Counting down the year in Rap and R&B songs.
2017 was a year that saw rap singles topping the charts in a way they hadn’t in over a decade. In October, Post Malone and 21 Savage’s “rockstar” became the fifth rap song to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100, tying a record that had not been reached since 2006; the year of D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” and Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’.”
Even as the genre has become more melodic in recent years, songs like Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow,” Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.,” and Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” all hit the top spot without sung hooks, hopefully leaving behind the days of Charlie Puth features in the dust. These were far from the only hip-hop and R&B songs that felt inescapable over the last 12 months. Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llif3” transformed him from a teen SoundCloud idol to a superstar, giving one of the year’s darkest hooks a packaging so sugary, your mom couldn’t help but sing along. Future’s “Mask Off” again echoed the contrast of light and dark with a shout-along chorus and hypnotic flute line that made it one of the year’s most instantly recognizable -- and how could we forget, memeable -- musical phrases. Playboi Carti's "Magnolia" was a breakout moment for rapper and producer alike. SZA's "Love Galore" was a star-making R&B crossover we'll be talking about years down the line.
Rap singles have always been this popular and important, but this year, it felt like they got a little more recognition. This, of course, has a lot to do with the transition to legitimate streaming and the role of playlists in discovery; Rap Caviar still the most popular of them all. The charts and the playlists, while more accurate than they have been in years past, can't possibly represent everything, so we've assembled a list of 50 songs that showcase all that was great and transcendent in hip-hop and R&B in 2017. Scroll through to see what made the list. You can also peep our Spotify playlist with all of the songs you see below (minus Jay-Z's music, which is still locked away on Tidal), so you can take 2017's hottest tracks with you wherever you go.