It's been a long, strange year, with just as many lows as highs. Even as things inch closer towards the new normal, day-to-day life has been an adjustment for everyone following a global pandemic. Fortunately for rap fans, we have great music to hold us down—the soundtrack to better times and happiness. Hip-hop as a whole is gaining its rhythm back after artists went for more than a year without touring and being out in the streets to engage with their fans. With live performances back like they never left, and plenty of new albums dropping each week, the game's stars have returned, and the up-and-coming acts are also delivering. Throughout 2021, there were a lot of songs to sort through, so XXL highlights 100 of the best hip-hop songs that dropped this year, in no particular order, to put you on game.

This was a huge year for street rap from some newer names that reside all over the country. Louisville's own EST Gee, a signee to Yo Gotti's CMG label, has been making noise since last year, and spent 2021 coming into his own. His posse cut "5500 Degrees" featuring fellow CMG labelmate 42 Dugg, Lil Baby and Rylo Rodriguez is refreshing, with Gee shining next to three acts who have made names of their own. The same could be said for Big30, signed to Moneybagg Yo's BreadGang/N-Less Entertainment. He's a clever Memphis rapper who came up alongside his close friend, Pooh Shiesty. Big30 sounds comfortable next to any fellow rhymer, and that rings true on his song "Too Official," with aforementioned local legend Yo Gotti. Then, all the way across the map in San Pedro, Calif., Remble came out of seemingly nowhere with his uniquely paced, conversational flow. His off-center sense of humor and lyrical strength earned him millions of views quickly, and his song "Book Bag" featuring fellow Californians BlueBucksClan is one of his standouts.

The latter half of 2021 also had plenty of songs from the ladies of rap, who have been gaining more of a foothold in the genre every week. Doja Cat, an established hitmaker, released the soaring "Need To Know," displaying her her oft-overlooked dexterity and command of bars, especially on the last verse. Little Simz, a long-respected U.K. rapper who makes music within the socially aware side of things, has her track "Introvert" on this list. The song explores her inner feelings and reflects on the current state of the world. There's also lighter, more self-celebrating fare, like Rico Nasty's "Magic" and Lakeyah and DJ Drama's "In Person." There's also room for a woman just talking that talk, as KenTheMan does on "Damn Shame."

Check out the best hip-hop songs of 2021 and see if your favorites made the list.

  • "Too Official"

    Big30 featuring Yo Gotti
  • "5500 Degrees"

    EST Gee featuring Lil Baby, 42 Dugg, Rylo Rodriguez
  • "Introvert"

    Little Simz
  • "Book Bag"

    Remble featuring BlueBucksClan
  • "Damn Shame"

  • "Who Want Smoke??"

    Nardo Wick featuring 21 Savage, G Herbo and Lil Durk
  • "Gyalis"

    Capella Grey
  • "Wusyaname"

    Tyler, The Creator Featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Ty Dolla $ign
  • "My . Life"

    J. Cole Featuring 21 Savage and Morray
  • "Hurricane"

    Kanye West featuring The Weeknd and Lil Baby
  • "Rapstar"

    Polo G
  • "Lemon Pepper Freestyle"

    Drake Featuring Rick Ross
  • "No More Parties (Remix)"

    Coi Leray Featuring Lil Durk
  • "Wockesha"

    Moneybagg Yo
  • "Every Chance I Get"

    DJ Khaled Featuring Lil Baby and Lil Durk
  • "Straightenin"

  • "Calling My Phone"

    Lil Tjay Featuring 6lack
  • "Maybach"

    42 Dugg Featuring Future
  • "His & Hers"

    Internet Money Featuring Gunna, Don Toliver and Lil Uzi Vert
  • "Up"

    Cardi B
  • "Miss The Rage"

    Trippie Redd Featuring Playboi Carti
  • "Thot Shit"

    Megan Thee Stallion
  • "Tombstone"

    Rod Wave
  • "Eenie Meenie"

    Baby Tate
  • "Leave the Door Open"

    Silk Sonic
  • "Kiss Me More"

    Doja Cat featuring SZA
  • "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)"

    Lil Nas X
  • "Headshots (4r Da Locals)"

    Isaiah Rashad
  • "Ski"

    Young Thug and Gunna
  • "Beat Box 3"

    SpotemGottem featuring DaBaby
  • "Who I Smoke"

    Yungeen Ace, Spinabenz, Whoppa Wit Da Choppa and FastMoney Goon
  • "Count On Me"

    BROCKHAMPTON featuring A$AP Rocky and SoGone SoFlexy
  • "Lucid Dreams (Remix)"

    Juice Wrld featuring Lil Uzi Vert
  • "Best Friend"

    Saweetie featuring Doja Cat
  • "5'5"

    Toosii featuring Latto
  • "Go Crazy (Remix)"

    Chris Brown and Young Thug featuring Future, Lil Durk and Latto
  • "Impatient"

    DDG and OG Parker featuring Coi Leray
  • "Twerkulator"

    City Girls
  • "Real As It Gets"

    Lil Baby featuring EST Gee
  • "Shoot My Shot"

    IDK and Offset
  • "Plug Talk" Featuring 2 Chainz

    Benny The Butcher and Harry Fraud
  • "Late At Night"

    Roddy Ricch
  • "I Like Dat"

    T-Pain and Kehlani
  • "Tell Em"

    Cochise featuring $NOT
  • "Perfect Timing"

    YG and Mozzy featuring Blxst
  • "Dr. Suess"

    Ski Mask The Slump God
  • "Wants and Needs"

    Drake featuring Lil Baby
  • "Never Left"

    Lil Tecca
  • "She Make It Clap"

    Soulja Boy
  • "Whole Lotta Money (Remix)"

    BIA featuring Nicki Minaj
  • "Trenches"

  • "Pride Is The Devil"

    J. Cole featuring Lil Baby
  • "Ramen & OJ"

    Joyner Lucas and Lil Baby
  • "Sorry Not Sorry"

    DJ Khaled featuring Nas, Jay-Z, James Fauntleroy and Harmonies by The Hive
  • "I Believed It"

    DVSN and Ty Dolla $ign featuring Mac Miller
  • "Solid"

    Young Thug and Gunna featuring Drake
  • "Time Today"

    Moneybagg Yo
  • “Scatter Brain”

    Conway The Machine featuring J.I.D and Ludacris
  • "Stay"

    The Kid Laroi featuring Justin Bieber
  • "2055"

    Sleepy Hallow
  • "Way 2 Sexy"

    Drake featuring Future and Young Thug
  • "Need To Know"

    Doja Cat
  • "Sharing Locations"

    Meek Mill featuring Lil Baby and Lil Durk
  • "Bubbly"

    Young Thug featuring Drake and Travis Scott
  • "Family Ties"

    Baby Keem featuring Kendrick Lamar
  • "Industry Baby"

    Lil Nas X featuring Jack Harlow
  • "Big Persona"

    Maxo Kream featuring Tyler, The Creator
  • "Nevada"

    YoungBoy Never Broke Again
  • "Stiff Arm"

    Mick Jenkins featuring Ayinde Cartman
  • "Fair Trade"

    Drake featuring Travis Scott
  • "Too Easy"

    Gunna and Future
  • "Poke It Out"

    Wale featuring J. Cole
  • "Not In The Mood"

    Lil Tjay featuring Fivio Foreign and Kay Flock
  • "Ambition For Cash"

    Key Glock
  • "Dirty Money"

    Caleb Brown
  • "Charmander"

  • "Magic"

    Rico Nasty
  • "Pop Out"

    Blxst and Bino Rideaux
  • "Blu Boyz"

    Young Dolph, Key Glock and Snupe Bandz
  • "In Person"

    Lakeyah and DJ Drama featuring Tyga
  • "Super"

  • "Super Series"

    Curren$y and Harry Fraud featuring Larry June
  • "The One"

    Big Sean and Hit-Boy
  • "Is Ya Ready"

    Kay Flock
  • "Pushin The Pedal"

    Dee Watkins featuring Quail
  • "App Cap"

  • "Queen"

    Fetty Wap
  • "Be Grateful"

  • "No Time"

    Rucci, AzChike and Capolow
  • "Flying Spirit"

    The Alchemist featuring Bruiser Brigade
  • "Mudd Baby"

    Icewear Vezzo
  • "Tycoon"

  • "Style & Fashion"

    Pa Salieu
  • "Blazin"

    ShooterGang Kony
  • "Mask Off (Feelings)"

  • "716 Mile"

    Westside Gunn featuring Boldy James
  • "Free Ric"

    42 Dugg featuring Lil Durk
  • "IYKYK"

  • "3rd Person"

    Boldy James and The Alchemist
  • "Beautiful Lies"

    Yung Bleu and Kehlani

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