50 Best Hip-Hop and R&B Songs of 2017, Ranked

Over the past 365 days, more than two million songs were released by hundreds of thousands of artists. Here are the top 50.
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Over the past 365 days, more than two million songs were released by hundreds of thousands of artists. That is a fuck ton of new music. At an average of three minutes per song, it would take you 104,000 hours or approximately 11.8 years of non-stop listening to make it through every new song released in 2017.

To make your life a whole lot easier and to save you from the misery of listening to SoundCloud rap in the year 2025—and because we literally get to spend our "work day" listening to and writing about new music—we have voted on and ranked the 50 best hip-hop and R&B songs of 2017. Of note, the eligibility period for all song selections is December 15, 2016, to December 15, 2017.

As always, we both expect and anticipate dissension among our readers, but since disagreement and discussion are healthy, we say bring it on.

Without further ado... 

50. Drake — "Do Not Disturb"

Label:Cash Money / Young Money / Republic
Release Date: March 18, 2017
Producer: 40, Boi-1da & Allen Ritter

“Do Not Disturb” is a welcomed departure from the island-inspired pop and tough-guy trap that is spread across More Life, the diverse playlist curated as a slice of all sides of Drake. The closing record is a return to his most natural domain of personal introspection, and by far his crowning verse of 2017.

49. Jacob Banks — "Unknown (To You)"

Label:Interscope Records
Release Date: September 14, 2017
Producer: Robin Hannibal

Jacob Banks sings as if his words are baptized in power and passion. “Unknown (To You)” carries the electricity of Thor and the stirring boom of a thunderclap. A song you must play by a new artist you must watch.

48. Cyhi The Prynce — "No Dope On Sundays" ft. Pusha T

Label:Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: November 17, 2017
Producer: Shawty Redd, Novel, Mark Byrd & Lex Luger

Trapping ain’t dead, but no sales are to take place on Sunday. As Omar Little once said, “A man got to have a code.”

47. Ty Dolla $ign — "Dawsin’sBreek" ft. Jeremih

Label:Atlantic Records
Release Date: September 20, 2017
Producer: Ty Dolla $ign, Pluss & Mike WiLL Made-It

Modernized R&B-pop by two hit-makers who combined to make melodies sweet enough to rot an entire row of teeth. “Dawsin’s Breek” should’ve reigned over Billboard, but the world is imperfect and so are the charts.

46. Freddie Gibbs — "Amnesia"

Label:ESGN / Empire
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Producer: Dupri, Dnyc3 & Sorry Jaynari

Gangsta Gibbs' roadrunner flow over the ecstatic yet moody League of Starz production is a joy. After his extensive hiatus from music, “Amnesia” is stunt rap done right and a friendly reminder that Freddie plans on making up for lost time.

45. Oddisee — "Things"

Label: Mello Music Group
Release Date: December 15, 2016
Producer: Oddisee

Things rule everything around us. Oddisee knows this and makes the realization a fun, foot-tapping thought to ponder. Music can have meaning, carry a thoughtful message, and still force your body to move.

44. Jonwayne — "Out of Sight"

Label: Authors / The Order Label
Release Date: February 17, 2017
Producer: Jonwayne

Jonwayne brings us into his sobriety to witness his demons stepping into clear view, a beautifully lonely moment of the contemplation from the LA poet.

43. Knox Fortune — "Lil Thing"

Label: Self-Released
Release Date: July 21, 2017
Producer: Knox Fortune, Carter Lang & Nico Segal

Summer romance is an immortal subject. Artists since the beginning of time have tried to recapture the feeling of love during the months of May, June, and July. Knox adds new inspiration with “Lil Thing,” a song that’s sweet as caramel about young love at its most elegant, innocent, and supportive.

42. Dreezy — "Spar" ft. 6LACK & Kodak Black

Label:Interscope Records
Release Date: October 16, 2017
Producer: Stwo

Dreezy’s verse on “Spar” deserves a CNN roundtable discussion or at least the same internet-breaking virality as Eminem and Joyner Lucas' political rap songs. “Spar” is just another example of how the world criminally ignores the voice of black women.

41. Danny Watts — "Black Boy Meets World"

Label: Authors / The Order Label
Release Date: September 22, 2017
Producer: Paul Castelluzzo & Jonwayne

Ben Savage didn’t meet the world like Danny Watts did. “Black Boy Meets World” is a necessary perspective of the black boy tale in its rawest form. Too raw for Disney, but perfect for hip-hop.   

40. Toro y Moi — "Girl Like You"

Label:Carpark Records
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Producer: Chaz Bear

Romantic dream-pop defines Toro y Moi’s “Girl Like You,” a single released in June that has continued to mesmerize from summer to winter. It feels retro, nostalgic, like roller-skating backward under the pastel glow of a spinning disco ball. As the kids say, issa vibe.

39. Milo — "Landscaping" ft. ELUCID

Label:Ruby Yacht
Release Date: August 11, 2017
Producer: Scallops Hotel

Contemporary choruses aren’t sung throughout milo’s who told you to think??!!?!?!?!, they’re more philosophical phrases and mantras repeated. He’s thought-provoking in a space where it's customary to hook listeners with simplistic and catchy. On “Landscaping,” he recites one of my favorites: “Y'all was imitating God trying to mimic our sound.”  

38. King Krule — "Biscuit Town"

Label:True Panther
Release Date: October 13, 2017
Producer: King Krule & Dill Harris

To know King Krule is to appreciate his exploration into the heart of darkness and dismay. “Biscuit Town,” the intro to The OOZ, his long-awaited sophomore album, is a jazzy descent into the murky. Music so vivid you can envision the collection of cigarette butts building in the ashtray, you can smell the scent of whiskey mixed in the polluted air, and you're able to visualize the shadowy singer in the center of the swirling madness.

37. Khalid — "Saved"

Label:RCA Records
Release Date: January 13, 2017
Producer: OZ & Syk Sense

For someone so young, Khalid sings of love and loss with a maturity beyond his years. “Saved” is the teenage breakup sequel to Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Through The Phone,” when the kisses finally stop and all you have are the memories and a phone number that may never call again. No tantrum was thrown, no dirty laundry hung to dry—just reflection, acceptance, and peacefully moving on like a sensible adult.

36. J.I.D — "D/Vision" ft. EarthGang

Label: Dreamville / Interscope Records
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Producer: J. Cole

The man himself said it best: “Far as these rappers, I can’t count on a ninja turtle’s finger who really is fucking with the kid, that is J.I.D.”

35. BROCKHAMPTON — "MILK"

Label:QUESTION EVERYTHING, INC. / Empire
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Producer: Romil Hemnani, Jabari Manwa & Kiko Merley

Boy band of the year, without contest, goes to BROCKHAMPTON. We have spent the year submerged underneath their content flood. Saturation was their mentality and method of releasing music, but it’s natural to grow attached to a single song. “MILK” is that song―honest, pure, and true to all the growing pains that make them real and relatable. How can you not love these kids?

34. Rapsody — "Black & Ugly" ft. BJ The Chicago Kid

Label:Jamla Records / Roc Nation
Release Date: September 22, 2017
Producer: 9th Wonder

Rapsody’s “Black & Ugly” soulfully tackles a past and present of being harshly criticized for her outward appearance, but insecurity didn’t devour the Snow Hill, North Carolina MC. She stands confident as ever, a shining example of how hate doesn’t define you when self-love is louder than hate. A much-needed message from one of hip-hop’s most talented lyricists.

33. IDK — "Pizza Shop Extended" ft. Yung Gleesh, MF DOOM & Del the Funky Homosapien

Label: HXLY, LLC / Commission Music
Release Date: October 13, 2017
Producer: BLWYRMND & BigKiddMusic

Kendrick Lamar and crew committed an act of home invasion on good kid, m.A.A.d city deep cut “The Art of Peer Pressure.” Similar circumstances lead IDK into a pizza shop, armed and ready to rob as masterfully illustrated on “Pizza Shop Extended.” Having a villain such as DOOM to be the Rusty Ryan to his Danny Ocean is the satisfying cherry on top of this storytelling sundae.

32. Joey Bada$$ — "FOR MY PEOPLE"

Label:Pro Era / Cinematic Music Group
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Producer: DJ Khalil

Upon first listen, I found Joey Bada$$’ ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, his long-awaited sophomore album, aggravating. Despite being inspired by the state of America, the music was soft, tender, and driven by saccharine melodies. Where was the aggression? Eight months later, I’m singing a different tune. “FOR MY PEOPLE” shows how acknowledging hardship doesn’t have to be done with hostility; it’s the warm hug of someone saying "I understand, I’m here." Sometimes you just need a hug.

31. Rick Ross — "Santorini Greece"

Label:Epic Records / Maybach Music Group
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Producer: Bink!

“Santorini Greece” represents the pristine lyricism and splendid beat selection that appears across Rick Ross’ excellent ninth studio album, Rather You Than Me. “Santorini Greece” shows how even late in his career, Rozay is sharp as the nose of a swordfish and carries the potency of 20-year old scotch aging in the cellar. The biggest boss is only getting better.

30. EarthGang — "Meditate" ft. J.I.D

Label: Spillage Village
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Producer: Elite

“Meditate” is so true to black lives in 2017 that the single will surely live on as a landmark in EarthGang’s discography (and videography). The pursuit of peace in America finally has an anthem from the only trio in hip-hop giving Migos a run for their money.

29. Steve Lacy — "Dark Red"

Label: Three Quarter
Release Date: February 20, 2017
Producer: Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy stepped out from the shadows of his Internet crew to steal the spotlight for himself with his very own demo. The singer-songwriter wonders aloud if he lets his "bad thoughts linger for far too long," but "Dark Red," like the project it's housed on, leaves you wanting more.

28. Sampha — "Blood On Me"

Label:Young Turks Recordings
Release Date: February 3, 2017
Producer: Rodaidh McDonald & Sampha

“Blood On Me” is the desperation of escaping the terrors of a nightmare. Sampha brings to life the exasperation and anxiety of being hunted, a gripping listening experience. There’s a special quality to Sampha’s music, the way feelings translate from artist to audience. I still listen with visions of Trayvon Martin, giving the song a harrowing slice of real life.

27. Majid Jordan — "Gave Your Love Away"

Label: OVO Sound / Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Producer: Jordan Ullman

Previewed alongside Drake's "Signs" at a Louis Vuitton runway show, it took months to finally hear Majid Jordan's "Gave Your Love Away" in all of its high-quality glory. More than worth the wait, it's the best song of their career, an irresistibly groovy piece of late-night R&B that sets a new bar for the Canadian duo.

26. Joey Fatts — "562" ft. Vince Staples

Label: Self-Released
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Producer: Supa Mario

Music politics brought down “562” from all major streaming services upon release, a true crime against the best collaboration between Joey Fatts and his cousin Vince Staples. “562” is a song where every component compliments—the soulful Supa Mario production sounds perfectly tailored for the candid lyricism. The worth of a song should be how often you feel compelled to rewind and it's nearly impossible to play “562” just once.

25. Young Thug — "Family Don’t Matter" ft. Millie Go Lightly

Label:300 Entertainment / Atlantic Records
Release Date: June 16, 2017
Producer: Rex Kudo & Wheezy

Young Thug isn’t married to any sound or style. His music morphs, bends, and transforms; there is no ceiling for his artistic imagination. “Family Don’t Matter” is beautiful and bizarre, enchanting and otherworldly, the kind of song you never imagine Thug making and the kind of song you wish he would make more of. But he won’t, the first rule of Young Thug is to never expect a repeat performance.

24. Playboi Carti — "Magnolia"

Label: Interscope Records
Release Date: April 14, 2017
Producer: Pi'erre Bourne

The summer belonged to Carti and “Magnolia”—the two could not be escaped unless you completely secluded yourself from the world. I have a theory that Carti doesn’t make songs, he creates ringtones. Music where any 15-30 seconds can be isolated into an infectious hook. “Magnolia” is my favorite ringtone of 2017.

23. Big K.R.I.T. — "Drinking Sessions" ft. Keyon Harrold

Label: Multi Alumni
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Producer: Big K.R.I.T.

Under the truth serum’s influence, Big K.R.I.T.’s innermost thoughts are exposed in rhyme. All skeletons are brought from their hidden closets as if the Mississippi rapper is spring cleaning what’s been piling upon his mind. The emotion-charged confession is chilling, and K.R.I.T. holds nothing back while creating the feeling of a therapy session between artist and listeners. Cheers to fearless transparency.

22. Tyler, The Creator — "Boredom" ft. Rex Orange County, Anna of the North & Corinne Bailey Rae

Label:Columbia Records
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Producer: Tyler, The Creator

“Boredom” is flawlessly arranged. The beauty builds and blossoms as the guitar strum transitions into an array of radiant instruments and vocal tones. Tyler knows how to build a crew around his vision, a vision that proves his genius as a producer. 2017 was the year the industry finally woke up to appreciate the gifted terror turned flower boy.

21. Frank Ocean — "Biking" ft. JAY-Z & Tyler, The Creator

Label:Blonded
Release Date: May 15, 2017
Producer: Caleb Laven, Jarami & Frank Dukes

“I believe I’m one of the best in the world at what I do” — Frank Ocean. As do I, Frank. As do I.

20. Kendrick Lamar — "DUCKWORTH."

Label: Aftermath / Interscope / Top Dawg Entertainment
Release Date: April 14, 2017
Producer: 9th Wonder

The first time hearing “DUCKWORTH.” is similar to the first time watching a movie where the plot twist leaves your heart thumping like a jackhammer and thoughts racing faster than Usain Bolt darting from the jaws of a cheetah. One of the rare hip-hop stories that will be cemented in history. We will never forget Ducky, Anthony, and the three soulful 9th Wonder loops that blessed ears while Kendrick unveiled secrets from his past.

19. Daniel Caesar — "Freudian"

Label:Golden Child Recordings
Release Date: August 25, 2017
Producer: Jordan Evans & Matthew Burnett

There’s a sudden pause that occurs in the middle of “Freudian,” the closing record from Daniel Caesar’s stunning debut album. It's the first silent gap since Chance The Rapper’s "Pusha Man / Paranoia" that causes me absolute discomfort. But just like Chance, the wait, is worth the irritable anxiety. With a voice that will leave a choir of angels envious, Daniel singing of human sacrifice over a beautiful church organ is just one final breathtaking moment before the album ends.

18. SZA — "Doves in the Wind" ft. Kendrick Lamar

Label: Top Dawg Entertainment / RCA Records
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Producer: Cam O'bi

SZA and Kenny made sure we don’t forget pink matters. Vagina appreciation from ‘17 'til infinity.

17. Calvin Harris — "Slide" ft. Frank Ocean & Migos

Label:Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Producer: Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris deserves a pity trophy for being criminally overlooked for song of the summer. “Slide” is a winner, it sounds like dancing under the influence of expensive tequila on a DayGlo-dyed yacht owned by Charlie Sheen. The disco groove is enhanced by the enchanting cool and contagious melodies brought by Frank, Quavo, and Offset, and the three featured artists are the heartbeats that keep the party lively. What “Slide” lacks in accolades I hope it makes up for in immortality.

16. Rapsody — "Laila’s Wisdom"

Label: Jamla Records / Roc Nation
Release Date: September 22, 2017
Producer: Nottz

Nottz chopped up Aretha Franklin’s “Young, Gifted and Black” for Rapsody’s album intro and few are more worthy to be described as such. “Laila’s Wisdom” is full of soul, musically pleasing and lyrically piercing; an excellent album opener and an ideal introduction track for anyone unfamiliar with Rapsody’s greatness.

15. Daniel Caesar — "Blessed"

Label:Golden Child Recordings
Release Date: August 25, 2017
Producer: Jordan Evans & Matthew Burnett

Love can be messy and flawed. Love can be beautiful and perfect. Daniel Caesar understands this dichotomy of human relationships and how they are simplistic and complex. “Blessed” is the beautiful flaw, the messy perfection of two people who make mistakes, but loving each other isn’t one.

14. Frank Ocean — "Chanel"

Label: Blonded
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Producer: Frank Dukes, Michael Uzowuru & Jarami

Upon release, writer Austin Williams declared “Chanel” to be “the most important song in the world right now.” He wasn’t wrong, Frank’s internet-breaking return is a lionhearted statement tied to sexuality, masculinity, and gender norms. Beyond Frank’s plain-spoken reference to his sexual orientation, “Chanel” is a three-minute masterwork of the modern hybrid of melodic rap and singing. The two separate mediums become seamlessly one―the Vegito of Frank’s discography.

13. Future — "Mask Off"

Label:Epic Records / A1 / Freebandz
Release Date: February 17, 2017
Producer: Southside & Metro Boomin

Armed with a simplistic hook of drug references, a hashtag challenge, and an almighty flute sample from Metro, "Mask Off" was not just the highest-charting solo single of Future's career, it was a cultural moment. The more radio-friendly HNDRXX dropped a week later, but it was this unlikely smash hit that we'll forever equate with the Atlanta superstar's mainstream success.

12. Wiki — "Mayor"

Label: XL Recordings
Release Date: August 25, 2017
Producer: Tony Seltzer, Alex Epton & Rafi Gavron

There’s a physical energy bleeding through the speakers as Wiki raps. You can feel it on the tip of every bar, the heartbeat of someone pouring his everything into words. The love he has for his New York City home is obvious on “Mayor.” As the soul sample whispers behind him, the impeccable rapper bursts with hometown glory. The unapologetic New Yorker is the mayor the city needs, or at least, the rapper to represent its new era of artists on the rise.

11. Smino — "Father Son Holy Smoke"

Label:Zero Fatigue / Downtown Records
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Producer: THEMPeople

Smino’s melodies are superb and his songwriting stellar; he's truly one of the most gifted new artists to arise this year. What he isn’t given enough credit for is his lyrical prowess, his knack for clever wordplay, and the double entendres that make each revisit to his music a completely new experience. “Father Son Holy Smoke” is bombarded with excellent lyricism within the blazing, rapid-fire flow. The "Cha-Cha Slide" reference in the second verse is a perfect example of why you have to take DJ Khaled's advice and really listen when Smino rhymes.

10. JAY-Z — "The Story of O.J."

Label:S. Carter Enterprises / Roc Nation
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Producer: No I.D.

Without reaching hit status, “The Story Of O.J.” was one of the most impactful rap releases of their year. Everyone who ever used a money phone on Instagram felt attacked, every bad record deal was linked back to Jay’s words of disapproval, and credit became synonymous with Hov’s advice. Almost every lyric became a social media meme or a pop culture reference, proof that the pulse is still underneath JAY-Z’s thumb.

9. Kendrick Lamar — "FEAR."

Label: Aftermath / Interscope / Top Dawg Entertainment
Release Date: April 14, 2017
Producer: The Alchemist

Three verses, three different ages, three different fears―a simple yet genius concept epitomized by the brilliant execution. “FEAR.” exemplifies Kendrick’s commitment to the art of storytelling beyond conventional means, a recurring devotion that spans across all his studio albums. Edgar Allan Poe could never.

8. Big K.R.I.T. — "Price of Fame"

Label:Multi Alumni
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Producer: WLPWR

I'm a man now, I came up to hold my fam down / Can't tell them about my depression cause most them fans now." Imagine wishing to speak with someone close about struggles with depression but they can’t separate your celebrity. Fame can cost you friends, family, and often, your sanity. “Price of Fame” is Big K.R.I.T. revealing what fame has cost him by shedding the Big K.R.I.T. persona and allowing Justin Scott to speak the words he’s never said to those who adore him but don’t truly know him.

7. SZA — "The Weekend"

Label:Top Dawg Entertainment / RCA Records
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Producer: ThankGod4Cody

Instant classic. Our children’s children will be wondering who’s man is who’s man when SZA’s massive hit enters their atmosphere.

6. Lil Uzi Vert — "XO TOUR Llif3"

Label: Generation Now / Atlantic Records
Release Date: February 26, 2017
Producer: TM88

2017 was the year a song heavily referencing suicide from a mostly forgotten surprise EP with a misspelled name referencing being on tour with The Weeknd that was produced on a Beats Pill speaker became one of the most undeniable club smashes of recent memory, complete with a remastered version being replaced with its lo-fi original after fan outcry. If you need further explanation, you can find us in the club, still crying.

5. GoldLink — "Crew" ft. Shy Glizzy & Brent Faiyaz

Label:RCA Records
Release Date: December 16, 2016
Producer: Teddy Walton

“Crew” isn’t a record that arrived suddenly with immediate fanfare. No, GoldLink's single was a quiet storm, a song that grew legs gradually, crawling around SoundCloud before eventually graduating to house parties and clubs. Now, as the year ends, “Crew” is GRAMMY-nominated. Brent’s hook, GoldLink’s charisma, and Shy Glizzy’s flow refused to burn out. Three artists hailing from the DMV broke into the mainstream, together. "Crew" is a testament to the importance of working a record you believe in... and also an incredible song. 

4. Cardi B — "Bodak Yellow"

Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: June 16, 2017
Producer: J. White Did It

“Bodak Yellow,” much like GoldLink’s “Crew,” was the underdog single that wasn’t guaranteed a successful reception. You can have millions of fans or millions of dollars and a song can still die faster than Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. There wasn’t another song released in 2017 that brought the joy, energy, and enthusiasm of “Bodak Yellow.” It was the song that could be sung by all. It was bigger than a hit, more than an anthem, it was a movement, and everyone moved behind Cardi. May we all experience getting a bag and fixing our teeth.

3. Kendrick Lamar — "DNA."

Label:Aftermath / Interscope / Top Dawg Entertainment
Release Date: April 14, 2017
Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It

“DNA.” is all the mayhem of a monster truck in rap form. There is no other song in Kendrick’s discography that matches the three minutes of pandemonium displayed after the initial “I got! I got! I got!!!!” Mike Will’s pulsating beat is the year's most riot-inducing production, and the beat switch that comes right before the two-minute mark is the chaos and disorder of a revolution reaching fever pitch. A lesser rapper would’ve been drowned, but Kendrick uses the untamed beast to put on a flawless exhibition of rap adroitness. “DNA.” is a weapon of mass destruction, and it could have been the only song released by Kung Fu Kenny in 2017 and he still would have caused the planet to stop spinning.

2. Frank Ocean — "Provider"

Label: Blonded
Release Date: August 27, 2017
Producer: Jarami, Caleb Laven & Vegyn

It's a shame that Frank Ocean's name won't appear on any end-of-year album lists after dropping four of the year's best songs. It wasn't as important as "Chanel," as shape-shifting as "Lens," or as star-studded as "Biking," but Frank saved the best for last. "Provider" is endlessly replayable, the work of a genius able to nod to Stanley Kubrick, shoegaze, DragonBall Z, Aphex Twin and Talking Heads in a love song as casual as it is sincere, as timeless as it is referential, and as powerful as it is nimble. He may be a recluse, but he's quite the provider.

1. Sampha — "(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano"

Label: Young Turks Recordings
Release Date: February 3, 2017
Producer: Rodaidh McDonald & Sampha

Hairs on arms stand tall as Sampha hits the “Never let me go” high note on the second verse of “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.” You might expect the chills to subside after eleven months of casual listening, that the emotional weight would lose its intensity. Nope. Sampha's tribute to his mother who passed after losing her life to cancer still strikes with soul-stabbing eloquence. It’s beautiful melancholy, the somberness rich with affection. No rage, just grief. He sings tearless, but the pressure wails up in his voice, each word more elegant than the last, each piano note seeping into the heart’s cage.

Sampha found the bridge between the beauty of reflecting on life and the pain of accepting that all lives must end. May all the pain to come sound so beautiful.

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