The year 2020 in music felt like a drag. Aside from a number of brave acts who dropped new music last year, many rappers and singers were sitting on hard drives full of new songs and albums, waiting for the COVID-19 quarantine to lift and for outside to open up. Finally, the times have shifted. And with the recommencing of concerts, clubs and parties that can be attended without fearing for one's health (for the most part), rappers like DrakeJ. Cole and Tyler, The Creator, among others, have been making up for lost time with an ample amount of releases in 2021 so far.

Though he pump-faked the January drop of his Certified Lover Boy album, Drake did make noise with an appetizer called Scary Hours 2 in March to hold folks over. The three-track release housed yet another coveted collaboration with Rick Ross, “Lemon Pepper Freestyle.” The hypnotizing song, coproduced by the likes of Keanu Beats, Boi-1da, plus more, flips a live iteration of Quadron’s “Pressure,” providing a genteel, luxury rap-leaning foundation for the two to spit fire over.

Since the start of his career, Tyler, The Creator has dropped a new project every other year. Following the 2019 release of the Grammy Award-winning IGOR, he came out of the cut and released Call Me If You Get Lost at the end of June. The Billboard 200 No. 1-selling LP, which is a certified Gangsta Grillz effort with DJ Drama, has more bars than a blank notebook of sheet music, not only from Tyler, but from artists like YoungBoy Never Broke Again and TyDolla $ign on “Wusyaname” as well. The track, produced by Wolf Haley himself, reworks H-Town’s “Back Seat (Wit No Sheets)” and to butter it up even more, Ty Dolla $ign’s vocals are drizzled over the top.

J. Cole has one of the best mixtape catalogs in rap. He brought that hungry, better yet starving energy back for his highly anticipated sixth album, The Off-Season, which saw a release date a few months ago in May. With a 12-track offering that defines the phrase “no skips,” his pen is sharper than ever before, evident on records like “My.Life” featuring 21 Savage and Morray. In what sounds like a sequel to “A Lot,” all three XXL Freshmen—Cole in 2010, 21 in 2016, and Morray this year—deliver solid rhymes over a dizzying beat coproduced by Jake One and Wu10. Cole spazzes with a no-mercy approach, 21’s verse is crammed with quotables and Morray’s hook will give anyone goosebumps.

The high quality execution have made these songs undeniable picks when it comes to best of the year so far. But of course, they weren’t the only ones who have put up money balls. Below are more heat rocks that made both commercial and underground waves, including Polo G’s “Rapstar,” Ski Mask The Slump God's "Dr. Suess," City Girls’ “Twerkulator,” Silk Sonic’s “Leave The Door Open” and many, many more.

Check out Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2021 So Far below and see which of your favorites made the cut.

  • "Lemon Pepper Freestyle"

    Drake Featuring Rick Ross
  • "Wusyaname"

    Tyler, The Creator Featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Ty Dolla $ign
  • "My.Life"

    J. Cole Featuring 21 Savage and Morray
  • "No More Parties (Remix)"

    Coi Leray Featuring Lil Durk
  • "Rapstar"

    Polo G
  • "Wockesha"

    Moneybagg Yo
  • "Straightenin"

    Migos
  • "Calling My Phone"

    Lil Tjay Featuring 6lack
  • "Maybach"

    42 Dugg Featuring Future
  • "His & Hers"

    Internet Money Featuring Gunna, Don Toliver and Lil Uzi Vert
  • "Up"

    Cardi B
  • "Miss The Rage"

    Trippie Redd Featuring Playboi Carti
  • "Twerkulator"

    City Girls
  • "Thot Shit"

    Megan Thee Stallion
  • "Tombstone"

    Rod Wave
  • "Eenie Meenie"

    Yung Baby Tate
  • "Leave the Door Open"

    Silk Sonic
  • "Kiss Me More"

    Doja Cat Featuring SZA
  • "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)"

    Lil Nas X
  • "Headshots (4r Da Locals)"

    Isaiah Rashad
  • "Ski"

    Young Thug and Gunna
  • "Beat Box 3"

    SpotemGottem Featuring DaBaby
  • "Who I Smoke"

    Yungeen Ace, Spinabenz, Whoppa Wit Da Choppa and FastMoney Goon
  • "Count On Me"

    BROCKHAMPTON Featuring A$AP Rocky and SoGone SoFlexy
  • "Lucid Dreams (Remix)"

    Juice Wrld Featuring Lil Uzi Vert
  • "Best Friend"

    Saweetie Featuring Doja Cat
  • "5'5"

    Toosii Featuring Latto
  • "Go Crazy (Remix)"

    Chris Brown and Young Thug Featuring Future, Lil Durk and Latto
  • "Impatient"

    DDG and OG Parker Featuring Coi Leray
  • "Real As It Gets"

    Lil Baby Featuring EST Gee
  • "Shoot My Shot"

    IDK and Offset
  • "Every Chance I Get"

    DJ Khaled Featuring Lil Baby and Lil Durk
  • "Plug Talk" Featuring 2 Chainz

    Benny The Butcher and Harry Fraud
  • "Late At Night"

    Roddy Ricch
  • "I Like Dat"

    T-Pain and Kehlani
  • "Tell Em"

    Cochise Featuring $NOT
  • "Perfect Timing"

    YG and Mozzy Featuring Blxst
  • "Dr. Suess"

    Ski Mask The Slump God
  • "Wants and Needs"

    Drake Featuring Lil Baby
  • "Never Left"

    Lil Tecca
  • "She Make It Clap"

    Soulja Boy
  • "Whole Lotta Money"

    BIA
  • "Trenches"

    Morray
  • "Pride Is The Devil"

    J. Cole Featuring Lil Baby
  • "Ramen & OJ"

    Joyner Lucas and Lil Baby
  • "Sorry Not Sorry"

    DJ Khaled Featuring Nas, Jay-Z, James Fauntleroy and Harmonies by The Hive
  • "I Believed It"

    DVSN and Ty Dolla $ign Featuring Mac Miller
  • "Solid"

    Young Thug and Gunna Featuring Drake
  • "Time Today"

    Moneybagg Yo
  • “Scatter Brain”

    Conway The Machine Featuring J.I.D and Ludacris