Last Updated: January 29th
More than possibly any other genre, hip-hop lends itself to the playlist format so naturally, it’s almost like the two go hand-in-hand. The relationship is symbiotic.
With that in mind, these are just some of the best rap Spotify playlists right now, featuring not only the latest regional and digital hits before they enter rotation on pop radio, but also lessons in hip-hop history. The lists highlighted here represent the diversity of sounds, eras, and divergent sexuality of hip-hop’s most prominent acts, labels, and regions. Enjoy!
Cali Fire by Spotify
This is an eclectic list, featuring artists from up and down the California coastline. Its 50 songs cover an expansive list of possibilities, from partying hard to kicking back, but the thing each has in common is they all sound best while indulging in the sunshine of this playlist’s namesake state. It’s a bit more Bay-heavy than some of the other, similar lists I’ve delved into, so your mileage may vary, depending on how you feel about G-Eazy and E-40. This is also a great list for getting into those artists and more from the northern corner of California, which is often overlooked by the outside world, allowing it to evolve into its own flourishing, carefree ecosystem of hyphy bops and underground jams.
Gold School by Spotify
Look, I’m not going to lie. It hurts a little to see songs from my high school years lumped in with songs from a decade before all under the banner of “Old School,” but at the same time, this is probably your best bet for a formative, classic hip-hop education. A great many of the tracks here represent not only the backbone of hip-hop but its arms, legs, and head too. The Tupac tracks spun the socially-conscious, narrative thread that Kendrick Lamar eventually wove into his sonic tapestry, while joints from foundational Southern legends like T.I., Juvenile, and 8Ball & MJG created the 808 and snare roll trend that still forms the sonic framework of trap music to this day. And nobody would be rapping half as well as they do now without tongue-twisting lyricists like Naughty By Nature‘s Treach, Method Man, Redman, and Busta Rhymes.
Ill Lyricist by Spotify
As hip-hop continues to incorporate more and more melody in its modern hits, it’s easy to forget that there’s still plenty of bars-over-everything, wordy rap circulating out in the world. Well, here’s your reminder. Those fans who prefer rhyme-a-minute, battle-ready rap can escape from the realm of syrupy crooners to rugged faw, punchlines-first hip-hop with this playlist thanks to the inclusion of older traditionalists Black Star, Nas, and Pusha T alongside slick spitters of the modern era like Chance The Rapper, Joey Badass, and Wale.