Top Ten English Language Hip Hop Songs of 2017

Even though I have commented favorably on hip hop of 2017 several times, I focused a bit too much on German hip hop, which had one of the, if not THE strongest year since its existence. I mean, you had tons of commercially successful subgenres to choose from, and both entertaining and deep lyrics in high quality, rapped over mind blowing and varied beats. But we all know where the genre originated from, so I decided to make this list centering around the hip hop of 2017 in the language it initially was performed in.

The Top Ten

1 Intro III - NF

This song is amazing

Is this the new Eminem, now that Eminem made an album that got panned more than "Encore" and "Relapse"? Probably not, as NF is too little known and Eminem not nearly as bad as the reviews make him out to be. But damn, this song is the work of a genius. Its premise is that NF's personified fear talks to him once again, saying that he needs him to continue with his art. Only his fear can drive him to maximum artistic ambition and quality. The schezophrenic tone, some deeply morbid humor and the beat that consists almost entirely of orchestral score-like elements, make this the year's most unsettling music moment, and one of its greatest hip hop songs. - Martin_Canine

2 Leave That Bitch Alone - Cardi B

Surprisingly, after the chart topping success of "Bodak Yellow" in the US, Cardi B's two mixtapes got no retrospective attention. Get them. Now.
On "Leave That B.tch Alone" Cardi shows a man that cheated on her that he just made the biggest mistake of his life. She demands her respect and loyalty, and doesn't shy away from using all her most hateful rage to archieve this. It's a payback to everyone who thinks they can fool a woman, let alone get away with it. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" they say. Especially if this woman happens to be Cardi B.

Also: the chorus is ' addictive.

(This song is on my post about my 30 favorite songs of the year that I recently uploaded on TTT. Check that post out if you like to.) - Martin_Canine

3 Never Give Up - Cardi B & Josh X

Again, check out Cardi's tapes. They may be short in length, but the content is pure gold.
"Never Give Up" is a lot poppier than her other output, but it's one of her deepest moments. There have been self empowerment anthems to the point it turned from anthemic to gimmicky. But somehow Cardi B manages to make a song about ignoring peer pressure and drug addiction sound authentic and heartfelt, even though it has a radio friendly earworm pop chorus. Lines that acknowledge that the "pills" do indeed make you feel great for the moment, but that they in the end do more harm than good just sounds realer than your average educational advice. We get the impression Cardi speaks from experience and knows what to say in such situations. - Martin_Canine

4 Bodak Yellow - Cardi B

While "Leave That B.tch Alone" and "Never Give Up" showed that Cardi B can talk about something meaningful, even can tell a story, and succeed in lyrical quality, her breakthrough song is much less conscious and more of a brag rap song. But damn, is this well delivered. Her flow is like a stream of water that never seems to stop, her dominant charisma shows every male rapper of the year who's in charge, and her lines, while evolving around the usual suspects, arr far from cliché in their wordings. Simply put: it's really fun to listen to, and I wish Cardi B would have had success over here as well. - Martin_Canine

5 Humble - Kendrick Lamar

On my post about my Top 30 Songs of the Year, the 30th spot was a close race between "Humble" and ApeCrime's "Zombie". Both are hip hop songs, and each has one of my favorite beats of the year, and both are among my most listened 2017 songs. I ultimately chose in favor of ApeCrime, as their song has much more meaning (although they are not as lyrically flawless as Kendrick), and admittedly because I think they are heavily underrated and overhated, even in Germany.
But nevertheless: "Humble" got me excited over Kendrick's new release. While I wasn't much of a fan of the overly weird and complicated beats of "To Pimp a Butterfly", on here he is back with more fun, straightforward beats yet still has as much quality and power. The song of course is a brag rap song, but in such inventive and unusual ways that it feels like conscious hip hop. And oh, this catchy beat. - Martin_Canine

6 Untouchable - Eminem

Yes, this is where Eminem feels comfortable with. While most critics felt that the album felt out dated, my problem were the trappy, more modern songs on it. It just feels clumsy hearing Eminem rap over something that far away from his flow. On the other hand, such beats as on "Untouchable", which use hard oldschool drums and rock guitars, just give him the right material to back him up. And do he can fully unleash his lyrical thunderstorm on us: a harsh and cynical criticism aimed at racism in the US police. No one other than Eminem could make a hip hop song that gains so much power from such dark humor/satire. Does it sound like a 2017 song? Nope. Does it sound like a good song? Hell it does. - Martin_Canine

7 Deadz - Migos & 2 Chainz

"Deadz" (and the entire "Culture" album by the way) is a perfect symbiosis between flow and beat. Really, the production is triumphant, royal and proud, and Migos and 2 Chainz use a top notch vocal delivery to highlight it. Their lyrics aren't the greatest of all and their chorus could be more varied, but it fits the mood and has nothing to criticize harshly. This is a song that's all about the music, not the content, and as such, it fully delivers.

NOTE: "Bad and Boujee" is the best track off the album and would rank much higher on this list if it qualified, but in fact it is from 2016. The album was from 2017, but not the single. Despite it ranking high on Rolling Stone's best list. - Martin_Canine

8 The Story of O.J. - Jay-Z

Okay, first things first: this is a deeply American song. Its topic is so heavily rooted in the history and society of the USA that for someone on another continent some of the issues are complete news. While our "biggest minority" are the Muslim migrants and in some hip hop songs their problems can be seen as an equivalent to the African American culture (e.g. living in cheap violent prone quarters where you have to adapt a criminal lifestyle), their history and standing in society can't be compared in the slightest. Especially when it dates back to previous centuries. The differences between house and field in this context are unknown to most Europeans, I'd say. After the song, much was way clearer for me to understand and I was able to connect sone dots between modern society (as seen in news, movies or music), and historical backgrounds. I felt like I heard a great revelation. And this comes from someone who previously thought of Jay-Z as overrated. - Martin_Canine

9 Framed - Eminem

Yes, finally some good, old fashioned, twisted, fun, insane, deranged, disturbingly cheerful, gory, nostalgic, no holds barred horrorcore. Meesa happy. - Martin_Canine

10 Dna. - Kendrick Lamar

The Contenders

11 Rolex - Ayo & Teo

Yes, I know what you think now. But their #swag got through to me. This is fun. Nothing deep, nothing clever, nothing new, but... it's catchy, the flow is very good and the beat stands out. That's all I ask for. The two are energetic and charismatic, they sell this entire internet rapper image well.

But... their visual style feels ripped off from DatAdam. More specifically, their member Ardy. Although I doubt they even heard of a German cyber hip hop trio, but who knows, maybe they discovered the "Hydra 3D" music video on YouTube - Martin_Canine

12 What the Price - Migos
13 XXX - Kendrick Lamar
14 Get Right Witcha - Migos
15 River - Eminem
16 I Like It - Cardi B
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