Hip hop has been popular since the 1980s (and dates all the way back to the 70s), and through the many decades, there’s been tons of classic hit songs. But at the same time, there have been countless gems that have gone under the radar. So let’s take a minute to countdown the most underrated rap songs of all time, while also detailing what makes each one so doggone memorable.
Underrated Rap Songs That Deserve More Shine
How about we begin with a song by Nate Dogg and Warren G?
1) Nobody Does It Better – Nate Dogg & Warren G (1998)
There are a lot of dynamic duos in hip-hop, but few have ever done it better than Nate Dogg and Warren G. When these two Dogg pound members got together, they complimented each other beautifully. Warren G’s cool rap style accompanied by Nate Doggs’ buttery smooth vocals and hooks is a combination that can create songs that paint movie-like pictures for audiences.
“Nobody Does It Better” see’s this duo boast their status as two of the best in the rap game. Nate Dogg is the one who shines on this song with the way he soulfully sings the title lyrics throughout the song. Nate Dogg was truly in a lane of his own musically amidst the late 90s climate of gangster rap. It’s a shame he does not get as much recognition as he deserves post mortum.
This song was originally featured on the soundtrack of the 1998 film Woo. A romantic-comedic film starring Jada-Pinket Smith and Tommy Davidson.
2) Fly S**t Only – Future (2015)
This song was dropped on one of Pluto Hendrix’s most underrated projects, EVOL. This was during a relentless run where Future consistently dropped an album, after mixtape, after album. Overshadowed by his collaboration with The Weeknd on “Low Life”, “Fly S**t Only” is an infectious track by the toxic king.
Starting with a guitar riff reminiscent of the Jordan-era Bulls Pregame music, Future hops on the song spitting his usual venom about his lavish lifestyle, and savage ways. This is a fun, trippy, and futuristic-sounding song that just plan makes you feel like a baller.
3) Extradite – Freddie Gibbs feat/Black Thought (2015)
This is the first collaboration between two of your favorite rappers’ favorite rappers. For nearly 3 decades Black Thought has been educating hip-hop students on what it means to be a real rapper. Before his legendary Hot 97 reintroduced his bars to the masses, he was well-known by hip-hop heads for consistently delivering thought-provoking lyrics with his classic Philly bravado.
He joins one of the best (and underrated) pure rappers of modern rap music as they trade bars and verses about how “the man” (referred to as “the devil” in this song) will force Black men into situations only to then extradite them to the law or worse.
Both artists are known for rapping songs that directly relate to the current events and conditions facing Black Americans. This song is no different and the outro by Louis Farrakhan makes the message that much clearer.
4) Boobie Miles – Big Krit (2012)
Arguably the most underrated artist on this list, Big Krit represents a different side of the south outside of the flash of Atlanta. Hailing from Mississippi, Krit’s country sound has gained him acclaim from rap fanatics and true critics of the genre. Unfortunately, his sound and demeanor have not been able to effectively reach mainstream audiences. That has never stopped Krit from giving his all on every verse or lyric.
This early song of Big Krit embodies that energy fully. Using the analogy of the Permian Panther running back, Boobie Miles, from Friday Night Lights, Krit encourages listeners to never give up and to play until the end. As Krit spits on the most notable lines from the track, “the only difference between a winner and a loser is a winner plays until he wins.”
5) Find a Way – Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y (2019)
It’s hard to fully give everyone their flowers these days. Especially when it comes to rap music and culture. These two artists both deserve their flowers and beyond for their contribution to the genre. Known by most as “weed rappers”, Wiz and Spitta have transcended those stereotypes to become moguls in the game as well as the new OGs in a lot of ways.
Who made weed culture cool? These two. Who out-hustles these two? Not many. Who has carved out their own lanes better than Wiz and Curren$y? You tell me. This duo ran back their legendary mixtape “How Fly” a decade later with their joint album, 2009. The album was a testament to their friendship, partnership, and growth individually and as a duo. “Find A Way” is a smooth track where Curren$y and Wiz set things straight on their status as two of the best in the game.
6) Through The Late Night – Travis Scott feat/Kid Cudi (2016)
I’m not sure how this collaboration got as overlooked as it did. For stans of either artist, this song is an absolute dream! Kid Cudi’s melodic hums hauntingly set the stage for the lucid dream of the song that is “Through The Late Night”. Cudi’s infectious vocals continue throughout the song leading to what can be considered one of Travis’s best verses.
Travis proceeds to deliver a verse where he flows through multiple styles, voices, and patterns of rapping/singing. You can tell Travis was bringing his all on his first official collaboration with his long-time rager idol.
7) The Contract – The Alchemist & Conway the Machine (2020)
This song sounds like it came straight out of a Scorcese film. Conway the Machine is a Buffalo native and member of Griselda Records. Like all groups and labels, there are different opinions on who the best or most relevant member is. While Benny the Butcher gets a good amount of the limelight, Conway can hold his own in any rap arena.
The Contract comes from LULU the collaborative album between The Alchemist and Conway the Machine. Fans of the Alchemist know they are in store for a dramatic beat
On which Conway boastful raps with his recognizable slur. Making the song even more epic is the sample from Paid in Full which is a common theme throughout the album.
8) Let’s Drive to Vegas – Larry June (2019)
Larry June might just be the coolest rapper out these days. The self-made independent rapper is following a blueprint set out by those like Curren$y and Dom Kennedy before him. Low key demeanor, an affinity for the finer things, and a hustle-hard attitude welcome Larry to the ranks of one of the best rappers of the new generation.
“Let’s Drive to Vegas” is a staple Larry June track that can easily go unnoticed (to common listeners). Larry displays his signature rap/ sing style utilizing his own voice unaltered by auto-tune or other digital adaptations.If this is your first Larry June song, dive into his catalog and trust me, he will grow on you organically.
9) Voices In My Head/ Stick To The Plan – Big Sean
I think it’s pretty safe to say that the best music doesn’t always make it to the radio or billboard charts. That’s even more true for rap music which is one of the reasons lists like this exist. Big Sean is an artist who might be the most victim to hit “best” songs not always hitting the radio airwaves.
“Voices In My Head/ Stick To The Plan” is an ingenious two-part track where Big Sean has a conversation with his inner mind to address self-doubt and inner demons. As the song moves into the second verse, the beat switches along with Big Sean’s rap cadence. He moves from introspection to manifestation, dedication, and motivation.
Songs like this really make you wonder, how and why songs like this get left off mainstream airwaves while songs about “Dance (A$$) go 4x platinum.”
10) Royal Flush – Big Boi, Andre 3000, Raekwon (2008)
Maybe there’s something about collaborations that make people not take them as seriously as songs featuring individual artists. This is a gathering of the greats that cannot be denied. 5 years after their individual yet collaborative dual albums Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below, the OutKast duo tapped Wu-Tang rapper, Raekwon who they previously recorded with on the song “Skew it on the Bar-B” (1998).
The best part of this song is hands down Andre 3000. Three Stacks spits for nearly two minutes straight. The never-rusty rapper delivers bar after bar, metaphor after analogy, as he schools the audience in a way only Benjamin Andre could.
11) Jigga What Jigga Who – Jay Z (1998)
Young HOV displays an effortless flow that would soon take him to the top of the rap game. This song was featured on Jay-Z’s third album, Vol.2… Hard Knock Life (1998). This track was overshadowed by songs like “Money, Cash, Hoes”, “Can I Get A…” and “Hard Knock Life,” one of the songs responsible for his crossover to reach mainstream audiences. Hard to make a mark as the 4th single on an album. The original unedited title of the song can also be cited as one of the reasons for this song’s lack of radio play.
12) Popped Off – T.I. feat/Dr. Dre (2012)
Fans of either artist are likely familiar with the beat behind this song. Variations of it appeared as snippets on mixtapes for several years but the full song never emerged (likely due to licensing issues). During a period when the good doctor was seldom heard from musically, he lent his talents to Atlanta rapper T.I.on not just the beat but also a rare verse.
By 2012, T.I. was definitely past the height of his career. Like a lot of other rappers, that doesn’t mean his skills have wavered in any way. This song is as underrated as it is unexpected to most casual listeners.
13) Lavish – Twista feat/Pharrell Williams (2004)
Chicago legend Twista is well known for his lightning-fast delivery style. This made him extremely popular during the early 2000s for his unique rap songs. This song off his 4th album, The Day After, was somehow overlooked by most listeners. Twista does not disappoint in delivering his signature flow with the help of a Neptune-produced beat and verse by Pharrell where he holds his own again the furious pace of Twista.
14) Statute of Limitations – 2 Chainz (2019)
When people think 2 Chainz, what comes to mind isn’t always prominent lyrics or song structure. His lifestyle, fashion, and overall personality can often take center stage over the actual quality of his music. “Statute of Limitations” off of 2 Chainz’s 5th studio album, Rap Or Go To The League, is a great example of 2 Chainz’s progression through his career as a rapper.
15) Say Sum – Migos (2016)
The Migos have plenty of hit and viral songs that helped them rise to be one of the best rap groups of the new era. Individually, Offset, Quavo, and the late Takeoff, are each talented artists. Their family ties lend to their strong bond as a group along with their ability to feed off each other’s energies on songs.
“Say Sum” is a song where the trio each takes turns showcasing their talents and versatility. This song is more of an r&b ballad compared to the Migos’ usual rap banger. Each member of the group takes their turn rapping and singing and delivers some of their most clever (and sometimes downright hilarious) lyrics.
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