Facts: Atlanta has far more than 50 great hip-hop songs. Creating a list of just 50 tracks from the origins of Atlanta rap to the hip-hop dominance our city enjoys today, was no easy task.
The sheer volume of rap music created by emcees representing Atlanta is quite astounding. But as the world celebrates 50 years of hip-hop culture in existence, and as ATLiens continue to run up the numbers on music sales charts, audio and video streams, tour earnings and other measurements of influence, one thing became clear: A list of the 50 greatest Atlanta rap songs is in order.
Before selecting the songs that made the top 50, our team set out a few rules:
We created this list strictly considering rap songs, not just songs with rap lyrics or other elements of hip-hop. If you’re looking for songs such as Ghost Town DJs’ “My Boo,” Ciara’s “Oh” featuring Ludacris, or the classic Lil’ Will song “Lookin’ for Nikki,” know that we love and honor those songs, but as they’re all R&B songs with elements of hip-hop, they do not qualify.
We also decided to only list songs that were written or performed by artists who were either born or raised in Atlanta and its surrounding cities, or represent ATL in their music and claim it as their hometown. This explains why songs from artists like Bow Wow, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Da Brat – who rose to mainstream prominence in Atlanta and lived here, but touted other cities as their homes – are not in the top 50, yet Illinois-born Ludacris made the list.
Another major factor was how certain songs pushed forward the culture and hip-hop credibility of Atlanta. This city became a global hub for rap music, and the songs we selected significantly shaped the rap scene, sometimes as homemade, hometown classics, and in other cases due to chart and sales success.
Finally, we realized that despite these efforts, we had to leave a lot of huge Atlanta hip-hop songs out. So we included an additional list of 50 honorable mentions. It says a lot about our city that even with a total of 100 songs that changed the game for Atlanta, we still couldn’t fit in everything. (Warning: Some of the audio in this article contains explicit lyrics.)
But you already know, Atlanta hip-hop has influenced the world. To prove it, here are our choices for the 50 best Atlanta hip-hop songs. Stick around to the end for our playlist featuring our top picks.