Hip-hop celebrated its 50th year with standout projects from leaders in the genre. Drake, Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Uzi Vert all had No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 this year. There were also standout projects from Doja Cat, Rod Wave (who also earned a No. 1 album), Gunna, Ice Spice, and more.

This was also one of the best years for R&B. SZA dominated the charts with SOS, which dropped in December 2022. Victoria Monét and Coco Jones also made their presence known in the R&B space as their projects also got much-deserved accolades.

Hip-Hop Breakout Stars

Ice Spice and Sexxy Red were everywhere in 2023. Ice Spice, a Bronx native, released her debut EP Like..? in January and then followed up with a deluxe in July. Her “Princess Diana” remix with Nicki Minaj, as well as “Barbie World” with the Queens rapper along with “Deli,” were just some of her best songs of the year.

She earned her first Grammy nominations this year for Best New Artist, Best Song Written For Visual Media (“Barbie World” with Nicki Minaj), Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (for her feature on Taylor Swift’s “Karma”),  and Best Rap Song (“Barbie World” with Nicki Minaj).

Sexxy Red had several hits this year, including “Pound Town,” “SkeeYee,” “Rich Baby Daddy” with Drake and SZA, the remix to “Peaches and Eggplants” with Young Nudy and 21 Savage, and more.

SZA Conquers Over 2023

While SZA released her highly-anticipated sophomore album SOS in December 2022, she made sure to own 2023. She made history as SOS topped the Billboard 200 chart for ten non-consecutive weeks. It is the first R&B/hip-hop album by a woman to do that since Mariah Carey’s self-titled debut in 1991, which stayed at No. 1 for 11 weeks.

She also leads the 2024 Grammys with the most nominations of any artists in all genres, with nine nods.

Take a look at the 50 best songs from hip-hop and R&B below:

Please note: The only 2022 songs added to the list are from December due to their influence and success on the genre in 2023.

  • "Barbie World" - Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice

    Whether you enjoy Barbie or not, you have to admit that this was one of the hottest songs of the year. Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice released the lead single to the Barbie film soundtrack in June. It samples Aqua’s 1997 “Barbie Girl.” The record marked the second time Nicki and Ice Spice worked together following the remix to “Princess Diana.” The song debuted at number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100. It became Nicki’s 23rd, Ice Spice’s fourth and Aqua’s second top-ten hit.

  • "Snooze" - SZA

    While the song came out at the tail end of 2022, the song made waves the following year. “Snooze” appears on SZA’s sophomore album SOS, which was released on December 9, 2022. The record is the second single off of the album. It is the only song in 2023 that has been on the Billboard Hot 100 chart every week since its inception. The song has an acoustic remix featuring Justin Bieber, who also appears in the song’s official music video. “Snooze” was nominated for Best R&B Song at the 2024 Grammys.

  • "First Person Shooter" - Drake ft. J. Cole

    “First Person Shooter” marks Drake and Cole’s third collaboration, and they were not playing any games with this one. The record arrived on Drake’s For All The Dogs, which was released on Oct. 6. The rappers previously worked together on “In The Morning” and “Jodeci Freestyle.” After this release, the two dropped “Evil Ways,” which appears on the deluxe For All The Dogs: Scary Hours Edition. “First Person Shooter” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Cole’s first top charter and Drake’s 13th.

  • "F--umean" - Gunna

    “F–umean” was a fan favorite from Gunna’s A Gift & A Curse. The LP was released on June 15, 2023 and is the Atlanta rapper’s fourth studio album. This was his first album since his arrest on RICO charges last year, which he later pleaded guilty to, per the terms of an Alford plea deal, and was released.

  • "On My Mama" - Victoria Monét

    Victoria Monét has been making and writing music for artists such as Ariana Grande, Travis Scott, Fifth Harmony, and more for years. However, with the release of Jaguar II and “On My Mama,” the third single from the aforementioned project, she’s risen into the spotlight for herself as an artist. “On My Mama” is nominated for Record of the Year and Best R&B Song at the 2024 Grammy Awards.

  • "Water" - Tyla

    Tyla has captured our hearts and our ears with her breakout hit “Water.” It sparked a viral social media challenge where fans would replicate her Bacardi dance moves as they pour water down their backs. The South African artist dropped the song in July. Her debut self-titled studio album is set to be released in March 2024.

  • "Cobra" - Megan Thee Stallion

    “Cobra” is Megan Thee Stallion’s comeback song as she took a hiatus from music during the Tory Lanez trial and conviction. On “Cobra,” the rapper speaks on missing her parents, who are both deceased, the depression she’s faced being in the limelight, and the alleged cheating of her ex-boyfriend Pardison Fontaine. This is also her first song as an independent artist after separating from 300 Entertainment this year.

  • "Paint The Town Red" - Doja Cat

    “Paint The Town Red” is the second single from Doja’s 2023 album Scarlet. Scarlet is the singer/rapper’s fourth studio album. The song samples Dionne Warwick’s 1964 hit “Walk On By.” “Paint The Town Red” hit No. 1 during its fifth week on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Dojo’s first solo No. 1 hit. It was also the first rap song to top the Hot 100 in over a year since Nicki Minaj’s “Super Freaky Girl” in 2022.

  • "Favorite Song" - Toosii

    Toosii’s “Favorite Song” is the lead single from his second studio album Naujour. The North Carolina rapper tapped into a different sound using an R&B beat as it samples Tatiana Manaois’s “You Might As Well.” The rapper released two remixes with Khalid and one with Future titled “Favorite Song (Toxic Version).” He earned his first Billboard Hot 100 placement with “Favorite Song” after it debuted at No. 51 on the chart.

  • "Sensational" - Chris Brown ft. Davido and Lojay

    Chris Brown tapped into Afrobeats with his song “Sensational.” The song features a guest appearance from African artists Davido and Lojay. The record is the second single from his 11th album 11:11 , which arrived in November.

  • "SkeeYee" - Sexxy Red

    Sexxy Red has had a breakout year. “SkeeYee” is the fourth single from her Hood Hottest Princess mixtape. The rapper earned the first-ever No. 1 on Billboard’s inaugural TikTok Top 50 chart. It peaked at No. 62 on the chart.

  • "Good Good" - Usher ft. Summer Walker and 21 Savage

    Usher enlisted Summer Walker and 21 Savage for his song “Good Good.” It was the first time all three artists worked together on a track.”Good Good” topped Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. It was the first time the R&B legend took the crown since his 2016 “No Limit,” featuring Young Thug. The song will be featured on his upcoming album Coming Home set to drop in 2024.

  • "Put It On Da Floor Again" - Latto ft. Cardi B

    Latto knew she had a hit on her hands with “Put It On Da Floor.” For the remix, “Put It On Da Floor Again,” she brought along Cardi B. The Bronx rapper’s stellar feature only added to the song’s infectious tone. “Put It On Da Floor Again,” debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. It marked Latto’s second and Cardi B’s 20th top-20 hit.

  • "Boy's a liar Pt. 2" - Ice Spice and PinkPantheress

    “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2” is the lead single from PinkPantheress’s debut studio album Heaven Knows. The original “Boy’s a liar” was released last year and the remix was dropped with Ice Spice in February. The remix debuted at number 14 then peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 making it PinkPatheress’s first time on the chart and Ice Spice’s first top-five entry.

  • "Creepin' Remix" - Metro Boomin, The Weeknd, Diddy, & 21 Savage

    Metro Boomin recruited Diddy for the remix to “Creepin'” which originally had vocals from The Weeknd and 21 Savage. The song is from Metro Boomin’s Heroes & Villains. The record samples Mario Winans’ 2004 hit “I Don’t Wanna Know” which features Enya and P. Diddy.

  • "America Has A Problem" Remix - Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar

    Beyoncé’s second surprise release of the year was the remix to her 2022 song “America Has A Problem” from her Grammy-winning Renaissance album. Beyoncé enlisted rapper Kendrick Lamar for the verse. This marked their third time collaborating following 2016’s “Freedom,” and 2019’s “Nile.” The two performed the song for the first time during Beyoncé’s birthday concert during her Renaissance World Tour.

  • "Red Ruby Da Sleeze" - Nicki Minaj

    Nicki Minaj’s first solo release of the year was “Red Ruby Da Sleeze” which was dropped back in March. Nicki samples Lumidee’s 2003 hit “Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)” on the record. “Red Ruby Da Sleeze” appears as the 13th track on her fifth studio album Pink Friday 2.

  • "Bread & Butter" - Gunna

    “Bread and Butter” marked Gunna’s return to music prior to pleading guilty to per the terms of an Alford plea deal and was released. He rapped about snakes in the industry and how he is still riding for Young Thug amid rumors that he ratted him out. The song is the lead single from his 2023 album A Gift & A Curse.

  • "Attention" - Doja Cat

    “Attention” is the lead single to Doja Cat’s Scarlet. In the song, she raps about shaving her head and setting her own standards for beauty while simultaneously clapping back at trolls. It is nominated for Best Melodic Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 2024 Grammys.

  • "My House" - Beyoncé

    Beyoncé’s “My House” is her latest solo single release since Renaissance last year. She previously dropped remixes to “Cuff It” and “America Has A Problem” from Renaissance this year, which were also surprise releases. “My House” is the song that is heard at the end of Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, which was released in theaters on Dec. 1. The film debuted at No. 1 at the box office.

  • "To Summer From Cole (audio hug)" - Summer Walker ft. J. Cole

    One of the highlights of Summer Walker’s Clear 2: Soft Life is the intro track “To Summer From Cole (audio hug). In the song, Cole recites how proud he is of Summer holding her family down and being a staple voice in R&B. The record is Summer and Cole’s first collaboration. Clear 2 is nominated for Best R&B Album at the 2024 Grammys, marking her first solo Grammys nomination.

  • "The Hillbillies" - Kendrick Lamar and Baby Keem

    Cousins Kendrick Lamar and Baby Keep are back at it again. “The Hillbillies” was a surprise release that dropped back in May. If the sound of “The Hillbillies” sounds familiar, it’s because there is an interpolation of “Sticky” by Drake. This is the fifth collaboration between the duo following “Range Brothers,” “Family Ties,” “So What” and “Vent.” “The Hillbillies” has been nominated for Best Rap Performance at the 2024 Grammys.

  • "Dogtooth" - Tyler, The Creator

    While Tyler, The Creator didn’t give us a new album this year, he made it up to us with his deluxe. The rapper released Call Me If You Get Lost: The Estate Sale. The Estate Sale was released in March after the rapper noted that “some of those songs I really love, and knew they would never see the light of day, so I’ve decided to put a few of them out.” “Dogtooth” was the lead single to the deluxe. The original Call Me If I Get Lost won Best Rap Album at the 2022 Grammys.

  • "Moonlight" - Kali Uchis

    “Moonlight” is a hypnotic love song infused with marijuana bliss by Colombian R&B artist Kali Uchis. The song is the second single from her 2023 album Red Moon in Venus. The album debuted at No. 2 on both Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart and Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

  • "Cuff It (Wetter Remix)" - Beyoncé

    As if we couldn’t love “Cuff It” more, Beyoncé came through with a sexy remix. “Cuff It (Wetter Remix)” was a surprise drop by the Renaissance creator back in February. The original “Cuff It” won Best R&B Song at the 2023 Grammy Awards.

  • "Meltdown" Travis Scott ft. Drake

    “Meltdown” arrived on Travis Scott’s highly anticipated Utopia. The Houston rapper enlisted Drake for the feature and is a fan favorite from the LP. The song takes several shots aimed at people in the rapper’s personal lives and previous beefs. Travis makes a reference to “Willy Wonka” subliminally coming for his ex-girlfriend Kylie Jenner’s new boyfriend, Timothée Chalamet, who is the star of the film Wonka. Drake uses his verses to come at Pharrell Williams and Pusha T. “Meltdown” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the chart on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Utopia is nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2023 Grammys.

  • "Deli" - Ice Spice

    “Deli” was a fan favorite off of Ice Spice’s deluxe EP Like..? The video shows Ice Spice and several of her friends twerking in a deli in New York. The song debuted at No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100.

  • "Endless Fashion" Lil Uzi Vert ft. Nicki Minaj

    Lil Uzi Vert scored the first No. 1 album of the year for hip-hop with Pink Tape. They enlisted Nicki Minaj for “Endless Fashion,” which served as the second single on the project. It samples Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee).”

  • "Demons" - Doja Cat

    “Demons” served as the second single from Doja Cat’s Scarlet. In the music video, as well as the cover art for the single, Doja is dressed as a demon. The visual shows Doja dressed as a demon as she chases actress Christina Ricci. Ricci is best known for her work as Wednesday Addams from 1991 filmThe Addams Family.

  • "Bongos" - Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion

    Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are back with their second collaboration, “Bongos.” This followed their 2020 hit “WAP.” “Bongos” was Cardi B’s only lead offering of the year and marked the first time Megan Thee Stallion was on a new song amid Tory Lanez’s conviction. The pair also dropped a colorful music video to coincide with the Brazilian funk track.

  • "Slime You Out" - Drake ft. SZA

    Drake enlisted SZA for the lead and only single to For All The Dogs. On the record, the artists speak about not letting someone they’re interested in do them dirty. This was the first time the two have collaborated. “Slime You Out” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

  • "You" - Lola Brooke ft. Bryson Tiller

    Lola Brooke and Bryson Tiller together is what we needed all along. “You” samples Foxy Brown featuring Blackstreet’s 1996 hit “Get Me Home.” The artists play into the smooth beat while Tiller shows off his vocals and Lola Brooke channels her inner Foxy. This was the first time that the two have collaborated.

  • "Everybody" Nicki Minaj ft. Lil Uzi Vert

    Jersey Club meets Gag City in Nicki Minaj’s collab with Lil Uzi Vert. The pair previously worked together on “Endless Fashion,” which was on Uzi’s Pink Tape. Their latest collab, “Everybody,” infuses Jersey Club and Junior Senior’s 2002 hit “Move Your Feet.” The song has already inspired millions on TikTok to use the track to rock their hips.

  • "Agora Hills" - Doja Cat

    Doja Cat in R&B mode always comes through with a hit. “Agora Hills” is on the Los Angeles native’s fourth studio album, Scarlet. The song’s title has a double meaning. First, it is a misspelling of the Los Angeles city she grew up in, Agoura Hills. The music video is reminiscent of a teenage girl’s room. Second, the title also is spelled as “agora” referencing agoraphilia, which is defined as “the fetish involving engaging in sexual activities or experiencing arousal in outdoor or public spaces.” She raps about having sex in public in the song.

  • "The Secret Recipe" - Lil Yachty ft. J. Cole

    In a surprise drop, J. Cole gave one of his best verses of the year. Lil Yachty enlisted J. Cole for “The Secret Recipe.” The two showed off their freestyling skills with no melody or hook as a distraction. They rapped about getting their respect in hip-hop and having others be cognizant of their impact on the genre.

  • "Rich Baby Daddy" - Drake ft. Sexxy Red and SZA

    “Rich Baby Daddy” was an easy fan favorite from Drake’s deluxe For All The Dogs: Scary Hours Edition. Sexxy Red gives an infectious hook, while Drake and SZA remind everyone how talented and fun they are on this track. It was the first time that all three artists worked together. This made Drake and SZA’s second collaboration behind “Slime You Out.”

  • "Evil Ways" - Drake ft. J. Cole

    How blessed are we to have not just one but two Drake and J. Cole collaborations this year? The two partnered up once again for “Evil Ways.” The track arrived on Drizzy’s deluxe album For All The Dogs: Scary Hours Edition. This won’t be the last from Drake and J. Cole. The two will soon be headed on the road next year for their joint It Was All A Blur: Big As The What? Tour.

  • "Lovin On Me" - Jack Harlow

    Jack Harlow has another staple in his discography with “Lovin On Me.” The single samples Cadillac Dale’s 1995 hit “Whatever (Bass Solique).” The song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking the Kentucky rapper’s second solo chart-topper behind 2022’s Grammy-nominated “First Class.”

  • "Let Me Calm Down" - Nicki Minaj ft. J. Cole

    J. Cole’s feature run this year was phenomenal, and he added another one onto his already stacked plate with Nicki Minaj. “Let Me Calm Down” arrived on Nicki’s fifth studio album Pink Friday 2. The Queens rapper noted that the first time she heard Cole’s verse, she got emotional. This was the first time the two collaborated.

  • "Pound Town" - Sexxy Red

    Sexxy Red was definitely a breakout star this year. She caught the public’s attention with “Pound Town” and her catchy raunchy lines. The song got a remix called “Pound Town 2” with Nicki Minaj, which earned her and producer Tay Keith their first Billboard Hot 100 placement.

  • "Summer Too Hot" - Chris Brown

    “Summer Too Hot” served as the lead single to Chris Brown’s 11th studio album 11:11. The song was released in June, with the album arriving on Nov. 10. The record is nominated for Best R&B Performance at the 2024 Grammy Awards.

  • "Sprinter" - Dave and Central Cee

    You couldn’t go on Instagram or TikTok without hearing this song when it was first released. The Dave and Central Cee’s “Sprinter” stayed for 10 weeks at No. 1, becoming the first U.K. rap track to earn that feat. “Sprinter” is Dave’s third number-one single and Central Cee’s first. It also reached the Top 10 Billboard Global 200.

  • "Angel" - Halle Bailey

    Halle Bailey took her first leap into her solo career with “Angel.” The Grammy-nominated actress had quite a busy year as an actress.  She starred in Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid and as young Nettie in The Color Purple, which hits theaters on Christmas Day.

  • "Peaches & Eggplants" - Young Nudy and 21 Savage

    “Peaches & Eggplants” is a fun club anthem between cousins Young Rudy and 21 Savage. This marked the pair’s first time working together. It peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. A remix of the song featuring Latto and Sexxy Red was released in September.

  • "Oh U Went" - Young Thug ft. Drake

    Young Thug and Drake are a great duo, and they proved it once again on “Oh U Went.” The song arrived on Young Thug’s third studio album, Business Is Business, which was released in June. “Oh U Went” samples “Closer Than Close” by The Stylistics. It peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Thugger is currently in jail in Fulton County on racketeering conspiracy charges.

  • "Float" - Janelle Monáe ft. Seun Kuti and Egypt 80

    “Float” was the first tease from Janelle Monáe’s Grammy-nominated album The Age of Pleasure. The record gives off a freeing feeling, which is seen throughout Monáe’s project. The song also features Nigerian artist Seun Kuti and his father’s band Egypt 80. The Age of Pleasure is nominated for Album of the Year at the 2024 Grammys.

  • "Scientists & Engineers" - Killer Mike ft. André 3000, Future, and Eryn Allen Kane

    Killer Mike enlisted Atlanta MCs André 3000 and Future as well as R&B singer Eryn Allen Kane for “Scientists & Engineers.” The song is found on Killer Mike’s Shed Tears , which is nominated for Best Rap Album. “Scientists & Engineers” is also nominated for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. This is the first time all four artists have worked together.

  • "Who Told You" - J Hus ft. Drake

    J Hus and Drake had a “song of the summer” contender on their hands with “Who Told You.” The record served as the second single from the U.K. rapper’s album Beautiful and Brutal Yard. This marked the pair’s first collaboration.

  • "Turks & Caicos" - Rod Wave ft. 21 Savage

    Everyone wanted to hop on a plane once we heard “Turks & Caicos.” Rod Wave enlisted Grammy-winning rapper 21 Savage for the record. It arrived on Rod Wave’s third studio album, Nostalgia. The album became Rod’s third straight Billboard 200 top-charter behind Beautiful Mind last year and his 2021’s SoulFly.

  • "You Broke My Heart" - Drake

    Drake’s outros also hit different, and “You Broke My Heart” gives off that same feeling. “You Broke My Heart” arrives at the tail end of Drake’s deluxe For All The Dogs: Scary Hours Edition. Loverboy Drake is back as he raps and sings about how he hates that the girl he loves slept with someone else. Drake earned another top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, with the record debuting in the fifth position.

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