20 great songs that mix hip hop & dance music not by Beyoncé or Drake
Thanks to great new singles from Beyoncé and Drake, it's become the summer of hip hop with house beats. Larger-than-life figures like those two have the power to dominate the conversation and steer the culture in whatever direction they want, so we won't be surprised if more songs like "Break My Soul" and "Sticky" start climbing up the charts this year. But until then, there's already a wealth of other songs in this style available now. Drake and Beyoncé's new songs, as great as they are, are really just the tip of an iceberg that's existed for decades. And if they're putting you in the mood to hear other similar bangers, we've put together a list of 20 that scratch the same itch.
As for what qualified for inclusion on this list, it was definitely a little complicated. Hip hop itself started out as a form of dance music in the 1970s, and there's a good argument to be made that most hip hop is dance music in one form or another. Rap songs have birthed tons of dance crazes over the years, and anyone who's ever listened to hip hop with a large group of people has experienced the dancing that inevitably ensues. Hip hop and dance music have borrowed so many ideas from each other over the years, and especially ever since EDM swept the American mainstream, there have been tons of collaborations between EDM producers and rappers and R&B singers. But as "Break My Soul" and "Sticky" do, we wanted to focus on songs that largely eschew traditional hip hop production and focus on genres like house, techno, garage, and other styles of electronic dance music that are rooted in underground club scenes. Even this particular crossover has a long history, dating back to the development of the hip-house genre in Chicago in the late 1980s. As Red Bull Music Academy's 2016 oral history on hip-house tells it, the genre is widely credited with being pioneered by Fast Eddie, and it eventually spread to New York, where the Jungle Brothers reworked a Todd Terry production for the pioneering hip-house classic "I'll House You," and it hit other US cities and London as well. Hit songs like Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's "It Takes Two," Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In the Heart," and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's "Good Vibrations" helped popularize the subgenre, and the fusion of hip hop and dance music continued to evolve over the years. Missy Elliott dedicated her 2002 house-infused cut "4 My People" to her "motherfuckin' club heads," and aughts-era UK grime pioneers like Dizzee Rascal and Wiley crafted influential discographies that pulled equally from hip hop and dance music.
But we didn't really want this list to turn into a history lesson on hip-house; we wanted to highlight artists from the past decade or so that are making music like this right now or have done so very recently -- a few songs on the list were just released this year. Some of the artists we chose veer more towards the club scene and others are more firmly rooted in rap and R&B, but the 20 songs on this list all meet in the middle and offer up thrilling fusions of both worlds. We probably could've come up with hundreds of songs that fit the bill in one way or another, and this is by no means a definitive top 20 or anything like that -- just a selection of songs we love that we wanted to draw some attention to now that Drake and Beyoncé have us dancing our way through the summer.
Let us know what songs you would've added, and read on for our list, in reverse chronological order...
Rico Nasty - One On 5 (2022)
Few rappers can evolve their sound as quickly and thoroughly as Rico Nasty, and she proves it on “One On 5” from her brand new album Las Ruinas. Her last album, 2020’s Nightmare Vacation, saw Rico experimenting with hyperpop sounds (and nailing it), but in “One On 5” she’s quieter, cooler in her flow. With the right push, this Jason Evigan- and Pat Morrissey-produced house-pop track has just as much summer anthem potential as "Sticky" or "Break My Soul."
CupcakKe - H2hoe (2022)
Just this May, lauded Chicago raptress CupcakKe released single “H2hoe,” featuring production by Def Starz. CupcakKe stays true to her bold and hypersexual style while the thumping beat rings under her.
Bad Boy Chiller Crew - Don't You Worry About Me (2022)
British rap collective Bad Boy Chiller Crew may have gotten their start making comedy videos, but with newer releases like “Don’t You Worry About Me” the trio have proven to have genuine pop smarts too. The song features an anthemic house-pop chorus and uptempo verses shouting out BBCC’s wealth and hometown.
UNIIQU3 - Microdosing (2021)
DJ, producer, and vocalist UNIIQU3 has been a staple of the New Jersey club scene for nearly a decade, and her music has appeal outside of the electronic underground too. She's not just a great producer but also a genuinely compelling rapper, as she proves when she starts spitting over own dancefloor-shaking production on last year's "Microdosing."
Channel Tres - Fuego (ft. Tyler, the Creator) (2020)
Channel Tres refers to his music as "Compton House," and notes that he takes equal influence from his hometown Compton's hip hop history and his father's hometown Chicago's history of house music. That makes him the perfect contender for a list like this, and if you haven't checked out Channel Tres (whose debut album Real Cultural Shit is arriving this fall), this song with Tyler, the Creator is a perfect entry point. Tyler, the Creator's pitched-down verse paired with Channel's whispery flow makes for a dense soundscape with clear house and jazz influences. It's actually one of Channel's less dancey songs, but the beat still goes hard.
Doechii - What's Your Name? (2020)
Rightfully viral Tampa rapper Doechii delivers an infectiously danceable track in "What's Your Name?" from the first chorus, but it really pops off in the second half of the song. Doechii seamlessly blends pop, dancehall, and hip-hop throughout "What's Your Name?" while maintaining her characteristic playfulness.
Cakes Da Killa & Proper Villains - In Da House (2020)
NJ rapper Cakes Da Killa and NY producer Proper Villains are a dream team on "In Da House." The fast-paced beat bounces with '90s-esque cymbal hits, while Cakes brings the track into the modern day with an assertive and frenetic flow.
Shygirl - FREAK (2020)
Taking on a darker side of hip-house, fast-rising British rapper and experimental pop artist Shygirl brings a feverish flow to her 2020 single “Freak.” The track has everything, from echoey production by Sega Bodega to quieter bits of breakdown. The sound skews toward hyperpop, even, with heavy garage influence.
Disclosure - My High (ft. slowthai & Aminé) (2020)
Disclosure have been heavy hitters in the dance world for nearly a decade, and with this track featuring Aminé and slowthai, they proved their thumping beats work perfectly with hip hop too. With Aminé and slowthai's cutting flow and Disclosure’s dark-toned, bouncing production, the collaboration is ripe for dancing.
Joey Purp - Elastic (2018)
Hailing from Chicago, rapper Joey Purp is in love with his hometown's history of house music, and he began showing that off with songs like 2018's "Elastic." Even before the synth melody kicks in toward the end, the song vibrates with a clubby intensity. The vocal filter Joey uses over the chorus is reminiscent of '90s house too.
Leikeli47 - Mulita (2018)
Brooklyn rapper Leikeli47 contributed "Mulita" to the season 3 soundtrack of Insecure, and we're grateful for it. The track bounces the whole way through, with an effervescent beat and infectiously cool verses. "Mulita" was produced and co-written by David Hamelin.
N.E.R.D. - Lemon (ft. Rihanna) (2017)
"Lemon" felt like an instant hit off N.E.R.D.'s 2017 album No One Ever Really Dies, particularly with the Rihanna and Pharrell-sung hook "I get it how I live it/I live it how I get it." Sonically, it's quite dense, jumping from interlude to interlude with pithy catchphrases--those moments of respite from the relentless production are what make the song iconic.
Yaeji - Raingurl (2017)
Even if you're not in the club, a song like "Raingurl" by Korean-American producer Yaeji will take you there. The understated synth and prominent kick drum add to the intrigue of Yaeji's quiet flow as she sing-raps hook after catchy hook. It's her biggest song, but in a just world, it'd be even bigger.
Vince Staples - Homage (2017)
From 2017’s Big Fish Theory, “Homage” sticks out as a feverishly dance-ready cut produced by Zach Sekoff. Vince spits confidently over Zach’s computery beat, making a sound almost akin to Flying Lotus–like if “Kill Your Coworkers” had Vince’s audacious flow.
GoldLink - Meditation (ft. Jazmine Sullivan & Kaytranada) (2017)
Anytime GoldLink and Kaytranada collaborate, it's sure to make you want to dance. "Meditation" is no exception, with a beat plucked from "TRACK UNO" on Kaytranada's stellar album 99.9%. Jazmine Sullivan's feature on the chorus adds a welcome R&B element to the propulsive Afrobeats-inspired track.
Kanye West - Fade (2016)
Drake told haters of his new album that "it's all good if you don’t get it yet" because "we wait for you to catch up," but with all due respect to the 6 God, Kanye already took us there back in 2016. He didn't commit to the bit for an entire album like Drake did, but "Fade" -- a house-y highlight from Kanye's uneven The Life of Pablo -- sounds like a direct precursor to Honestly, Nevermind.
Vic Mensa - Down On My Luck (2014)
Chicago rapper Vic Mensa has flirted with a lot of different genres over the years, and he mastered the sound of hip hop/dance fusion back in 2014 with the track “Down On My Luck.” It’s fast and flirty, with club-ready production by Stefan Ponce.
Princess Nokia - Versace Hottie (2013)
NYC native Princess Nokia is no stranger to hard-hitting verses, and on "Versace Hottie" she ups the ante with a pounding Christopher Lare-produced beat. It was one of her very first singles, released back in 2013, and it solidified her as a multi-faceted talent, capable of spitting in perfect harmony with a busy house-inspired instrumental.
Zebra Katz - Ima Read (ft. Njena Reddd Foxxx) (2012)
Back in 2012, Zebra Katz collaborated with Njena Reddd Foxxx on “Ima Read,” a high-tension cut chock full of tongue-in-cheek academic nods. The low kick pairs well with Zebra and Njena’s understated but cutting verses, meshing a more deep house-influenced beat with their instantly-memorable lyrics. The song seemed like one hit wonder status for a while, but Zebra Katz finally put out his proper debut album Less Is Moor in 2020 and it's full of songs that scratch the same itch. Don't sleep on the new stuff, but if you missed out on "Ima Read," start here.
Azealia Banks - 212 (2011)
Even though hip-house dates back to the 1980s, there's a good chance we wouldn't be talking about all this music today if not for "212." Azealia Banks' instant-classic 2011 single helped introduce the genre to a new generation, and her raunchy charisma made it feel new and exciting. Her career has been a little rocky for multiple reasons, but she always seems to emerge with undeniable new singles and more recent tracks like "Anna Wintour" and "Fuck Him All Night" were contenders for this list too. But we wanted the list to represent the past decade or so of dance-infused hip hop, and "212" is where it begins.
Listen or subscribe to a Spotify playlist of all 20 songs: