Top 10 Rap Releases of this Year

Lyrically, 2021 has been a fantastic year for rap. Some of the game’s biggest names delivered new bars, and lesser artists rose to the occasion. Stars became idols and teachers to a new generation of musicians who will undoubtedly continue to push the genre forward. It’s impossible to predict where rap will go next, but our choice of the Top 10 Rap Releases of this Year may provide some insight.

●      RAPSTAR by Polo G

Polo G’s “RAPSTAR” was a long-awaited song off his third studio album, Hall of Fame. He raps and sings to the tune over a ukulele-based trap rhythm about his relationships, sentiments, fame, and riches. It is his greatest success to date; the song swiftly rose to the top of numerous streaming service charts before arriving at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

●      THOT SHIT by Megan Thee Stallion

Megan Thee Stallion’s first solo single of 2021, “Thot Shit,” marks the long-awaited return of her alter-ego Tina Snow. She flexes her success and confidence over an energizing, feel-good instrumental, similar to her previous songs, “Savage” and “Body.” Her October mixtape, Something for Thee Hotties, featured the Teardrop song, which reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 the week it was released.

●      BEST FRIEND by Saweetie feat. Doja Cat

Sweetie’s debut collaboration with Doja Cat, “Best Friend,” was prematurely released a month ahead of schedule under her label on Apple Music and Deezer on December 4, 2020. Sweetie’s upcoming debut album, Pretty Bitch Music, has this song as the third single. Shortly after its release on streaming sites, the rapper called out Warner Records to voice her dissatisfaction and sadness about the accident.

●      CALLING MY PHONE by Lil Tjay feat. 6LACK

Lil Tjay and 6LACK sing about the difficulties of moving on from prior relationships in “Calling My Phone.” Tjay teased the song on Twitter and TikTok between December 2020 and January 2021.

●      FAMILY TIES by Kendrick Lamar and Baby Keem

“Family Ties” was initially titled “Jump 2.” The first part of the song was previewed in March 2020 within the video teaser for pgLang. Baby Keem is the first artist to collaborate with Dave Free’s production firm and cousin Kendrick. This is their first official collaboration; after months of working together under the pgLang imprint. 

On August 23, 2021, Keem announced the single’s release by sharing the cover art. It was inspired by Kendrick’s 2012 debut album.

●      INDUSTRY BABY by Jack Harlow and Lil Nas X

For “INDUSTRY BABY,” Lil Nas X enlists Louisville local Jack Harlow, who raps about fame and prosperity, blowing up, and their newfound rap status. The title is a pun on the term “industry plant,” which refers to artists who are initially supported by a major label but portray themselves as organic and independent. Lil Nas released the song on July 19, with a clip depicting him being sentenced to jail concerning his Nike court case.

●      UP by Cardi B

Cardi B makes her solo return with “Up,” six months after releasing one of the biggest hits of her career, the Megan Thee Stallion-assisted “WAP.” The song was released with a music video. Cardi first teased an announcement on social media on February 1, 2021, before announcing the single’s release and revealing the song’s cover artwork one day later.

●      WAY 2 SEXY by Drake feat. Future and Young Thug

Drake enlists Future & Young Thug for “Way 2 Sexy,” a sexually charged male empowerment song first heard on Drake’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes mixtape in May 2020. In the song’s chorus, Future pays homage to Right Said Fred. He did that by interpolating phrases from their 1991 single “I’m Too Sexy.” It is sampled throughout. “Way 2 Sexy” was quickly linked to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s 2020 blockbuster “WAP” because of its aggressive lyrics.

●      PRIDE. IS. THE. DEVIL by J. Cole feat. Lil Baby

Cole discusses pride, one of the seven deadly sins, and how it affects his and other people’s behavior on “p r I d e. I s. t h e. d e v I l.” He also values his good fortune in being affluent and surviving longer than most peers. Cole enlists Lil Baby for this track, in which he discusses his wealth, drug addiction, and responsibility to the people he grew up with.

●      MONTERO – Call Me By Your Name by Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X wants to stop pretending with his girlfriend and start acting like “MONTERO.” The song’s title refers to his real name, Montero Lamar Hill. A snippet of the song was tweeted on July 9, 2020. In November that year, Nas X announced his new track, “Call Me By Your Name,” on Instagram Live. The music video for the song has aroused controversy among religious and conservative organizations. On the other hand, the backlash only added to the song’s popularity.

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