It’s high time we looked at some of the most timeless, classic, and old school hip hop beats of all time! In the last 50 years, rap has produced some unique and amazing music. With the New York sound, West Coast era, hyphy movement, and so much more, rap’s resume is a sight to behold. Recent decades have given us plenty to study and admire. Let’s take a look at the best hip hop beats of all time.
10. N.Y. State of Mind- Nas
Though the beat is incredibly simple, the imagery is undeniable. Anyone from New York can tell you that the instrumental encapsulates the Big Apple perfectly. It’s virtually impossible to listen to this beat without picturing subways, brick buildings, timberlands, and bubble coats. There’s a reason this song has a place in the discussion of all time classic hip hop beats. Put on a bubble coat, a NY fitted cap, and some Timberlands if you want to be fully immersed while listening to this track.
9. Still Dre- Dr. Dre
Having been solidified in the rap game for decades, then trending all over again in recent years, Still Dre had to make the list. It’s no surprise that the West Coast era created some of the most timeless hip hop beats ever. This beat reminds Cali natives of low riders, sunny days, and palm trees, and we can’t help but smile when we hear it.
8. Juicy- The Notorious B.I.G.
One of the old school hip hop beats that can take over a club in Miami, the streets of Los Angeles, or an entire New York neighborhood during quarantine. The beat was an instant classic in the 90s during its release, and made a return in a recent TikTok trend. Anyone who has made it through tough times can listen to “Juicy” and have a cathartic experience. When we make a list of timeless hip hop beats, expect to see this song again. Be sure to think about all the hard times in your life that you overcame while you listen to this track.
7. Dirt Off Your Shoulder- Jay Z
Another legendary producer, Timbaland, made one of the best hip hop beats ever with this one! The second the song starts, your self esteem is guaranteed to rise. One of the most “feel good” type beats on this list, you can’t help but dance and dust off your shoulders when you hear it. Many people forget how hot Jay-Z was towards the beginning of his career. This Timbaland produced song is a perfect example of young Hov’s artistic prowess in the rap game.
6. Miss the Rage- Trippie Redd ft. Playboi Carti
One of the youngest beats on this list, “Miss the Rage” was a golden, feel good, high energy instrumental. This beat (Produced by Loesoe) was so good that many rap fans commented that it was made by God himself. The talented producer behind this song also engineered “Futsal Shuffle” for Lil Uzi. This beat has made many appearances in samples and parodies on TikTok, and will surely be officially sampled in songs in the upcoming years.
5. The Message- Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
You know this list wouldn’t be complete without one of the classic old school hip hop beats! Produced by Edward G. Fletcher and Sylvia Robinson, this song has arguably one of the most recognizable instrumentals in all of hip hop. Since its release in 1982, just about every American is familiar with this song and the intro in the instrumental. If you have ever wondered what the grandfather of rap sounds like, this song will show you.
4. A Milli- Lil Wayne
With Lil Wayne being undeniably one of the best rappers ever, it’s only right that he gets some of the best hip hop beats ever. Sampling “Don’t Burn Down the Bridge” by Gladys Knight & the Pips, this song was a classic the second the first “A Milli” was uttered. With this instrumental spearheading the lead single on “Tha Carter III” album, it’s clear why the album won a Grammy. Be sure to listen to this song with some high quality speakers or headphones to get the full effect of its greatness.
3. Who am I (What’s My Name)- Snoop Dogg
Who thought that some skinny 22 year old rapper from Long Beach would release arguably the hottest debut rap album ever. “Doggystyle” is Snoop Dogg’s first album, which includes many amazing instrumentals produced by Dr. Dre, including this one. The beat loosely samples George Clinton’s Atomic Dog, and perfectly illustrates the vibes of riding around in sunny Southern California. If you ever wondered what California in the 90s was like, this song is for you.
2. Dark Fantasy- Kanye West
To be honest, one can make a case for Kanye’s beats filling up this entire list, but this beautifully crafted instrumental sticks out a lot. Pianos, perfectly timed pauses, triumphant choir vocals—what more could you ask for? Kanye has many of the best hip hop beats of all time, and “Dark Fantasy” is easily one of them. “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is easily one of the greatest rap albums ever, and the “Dark Fantasy” intro is more than worthy of a listen.
1. March Madness- Future
From the beginning notes, to the beat drop, and through to the end, this beat is…. I’m just going to say it, this beat is perfect. Rocking Atlanta in 2015, 808 Mafia’s Tarentino made a certified hood classic with this one. The song can rock a concert, sports game, assembly, car ride, and any listening session with a pair of headphones. Put on some high quality headphones and enjoy this Atlanta classic!
Like all good things, every list must come to an end. This concludes the best hip hop beats of all time. 50 years of hip hop has given us enough art to study over multiple lifetimes. What beats should have made this list? What beats didn’t deserve to be on this list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!