No matter what anyone says, rapping isn’t easy. Finding a beat, rhyming to the best of one’s ability, working on the craft and finishing a song that the artist is happy with is quite a process. There’s even more to it when a rapper agrees to make a guest appearance on another MC’s song, which has always been a big part of hip-hop. Guest verses have introduced artists to the world, and kicked off legendary careers. Knowing the next feature could be a huge moment for a rapper is a lot of pressure. Couple that with making sure the lyrics and vibe fits with the other artist’s song without losing their own magic, and it all shows how serious a rapper must take their guest verses. As hip-hop fans, 2021 has been a good one for rap features and the verses that go along with it, and XXL highlights some of the best so far.
As women continue to grow in popularity within rap, they are also racking up some of the best guest verses the game has heard in 2021. Nicki Minaj runs up the quotables and bars on BIA‘s “Whole Lotta Money (Remix).” Doja Cat appears on Saweetie‘s endlessly catchy “Best Friend,” which also peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rico Nasty tears down Kali‘s “Do A Bitch (Remix),” adding her style to the song while it was already going viral. Megan Thee Stallion shines on Bankroll Freddie‘s “Pop It” while Latto brings her vibe to Toosii‘s vastly underrated “5’5.” All of these happened this year, in addition to verses from Coi Leray and Flo Milli, two of this year’s XXL Freshmen. The ladies are making noise in 2021, and the year isn’t even done.
Quality Control Music, the Atlanta-based record label that has run wild over the industry with many chart-topping artists and buzzing newcomers, has had a strong showing with features this year. Lil Baby had one of the best verses of the year on Drake‘s “Wants and Needs,” rapping alongside the Canadian superstar and going off. Quavo jumped on BlueBucksClan‘s “Little League,” and fit into the L.A. duo’s world of flexing and obscure sports references with ease. Offset simply showed out as he usually does on Duke Deuce‘s “Gangsta Party,” giving his own artist’s song an extra push. A talented label in their own right, the QC roster knows how to take off on other rapper’s tracks.
Lil Wayne on Birdman’s “Stunnaman”
Lil Baby on Drake’s “Wants and Needs”
Nicki Minaj on BIA’s “Whole Lotta Money (Remix)”
Travis Scott on Baby Keem’s “Durag Activity”
Rico Nasty on Kali’s “Do A Bitch (Remix)”
Rowdy Rebel on Young Stoner Life and Young Thug’s “Came and Saw”
Offset on Duke Deuce’s “Gangsta Party”
Young Dolph on Tee Grizzley’s “In My Feelings” featuring Quavo
Megan Thee Stallion on Bankroll Freddie’s “Pop It”
Young Thug on Cordae’s “Wassup”
Duke Deuce on Isaiah Rashad’s “Lay Wit Ya”
Latto on Toosii’s “5’5”
EST Gee on 42 Dugg’s “Rose Gold”
Polo G on Migos’ “Malibu”
Flo Milli on Goldlink’s “Raindrops”
Pooh Shiesty on Juicy J’s “Tell Em No”
Peewee Longway on Hoodrich Pablo Juan’s “Hooked on Phonics”
Quavo on BlueBucksClan’s “Lil League”
Jay-Z on Nipsey Hussle’s “What It Feels Like”