2021 has been a very interesting year for hip-hop. After spending a year in lockdown with little to no live performances, many rappers are excited to be able to get back to doing what they love. That excitement is easily recognizable in their music. The amount of creativity and diversity we’ve seen in 2021 has definitely shut down a lot of conversations suggesting that hip-hop is dead. On top of that, this year, we’ve seen some great releases from both newcomers and industry vets. As the year goes on, it’ll be interesting to see how many other great projects hit the airwaves. For now, however, we’ve got a lot of awesome music to work with. Here are the 10 best hip-hop songs of 2021 so far.
1. “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” By Drake And Rick Ross
It’s almost been three years since the release of Drake’s most recent album, and some of his fans have started to get antsy to say the least. Although he’s re-released several old tracks over the last year or so, we all know nothing hits quite like new Drake. That being said, rap fans everywhere were excited in March 2021 when he released “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” with Rick Ross. Anytime these two get on a track together it’s sure to be something special, and this song certainly didn’t disappoint.
2. “What It Feels Like ” By Nipsey Hussle and Jay Z
Nipsey Hussle’s tragic death in 2019 can still be felt across the music industry. When news broke that he would be releasing a new song in 2021 –especially one with Jay Z — people couldn’t wait to hear it. True to form, Nipsey’s flow is confident and his lyrics are well thought out. Jay’s first is also impressive as he raps, “Pray for me, y’all, one day I’ma have to pay for these thoughts/
Real niggas is extinct, it ain’t safe for me, my dawg/They killin’ niggas in they own hoods, that make sense to you at all?”
3. “Seeing Green” By Nicki Minaj ft. Drake And Lil Wayne
If you were around from the late 2000s through the early 2010s, you remember the days when Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Lil Wayne were the coldest trio in hip-hop. Along with the rest of Young Money, they dominated the charts and any song with their names on it was guaranteed to be a hit. However, Lil Wayne’s fued with Brian ‘Baby’ Williams and Drake’s feud with Nicki Minaj’s ex-boyfriend, Meek Mill, left a lot of people thinking we’d never hear a song with the three of them on it again. That fear was officially put to rest when Nicki Minaj released “Seeing Green” in May 2021. The song, which samples “In My Mind” by Heather Headley, has a fresh feel while still being reminiscent of the Young Money sound we all know and love.
4. “Plug Talk” By Benny The Butcher ft. 2 Chainz
Benny the Butcher is well-known for being a member of the hip-hop group Griselda, but he’s also a talented artist on his own. In 2021, he got some solo shine with the release of “Plug Talk”. The sound boasts the gritty style Benny is known for, and a feature from 2 Chainz provides a nice added touch.
5. “Amari” By J. Cole
J. Cole’s album The Off-Season was one of the most highly anticipated projects of the year. Once the album was released, it was clear that Cole jumped on every track ready to make his mark on the industry. “Amari” is easily one of the album’s biggest standouts and it’s a great representation of what Cole can do as an artist.
6. “Straightenin'” By Migos
Things have been fairly quiet for Migos over the last couple of years which has led to some people questioning whether the group is falling off. However, their 2021 single “Straightenin'” was a reminder that they don’t plan on going anywhere. On top of being catchy, the song features some solid bars and of course the adlibs are A-1.
7. “Time Today” By Moneybagg Yo
Moneybagg Yo has been doing his thing lately, and “Time Today” is a great example. While some may have questioned Bagg’s skill early in his career, he has consistently shown that he is the real deal. “Time Today” is clever, catchy, and of course, raw. It was also cool to see Moneybagg get a little creative with the video.
8. “Rapstar” By Polo G
Polo G is relatively new to the music industry, but he’s already gained a lot of traction. Early in his career, he was associated with the drill type of rapping that is most commonly associated with his hometown of Chicago. In recent years, however, he’s switched things up. His creativity and the growth he’s made as an artist are very evident in “Rapstar”.
9. “Letter To My Son” By DMX
DMX’s death April of 2021 left people all over the world were mourning the loss of a legend. Shortly after his passing, his album Exodus was released. The song “Letter to My Son” is one of the most memorable tracks on the project. In the song, X raps to his oldest son who he had a very complicated relationship with. Not only does he apologize for mistakes his made as a father, but X also pleads with his son to pick up the phone and call him so they can fix their relationship.
10. “Up” By Cardi B
If there’s one thing we can always count on Cardi B to do, it’s make a song that will make you want to go to the club. Needless to say, she did what had to be done with it came to “Up”. The uptempo track is fun, catchy, and sounds incredible when played at ridiculously high volumes.