The Best Hip Hop Songs of 2004

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for a blast from the past? Check out our list of the best hip hop songs from 2004. From Missy Elliott to Outkast, these tracks will take you back to the good old days.

Outkast- Hey Ya

Outkast- Hey Ya is a hip hop song that was released in 2004. The song is about a relationship that is not going well. The song is upbeat and has a positive message.

Nelly- Flap Your Wings

“Flap Your Wings” is a song by American rapper Nelly. It was released on September 14, 2004 as the second single from his fourth studio album Sweat (2004). The song peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Nelly’s ninth top ten and fourth consecutive top three single. Outside of the United States, “Flap Your Wings” topped the charts in Denmark and peaked within the top ten of the charts in Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland.

The song was produced by The Neptunes, who previously worked with Nelly on his singles “Hot in Herre” (2002) and “Air Force Ones” (2002). The song contains an interpolation of Michael Jackson’s 1984 hit “The Way You Make Me Feel”. “Flap Your Wings” received positive reviews from music critics, who praised the song’s production and Nelly’s vocals.

A music video for “Flap Your Wings” was directed by Benny Boom and features Nelly interacting with women in a night club.

Kanye West- Through the Wire

“Through the Wire” is the debut single by American rapper Kanye West. It was released on September 16, 2003, as the lead single from his debut album, The College Dropout (2004). The song features a deceased friend of West’s, Donda West, singing through a vocoder.

The song samples Chaka Khan’s 1985 single “Through the Fire” and expresses one of West’s earliest hopes and dreams as he raps about struggling to make it in the music industry while recovering from a car accident that nearly killed him. In an interview with MTV News, he elaborated on how the song Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven inspired him to pursue a career in music:

“That was just one of those ah-ha moments…I could do this. I let my emcees battle it out while I was making beats in my bedroom and at that moment I realized that I could say whatever I wanted through my music.”

The single was released on West’s own record label GOOD Music with distribution by Universal Music Group. It eventually peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. The success of “Through the Wire” led to an eventual recording contract with Roc-A-Fella Records, whereupon he recorded and released his second album Late Registration in 2005 which featured the hit singles “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”, “Gold Digger”, and “Heard ‘Em Say”.

Usher- Yeah!

“Yeah!” is a song recorded by American singer Usher, and features Lil Jon and Ludacris. The track was written by Lil Jon, Usher, Ludacris, Patrick J. Que Smith, Robert McDowell and Jonathan Yip from the production trioThe Smeezingtons. It was produced by Lil Jon and the Smeezingtons with additional production by Jamie “Shield” Smith.

Alicia Keys- If I Ain’t Got You

“If I Ain’t Got You” is a song recorded by American singer Alicia Keys for her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys. Written by Keys and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the track was released as the album’s second single in February 2004. It peaked at number twelve on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming Keys’ fifth consecutive top twenty hit in the United States. “If I Ain’t Got You” reached the top five in several countries, including Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It won a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards. The song’s music video was directed by Chris Robinson.

Snoop Dogg- Drop It Like It’s Hot

“Drop It Like It’s Hot” is a 2004 single by American rapper Snoop Dogg featuring American singer and producer Pharrell Williams. It was released on October 11, 2004 as the lead single from his seventh studio album, R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece (2004). The song peaked at number one on both the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the UK Singles Chart, becoming Snoop Dogg’s most successful single to date as well as his first and only US number-one hit single. The music video for the song was directed by Paul Hunter.

Ludacris- Yeah!

Ludacris’ “Yeah!” was the first single from his album Red Light District. The Southern rapper’s collaboration with Usher and Lil Jon was an instant success, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

Jadakiss- Why

“Why” is a song by American rapper Jadakiss, released as the first single from his second studio album Kiss of Death (2004). The song, co-produced by Havoc of Mobb Deep and Swizz Beatz, features a guest appearance from fellow American rapper Styles P.

The music video for “Why” was directed by Jessy Terrero. The video features Jadakiss and Styles P. in a meeting discussing the success of their rap group, D-Block, as well as Jadakiss’ newfound popularity since the release of his previous album, Kiss tha Game Goodbye (2001).

“Why” peaked at #59 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #23 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Along with the album’s title track, “Why” helped give Kiss of Death its Gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Eminem- Just Lose It

“Just Lose It” is a song by American rapper Eminem from his fifth studio album, Encore (2004). Written by Eminem, and produced by Dr. Dre and Mel-Man, the song was released as the lead single from Encore on September 28, 2004. “Just Lose It” peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100.

50 Cent- In Da Club

“In Da Club” is a hip hop song performed by American rapper 50 Cent from his commercial debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003). The song was written by 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, and was produced by Dr. Dre with co-production credit from Mike Elizondo. “In Da Club” peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained there for nine weeks, becoming 50 Cent’s second longest-running number one single behind “How We Do”. It spent six weeks atop the UK Singles Chart, becoming both 50 Cent’s longest-running chart topper in that country and Eminem’s as a featured artist.

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