There are many places on the Internet where you can download hip hop music for free. This includes old school jams, as well as the latest rap and hip hop songs from artists in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and all around the world.
Free Hip Hop Download Sites
Whether you want to download some new hip hop songs for your own personal enjoyment in the car or you need some cheerleading music for your squad's next routine, the following websites are completely free and legal. It should be noted that these downloads are generally only authorized for personal use and they may not provide you with a license to use the song in any sort of commercial fashion.
Free Music Archive
Directed by an independent community radio station in New Jersey, the Free Music Archive (FMA) provides an ever-growing library of music downloads, including a section dedicated to hip hop. The tracks offered here are typically from little known artists, but the rights have been completely cleared for your personal listening, as well as for educational purposes. Each track has its own set of rights, typically displayed in the form of a Creative Commons license. You can preview the tracks before downloading them, add several to a playlist for the integrated FMA Player, and browse the full album descriptions for further insights. Curators actively select and upload all of the music to the site. Artists on FMA include DJ Def Chad and LOWdown.
Calling itself the "#1 platform for free music," Jamendo operates under a Creative Commons agreement with the hip hop artists who submit their work to the site. Access thousands of music MP3s as free downloads or stream the songs from the in-page music player. The site offers a robust search engine and advanced features like the creation of playlists, the ability to "like" or "dislike" songs, and suggestions for more titles you might enjoy based on your current tracks. Commercial licenses for songs are available at a cost. Artists here sign up for accounts and upload their own music. Some of the more popular hip hop tracks on the site include Five O'Clock by JEKK and We Taking Over by Silex.
Soundcloud is a site that streams music on the Internet, complete with a strong community of artists and music enthusiasts from around the world. The site displays each song as its waveform and each artist effectively has their own social media profile that you can follow for all of their newest uploads. You can like, repost and share individual tracks. Many of the tracks here are available for download. If a song can be downloaded, an icon with a downward-pointing arrow will appear next to or below the song's waveform. The site features independent artists like Chadio, as well as remixes with more popular mainstream artists like Jay-Z.
By and large, the music that you will find on Bandcamp will come from up and coming artists who are looking to make a name for themselves in the industry. Not all of the downloads on Bandcamp are free, as some artists may ask for a set price for their tracks and albums, whereas others subscribe to a "name your price" model. However, many hip hop artists on Bandcamp do offer free downloads and you can even enter $0 for albums and songs with a "name your price" setting. Some of the most popular free hip hop albums include Strange Journey Volume Three by CunninLynguists and Girl Rap by Gifted Gab.
While mostly seen as a source of Internet radio stations, Last.fm also provides a fantastic repository free hip hop MP3 music. You can preview each song from within your browser by clicking on the small "play" button before clicking the "Free MP3" icon to download the track. Last.fm is not a music retailer, so all of the MP3 downloads offered by the site are completely free. Artists and labels can create their own accounts from which they upload the individual songs. Examples of available tracks include No Karma by Jaydiohead and Be A King by e-dubble.
All of the content made available on Noise Trade is free but the site does accept "tips" as optional compensation. While most of the hip hop artists on Noise Trade are not well known by most listeners, there is a very useful feature on each of the album pages that lists more popular artists whose style is similar to the one on Noise Trade. For instance, fans of Kendrick Lamar and Talib Kweli may enjoy Eshon Burgundy, while Braille is best suited for listeners who enjoy A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. Clicking on any individual track name allows for an in-browser preview and clicking on the large "download music" button initiates the download.
Focused almost exclusively on the hip hop genre, DJBooth aims to provide "the dopest new tracks" for your listening pleasure. The songs listed on the site are hand-selected by the DJBooth editors and DJs, featuring "only what you need to hear." All of the music is acquired directly from the artists and labels, and through a network of worldwide DJs. Artists can submit their own tracks for consideration. Not all songs are available as a free download, but those that are, are clearly indicated by the "download" button by their description. Other tracks may be purchased via the iTunes link or streamed on the site. Highlights include StreetLIGHTS by SkyBlew and I Go Through Life By Y1.
Access a World of Hip Hop
Many of the greatest rap songs this world has ever known were born out of the underground scene from artists who made a name for themselves on the streets. With the growing ubiquity of the Internet and the rise of free download sites, even the most obscure hip hop artist has the opportunity to make a name for himself. It's a great time to be a fan of rap and hip hop.