Hip-hop, like the streets, never sleeps. As the calendar flipped to October 2023, the game felt the pulse of innovation beating harder than ever. This month’s tracks are evidence that the genre’s heart is kicking strong, drawing lifeblood from its rich history and hitting hard into the future. The scene’s heavy hitters and rising stars alike have been dropping tracks that resonate with the soul of hip-hop, making heads nod while keeping the culture’s spirit alive and more rebellious than ever.

This month is where the OGs and the new kids on the block both showed out. Denzel Curry, with his lightning-fast bars, brought heat alongside PlayThatBoiZay and Chief Pound in “Woo.” On the other end, the sultry beats and provocativeness of Rubi Rose’s “Hood B***h Aesthetic” make it clear that this isn’t the same game as the old school 80’s and 90’s. And with beats as smooth as those in Mike’s collab with Liv.e and Venna on “U Think Maybe?” you know there’s depth to this month’s drops. It ain’t just about flexing and dripping; it’s about feeling and grooving.

So let’s get into it. From BigXthaPlug’s nostalgic “mm” and Denzel Curry’s charged-up “Woo” to Wale’s DC-repping “Max Julien,” here are the top 25 best new hip-hop songs that made the cut in October 2023. Get your headphones, this list is straight fire!

25. Mmhmm – BigXthaPlug

Remember that Will Smith banger “Miami”? If not, you’ll instantly recognize it when you play this song, as BigXthaPlug uses that melody as the backdrop to his rhyme. That’ll get you instantly bopping along thinking yeah… I remember this… oh hang on, these lyrics hit different.

24. Woo – Denzel Curry feat. PlayThatBoiZay and Chief Pound

Denzel drops some damn fast rhymes straight off the bat which grabs your attention, with Pound and PlayThatBoiz balancing the track out through the chorus. It blends in that typical set of themes with PlayThatBoiZay pushing the message that his wealth and money gets him all them b*&ches.

23. Hood B***h Aesthetic – Rubi Rose

A sexy as hell music video, ya’ll get distracted no doubt. The melody and mild vocals draw you in, inevitably wanting more. Rubi spends her time telling ya’ll that she ain’t interested in no scrubs, they beneath her yo. Give her trouble and she’ll show you her glock that openly carries in her big ass purse.

22. U Think Maybe? – Mike feat. Liv.e and Venna

Mike expresses that old soul, the vibe here is soulful jazz that brings in those introspective rhymes. This record marks a moment in his career where he reaches outside of the typical circles for collabs and signifies moving away from the underground hip-hop circles in New York. A good tune no doubt, ya’ll have to buy into the message to put it on repeat.

21. Must Be Me – Gucci Mane

20. Too Much – The Kid Laroi, Jung Kook, Central Cee

A typical vocalist and rap mash up, certainly much closer to pop than hip-hop and a long way from a rap song. You’ll have to wait until 90 seconds into the song for just over 30 seconds of them rhymes.

19. Presha – 2 Chainz feat. Lil Wayne

Ya’ll hear Lil Wayne in the first 5 seconds and that’s about it! 2 Chainz enters with verses that touch on various aspects of life under pressure. He mentions the pressure to succeed and the need for perseverance, referencing financial success with lines like “You know I been trappin’ since the dial-up” and “the money pile up.” The typical mix of sex, drugs and money, but adds to the themes with pressure, pushing outside the norms. And how does he deal with that pressure? Shrooms of course!

18. Static – City Girls feat. Lil Durk

Lil Durk elevates this, with JT expressing that they’re ready to confront anyone who challenges them or disrespects them, inviting people to send their location and they’ll drop ’em. The convey of violence from a woman makes this one stand out, ya’ll want to listen to it a couple times to absorb it and the backdrop carries it well.

17. Special Bullets – Danny TOwers feat. Robb Bank$

The melody gives you those 90’s vibes, it might trigger some Biggy memories in the way it sounds. Yet, unlike many collabs nowadays, this ain’t a vocalist combo looking for some pop hip-hop crossover. It’s your classic rhyme that’ll leave you tapping your feet thinking yeah, this is aiiight.

16. Different Breed – Mike Will Makde-It feat. Swae Lee and Latto

Another sythentic auto-tuned rap, compensating for something. This track isn’t a standout, just another amongst the noise. Not highly rated and unlikely to make it into your repeat list.

15. Lyricial Eazy – Rick Ross & Meek Mill

Smacks you in the face straight up, entering with murder and sex, it pulls you in immediately. This one deserves to be heard a few times over. It’ll take you on a trip that hits hard, moves into cash and luxury, then pulling you into drugs and alcohol that inevitably leads to reflection on their upgrining and life that once was.

14. I Should’ve Known – Lil Tjay feat. Kyle Richh

A playful track but the synthetic auto-tune of the rhymes isn’t to everyones taste. It comes across as a track that’s intended to be heart hitting and all about smoking that dope whilst being filled with self promotion and ego. It’s a hit and miss for me.

13. Call Me Revenge – 21 Savage feat. D4vd

You know it’s going to be a vocalist and rapping combination with 21 Savage and D4vd, and the beat behind it makes for a decent track. 21 Savage speaks of the importance of unity and loyalty, holding the squad together and having each other’s backs. Introducing that hard hitting theme of gun violence and being vengeful, with references to carrying a gun and being ready to defend themselves at any moment.

12. From A Man – Young Thug

The sythesized auto-tune is a distraction, but if you’re a Yung Thug fan you would be used to it. It reminds you of the early 2000’s Kanye with that robotic sound. It’s obvious that this track is seeking a blend of hip-hop goes pop, featuring more vocals than rhymes. It’s not bad, but misses the mark.

11. Blowfly – Jay Rock feat. Ab-Soul

Underpinned by a soulful and vintage sounding beat, this track is clearly attached to it’s roots in rap. The variety is lacking though, it’s a typical rhyme about smoking weed and banging dem hoes, but that’s why we love it right?

10. Grizzley 2Rymes – Tee Grizzley feat. Finesse2tymes

A modern pop beat underpins the rhymes, yet this is one of the more lyrically creative sets from Gizzley. Expressing a combination of gratitude, determination and a sense of street wise resilience, that acknowledges the challenges they’ve faced and emphasize their committment to pushing forward for personal growth.

9. God Slippers – Kevin Gates

This track sees Kevin Gates playing with a pop beat, some synthesized auto-tuned lines, yet the combination works. Yet another song released this month that has Michael Jackson references – can’t be sure why! It has all those typical flavors of drugs and fame mixed in with faith.

8. 100 High Street – Earl Sweatshirt and The Alchemist

Another heritage beat that sounds like a vinyl, throwing back to the 70’s and 80’s of rap. The lyrics reflect on being focussed and determined, dedicating themselves to their craft, and pushing through even when adversity rears its ugly head. There’s also an intruiging outro that doesn’t obviously reference the rest of the lyrics, speaking of acknowledging the royal ancestors (mhondoro) as the protectors of the land and bringers of rain.

7. Why Would I? – Fivio Foreign

Once the beat drops, this hard hitting track instantly gets your attention and sucks you in, leaving you wanting more. This ain’t no pop record, it pays hommage to rap and is a damn fine track.

6. Pit Stop – Lola Brooke feat. French Montana

Lola Brooke lands her rhymes, countered by French Montana, a hard hitting track with classic combination of lines about sex, fame and money. The memorable lines in the go a bit like this… “she got her ass done, so that she can #$%& good, she got her lips done, so she can suck good”.

5. Uptown Bound – Wiz Khalifa

The lyricism lacks creativity, it’s all underpinned on a single line “There’s no smoking in my Ferrari sorry”, the typical blend of rhyming about smoking dope and driving exotic cars, with that audacity of telling the world to be envious.

Put that aside though, and you will find yourself tapping along as the rhyme and beat tends to come together well and makes it memorable.

4. Ave Maria – Zacari and Ty Dolla $ign

The usual vocalist and rapper collaboration, with some hard hitting rhymes in the middle. This formula might do well in the pop circles, but it needs more to standout from the crowd.

3. Murder and Millions – Key Glock

The beat brings this ahead of the noise and makes it a standout, it has a vibe that just gets you rolling along with it. The lyricism isn’t amazing, it’s essentially just the same line repeated for the whole duration of the track with a verse in the middle. This is countered by making it a short 2 min 20 second track, which helps avoid it feeling repetitive. Prepare yourself to hear “Murder, Millions, Finesse, Love” about fifty times.

2. First Person Shooter – Drake feat. J. Cole

J. Cole drops for a good half of this track with Drake carrying the intro and bringing it all together, where J.Cole looks back on continued success and argues that he, Drake and Kendrick are the big three in rap music right now. There’s several curious references to listen out for, including The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Muhammed Ali.

1. Max Julien – Wale

The latest drop from the most notable of the DC Rappers around, Wale. The classic style, filled with rhymes and telling how it is. There’s no singing vocalists in this one, just a pure rap beats and rhymes.

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