Hip-hop and pop culture are inseparable at this point, meaning some of the biggest and most successful singles of any given year are going to come from the genre. The year 2023 was no different, featuring rising stars and old familiar names dropping some amazing bars we’ve ever heard. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 51 best rap songs of 2023 and do our best to rank them in an ever-evolving musical world.
1. Kill Bill – SZA
SZA had an absolutely dominating year on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and just might have released the best album of the year. Her biggest single was undeniably Kill Bill, a track that mirrored many events from the films of the same name but substituted her, her ex, and her ex’s new girlfriend for the characters.
It took the top spot on charts in seven countries worldwide, including the Hot 100, and also broke the record for the most weeks on top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with a total of 21 weeks at number one.
2. Die For You (Remix) – The Weeknd and Ariana Grande
Die For You (Remix) falls into a special case where it’s sort of new. The song was originally released on The Weeknd’s 2016 album Starboy, but after finding a new surge of popularity on TikTok, it was rerecorded alongside Ariana Grande in 2023. It then achieved a new peak on the Billboard charts, rising to number one on the Hot 100 and ranking as the number-three track on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs year-end chart.
3. The Hillbillies – Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar
The Hillbillies was initially released as a surprise YouTube exclusive but made its way onto other streaming platforms by the summer of 2023. Perhaps the highlight of the song was the conversational flow and natural chemistry between Kendrick Lamar and Baby Keem, seeing the pair trade lines about all of their favorite things from women and fame to sports and money.
The track ended up lacking the major chart success of others on the list, but it was such a fun and creative song that it far outstripped much of the competition.
4. Rich Flex – Drake And 21 Savage
Rich Flex isn’t a song that sees Drake at the top of his game, but it was definitely still one of the most successful raps of the year. Recorded alongside 21 Savage, this spent three weeks at number two on the Hot 100, blocked from the top spot by Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero. In Canada, however, it took the top spot and earned him his 11th number-one single in his native country.
5. Snooze – SZA
Kill Bill wasn’t the only great track from SZA to find success in 2023. After Justin Bieber released an acoustic version of Snooze, her original version rocketed up the charts and peaked at the number two spot on the Hot 100 and the top of the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. It was the only song of 2023 to spend every week of the year charting on the Hot 100, a major accomplishment for any artist and a testament to its longevity.
6. Creepin’ – Metro Boomin, The Weeknd, And 21 Savage
Creepin’ is a remake of Mario Williams’ I Don’t Want To Know from 2004. It served as the only single to come from Metro Boomin”s Heroes & Villains album in 2023 and was sent to Italian radio in January. A slew of remixes would follow, with different supporting artists like Diddy, Travis Scott, and Winans. It ended up being one of the most critically acclaimed rap singles of the year, eventually finding its way to number three on the Hot 100 and number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
7. SkeeYee – Sexyy Red
Sexyy Redd debuted her mixtape in 2023 and set the world on fire. Her blunt sexuality on Hood Hottest Princess leaves nothing to the imagination. SkeeYee itself first found popularity on TikTok and became the first song to ever hold the number-one spot on Billboard’s TikTok Top 50 chart. The song eventually peaked at number 62 on the Hot 100 and number 17 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
8. Favorite Song – Toosii
Favorite Song was released as the lead single from Toosii’s second studio album Naujour in February 2023. It had a great R&B beat that backed the rapper singing about how he is the perfect Valentine for his partner, though a “Toxic Version” of the track was released later alongside Khalid and Future. Once released, it debuted to nearly 10 million streams, earning Toosii his first entry to the Hot 100. It eventually peaked at number five and 25 on the Hot 100 and Global 200, respectively.
9. Paint the Town Red – Doja Cat
Doja Cat’s Scarlet album saw her return to her rap roots and try to reimagine her image after becoming disillusioned with pop critics. One of the best albums of the year, the shining moment for it came in the form of Paint The Town Red. After going viral online, it became an international hit single for her. The song topped the charts in 19 countries, becoming the first track by a solo female rapper to top the UK Singles Chart and the only one in Spotify history to surpass 100 million streams.
10. Sure Thing – Miguel
Sure Thing is a major throwback for 2023. It was originally released in 2010 on Miguel’s album All I Want Is You and was a moderate success over a decade ago. Thanks again to TikTok, the song found a massive new audience in 2023, turning into a global sleeper hit that reached new peaks around the world. Eventually, it made it to number 11 on the Hot 100 and became his first number-one single on the Pop Airplay chart.
11. All My Life – Lil Durk Feat. J. Cole
Lil Durk tapped into the struggle he was going through in his personal life for this one. All My Life was easily one of the top rap songs of the year and perhaps the best conscious rap single in quite a while. Alongside J. Cole, he uses his drill style to touch on a softer side of himself, producing a track that topped the hip-hop charts and made it to number two on the Hot 100.
12. Under The Influence – Chris Brown
Under The Influence was first released in 2019 as a single from Chris Brown’s album Indigo. In 2023, it turned into a viral sleeper hit, prompting him and his label to release it as a single three years after it first came out. A moderate success on commercial charts, it eventually became the name of his 2023 tour.
13. Spin Bout U – Drake And 21 Savage
There were plenty of gems on Drake and 21 Savage’s collaborative album Her Loss. Spin Bout U had one of the best runs from the album in 2023, eventually making it to number five on the Hot 100. Drake and 21 Savage trade bars in the song about how much they care for their partners and how they will protect them from anything. Just like All My Life, it earned a Grammy nomination for Best Melodic Rap Performance at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards.
14. fukumean – Gunna
The track fukumean was the final single released from Gunna’s album A Gift & A Curse and just might be the most beautiful rap song of the year in terms of instrumental backing. It incorporates flute melodies and string instruments in addition to the typical bass and hi-hats to give a track about wealth, drugs, and women an almost classical flair.
15. Just Wanna Rock – Lil Uzi Vert
Just Wanna Rock was released as the lead single for Lil Uzi Vert’s third studio album Pink Tape. An uptempo club song, it quickly gained traction online and amassed over 500 million views on social media platforms. The standout track of the album, this single eventually broke into the top 10 and the top five of the Hot 100 and US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts, respectively.
16. Put It On Da Floor Again – Latto Feat. Cardi B
Put It On Da Floor Again was debuted by Latto at Coachella only days before it was officially released. It spends most of the runtime lamenting the way people are so critical and sneaky. While it failed to break into the charts upon its initial release, a remix of the song immediately picked up steam and debuted at number 13 on the Hot 100. It eventually peaked at number six on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart and number three on the Airplay chart for the genre.
17. Princess Diana – Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj
Princess Diane was the second track on Ice Spice’s groundbreaking debut EP Like…? The drill rapper teamed up only a few months later with Nicki Minaj for the remix of the song, a single that eventually peaked at number four on the Hot 100 and became her second top-10 hit single. The concept of the track stemmed from her title “The People’s Princess,” earned largely because of her reputation for charity in her community.
18. Tomorrow 2 – GloRilla And Cardi B
Tomorrow was first released on GloRilla’s 2022 album Gangsta Art and was one of the best confidence-boosting raps of the year. She and Cardi B teamed up for the remix title Tomorrow 2, a song that eventually peaked at number nine on the Hot 100 and earned a double-platinum certification. And while it ended up being a song from 2022, it was so popular that it made it onto the year-end charts for 2023 as well.
19. Superhero (Heroes & Villains) – Metro Boomin And Future
The essential title track of Metro Boomin’s 2023 album, Superhero (Heroes & Villains) saw the prolific producer team up with Chris Brown and Future. The bumping trap song quotes several iconic lines from superhero movies on a couple of occasions. While not released as a single, it still made its way into the top 10 of the Hot 100, peaking at number eight on that chart and making it to number two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart as well.
20. Bad Habit – Steve Lacy
Bad Habit brought the lo-fi hip-hop beats to the R&B and mainstream hip-hop world. A psychedelic bedroom track, it focuses primarily on the singer’s regrets for having missed an opportunity to confess their feelings.
Sped-up versions of the song went viral on TikTok, spurring it to chart success in both 2022 and 2023 and earning several Grammy nominations for awards the prior year. It found a place on the year-end charts for 2023, cementing its place as one of the best hip-hop tracks of the year.
21. Shirt – SZA
Shirt might be SZA’s best take on modern hip-hop. The inclusion of glitchy hi-hats, trap elements, and a rolling drum machine combine all the things we love about the genre today. It was released as the third single from her SOS album but had been teased as early as two years beforehand. Singing about a toxic ex yet again, a running theme from the album, she earned another top-20 international hit single.
22. Search & Rescue – Drake
Search And Rescue was initially slotted for being the lead single of Drake’s 2023 album For All The Dogs, but it ended up being an albumless release in 2023. He mostly focuses on his desire for a woman to save him from his current lifestyle and what he looks for in a partner. It had a great chart run, peaking at number two on the Hot 100 but being held out of the top spot by Morgan Wallen’s song Last Night.
23. Players – Coi Leray
Another contender for album of the year, Coi Leray’s self-titled album had several outstanding rap singles to choose from. Players was a highlight of the year, sampling Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five’s song The Message. Dedicated to women who are players rather than decrying males. Interestingly, it was revealed that she freestyled the song in one take, making the fact that it broke into the top 10 of both the Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart that much more impressive.
24. namesake – Noname
Noname might be the most prolific poet to make a triumphant return in 2023. Never afraid to delve into the sticky topics of social or political conversations, she laid down some of the best and most pointed conscious raps of the year.
The track namesake happened to be the best offering from her of the year, tearing down other artists who frequently work with the NFL because of the league’s association with the military-industrial complex. But it isn’t just about others, she derides herself as well for playing Coachella after saying it would never happen.
25. Barbie World – Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice
Barbie was perhaps the biggest film of the year, and involving artists like Nicki Minaj ensured it had a presence across the hip-hop world. She and Ice Spice teamed up for a drill and club version of Aqua’s classic Barbie Girl for the movie soundtrack.
It debuted at number seven on the Hot 100 and was a top-10 hit around the world. It became the first female rap collaboration to ever be nominated for a Grammy Award, getting the nod for Best Song Written for Visual Media at the 66th Annual Awards Ceremony.
26. Deli – Ice Spice
For New Yorkers, the deli is a sacred place. As Ice Spice is a Brooklyn native through and through, it comes as no surprise that she set one of her best rap songs in her home deli. It’s a throwback to her start in the drill subgenre, seeing her twerking that thing as she alternates between sweet and angry lyrics. The real point of the track is that no matter how far she goes, she’ll always remember her roots.
27. MELTDOWN – Travis Scott Feat. Drake
MELTDOWN was the third single to come from Travis Scott’s UTOPIA album in 2023. Featuring Drake, it contained several disses towards Pharrell Williams and Pusha T, giving us what just might be the most popular diss track of the year—and what’s a good list of rap songs without at least one of those? It debuted at number three on the Hot 100 and number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart and gave Drake his 12th number-one single in Canada.
28. Area Codes – Kaliii
Area Codes is a gender-flipped interpolation of the 2001 Ludacris single of the same name. Kaliii gained a ton of traction online, eventually earning a Hot 100 spot that peaked at number 33 on the chart. The line “Got a white boy on my roster, He be feeding me pasta and lobster” became one of the most-used sounds on TikTok for 2023 as well.
29. Fight the Feeling – Rod Wave
Rod Wave’s entire Nostalgia album is an amazing blend of soul and trap music. Fight The Feeling was the standout track of the album, telling the story of a woman who tries to hide how hurt she is at the end of a relationship by going out to the club. The vocal prowess on display in the song earned it a top-10 place on the R&B/Hip-Hop and Rhythmic charts in 2023.
30. Lovin On Me – Jack Harlow
Jack Harlow ended 2023 with one of the best tracks of the year. Lovin’ On Me is a goofy, funny, and bouncing rap song that earned virality on social media and a solid chart position to boot. A flirtatious rap through and through, it opens with one of the most ear-catching hooks of the year. The track debuted at number two on the Hot 100 and made it to the top spot the next week.
31. Peaches & Eggplants – Young Nudy Feat. 21 Savage
Many critics hailed Young Nudy’s Gumbo album as one of the best offerings of 2023. The single Peaches & Eggplants was released as the lead single for the album, generating positive reviews and earning a pretty solid chart run. It broke into the top 40 of the Hot 100 and made it to the top 10 of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
32. Randy Orton – Key Glock
Randy Orton is the kind of hometown tribute you look for in a great rap song. With Key Glock incorporating gospel organs into the track, he blends the styles of Memphis in a masterful song of individuality and pride.
33. Rush Hour – BigXthaPlug
BigXthaPlug finally got his big breakthrough with his 2023 project AMAR. Among the slick rhymes and familiar punchlines came Rush Hour, a poised and laid-back flex rap that brings something new to the Texas rap scene.
34. Face Down – City Girls
If you’re looking for one of the best X-rated bangers of the year, look no further than Face Down by City Girls. It’s got one of the naughtiest hooks of the year and verges on the obscene throughout the entire song. In a world of radio edits and SFW remixes, it’s a bit of a refreshing return to form for the group.
35. Yeezy Boots – RXK Nephew
Kanye West doesn’t need someone to make a diss track about him to know he’s largely unliked today, but nobody besides RXK Nephew gets to the heart of the matter as fast. Yeezy Boots is a massive takedown on him, from him signing Big Sean to not making good music anymore, and how quickly he fell off in terms of public support. But the diss track goes deeper, as RXK Nephew is similarly risky socially, making it a potent introspective warning for himself along the way.
36. Safe 2 – Veeze
Veeze wasn’t the biggest fan of his breakthrough, but once he returned, he scored yet another one. His Ganger album might have been the best pure rap album of the year, with Safe 2 standing as a highlight of the album. Meditative and introspective, it ponders over the success the rapper stumbled into in an almost mournful tone. As great as it is, it’s best described as him saying goodbye to his old life as he tentatively welcomes the newfound fame.
37. Bongos – Cardi B Feat. Megan Thee Stallion
Bongos was the first collaboration between Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion since their famous single WAP. Latin influences abound on the released single from Cardi B’s still yet-to-be-released album. The pair earned a top-five spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop, Airplay, and Rhythmic charts.
38. Johnny Dang – That Mexican OT
That Mexican OT might have the most humble description of his bars, quoted in an interview stating he doesn’t know how to rap, he just rhymes words. Johnny Dang was one of the most hilarious raps of the year, blowing bubble-rap semi-autos all over his haters and ops as he talked about his bouncing Cadillac. If this is the future of Texas rap, it’s in good hands.
39. California Breeze – Lil Baby
California Breeze was released on Lil Baby’s album It’s Only Me at the end of 2022 and quickly became the highest-charting song on it. It soared to number four on the Hot 100 and showcased her melodic and moody side that fans have come to know and love.
40. Super Gremlin – Kodak Black
Super Gremlin came on a Halloween-themed project titled Sniper Gang Presents Syko Bob & Snapkatt: Nightmare Babies, which Kodak Black was a part of. It was eventually also included on his own album Back For Everything. The song was a major hit, rising to number three on the Hot 100, and had success that lasted throughout both 2022 and 2023.
41. JEALOUSY – Offset And Cardi B
JEALOUSY was the lead single of Offset’s Motown album Set It Off in 2023. Announced by the married couple after a spoof interview by him, it quickly found traction on the charts. It eventually made it to the top 25 on the Hip-Hop and Rhythmic charts.
42. Thang For You – Rylo Rodriguez Feat. NoCap
Thang For You was the major highlight of Rylo Rodriguez’s 2023 album Been One. It’s all about how he would do anything for a certain lover and alongside NoCap found some chart success. By breaking onto the Hot 100 at number 91, it became his first Hot 100 single.
43. SHELL IN A GHOST – Sideshow
SHELL IN A GHOST is a song that requires multiple listens, not because it’s hard to understand, but because you’ll pick up something new each time you run through it. Some lines won’t hit you until the next verse, others hit hard instantly. Sideshow showcased just how good of a rapper he is with this one, penning one of the most layered raps of the year.
44. Winners Circle – RealYungPhil and Gud
The album Victory Music is where old-head hip-hop meets new young talent, and nowhere on that one is it more impressive than on Winners Circle. The beat and rappers almost seem to go through the song in slow-mo, bringing their best on a chilled-out rap song that fans of all ages can get behind.
45. Pillars – Navy Blue
Navy Blue spends the majority of his debut album Ways Of Knowing discussing the love and wisdom he got from his family. Pillars is a particularly poignant song on the album, mourning the loss of his grandfather and talking about how things will never be the same. But through the mourning is hope, rarely crossing into true grief, and eventually leading to a place of acceptance.
46. Fruit Loop – Flo Milli
Fruit Loop is one of the most energetic songs of the year. Imagine being on a sugar high with ADHD and having a caffeine buzz that just doesn’t stop. There are plenty of laughable disses as well that come across in a Harley Quinn-esque style that perfectly fits the beat.
47. Sprinter – Central Cee and Dave
Not every rap single has to have deep subject matter. Death, drugs, wealth, and socially conscious lyrics are great, but some of the most memorable songs are just funny. Sprinter is one of those, focusing in large part on how many women can fit in a minibus. It topped the UK charts for 10 weeks and is the owner of the longest run atop the UK Singles Chart for a rap single in history.
48. Year Zero – billy woods and Kenny Segal Feat. Danny Brown
Doomsday scenarios and the end of the world tend to be topics held far away from hip-hop singles that aren’t on concept albums. Rapper billy woods deadpans his way through a story of two active shooters at the same place and same time, who happen to be completely unrelated to each other. It talks about other apocalyptic scenarios as well, illustrating the violent end of times as he sees them.
49. 10 Carat – El Cousteau
El Cousteau spent a long time in hip-hop’s underground scene, but with the release of their Dirty Harry album and 10 Carat, their skills are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Life lessons abound over the hi-hats and high-pitched vocals. It mostly focuses on the artist’s love-hate relationship with money and their own mortality.
50. 2HUMPY – 2RARE And Blueface
Nostalgia has always been something that plays well, but it can often be done poorly. 2HUMPY Anthem is an example of it being done perfectly, playing directly on a combination of the historic sounds from Jersey and Philly clubs to make something definitively 2023.
51. NO ADLIB – Bktherula
Speed rappers have sort of fallen out of fashion in the last decade, but they’re still around making hits. Bcktherula laid down the dizzying bars on NO ADLIB with ease. But even if you can keep up with your ears, your brain might not handle the topics so quickly. It’s an adrenaline rush for the soul from one of the smartest rappers alive.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.