- Bagbak – Vince Staples
Long Beach native Vince Staples created an album with electronic-inspired beats paired with political gangsta rap. This fast-paced song features distorted synth and rapid 808s.
- Legend Has It – Run the Jewels
Southern hip-hop artist Killer Mike and producer EI-P form one of the most visceral rap duos by creating music that is simply physical. This song on their last full-length project “Run the Jewels 3” comes with rhymes that are paced perfectly over a truly modern beat.
- Big Bank – Big K.R.I.T. ft. T.I.
After three years, Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. released his first album after leaving his previous Def Jam record label. In this song, he boasts about how his focus outshines other rappers and leaves him on top.
- Lemon – N.E.R.D ft. Rihanna
The band has been on the cutting edge of music, especially with producer Pharrell at the helm. With the help of the princess of pop, Rihanna, this New Orleans bounce beat can make anyone ready to sweat.
- Power – Kanye West
From one of the bluntest personas in music comes this just-as-blunt song about making it OK to feel yourself. Along with the encouraging lyrics, the beat has a constant clap to push you through that last rep.
- Backseat Freestyle – Kendrick Lamar
Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar is known for thought-provoking lyrics. But this single off of his debut album shows that he can showboat like the rest of them, and with lyrics like his, he’s earned it.
- 2 Points – Jidenna
The suavest rapper writes a song about striving for excellence. Jidenna is almost screaming on this horn-filled beat with minimal but fierce primal drums holding up the instrumental.
- Int’l Players Anthem – UGK and Outkast
This is one of the greatest songs in music, but definitely for southern rap music. The most iconic duos (UGK, comprised of Rice University Professor Bun B and Pimp C, and Outkast having Andre 3000 and Big Boi) come together in this song that combines a church choir and some clean drums.
- Sweatpants – Childish Gambino
Multi-hyphenated artist Childish Gambino combines his quirky and witty bars with a congruent upbeat instrumental. The bridge saying, “I’m winning” is just enough to ignore the pain for that summer body.
- A Milli – Lil Wayne
We love Lil Wayne because of his metaphors. He definitely brings those to “A Milli,” but that repetitive “A Tribe Called Quest” sample will make anyone ready to run.