4 Rap Songs to Start 2021 Correctly

By Liam Wirsansky on January 1, 2021

Snow On Tha Bluff – J. Cole

A lyrical masterpiece of a song, J. Cole’s flow continues to shine through as one of his greatest strengths. This song takes the listener into a mystical meditative state to calmly and consciously consider the sociopolitical weight of the words and the story that Cole dynamically delivers with a rhythmic punch and soothing voice underscored with pain, but accentuated by optimism. The meat of the song lies in the core rap, but ends with a more hopeful yet omniscient style, with the voices serving as a guiding force for the better times ahead. Ideas of mortality and growth are present, as the listener is invited to take a walk with J. Cole and contemplate on the pain of their past, living in the present, and how to become the courage it takes to live through the future. The beautiful guitar strums, violins, and the overall spiritual ambiance makes this song stand out, as well as its lack of an attachment to one of Cole’s popular projects and albums.


Lifeboats (Freestyle) – Jorja Smith 

Jorja Smith’s incredible vocal range is on full display during this song, as she effortlessly weaves her soulful singing with increible ease and poignant transitions into her rapping. The song, blends together so seamlessly with the use of easy-to-understand lyrics behind creative rhetorical metaphors. The song certainly has some spunk and kick, as Jorja challenges the listeners to apply a more dialectical class analysis on the human nature of inequality, reflecting on the collective attitude of individualism with a drive behind her voice that hits home and remains interesting to hear the entire song. In societies privileged enough to flourish, often times the needy are neglected. Even when the power for all to sustain and survive exists, instead of assisting, the rich and those in positions of authority stay in their “lifeboats” and watch the others swim through life in the raging waters destined to drown. Through her divine and unique voice, Jorja points out that there is always more room on the lifeboats.

Duval – Simpo

An up-and-coming artist in the local sphere of Jacksonville, Florida, Simpo may not be the most popular artist on Spotify by statistical standards, but his work deserves some major attention and credit. Earlier in 2020, Simpo collaborated on a project with several other diverse artists in the area about their hometown of Jacksonville, ultimately creating and releasing the album ‘Duval’. One of my favorite songs from the album just also happens to have the same name as the album. “Duval” is an exciting song whose rumba style and trumpets will make your body bounce from the get go, with the song  encapsulating the range of talent not only Simpo displays in rapping, but his adaptive quality to work around several other artists’ talents and sounds. The layers of this song make it incredibly dynamic, from the multiple verse features, which hit hard with their rhythm and lyrical flow, to the meaning behind the local connection to Jacksonville in its lyrics and form. The ‘Duval’ album is certainly worth a listen, with other fantastic songs, like “Everything”, as well as its cultural significance for the city it was written about. Simpo is an excellent below the radar artist to follow for some brilliant music and rapping, different from the typical mainstream sound.

Sincerely – J’von

J’von showcases his eccentric and lightly raspy voice with a flow as smooth as a river within a lo fi downtempo mix that takes the listener through an entire journey, never losing a shred of electricity or the listener’s attention. J’Von’s rhythmic flow affords him plenty of space to use the song as a medium to let his mind wander in a very free and unrestricted manner. Questioning the subtleties within his own life and personal experiences that he is going through, J’von examines the difficulties and nuances in producing music with a daughter, answering questions with even more questions. His stream-of-consciousness style is incredibly unique and allows the listener to join him in the musical zone that he has created, having just as much fun listening as he has performing. His performance is no gimmick either, and has an honest quality that transcends the performative aspect that borders on theatrical in many mainstream and popular rappers are mimicking recently. J’von truly breaks off from the conventional and establishes his own sound in songs like “Sincerely”.



(Bonus) The Spiteful Chant – Kendrick Lamar

Perhaps the most popular rapper on this list and on the whole world, Kendrick has proven time and time again that his talents and sound deserve the respect and recognition of those in the industry. After winning the Pulitzer Prize for his album DAMN., Kendrick has continued diversifying his game, collaborating with several artists to produce and curate the album ‘Black Panther’ in conjunction with the popular Marvel movie release of Black Panther shortly after. With no news of a release anytime soon, enjoying the musical and lyrical brilliance of his work is always a good option. One of his earlier albums that may not get enough attention is ‘Section.80’, which remains to be an incredible exploration of Kendrick’s mind and experiences growing up in the 80’s through a conceptual investigation of the lives of Tammy and Keisha. The album remains another one of Kendrick’s masterpieces, however a song that you may not have heard before is “The Spiteful Chant”, as it has been left off of Apple Music and Spotify’s music library. One of the most striking songs in the album, Kendrick displays a tenacity and vigor in his lyrical approach that is accentuated beautifully by his friend and Black Hippy member Schoolboy Q’s feature. The song is one you will want to blast at full volume with the windows down driving down the highway.

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