The world continues to shift at a rapid pace with so many major global events happening that it’s hard to know exactly how we 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. Several months have passed since 2023 kicked off and we’ve received heat from Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Sexyy Red, Glorilla, Ice Spice, Boldy James, Luh Tyler, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, RX Papi, Killer Mike, Young Thug, EBK Young Joc, Rundown Spaz 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 January 1, 2023 – December 30, 2023.



“DOGTOOTH” – Tyler, The Creator

No one has had a better few years than Tyler, The Creator. The once controversial Hip Hop prankster has become one of the most celebrated artists of the last five years thanks largely to what matters most: the music. From Flower Boy to Igor and now to the deluxe version of CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST: The Estate Sale, the Odd Future co-founder has certainly checked off a laundry list of musical boxes.

“DOGTOOTH” is a seamless marriage between melodic Tyler and rapping for sport Tyler. The chorus of “She could ride my face, I don’t want nothing in return” is silly, catchy and will likely be sung back to him at festivals for years to come. Of course, in true Tyler fashion, he’s also the song’s producer which means tons of dreamy synthesizers, dancing keys and plenty of ad-libs. – Scott Glaysher

“Cold” – Gucci Mane f. B.G. & Mike WiLL Made-It

“FCTU” – Nicki Minaj

“First Person Shooter” – Drake F. J. Cole

As if a new Drake album in 2023 wasn’t exciting enough, the 6 God tapped up J. Cole for a full-fledged turbo banger. Arguably the most colossal-sounding song of the year, both rappers trade top-tier bars for over four minutes, weaving in and out of the perfectly crafted Boi-1da, Vinylz, Tay Keith, Oz and FnZ beat.

Add the pulsating chorus and cliffhanging beat switch, as well as its accompanying Michael Bay-esque big budget music video, and you’ve got an undeniable powerhouse anthem. The No. 1 hit also put Drake on the cusp of history, being that he’s now tied with Michael Jackson for the most chart-topping singles by a male solo artist. Big as the what??? – Scott Glaysher

“2024” – Playboi Carti

“RUN” – Killer Mike & Young Thug

“Big Dog” – Benny The Butcher & Lil Wayne

“Eminem” – Wiz Havvin & Veeze

“Chanel Pit” – Tierra Whack

If this is what Tierra Whack can do with a xylophone, a single thumping 808, hi-hats and a snare, she needs to release her acapella tracks immediately. The Nick Verruto-produced beat is a sparse lullaby, gruffed up by the griminess of the 808, yet somehow still light enough to twinkle like that one little star. Whack demonstrates her ability to diffuse melody, adjunct rhyme schemes, and notes of Chanel, all into thin air. – Yousef Srour



“OK” – Busta Rhymes f. Young Thug

“High End” – E-40 f. Philthy Rich, Gucci Mane & BG

“You Broke My Heart” – Drake

Although “You Broke My Heart” uses a beat that’s almost identical to “Laugh Now, Cry Later,” Drake deserves a pass for finally delivering an honest song. As of recent, Drake’s music has been lackluster, taking away from the man who used to bestow Instagram captions upon Instagram captions on album release day. In three words, Drake has gotten to the root of his career’s recent rough patch and has decided that it’s time the world know: “F*** my ex.” Easily the funniest Drake song to come out since he taught us how to do the “Tootsie Slide” during the pandemic. – Yousef Srour



“SAY MY GRACE” – Offset f. Travis Scott

“TyTy & NaeNae” – KP Skywalka

“Fighting My Demons” – Ken Carson

It turns out that Playboi Carti was teasing the new sound that Opium was working on when he returned to the limelight on Travis Scott’s “FE!N.” On Ken Carson’s new album, A Great Chaos, Opium goes full Luigi’s Mansion. Ken gargles out, “Where the f*ck my blunt? Where the f*ck my cup? Where the f*ck my reefer?,” as fast as he can before the 808s entrench his voice; the chiming synthesizers race up to their highest octave whereas the tubby bassline can barely crawl up a note, stomping through Starboy’s chord changes that mimic the organ-playing of vampire Count von Count. When he grumbles, “You or me?,” it feels like Ken Carson has slipped into a character revived from the afterlife, hunting amidst an accelerating instrumental break before breaking back into a more-cognizant yet repetitive (comparable to “FE!N”) refrain from a tense Ken reiterating: “I’ve been fighting my demons, yeah.” – Yousef Srour



“Run” – YoungBoy Never Broke Again

“Never Die” – Nas f. Lil Wayne

“Not No Xanax 2” – Cash Cobain f. Chow Lee

“Not No Xanax 2,” a highlight from Cash Cobain’s Pretty Girls Love Slizzy album, shares more than just the beat and chorus from Nelly’s “Dilemma.” They’re both obsessive and lascivious but the New York rapper just has a knack for making things infinitely more raunchy. “I want your pussy, it’s not a dilemma,” he raps on the opening lines of the track as the aforementioned sample becomes instantly clear. Not one for subtlety, both in his influences and his need for sex, Cash Cobain would rather tell you how it is. That’s also why he asks the girls in the song to follow him on Twitter four times in just over two minutes. Cash Cobain is persistent that way. – Louis Pavlakos



“Hellcats SRTs” – Sexyy Red f. Lil Durk

“The Weeping Poets” – Vic Mensa f. Jay Electronica

“Wish Me Well” – Little Brother

“Wish Me Well” is side A of a Little Brother two-pack, the duo’s first release since their 2019 comeback album, May the Lord Watch. Long-time LB fans’ pulses will surely quicken as soon as “LB bidness” plays over a yearning soul sample supplied by Deonis Cook. The track sees Tiggalo and Rapper Big Pooh ping-ponging back and forth, finishing each other’s short verses like Tip and Phife circa ‘91. Their years-long breaks between releases always raise questions about retirement, but Phonte nixes that off the rip: “This is that dispelled rumor that we not active.” And indeed, the two haven’t lost a step. Building off his recent string of scene-stealing guest spots, Phonte slings clever bars (“Made my first record on an OK Computer/’Cause I saw where the radio was headed”) while Pooh delivers wisened rhymes (“I just want a slice while maintaining my peace/I don’t need the whole pie). “Wish Me Well” is of the classic Little Brother mold and could slot into any of their prior releases without missing a beat. Why reinvent the wheel when the wheel is this smooth? – Alec Siegel

“Patty Cake” – Quavo & Takeoff

“First Person Shooter” – Drake f. J. Cole

“Hood Rats” – Sexyy Red & Sukihana

No rapper is hotter than Sexyy Red. Car windows blast “SkeeYee,” as they whip past traffic with reckless abandon. DJs liven up even the deadest crowd when they switch to “Poundtown 2,”; “my coochie pink, my booty-hole brown,” might as well replace the pledge of allegiance (her best song is actually “Looking For The Hoes”). Even in the concert venues she’s not attending, her presence is often felt more than the actual rapper performing. It’s a level of dominance that’s been seen before (Glorilla, Ice Spice, Megan Thee Stallion, Bobby Shmurda, etc.) but what separates Red is her ability to carry weaker performers. Lijay is a pretty regular post Carti-core rapper, but Red makes his latest single “I love freaks” an interesting juxtaposition between styles. Sukihana is more known for her antics and personality than her music. Her raunchiness and give no fucks aesthetic clearly wants to position her as a Cardi B-like figure. But Suki feels forced, whereas Cardi echoed the genuineness that made Snoop Dogg one of the coolest rappers alive. She may be on Love & Hip Hop, but she is no Bardi. And so, her best move is to continue racking up headlines like Chrisean Rock. But she’s not untalented, she’s just not interesting enough on record to make an impact. Enter Sexyy Red, who takes the work of making a good song off of Suki, and instead lets her ratchet up her personality to the max on “Hood Rats.” It’s crude, rude, and true to the essence of both artists. Not many duos could pull this off, but Sexyy Red is untouchable right now, she can do no wrong, no matter who she’s paired with. – Josh Svetz



“Booty Drop” – Doechii

“TESLA” – Lil Yachty

“toxic” – Noname

Noname blends Chicago’s deep-rooted history of poetry and soul-embalmed rap with the polyrhythms of traditionally African instrumentation, present here in Saba, Ben Nartey and AJ Halls’ collaboration in the production, bouncing rimshots on every off-beat, keeping pace with Noname’s slick boom-bap. In its introductory skit, “toxic” showcases a feminine-masculine mismatch in the understanding of love. The speaker emphasizes that love is commitment, and Noname expresses that same frustration with “toxic” love from people whose company she wouldn’t even prefer to her own. The yearning is paradoxical and so are Noname’s lovers, having babies with other women even though they had never shown maturity since the beginning. – Yousef Srour



“On The Radar Freestyle” – Drake & Central Cee

“On This Side” – Brent Faiyaz, Cruddy Murda, ASAP Ant

“Sprinter” – Central Cee & Dave

The world hasn’t been the same ever since two of the UK’s most enticing emcees, Dave and Central Cee, teamed up for a surprise four-song EP earlier this month. Its lead single, “Sprinter” quickly became one of the best hip-hop songs of the year. Each of their respectively clever flexes roll off of their tongues with ease, as they fill the track’s space up with clever bar after clever bar about their exquisite lifestyles and humorous UK slang. They trade bars in the hook, as they reveal what the track is titled after; “I just put nine gyal in a sprinter / One hundred eaters, they won’t fit in one SUV,” they rap one after another. As they relish in their success, their biggest worry is not being able to fit all of their lady friends into one Mercedes Sprinter van. There are certainly hints of introspection throughout, but it’s the wordplay that takes center stage, like when Dave jokes that he has to take a woman to therapy because she’s got a lot on her chest – but it turns out he just means it’s due to her E-cup bra. “With bae through thick and thin / She already thick, so I’m halfway there,” Dave raps in the hook before letting out a subtle cheeky laugh at himself in the background. This is hip-hop at its best – and most fun. – Isaac Fontes



“Jonesboro” – Young Thug

“Scientists & Engineers” – Killer Mike F. Andre 3000, Future, Eryn Allen Kane

“Trapper Of The Year” – Certified Trapper

Certified Trapper is the undeniable leader of Milwaukee’s current wildly entertaining hip-hop scene. After signing to Signal Records late last year, he dropped his first properly flushed-out and most polished mixtape to date, the highly-anticipated Trapper of the Year. Known for his unhinged work ethic and unique sound that comes complete with relentless snares and claps on his self-produced beats, his wild dance moves and freestyled lyricism, Certified Trapper is one of the most exciting acts to pop up in quite some time due to the fact that his sound is truly singular; his very own invention. On his new tape’s title track, which serves as the project’s intro and one of its lead singles, Trapper is in prime form. “Trapper of the Year” is simple in its form and subject matter, but his sound is so addicting. In the hook, he melodically declares himself as the trapper of the year over the beat’s prominent claps before using the sole verse to further cement the fact that nobody can compete with him – and this will always be true because he’s invented his own sound and is well on route to taking over the game with it. – Isaac Fontes



“fukumean” – Gunna

Chester Watson – “eyes closed”

Estee Nack x Westside Gunn – “OLDNACKDONALDHADAFARM”

Executively produced by Westside Gunn and released by Griselda Records, prolific Massachusetts rapper Estee Nack’s newest project, Nacksaw Jim Duggan is a dusty offering littered with candid storytelling and gritty lyricism. Although delivered through his signature gruff cadence, Estee Nack lives an exquisite lifestyle and he lets it be known; honey glazes the Backwoods that he’s smoking and his crib in Orlando is so big that there’s too much empty space in it for just him. In typical Gunn fashion, the FlyGod handles the curation aspect of the project, and even provides a guest verse to the outro – the hilariously-titled “OLDNACKDONALDHADAFARM.” Mostly abandoning his obnoxious ad-libs and boastful shit-talking, Gunn hones in and delivers a straight-to-the-point verse reminiscent of his prime FLYGOD era to close out the album; “So ahead of my time, I got a 2022 penny / And a Louis Vuitton loafer, slide over,” he raps in his concluding verse on one of the year’s most raw tracks thus far. – Isaac Fontes



Baby Keem x Kendrick Lamar – “The Hillbillies”

Rio Da Yung Og – “Pooh Shiesty”

Continuing his streak as one of the most talented and engaging rappers in the game, even from behind bars, Rio Da Yung Og is a relentless force in the rap game who’s widely become known for his unhinged bars and for championing the sound of his hometown, Flint, Michigan’s fiery Hip-Hop scene. On “Pooh Shiesty,” a low-key standout off of his latest EP, The F Tape, Rio lets loose and riddles off his cannon of acutely-delivered, charismatic bars over the knocking drums and clanging piano loop. “Guarantee they said they know Rio if they be out in Flint / I just got $100K in cash for a sponsorship / Still thanking God for my accomplishments,” he raps nonchalantly. His writing is as sharp as ever, revealing that his Levi’s jeans are actually Chrome Hearts, detailing that he left his girl because of his relationship with Mary Jane, and flexing the fact that he’s charging $6K for a guest verse. #FreeRio. – Isaac Fontes



“AIN’T GONNA ANSWER” – NLE Choppa & Lil Wayne

“All I Wanna Know” – Lil Keed & Young Thug


On the title track of JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown’s boisterous experimental album, SCARING THE HOES, the duo essentially deliver the thesis of the album with an off-kilter track that’s ultimately successful in what it aims to do, which is simply to scare the hoes; an online joke that refers to any nonconforming underground music. This is not music that DJs will be running to play in their sets at the club, but it will certainly be enjoyed by experimental rap heads on a spooky late-night drive. Over an unconventional beat that samples the expeditious clapping and out-of-tune horns of Dirty Beaches’ “Untitled,” the pair play into the old head mentalities that reject this sort of innovative music by taunting their own artistic preferences; “Stop scarin’ the hoes / Play that shit’ll have them touch their toes / ‘We don’t wanna hear that weird shit no more’,” Danny raps on the hook in his signature high-pitched cadence. – Isaac Fontes



“Nun id Change” – Yeat

“Bacc Like I Never Left” – 03 Greedo

“Kant Nobody” – Lil Wayne, Swizz Beatz, DMX

lil-wayne-kant-nobody-dmx-new-singleDespite over 30 years as a top tier rapper Lil Wayne songs remain expansive adventures. The latest example is “Kant Nobody,” a rambunctious, yet controlled barrage of eclectic punchlines, free associative boasts and tightly wound rhyme schemes. Coasting over a DMX-sampling Swizz Beatz instrumental, Weezy F manages to mention sneezing Dracos, Jeffrey Dahmer and Oprah for quips that are as unpredictable as they are funny. He also gets props for distilling his rich hermit lifestyle in just a few bars: Don’t be on all of that, yeah, that’s my twin, shit, alright/Don’t hit my phone with all that ‘I’m just tappin’ in,’ shit, alright/Fuck that friend shit, alright, I’m on my zen shit, alright/I’m on that DMT, I ain’t on that DM shit, alright.” Precise, yet frenzied, “Kant Nobody” is electric. – Peter A. Barry



“Breakfast” – Kevin Gates

“Trappin n Rappin” – Big Scarr & Gucci Mane

“Nasty Dancer” – Flo Milli

Flo-Milli-Nasty-Dancer-new-singleIt’s brash, irreverent, and nasty. It’s got a beat meant to be blasted with all four windows down. It’s the new Flo Milli shit. “Nasty Dancer,” the 23-year-old hip-hop upstart spits absolute filth over a sticky throwback production from fellow Alabaman OG Parker. At a breakneck speed, the 2021 XXL Freshman rejects sugar babies, name drops Doja Cat, and leaves lying lovers in the lurch. After all the affirmations she’s already given us, it sometimes seems inconceivable Flo Milli could have any more gems up her sleeves. And then here she goes again. – Nina Hernandez



“Ron Artest” – Babyface Ray & 42 Dugg

“Shmunk” – Yeat & YoungBoy Never Broke Again

“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



“Prada Steppin” – EBK Young Joc

“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



Contributing writers: David Brake, Louis Pavlakos, Rebecca Barglowski, Isaac Fontes, Riley Wallace, Jeremy Hecht, Devon Jefferson, Anthony Malone, Peter Barry, Yousef Srour, Nina Hernandez & Josh Svetz.