Hip Hop has gone through several stages of evolution over its 50 years, through which the craft and its disciplines continue to expand. This goes for production as well as bars and delivery. Today, more than ever, producers are sampling music made decades ago as well as other Hip Hop songs from not too long back that were already built on borrowed cuts, and the percussion added to these snippets ranges anywhere from trap to boom-bap to drill as the prospects increase with a growing influx of new ideas.
In addition to the changing sounds, this past year also saw a number of producers switch up and take on new roles that saw them make hits for themselves. Metro Boomin, for instance, dropped an entire tracklist of gems for his sophomore album, best represented by the Future and Chris Brown-assisted “Superhero.”
Drake, on the other hand, worked with a variety of beatmakers to present fans with a full spread comprising all his different styles, from winding down on Conductor Williams’ “8AM In Charlotte” to turning the heat back up on “First Person Shooter” with Tay Keith, who also helped concoct Sexyy Red’s biggest song to date, “SkeeYee.”Gunna, meanwhile, kept things current and in tune with mass appeal on one of 2023’s most viral releases, “fukumean,” with help from Dunk Rock and Flo Ongonga.
All of these tracks made noise at different parts throughout the year, and HipHopDX believes they’re among the best produced of 2023 and are destined to remain in rotation way into the new year.
Review all of our 2023 Hip Hop Award categories and check out our nominations for Best Produced Hip Hop songs of 2023 below.
Editors Note: Best Produced Hip Hop Songs of 2023 selections were restricted to between December 1, 2022 to December 1, 2023. Nominees are in alphabetical order.
Best BEAT Of 2023 NOMINATIONS
- Drake – “8AM In Charlotte”
- Drake (Feat. J. Cole) – “First Person Shooter”
- Gunna – “fukumean”
- Metro Boomin (Feat. Future & Chris Brown) – “Superhero”
- Sexyy Red – “SkeeYee”
The Best Beat of 2023 is…
Produced By: Dunk Rock & Florian “Flo” Ongonga
A masterclass in hitmaking, “fukumean” finds Gunna flaunting a life of glamor over measured hi-hat clicks and a bass thump that is guaranteed to give the track a whole new identity when played on monstrous speakers. The composition is held in place by a piano loop that allows its trademark “iya” soundbite to flow comfortably between the Atlanta rapper’s bars.
Teaming up with Dunk Rock and Florian “Flo” Ongonga proved to be tremendously beneficial for the 30-year-old as it reminded the Hip Hop community just what he’s capable of doing when presented with the right beat. Even if you don’t know the words to the song, you know the instrumental.
Drake — “8AM in Charlotte”
Produced By: Mario Luciano, Jason Wool & Conductor Williams
Drake’s bar-heavy joints, despite their consistently positive reception over the years, are something fans don’t get to hear quite as much as they used to. This is precisely why it’s always special when he takes a break from making commercial hits and channels his more introspective side, and “8AM in Charlotte” is a prime example of this.
Constructed atop “A Faithful Spirit” by Nichol Eskridge, the song serves as a preview to the rap-centered deluxe package of For All the Dogs. The latest installment of Drizzy’s timestamp–city series features Mario Luciano, Jason Wool and Conductor Williams demonstrating that less can indeed be more. In this case, the production team brought together a muffled beat, some sleepy piano riffs and the temperate pulsation of a choir stimulated by a higher power to provide the appropriate padding for an MC in a reflective mindset. Beats such as this elicit selective movement, sedating the body and soul into a state of rest but keeps the head bobbing loop after loop, bar after bar.
Drake f. J. Cole — “First Person Shooter”
Produced By: Coleman, Vinylz, Tay Keith, Boi-1da, FNZ & OZ
The more familiar side of Drake’s appeal was further enhanced on For All the Dogs with an alley-oop from his longtime comrade and collaborator, J. Cole. The first of two joint efforts this year, “First Person Shooter” is built on a solid foundation laid by a team consisting of Coleman, Vinylz, Tay Keith, Boi-1da, FNZ and OZ.
The ideal backdrop that adds an enchanting glow to two of the culture’s most influential personalities, the instrumental is split into two cinematic sections. The first half comprises a fragment of Joe Washington & The Wash’s “Look Me in the Eyes” grated over sprightly percussion handpicked to exhibit a tradeoff between two giants. The final portion, reserved exclusively for the Canadian superstar, takes on a more menacing aura. Though his flow slackens a notch in adjusting to the wavelength of Snorre Tidemand’s ghosty “Redemption,” Drake retains the same energy as before and closes out the song an authoritative high.
Metro Boomin f. Future & Chris Brown — “Superhero”
Produced By: Metro Boomin, Allen Ritter & DAVID x ELI
A quintessential Metro Boomin production, “Superhero” is a sedate trap arrangement that leaves just the right amount of room for Future’s percussive rap. Yet another hit that traces back to 808s wizardry, it transitions from protracted horns to whimsically processed synthesizer notes toward the end as Chris Brown steps in for a brief yet memorable outro.
A standout example of Hip Hop’s endurance, the song’s late transition features the St. Louis instrumental guru sampling a portion of JAY-Z‘s verse from “So Appalled” (“Live long enough to see yourself become a villain“) taken from Kanye West‘s landmark 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With the above elements bundled together into a three-minute recording, Metro Boomin creates a fitting ambiance around the theme of his second solo effort, Heroes & Villains.
Sexyy Red — “SkeeYee”
Produced By: Tay Keith, DJ Meech & BanBwoi
Sexyy Red is an apt representation of the latest class of Hip Hop stars with her provocative public persona and in-your-face delivery, and there’s no better song that ties those traits together than her summer megahit, “SkeeYee.”
Orchestrated by Tay Keith, DJ Meech and BanBwoi, the beat demonstrates an effective use of some basic trap tools that tend to generate widespread acclaim. Taking a rich piano loop, the beatmakers punctuated it with an echoing bell and underlined it with an uninterrupted hi-hat that set up the perfect platform for the 25-year-old to maximize her potential.
Without complicating the instrumental too much, the three minds behind it left it in a self-sustaining state and Sexyy did the rest, yet it doesn’t sound repetitive and at no point does it border on being mundane. This electrifying joint went on to top the inaugural TikTok Billboard Top 50 chart, establishing its bar-and-beat knockout combo among the best working formulas today.
Check out our previous Hip Hop Instrumental of the Year award winners.
Artwork and Graphic Design by JR Martinez.
Paragraphs written by Karan Singh.