Reviews by Carl Chery, Kemet High, and Adrian Covert

 

In February, we launched Spotify CLASSICS—our first-ever program to celebrate catalog music. Our inaugural list acknowledged the Classic Hip-Hop and R&B Albums of the Streaming Era and featured timeless releases like Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., Future’s DS2, Jay-Z’s 4:44, and Travis Scott’s Astroworld, to name a few.

In April, we kicked off the second chapter of CLASSICS by unveiling the 100 Greatest R&B Songs of the Streaming Era. And today we unveil the latest chapter of our CLASSICS program: The 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of the Streaming Era. Spotify defines the streaming era as a time frame that spans from 2015 until present day.

Hip-hop has been the most influential genre in pop culture for decades, but it became the No.1 music genre in the U.S. in 2017, according to Nielsen. Hip-hop’s commercial ascendance coincided with existential shifts for the genre. Rap transitioned to a more melodic format, occasionally making it hard to distinguish between hip-hop and R&B. Trap became the most popular sound in music, and its practitioners started releasing music at a relentless pace. But hip-hop remains as creatively inspired as ever, marked by the emergence of an exciting new generation who have already made their presence felt when it comes to the best hip-hop songs.

Spotify’s U.S. hip-hop editorial team—spearheaded by Carl Chery, Creative Director, Head of Urban Music—has taken on the ambitious task of reviewing thousands of songs, and in the end, this list offers a snapshot of hip-hop during the streaming era. Spotify CLASSICS is 100% qualitative. The criteria for the list are based on quality, impact, replay value, influence, and cultural significance. The program is driven by our editors’ music and cultural expertise—not by data—meaning that big streaming numbers were not a requirement to make the list.

Note: All songs were released on Spotify after January 1, 2015. The Spotify streams are current as of May 20, 2024.

100. Coi Leray – “Players”

Uptown Records, 2022

Produced by: Johnny Goldstein

Spotify Streams: 459,472,370

Fun Fact: There’s a version of “Players” that features Coi Leray singing rather than rapping, but she hated it and overhauled the entire song to make it what it is today.

99. Fivio Foreign – “Big Drip”

RichFish LLC/Columbia Records, 2019

Produced by: AXL BEATS

Spotify Streams: 77,303,121

Fun Fact: Big Drip” was created the day that Fivio Foreign’s close affiliate, Sosa Geek, was locked up. Elsewhere, it was AXL BEATS’s idea to use Fivie’s ad-libs as a primary—as opposed to secondary—sound.

98. Doechii – “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake”

Five 5 Records, 2020

Produced by: Unicorn Waves

Spotify Streams: 46,210,978

Fun Fact: Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” was Doechii’s first song to appear in our RapCaviar playlist.

97. YG ft. Nipsey Hussle – “FDT”

Def Jam Recordings, 2016

Produced by: DJ Swish

Spotify Streams: 38,857,798

Fun Fact: When YG and Nipsey Hussle were filming the accompanying video for “FDT,” they shot their solo parts separately to avoid mixing their respective groups.

96. Sexyy Red – “SkeeYee”

Open Shift/gamma., 2023

Produced by: DJ Meech, Banbwoi, Tay Keith

Spotify Streams: 90,942,958

Fun Fact: In an interview with Montreality, Sexyy Red explained the meaning behind “SkeeYee,” saying, “If you see a cute girl or somebody with a big booty or you trying to holler at somebody, they call that the geek call. A geek is a crackhead, dope fiend. Like when you serving geeks where I’m from, that’s a geek call.”

95. Freddie Gibbs, Madlib – “Crime Pays”

Keep Cool/RCA Records, 2019

Produced by: Madlib

Spotify Streams: 43,770,445

Fun Fact: There’s an unreleased, alternate version of “Crime Pays” that features Norah Jones on the chorus.

94. Moneybagg Yo – “Time Today”

CMG/N-Less/Interscope Records, 2021

Produced by: Real Red, YC

Spotify Streams: 187,755,749

Fun Fact: Moneybagg Yo told Genius he initially wanted to push “Hard For The Next” as a single, but CMG label head Yo Gotti insisted he go with “Time Today” instead, which proved to be a solid choice.

93. Lil Durk ft. Gunna – “What Happened to Virgil”

Alamo Records/Sony Music Entertainment, 2022

Produced by: Chop Squad DJ

Spotify Streams: 143,392,151

Fun Fact: Chop Squad DJ made the beat for “What Happened to Virgil” in just 25 minutes during an Instagram Live session where fewer than 100 people were in attendance.

92. Flo Milli – “Never Lose Me”

RCA, 2023

Produced by: Gerreaux

Spotify Streams: 249,249,152

Fun Fact: The beat for “Never Lose Me” first appeared as Babyface Ray’sRon Artest.” Flo Milli’s version began as a freestyle but ultimately became a bona fide hit.

91. Denzel Curry – “Ultimate”

PH Recordings/Loma Vista Records, 2015

Produced by: RONNY J

Spotify Streams: 217,371,123

Fun Fact: Denzel Curry shot the video for “Ultimate” in LA’s Arts District just a few blocks from the Spotify offices.

90. A$AP Rocky – “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2)”

A$AP Rocky Recordings LLC/RCA, 2015

Produced by: Nez & Rio

Spotify Streams: 330,047,035

Fun Fact: LPFJ2” first appeared in 2014 at the end of A$AP Rocky’sMultiply” video in a clip featuring DMV rapper Yung Gleesh dancing to it.

89. Yo Gotti – “Down In the DM”

Epic Records/Sony Music Entertainment, 2016

Produced by: Ben Billions, Schife Karbeen

Spotify Streams: 177,922,823

Fun Fact: Down In The DM” was intentionally made to capture the essence of Snapchat and Instagram on the same night Yo Gotti’s cuts from The Art of Hustle, “General” (featuring Future) and “Bible” (featuring Lil Wayne) were made.

88. Doja Cat ft. Rico Nasty – “Tia Tamera”

Kemosabe Records/RCA, 2019

Produced by: Doja Cat, Kurtis McKenzie

Spotify Streams: 328,481,933

Fun Fact: In an Instagram post, Tamera Mowry ranked “Tia Tamera” as her favorite song that mentioned her name.

87. Young Thug – “Check”

300 Entertainment, 2015

Produced by: London On Da Track

Spotify Streams: 147,458,422

Fun Fact: Young Thug and Travis Scott shot the video for “Check” on a tour bus—in celebration of Thugger signing a $1.5 million deal—while riding from San Diego to LA during the Rodeo Tour.

86. Nicki Minaj – “Chun-Li”

Young Money/Cash Money Records, 2018

Produced by: Jeremy Reid, Nicki Minaj

Spotify Streams: 383,251,769

Fun Fact: Chun-Li” became Nicki’s next Top 10 hit following her 2014 smash “Anaconda.”

85. Mac Miller – “Self Care”

Warner Records, 2018

Produced by: Dahi, ID Labs, Nostxglic

Spotify Streams: 681,045,950

Fun Fact: JID is featured as a hidden background vocalist on the track.

84. Saweetie – “My Type”

ICY/Artistry Records/Warner, 2019

Produced by: London On Da Track

Spotify Streams: 385,769,535

Fun Fact: Saweetie’s My Type” was cowritten by Quavo.

83. YoungBoy Never Broke Again – “Outside Today”

Never Broke Again LLC/Atlantic Records, 2018

Produced by: DMacTooBangin

Spotify Streams: 342,959,496

Fun Fact: Currently 4x platinum, Outside Today” is YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s highest certified single.

82. Megan Thee Stallion – “Big Ole Freak”

1501 Certified Ent LLC/300 Entertainment, 2018

Produced by: LilJuMadeDaBeat

Spotify Streams: 108,089,646

Fun Fact: Megan Thee Stallion refused to give up on “Big Ole Freak.” She promoted the song for nearly a year before it became her first song on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2019.

81. Ice Spice, Nicki Minaj – “Princess Diana”

Dolo Entertainment/UMG Records, 2023

Produced by: RIOTUSA

Spotify Streams: 216,054,288

Fun Fact: Ice Spice says she felt like “Princess Diana” was the most-slept-on track off her debut EP, Like…? But when Nicki Minaj asked to hop on it, it took the song to new heights.

80. MadeinTYO – “Uber Everywhere”

Private Club Records, 2016

Produced by: K Swisha

Spotify Streams: 221,168,530

Fun Fact: When it went massively viral, “Uber Everywhere” was MadeInTYO’s only commercially released song.

79. Playboi Carti ft. Lil Uzi Vert – “Shoota”

AWGE/Interscope Records, 2018

Produced by: Maaly Raw

Spotify Streams: 679,816,481

Fun Fact: According to the track’s producer, Maaly Raw, “Shoota” was originally cut for Lil Uzi Vert’s Luv Is Rage 2, but the rapper ultimately decided that it wasn’t good enough to make the album. That’s how it ended up in Playboi Carti’s hands.

78. Lil Durk ft. J. Cole – “All My Life”

Alamo Records/Sony, 2023

Produced by: Dr. Luke

Spotify Streams: 326,130,367

Fun Fact: All My Life” earned Lil Durk his first Grammy Award for “Best Melodic Rap Performance” in 2024.

77. Tyler, The Creator ft. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign – “WUSYANAME”

Columbia Records, 2021

Produced by: Tyler, The Creator

Spotify Streams: 326,287,935

Fun Fact: Thanks to his verse on “WUSYANAME,” YoungBoy Never Broke Again received his first Grammy nom in 2022 for “Best Melodic Performance.”

76. Nipsey Hussle ft. YG – “Last Time That I Checc’d”

All Money In No Money Out/Atlantic, 2018

Produced by: Brody Brown, Mike & Keys, Rance

Spotify Streams: 107,989,269

Fun Fact: YG’s verse, which took on new life after Nipsey Hussle’s death, was him giving flowers to Nipsey and showing appreciation while the slain rapper was still alive.

75.Lil Uzi Vert – “Money Longer”

Atlantic Records, 2016

Produced by: Don Cannon, Maaly Raw

Spotify Streams: 656,376,241

Fun Fact: Don Cannon crafted Lil Uzi Vert’sMoney Longer” with the intention of blending hip-hop with EDM, as the latter was skyrocketing in popularity at the time. It was downloaded nearly 100,000 times in just three minutes upon its SoundCloud release.

74. Drake – “Know Yourself”

Cash Money Records, 2015

Produced by: Boi-1da, Vinylz, Syk Sense

Spotify Streams: 405,646,654

Fun Fact: Drake launched “the 6” as a reference to his hometown of Toronto.

73. Central Cee – “Doja”

Central Cee, 2022

Produced by: LiTek, Whyjay

Spotify Streams: 663,949,233

Fun Fact: Central Cee came up with the Doja Cat–inspired lyrics for “Doja” (which charted in more than 20 countries) mid-massage and finished his lyrics on an airplane. He deems this his most calculated song to date.

72. Trippie Redd ft. Travis Scott – “Dark Knight Dummo”

TenThousand Projects, 2017

Produced by: Honorable C.N.O.T.E.

Spotify Streams: 462,082,996

Fun Fact: This marked the first collaboration between Trippie Redd and Honorable C.N.O.T.E., who told DJ Booth he’d never heard of Trippie prior to teaming up. Introduced by rapper Fooly Faime, “I was like, ‘this n****a fire,’” C.N.O.T.E. said. “He got a voice like a ’90s rock singer but he can rap too. That’s a crazy combination.”

71. Latto ft. Cardi B – “Put It On Da Floor Again”

Streamcut/RCA Records, 2023

Produced by: Go Grizzly, Squat, Pooh Beatz

Spotify Streams: 58,491,365

Fun Fact: Go Grizzly originally gave this beat, which took just 10 minutes to create, to Florida rapper DKE Author. But during a March 2023 recording session, Pooh Beatz stole Grizzly’s computer and played the instrumentation for Latto, who cut the record immediately in a party-like studio environment.

70. Pooh Shiesty ft. Lil Durk – “Back in Blood”

1017 Global Music LLC/Atlantic, 2022

Produced by: YC

Spotify Streams: 374,176,326

Fun Fact: Producer YC told Genius that Pooh Shiesty initially heard the beat through headphones as he was crafting it when they happened to be at the same studio. He sent it to Pooh and it came back with a Lil Durk verse a few weeks later.

69. Young M.A. – “OOOUUU”

M.A Music/3D, 2017

Produced by: U-Dub

Spotify Streams: 314,164,362

Fun Fact: OOOUUU” holds steady as one of the most remixed songs of the modern hip-hop era, with artists like Nicki Minaj, The Game, French Montana, A$AP Ferg, Jadakiss, 50 Cent, and others delivering their own renditions.

68. Young Thug ft. Gunna – “Hot”

300 Entertainment, Atlantic, 2019

Produced by: Wheezy

Spotify Streams: 384,951,361

Fun Fact: Young Thug’s album So Much Fun was widely seen as his most mainstream-friendly project, and indeed “Hot” — after a remix from Travis Scott gave it a boost — became Thugger’s highest-charting single at the time.

67. Jack Harlow – “WHATS POPPIN”

Generation Now/Atlantic Records, 2020

Produced by: jetsonmade, Pooh Beatz, Los The Producer

Spotify Streams: 814,491,626

Fun Fact: Thank jetsonmade for the energy on this record, as he directed Jack Harlow to “pop his sh*t” during the entire recording process, giving the track its title.

66. A Boogie Wit da Hoodie ft. Kodak Black – “Drowning”

Atlantic, 2017

Produced by: Jahaan Sweet, Quasi

Spotify Streams: 911,546,694

Fun Fact: A Boogie Wit da Hoodie and Kodak Black released a direct sequel to “Drowning” in December 2022, more than five years after the original came out.

65. Polo G, Lil Tjay ft. – “Pop Out”

Columbia, Records, 2019

Produced by: JD On Tha Track, Iceberg

Spotify Streams: 852,095,311

Fun Fact: Pop Out” marks the first Billboard Hot 100 appearance for Polo G and Lil Tjay, who were both rising artists at the time. It climbed all the way to No. 11 and is currently close to going diamond with an 8x platinum certification.

64. Migos – “T-Shirt”

Quality Control Music, 2017

Produced by: Nard & B, XL Eagle

Spotify Streams: 475,021,848

Fun Fact: Migos received the beat for “T-Shirt” when Takeoff connected with Nard & B on Twitter. “The first thing that popped in our heads was, we need to send them some album stuff. We don’t want to just send them some bando music,” Nard told Genius. “Even though album was in our head, we didn’t know album was in their head when they were making the song.”

63. Future – “F*ck Up Some Commas”

Epic Records, 2015

Produced by: Southside, Spinz

Spotify Streams: 327,734,594

Fun Fact: The entirety of F*ck Up Some Commas,” originally featured on Future’s 2014 mixtape Monster, was made the day before the project was released.

62. A$AP Ferg – “Plain Jane”

RCA, 2017

Produced by: Kirk Knight

Spotify Streams: 730,537,129

Fun Fact: Though “Plain Jane” isn’t A$AP Ferg’s highest-charting single, it is his most decorated, having gone 5x platinum.

61. Lil Baby, Gunna – “Drip Too Hard”

Quality Control Music/Young Stoner Life/300 Entertainment/Motown Records/Capitol Records, 2018

Produced by: Turbo

Spotify Streams: 1,471,482,493

Fun Fact: With “Drip Too Hard,” Lil Baby and Gunna joined OutKast as the only rap groups in Atlanta history to receive diamond certification.

60. Drake, 21 Savage “Jimmy Cooks”

OVO/Republic Records, 2022

Produced by: Vynilz, Tay Keith, Cubeatz, Tizzle

Spotify Streams: 952,775,927

Fun Fact: Honestly, Nevermind album dropped as a surprise, but this track still debuted atop Billboard’s Hot 100, becoming Drake’s 11th chart-topper and 21 Savage’s second.

59. Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future “King’s Dead”

Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope Records, 2018

Produced by: Mike WiLL Made-It, Travis Walton, Sounwave

Spotify Streams: 952,775,927

Fun Fact: The popular in-and-out camera shots from the music video were the idea of director Christopher Ripley, who created them using a rare 50-1000 mm zoom lens made for sports and news and an 8K resolution camera.

58. Tyler, The Creator ft. Kali Uchis – “See You Again”

Columbia, 2017

Produced by: Tyler, The Creator

Spotify Streams: 1,557,734,562

Fun Fact: Tyler, The Creator joined the Spotify Billions Club when “See You Again” reached that milestone In July 2023.

57. BlocBoy JB ft. Drake “Look Alive”

OVO Sound, 2018

Produced by: Tay Keith

Spotify Streams: 979,521,265

Fun Fact: Look Alive” was gifted to Blocboy JB by Drake and is BlocBoy’s sole entry on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart (peaking at No. 6) and only platinum-certified track.

56. JACKBOYS, Travis Scott, Young Thug “OUT WEST”

Cactus Jack/Epic Records

Produced by: Buddah Bless, Jabz

Spotify Streams: 703,911,464

Fun Fact: Quincy Jones makes a cameo appearance in the “OUT WEST” video.

55. Tee Grizzley “First Day Out”

300 Entertainment, 2017

Produced by: Helluva Beats

Spotify Streams: 416,224,641

Fun Fact: This song surged on the internet after Da Kid Gowie re-created LeBron James’s workout video rapping the record. As a result, Da Kid went viral overnight, and his viral parody was also featured on ESPN, NBA TV, and Bleacher Report.

54. 21 Savage ft. Future “X”

Slaughter Gang, 2016

Produced by: Metro Boomin

Spotify Streams: 578,092,341

Fun Fact: X” was 21 Savage’s first Top 40 hit, ushering in his wave of commercial success.  

53. Travis Scott “BUTTERFLY EFFECT”

Cactus Jack Records/Epic Records, 2018

Produced by: Murda Beatz

 

Spotify Streams: 1,358,851,015

Fun Fact: After finishing the beat in his mother’s basement, Murda Beatz sent the instrumental to Quavo and Nicki Minaj, who both cut songs to it. Travis Scott eventually released his version of the record and Quavo fired off a remix later. The whereabouts of Nicki’s take are unknown.

52. Lil Mosey – “Blueberry Faygo”

Mogul Vision/Interscope Records, 2020

Produced by: Callan

Spotify Streams: 1,287,122,622

Fun Fact: Blueberry Faygo” was already an internet sensation before it was officially released. Multiple leaks of the song popped up in 2019, causing producer Callan to assume it was a lost cause. It ultimately peaked at No. 8 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and remains Lil Mosey’s biggest song to date.

51. Internet Money ft. Don Toliver, Gunna, NAV “Lemonade”

Internet Money Records/TenThousand Project, 2020

Produced by: Nick Mira, Alec Wigdahl, E Trou, pharaohvice and Taz Taylor

Spotify Streams: 1,312, 645,753

Fun Fact: A version of this song exists with an extended verse from Don Toliver, who recorded it back in 2017.

50. Lil Uzi Vert “Just Wanna Rock”

Generation Now/Atlantic, 2022

Produced by: MCVERTT, Synthetic

Jersey Club had been a mainstay in the underground scenes of Newark, NYC, and Philly since the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until Lil Uzi Vert dropped “Just Wanna Rock” in 2022 that the infectious subgenre truly broke through into the mainstream. Going viral on social media thanks to cameo appearances from content creators Kai Cenat and Fanum, Uzi lets the hypnotic, frenetic beat take center stage, putting just enough on the track to elevate it from a club instrumental to certified anthem for a new generation of hip-hop fans.

Spotify Streams: 655,927,043

Fun Fact: Lil Uzi Vert credits both Philly and New Jersey with the dance craze that helped make this song a smash. “I’m from Philly, it’s called blicking,” he told HipHopDX. “I ain’t even make it up. It’s all these kids in Philly that do it. In Jersey, it’s called rocking your hips. All my lil’ boys out in Philly, they taught me how to do it and all that.”

49. DaBaby “Suge”

South Coast Music Group/Interscope Records, 2019

Produced by: jetsonmade, Pooh Beatz

Though he generated a healthy amount of buzz with mixtapes like Blank Blank, DaBaby turned himself into one of 2019’s most discussed and debated rappers after releasing his major-label debut, Baby on Baby, and its breakout single, “Suge.” At once brash and workmanlike, comedic and dead serious, DaBaby’s signature charisma and precision is on full display as he spits bar after bar, comparing himself to Death Row Records founder Suge Knight.

 

Spotify Streams: 645,370,154

Fun Fact: The creation of DaBaby’s breakthrough song was inspired by his record label dropping the deposit into his account after he inked a high-figure deal.

48. Metro Boomin ft. Future & Chris Brown “Superhero (Heroes & Villains)”

Boominati Worldwide LLC/Republic Records, 2022

Produced by: Metro Boomin

After forming one of rap’s most potent partnerships in the 2010s and spawning hits like “Honest,” “Jumpman,” “Mask Off,” “Low Life,” and the majority of DS2, Metro Boomin and Future reunited for 2022’s “Superhero (Heroes & Villains)” to remind the world of that magic that happens when the two step into the studio together. Over a beat that would have been at home on DS2, an energized Future drops some of his sharpest rhymes in recent years, a moment that would eventually lead to the pair of albums that have become two of 2024’s most-buzzed-about releases: We Don’t Trust You and We Still Don’t Trust You.

 

Spotify Streams: 687,599,595

Fun Fact: “Superhero” first leaked online in 2021. Metro told Variety they’d worked on the song years before it saw the light of day. At its official release, it included a clip of Jay-Z—pulled from “So Appalled”—that stuck out to the producer when he was revisiting My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

47. Hitkidd, GloRilla “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)”

Blac Noize!/Campsouth Records, 2022

Produced by: Hitkidd

A regional banger in the truest sense, Hitkidd and GloRilla’sF.N.F. (Let’s Go)” couldn’t be more Memphis if it tried. Paying homage to the city’s legends like Three 6 Mafia, GloRilla wears her Gangsta Boo influences on her sleeve as she rides Hitkidd’s horrorcore-inspired throwback beat with a vengeance. It proved to be a star-making moment for the rapper; one that might not have happened had the beat been taken by the rapper Hitkidd originally had in mind: Megan Thee Stallion.

Spotify Streams: 66,755,597

Fun Fact: Hitkidd originally sent this beat to Megan Thee Stallion, but when her response time was too long, Hitkidd brought it to GloRilla. Nicki Minaj and Cardi B also asked to be on the remix of the track, though ultimately their requests could not be honored. 

46. Gunna “fukumean”

Young Stoner Life Records/300 Entertainment/Gunna Music LLC, 2023

Produced by: Dunk Roc, Flo

Having spent the bulk of 2022 weathering federal felony charges and serving jail time, Gunna emerged in 2023 with his legal woes in the rearview mirror. On “fukumean,” the Atlanta rhymespitter takes a back-to-basics approach. Returning to effortless, rapid-fire flows from Drip Harder that helped put him and Lil Baby on the map, Gunna makes it crystal clear that he’s back and focused on enjoying the fruits of his labor. 

 

Spotify Streams: 729,899,664

Fun Fact: This song earned Gunna his first solo hit on Billboard’s Hot 100, peaking at No. 4.

45. Future ft. Drake & Tems “WAIT FOR U”

Epic Records/Freebandz Entertainment, 2022

Produced by: ATL Jacob, FNZ, Tejiiri Akpoghene, 1SRAEL, Sonic Major

Though currently at odds, Future and Drake are like the Hardy Brothers when it comes to tag-teaming songs. A decade into their working relationship, the duo united once again in 2022 for the Grammy Award–winning romanza “Wait For U.” The titan-level melodists ice-skate through their verses with tales about being cold-hearted loverboys over a seraphic beat that’s finessed by ATL Jacob. In what stands as the biggest cheat code of the song, it was his decision to include a sample of Tems’s vaporizing vocals from her breakout hit, “Higher.” A chart-topping masterpiece, “Wait For U” is sensational from start to finish.

 

Spotify Streams: 766,348,279

Fun Fact: Tems isn’t actually featured on the track. Her vocals from a Genius “Open Mic” performance of “Higher” are sampled.

44. Doja Cat “Paint the Town Red”

Kemosabe Records/RCA, 2023

Produced by: Karl Rubin, Earl on the Beat, Jean Baptiste, DJ Replay

Over a beat that samples Dionne Warwick’s classic soul anthem “Walk on By,” Doja Cat’s feelings on celebrity, public criticism, and internet fandoms are laid bare on “Paint the Town Red.” Unapologetically pledging to keep doing her and not caring what people think, Doja Cat’s devil-may-care attitude landed the artist her first Billboard No.1 and her fifth song in Spotify’s Billions Club. 

 

Spotify Streams: 1,029,923,557

Fun Fact: Producer Earl on the Beat created the beat for “Paint The Town Red” back in 2021. He told Revolt he was going through Dionne Warwick’s catalog seeking sample inspiration when he discovered “Walk on By.” He then met Doja at a Grammy party and the rest is history. “I did some touch-ups the next day because the beat was old, and I sent it right off the next day,” he said. “I shot my shot.”

43. Drake, Future “Jumpman”

Cash Money Records, 2015

Produced by: Metro Boomin

There was a time when the DrakeFuture collaboration felt like a universal constant. So after both rappers spent the first nine months of 2015 dominating hip-hop, their biggest fans had already been anticipating their joint victory lap in the form of the mixtape What A Time To Be Alive. From its release, it was “Jumpman” that immediately hopped from the speakers. Featuring an all-time-great Metro Boomin beat and perhaps the greatest use of a brand logo as a metaphor for sustained greatness, the pair’s electric energy on the track quickly helped it become their best collab to date. 

 

Spotify Streams: 817,851,260

Fun Fact: “Jumpman” was Future’s first Top 15 entry on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

42. City Girls “Act Up”

Quality Control Music/Motown Records/Capitol Records, 2018

Produced by: Earl on the Beat

When City Girls dropped “Act Up” at the end of 2018 and it blossomed into a chart-topper the following summer, it was more than a sleek club banger full of ratchet scam raps. JT and Yung Miami’s breakout hit solidified the arrival of a new wave of women in mainstream hip-hop—including the likes of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion—who were making moves on their own terms. 

 

Spotify Streams: 285,181,334

Fun Fact: In its short life, “Act Up”—which remains the duo’s highest-charting single—has already been sampled or referenced a handful of times, including on Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer” and Chris Brown and Young Thug’s “City Girls.”

41. Travis Scott “Antidote”

Cactus Jack Records/Epic Records, 2015

Produced by: Travis Scott, Eestbound, Wondagurl

Antidote” wasn’t originally slated for Travis Scott’s major-label debut album, Rodeo, but the Houston rapper quickly changed his mind after the song delivered his first real taste of commercial success. Inspired by Rae Sremmurd’sNo Type,” Travis’s singsongy approach proves to be a bona fide earworm as he raps over a slowed-down sample from Lee Fields’sAll I Need.”

 

Spotify Streams: 688,673,846

Fun Fact: Wondagurl and Eestbound first heard the sample of “Antidote” on the radio while eating at The Keg Steakhouse in Toronto. They eventually had to surrender 50% of the track’s profits as a result of using the sample.

40. XXXtentacion “Look At Me!”

Bad Vibes Forever/EMPIRE, 2017

Produced by: Jimmy Duval, Cristian Rojas

Perhaps existing as the song that ushered in the emo rap era, XXXtentacion’sLook At Me” had already garnered millions of streams and attracted a sizable following of fans years before it served as the late rapper’s 2017 major-label debut single. Drawing from hardcore and hip-hop in equal measure, the distorted and aggressive sounds in the beats and rhymes established the blueprint for the many rappers who followed in his footsteps.

 

Spotify Streams: 1,417,956,479

Fun Fact: “Look At Me!,” which marked X’s commercial debut, is one of the late rapper’s 10 songs to have more than 1 billion streams. Producer Cristian Rojas told Genius the song took 15 minutes to complete.

39. Chance The Rapper ft. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz “No Problem”

Self-Released, 2016

Produced by: Brasstracks

Chance The Rapper managed to become an avatar for independence and a household name without selling any music. The Chicago rapper’s 2013 mixtape, Acid Rap, made him a star, but 2016’s Coloring Book is the first project he released for commerce. “No Problem” is rich in gospel undertones, but its lead single is a down-the-middle party song. Chance cleverly turns his anti-label stance into a defiant sing-a-long moment on the song’s pre-chorus: “If one more label try to stop me/It’s gon be some dreadhead n**** in the lobby,” he chants. The song won Best Rap Performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards and helped turn Coloring Book into one of the most groundbreaking mixtapes of the streaming era. 

 

Spotify Streams: 500,490,447

Fun Fact: Coloring Book is the first streaming-only mixtape to win a Grammy Award.

38. Lil Baby “Freestyle”

Quality Control Music/Motown Records, 2017

Produced by: Joseph Davinci, Jrhitmaker, The Martianz, Taz Taylor

Before teaming up with Gunna on their star-making mixtape Drip Harder, Lil Baby put the music world on notice with “Freestyle.” Flashing the melodic flows and dramatic production that would later punctuate the Atlanta rapper’s best work, “Freestyle” was the opening salvo that would help Lil Baby join hip-hop’s elite. 

 

Spotify Streams: 693,846,077

Fun Fact: This song, and its accompanying video, were first uploaded to YouTube before appearing on Lil Baby’s mixtape Too Hard. It contributed to the rapper’s ascent to stardom and remains a fan favorite to this day. 

37. GoldLink ft. Shy Glizzy & Brent Faiyaz “Crew”

RCA, 2016

Produced by: Teddy Walton

GoldLink was relatively unknown outside of niche music scenes until he ditched his signature sound for this DMV anthem. “Crew” is nostalgic at its core—it sounds like the hip-hop/R&B formula popularized in the ’90s and ’00s—but it very much feels of the time. Shy Glizzy and Brent Faiyaz both offer scene-stealing guest appearances. Brent’s, in particular, served as a springboard to mainstream recognition. “Crew” bubbled in the underground for months and later grew into an all-purpose rap song that keeps getting better with time.  

 

Spotify Streams: 551,166,448 

Fun Fact: “Crew” is now certified 7x platinum by the RIAA. The song was also nominated for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

36. Kodak Black ft. XXXtentacion “Roll in Peace”

Atlantic, 2017

Produced by: London On Da Track

Roll in Peace” exists as a moment frozen in time, capturing a snapshot of three emerging artists all on the cusp of stardom. Working over a hypnotic London On Da Track beat, Kodak Black’s confessional style is as engaging as ever, while XXXTENTACION proves he’s just as at home over a radio-friendly single as he is over his own idiosyncratic songs.

 

Spotify Streams: 680,412,299

Fun Fact: “Roll in Peace” is the first and only collaboration between the two Florida rappers. Kodak’s label teased another in 2018, a few months after X’s untimely death, but it was never released.

35. Baby Keem ft. Kendrick Lamar “Family Ties”

pgLang/Columbia, 2021

Produced by: Hakeem Carter, Cardo, Outtatown, roselilah, Deats, Jasper Harris, Frankie Bash

Baby Keem cultivated his fan base for three years before he finally collaborated with pgLang’s label boss, Kendrick Lamar (who also happens to be his first cousin). “Family Ties” arguably makes the best use of a beat switch since Travis Scott’sSICKO MODE.” Keem sets the tone over mosh pit–inducing horns before Kendrick takes center stage on a more barebones sound bed. “I am the Omega,” K. Dot declares, immediately generating excitement for the lyricist’s first guest appearance in years. “Smoking on your Top 5, stop playing I’m that guy,” Kendrick raps later, planting the seeds for his historic battle against Drake earlier this year.. 

 

Spotify Streams: 764,633,993 

Fun Fact: The original version of “Family Ties” didn’t include a beat switch and instead featured Kendrick rapping over the same instrumental as Baby Keem. The OG version leaked online after the official single’s release. 

34. Mustard ft. Roddy Ricch “Ballin”

10 Summers Records/Interscope Records

Produced by: Mustard, GYLTTRYP, Justus West

While Roddy Ricch already had pair of noteworthy mixtapes—Feed Tha Streets and Feed Tha Streets II—and couple of hit singles to his name in “Die Young” and “Every Season,” it was his collaboration with Mustard on “Ballin” that set his career on a stratospheric trajectory. As he works alongside the chameleonic producer, Roddy’s versatility is on full display, with his melodic, Young Thug–influenced flow shining through on the feel-good, pop-rap track as much as on any of the trap anthems he built his buzz around.

 

Spotify Streams: 901,356,097

Fun Fact: “Ballin” was the first time Roddy and Mustard worked on music together. Mustard held it for one year before releasing it. 

33. Playboi Carti “Magnolia”

AWGE/Interscope Records, 2017

Produced by: Pi’erre Bourne

The once traditional sound of hip-hop truly began to mutate in the 2010s thanks to innovative artists like Playboi Carti, who shifted the game with his silvery hit “Magnolia.” Working in tandem with his brother-in-sound, Pi’erre Bourne, the Atlanta rapper cuts through the cybernated production with his own language and puts a flashlight on his lifestyle of running the block, putting his opps on T-shirts, and being surrounded by foes in disguise. From the beat to the flow to the ad-libs, “Magnolia” showcased new energy in a new era. 

 

Spotify Streams: 824,627,336

Fun Fact: This record popularized Pi’erre Bourne’s “Yo Pierre, you wanna come out here?” producer tag, which is a sample from the third episode of The Jamie Foxx Show.  

32. Offset, Metro Boomin “Ric Flair Drip”

Slaughter Gang LLC/Epic Records/Quality Control Music/Capitol/Boominati Worldwide/Republic, 2017

Produced by: Metro Boomin, Bijan Amir

If there was ever a perfect distillation of Atlanta rap in the streaming era, it might be “Ric Flair Drip,” the lead single from 21 Savage, Offset, and Metro Boomin’s 2017 joint mixtape, Without Warning. Marrying Offset’s double-time and triplet flows with a dark, synthy Metro Boomin beat tailor-made for the clubs, the cut proved to be an instant classic and helped forge a friendship between Offset and the song’s namesake. Not only would pro wrestling legend Ric Flair make a cameo appearance in the music video, but he also walked down the aisle to the song at his wedding.

 

Spotify Streams: 1,477,152,836 

Fun Fact: On the digital series The Debut Live, Offset explained that he “hated the song” before it came out and didn’t want Metro to include it on Without Warning. But once it was released and quickly received well, he had to give credit where it was due. “I’ll never forget, like three days later, we [were] No. 1…and he [was] like, ‘I told you. I do this s***.’”

31. J. Cole “MIDDLE CHILD”

Dreamville/Roc Nation Records, 2019

Produced by: T-Minus, J. Cole

Often debated among hip-hop heads, J. Cole rose to fame during a transitional period for rap. Neither a throwback formalist who calls back to the golden era nor a genre-bending alien out to reshape the sound of rap, the one-time Jay-Z protege has always been caught between worlds. On the aptly titled “MIDDLE CHILD,” the rapper takes aim at his critics on both sides of the generational divide. Over a T-Minus beat that blends a dusty, blaring horn sample with sleek, synthesized blips, he takes pride in his distinct position, reminding the world that he’s at the top of the hip-hop pyramid, and he’s not going anywhere soon.

 

Spotify Streams: 1,273,706,340 

Fun Fact: The horns on “MIDDLE CHILD” are sampled from First Choice’sWake Up To Me.” Additionally, this is Cole’s highest-charting record as a solo artist and his second-most-streamed track in Spotify history. 

30. Kanye West ft. Chance The Rapper, The-Dream, Kelly Price & Kirk Franklin “Ultralight Beam”

G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam

Produced by: Kanye West, MIKE DEAN, Chance The Rapper, Swizz Beatz

Kanye West’s faith has inspired some of his most ambitious musical moments. “Ultralight Beam” samples the viral clip of a four-year-old’s impassioned prayer before embarking on a spiritual journey punctuated with pipe organs and a glorious 10-piece choir. Ye plays choir director, only offering a short verse before leading a parade of guests, including Kelly Price, The-Dream, Kirk Franklin, and Chance The Rapper, who delivers a scene-stealing appearance that furthered his footprint with mainstream audiences. The song served as a runway for Chance’s groundbreaking mixtape Coloring Book and planted more seeds for Ye’s gospel-fueled Jesus Is King three years later. 

 

Spotify Streams: 352,014,735

Fun Fact: The Life of Pablo’s “Ultralight Beam” and “Famous” were both nominated for “Best Rap Sung/Performance” at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.  

29. Drake “Back To Back”

Young Money/Cash Money/Republic, 2015

Produced by: Daxz, Noah “40” Shebib, Drake, NAV

Friends turned foes when Meek Mill accused Drake of using a ghostwriter on their collaboration “R.I.C.O.” from Meek’s Dreams Worth More Than Money album. Drake responded with a warning shot titled “Charged Up” and followed up with the scathing “Back To Back” 48 hours later. Drake unloaded a series of funny lyrics and emasculating bars and turned the song into an inescapable club hit. “Twitter fingers” is still a social media reference to this day. “Back To Back” is not only one of the most memorable tracks of the streaming era,it stands among the most potent diss records of all time. 

 

Spotify Streams: 407,488,460

Fun Fact: The song’s title references the Toronto Blue Jays winning back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993. The Blue Jays defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in ’93. The song was released on July 29, 2015—the same day the Blue Jays beat the Phillies 18 years prior. 

28. Kendrick Lamar “DNA.”

TDE/Aftermath/Interscope, 2017

Produced by: Mike WiLL Made-It

Kendrick Lamar is cut from a different cloth. Hip-hop has become such a lifestyle genre that very few commercially viable artists rap for the sake of rapping anymore. “DNA.” is a rap masterclass. Kenny ventures into trap, an exercise that showcases a range of cadences and his ability to convey vivid imagery. “Daddy prolly snitched, heritage inside your DNA/Backbone don’t exist, born outside a jellyfish, I gauge,” he raps with disdain. The song was never released as an official single, but it quickly became a fan favorite and is now one of three songs with 1 billion Spotify streams on Kendrick’s biggest album to date. 

 

Spotify Streams: 1,142,857,561 

Fun Fact: “DNA.” is now certified 9x platinum.

27. Post Malone ft. 21 Savage “Rockstar”

Republic Records, 2018

Produced by: Louis Bell, Tank God

After breaking through in 2014 with his unexpected hit “White Iverson” and raising more than a few eyebrows, Post Malone kicked his career into overdrive when he collaborated with a red-hot 21 Savage on “Rockstar.” Much like Post’s debut single, “Rockstar” blurs the lines between pop and rap, though the production (and 21’s verse) gives the song even more of a hip-hop edge. It’s a combination that proved especially potent, quickly becoming one of the most-streamed songs on Spotify ever and generating more than 2 billion streams to date.

 

Spotify Streams: 2,943,094,019

Fun Fact: “Rockstar” is the most-streamed rap song in Spotify history. It was the longest-charting No. 1 rap song in 2018, and outside of the United States, the Grammy Award–winning song earned the top chart position in 10 other countries, including Canada, Australia, Portugal, and Ireland.

26. Rae Sremmurd “Black Beatles”

Eardruma Records/Interscope Records, 2016

Produced by: Mike WiLL Made-It, Mustard

Before Post Malone released the aforementioned “Rockstar” and Donald Glover declared that “Migos are The Beatles of this generation,” Rae Sremmurd delivered “Black Beatles” to the world and made it known that rappers are, in fact, today’s rockstars. Having already landed a pair of hits in “No Flex Zone” and “No Type,” Rae Sremmurd was a duo on the rise. But with their Gucci Maneassisted follow-up, Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi called their own shot. “Black Beatles” not only became one of the biggest and most critically acclaimed tracks of 2016—thanks to its ice-cold earworm of a melody and the Mannequin Challenge that it inspired on social media—but it also rocketed Rae Sremmurd to new levels of hip-hop stardom.

 

Spotify Streams:  966,407,412

Fun Fact: Rae Sremmurd came up with “Black Beatles” just two days before they were due to turn in their sophomore effort, SremmLife 2. “It was a dope phrase,” Swae Lee told Rolling Stone of the inspiration behind the song’s title. “I’ve always loved John Lennon’s swag. I like his glasses.”

25. Tyler, The Creator “EARFQUAKE”

Columbia, 2019

Produced by: Tyler, The Creator

Tyler, The Creator’s “EARFQUAKE” defies classification. It’s not a rap song—though Playboi Carti makes an appearance. It’s not necessarily R&B, despite Tyler’s singing for the entire song, occasionally assisted by Charlie Wilson’s delightful background vocals. IGOR was Tyler’s most left-of-center project to date, and as the lead single, “EARFQUAKE” powered the album in its commercial battle against DJ Khaled’s Father of Asahd,  the most publicized SoundScan showdown since Kanye West’s Graduation defeated 50 Cent’s Curtis 12 years prior. The contrast was clear: Tyler explored new boundaries sonically and thematically while Khaled offered a middle-of-the-road rap compilation. Tyler won. 

 

Spotify Streams: 945,717,091 

Fun Fact: The song’s video features a cameo from actress Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays a talk show host.

24. Polo G “RAPSTAR”

Columbia, 2020

Produced by: Einer Bankz

Teasing a song snippet became an effective way to build anticipation for new music during the streaming era. In the case of Polo G’sRAPSTAR,” the song lived up to expectations. Produced by Einer Bankz—the ukulele player who’s gone viral for strumming acoustic versions of rap hits—the single highlights the Chicago rapper’s more introspective side.. “I’ve been getting high to hide my insecurities,” he raps in a melodic tone. The song debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the biggest hit of Polo’s career. 

 

Spotify Streams: 916,047,523

Fun Fact: “RAPSTAR” is Polo’s first song to top Spotify’s Top 50 USA chart. 

23. 21 Savage ft. J. Cole “a lot”

Slaughter Gang/Epic Records, 2018

Produced by: Dahi

a lot” represented a curveball of sorts when it appeared as the lead track on 21 Savage’s 2018 album i am > i was. Instead of a cameo from Future and a Metro Boomin beat full of synths and trap drums, the Atlanta rapper showed up with a verse from J. Cole and a soulful boom-bap beat produced by Dahi. All the same, 21 and Cole work their magic on the deceptively nuanced track, touching on everything from family tragedies to the failings of the justice system. Standing as 21 Savage’s most-streamed solo release to date, “a lot” also nabbed a Grammy for Best Rap Song. 

 

Spotify Streams: 940,369,453 

Fun Fact: This Grammy Award–winning song was produced during a Spotify songwriter camp in the summer of 2018.

22. Meek Mill ft. Drake “Going Bad”

Maybach Music/Atlantic, 2019

Produced by: Wheezy

Meek Mill’s career took a hit after he started feuding with Drake in 2015. He was sentenced to two to four years in prison for a parole violation two years later. Meek’s fortune changed when an investigative Rolling Stone article exposed the foul play that led to him serving time. He was released soon after, became a poster boy for prison reform, and reclaimed a favorable approval rating with rap fans. The former foes rekindled their friendship and subsequently collaborated on this Wheezy-produced club banger from Meek’s Championships album. The song quickly became the biggest hit of Meek’s career, peaking at No.6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and eventually joining Spotify’s Billions Club. 

 

Spotify Streams: 1,178,603,152

21. Fetty Wap “Trap Queen”

300 Entertainment/RGF Productions

Produced by: Fadd

While plenty of rising emcees in the streaming era have found fame by creating their own DIY internet scenes with like-minded artists and fans across the world, the story of Fetty Wap and “Trap Queen” is a throwback to the glory days of ’90s regional rap. Fetty’s rise to ubiquity was made possible by the initial buzz and support his summertime anthem received from the New Jersey rap scene he came up in. That buzz was well justified, too: A fever dream of a love song took contemporary hip-hop’s love for melodic lyrics and synthed-out beats and turned it up to 11. In an era where monoculture has all but vanished, “Trap Queen” didn’t just spawn a mainstream hit; it captured the singular attention of a nation.

 

Spotify Streams: 1,172,094,724 

Fun Fact: The third song that Fetty Wap ever wrote, “Trap Queen” was penned over a beat that was found on SoundClick.com.

20. Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion “WAP”

Atlantic, 2020

Produced by: Ayo & Keyz

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’sWAP” is an impossibly catchy classic that unapologetically revels in its raunchiness, much like the most memorable hits from ’90s and ’00s icons Khia, Lil’ Kim, and Trina. Undeniably provocative, “WAP” evoked an entire spectrum of thoughts and feelings from listeners upon its release. And while it managed to cause a certain subset of America to clutch their pearls—or in Cardi B’s words, “made some soccer moms cry”—for millions of others it served as an empowerment anthem to rally around, or the perfect soundtrack for a fun night out.

 

Spotify Streams: 1,315,292,890

Fun Fact: “WAP” set off a moral panic upon its release, with political talking heads decrying its so-called lack of values and calling for boycotts. Still, it became the first female rap collaboration to debut atop the Hot 100, a spot it would capture for four nonconsecutive weeks.

19. French Montana ft. Swae Lee – “Unforgettable”

Bad Boy Entertainment/Epic Records, 2017

Produced by: Mike WiLL Made-It, C.P. Dubb, Jaegan, 1Mind

Though some might assume the commercial success of “Unforgettable” was inevitable, its path to becoming a global smash hit was anything but. Starting out as a beat sent to Drake by Indianapolis trio 1mind, it systematically made its way through the likes of Swae Lee, Jaegen, Mike Will Made-It, and French Montana. But once the song was released into the wild, the dembow beat paired with Swae Lee’s timeless hook had the song soaring, earning it a spot in Spotify’s Billions Club and landing French Montana the biggest hit of his star-studded career. 

 

Spotify Streams: 2,027,009,358

Fun Fact: The demo of this track belonged to Jeremih, who played the then R&B song for French Montana during a studio session. Between getting the sample cleared and funding the music video, which was shot in Uganda, French says that he spent upward of $500,000 to get “Unforgettable” across the finish line. 

18. Lil Baby ft. 42 Dugg “We Paid”

Quality Control Music/UMG Recordings, 2020

Produced by: Section 8

Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Lil Baby and 42 Dugg injected energy into our isolated lives with the release of “We Paid.” Channeling true hustlers like the Black Mafia Family and Jeezy, the Detroit and Atlanta rappers bestowed a blueprint of how they turned their L’s into M’s.

In a two-man weave, Dugg, who was still flying high as a rookie-of-the-year frontrunner, set the tone with some caption-worthy strays aimed at Yung Joc and Michael Vick. Then Baby, an all-star-level sharpshooter, flexes about his rise from dope boy to Billboard chart mainstay. “We Paid” was and still is a blue-ribbon example of touching nothing but net. 

 

Spotify Streams: 412,934,762 

Fun Fact: Tyler, The Creator once tweeted that “We Paid” is the “core of rap music,” though he couldn’t articulate further. The song is 42 Dugg’s first and only Top 10 hit in the Billboard Hot 100. 

17. Kodak Black “No Flockin”

Atlantic, 2015

Produced by: Vinnyx

Kodak Black first made his mark at a time when hip-hop was still mourning the so-called death of gangsta rap. Yak emerged as a budding new face of street music for his generation, and “No Flockin” was his mission statement. The Florida rapper launches a series of flow patterns and memorable lyrics over a haunting piano melody that’s reminiscent of John Carpenter’sHalloween Theme.” The single also inspired Cardi B’sBodak Yellow,” which in turn became a seminal influence for female rappers. 

 

Spotify Streams: 444,165,927 

Fun Fact: Yak claims “No Flockin” popularized using the word “broccoli” as slang for weed; DRAM would release a hit song titled “Broccoli” a year later.

16. Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE”

TDE/Aftermath/Interscope, 2017

Produced by: Mike WiLL Made-It

Judging from Kendrick Lamar’s first two studio albums, the laid-back good kid, m.A.A.d city and the jazzy To Pimp A Butterfly, few would have guessed that the Compton rapper would hop in the studio with Mike WiLL Made-It and return with a club-friendly trap anthem. But with “HUMBLE.,” the lead single from DAMN, fans got just that. Showcasing a streamlined sound compared to his usual style, Kendrick implores the world to sit down and be humble, delivering a sharp critique of flex culture and the celebrity life that surrounds him. But it’s a combination that spoke to fans, and “HUMBLE.” still stands as Kendrick’s most-streamed song to date. 

 

Spotify Streams: 2,197,285,013 

Fun Fact: “HUMBLE.” became Kendrick Lamar’s first No. 1 hit, as well as Mike Will Made-It’s second after Rae Sremmurd’s ultra viral “Black Beatles.” 

15. Kanye West ft. Kid Cudi “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1”

Good Music/Def Jam Recordings, 2016

Produced by: Kanye West, MIKE DEAN, Rick Rubin, Metro Boomin, DJDS, Allen Ritter, Noah Goldstein

Rap’s vanguard had changed by 2016, but with The Life of Pablo, Ye— known then as Kanye West—let it be known that his spot wasn’t up for grabs. “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” is an undisputed favorite from an album that’s brimming with an assortment of styles and inspired moments. Extending his reign as the premier A&R, Ye recruited Metro Boomin to body the beat, Kid Cudi to float on the chorus, and even Drake to provide the midas touch as a ghostwriter. A sensational hymn packed with glowing sound waves, the energy of the track is perfectly encapsulated in a viral clip that featured Ye, Cudi, Pusha T, and Travis Scott rejoicing to it at Madison Square Garden. 

 

Spotify Streams: 1,079,172,885 

Fun Fact: Kanye West called Metro Boomin and asked the producer to add his famed tag on the track in the middle of premiering The Life of Pablo during the Yeezy Season 3 fashion show at Madison Square Garden.

14. Roddy Ricch “The Box”

Atlantic, 2019

Produced by: 30 Roc, Datboisqueeze

From the moment “The Box” dropped, it confirmed what many had already suspected about Roddy Ricch: that the Compton rapper was next in line to take his place among hip-hop’s royalty. Not just a show of his technical prowess as an emcee, “The Box” is a masterclass in songwriting and the dynamic qualities that separate great songs from good songs. Whether it’s the eerie atmosphere of the trap and drill-inflected beat, the chorus that gets catchier and catchier with each repeat listen, the constant switching up of flows by Roddy, or the now infamous “eee err” sound that Roddy added to the track with his own voice, these subtle qualities come together to give the instant classic an inimitable air.

 

Spotify Streams: 1,889,529,875 

Fun Fact: The iconic squeak of “The Box,” which Roddy vocally created himself, was added after it was finished. It would help make “The Box” a viral smash, topping Billboard’s Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks to become one of the first bona fide TikTok hits.

13. Travis Scott ft. Kendrick Lamar “Goosebumps”

Cactus Jack Records/Epic Records, 2016

Produced by: Cardo, CuBeatz, Yex

Travis Scott has always had an ear for a great hook, but on “Goosebumps,” the Houston emcee set a high bar for himself that he may never top. It’s so magnetic, in fact, that from the moment it hits at the start of the song, it grabs you and never lets go, forcing an inspired guest verse from Kendrick Lamar and equally inspired beat from Cardo to step aside on the track. Still Travis’s most-streamed Spotify song ever with over 2 billion plays, “Goosebumps” will forever be one of the legacy-defining songs fans will remember generational icon by. 

 

Spotify Streams: 2,361,310,109 

Fun Fact: In 2017, Travis Scott broke the Guinness World Record for “Most Consecutive Performances of a Song” when he played “Goosebumps” 15 times in a row at a show.

12. Future “Mask Off”

A1/Freebandz/Epic Records, 2017

Produced by: Metro Boomin

In the wake of an acrimonious divorce, Future went on a tear in 2015, mining his hurt feelings, addiction demons, and nihilism as inspiration for a run of classic releases Beast Mode, 56 Nights, Monster, and DS2. The trap legend then used the momentum from that creative outburst to craft the biggest hit of his career in “Mask Off.” Playing out like a more upbeat sequel to “The Percocet & Stripper Joint,” the song represents the evolutionary moment when the debaucherous Future fully embraces his villain role, unbothered with what a single other person thinks.

 

Spotify Streams: 1,577,516,369 

Fun Fact: The video for “Mask Off” features Amber Rose as Future’s leading lady.

11. XXXTENTACION “Jocelyn Flores”

Bad Vibes Forever/EMPIRE, 2017

Produced by: Potsu

Prior to the release of “Jocelyn Flores,” XXXTENTACION’s music was frequently labeled as emo, but also loud, aggressive, angry, and distorted. But this song in particular showcased a quieter, softer sound from the late rapper. Using a sample from Potsu’s lo-fi hit “i’m closing my eyes” as the backdrop for his musical narrative, he recounts an interaction with a fan that ultimately ended in tragedy. Reflecting on what went wrong and the grief and self-loathing that followed, X ultimately reveals the dynamism that made him a star. 

 

Spotify Streams: 2,168,580,379 

Fun Fact: This multiplatinum-selling track is from X’s debut studio album, 17. With over 2 billion streams, it’s among the most-streamed rap songs in Spotify history. Upon its release, it entered Billboard’s Hot 100 chart at No. 31. Following X’s death, the track re-entered the chart and peaked at No. 19.

10. Juice WRLD “Lucid Dreams”

Grade A Productions LLC/Interscope, 2018

Produced by: Nick Mira

Along with contemporaries Lil Peep and XXXTENTACION, Juice WRLD helped lead the charge of emo rap pioneers who left an indelible mark on hip-hop in the streaming era. Inspired by pop punk and emo bands like Panic At The Disco! and My Chemical Romance, it was his single “Lucid Dreams” that would catapult the artist from internet curiosity to hip-hop legend.

The Chicago rapper is magnetic over the Nick Mira–produced track, which samples a Sting guitar loop, as he lets out a torrent of feelings about a relationship gone bad. Initially garnering millions of streams as a self-released single in 2017, “Lucid Dreams” would experience an exponentially larger wave of success after Juice WRLD rereleased the single with major-label backing. It eventually became one of Spotify’s most-streamed songs, with over 2.5 billion plays. 

But like his fellow emo rap pioneers, Juice WRLD’s success was cut short. His untimely death in 2019 left behind a short but impactful legacy that continues to reverberate through the rap world.

Spotify Streams: 2,528,373,906 

Fun Fact: Sting, whose “Shape Of My Heart” is sampled in “Lucid Dreams,” has said Juice WRLD’s song is his favorite reworking.

9. Pop Smoke “Dior”

Victor Victor/Republic, 2019

Produced by: 808 Melo

New York hadn’t had a signature sound in almost two decades when Brooklyn drill began to rise in popularity. Drill originated in Chicago and later reemerged in London, but New York—especially Brooklyn—has since become synonymous with the new iteration of the subgenre. Pop Smoke quickly cemented himself as the face of the burgeoning movement with his 2019 debut mixtape, Meet the Woo, which featured fan favorites “Welcome to the Party” and “Dior.”

Drill is typically known for its graphic depiction of street life, but “Dior,” aside from a few menacing bars, represented the more festive side of the music. Pop was tragically killed in a home invasion before he had a chance to live up to his full potential, but the Brooklynite posthumously became a legend. “Dior” became a hit in the wake of his untimely death and soundtracked the Black Lives Matter movement during widespread protests in the summer of 2020. 

 

Spotify Streams: 1,060,034,928

Fun Fact: “Dior” appears on Pop’s Meet the Woo and Meet the Woo 2 mixtapes.

8. Sheck Wes “Mo Bamba”

Cactus Jack/Interscope, 2017

Produced by: Take A Daytrip

Cacophony has never sounded this good. Travis Scott protégé Sheck Wes made a name for himself when he released one of the most riotous songs in recent memory. “Mo Bamba” is unorthodox in a rap context and even more unconventional by pop standards. Sheck chants every line of the song over Take A Daytrip’s chords, which sound like the middle ground between harmony and dissonance. (Dance producer Zedd and Fool’s Gold founder A-Trak once debated the musical merits of the song in an epic Twitter thread.)

The song reflects a streaming trend where slow-burner hits reach their commercial breakthrough months, sometimes even years, after initial release. “Mo Bamba” came out on Spotify on June 6, 2017, but didn’t gain significant traction until early 2018. The song became an underground favorite with tastemaker crowds in New York City and, later, LA and London, before becoming a mainstream hit globally.  

 

Spotify Streams: 1,048,591,297

Fun Fact: The song is titled after Sheck’s childhood friend who was a center at the University of Texas at the time of its release. Mo Bamba is now a six-year NBA pro who has played with the Orlando Magic, LA Lakers, and Philadelphia 76ers.

7. Travis Scott “SICKO MODE”

Cactus Jack/Epic, 2018

Produced by: Hit-Boy, Tay Keith, MIKE DEAN, Chahayed, Oz, CuBeatz

Travis Scott finally reached commercial success to match his cultural cachet with his third album, ASTROWORLD. The album’s centerpiece, “SICKO MODE,” is an unconventional hit—a three-part song with no chorus and two mood-changing beat switches. Travis typically uses melody or some kind of vocal effect on his songs, but here he employs a more traditional rap delivery over neck-snapping production. “Was off the Remy, had a Papoose,” he raps on one of two verses during the middle part of the track.

The song concludes with Drake’s rapping for the final 90 seconds, and many believe that Drake mentions his once rumored, never materialized deal with Adidas in the aftermath of his battle with Pusha T, stating, “Checks over stripes.” “SICKO MODE” quickly became a sensation despite its lack of structure, earning Travis his first No.1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and popularizing beat switches in rap songs. 

 

Spotify Streams: 2,117,746,870

Fun Fact: Drake isn’t listed as a featured artist, which means he wasn’t credited when the song reached No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. A “SICKO MODE” credit would give Drake a total of 14 No.1 songs on the Hot 100—one more than Michael Jackson.

6. Migos ft. Lil Uzi Vert “Bad and Boujee”

Quality Control Music, 2016

Produced by: G Koop, Metro Boomin 

Migos didn’t miss on Culture, a 13-track memento that symbolized the modern-day pinnacle of trap music. On the album’s lead single, “Bad and Boujee,” Metro Boomin and G Koop join forces to craft a thunderous soundscape that’s equally gooey and eruptive. Offset’s flammable chorus and verse, both equipped with his signature comic book ad-libs, are persuasive. Quavo’s addition finds him barring up with chantable lyrics, similar to how he approaches the group’s hooks. And the third slot, which was usually reserved for Takeoff (R.I.P.), is filled by Lil Uzi Vert who, in real time, was transitioning from SoundCloud favorite to national force.

“Bad and Boujee” reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and on its way up dethroned Ed Sheeran’s global smash “Shape of You.” That feat alone showcased the growing commercialization of street music and helped to further solidify Atlanta’s dominance in this era of rap. Adding to the record’s legacy, the music video attracted over a billion views and stamped Rubi Rose as the video vixen of the moment. Donald Glover underscored the cultural impact of “Bad and Boujee,” a steamroller of a song in any context, when he thanked the group for releasing the song as he received a Golden Globe award for his show Atlanta in 2017. Real recognizes real. 

 

Spotify Streams: 932,536,187

Fun Fact: “Bad and Boujee” was the first No.1 for both the 300 Entertainment and Quality Control Music labels. 

5. Future “March Madness”

Epic Records/Freebandz Entertainment, 2015

Produced by: Tarantino

If “Mask Off” represents the commercial peak of Future’s 2010s rap reign, “March Madness” exists as Future’s creative achievement of that era. But there was almost a reality in which the song was lost forever. 

After Future’s close collaborator DJ ESCO was jailed in Abu Dhabi while carrying a hard drive with hundreds of songs the pair had worked on, the two worried that years worth of work would be lost forever. But once Esco was released and the hard drive returned intact, the decision was made to take the best songs of the bunch and release it as 56 Nights—a nod to the amount of time Esco spent in prison.

“March Madness” was one of those songs they recovered, and even without its epic origin story, it still ranks as one of the greatest hip-hop songs of the streaming era. Combining the radio-friendly polish of Pluto with the raw aggression of Monster, the end result is a melodic sledgehammer that feels like the platonic ideal of a Future release. 

 

Spotify Streams: 167,771,580 

Fun Fact: Tarantino made this beat in 20 minutes while sitting in his sister’s Chicago kitchen. “March Madness” didn’t make the initial cut on 56 Nights, but the song was so good that Future decided to throw it on the tracklist. 

4. Lil Uzi Vert – “XO Tour Llif3”

Generation Now/Atlantic, 2017

Produced by: J.W. Lucas, TM88

On the surface, Lil Uzi Vert’sXO Tour Llif3” might seem like an exuberant rap masterpiece armed with a sweeping hook purpose-built to sing along with. But lurking beneath that pop sheen is the rapper’s existential struggle to balance their rising fame and success with the stress of a fading relationship.

It’s this tension throughout the song that makes “XO Tour Llif3” such a compelling listen, daring anyone not to nod their head as Uzi pours their heart out on the track. Adding to the allure is the autobiographical nature of the song, which gave fans more than a glimpse into Uzi’s well-publicized breakup with lyrics that are unflinchingly honest at times, and shrouded in mystery at others.

Ultimately, “XO Tour Llif3” is a song built for all occasions: equally suited for an aux takeover at a party, or being alone at home, trying to figure out what Uzi really means when they say “all my friends are dead.”

 

Spotify Streams: 2,103,458,383

Fun Fact: Producer TM88 told Complex that he lost a laptop full of beats after he found himself in the midst of a mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2017. He tried to remake some of those beats later, one of which would go on to become “XO Tour Llif3.”

3. Drake “God’s Plan”

Young Money/Cash Money/Republic, 2018

Produced by: Cardo, Yung Exclusive, Boi-1da, Noah “40” Shebib 

Drake is the most ubiquitous hitmaker in hip-hop history. The Toronto native scored his first Billboard hit with “Best I Ever Had” in 2009 and never looked back. Drizzy spent the next eight years flooding the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-breaking 430 consecutive weeks until he took a breather in the summer of 2017. 

The short break coincided with chatter that his fiercest competitor, Kendrick Lamar, had seized hip-hop’s throne with the blockbuster success of his fourth studio album, DAMN. Drake responded with an onslaught of smash hits, starting with “God’s Plan.” The single, released in January 2018, debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed at the top for 10 additional weeks. The song is one of the better musical snapshots of Drake as an artist. Throughout the song, he seamlessly covers the spectrum between rapping and singing, sometimes offering both extremes in the span of a few lines.

“God’s Plan” set the table for the release of the multiplatinum Scorpion, which also featured No.1 hits “Nice For What” and “In My Feelings,” helping Drake reclaim his spot as the game’s top rapper and the Michael Jackson of streaming. 

 

Spotify Streams: 2,511,743,548

Fun Fact: “God’s Plan” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks and was replaced by Drake’s “Nice For What.” Drake stayed at No.1 on the Hot 100 for 29 weeks in 2018. He broke the record for the most weeks at No.1 in a single year. Usher previously owned the record with 28 weeks at No.1.

2. Cardi B “Bodak Yellow”

Atlantic, 2017

Produced by: J White Did It

Cardi B’s rise to superstardom is one of the most unlikely success stories of the 2010s. The Bronx native always exuded New York charm, but there was no precedent for an Instagram personality turned reality TV star then becoming a rap star when she first attempted to jump-start her music career.

Cardi dropped three mixtapes to little fanfare between 2016 and 2017—though the Offset-assisted “Lick” generated moderate traction. But the transformative “Bodak Yellow” changed the course of hip-hop for years to come. Inspired by Kodak Black’sNo Flockin,” the song showcases a newly invigorated Cardi delivering quotable after quotable over J. White Did It’s hypnotic loop. Cardi even taps into the brutal honesty and sense of humor that made her so endearing to audiences: “Got a bag and fixed my teeth,” she raps on the second verse.

“Bodak” continued to build on a growing trend. The tried-and-true radio formula—the rap single with an R&B hook—was losing its effectiveness as streaming was becoming a mainstream medium. Songs like Migos’sBad and Boujee” as well as “Bodak” signaled the arrival of a new formula: the streaming-friendly single with rap verses, hooks, and trap production as the foundation.

“Bodak” quickly became an anthem and unseated Taylor Swift’sLook What You Made Me Do” at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The song set the table for Cardi to release her multiplatinum debut album, Invasion of Privacy, in 2018. The blockbuster album opened up the field for women and made it possible for artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Ice Spice, Latto, and more to enjoy commercial success simultaneously, ushering in a new golden age for female rappers.

Spotify Streams: 890,123,178

Fun Fact: “Bodak Yellow” was the first song by a solo female rapper to reach No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 since Ms. Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998. It’s also the first song by a female rapper to be certified diamond by the RIAA.

1. Kendrick Lamar “Alright”

TDE/Aftermath/Interscope, 2015

Produced by: Pharrell Williams, Sounwave

Public Enemy’s Chuck D famously described hip-hop as the CNN of the ghetto, a vehicle rappers used to document their hardships and speak out against oppressive systems. But hip-hop had primarily become a form of escapism by the mid-2010s. The unprosecuted police killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice—in the span of four months in 2014—angered the Black community, but the fallout of those traumatic events went largely unaddressed in rap music.

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly was one of the few albums of the time to respond to the social climate. The album’s fourth single, “Alright,” is a bit of a rap anomaly—a social commentary that doubles as a club banger. K. Dot weaves introspection into two stream-of-consciousness verses over perhaps the jazziest trap beat ever made.

Kendrick echoes his community’s sentiments on police brutality during the pre-chorus: “And we hate po-po, wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho,” he raps. But it’s the song’s refrain that gave people hope and helped elevate “Alright” into a modern-day civil rights anthem. The song became a staple during protests as the Black Lives Matter movement grew in influence—half a decade before artists released an influx of protest songs in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the civil unrest of 2020.

Spotify Streams: 685,577,168

Fun Fact: “Alright” marked the second collaboration between Kendrick Lamar and Pharrell Williams; they previously worked together on good kid, m.A.A.d. city’s “good kid.”



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