Top Hip Hop Songs of 2016

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A look at the top hip hop songs of 2016. Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and more.


There is no question that 2016 was a big year in hip hop. Some of the biggest names in the game dropped new albums, while some up-and-comers made a name for themselves with breakout hits. So what were the top hip hop songs of 2016? Here’s a look at some of the most popular tracks of the year.

“One Dance” by Drake ft. Wizkid & Kyla
Drake’s “One Dance” was one of the biggest hits of 2016, not just in hip hop, but across all genres. The track topped charts all over the world and spent an impressive 10 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Hotline Bling” by Drake
Another Drake track makes our list with “Hotline Bling.” The song was originally released as a single in 2015, but it gained even more popularity in 2016 thanks to its iconic music video and meme-worthy dance moves.

“Panda” by Desiigner
Desiigner’s debut single “Panda” was an instant hit upon its release in April 2016. The track quickly went viral, thanks in part to its catchy hook and strange music video. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance.

“Formation” by Beyoncé
Beyoncé’s surprise release “Formation” quickly became one of the most talked-about tracks of 2016. The song generated controversy for its pro-Black message and its accompanying music video, which featured footage of police brutality and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Despite the backlash, “Formation” was a critical and commercial success, peaking at #1 on iTunes within hours of its release and earning Beyoncé multiple Grammy nominations.

There’s no doubt that these songs were catchy, but there are a few other factors that made them so popular. For one, they all had great music videos that matched the vibes of the songs perfectly. They also came out at a time when hip hop was in the middle of a resurgence – old school fans were happy to see the genre returning to its roots, while new fans were being introduced to the style for the first time. And lastly, they simply captured the zeitgeist of 2016 – a year that was full of political turmoil, social media addiction, and a general sense of unease. But for three and a half minutes at a time, these songs allowed us to forget all about our problems and just enjoy some good old fashioned hip hop.

The Songs

1) “No Problem” – Chance the Rapper ft. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz

“Formation” by Beyoncé

“Formation” is a song recorded by American singer Beyoncé for her sixth studio album, Lemonade (2016). The song was composed by Beyoncé, Messy Mya, Anthony Khan, Khalif Brown, Ashaunna Ayars, and Ray Blk. “Formation” was produced by Beyoncé and Mike Will Made It. A trap song with elements of pop and hip hop, it features a thick bassline and is layered with synths and percussion. The lyrics reference hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), police brutality against African Americans, the southern United States, and black pride.

“Formation” debuted on February 6, 2016, exclusively on Tidal before it was released to other digital platforms the following day. It was the first single released from Lemonade after “Sorry”. Upon its release, “Formation” reached number one on Billboard’s Hot R&B Songs chart, making it Beyoncé’s twelfth song to top the chart. The music video for “Formation” was released on February 7 through Beyoncé’s Vevo channel. Directed by Melina Matsoukas and shot in New Orleans in late 2015 shortly before the production of Lemonade began, the visual pays homage to Southern Louisiana culture. It won two Grammy Awards for Best Music Video and Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 59th annual ceremony.

In 2016, “Formation” was ranked as one of the best songs of the year by publications such as Pitchfork Media and Rolling Stone.

“One Dance” by Drake

“One Dance” is a song recorded by Canadian rapper Drake for his fourth studio album, Views (2016). The song features guest appearances from Wizkid and Kyla. It was released to rhythmic contemporary radio on April 5, 2016 and to urban contemporary radio on May 10, 2016 as the lead single from the album. “One Dance” peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, giving Drake his sixth US number-one single and setting several other records. The song became Drake’s first number one in the UK and Canada as a lead artist. Internationally, “One Dance” topped the charts in 16 nations.

“Panda” by Desiigner

“Panda” is a song by American hip hop recording artist Desiigner. The song was produced by Menace and released as Desiigner’s commercial debut single on February 10, 2016, by GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings. The single peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.


It’s been quite a year for hip hop. We’ve seen the passing of some legends, the resurgence of some old favorites, and the rise of a new generation of talent. All in all, it’s been a pretty great year for the genre.

As we head into 2017, we wanted to take a look back at the best hip hop songs of 2016. These are the tracks that got us moving, that made us think, and that helped us escape the everyday grind. They’re the songs that will stay with us long after 2016 is over.

So without further ado, here are our picks for the top hip hop songs of 2016.

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