Hip-hop is filled with tunes that make you laugh, cry, and inspire you. With many turning to music as a motivational tool, there are plenty of tunes to add to your “Gotta Make It” playlist.
As some of your favorite rappers grow, their journey can inspire you. One song about a failed relationship or newfound success can touch your heart and motivate you to keep moving on the road to your dreams. The struggle is hard, but the destination makes it all worth it. As part of Nissan’s Blvd of Dreams Series, we put together some of the best motivational songs from back in the day to the 2000s.
Be prepared to jam and be inspired by these modern and classic hip-hop tunes.
Big K.R.I.T featuring Bun B
The Atlanta rapper teams up with Houston’s best for a song about overcoming all obstacles.
Best Line: “Good at problem solving/ cuz I’m good at starting it in the first place/ It feels so good to be where I’m at cause where I was, was the worst place”
Wu Tang Clan
The rap collective’s classic track reminds us that moving forward from tough hardships is the best and only way to overcome.
Best Line: “But I’m still depressed and I ask what it’s worth/ ready to give up so I seek the Old Earth/ who explained working hard will help you maintain to learn to overcome the heartaches and pain”
Nicki Minaj featuring Drake
“Moment for Life”
Off Nicki’s debut album, Pink Friday, the rapper reminds us that your moment is now. Have fun. You’ve worked so hard to get here!
Best Line: “I fly with the stars in the skies/I am no longer trying to survive/ I believe that life is a prize, but to win doesn’t mean you’re alive”
Outkast featuring Cee-Lo Green
“In Due Time”
This throwback jam tells the story of patience. Nothing comes easy for anyone!
Best Line: “You’ve got to realize that the world is a test/you can only do your best and let him do the rest/ you’ve got your life and you’ve got your health so quit procrastinating and push yourself”
A standout track from his Friday Night Lights mixtape, Cole paints a picture of what it feels like right at the moment when everything starts to come together. Sure you aren’t at your goal just yet, but it’s right around the corner.
Best Line: “Was broke as dishes tryna let it go/Hit the club she drop it low/lower that my credit score/Account overdrawn now I’m thinking ‘What I got this debit for’/ So much debit it got me drinking, thinking ‘I better blow”
Drake, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Eminem
Drake’s 2010 smash will get you pumped before that big game, hitting the gym, or even getting you hype at the club.
Best Line: “I will never stop like I’m running from the cops/Hop up in the car and told my chauffeur to the top/Life is such a roller coaster till it drop/but what should I scream for, this is my theme park”
Kendrick Lamar featuring Mary J. Blige
“Now or Never”
From the deluxe version of Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city debut, this is the perfect ending to the road to success. When you work hard, you don’t realize the effect you have on others. K. Dot highlights his journey of the underdog and breaking through to the other side.
Best Line: “You can break bread with me now/we can all take a bow on the edge of the pedestal/ then scream out loud that we made it off the avenue and walked that mile”
Kanye West featuring Lupe Fiasco
“Touch the Sky”
Confidence is key. For Kanye’s collabo with a young Lupe Fiasco, the rapper talks of his days of struggle and the sweet success that came after.
Best Line: “I’d do anything to say I got it/Damn those new loafers hurt my wallet/Before anybody wanted K. West beats me and my girl split the buffet at KFC/Dog, I was having nervous breakdowns, Like ‘Man, these people that much better than me?’
The theme to the rapper’s critically acclaimed 8 Mile, Em’s story proved to be a harsh reality for many others. How do you capture your dreams? Simply just lose yourself.
Best Line: “Another day of monotony has gotten me to the point/I’m like a snail I got to formulate a plot or end up in jail or shot/success is my only option, failure’s not”
Lupe Fiasco featuring Sara Green
The opening tune to Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers is a brutally honest tale of falling to the gritty bottom to realize that you are in control of changing the future.
Best Line: “Sometimes I feel like the world sometimes, I feel like the world is against me/and everything that I’ve done before, I swear we used to be so pure/But we can’t be in love no more/ cause I don’t wanna fight this war”
Diddy featuring Notorious B.I.G and Busta Rhymes
From the intro to Busta Rhymes on the chorus, this classic can get you pumped no matter how your day is going.
Best Line: “Yo the sun don’t sun don’t shine forever but as long as it’s here we might as well shine together/ Better now than ever business before pleasure/Yeah right, no matter what we air tight/ so when you hear something, make sure you hear it right”
“Hate Me Now”
One of the rapper’s most memorable songs gives a shout to the naysayers. When you’re winning, there’s going to be haters. Embrace it and move forward.
Best Line: “People fear what they don’t understand, hate what they can’t conquer/guess it’s just the theory of a man/Became a monster, on top of the world, never fallin/I’m as real as they come, from day one forever ballin”
One of the many inspirational songs from the late Tupac Shakur, the rapper discusses problems with race and social inequality that remain problematic today. If that doesn’t inspire you to change, what will?
Best Line: “We gotta make a change/It’s time for us as a people to start making some changes/Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live/And let’s change the way we treat each other/ You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us to do what we gotta do to survive.”
DJ Khaled featuring T-Pain and Kanye West
When reaching your dreams, the best feeling is having the confidence throughout it all. You know you’re dope, so it’s OK to remind yourself every now and then when times are tough. Insert DJ Khaled and Kanye West because…Kanye.
Best Line: “Felt like I had to play the fly on the wall/Felt like people was stuntin on me/Funny how I’m flyer than them all/Now I’m at the top ain’t nowhere to go now”
“Dreams and Nightmares Intro”
Meek Mill keeps the momentum going on one of his most popular songs to date. Meek’s back story is an interesting one that he constantly raps about today.
Best Line: “I’m getting cream never let them girls get in between of what we started/lil guy but I’m lion hearted/They love me when I was stuck and they hated when I departed/I go and get it regardless, draw it like an artist.”
Moving forward can be easy when you remember where you came from. Common’s “The Corner” paints a portrait of hard-working people who want more to do more than just let life pass them by.
Best Line: “The dirt isn’t just fertile, it’s people working and earning this/The curb getter go where the cash flow and the current is…The furnace is, where the money moving, the determined live/we talk ish, play lotto, and buy German beers/it’s so black packed with action that’s affirmative.”
Jam to the full playlist below.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty