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Best Rap Songs of 2023 | Rappers and Songs Of The Year

The world continues to shift at a rapid pace with so many major global events happening that it’s hard to know exactly how we think about time. The only thing that’s been consistent throughout the past few years has been the good music dropping that we’re able to use as timestamps. 2023 has been progressing steadily with heat from Nas, 50 Cent, GloRilla, Sexyy Red, Noname, Ice Spice, Boldy James, A$AP Rocky, Gucci Mane, RX Papi, Kendrick Lamar and more.

Check back at the beginning of every month for updates and check out our other lists and our playlist below, which includes all of the songs mentioned in this article and more:

Struggling to find a list of the Hip Hop Albums that have been shifting the culture? Take a look at our lists for Hip Hop, Rap and R&B to get a complete survey of the projects that are dictating the conversation within Hip Hop.

Need some new songs to throw in the rotation but Spotify and user-created playlists are way too long? We kept it simple and added only the best of the best songs from each month to make sure you get the songs you need without a hassle. Peep the lists below.

Editor’s note: Songs from this list were released between January 1, 2023 – August 30, 2023.

“Patty Cake” – Quavo & Takeoff

“YUPP!” – Ghostface Killah f. Remy Ma

“Hood Rats” – Sexyy Red & Sukihana

No rapper is hotter than Sexyy Red. Car windows blast “SkeeYee,” as they whip past traffic with reckless abandon. DJs liven up even the deadest crowd when they switch to “Poundtown 2,”; “my coochie pink, my booty-hole brown,” might as well replace the pledge of allegiance (her best song is actually “Looking For The Hoes”). Even in the concert venues she’s not attending, her presence is often felt more than the actual rapper performing. It’s a level of dominance that’s been seen before (Glorilla, Ice Spice, Megan Thee Stallion, Bobby Shmurda, etc.) but what separates Red is her ability to carry weaker performers. Lijay is a pretty regular post Carti-core rapper, but Red makes his latest single “I love freaks” an interesting juxtaposition between styles. Sukihana is more known for her antics and personality than her music. Her raunchiness and give no fucks aesthetic clearly wants to position her as a Cardi B-like figure. But Suki feels forced, whereas Cardi echoed the genuineness that made Snoop Dogg one of the coolest rappers alive. She may be on Love & Hip Hop, but she is no Bardi. And so, her best move is to continue racking up headlines like Chrisean Rock. But she’s not untalented, she’s just not interesting enough on record to make an impact. Enter Sexyy Red, who takes the work of making a good song off of Suki, and instead lets her ratchet up her personality to the max on “Hood Rats.” It’s crude, rude, and true to the essence of both artists. Not many duos could pull this off, but Sexyy Red is untouchable right now, she can do no wrong, no matter who she’s paired with. – Josh Svetz

“XXL” – EST Gee

“There I Go” – Gucci Mane f. J. Cole & Mike WiLL Made-It

“toxic” – Noname

Noname blends Chicago’s deep-rooted history of poetry and soul-embalmed rap with the polyrhythms of traditionally African instrumentation, present here in Saba, Ben Nartey and AJ Halls’ collaboration in the production, bouncing rimshots on every off-beat, keeping pace with Noname’s slick boom-bap. In its introductory skit, “toxic” showcases a feminine-masculine mismatch in the understanding of love. The speaker emphasizes that love is commitment, and Noname expresses that same frustration with “toxic” love from people whose company she wouldn’t even prefer to her own. The yearning is paradoxical and so are Noname’s lovers, having babies with other women even though they had never shown maturity since the beginning. – Yousef Srour

“Office Hours” – Nas & Hit-Boy f. 50 Cent

Hail the trumpets, Nas and 50 Cent have officially ended their standing beef. In time for the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the two have finally come together on Magic 2’s “Office Hours.” In honor of the double-entendre, the pair would like to remind hip-hop that they are and forever will be the OGs. And why not celebrate that? They come together with a blood-soaked portrait of Queens and Crown Heights, tattered by the skin of their teeth with stories from their respective pasts. – Yousef Srour

“JEALOUSY” – Offset & Cardi B

“Got Yo Wingz” – Rich Homie Quan

Atlanta’s Rich Homie Quan pens a touching tribute to lost loved ones on “Got Yo Wingz.” Dedicated to the memory of his late friend Demetrius Jerel Thomas, who died in March, the song finds Quan grappling with his grief, questioning the almighty, and contemplating his own drug use and mortality. “Never question God but I’m like ‘Damn, why you take him?’ And they say prayer bring power, damn I been praying,” he laments. Displaying the melodic verse that made him a star, “Got Yo Wingz” is just another reminder that regardless of the industry politics, Rich Homie Quan remains a genre staple. – Nina Hernandez

“RIOT (Rowdy Pipe’n)” – A$AP Rocky & Pharrell Williams

“Fruit Loop” – Flo Milli

“Sprinter” – Central Cee & Dave

The world hasn’t been the same ever since two of the UK’s most enticing emcees, Dave and Central Cee, teamed up for a surprise four-song EP earlier this month. Its lead single, “Sprinter” quickly became one of the best hip-hop songs of the year. Each of their respectively clever flexes roll off of their tongues with ease, as they fill the track’s space up with clever bar after clever bar about their exquisite lifestyles and humorous UK slang. They trade bars in the hook, as they reveal what the track is titled after; “I just put nine gyal in a sprinter / One hundred eaters, they won’t fit in one SUV,” they rap one after another. As they relish in their success, their biggest worry is not being able to fit all of their lady friends into one Mercedes Sprinter van. There are certainly hints of introspection throughout, but it’s the wordplay that takes center stage, like when Dave jokes that he has to take a woman to therapy because she’s got a lot on her chest – but it turns out he just means it’s due to her E-cup bra. “With bae through thick and thin / She already thick, so I’m halfway there,” Dave raps in the hook before letting out a subtle cheeky laugh at himself in the background. This is hip-hop at its best – and most fun. – Isaac Fontes

“Jonesboro” – Young Thug

“Scientists & Engineers” – Killer Mike F. Andre 3000, Future, Eryn Allen Kane

“Trapper Of The Year” – Certified Trapper

Certified Trapper is the undeniable leader of Milwaukee’s current wildly entertaining hip-hop scene. After signing to Signal Records late last year, he dropped his first properly flushed-out and most polished mixtape to date, the highly-anticipated Trapper of the Year. Known for his unhinged work ethic and unique sound that comes complete with relentless snares and claps on his self-produced beats, his wild dance moves and freestyled lyricism, Certified Trapper is one of the most exciting acts to pop up in quite some time due to the fact that his sound is truly singular; his very own invention. On his new tape’s title track, which serves as the project’s intro and one of its lead singles, Trapper is in prime form. “Trapper of the Year” is simple in its form and subject matter, but his sound is so addicting. In the hook, he melodically declares himself as the trapper of the year over the beat’s prominent claps before using the sole verse to further cement the fact that nobody can compete with him – and this will always be true because he’s invented his own sound and is well on route to taking over the game with it. – Isaac Fontes

“Barbie World” – Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice, Aqua

“GANGSTER PARTY” – 454 & SURF GANG

Baby Keem x Kendrick Lamar – “The Hillbillies”

Kendrick Lamar carried the weight of the world on his shoulders when he released Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, but after a tour with his cousin and fellow rapper Baby Keem, it seems like he’s in a better place. “The Hillbillies” sees the two relieve the stress of being on the road with a mixture of bragging, fit checks, and comparisons to Messi and Neymar. Above all else, it’s refreshing to see them both letting loose. – Louis Pavlakos

Chester Watson – “eyes closed”

Q Da Fool – “Heisman/Out Da Jungle”

Kodak Black – “Gunsmoke Town”

Kodak Black puts his vulnerability on full display on the reflective “Gunsmoke Town.” Rapping about the numerous sacrifices he’s had to make to stay afloat, Kodak’s cracking voice sounds like he’s on the brink of self-destruction. The Florida rapper isn’t a stranger to controversy and deplorable actions, but his level of self-awareness in the song helps flesh out the enigmatic personality that Kodak is known for. – Louis Pavlakos

Lil Durk f. J. Cole – “All My Life”

SahBabii – “Lost All My Feelings”

“Underground Legend” – Jay Worthy, Roc Marciano & Bun B

The Roc Marciano-produced “Underground Legend” features a sparse menacing guitar riff and a subtle bassline but that’s plenty to work with for Jay Worthy and Bun B. Jay’s verse pulls no punches, celebrating his enemies’ death with an Adam Sandler reference. Bun B, on the other hand, raps as though he’s giving us a warning. Asserting his rap veteran status, Bun offers some precious advice for newcomers, cautioning them to move correctly or fall out of grace quickly. – Yousef Srour

“black enuff” – redveil f. JPEGMAFIA

“Motion God” – Moneybagg Yo

“Play for Keeps” – Mike Shabb & Nicholas Craven

It’s all or nothing for Mike Shabb. On the somber “Play for Keeps,” Shabb wrestles with the continuous grief set in by the untimely passing of fellow Montreal rapper and close friend Jeune Loup. Nicholas Craven’s warbly beat gives Shabb a morose runway to divulge his sadness while reassuring those closest to him that if he wins, they all win. The track might be the oldest one off the two’s collaborative EP Shadow Moses, but it accurately reflects the darkness in Shabb’s life. – Yousef Srour

“The Game” – Rick Ross, Fat Joe & The LOX

“Princess Diana (Remix)” – Ice Spice f. Nicki Minaj

“Alter Ego” – El Michels Affair & Black Thought f. Brainstory

“Fat Racks Pt. 2” – Luh Tyler & BabyTron

Florida’s Luh Tyler is arguably the coolest 16-year-old on the planet. “Fat Racks Pt. 2,” a sequel to his single from last year, continues his lightning hot streak as one of the game’s most exciting new acts. Although this is their first official collaboration, the unison of Luh Tyler and BabyTron sounds so natural, as they organically feed off of each other’s hunger and charisma. In the bar that inspired the title of the song, Tyler proudly exclaims that his stacks of cash are fat while his body type is the opposite. He ends his verse by rapping, “I been steppin’ on their neck, I got the rap game in a choke,” leaving the thumping 808s and twinkling piano loop to breathe for a brief moment before BabyTron steps in to unleash his own cannon of witty one-liners; “30 something woods a day, might catch me sparkin’ a log in church / God forgive me though / Just discovered my family tree, I came from billy goats.” – Isaac Fontes

“AIN’T GONNA ANSWER” – NLE Choppa & Lil Wayne

“All I Wanna Know” – Lil Keed & Young Thug

“2 Million Up Remix” – Peezy (feat. Babyface Ray, Icewear Vezzo & Skilla Baby)

Nearly a decade into his career as a solo emcee, Peezy finally broke through into the mainstream with his smash hit, “2 Million Up” last year. Over a sample of Dennis Edwards’ recognizable R&B hit “Don’t Look Any Further,” Peezy uses the hook to express his loyalty to his crew and proudly declare that he’s officially come too far to ever fall off now. On the song’s second official remix, he’s joined by fellow Detroit rappers and frequent collaborators, Babyface Ray, Icewear Vezzo and Skilla Baby. As each emcee brings their signature flair to the booming beat to flex their success and effortless flows, it shows the song’s versatility and endless possibilities, as well as Detroit’s collaborative spirit. – Isaac Fontes

“Fire & Ice” – Kool Keith & Real Bad Men F. Atmosphere & Ice-T

“Drums” – Money Man & Babyface Ray

“GOMD” – Veeze

“Kill Switch” – Navy Blue f. J Rocc

“Kant Nobody” – Lil Wayne, Swizz Beatz, DMX

lil-wayne-kant-nobody-dmx-new-singleDespite over 30 years as a top tier rapper Lil Wayne songs remain expansive adventures. The latest example is “Kant Nobody,” a rambunctious, yet controlled barrage of eclectic punchlines, free associative boasts and tightly wound rhyme schemes. Coasting over a DMX-sampling Swizz Beatz instrumental, Weezy F manages to mention sneezing Dracos, Jeffrey Dahmer and Oprah for quips that are as unpredictable as they are funny. He also gets props for distilling his rich hermit lifestyle in just a few bars: Don’t be on all of that, yeah, that’s my twin, shit, alright/Don’t hit my phone with all that ‘I’m just tappin’ in,’ shit, alright/Fuck that friend shit, alright, I’m on my zen shit, alright/I’m on that DMT, I ain’t on that DM shit, alright.” Precise, yet frenzied, “Kant Nobody” is electric. – Peter A. Barry

“Breakfast” – Kevin Gates

“Trappin n Rappin” – Big Scarr & Gucci Mane

“60 Days” – Alchemist, Larry June

larry-june-alchemist-60-daysAfter the song “Breakfast in Monaco,” Larry June and Alchemist rejoined for “60 Days,” a single for their upcoming album, The Great Escape, and another notch on Al’s dream collab tape tour. June comes with his usual wisdom over a beautiful sample loop, but to a surprise Alchemist picks up the mic again showing listeners that he’s still got it as he sprinkles luxury dust across his verse. With Alchemist recently collaborating with Curren$y on Continuance, and Roc Marciano on the Elephant Man’s Bones, it was only a matter of time until a full project with Larry June would happen. – Grant Robinson

“Crocadillaz” – Gorillaz, De La Soul

“Superbowl” – Conway The Machine, Juicy J, Sauce Walka

“Ron Artest” – Babyface Ray & 42 Dugg

Coming off an excellent run of music with Face and MOB, Babyface Ray is back with 42 Dugg paying tribute to one of the baddest pistons to grace the Motor City. “Ron Artest,” teased via snippets and IG livestreams finally surfaces, with Babyface Ray and 42 Dugg delivering a braggadocious and motivational collaboration. The fan service track packs a bulk of basketball references over an instrumental that reminds the listener of winning a championship. – Grant Robinson

“Zap Zone” – BabyTron & Certified Trapper

It’s a beautiful thing when two rap scenes dip into each other’s worlds. On BabyTron’s latest project Bin Reaper 3: New Testament, Tron takes his punch in expertise and joins forces with Milwaukee’s Certified Trapper. The production features up-tempo 808 claps and a serpentine flute in the background, but Tron’s niche is his ability to rap on any beat. Certified Trapper shines on this track, flaunting twin glocks and standing differently due to having thousands of dollars in his pockets. – Anthony Malone

“King Snipe” – Gucci Mane & Kodak Black

“On Wut U On” – Moneybagg Yo & Glorilla

“Princess Diana” – Ice Spice

Make a meme out of Ice Spice and she’ll make it into a hit song; with “Princess Diana” the Bronx rapper lets the people know they have been heard. At first facetious, the comparison between Ice Spice and the former Princess of Wales started out as an online trend; but with her single covers made out of selfies, colloquial lyrics, and a down-to-earth attitude, Ice Spice proves she is a true princess of the people. Producer RIOTUSA splices bass-heavy production with the frantic plucks of a repetitive guitar riff; together, the two capitalize on public opinion and successfully insert Ice Spice into one of the most famous pop culture narratives of our time. – Rebecca Barglowski

“Prada Steppin” – EBK Young Joc

“Same Problems?” – A$AP Rocky

Contributing writers: David Brake, Yousef Srour, Nina Hernandez, Louis Pavlakos, Jeremy Hecht, Devon Jefferson, Dana Scott, Peter Barry, Anthony Malone, Rebecca Barglowski, Grant Robinson, Isaac Fontes & Josh Svetz.



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