Hip-hop may be considered the modern voice of a generation, but at its heart, the music was always made to party. While fans of more revolutionary acts like Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest may harp on the genre’s potent social commentary and Afrocentric activism, before those acts rose to prominence, rap music was designed to do one thing: Put bodies in motion on packed-out dance floors.
So, while the mission of the music has changed over the years, its soul remains the same — deep down, we all just want to dance. Even some of the hardest gangsta rappers have utilized some of the funkiest beats to get their menacing threats across, making a hip-hop every bit as dangerous as they are entertaining. A dance battle or a fight might break out to the same, bass-heavy soundtrack — either way, there ain’t no party like a hip-hop party.
And hey, I know this list is very aughts-centric, but what can I say? Millennials rule the world right now, and “Rapper’s Delight” feels a little dated. Deal with it.
Here are the best hip-hop party songs of all time.
15. Joe Budden — “Pump It Up”
They played this like five times at my prom (millennial, remember). It’s Joe Budden’s only real “hit” record and he’s still considered an iconic figure in hip-hop culture to this day. Some things are undeniable.
14. Chief Keef — “Faneto”
Sure, Keef’s “Don’t Like” was a much more successful single, but it was “Faneto” that caused a deck to collapse at a college party, instantly rocketing this song into party song history.
13. Drake — “In My Feelings”
A newer song in Drake’s catalog, “In My Feelings” is still undoubtedly one of his better “party” songs, rather than the club anthems he’s better known for. The difference is songs like “All Me,” “I’m On One,” “No New Friends,” or his appearances on any number of other stars’ hits is while those songs say “stand up on the couch and yell the lyrics at the top of your lungs,” “In My Feelings” hits you right in the knees, prompting an irresistible urge to bounce like the New Orleans bop Drake sampled.
12. De La Soul — “Me Myself And I”
Introducing the world to The Native Tongues representatives for the first time, “Me, Myself, And I” was a watershed moment for hip-hop and still sparks a reaction from fans across generations.
11. Ludacris — “Move B***h” Feat. Mystikal and I-20
Good party songs make you want to do one of two things: Dance or fight. File this one under “fight music” with its aggressive swagger and elbow-swinging recklessness. “Move” also has the added distinction of going from straightforward party anthem to protest song, proving that real classics always find new life.
10. Outkast — “Rosa Parks”
I fought with myself about including just the right Atlanta “crunk” nugget, or whether a “trap” song would be more appropriate. Neither would even exist without the pioneering efforts of Big Boi and Andre 3000. Case closed.
9. Tupac — “California Love” Feat. Dr. Dre
California indeed knows how to party, and this spin on Ronnie Hudson’s “West Coast Poplock” became more popular than the original in 1995 with its Mad Max Beyond The Thunderdome-inspired video and Roger Troutman cameo on the chorus. So many versions of this song exist, including an extended version with three Dr. Dre verses, but this one is by far the best-known.
8. Missy Elliott — “Work It”
It’s one thing if a song can inspire a whole crowd to sing along to its chorus. It’s a whole other thing entirely if half that chorus is in reverse. Missy’s heavily ’80s-influenced Under Construction wound up being her most successful album to date, in large part because of the inescapable “Work It,” which dominated the US Billboard Hot 100 for 26 weeks in 2002-2003.
7. Terror Squad — “Lean Back” Feat. Fat Joe and Remy Ma
A party song for gangsters, “Lean Back” finally gave tough guys something to do at parties before the fights broke out and also introduced the wider world to Remy Ma, an important figure in the genre if only for the 2017 she spent antagonizing Nicki Minaj into making some of her best music of the last five years.
6. Lil Kim — “Not Tonight Remix (Ladies Night)” Feat. Missy Elliott, Da Brat, Left Eye, and Angie Martinez
There may be a ladies-only posse cut coming that finally outdoes this one, but until it arrives, Lil Kim’s invitation to the top female rappers in hip-hop remains the best “Ladies’ Night” anthem in circulation.
5. 50 Cent — “In Da Club”
“In Da Club” wasn’t just the beginning of 50 Cent’s chart dominance. It wasn’t just his first Hot 100 No. 1. It wasn’t just one of the longest-running Hot 100 hits of 2003, remaining on the chart for 30 weeks. It was nothing less than one of the defining pop hip-hop songs for a generation. Go shawty, it’s your birthday.
4. Snoop Dogg — “Ain’t No Fun” Feat. Nate Dogg, Kurupt, and Warren G
Is it misogynistic? Yes. Is it obscene? Absolutely. Are we glad all parties involved have (hopefully) moved on and grown from the reprehensible perspectives shared in the lyrics here? Indeed. Will you still sing every damn word of Nate Dogg’s verse when it comes on in the club? Tell the truth, shame the devil.
3. T-Pain — “Bartender” Feat. Akon
T-Pain kicked off the Autotune trend. This is T-Pain’s most fun song utilizing the tool. 2+2=One of the best party songs ever.
2. DMX — “Party Up (Up In Here)”
An ubiquitous hit from DMX’s history-making run and his most successful US single, “Party Up” is that song everybody knows and will promptly join when it comes on. Its placements throughout pop culture solidify its status as one of the more iconic hits of the 2000s, appearing in movies, on TV shows, in commercials, and even in championship locker rooms.
1. Jay-Z — “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)”
That “bling like the Neptunes’ sound” bar could pretty much sum up the entirety of the early 2000s party experience — in fact, it’d be possible to fill this entire list with examples solely taken from the Neptunes’ production catalog at the time. “Give It To Me” is by far the best example though, featuring one of rap’s biggest stars, an irresistible, peak-Neptunes-era beat, and a guaranteed singalong of both the chorus and Jay’s infamous Carl Thomas-crooning moment in the first verse.
Some of the artists mentioned above are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.