Top 17 Songs of 2017: Rap, Hip-Hop, and R&B

posted in: 2017, Music, Top Music | 0

All year I’ve been building a playlist of my favorite songs; or songs that, at least, I found catchy at one point. Now that it’s the end of the year, I want to take a look at my favorite 17 songs (by genre) of the year.

Today is rap/hip-hop/R&B day! I know these are technically separate genres, but they all kind of blend together in my mind. Plus, I didn’t listen to enough variety to fill out a full top 17 list for each genre. There’d be a lot of Kehlani, Lil Uzi Vert, and DJ Khaled in that case. So, I combined the best of all three for you to enjoy!

  • Rolex – Ayo & Teo
    • I figured this song would start more of a dance craze than it did, but this is a good thing. After all, gimmicky songs like “Do the John Wall” and “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” only lasted for a hot minute before dropping off the radar. Ayo & Teo’s mid-2017 hit is filled with slang that I have no knowledge of, but that didn’t stop me from jamming out to it in the car during 103.3 AMP Radio’s 5 O’Clock Gridlock mix show.
  • No Fear – DeJ Loaf
    • If you’ve been following these blogs, you’ll know I gravitated towards stories and reminiscing in my favorite songs this year. This track has both. DeJ pines for someone who understands her completely, whether that be someone within the music industry or her high school sweetheart who’s in prison for life.
  • I’m the One (feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne) – DJ Khaled
    • This song features “everyone and their mother,” according to AMP Radio’s JD. And the guest list is large—Bieber, Quavo, and Chance alone would get top billing on their own feature. Put them all together, and I was sure this would be the song of the summer. But then Bieber went on “Despacito” and the rest is history. To me, though, this is the better song for Beliebers to jam to. Its variety of features, and inclusion of one of hip-hop’s elder statesmen in Lil Wayne, is just too good.
  • Walk On Water (feat. Beyonce) – Eminem
    • Another deeply introspective song, Marshall Mathers looks at his life, the expectations of fame, and how he’s nothing special in the grand scheme of things. An amazing wordsmith, a wonderful rapper, yes…but one who is immensely hard on himself. This is rap, yes, but it’s also spoken word, something that I had been wondering earlier in the year as to whether it could be commercially viable. Eminem answered that question not soon after.
  • Good Life – G-Eazy & Kehlani
    • I’d first discovered Kehlani through her song “CRZY” last year, so when I heard she was lending vocals to this Fate of the Furious tie-in with G-Eazy (another favorite) I was ready. Neither artist disappointed. Gerald’s distinct voice brags about his leadership and winning ways, and ‘Lani’s don’t give a care attitude fits in well. “No little league, we major,” she sings. And with this track, she finally gained the notoriety she deserves—leading to a single with Calvin Harris and opening act for Demi Lovato and DJ Khaled.
  • 4:44 – JAY-Z
    • The lead single for Jay’s latest album, this song is a candid look at his relationship with wife Beyonce and the struggles that he’s inflicted on their relationship. Rap rarely gets this introspective, and Shawn Carter delivers a wonderful (and heartbreaking) memoir over a riff from “Late Nights & Heartbreak.” Let’s hope we learn from his mistakes and not take the people we love for granted.
  • XO TOUR Llif3 – Lil Uzi Vert
    • “All my friends are dead,” sings Lil Uzi Vert. At first, you think he means his literal friends. And while he is honoring friends who have passed on, he’s also talking about money. “I am not afraid to die. Push me to the edge.” The song includes a nice mix of rapping and LUV’s “rockstar vocals,” a melodic mumble that brings to mind a less whiny Fetty Wap.
  • 1-800-273-8255 (feat. Alessia Cara and Khalid) – Logic
    • I want to get tired of this song. I wanted to leave it off this countdown for being too mainstream, too overplayed, too everything. But…the message is just positive to pass it over. Logic uses his platform to let listeners know there’s hope when all hope is lost, and even makes it easy for people suffering from depression to get help by using the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as the title of this song.
  • rockstar (feat. 21 Savage) – Post Malone
    • I’m not about that rock star life at all. But Post Malone put together an absolute banger with 21 Savage. Post’s uses his distinctive vibrato to lead you through a journey—drugs, girls, and general debauchery. “Probably leave my show in a cop car,” he brags. 21 Savage touts his cars—he needs more although he has six—and hundreds of dollars in the bank. (Although wouldn’t a rock star want more than hundreds?)
  • do re mi – blackbear
    • Not many R&B songs made this list, but this was an easy inclusion. Riffing off the Solfege scale throughout the track, blackbear tells his ex that he’s “so done….Send the X and O’s on another note.” The lyrics are clever, the beat is clever. A nice, cheeky, innovative joint.
  • Advice – Kehlani
    • “How is the man of my dreams/Not a man of his words?” Kehlani sings. Her voice tumbles throughout this song, a less intense version of Beyonce and less power, more soul. “I almost lost my mind/I left myself behind/I almost crashed and fell right from the sky.” Poignant words from a 22 year old. “It’s time to take my own advice.” What that is, specifically, is unclear. But the message is solid—listen to yourself.
  • Thank You – Kehlani
    • Kehlani’s voice is so smooth, I’d seriously consider listening to only her for the rest of my life. In this track she gives thanks to all those who have helped her throughout her life, especially her family. She effortlessly soars over an inspiring, piano-backed track that has quickly become a favorite.
  • Frozen – Sabrina Claudio
    • This should be a Christmas song. I might add it to my Christmas playlist even though it isn’t. But Sabrina’s sexy smooth delivery just makes me want to sit in the house that she mentions, drink some hot cocoa, and watch the snow fall with my lover. A simple ballad, a lovely vocalist, and striking lyrics. What more could you need?
  • Passionfruit – Drake
    • I can’t stand (with a capital s) the intro to this song, but the grooving beat is too strong for me to ignore. Many nights did I drive around the city in the spring with this song blaring out the speakers. I tweeted that it’s “great driving in the dark in the city music” back then, and I still agree now. Drake’s chill delivery is one of his best performances yet.
  • At My Best (feat. Hailee Steinfeld) – Machine Gun Kelly
    • MGK returned to top 40 airwaves after 2016’s smash “Bad Things” with this duet with Hailee Steinfeld. Speaking on behalf of anyone who feels like they don’t belong, Richard Baker raps “I wrote this letter to numb your pain/’Cause everyday I wake up, I’m feelin’ the same.” And Hailee adds an empowering chorus, telling those in her life “if you can’t take me at my worst/You don’t deserve me at my best.” Good messages all around here.
  • (feat. ZACARI.) – Kendrick Lamar
    • I had a hard time picking which K. Dot track I wanted on this list, but this one became clear the more I heard it on the radio. “If I minimized my net worth, would you still love me?” Kendrick asks his girl. And then to prove his love for her, he nicks a camera from the studio so they can make movies together. A nice little love song in a world where most relationships really aren’t relationships at all.
  • Selfish (feat. Rihanna) – Future
    • This duet is so low-key it’s easy to forget it happened. But it did, and the music world is better for it. Future and Rihanna’s harmonies haunt throughout the chorus as they debate whether or not to give in to the moment and allow themselves to be selfish for the night.

Listen to these songs here:

Leave a Reply