The 38 best rap songs of 2021

Listen: Gather, “Gordon R Freestyle”

#Boyz Entertainment

Rio Da Yung OG: “Last day of release”

Vulnerability is not usually Rio Da Yung OG’s forte. The unpredictable and hilarious Flint, Mich. Rapper is often too busy delivering punchlines about stealing the take while his son is watching, or punishing his girlfriend’s child for interrupting him while ‘they were busy, to get into his feelings. “Last Day Out” is different. It’s a temporary goodbye as he prepares for a prison sentence. Throughout the track, he reflects, takes a trip down memory lane, and leaves his immediate family and fellow Flint rappers with farewell words. He tries to ignore, but you can tell he’s run over. –Alphonse Pierre

Listen: Rio Da Yung OG, “Last day of release”


Rxk Neveu: “American Terrorist”

During this nearly 10-minute barrage, the rambling and unpredictable RXKNephew churns out enough absurd conspiracy theories to make Joe Rogan think: This guy is really into something! The craziest ones – about the COVID vaccine causing mutations and dinosaurs discovering electricity before Benjamin Franklin – might stand out at first, but keep listening. I mean, the points are underlined here: the Bible has a lot of plot holes! Algebra is bullshit! And let’s face it, they knew Kelly Clarkson would win American Idol all along ! You may not want to elect Nephew to any school board, but listen to him. –Alphonse Pierre

Listen: Rxk Neveu, “American terrorist”

ICY / Warner

Saweetie: “Best friend” [ft. Doja Cat]

Just a few years ago, collaborations between women in rap were as rare as genuine excuses for the Notes app. Now there is an embarrassment of wealth, and “Best Friend” is one of those hits: two of rap’s most dominant merge to brag, as good confidants do. (Who hasn’t seen their first day on the street and shouted, “Beep beep, is that my best friend in a Tessie”?) The change in shape manifests as a sparkling three-stream worm . As public displays of affection go on, this is the kind that is perfectly admissible. – Clover Hope

Listen: Saweetie, “Best friend” [ft. Doja Cat]


Shy girl: “BDE” [ft. Slowthai]

The term Big Dick Energy is generally used to describe a low-key sense of charisma, but Shygirl from London means it very literally on “BDE,” her lustful song with Slowthai. Singing almost like in a trance to a muffled beat and threatening synths, Shygirl articulates exactly what she wants: “a big dick boy” to “beat the pussy good”. The lyrics are straightforward and repetitive, but the tension of the song comes from the way it modulates her voice – sometimes slender and indifferent, other times deep and deep, or accelerated to frenzy. There is so much secondary pleasure in hearing Shygirl’s cool dominance, the way she asserts her desire without hesitation. –Vrinda Jagota

Listen: Shy, “BDE” [ft. Slowthai]


Tyler, the creator: “Lumberjack”

We always knew Tyler was one of the best active rappers. And yet, for the past decade or so, he’s seemed delighted to retain that ability while pursuing other opportunities: orchestral pop, cherry-colored funk, songs about the Grinch. With “Lumberjack” he returns to hardline rap, even if it hardly sounds like a capitulation – on the contrary, it seems like he always thumbs his nose at opponents. The beat gets its quivering touches from a song by Gravediggaz (probably a nod to critics who tried to classify Odd Future as “horrorcore”) and the song’s chorus (“Rolls Royce pull up / Black boy hop out “) is delivered as a major. “This is my shade, I was a nutcase,” he said impassively at one point, reminding us that the ultimate hip-hop insider was an outsider. –Mehan Jayasuriya

Listen: Tyler, the creator, “Lumberjack”

Wikset Company

Wiki: “I can’t do it alone” [ft. Navy Blue]

Wiki and Navy Blue come from two different generations of underground New York rap, but their uncompromising values ​​and dynamic chemistry fill the gap. The heartwarming joy of friendship can be found in every nook and cranny of “Can’t Do This Alone,” a multiple-time winner of Wiki’s Navy produced LP, Demigod. Wiki isn’t passing the torch to Navy Blue here, although Sage’s prolific year on the mic and behind the boards is certainly commendable. They raise a flag together to celebrate their vibrant scene. – Brandon’s Call

Listen: Wiki, “I can’t do this on my own” [ft. Navy Blue]


Yeat: “Get busy”

“This song was already shot but here’s a bell,” Yeat raps about halfway through this track, before unleashing a massive gong sound that has become the hallmark of the Portland artist. Zoom out from here, though, and there’s a lot more to enjoy here: vocal mini-freakouts full of scrambled drug concoctions; references from Dr Seuss; twizzies, tizzies and Lizzies. Cutting his teeth into the influential online rap collective Slayworld over the past few years, Yeat has always been a bit weirder than his peers and, as a result, considered a minor figure. But in 2021, his surrealist leanings became his superpower. –Mano Sundaresan

Listen: Yeat, “Get busy”

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