December 30, 2021

HOT 97’s Top 21 Songs of 2021

HOT 97’s Top 21 Songs of 2021

In 2021 hip-hop continued to reign supreme over other genres, since 2017 rap and R&B have dominated both streams and popular music. More than a dozen songs traded places at the top of the Billboard hip-hop charts, and ten of which were the number one song in the entire country. 

“Industry Baby” by Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow dominated the Billboard charts holding the number one spot on the hip-hop charts for sixteen different weeks, including a run of eleven straight weeks.

However the Hot 97 Song of the Year rankings are not solely decided by Billboard charts or streams!

How Did We Decide Our Song of the Year?

Members of the Hot 97 editorial staff were asked to rank their top 30 songs of 2021, those songs were given a point value based on their rankings. Each writers favorite song was rewarded 30 points, their second favorite song rewarded 29 then that continues all the way down to their 30th favorite song being rewarded 1 point. The maximum number of points a song could have gotten was 180, the winning song received 139 points. 

Only songs that were released in 2021 were eligible to be the 2021 Song of the Year. However we’d like to recognize the songs that blew up in 2021, but came out in 2020 like: “Chosen” by Blxst, “Back In Blood” by Pooh Shiesty, “What’s Poppin’ (Remix)” by Jack Harlow, Lil Wayne, Tory Lanez, and DaBaby as well as “Essence” by Wizkid and Tems. 

Here are our Top 21 Songs of 2021:

  1. Gyalis by Capella Grey (139 Points)
  2. Way 2 Sexy by Drake, Future, and Young Thug (122 points)
  3. Lemon Pepper Freestyle by Drake and Rick Ross (121 points)
  4. Wokesha by Moneybagg Yo (107 points)
  5. Trackstar by Mooski (106 points)
  6. Leave The Door Open by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic (104 points)
  7. Seeing Green by Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Lil Wayne (87 points)
  8. RAPSTAR by Polo G (86 points)
  9. Peaches (feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon) by Justin Bieber (83 points)
  10. MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) by Lil Nas X (82 points)
  11. Family Ties by Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar (81 points)
  12. Kiss Me More (feat. SZA) by Doja Cat (80 points)
  13. Wild Side by Normani and Cardi B (80 points)
  14. Quicksand by Morray (79 points)
  15. Thot Shit by Meg Thee Stallion (73 points) 
  16. m y l i f e by J. Cole, Morray, and 21 Savage (68 points)
  17. Poke It Out by Wale and J. Cole (67 points)
  18. Straightenin’ by MIGOS (61 points)
  19. WUSYANAME by Tyler, the Creator, Youngboy Never Broke Again, and Ty Dolla Sign (58 points)
  20. Up by Cardi B (55 points)
  21. INDUSTRY BABY by Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow (52 points)


“Gyalis” by Capella Grey may shock West Coast and international readers however, this was undeniably the biggest song in New York City in 2021. This is New York native Capella Grey’s breakout song – which samples Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up.” Gyalis and the Gylais Remix with Chris Brown and Popcaan were in heavy rotation on Hot 97 and Capella Grey performed twice at the 2021 Summer Jam.

Gyalis was one of four songs to be voted as “Song of the Year” by our staff. Alongside Gyalis – Poke It Out by Wale and J. Cole, Lemon Pepper Freestyle by Drake, and Leave the Door Open by Silk Sonic all received 30 points from at least one writer.

“Lemon Pepper Freestyle” made waves this year in an extremely rare way, more than a dozen high level rappers felt the need to drop Lemon Pepper Freestyles of their own. Meek Mill, Toosii, Yung Bleu, Lil Yachty and King Los were just a few names to drop Lemon Pepper Freestyles of their own on the infectious beat.

There is a great balance on this list of new artists and household names. Our song of the year is by breakout artist Capella Grey, then the next two are mega-hits by Drake. Artists like Mooski, Baby Keem, and Mooray made names for themselves with massive viral success that was successfully converted into fandom. Whereas Doja Cat became one of the biggest stars on Earth.

Many considered Fivio Foreign’s vers on Off the Grid to be the “verse of the year,” however that song received 0 votes from our staff. The highest ranked song off of Donda was Tell The Vision featuring Pop Smoke and Pusha T, which only received 26 points. 

Honorable Mention

This year there were international hits by Latin artists that captured mainstream American audiences. Yonaguni by Bad Bunny landed at #26 on our song of the year chart, and both Pepas by Farruko and La Mama de la Mama by El Alfa received votes. 

Similarly – artists caught viral fire and made there way onto radio stations across the country. Coi Leray became a household name between TWINNEM and BIG PURR, Bia struck gold with WHOLE LOTTA MONEY, and Chloe Bailey asked us to Have Mercy. 

The songs that did not crack the top 21 but landed in the top 30 were:

22. “BIG PURR” by Coi Leray and Pooh Shiesty (48 points)
23. “Have Mercy” by Chloe Bailey (45 points)
24. “WHOLE LOTTA MONEY” by BIA (42 points)
25. “Time Today” by Moneybagg Yo (40 points)
26. “Yonaguni” by Bad Bunny (38 points)
27. “TWINNEM” by Coi Leray (37 points)
27. “Girls Want Girls” by Drake and Lil Baby (37 points)
27. “Who Want Smoke” by Nardo Wick, G Herbo, Lil Durk, and 21 Savage (37 points)
30. “No Love” by Summer Walker and SZA (34 points)
30. “Range Brothers” by Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar (34 points)

What do you think of the list? Let us know on social media!