But Philly rhyme slinger Meek Millie and his producer Jahlil Beats proved they got some serious mettle of their own with his potent track. Meek spits like his life is on the line and him delivering will be the only thing to get his ass in the big chair. Ross matches his recruit with casual cool in his verse and together they put the pressure on DJ Khaled’s “I’m on One” and Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Niggas in Paris" for banger of the year. Where’s the muthafucking crown?

2. DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross “I'm On One,” We the Best Forever (2011)

2. Rick-Ross-Drake-Lil-Wayne-and-DJ-Khaled

Official Release Date: May 20
DJ Khaled earned his first Top 10 single courtesy of an addictive Drake hook and stellar verses from Drizzy, Rozay and Weezy. Produced by T-Minus and Noah “40” Shebib, the track spawned countless remixes, dominated clubs and radio throughout the summer and is still a mainstay on playlists nationwide six months after its release.

1. Jay-Z and Kanye West “Niggas in Paris,” Watch the Throne (2011)

1. niggas in paris

Official Release Date: September 13, 2011
Hov and ‘Ye took balling to new frontiers on this unorthodox bouncy track produced by Hit-Boy. A club smash, the single recently cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts—currently standing at No. 8 without a video or much of a promotional push. The song's been working itself. The Throne's routinely been closing their Watch the Throne tour stops by performing the momentous song several times—recently treating Chicago to eight encores. “Paris” has also spawned its share of remixes and some of the track's lines (what's Gucci? and that shit cray!) have been added to hip-hop's daily lexicon.