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. 2023 has just began and we’ve already received heat from Glorilla, Ice Spice, Boldy James, A$AP Rocky, Gucci Mane, RX Papi, EBK Young Joc 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:
For some of the best albums of 2023, check out our other lists below:
For more of the best songs of 2023, we have you covered with these lists:
Looking for some up and coming rappers and underground gems? We’ve done the work for you and highlighted the short EPs, mixtapes and projects to check out if you’re tired of the mainstream album cycle.
Editor’s note: Songs from this list were released between February 1, 2022 – January 31, 2023.
“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
“One Mic, One Gun” – 21 Savage & Nas
Shortly fter 21 Savage’s comments about Nas’ relevancy went viral, Hit Boy became the moderator and put the two respective parties on the same song. The result may surprise some fans. 21 and Nas seemlessly rap back and forth over the smooth soulful production and prove that any generational gap can be solves through the art form we all love.
“This Is What I Mean”- Stormzy
Stormzy’s triumphant return is encapsulated by emotional ballads and heartfelt storytelling bars about the ups and downs of relationships. But on the title track of his latest album, the UK spitter proves why he is still one of the best at his craft when it comes to the bars. His casually braggadocios flows over the menacing beat are a perfect reminder of Stormzy’s brilliance. – Jeremy Hecht
“FTCU” – Latto F. Glorilla & Gangsta Boo
“Michael & Quincy” – Nas
“Closed Curtains” – CEO Trayle
Mount Westmore (Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, E-40 & Too $hort) f. P-Lo — “Too Big”
When four massive superstars join forces for a group project, it’s an understatement to say that expectations are high. But Snoop, 40, Short and Cube did not disappoint when it comes to their latest release. The West Coast pioneers of Hip Hop prove that they can fit right in with the current sound without sacrificing their genuine craft. – Devon Jefferson
“Scarface”- Jeezy & EST Gee
Jeezy returned in 2022 with the DJ Drama-assisted mixtape Snofall on which he continues to prove why he is one of the best to ever do it. The Snowman shows maturity without losing the feeling that he gave fans in the early 2000’s. Drama’s midas touch made the project a standout from the year, and EST Gee’s presence on “Scarface” created a multi-generational hit. – Riley Wallace
Lil Baby F. Nardo Wick – “Pop Out”
“One Up” – Central Cee
Central Cee is trending through “Doja,” and while it exploded across Twitter and TikTok and is in contention for song of the year, Cee has always had plenty of hits, dating back years to 2017’s “Over You.”
But since 2021, Cee has been one of the most prominent figures of U.K. Drill and rap as a whole. He’s blessing the fans yet again this year with surprise EP No More Leaks, led by single “One Up.” – David Brake
“Can’t Say I’m Broke” – Tony Shhnow
“All Night Long” – Lancey Foux
“Dark Hearted” – Freddie Gibbs
Two years after the release of his Grammy-Nominated Alfredo album, Freddie Gibbs has finally given his listeners a taste of his upcoming project $oul $old $eperately. On the heels of his Moneybagg Yo-anchored “Too Much” single, the Rabbit shares his Jame Blake-produced follow-up entitled “Dark Hearted.” – Devon Jefferson
“Flag on the Play” – Boldy James
Smino — “Matinee”
“Poland” – Lil Yachty
“90 Proof” – Smino f. J. Cole
Smino has his hands full. In addition to releasing solo albums such as NOIR and his 2017 debut blkswn, he’s also part of two collectives; Zoink Gang with JID, Guapdad 4000 and Buddy and Zero Fatigue with Ravyn Lenae, Monte Booker, Bari and Jay2.
Despite his busy schedule, the “Wild Irish Roses” artist still managed to find time to record “90 Roses” featuring Dreamville’s Head Honcho J. Cole. Though it’s not the first time they’ve worked together (Smino was featured on Dreamville’s “Sacrifices” alongside EARTHGANG and Saba), it’s the first time Cole has hopped on one of Smino’s own records. – David Brake
Contributing writers: David Brake, Trent Clark, Kyle Eustice, Jeremy Hecht, Devon Jefferson, Dana Scott, Ben Brutocao, Anthony Malone, Kia Turner, Matthew Ritchie & Josh Svetz.