Pop Culture

The Best Rap and Hip Hop Tracks About Cars

Hip hop is full of car-loving rappers waxing poetic about riding on rims so enormous that you could theoretically use them to blot out the sun, or parking a fleet of (totally leased) Bugattis, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis in their (totally leased) garages. True gearheads, however, are a little harder to find. We set out to scrape away the excess glitter, gold, and chrome and discover the rap tracks that actually touch on what it’s like to live, breathe, and love cars – not just the attention that comes from driving an exotic down the boulevard.

Check out the five best hip hop and rap tracks about cars below, and see if you agree with our choices.

Devin the Dude – Lacville ’79

Devin the Dude wants you to know that no matter how terrible his ’79 Cadillac might be, he’s not trading it in – mostly because he tried to once, and they laughed him off the lot. Consider these lyrics:

I’ve paid for it ’bout 9 times, different mechanics
Too much of a job, some say they just couldn’t handle it
I need some shocks on the back, I need some works on the brakes
My passenger side window sometimes it just don’t wanna raise
I hear bumps and crunks, pings and ticks and dings
I got a hole in my muffler and other minor things

The love for one’s car is a special thing, and it’s going to take more than every part of that Cadillac needing to be replaced over, and over, and over again for Devin to move on. Who hasn’t been in a similar love/death-spiral with a car before at least once in their lives?

The Pharcyde – Officer

Owning a car is basically like adopting a recurring bill and giving it unfettered access to your bank account. This is especially true if you’re like The Pharcyde in their early days, and could only afford a vehicle that may or may not be roadworthy on any given day. The track starts out by cribbing the same opening cadence as Public Enemy’s “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos”, but quickly veers away from the seriousness of that particular cut by going on to describe a license suspension, a buddy’s ride that simply won’t stop smoking no matter what anyone does, and what it’s like to get followed by the cops while driving in a car that has no registration and 90 unpaid parking tickets. Like the song says, “Should’ve took the bus.’

LL Cool J – The Boomin’ System

You don’t need a Lamborghini to draw a crowd. Sometimes, all it takes is a powerful subwoofer and the detachment to not “care if it cracks my back window,” as LL Cool J puts it in “The Boomin’ System”. Sure, LL is out to get the girls with his “Armor All on your tires and a big gold chain,’, and his “boomin’ system”, but the track goes even further than simply describing his intentions – it paints an incredibly accurate picture of what it’s like to cruise around at “12 o’clock at night with your windows down,” playing a tune that doesn’t “get no airplay” but has become your absolute favourite for showing off your car’s audio system. Most of us have been there, whether it was in our first car, a borrowed parental minivan, or a friend’s stereo that was so expensive they ate KD for two months.

Sir Mix-A-Lot – My Hooptie

When he wasn’t rapping about big butts, Sir Mix-A-Lot was keeping it very, very real by dropping verses about his “Hooptie”, the terrible, piece of crap car he keeps around to drive when his Benz is “in the shop”. Mix-A-Lot gets knee-deep in describing just how terrible his car is – “Lifters tickin’, accelerator’s stickin’ / Somethin’ on my left front wheel keeps clickin’” – which means he’s probably got a bad bearing, at the very least. A carb full of soot, a headlight shot out by an ex-girlfriend, an exhortation to his buddies to “push freak, push,” when they run out of gas, it’s all there in “My Hooptie”. Perhaps the most telling line has to do with everyone in his group of friends completely disavowing ownership of the car: “Who’s car is it? Posse won’t say / We all play it off when you look our way.” Raise your hand if you haven’t gone for a ride or two in a car that made you pull your cap down low?

Public Enemy – You’re Gonna Get Yours

Perhaps the best hip hop track about cars of all time is an ode to a vehicle that’s faded into the mists of the past, but which was the preferred ride of Chuck D., Public Enemy, and the 98 Posse – the Oldsmobile 98. Chuck bucks the hip hop trend of commemorating a total piece of crap by expounding at length on just how amazing his Oldsmobile is, and how everyone else hates him because of that very fact:

In this corner with the 98 / Subject of suckers object of hate
Who’s the one some think is great / I’m that one (son of a gun)
Driving by waving my fist / Making ’em mad when I’m going like this
Top gun, never on the run / (They know not to come cause they all get some)
Going quicker in the speeding lane / Jealous can’t do it and it’s causing them pain
Caught in my smoke, all they did was choke / Look at my spokes, you know I’m no joke
Out that window, middle finger for all / Jealous at my ride, stereo and blackwalls
Suckers they got the nerve and gall / (To talk about the car when they’re walking tall)

This is as close to a love song as Public Enemy ever released – and it doesn’t stop there. Chuck D. plants the flag for the Oldsmobile 98, calling it the “ultimate homeboy car”, explaining that it’s “tinted windows, so super bad” have it “looking like the car the Green Hornet had.” As if that weren’t enough, D makes the ultimate 80s car rap reference when he states “I’ll rub my boomerang cause I’m feeling proud.” How many readers even know what he’s talking about? (Hint: It’s the boot-mounted TV antenna) PE would go on to shout-out the Oldsmobile 98 on a number of records, including the seminal “Rebel Without A Pause” a few years later (You see my car keys – you’ll never get these / They belong to the 98 posse).