If anyone knows how convoluted and treacherous the journey to success can be, it’s Philadelphia artist PnB Rock.

Born Rakim Hasheem Allen, PnB Rock grew up in a highly underprivileged and low-income family with four brothers, one whom was autistic, and his mother.His father was stabbed to death by the mother of one of his brothers when he was three years old and the only other father figure he had, his uncle, was also murdered.

PnB and his family were frequently in and out of shelters. At age 13, he was sent to a youth detention program for committing robberies and fighting in school. At age 19, he was sentenced to 33 months in prison for a slew of crimes including drug possession, robbery, and probation violation. While incarcerated, he penned the majority of the lyrics featured on his 2014 debut mixtape Real Nigga Bangaz.

In 2015, PnB signed a deal with Atlantic Records and released his second mixtape RnB 3 to widespread acclaim from the streets and received his first taste of commercial success. The following year he releases one of his biggest songs to date, “Selfish”, which peaked at No. 51 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts.

While his road to glory has been filled with many trials, tribulations, and roadblock, PnB has had music as a stabilizing force on his life. This week’s essential tracks feature seeks to illustrate the street genius behind his music. Click through the image gallery to read on.



“My City Needs Something”

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

“My City Needs Something”

Kicking this list off is one of PnB Rock’s earliest and most important tracks. “My City Needs Something” is an introspective and vulnerable track that illustrates his rough upbringing and how his experiences have shaped him into the man he is today and the sound he has produced to date. This track is special to not only this list, but also to PnB Rock’s discography, because it has a significantly different feeling than the majority of his records. “My City Needs Something” still boasts an incredibly well-done hook and his echoing vocals while also showcasing his writing ability and ability to integrating stylistic cues into conscious topics.

Check out the gripping visual for the track. 

“Ballin”

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

RnB 3 was PnB’s first release on Atlantic Records. “Ballin” was one of the first tracks to indicate that he had the potential to become a true radio threat.

“Jealous” Ft. Fetty Wap

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

It’s always cool to see two fresh artists with similar styles and loads of organic chemistry link up and create some heat for the street. This track is significant for two reasons: 1) this is one of PnB and Fetty’s first collaborations, and 2) it represents a turning point in PnB Rock’s career, as he was beginning to gain more notoriety in the industry and branching out to work with more artists.

“Alone”

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

RnB 3 has several standout tracks, and “Alone” is certainly one of them. From the time PnB utters the opening phrase, “Who am I to say nooo, to all these bad bitches on my timeline,” the listener is immediately drawn in by his trance-inducing crooning and held in place by his relatable lyrics that both show the mindset of a temperamental thug with a soft spot for love and an even softer spot for hoes.

The video for this jawn is cracking too. Most of PnB Rock’s visuals are very cinematic.

“No Time”

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

“No Time” is the last but certainly not the least-popping track on RnB 3. It is probably one of PnB’s biggest songs other than “Selfish,” and it is easy to see why. He breaks down street logic with a concentrated eloquence while exuding the braggadocio and fly demeanor for which he has become known.

“Fleek”

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

PnB released “Fleek” between RnB 3 and his debut album Goin Thru The Motions as a loose release, and has turned out to be one of his more successful tracks. Maybe it is because of the catchy, viral-influenced title and hook, or maybe it is because PnB pretty much kills every beat he hops on.

“Selfish”

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

With 12 million plus views on YouTube and over 53 million on Spotify, “Selfish” truly put PnB Rock on the map. Even though he had previously made a name for himself and already had a buzz behind his music just before the release of his debut album Goin Thru The Motions, this single was the rocket that took off and sent him soaring into the industry stratosphere and made everyone turn their heads to see what he had coming on the rest of the project.

This track is a straight vibe, and while it seems like a sweet and caring love song, the video shows that it is just as street and gritty as anything else in his catalog.

“Run It Up” Ft. Fetty Wap

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

As we saw earlier on in the list, PnB Rock and Fetty Wap work together well. So well that they decided to team up for their collaborative 2016 mixtape Money Hoes And Flows, a prelude the release of PnB’s debut album. These dudes laced the whole tape with fire and “Run It Up” is for sure one of the project’s most combustible tracks.

“There She Go” Ft. YFN Lucci

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

Another frequent collaborator with PnB Rock is YFN Lucci and it’s probably because whenever they get together it’s a certifiable hit. The two artists compliment each other extremely well on this joint, which serves as another fun and bouncy addition to help round out the list.

“Hanging Up My Jersey” feat. Ty Dolla $ign

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

“Hanging Up My Jersey” doubles as a self-congratulations for all the girls PnB has bedded and a PSA that he is officially (temporarily) retiring from his philanderous ways in order to stay faithful to the woman with whom he has fallen in love. His warbling delivery is fraught with emotion. This might low-key be PnB’s best song.

Honorable Mention: “Horses” Ft. PnB Rock, Kodak Black & A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie

10 Essential PnB Rock Tracks

Even though this track is very new, we felt we had to give it the honorable mention because PnB Rock killed the hook, this Fast & Furious soundtrack is fire as ever and because when is there not a time when we should mention a track with PnB Rock, Kodak Black and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie on it.

Peep the track here and be on the lookout for the full soundtrack soon.