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:
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 December 2, 2021 – 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.
“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.
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.
“Closed Curtains” – CEO Trayle
“Do Better” – Ab-Soul f. Zacari
After years of waiting, TDE lyricist Ab-Soul has seemingly announced the follow-up to his 2016 album Do What Thou Wilt. With the help of vocalist Zacari, the Carson native ushers in his new sonic era with his commanding “Do Better” single.
“Legit” – Nas
“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.
Pivot Gang — “Aang”
Boldy James — “Flag on the Play”
“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.”
“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.
“Stop Breathing” – Roddy Ricch
At this point it has become undeniable; Roddy Ricch is the future of mainstream Los Angeles Hip Hop. 2018’s Feed Tha Streets II set the tone for what Ricch was capable of: hard bars mixed with earworming melodies and hooks, but it was the following year’s Please Forgive Me for Being Antisocial and “The Box” which propelled him into true stardom.
LIVE LIFE FAST from 2021 felt insufficient at the time of its release, but looking back there are still a few records which stand out from the dredge of streaming era music. The Compton rapper is now back with “Stop Breathing,” his follow-up single to “Ghetto Superstar” with G Herbo and Doe Boy.
Quavo & Takeoff — “Nothing Changed”
Quavo and Takeoff’s latest single is titled “Nothing Changed,” but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s unclear what happened to the Migos, if they broke up or if they’ll continue to release music as a trio, but Quavo and Takeoff’s recent work together under the moniker Unc and Phew suggests that there may be some division in the Quality Control ranks.
Nevertheless, all three members of the group have continued to stay active. Offset has worked alongside Moneybagg Yo, Trippie Redd and SleazyWorld Go, and Quavo and Takeoff have continued to drop, most recently with “Nothing Changed.”
Moneybagg Yo — “Blow”
Kid Cudi f. Ty Dolla $ign — “Willing To Trust”
Despite the fact that Kid Cudi’s Entergalactic album mysteriously leaked online, tagged with fart sounds, two weeks earlier than it’s anticipated release alongside the Netflix series he created, it’s business as usual for the Cleveland MC.
With the assistance of Ty Dolla $ign, who also appears in the series which will be released on September 30, Cudi continues to build the hype of his three-years-in-the-making animated show with the release of his anthemic single “Willing To Trust.”
“Stars” – JID F. Yasiin Bey
“Survivors Guilt” – Joey Bada$$
On “Survivor’s Guilt” Joey Bada$$ open up about the tragic loss of his friend, collaborator and Pro Era legend Capital STEEZ. The emotional tribute sees Joey grappling with loss, friendship and the guilt that comes with seeing success while his friend is unable to physically experience it alongside him. On the more than five-minute song, Joey addresses things that longtime fans have been wondering about like STEEZ’s family and online conspiracy theories about Steelo’s passing. It seems like there are things Joey himself is still coming to terms with, but it’s clear that STEEZ’s spirit has never left his thoughts. The instrumental and tone are reminiscent of Kendrick’s “Sing About Me” as Joey also addresses his late cousin on verse 2. Overall, this song is a standout from 2000 and will definitely hit home for Pro Era fans. – Jeremy Hecht
“God Did” – DJ Khaled F. JAY-Z
“Tomorrow” – Glorilla
“Tony Montana Flow” – Chief Keef F. Akachi
“Tony Montana Flow” proves two things: Keef’s Scarface accent is the best thing in rap this year and Akachi is quickly climbing the producing ranks. In their new collaboration, Akachi puts down a menacing trap beat with an evil synth in the forefront that could easily be interchangeable with the score from Halloween. It’s impossible to not envision Keef rapping with his lip curled and shoulders square, puffing a cigar between bars with how dedicated he is to maintaining the accent with his flow. This comes after the Chi-Town legend dropped 4NEM earlier this year, one of Keef’s most excellent projects. Both Keef and Akachi maintain momentum with “Tony Montana Flow,” and hopefully there’s more to come from these two. – Anthony Malone
“The Root of All” – DJ Premier f. Slick Rick & 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.