20. Black Milk - "Losing Out" (Feat. Royce da 5'9")
19. Young Jeezy - "My President" (Feat. Nas)
© Def Jam
The ultimate political rap anthem of 2008 came from the Snowman's rhyme book. Who would've thunk it??
Kanye's braggart rhymes, Jay-Z's strong presence, Lil Wayne's unique delivery, and T.I.'s multi-syllabic flow make this a quadruple whammy of star power. Throw in an ingenious sample of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" and you have the perfect street anthem.
17. Jay-Z - "History"
Jay-Z has never been one to get political on the mic, but this year he was front and center stumping for Barack Obama's presidential campaign like his rap contract depended on it. While "History" is not directly about Obama, Jay-Z couldn't resist an opportunity to find the victory in history and release a musical counterpart to the sense of optimism Obama's campaign portrayed.
16. Ludacris - "MVP"
© Henry Adaso/About.com
Ludacris dismantles the apparatus of mediocrity and replaces it with his strongest cut in years.
15. T.I. - "No Matter What"
In the business of turning pain into pleasure, T.I. is King. This brooding track from Paper Trail
finds Tip patting himself on the back ("Lyrics so sick with it/Set the standard in Atlanta on how to get, get, get it") and displaying strength in the face of adversity ("I lost my partner and my daughter in the same year/Somehow I rise above my problems and remain here.")
14. Statik Selektah - "To the Top" (w/Saigon, Cassidy, Termanology)
Statik Selektah may never win a spelling bee, but he sure as hell knows how to assemble a team of collaborators. A true test of a good producer is how well he’s able to match the right artists with the right beat, and Statik passed that test with flying colors on "Take It to the Top." [Video
B.o.B. is one of the brightest new rappers to emerge in 2008. And "I'll Be on the Sky" is attention grabbing for all the right reasons — smart, funky artrap and a strong prelude to his album.
"Nas"© Scott Gries/Getty
"Black President" best captures the sentiment behind Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid. In line with Obama's message of hope and optimism, Nas takes 2Pac's skepticism ("Although it seems heaven sent, we ain't ready to see a black president") and transformed it into a powerful assertion of progress in American politics. It's by far the best Obama tribute ever.
"Move" is an upbeat gem from Q-Tip's The Renaissance.
It's bouncy enough for the club and frenetic enough for the gym. The latter half of the song reminds us of the many reasons Q-Tip is so special. With a flip of the beat, a bubbly rap song descends into a somber subway banger, as Tip recalls his days as a young MC.