Top 10 Hottest Freestyles Of 2021 (2023)

Bars are one of the pillars of the global sensation that we fondly refer to as Hip-Hop, and despite the melodic and genre-fluid influence that has taken hip-hop to new heights over the years, bars still matter in 2021. Fans know it, critics know it, and the artists do too. Bars are the reason why freestyles from rising artists are able to rack up hundreds of thousands of views and why veteran artists keep returning to the freestyle format even though they don’t necessarily need the promotion. They’re also the reason why we’ve decided to highlight some of the hardestlyrics of 2021.

However, rather than revisiting every album, single, and remix that was released throughout the year, we decided to round up the hottest freestyles of the year instead. While that does eliminate a vast number of artists from being considered, the decision allows all of us to look back at artists whose releases may have been shrouded by some of 2021’s blockbuster albums, and it also gives us the opportunity to take a moment and appreciate the art of freestyling as a whole.

To ensure that the screening process didn’t go on for too long, it was necessary for there to be some criteria when figuring out which freestyles would be considered for this year-end ranking. While artists like Meek Mill and Deante’ Hitchcock uploaded several mind-blowing freestyles to their YouTube channels throughout the course of the year, it was decided that only radio or rap show freestyles would be considered, thus leveling the playing field and not allowing flashy visuals to detract from the bars. The only other stipulation is that the freestyle had to be an entirely solo endeavor, so both group freestyles and the casual, yet entertaining freestyles on Adin Ross’ channel were also ruled out.

Without further ado, here are the hottest freestyles of 2021.

Honorable Mentions

Westside Boogie | Bars On I-95

Mozzy | The Cave

Deante’ Hithcock | Bars On I-95

EST Gee | Funk Flex

Common | LA Leakers

10. Kenny Mason | The Cave

Featured Instrumental: Original beat by Kenny Beats

Although it is bound to be one of the most debated picks on this list, Kenny Mason’s The Cave freestyle was able to crack into the top 10 due to its originality. To be clear, the rising Atlanta rapper does drop plenty of bars and clever one-liners throughout his freestyle, but it’s Kenny Mason’s ability to obliterate Kenny Beats’ brash, guitar-heavy production that makes the freestyle exceptional.

Quotable Lyrics

I think my shooter done lost his noodle
He talk to Rugers but not to Buddha
He ’boutta bruise your entire crew up
After tyin’ you up, .44 firin’ you up
They gon’ find you up underground sewers
I’m a hound, chewin’ up the town through ’em

09. Fivio Foreign | Funk Flex

Featured Instrumental: Original beat by Dj Juanyto

Many radio freestyles sound a little too rehearsed these days, but Fivio Foreign’s Funk Flex freestyle sounds like the Brooklyn Drill rapper was really coming up with lyrics on the spot. Sure, every line didn’t yield an insane metaphor or a top-tier bar, but there were a lot of gems sprinkled throughout the two-and-a-half-minute freestyle, from the comical first line detailing his April arrest to the charismatic “I smell fear” bar in which he audibly sniffs into the microphone. The energy, flow, and confidence is all there, and in a way, Fivio’s Funk Flex freestyle is somewhat of a spiritual successor to his revered “Off The Grid” feature.

Quotable Lyrics

Look, I was thinking, and I was reflecting
Now I got a question for the reverend
If you kill a killer do you go to heaven?
If it’s for your safety can you own a weapon?
Got my body right, it was my only blessing

08. Papoose | Bars on I-95

Featured Instrumental: Jay-Z — ”This Can’t Be Life”

When artists are as skilled in the art of freestyling as Papoose is, it’s hard to not hold each of their unwrittens under a microscope, and as a result, the veteran rapper’s recent Bars on 1-95 entry doesn’t immediately feel as mind-blowing as some of his best freestyles from years past. That being said, his Bars On I-95 performance was still exceptional, as it was packed with tongue-twisting lines, cultural commentary, and clever punchlines. At one point, Pap even takes a moment to address his reputation as one of Hip-Hop’s most consistent lyricists by referencing his voracious run over the past 11 months, in which he has dropped an EP every single month this year.

Quotable Lyrics

The Rudolph Giuliani survivor of zero tolerance
Thirsty vampires and blood-sucking phlebotomists
Volatile rebels AK bullets inside the clip
We warring like Israel and Palestine on the Gaza Strip
The 1-800 Crime Stopper Snitches Anonymous
They used to snitch in confidence, now they snitching with confidence

07. Latto | L.A. Leakers

Featured Instrumental:Yung LA — “Ain’t I”

Although it’s frustratingly brief, Latto’s L.A. Leakers freestyle went crazy from start to finish. As a nod to her roots in Atlanta, the self-proclaimed Queen of Da Souf hops on the instrumental to Young LA’s classic 2008 single “Aint I,” and throughout the entire one minute and 15-second freestyle, she doesn’t waste a single bar, rattling off slick metaphors and double entendres with ease. The only downside of Latto’s L.A. Leakers debut is that her freestyle is criminally short.

Quotable Lyrics

Strapped like some Girbaud jeans
Whats tea cuz we could blow steam
Out of goodwill, I let bitches have my old things, my old flings
Look, fuck who ain’t feeling me
I’m in my prime, Amazon can’t fuck with my delivery, on God

06. J. Cole | L.A. Leakers

Featured Instrumentals:Souls Of Mischief: “93 ‘Til Infinity” & Mike Jones: “Still Tippin”

With 14 million views and counting, J. Cole’s L.A. Leakers freestyle is easily one the most-viewed radio freestyles of 2021. Set to the tune of two classic Hip-Hop beats, J. Cole’s performance for the L.A. Leakers captures the same hunger that he recently embraced on his sixth studio album, The Off-Season, and thus, his first radio freestyle in nearly a decade is a solid effort. From risky bars about slavery and Bill Cosby to warm sentiments about his Dreamville artist Bas, Cole says a lot in his L.A. Leakers freestyle, so do yourself a favor and get the Genius lyrics transcription ready.

Quotable Lyrics

My closet like Dover Street, used to be bummin’
Some days, I’m still bummin’, the difference is now, it’s by choice
Got dressed and peeped out the window, these lil’ niggas different
They don’t play Nintendo, they play with extendos
I hope you can limbo
That chopper gon’ spin you around like a judge on The Voice

05. Benny The Butcher | Bars on I-95

Featured Instrumental: Original beat by Jansport J

The first line of a freestyle can be the perfect indicator of how good or bad things might get moving forward, and Benny The Butcher made a statement by starting his second Bars On I-95 freestyle with a The Joe Budden Podcast-related spin on the often recycled Jay-Z line, “First the Fat Boys break up, now every day I wake up/Somebody got a problem with Hov.” Coupled with the fact that he sounds perfect over the dark and swelling Jansport J production, it’s easy to buy into Benny’s freestyle, and once again, he proves why he and the rest of Griselda shouldn’t be overlooked.

Quotable Lyrics

Niggas say they nice, but don’t shake shit up like the Butch
Got a movie deal, chill, but my real life like a book
Loose steel knife with a jux, so don’t be that life that I took
And next time you sneak diss me, just pay me, I’ll write the hook, nigga

04. Vince Staples | L.A. Leakers

Featured Instrumental: Dr. Dre: “Xxplosive”

Like his recent self-titled album Vince Staples, the Long Beach rapper’s LA Leakers freestyle feels far more low-key and casual than it is. Although his reserved demeanor may not immediately catch your attention, Vince discreetly drops gem after gem while freestyling over Dr. Dre’s “Xxplosive.” Humor, tragedy, and deep introspection are all interwoven throughout his three-minute freestyle, making for some seriously creative bars and emotionally arresting moments. Some of the hardest lines from the freestyle will almost certainly go over your head when listening to it for the first time, somake sure you run it back again and again until you catch all of the nuanced lines that Vince Staples sprinkles throughout his 2021 L.A. Leakers freestyle.

Quotable Lyrics

How you coming?
Who put you on? Is you just claiming or you from it?
These niggas out here blowing brains, y’all blowing budgets
Rappers make me sick to my stomach
We glorify who died and demonize the niggas who done it
I thought we was thugging, niggas killed Jabari for nothing
I thought we was thugging, niggas killed Jabari for nothing
I thought we was thugging, niggas killed Jabari for nothing
Come on
I thought we was thugging, niggas killed Jabari for nothing
Think I’m finna mourn a nigga over bars then you bugging

03. Vic Mensa | L.A. Leakers

Featured Instrumental:Nas — “Nas Is Like”

While some artists featured in this list have shined due to their creative approaches or wildly infectious energy, Vic Mensa stood out this year by delivering a sprawling, yet hard-hitting freestyle over Nas’ 1999 I Am… single “Nas Is Like.” For 10 minutes straight, the Chicago-bred artist unleashes a neverending barrage of bars over the looped instrumental, and while viewers may feel a little fatigued from watching the entire freestyle all the way through, that’s only expected given how long Vic raps without taking a break. It’s hard to sustain such a high level of energy for ten minutes, but the ease in which Vic Mensa keeps his freestyle going is part of what makes his latest L.A. Leakers appearance so awe-inspiring. And while radio hosts are known to gas up their guests regardless of the quality of their performance, Justin Credible was completely justified in saying, “Anyone who asks me my top five L.A. Leakers freestyles— if I don’t say Vic Mensa, you slap the shit out of me right there.”

Quotable Lyrics

Section 8 housing, now we got 8 bottles of Ace in our section
You do the math, all off of sixteens on these records
23 I saw my first M, like when you first heard Slim
Since him back like Mike with the .45
If you could add, that’s no surprise, I keep it a hundred

02. Big Sean | L.A. Leakers

Featured Instrumentals: Memphis Bleek — ”Dear Summer,” Drake — “Love All,” Kanye West — “Hurricane,” & Nardo Wick — “Who Want Smoke?”

It’s not often that Big Sean gets the praise that he deserves as a lyricist. In fact, it was just earlier this year that fans attempted to clown the rapper’s skills after some of his old lyrics from songs like “I Do It” started trending on Twitter. Perhaps it was those negative comments that put a battery in Sean Don’s back because when he showed up for his LA Leakers freestyle in October, he definitely showed out. The otherworldly power of his pen was on full display as he skated over four back-to-back beats. Both his scrapped “Hurricane” verse and his freestyles over Memphis Bleek’s “Dear Summer” and Drake’s “Love All” were packed with bars that were both incredibly thoughtful and extremely quotable, and his lyrically dense rampage over Nardo Wick’s “Who Want Smoke?” was nothing to scoff at either. Overflowing with bars, Big Sean’s 2021 LA Leakers appearance hit on all cylinders. There’s plenty of variety in the nearly 12-minute video, and unlike most long freestyles, Big Sean delivers a high-quality performance from start to finish. Once again, the underdog of the blog era proved why he deserves to have his name mentioned alongside Drake, J. Cole, and Kendrick as one of the best rappers of their generation.

Quotable Lyrics

Black card, black mask, black pride
My whole life is monochromatic
I don’t be wearing no skirts and dresses
But if it’s an issue, I drag it, hey
G-lock on me and that motherfucker came with attachments
Just like my last bitch, nowadays niggas is more into reading the caption
Than into reading the passage

01. Ray Vaughn | L.A. Leakers

Featured Instrumentals: Snoop Dogg — ”Lay Low” & Beanie Sigel — “Feel It In The Air”

The month after Vince Staples’ L.A. Leakers freestyle aired, another rapper from Long Beach hit up Power 106 to deliver a freestyle that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Ray Vaughn, TDE’s new signee, is raw, and he uses his L.A. Leakers appearance to prove it. There are a plethora of quotable bars that one could highlight from his two-part freestyle, but Ray Vaugn was ultimately able to snatch the top spot in this ranking because he brought energy unlike anyone else to the freestyle game this year. When tackling the classic Snoop Dogg instrumental, the Peer Pressure rapper is rabid in his delivery, to the point that you can see the saliva collecting at the corners of his mouth while he runs through his lyrics. When Justin Credible and DJ Sourmilk load up the second beat, Ray Vaughn keeps the adrenaline flowing when attacking Beanie Sigel’s smooth “Feel It In The Air” instrumental. You can hear the trauma in every line of Ray Vaughn’s freestyle, and you can see the hunger in his eyes as he acts out his lines in real-time. Ray Vaughn may have walked into his L.A. Leakers debut off the strength of a TDE co-sign, but he left a long-lasting impression with his ravenous performance.

Quotable Lyrics

I been outside and I ain’t seen you niggas in months
Problems like Anthony Tiffith, I gotta roll with the punch
Whoopee cushion, all these niggas out here fakin’ the funk
Swimmin’ in debt, well damn, that’s how you end up in trunks

Now that you’ve read our ranking of the top 10 hottest freestyles of 2021, what do you think? Is it on point? Is it wack? Are we missing anybody? Letus know your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to check outour other year-end lists here.

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