This list showcases some of the best rap music videos of all time. Music videos are an art form in their own right, and these videos demonstrate how a video can be much more than just an accompaniment to a song.
From the golden age of hip-hop to the trap icons of the internet age, this article runs through some of the best hip-hop and rap music videos ever created.
Showcasing colour, creativity, and some stunning dance moves, these videos are amongst the most-memorable and most-viewed rap videos ever. Let’s dive in.
20. Touch The Sky – Kanye West
Year of release: 2006
There is no one who believes in Kanye’s abilities more than Kanye himself. Yet to the artist’s horror, the ambitious and playful video for ‘Touch The Sky’ did not pick up any awards.
The video depicts Kanye as daredevil ‘Evel Kanyevel’ who attempts to fly a rocket across the Grand Canyon. The video, which cost $1 million to make, also features Pamela Anderson who opposes the stunt.
With a strong 70s aesthetic, the video is a homage to Evel Knievel’s unsuccessful jump across Snake River Canyon in 1974. The video is the perfect match for the track with its lyrics about ‘touching the sky’ and its sample from Curtis Mayfield’s uplifting 1971 song ‘Move On Up.’
The video was nominated for the Best Video at the 2006 MTV Europe Awards, although it did not win. Awards aside, as Kanye rightly noted, ‘Touch The Sky’ was one of the ‘most memorable’ videos of 2006.
19. See You Again – Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth
Year of release: 2015
‘See You Again’ was always going to have to appear on this list. The song was massively popular, was lavished with awards, and is the most-viewed rap music video of all time, with well over 5 billion views on YouTube to date.
The track was originally commissioned as part of the soundtrack for the 2015 film Furious 7. The song was intended as a tribute to the actor Paul Walker who died in a car accident two years prior.
Altogether the track spent 12 weeks at number in the Billboard Hot 100, putting it in the top 3 longest-running rap singles to stay at number 1.
The track was nominated for many awards, including the Grammy award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. Ultimately, the track won over 7 awards including the Hollywood Song Award at the Hollywood Film Awards.
18. Bodak Yellow – Cardi B
Year of release: 2017
‘Bodak Yellow’ is one of the biggest hits from one of the most successful female rappers of our time. The lead single from her massive 2018 debut album Invasion of Privacy, the song stayed at number one in the Billboard Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks.
With its dark and minimal trap beat and Cardi B’s signature staccato vocals, the video features the artist riding a camel in the desert in Dubai. Various scenes show a cheetah which allegedly attacked Cardi B during the filming.
The video was Cardi B’s second video to amass over a billion streams on YouTube. The track received over a dozen award nominations (including the iHeartRadio Music Award for Best Music Video) and won 9 awards.
17. Lose Control – Missy Elliot feat. Fatman Scoop
Year of release: 2005
Missy Elliot’s 2005 hit ‘Lose Control’ is one the biggest hip-hop tracks of the 00s, and the video is likewise one of best rap music videos of that decade. The lead single of Missy Elliot’s 2005 album The Cookbook, the track peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The scene-shifting video features some stunning choreography along with some brilliantly bizarre sets from a 19th century house to a tarmac road in the desert. Along with that infectious, maddening, chromatic riff, and Missy Elliot’s coolly delivered rap verses, this is a stunning rap video.
16. Hypnotize – The Notorious B.I.G.
Year of release: 1997
‘Hypnotize’ is a song that has become essential to the hip-hop cannon, not necessarily due to the video itself, but due to the story behind the song.
Released just a week before Biggie was murdered in a drive-by shooting, ‘Hypnotize’ hit the number one spot in the Billboard Hot 100 after the artist’s death.
The track is produced by P. Diddy (who was then Puff Daddy) and samples Herb Alpert’s 1979 chart-topping song, ‘Rise.’ Diddy received permission from the original songwriter, who was Alpert’s nephew, Randy Alpert. Randy Alpert later reflected that upon hearing Diddy’s version, he immediately felt it ‘could be a number one record once again.’
The music video features Biggie and Diddy running away from the cops – catching helicopters and stopping off at wild parties on the way. A classic of the genre and a brilliant legacy to the rap legend.
15. Do We Have A Problem? – Nicki Minaj feat. Lil Baby
Year of release: 2022
Bring together two of the biggest names in contemporary American rap music with a strong video concept then this is what you get. The striking video from Nicki Minaj is inspired by the 2010 film Salt, and grabbed the 2022 MTV Video Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Video.
The track was something of a comeback for Minaj after giving birth to her first child. About the track she said that motherhood had made her want to move away from her more overtly sexual lyricism in recent years, with a return to her earlier style.
The Trinidadian-born rapper has several stunning videos to her name, but ‘Do We Have A Problem?’ might well be her crowning glory. With its narrative style and large amount of dialogue interspersed, it’s an ambitious and perfectly executed video.
14. Hotline Bling – Drake
Year of release: 2016
Drake is one of the most successful recording artists in the world today, with seemingly no end to his popularity. One of the most-streamed artists of all time, his smash hit ‘Hotline Bling’ is one of the most-viewed music videos of all time, fast-approaching 2 billion streams on YouTube.
Featuring the unmistakable singalong line ‘you used to call me on my cellphone,’ along with visuals that have been turned into one of the internet’s most-recognisable memes, this track is truly a staple of pop culture today.
Although the track only reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, it won two 2017 Grammy awards, including Best Rap Song.
The video is one of the most minimalist on this list, characterised by simple shots of Drake dancing in empty, geometrically designed spaces. The video proves that you don’t need a massive budget to make an iconic rap music video.
13. California Love – 2Pac feat Dr. Dre
Year of release: 1995
‘California Love’ is one of 2Pac’s best-known and best-loved songs. The track topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a fortnight, as well as topping the charts in several other countries.
The video, with its apocalyptic desert setting, is inspired by Mad Max. It features a cameo from funk legend George Clinton (playing the bad guy), from whom 2Pac rescues a group of women.
The video has a whole host of award nominations and wins. It was nominated for the 1996 MTV Video Award for Best Rap Video, and won the 1996 MOBO Award for Best Video. ‘California Love’ was also ranked number 1 in 2006 on French MTV’s ‘Greatest Rap Videos.’
12. Nothin’ But a G Thang – Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg
Year of release: 1992
Coming from Dr. Dre’s debut 1992 album The Chronic the track is a collaboration between two of the 90s biggest rappers. Characterised by a West Coast, G-funk sound, it is one of the best-known 90s hip-hop songs.
Directed by Dr. Dre himself, the video features the artist driving into Long Beach, California, to pick up Snoop Dogg for a block party. The video generally depicts the pair driving around and at parties, as well as a couple of controversial depictions of women being humiliated.
Nonetheless, with guest appearances from a host of 90s hip-hop stars including Warren G, the D.O.C, and Kurupt, the video is regarded as a classic amongst hip-hop heads.
11. Freestyler – Bomfunk MCs
Year of release: 1999
Here’s some vintage gold for you. Bomfunk MCs’ track ‘Freestyler’ was one of the best 90s rap tracks, and the video takes it to iconic level.
Bomfunk MCs are unique in this list as, perhaps unsurprisingly, the only Finnish artist. Despite hailing from a country that is basically disregarded in the rap scene, the rap collective’s breakbeat hit single reached around the world.
The video features a dreadlocked youth who, traversing urban scenes, finds they are able to start and stop time – which includes starting and stopping people mid-routine while they are breakdancing.
Charming, nostalgic – and almost legendary. A truly classic rap video.
10. U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
Year of release: 1990
The legendary MC Hammer is loved around the world thanks to this lighthearted yet iconic song and video.
Featuring that legendary line, ‘Stop! Hammertime!,’ MC Hammer’s signature tune has gone down in history. The video no doubt supported the song’s success with its excellent and timeless choreography. The dance moves include ‘the bump,’ ‘the running man,’ and what became known as the ‘hammer dance.’
The video received MTV Award nominations in 1990 for both Best Rap Video and Best Dance Video. One of the most iconic and best rap music videos ever!
9. My Name Is – Eminem
Year of release: 1999
For most of the world, ‘My Name Is’ was their introduction to Eminem’s controversial style, exemplified by this song and this video.
Produced by Dr. Dre, ‘My Name Is’ was the lead single from the artist’s 1999 debut album, The Slim Shady LP.
The slapstick video is both comical and irreverent, with the rapper playing a host of characters including school teachers, a ventriloquist’s puppet, and the President of the United States.
An outrageous song and a brilliantly cheeky video that epitomised Eminem’s contribution to hip-hop in the 90s.
8. Franchise – Travis Scott feat. Young Thug and M.I.A
Year of release: 2021
The winner of the 2021 MTV Video Award for Best Hip-Hop Video, ‘Franchise’ is an ambitious and beautifully-executed piece of videography. The track sees Travis Scott, one of the biggest trap artists in the world, collaborating with fellow trap heavyweight Young Thug, and British rapper M.I.A.
From the colourful opening scene with the cars pulling into the driveway, the video features some stunning shots. Highlights includes synchronised swimming, Young Thug’s face appearing behind a piece of sushi in-between some chop sticks, and M.I.A. dressed head-to-toe in dried flowers in the middle of a herd of sheep.
The video is directed by Travis Scott himself along with White Trash Tyler. The scenes with Scott and Thug were filmed in Michael Jordan’s mansion, with M.I.A’s scenes filmed in the village of Rye in England.
A genuine work of art that truly must have been the best rap video to come out in 2021.
7. Humble – Kendrick Lamar
Year of release: 2017
The lead single from Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 album Damn, ‘HUMBLE’ topped the Billboard Hot 100, and was presented with a number of well-deserved awards. The track is certified 7 times platinum.
Produced by Mike Will, the track has a grime-like sound with a minimal piano and 808 bass riff, making it something of a departure from the maximalist, jazz-influenced production on his 2015 LP, To Pimp A Butterfly....
The video is directed by Dave Meyers and is rich with symbolism, playing on religious imagery. The visuals open with Lamar dressed in a similar fashion to the pope, and later depict him sitting in the place of Jesus from Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper.
The video was awarded the Best Music Video award at the 2018 Grammys.
6. It’s Like That – Run-D.M.C. vs Jason Nevins
Year of release: 1999
The 1983 debut single from the legendary 80s and 90s hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. was remixed and re-released in 1997 by Jason Nevins to make a track that went down in history.
Upon its initial release, ‘It’s Like That’ was not a major success. But when house music artist Jason Nevins remixed it into a hip house track and re-released it, the song topped charts all over the world, making a record-breaking five million sales worldwide. The house beat and Run-D.M.C raps make the track a fine example of house and hip-hop crossover.
The iconic video, which was shot in LA in 1998, features male and female breakdance troupes battling each other. Some of the moves are insane, and the overall vibe of the video is just on point. One of the all-time greats.
5. In Da Club – 50 Cent
Year of release: 2003
One of the defining rap songs of the 00s, 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ was a massive hit worldwide. Produced by Dr. Dre and Elizondo, the track’s unusual rhythm and catchy lyrics made it perfect fare to become a smash hit.
‘In Da Club’ topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as various charts around the world. It was the track that put 50 Cent on the map, and was presented with various awards, including Best Rap Video at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.
In an iconic shot, 50 Cent first appears in the video hanging upside-down from the ceiling in a gym. The video is shot in the imaginary ‘Shady/Aftermath Artist Development Center’ where Eminem and Dr. Dre watch over aspiring artists like 50 Cent. The imagery contains an element of truth, as Eminem and Dr. Dre helped launch 50 to success.
A great video that is a worthy contender amongst the best rap music videos of all time.
4. Sicko Mode – Travis Scott feat. Drake
Year of release: 2018
The product of Travis Scott and Drake – two of the biggest names in rap music today – ‘Sicko Mode’ is a huge track with an epic video to match it.
The track is the first hip-hop song to spend 30 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10. With over a billion streams on YouTube to date, ‘Sicko Mode’ is one of the most-streamed rap videos of all time.
The song is unusually structured with three totally separate sections that feel almost unrelated, built on characteristically dark and minimal trap production.
The slick and fast moving video uses luminous colours and various night scenes to create a striking and cinematic aesthetic. The track also includes surreal elements with Travis riding a horse beneath an enormous statue of his own head.
Definitely one of the best rap music videos to come out the trap era so far.
3. This Is America – Childish Gambino
Year of release: 2018
Childish Gambino’s video for ‘This Is America’ may be the most-striking and most hotly-debated video on this list. The multi-layered and in some ways ambiguous video offsets playful dance moves with shocking depictions of gun violence.
As a successful actor in his own right, it was not surprising to see Donald Glover – the real name of Childish Gambino – pull something so stunning out of the bag. He ended up producing the most-talked-about music video of 2018.
The video is directed by Hiro Murai, and choreographed by Sherrie Silver. The stunning choreography references various African dances including the Ghanaian Azonto, Nigerian Shoki, and South African Gwara gwara.
One of the most interesting and best rap music videos of all time. I’ll leave you to interpret it yourself.
2. Hey Ya! – OutKast
Year of release: 2003
OutKast’s video for ‘Hey Ya!’ is nothing short of iconic. One of two lead singles from the pair’s 2003 Speakerboxxx/The Love Below album, this is the song and the video that saw the duo make waves around the world.
Featuring duplicates of OutKast rapper André 3000 playing numerous characters, and a screaming all-female audience that bring to mind the scenes of Beatlemania, the video is a riot.
You have to love the absurdity of three André 3000s becoming a group of backing singers called ‘The Love Haters,’ and several audience members instantly pulling out their cameras and shaking Polaroid pictures the moment André tells them to.
Vividly colourful and hilariously whacky, ‘Hey Ya!’ is one of the best rap music videos of the 00s, if not all time.
1. Old Town Road – Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
Year of release: 2018
‘Old Town Road’ was the phenomenal debut single from Lil Nas X. The song stayed at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-breaking 19 weeks.
Featuring guest vocals from Billy Ray Cyrus, the track features an unusual blend of trap and country music. As well as breaking the record for longest consecutive number 1, the track broke the record for the fastest single to become certified diamond. Lil Nas X allegedly recorded the track while living at his sister’s house, buying the instrumentals for $30.
The playful music video features Lil Nas X showing up in a small town on a horse. At first confused and a little put-out by his appearance, the people in neighbourhood eventually become curious. Dancing ensues, and a race between the horse and a sports car, before Billy Ray Cyrus turns up.
‘Old Town Road’ was nominated for the MTV Video Award for Best Hip-Hop Video, and won the Grammy Award for Best Music Video in 2019. No one can deny this is amongst the very best rap music videos of recent years!
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