Making a hit rap song isn't just about the bars. All of the best hip hop and rap songs have a strong rap hook. Whether you listen to Pop Smoke or Jay Z, each artist has their own way of building a catchy earworm.
But what is a rap hook? And how can you build one in your own music? Below, we'll showcase some of the best rap hooks of all time and share some secrets behind why they sound good. Let's take a listen!
What Is a Rap Hook?
As the name suggests, a rap hook is a short phrase or line in a song that's designed to hook in the listener with a memorable melody, lyrics, or both. The hook usually shows up during the chorus of the song, but it could be anywhere in a composition.
In rap and hip hop, sometimes the hook is sung instead of spoken. This creates contrast in the song and often presents opportunities for rap songs to showcase vocal samples or a vocalist. Take the classic song Buy U A Drank by T pain ft. Yung Joc - the iconic chorus everyone remembers serves as a catchy rap hook:
22 Amazing Rap Hooks Every Musician Should Know
The best way to understand the power of a rap hook is to listen to some of the best! Here are some amazing rap hook examples to inspire your next beat.
212 by Azealia Banks ft. Lazy Jay
This New York banger holds a unique house-inspired beat and a rap hook that stands out with a synth melody and sassy rap delivery:
Go DJ by Lil Wayne ft. Mannie Fresh
The rap hook of the song utilizes vocal layers ad libs and creative panning to make for a truly memorable performance:
Persuasive by Doechii
Doechiii creates a seamless bridge between rappers, pop, and R&B music with her strong delivery, amazing beats and rap hooks as showcased in Persuasive :
Empire State of Mind by Jay Z ft. Alicia Keys
This song as been co-opted as a New York anthem thanks to the powerful hook provided by Alicia Keys against the backdrop Jay Z's expert rapping delivery:
XO Tour Llif3 by Lil Uzi Vert
This song recently went certified Diamond thanks to its defining hook sung by Lil Uzi Vert:
Metro Spider by Metro Boomin ft. Young Thug
Metro Booming brands himself by building his brand into the rap hooks of this recent banger:
Slow Motion by Juvenile ft. Soulja Slim
Soulja Slim sings the hook on the song opening up the beat and creating an instant earworm:
Black and Yellow by Wiz Khalifa
Chances are you can sing Black and Yellow just by hearing the title. Wiz Khalifa built this radio hit by creating a strong rap hook that's easy to sing with the melody of the track:
Bodak Yellow by Cardi B
Atlantic Records was surely happy when Cardi B released Bodak Yellow whose rap hook took over the internet:
Super Bass by Nicki Minaj
This bubblegum rap song broke barriers with its fast-paced vocal hook:
B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast) by Rick Ross ft. Styles P
Rick Ross' certainly knows how to capture emotions in his rapping. Listen to how he introduces the hook before diving into his bars:
Sound of da Police by KRS-One
This hip hop hook is bound to get stuck in your head. Try not to catch an earworm from this jazzy tune:
Scenario by A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest will forever stand as rappers who stood out from the crowd for their unique beats, hooks and delivery:
Heartless by Kanye West
Kanye West shocked the music scene with this hook packed with autotune:
Savage by Meghan Thee Stallion
Meghan Thee Stallion earned a track with Beyonce by creating this iconic track with an earworm hook:
Fancy by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX found a radio hit through the memorable vocals, rapping, and catchy melody of this song:
Started from the Bottom by Drake
Drake dove right into the hook before rapping his first verse in this track, making the song as catchy as ever.
Big Poppa by The Notorious B.I.G.
This classic from Biggie Smalls continues to be heard to this day thanks to the song's infectious hook:
Say So by Doja Cat
Doja Cat arguably debuted with this lead single off of Hot Pink . As soon as the rap hook caught fire on TikTok, this groovy track took over the charts:
Hey Ya! by OutKast
This deceptively happy-sounding track crossed over into the pop space with its catchy hook and memorable lines about shaking a polaroid picture. It's not hard to hear why this single makes sense:
Lose Yourself by Eminem
Talk to anyone who's remotely familiar with hip hop and rap and they'll be able to recite the powerful hook of this motivational song. Eminem's Lose Yourself stays memorable with a punchy vocal delivery and unique lyrics:
Day n Nite by Kid Cudi
This club classic has recently seen a resurgence thanks to its catchy hook, and hypnotizing beat, interspersed with playful ad-libs:
How To Write a Great Rap Hook
Ready to put your own skills to the test? Here are a couple of pointers to help you write a killer hook.
1. Use a Typical Pop Structure
In today's day in age, pop and rap can be one in the same. Artists like Travis Scott understand the power of a traditional verse-chorus pop structure. Create a familiar feel by utilizing an 8-bar chorus, featuring your hook, and 16-bar verses.
2. Build Dynamic Beats
Part of the power of rap hooks comes from the beat behind it. A great producer knows how to make a hook standout from the backdrop of a song by utilizing new chords, melodies, and automation to create a more dynamic listening experience. Listen to some of your favorite rap hooks to get inspired.
3. Use Ad Libs or Vocal Samples
Ad-libs, vocal samples, beat switch-ups, and other ear candy can help make your hook more memorable. Consider adding in some extra spice when building your hook-- it should distinctly stand out from the rest of the track.
4. Collaborate With Vocalists
Collaborating with vocalists is a great way to expand your style as a producer and rapper. Plus, executing a co-release makes it easier for you to find new listeners. Open up your hook or verses to trusted musicians to find the best hook possible.
5. Test Until You Strike Gold
You might land on the right hook immediately, or it could take a hundred rounds of revisions-- this is all part of the fun! Keep testing out hooks on top of your beat and come back to them after a couple days to hear what catches your ears. You can even ask your audience on social media what hook resonates with them most.
A strong rap hook can easily skyrocket a song's success. Use these amazing rap hooks to build your own beats. Remember, the best way to learn how to write a rap hook is to keep give it a try! Have fun experimenting and writing your own music.