The 25 Best Tracks of 2021

Here are the 25 songs that have inspired us over the year...

15.12.21 Words by: Billy Ward, Maisie Goulsbra

2021 was supposed to be the year of the ‘new normal’, yet what we’ve experienced over the last 12 months has been anything but that. Whether it was born from lockdowns one, two, or three, a lot of the music we’ve heard this year was made during uncertain times, but this hasn’t made it any less exciting. As venues began to re-open and the whole industry became re-energised, the DMY roster has continued to expand and diversify, with many of the artists performing at our series of DMY Live events hosted all across London (we’ve purposely excluded anything we’ve released from this list but you can have a listen to those here).

You can expect much more from us in the new year, but for now, the DMY team have put our heads together to compile 25 of the tracks we believe deserve special recognition. Also check out our DMY website to find out more about what we’ve been up to.

25. kmoe – ‘gloves’

24. Cameo Blush – ‘Hubris’

Listen to Cameo Blush’s exclusive Dummy mix here.

23. Kam-BU – ‘Black On Black’

22. French The Kid – ‘Thrill’

Check out our 10 Best feature with French The Kid, where the rapper names his favourite French hip hop tracks.

21. The Streets – ‘Who’s Got The Bag’

20. Skepta – ‘Nirvana (feat. J Balvin)

19. Kwengface x PS Hitsquad – ‘Petrol Station’

Kwengface sat down with Dummy back in October to discuss his ten favourite UK drill tunes to date. Check it out here.

18. PinkPantheress – ‘Break It Off’

17. Central Cee – ‘Commitment Issues’

16. Potter Payper – ‘Johnny On The Spot’

Read next: Potter Payper’s ‘Thanks For Waiting’ mixtape is the beginning of a bold new chapter

15. Bree Runway – ‘ATM ft. Missy Elliott’

14. HAAi – ‘The Sun Made For A Soft Landing’

13. Anz – ‘You Could Be (ft. George Riley)’

12. Kojey Radical – ‘War Outside (feat. Lex Amor)’

Read Dummy’s interview with Lex to find out about the making of this track.

11. Ghetts feat. Stormzy & Ghetto – ‘Skengman’

Read our interview with Ghetts following the release of his ‘Conflict Of Interest’ album. 

10. BXKS – ‘Must Feel’

This year saw Luton-hailing lyricist BXKS deservedly emerge as one of the most exciting underground prospects in UK rap. Taken from her pace-setting debut project ‘Full Time Daydreamer’, ‘Must Feel’, with its hazy synths and future-facing beats, saw the rising talent showcase her unique alternative grime sound with all the swagger of a star in the making. The lead single dropped alongside a stunning, dystopian-esque visual which provided thought-provoking commentary on our unhealthy relationship with social media and how people become consumed by it. Billy Ward

9. SOPHIE – BIPP (Autechre Mx)

The timely Autechre remix of ‘BIPP’ came out just over two weeks before SOPHIE’s death. Her music brought new meaning after her tragic passing, even when remixed: a bittersweetness emerged, but it made sense. Autechre might have made this tune less humanoid; SOPHIE can easily be remembered as some kind of musical deity, but she left her legacy just by being herself. In the end she showed that whatever gender, or other social category we may or may not fit into, we are all united by being human. Maisie Goulsbra

8. Digga D – ‘Bluuwuu’

The fifth single to be released in the roll out for Digga D’s sophomore album ‘Made In The Pyrex’, ‘Bluuwuu’ dropped in the midst of an ongoing censorship battle between West London’s fastest rising rapper and the Metropolitan Police. Despite the strict restraints of his Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO), the Ladbroke Grove local showed new dimensions to his lyricism and reminded everyone of his witty, unique and creative sound. Digga was one of the most captivating drill artists throughout the year and ‘Bluuwuu’ was one of his best achievements. Billy Ward

Check out our coverage of Digga D’s Made In The Pyrex UK tour.

7. Alewya – ‘Spirit_X’

Saudi-Arabian born, Sudan-raised, London-based Alewya taps into a multitude of different musical spheres and styles. Signed by Shy FX, she has collaborated with Moses Boyd and Little Simz. ‘Spirit_X’ makes the top 10 because it’s an undeniable banger – simultaneously action-packed and sexy, it’s a guaranteed party-starter with an underlying darkness. Alewya’s topline has mainstream appeal that keeps its coolness with a breakbeat that stops you in your tracks. Maisie Goulsbra

6. Russ Millions x Tion Wayne – ‘Body’

Summer time is a special part of the year for music fans and artists alike, where the search for the next sun-soaked hit can see tracks cut through the noise to become an anthem which sticks around long after the warm weather dies down. Becoming the first drill song to shoot to UK no.1, Russ Millions and Tion Wayne’s ‘Body’ was one of the summer’s biggest tracks and a landmark moment for UK rap music. If the original number wasn’t enough, the subsequent remix was equally successful and helped to launch newcomer ArrDee towards being one of the most talked about and polarising artists of 2021. Billy Ward

5. FKA twigs, Headie One, Fred again.. – ‘Don’t Judge Me’

‘Don’t Judge Me’ is the successor to ‘Judge Me’, the interlude in Headie One and Fred again..’s collaborative mixtape ‘GANG’. In the music video, prominent Black British activists and cultural figures include Clara Amfo, Efua Baker, Munroe Bergdorf, Nicole Crentsil, Lisa Elde, Danto Earth, Renni Eddo-Lodge, Solomon O.B, Mahlon Romeo, Kukua Williams, and Benjamin Zephaniah. The build-up that Fred again.. constructs in this tune is momentous – it paints a picture of desperation with thick brushstrokes. The combined anguish in FKA Twigs and Headie One’s voice is made all the more apparent with the contrast between Headie’s familiar flows and the whimsicalness of FKA Twigs. Maisie Goulsbra 

4. CASISDEAD – ‘Park Assist feat. La Roux’

Bursting back onto the scene after a three year hiatus from releasing music, the elusive masked rapper made his return in style during September with synth pop star and ‘In For The Kill’ songstress La Roux. Bathed in an 80s-style haze which sees the two stars trade lyrics over ghostly synths and retro drum breaks, ‘Park Assist’ saw Casisdead come back for his crown as one of the UK’s most mysterious, intriguing characters. Billy Ward

3. Overmono – ‘So U Kno’

Rifling through a pallet of UK garage, breakbeat, soul and pitched-up R&B vocals, Overmono’s brilliant ‘So U Kno’ single is a fitting tribute to the pair’s south east London studio and the ever-growing bevvy of genre defining tunes which have been conjured up within its walls since the 90s. Aware of the collective craving for world-class electronic music since venues began to re-open their doors earlier in the year, the London production duo didn’t disappoint as they delivered one of the sexiest club anthems of 2021. Billy Ward 

2. Pip Millett – ‘Running ft. Ghetts’

Since her 2018 debut EP ‘Make Me Cry’, Pip Millet has been consistent in building up her reputation as one of the UK’s most unique voices, but this collaboration with Ghetts  (shortly after ‘Conflict of Interest’ was released) entered another realm. Ghetts’ bars crash into Pip’s matter of fact vocals with enormous weight, detailing the Black experience and generational trauma in relation to whiteness. Brought to life by a thought-provoking, visually stunning music video, this was one of the strongest singles to drop all year.  Maisie Goulsbra

1. Knucks – ‘Los Pollos Hermanos’

‘Los Pollos Hermanos’, the infamous chicken shop from the Breaking Bad series behind which Gus Fring lives his double life is where the track and the music video take its premise from. On this Latin-laced track, Knucks merges an old school US sound with his own South-Kilburn flavour – the result feels completely authentic. Its laidback feel gives an air of the everyday, but Knucks’ flow is phenomenal on this track. He’s been releasing material thick and fast, but there’s no escaping the ubiquity of ‘Los Pollos Hermanos’. So easy to leave on repeat, we had no choice but to give it our number one spot. Maisie Goulsbra

Read next: The 50 Best Tracks of 2020

Be sure to check out our 25 Best Tracks of 2021 Spotify playlist below to find all of our favourite songs from the year in one place.

Submit your music Close