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The Best Rap Songs of 2022 ...(so far)

The world continues to shift at a rapid pace with so many major global events happening that it’s hard to know exactly how 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. So far in 2022, fans have received music from up-and-coming staples of rap to bona fide legends. HipHopDX has rounded up the hottest tracks and some songs that deserve some love. In May, fans received new heat from Kendrick Lamar, Boldy James, Black Thought, Lupe Fiasco 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.

“N95” – Kendrick Lamar F. Baby Keem

“AUTOBOTO” – Lupe Fiasco F. Nayirah

“No Gold Teeth” – Black Thought & Danger Mouse

“All The Way Out” – Boldy James

Boldy James can do a lot with a little, making his name by meshing deadpan raps with dark, minimalist beats. What he proves on “All The Way Out” is that he can also do a lot with a lot. Real Bad Man’s beat is a complex, deeply layered gem. It sounds dangerous, inlaid with the paranoid urgency present in just about every Boldy James song. But there’s also an undeniable bounce and levity gained through a train whistle and off-kilter drum patterns. All in all, it sounds like a beat that could have made the cut on Madvillain back in 2004.
Fortune chose well in pairing this beat with Boldy James, whose ephemeral street vignettes are rarely as vibrant and captivating as they are here. While the song seems at constant risk of being lost in the current of the beat, Boldy’s steadfast direction and inability to get lost in flights of fancy anchors the song to something menacingly fun.

“Bring Some Mo” – Lil Eazzyy F. NLE Choppa

“London” – BIA F. J. Cole

“Plan B” – Megan Thee Stallion

“Dreamin Of The Past” – Pusha T F. Kanye West

Pusha T is a great rapper but evolves to city-flattening God mode when paired with Kanye West. Fortunately, we’ve received quite a few of these collabs throughout the years. Even more fortunately, we recently got a new one. “Dreamin Of The Past” shows off Pusha T’s greatly improved melodicism, bolstering the elegantly flipped Donny Hathaway cover to John Lennon’s entrancing “Jealous Guy.” Infectious confidence radiates from every Hathaway note and Push bar. It is so remarkably compelling that even when Kanye West calls himself “Daddy” via what is evidently a voice memo he made on an airplane, the song isn’t ruined. – Ben Brutocao

“Whaddup (Remix)” – PGF Nuk F. Polo G

“Top Down” – Jayson Cash

“Rock N Roll” – Pusha T F. Kanye West & Kid Cudi

There are certain songs that feel like they are made to be anthems that play behind action scenes in a superhero movie. “Rock N Roll” is one of those songs…although, with Pusha T’s career, it would most likely be played during the plotting of a villainous scheme. The mixture of Kanye, Cudi and Pusha has the nostalgia of the G.O.O.D. old days when everyone got along. From the classic Ye sample chops to Pusha’s menacing flow capped off with what Cudi does best, if this is the last time Ye and Mr. Rager work together, they closed the curtain with a grand finale. – Jeremy Hecht

“Right On” – Lil Baby

“Papercuts” – Vince Staples

“Punch Bowl – Clipse & Nigo

“Free The Shiners” – 42 Dugg & EST GEE

“Telepathic” – Fly Anakin

Off a debut album that amalgamates a 1993 lyrical foundation with a murky playfulness, Fly Anakin’s “Telepathic” with frequent collaborator Big Kahuna OG finds both rappers at peak performance. The instrumental is reserved and muffled, but Anakin’s pithy rhymes cut through the fog, his terse voice demanding of anyone’s attention. “She said it’s a vibe I told her to shut up,” Anakin spits plainly. “When real collide with fake it’s fucked up.” Anakin’s penchant for plainspoken rhymes are elevated by Kahuna’s nonchalance on the hook, as he raps about his enemies “fake demons” and how he’s sitting in traffic with “Big Sharks.” “Telepathic” culminates to be the best track on the project because it all just sounds so effortless.

“Starlight” – Dave

“Diesel” – Alchemist & Kool G Rap

Anything legendary producer The Alchemist touches turns to gold. After winning the 2021 HipHopDX Producer of the Year award Alc has kept his foot on the gas. Over the past few years he’s helped artists achieved new heights, working with leaders of the next generation such as Earl Sweatshirt, Navy Blue and Pink Siifu as well as industry vets including Body James and Curren$y. But on his latest single “Diesel,” Alc linked with the iconic Kool G Rap for a somber bar-heavy track. It’s been fantastic watching the Los Angeles-based producer develop new acts, but there’s something special watching him spar with one of the genre’s OGs. As Kool G unleashes an infinitely rolling verse, Alc’s slow piano sample loops solemnly in the background. No bells or whistles, “Diesel” is proof of the power in simplicity.

“Diet Coke” – Pusha T

As the wait continues for Pusha T’s forthcoming album produced by The Neptunes and Kanye West, fans were blessed with “Diet Coke.” Kingpin rap isn’t new to the G.O.O.D. Music rapper, yet his brick-talk on “Diet Coke” sounds as energized as ever. Rapping over soulful production from Ye and 88-Keys, Push details the journey he underwent, from pushing weight to pushing records, and all the spoils which came with the success.

“Nail Tech” – Jack Harlow

“Don’t Play That” – King Von & 21 Savage

On first listen, the warm production from Kid Hazel wouldn’t appear to be suitable for the raps of Atlanta’s 21 Savage and the late King Von. But once Von’s bouncing, stutter-step chorus rings through, all doubts dissipate. Von, who tragically passed in November 2020, was a promising rapper with an innate gift for storytelling. While his contribution to “Don’t Play That” strays from his usual affinity or narratives, it’s nice to hear him on such a lighthearted track.

“Sl*t Him Out” – Baby Tate

2022 HipHopDX Rising Star Baby Tate knows how to go viral. Months before the release of “Sl*t Him Out,” the sound was already trending heavily on TikTok. Now officially unveiled, fans are able to enjoy the full braggadocious and sensual shit-talking of one of Atlanta’s best. Tate still hasn’t cooled from the enormous highs of her 2021, but it seems like the ascent has only just begun.

“Johnny P’s Caddy”- Benny The Butcher F. J. Cole

“Surround Sound” – JID F. Baby Tate & 21 Savage

WALKIN – Denzel Curry

Like he tends to do in January every year, Denzel Curry has returned unexpectedly. On “Walkin,” the Carol City Star is back in full force. His signature intensity comes through and transforms the angelic sample into something menacing and enthralling. At almost 5 minutes long, the extended run time gives his lyrics some breathing room, as well as providing space for a long, head-bumping chorus that incorporates the cynicism and braggadocio we expect and love. And, as the drums switch around at the halfway point and the hi-hats begin to fire at double speed, Denzel speeds up to a furious, machine gun pace that carries the second half weightlessly.

“Survivor’s Guilt” – Saba F. G Herbo

“So Cool” – Big K.R.I.T

Big K.R.I.T is known for his intense southern drawl, as well as his unwavering aggression. While the former is present on his new single “So Cool” (and as prominent as ever), the latter is washed away entirely, replaced by forcefully serene vibes that suspend all feelings that aren’t related to chilling in a hammock on a tropical beach. In less than 2 minutes, Big K.R.I.T does a complete 180 from his previous work, leaving the listener scratching their head as to the direction of his next album while relaxing and grooving to the greatest extent possible.

“Million Dollars Worth Of Game” – 2 Chainz F. 42 Dugg

It can be really tough to keep track of all the great music from 2021. Luckily we’ve narrowed down the list to only the essentials!

Editor’s Note: Songs from this list were released between May 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021.

“Wave Gods” – Nas f. A$AP Rocky

“Blessings” – Cousin Stizz

Massachusetts experienced a landmark year in 2021, with acts such as BIA, Van Buren Records and Cousin Stizz taking the scene to new heights. On “Blessings,” Stizz reflects on his upbringing, finding gratitude for the past experiences which crafted the man he is today. — David Brake

“2010” – Earl Sweatshirt

“Life of The Party” – Kanye West f. Andre 3000

Kanye West finally released the deluxe version of Donda on Sunday (November 14) much to the surprise of his ever-loyal fans. Although the tracklist was slightly rearranged, the updated version of the Billboard 200 chart-topping album contained the André 3000 collaboration, “Life Of The Party,” which Drake leaked in September in an attempt to outsmart his contemporary. The song features the Outkast legend opening up about the loss of his mother, which fit the theme of Donda, the name of Kanye’s late mother who died in 2008. Many are already calling it “verse of the year.”

“Black Illuminati” – Freddie Gibbs f. Jadakiss

“Murder Music” – Snoop Dogg f. Benny The Butcher, Jadakiss & Busta Rhymes

“Who Want Smoke (Remix)” – Nardo Wick f. 21 Savage, Lil Durk & G Herbo

“Miracle Baby” – Alchemist f. MAVI

Alchemist and North Carolina rapper MAVI sound like they were made for each other. Spitting through the swirling textures of Alchemist’s soulful production, MAVI raps with a sense of glory and pride, his bars splintering into topics including metaphysics, the state of the nation and the success he’s experienced over the past few years. Deeply impassioned, “Miracle Baby” is not only the best track from This Thing Of Ours 2, it’s one of MAVI’s best offerings of the year.

“Long Night In Knightsbridge” – Headie One

“Barcade” – Atmosphere f. MF DOOM & Aesop Rock

“Barcade” is the underground rap hallmark of October. Combining the forces of Atmosphere, Aesop Rock and the late MF DOOM, “Barcade” provides a nostalgic feel without sounding stale. As a thick wind blows through Ant’s production, Aesop Rock, MF Doom and Slug drop esoteric bars tackling the realities of living in a dystopian world.

“Range Brothers” – Baby Keem & Kendrick Lamar

The alleged familial bonds between Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar produced the most electrifying five minutes in Rap this year. Capitalizing off the momentum from their lead single “family ties,” the duo ratchet up the energy and the absurdity with every word on “range brothers.” There’s a jarring switch from elite rapping backed by cinematic overtures to the unhinged last minute of the track. The finale’s captivating back and forth is stuffed with quotables and ad-libs that rattle in your head for weeks, leaving you muttering “rollie gang” like a madman.

“Intro (Hate On Me)” – Meek Mill

“Wyd” – Tony Seltzer f. Mavi

Brooklyn producer Tony Seltzer acts more like a luxury tailor than producer, precisely molding the production of his tracks to match the tone and energy of his collaborators. “Wyd” features a high-pitched droning that provides a perfect foil to MAVI’s laid-back, low-octave delivery. His rambles conversely feel measured and controlled, with every one of his melancholic words coming through clear as day.

“Off The Grid” – Kanye West f. Playboi Carti & Fivio Foreign

Kanye West‘s DONDA was met with mixed reception, but none can deny the intoxicating energy of “Off The Grid.” Including vintage Yeezus-esque production and some of Ye’s best bars of the album, “Off The Grid” also features arguably the greatest verse in Fivio Foreign’s career and punchy bars from Playboi Carti. Kanye, who also executive produced Carti’s WHOLE LOTTA RED, clearly holds a lot of respect for the Atlanta rapper, as “Off The Grid” sounds like Yeezy’s take on Carti’s frenetic post-SoundCloud sonics.

“family ties” – Baby Keem f. Kendrick Lamar

Baby Keem has had one helluva month. He claimed the best verse on Kanye West’s long-awaited Donda album and has a hit with cousin Kendrick Lamar on “family ties.” The song was released after Kendrick announced his forthcoming album will be his last with Top Dawg Entertainment. It’s too soon to say what the future has in store for the iconic Compton rapper, but if Kendrick’s new album sounds anything like the turbulent hellfire of his verse on “family ties,” fans should be excited.

“Corvette Corvette” – RX Papi

“Nobody” – Nas f. Lauryn Hill

Social media entered a frenzy when people noticed Lauryn Hill was featured on the tracklist to Nas’ King’s Disease II. Ms. Hill’s return to rhyming was met with excitement and a healthy dose of uncertainty as nearly 25 years have passed since the two bards of Hip Hop first joined forces on It Was Written‘s lead single “If I Ruled The World.” Luckily, both legendary MCs have plenty of fuel left in the tank. Nas’ head-nodding flow on “Nobody” exhibits the same dexterous flow he forged in his youth, but it’s Ms. Hill’s explosive verse that truly steals the show.

“Audible” – Remble f. B.A.

“my life” – J. Cole f. 21 Savage & Morray

Whenever J. Cole releases new music, the world pauses to listen. This held true for The Off-Season, Cole’s latest studio album, which caused Spotify to crash from an overload of traffic. Cole projects tend to be particularly divisive, but none can deny the epic “m y . l i f e.” With production from WU10, Cole and Jake One, “m y . l i f e” is not only the most complete song on The Off-Season, it holds the two best features of the project, including a verse from 21 Savage, whom Cole collaborated with on “A Lot.” Also included is a breathtaking hook from Morray, North Carolina’s hottest rookie.ith on “A Lot.” Also included is a breathtaking hook from Morray, North Carolina’s hottest rookie.

“WUSYANAME” – Tyler, The Creator f. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla Sign

Tyler, the Creator is a master at creating cohesive sonic landscapes on his albums. While his most recent album Call Me If You Get Lost is no exception, “WUSYANAME” stands out with its lush instrumentation and teed up features from YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Ty Dolla $ign. Tyler always brings out the best in his guests and this is yet another example. From T’s humorous pick up lines to DJ Drama’s drops, the song should serve as a soundtrack to the summer of 2021.

“Seeing Green” – Nicki Minaj f. Drake & Lil Wayne

Contributing writers: David Brake, Trent Clark, Kyle Eustice, Jeremy Hecht, Devon Jefferson, Dana Scott, Ben Brutocao, Anthony Malone, Kia Turner, Matthew Ritchie & Josh Svetz.


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