2023 has been a monumental year for hip-hop. As the whole world celebrated 50 years since the inception of the global phenomenon the culture has become, artists from all corners of the rap game released plenty of notable projects. Longtime MCs redefined careers, rising stars pushed the genre forward and music fans reaped all the benefits.

When it comes to the year's best, Ice Spice started 2023 by capitalizing on her meteoric rise with her debut EP, Like..?. Since dropping in January, two of the RiotUSA-produced project's tracks have earned Ice Spice her first gold-certified records for "Munch (Feelin' U)" and "In Ha Mood."

Lil Uzi Vert's Pink Tape found the Philadelphia native earning hip-hop's first chart-topping album of 2023. The experimental LP debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart following its release back in June. Pink Tape cuts like the Nicki Minaj-assisted "Endless Fashion" and the rock-influenced "Suicide Doors" put Uzi Vert's wide artistic range on full display.

With a buzz that had reached a fever pitch by the time Utopia dropped in July, Travis Scott more than delivered on the hype with his first project in five years. World-class production from beat maestros like Kanye West and Metro Boomin, among many others, mixed with guest features from A-listers and up-and-comers alike set Utopia to become the highest-selling rap album of 2023. The LP's cosmic sounds are capable of causing a near-out-of-body experience for any listener.

This past summer, Gunna presented a real-time redemption story in the form of A Gift & a Curse while Killer Mike reflected on his life's journey through Michael. Nas added to the dynasty he's established with Hit-Boy in July with the release of Magic 2. With Hit-Boy's soulful production serving as his canvas, the 30-year veteran MC proved he has plenty left in the tank by experimenting with new flows and rhyme schemes.

Drake further solidified his dominance in the hip-hop space in the latter half of the year with For All the Dogs while Doja Cat shined a light on her pen and rhyme skills via ScarletOn Voir Dire, which dropped in October, Earl Sweatshirt told tales of personal growth over beats laced entirely by The Alchemist.

Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign have been teasing their joint album, Vultures, for a few months. A release date of Dec. 15 came and went with no album, but the polarizing rapper and Ty have a new one: Dec. 31. So Vultures won't make this end of year list.

As a banner year for rap comes to a close, XXL highlights the best hip-hop projects of 2023.

See the Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2023

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