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The 15 Best Rap Songs of 2023

Drake, Sexyy Red, and Lil Yachty made rap sound fun, and artists like Ken Carson and Baby Keem pushed us into new sonic territory

While plenty of energy was spent this year debating whether or not rap was still at the forefront of pop culture as it reached its fiftieth anniversary, there was no shortage of exciting new music to enjoy. There was Lil Yachty’s generational run of loosies, each an introduction of new vocal terrain for the increasingly prolific musician, the rise of St. Louis’ own Sexyy Red, who doused the culture in the scarlet with her run of summer anthems (not to mention a grade-A Drake feature), and Ice Spice’s continued cultural dominance, replete with an NYC deli.

There’s no doubt that 2023 was an odd year across pop culture, as new technology (A.I.-generated rap was all the rage), and global crises make for a confusing landscape. Still, hip-hop artists seem to have done as they have always done, adapting to the new climate, and reshaping the way we hear music in the process. From Central Cee’s soon-to-be global takeover to Ice Spice’s down-to-earth anthems and the ascendent Brooklyn drill trio 41’s infectious chemistry, here are the rap songs we loved in 2023.

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