The world continues to shift at a rapid pace with so many major global events happening that it’s hard to know exactly how to 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. 2022 is almost done and there has been no shortage of dope rap songs. Fans have received music from up-and-coming staples of rap to bona fide legends. This year fans were blessed with unlikely collaborations from Cardi B, Kanye West and Lil Durk, a surprise drop from Lil Uzi Vert, the return of Joey Bada$$ and the unstoppable force that is Glorilla.
Review all of our Hip Hop Award categories and nominees.
Here are the best rap songs of the year.
BEST HIP HOP SONGS OF 2022 NOMINATIONS
- “Count Me Out” – Kendrick Lamar
- “FNF” – Glorilla
- “God Did” – JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, John Legend, DJ Khaled
- “Hotel Lobby” – Quavo & Takeoff
- “Jimmy Cooks” – Drake & 21 Savage
The BEST HIP HOP SONG Of 2022 award goes to…
“God Did” – JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, John Legend, DJ Khaled
“Where we at Gu?” Jay-Z asks his trusted engineer Young Guru before going off for four minutes in a much-discussed all-time Hov verse. For Hov, he channeled an energy in a familiar studio space that had Guru witnessing talent on another level, recording his verse in one take. The centerpiece of the conversation is DJ Khaled, who is in competition with himself by going bigger and more over-the-top than his last anthem. Khaled calls in favors from frequent collaborators Rick Ross and Lil Wayne who stick the landing on the religious overtones that’s both confessional and grateful that God blessed them. When Ross and Hov link up, you get grand songs like “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” and “The Devil Is a Lie.” With Wayne, Hov has “Mr. Carter,” a classic from Tha Carter III. When Ross, Hov, and Wayne come together like a three-headed monster, they are greatness personified: barring up and making it look easy. – Eric Diep
“Count Me Out” – Kendrick Lamar
The word “breakthrough” perfectly describes everything about Kendrick Lamar’s “Count Me Out.” From the opening harmonies about hoes to the angelic backing vocals that make you feel like you’re floating into musical clouds, the entire sonic landscape is a perfect backing for Kendrick’s vulnerable lyrical journey into self love and acceptance. Kendrick seems to be coming to terms with his flaws and mistakes, even forgiving himself “a hundred times” in order to breakthrough to his highest potential. This project proves that whether it be two weeks or five more years before we hear new music from Mr. Lamar again, the one thing we should never do as fans is count him out. – Jeremy Hecht
“FNF” – Glorilla
A CMG chain dazzles on the table, and next to it is an open contract waiting to be signed. Glorilla, the Memphis MC known for her uniquely baroque vocals, is surrounded by at least six of her friends who’re cheering and celebrating in the background while she signs the dotted line. At 23 years old, Glorilla became the first female signee to Yo Gotti’s CMG imprint, joining a roster that includes Mozzy, 42 Dugg, and EST Gee. Gotti is clearly a gifted A&R, and Glorilla is already shown glimpses of superstardom. “F.N.F” is Glorilla’s breakout single that initially garnered regional success and captured Gotti’s attention. Released in April, “F.N.F” is a breakup anthem celebrating independence and prioritising friends over relationships. Memphis producer HittKidd orchestrates snares that snap like whips in the wind and piano keys that sound bludgeoned by hammers. Glorilla delivers her verses like a spartan kick through a wooden door, her charisma adding a spice of momentum to every word uttered. – Anthony Malone
“Hotel Lobby” – Quavo & Takeoff
It only takes 16 seconds to understand that “Hotel Lobby” is an all-time banger. The reverberating guitar notes that open the track ring out with the clarity of a siren, warning that something colossal is on the horizon. As Takeoff calmly declares “Let’s get it,” the drums kick in and the track’s hulking mass comes into full view. Over the next two minutes, the former Migos display the characteristics that made their group such an impactful, indispensable part of rap’s last decade. They effortlessly balance menacing shit talk with sly humor, all while tumbling through laser-precise triplet flows. Takeoff’s verse is especially hilarious, turning adlibs into punchlines and offering 2022’s most immaculate boast: “I go in the jungle and I ain’t got a coat, I bet I come out with a mink.” It’s heartbreaking that “Hotel Lobby” is this good. Takeoff was murdered in Houston on November 1st, just three weeks after the release of he and Quavo’s Only Built for Inifinity Links. “Hotel Lobby” is certainly a standout on the album, but the entire record feels joyful and fun, buoyed by the rappers’ restored excitement for music after the Migos breakup. Takeoff’s death was senseless and tragic, cutting him down just as he was about to start a promising new chapter in his career. It’s crushing to think of the music Unc & Phew could’ve made, but listening to “Hotel Lobby” is a good reminder of the paradigm-shifting legacy that Takeoff leaves behind. – Dash Lewis
“Jimmy Cooks” – Drake & 21 Savage
Drake’s Honestly Nevermind is either one of his best or worst albums, depending on who you ask. The electronic/house dance record polarized the masses, but at the end of the album, Drake gives people what they want. Tucked in the back after 48 minutes of neon lights, missed opportunities in the club and sunsets in California sits “Jimmy Cooks,” a boisterous, beat switching return of mafioso Drake, accompanied by his consigliere 21 Savage. Drake puffs his Cuban cigar in the back, lackadaisically dismissing his opps and fake Instagram models (“Bitch, don’t tell me that you model if you ain’t been in Vogue”). It’s Drake spraying petty potshots, but without the usual bitterness that’s hindered other songs. One more verse from Drake would probably ruin the song, as we can only listen to him call everyone fake for so long before it becomes tedious. Luckily, 21 Savage slides in to add an aura of playful menace (“This Glock 45 came with a switch, If I was Will Smith, I would’ve slapped him with a stick”). This switch up keeps the song from wearing thin, with 21 getting off his own winking jabs (“You ask how she doin’, I just tell her come and fuck me”). It’s RapCaviar at its finest, background music for Instagram stories and TikToks; 8:00 PM pre-game jams fit for High Noons as you play beer pong. Normally this would be corny, and it probably should. But when a song can fit an aesthetic so snug, it becomes endearing because the duo equally buy into the bit, showcasing why their chemistry was strong enough to consider making an album together. This is what Her Loss should have been. – Josh Svetz
“Pushin P” – Gunna, Future, Young Thug
2022 began with an avalanche of blue P emojis scattering the timeline for one reason and one reason only; Gunna, Future and Young Thug’s “Pushin P”. The track was the biggest hit to come off Gunna’s chart topping DS4Ever. Gunna finally elevated to superstar status, showing he can rap any style, any cadence, any BPM. But he etched himself into Hip Hop history by popularizing another slang word to add to the rap urban dictionary with “Pushin P.” Powered by Wheezy’s booming production and featuring two Atlanta legends, “Pushin P” is a culmination of everything Gunna has been working towards since his career began. Wheezy dials up the stereo rattling bass and breakneck drums, as the melody sparkles with an extraterrestrial vibe, turning riding in a foreign into an alien concept. The flexing is on full display as the three southern stars stunt all over their verses. But what is “P”? Well, Gunna took to pre-Elon Twitter after the song’s release and defined it as “being loyal, bossing up your bitch, risking your life to feed your family, and being a real one.” The definition is esoteric, but one thing that’s unquestionably “P” is freeing Gunna & Young Thug from incarceration. Because fighting against wrongful incarceration is the most “P” thing of all. – Scotty Glaysher
“Neck & Wrist”– Pusha T F. JAY-Z & Pharrell
Jay-Z has long seemed to be the philosopher’s stone as a feature artist who can use his lyrical alchemy and significant OG status to enliven even the most mundane of features. It’s in this manner that he appears to remain eternally relevant in an industry that churns out new products daily. Usually, the bar is set for the other individuals who’re on the track to raise their game to meet his. And “Neck & Wrist” with Pusha T is no different. With the considerable talent of Pharrell providing the canvas upon which Jay and Pusha T paint. “Summertime, Winterfell, I’m the Night King/The Colgate kilo, the hood needs whitening/We fishscale n-ggas like we all Pisces/Your bitch in my bubble like I’m still typing,” Push boasts. Meanwhile, Jay-Z blends with Pusha’s style, sometimes even adopting elements of his quirky cadence. “Rappers liars, I don’t do satire/Neither I nor my wrist move mockingly/Y’all spend real money on fake watches, shockingly/They put me on lists with these n-ggas inexplicably/I put your mansion on my wall, are you shittin’ me?/I blew bird money, y’all talkin’ Twitter feed/We got different Saab stories, save your soliloquies.” However, for the coup-de-grace, Jay-Z returned to his time honored tradition of lyrical addressing the myriad slights toward his lyrical legitimacy had a certain Hip Hop legend survived the 90s. They like, “If BIG was alive, Hov wouldn’t be in his position”/If BIG had survived, y’all would have got The Commission.” The result is JAY and Push at the height of their shit talking abilities, making sure no one dare call their legacies into question – Ricardo Hazell
“London” – BIA F. J. Cole
This year HipHopDX rising star BIA elevated her musical relevancy with the UK Drill inspired “London” featuring J.Cole. After catching listeners’ attention with the TikTok friendly “Whole Lotta Money,” BIA returned with more luxury rap bars alongside Cole. Bougie doesn’t even begin to describe BIA’s verse, as she spends money at every expensive store imaginable and name drops multiple luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior. While they skate over the cloudy beat, both artists emulate a British accent atop references of British culture including Big Ben, Heathrow Airport, and the dead Queen herself. Unsurprisingly, Cole delivers a solid, fun, and clever verse that stirs excitement for whatever solo project coming next. The pairing of Cole and BIA may seem odd at first, but the result is a simply splendid braggadocious track that lets both artists shine respectively. – Precious Fondren
“Munch” – Ice Spice
One could easily make the case that Ice Spice’s breakout single “Munch (Feelin U)” was the song of the summer. It dropped in early August but made waves instantly, becoming Instagram caption fodder for girls, guys and munches alike. RIOTUSA’s quintessential New York drill production blends haunting chords with rapid fire hi-hats and an underlying melody that will have listeners moving sturdy well into 2023. And while the production sets the stage, it’s Ice Spice’s effortless charisma and bravado that sets the song apart. The Bronx native proves she can rap with plenty of rhythm and conviction. The chorus is monstrously catchy, of course, but the verses are rapped with ice cold ferocity. “I’m walkin past him, he sniffin my breeze,” she taunts. Co-signs from Drake and a slew of TikTok dance trends helped the track reach Billboard, but Spice’s shit talking efforts already had the track popping. Ice Spice’s next career move is an important one. Whether it be an album or another single — hopefully it will recapture the fanfare that “Munch” brought about in the back third of 2022, and if not, at least she delivered one of the biggest moments in Hip Hop this year. – Scotty Glaysher
“Magic” – Vince Staples
Vince Staples took a personal approach to his latest album Ramona Park Broke My Heart, calling it symbolic of Long Beach with a story that could be relatable to everyone. The lead single from the album, “Magic” is produced by Mustard, who provides a euphoric beat for Vince to share his perspective on gang life and hood politics. “Crip and blood shit/That’s the only thing I ever been in love with,” Vince raps. Mustard is usually associated with acts like YG and Ty Dolla $ign, so to see him clicking well with Vince offers more possibilities for the duo. The upbeat, West Coast bounce of “Magic” is perfect for riding around L.A., and deserves repeated listens. At the same time, Vince’s deeper lyrics reveal someone who made it out of his environment not by luck, but by magic. You can’t help but be happy for him. – Eric Diep
Return to our Hip Hop Awards nomination page for more categories or check out the nominees for best rap verse of 2022, best rapper of the year and biggest comeback of 2022.
Check out our previous Hip Hop Song of the Year award winners.