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Let me ride – the 10 greatest car songs and videos in Hip Hop history

Hip Hop is celebrating its 50th birthday today and cars have been a central part of rap culture, from the early 1970s until this day. We look back at some of the most iconic, automotive-inspired rap songs and music videos.

Dr. Dre - Let me ride

If there is one song in music history that’s emblematic of the close connection between Hip Hop and car culture, it must be Dr. Dre’s Grammy-winning 1993 hit single “Let me Ride”. Has rolling through Compton in a 1964 Chevrolet Impala ever sounded that cool?

Lost Boyz - Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz

Compared to the diamond-clad Bugattis that are considered commodities for today’s artists, Rapper’s wishlists were still modest in the Mid-1990s, when Mr. Cheeks of the Queens-based Hip Hop crew Lost Boyz dreamt about Jeeps, Lexus Coupes, BMWs and Mercedes-Benz in their 1995 hit song. 

Outkast - Two Dope Boyz in a Cadillac

What’s the definition of Southern Cool? André 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast delivered a simple explanation in their 1996 song “Two Dope Boys (and a Cadillac)” while rolling through the streets of Atlanta: “It goes Broughams to the Fleetwoods, Coupes to De Villes. Hitting Girbauds and off these flows we having the playa chill.”

Masta Ace - Sittin on Chrome

"I just got paid, It's Friday night, I'm sittin on chrome, And I'm feelin alright” rapped Brooklyn-native Masta Ace in his 1990s automotive anthem “Sittin on Chrome”. While the selection of aftermarket wheels on some of the cars might be highly questionable from today’s point of view, car culture has never been quite so shiny.

LL Cool J - Back Seat (of my Jeep)

It certainly wasn’t about ISOFIX when LL Cool J praised the qualities of his Jeep’s back seats in his 1993 single of the same name. "You're the type of girl that got class and style. Still in all you need the backseat of my jeep once in a while." 

2Pac - To Live And Die in L.A.

The Chevy Impala is the poster car of Southern Californian lowrider culture, so naturally Tupac Shakur had to take to the wheel of a banana-yellow 1961 custom Impala for his 1996 song “To Live & Die in L.A.”. 

N.T.M - Ma Benz

In the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz were still a long way from building Maybach offroaders and G-wagons with Virgil Abloh, but in a way NTM’s French hit song and video “Ma Benz” featuring Lord Kossity emphasized the brand’s unique street credibility two decades before artist collaborations became the go-to for generating hype. “Laisse-moi zoom-zoom-zang dans ta Benz, Benz, Benz."

Jay-Z & Kanye West - Otis

The next chapter in popcultural deconstructivism and the rise of guerilla marketing was written by Jay-Z, Kanye West and acclaimed director Spike Jonze when they chopped up a Maybach for their 2011 music video “Otis”. 

Joey Badass - 500 Benz

Apart from the occasional lowrider, classics and youngtimers have been a rare sight in Hip Hop culture. This slowly changed in the last decade and Joey Badass’ ode to the R129 Mercedes-Benz SL from the 1990s in his 2017 video “500 Benz” was one of the most memorable steps towards a more refined and sophisticated car taste in rap culture.

Tyler, The Creator - WUSYANAME

If there is a true “Classic Driver” in the rap game, it has to be Tyler, the Creator. The trend-setting Californian rapper owns many collector cars we've adored over the last 25 years, including a Lancia Delta Integrale, a Fiat 131 Abarth Rally, a BMW E30 M3 and a Rolls-Royce Camargue. He also hasn’t shied away from customizing his classics in pink or turquoise, adding a much-needed splash of colour to the rap world’s automotive taste.