New York City is a center for many things in the world: fashion, art, media, finance, subway rats fighting park pigeons in battles for ultimate supremacy, etc. But New York didn’t birth any of those things. New York—and the Bronx specifically—is the birthplace of hip-hop. Which means New York City and hip-hop are forever intertwined. Rap listeners around the world who’ve never been to the Big Apple still know places like Nas’ Queensbridge projects, the slums of Wu-Tang’s Shaolin, and KRS-One’s South Bronx.

So it should come as no surprise that all five of its boroughs have produced many of rap’s greatest talents. Slick Rick, KRS-One, and Big Pun all hail from the Bronx. Big Daddy Kane, the Notorious B.I.G., and Jay Z are all from Brooklyn. Nas, LL Cool J, and 50 Cent rep Queens. Staten Island’s main contributions come from one camp but remain significant with Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon. Even Manhattan has its own Harlem World fresh with stars like Kool Moe Dee, Diddy, and Cam’ron. The fact that artists who even attempt to carry NYC’s flag these days are inevitably crushed by its sheer weight is a testament to the city’s contribution to the foundation of hip-hop.

All of that is reason why picking the 100 Best New York City Rap Songs is no easy task. There’s so much to choose from that so much still gets left out. For this list, we gave special preference to songs that repped for the city itself. We also imposed the limitation of no more than two songs per artist to reflect a greater diversity. And we only included artists who hail from within the city’s borders—so sorry but no Long Island like De La Soul or Public Enemy and no Yonkers like DMX and the LOX. So make sure there’s money in your Metro Card because this is a trip through New York and its five boroughs.

Listen to the playlist on Apple Music and Spotify.