The 25 Best Canadian Hip-Hop and R&B Love Songs

From Drake to Daniel Caesar to Tamia, Canada's got a plethora of jams about matters of the heart. Here are the best Canadian hip-hop and R&B love songs.

Drake, The Weeknd, Jessie Reyez, and Justin Bieber
Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

Drake, The Weeknd, Jessie Reyez, and Justin Bieber

Love ain’t blind—it’s all-seeing and all-knowing up here in The Great White North. The songs by Canada’s best rap and R&B artists, new and old, reveal gripping romance, the heartache that is the flipside of harboring well-and-true feelings, and the simple-yet-intoxicating thrill of the chase, in an array of forms. Considering our three greatest musical exports—Drake, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber—all made careers off of penning lyrics about matters of the heart, it’s safe to say our nation knows a thing or two about l’amour and all its discontents.

Young lovebirds, decades-deepened Valentine vets, dance-floor matadors, and once-bitten singles will all find plenty to adore and relate to here. These are the 25 best Canadian hip-hop and R&B love songs.

25. Anthony OKS f/ Begonia, "Fortified Bond"

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Album: In The Garden

Producer: paalsh

Year Released: 2021

This Winnipeg pair’s love-y dove-y lyrics will leave any power couple’s hearts aflutter. Begonia’s feathery singing about caresses and whispered sweet nothings balance Anthony OKS’ slow-dance rhymes about vibing and upgrading a relationship from sedan to classic Cadillac status. They’ve got equally romantic backdrops: a Winnipeg summer’s day during a spin in a classy antique car for the song’s video (directed by Jadyn Klassen and Jesse de Rocquigny), and a beat by paalsh that’s gently comforting as hand-holding. The rapper, singer, producer, and directors certainly have fortified chemistry on this, one of Canada’s most romantic rap songs and music videos. —Kyle Mullin

24. Keys N Krates f/ Bibi Bourelly, "Take It Off"

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Album: Original Classic

Producer: Keys N Krates

Year Released: 2021

How can the nuances of sexual tension, with a surface-level frustrating acquaintance, be captured in a

song? The nimble talents of Toronto hip-hop live instrumentalists Keys N Krates, further propelled by Bibi Bourelly’s powerhouse voice, make it sound easy as sassy flirtation. Her astute lyrics about close-to-the-vest admiration are rounded out by the sweet release of some good old fashioned raunch. The band’s booming grooves, meanwhile, boast equally vivid imagery as they leave listeners picturing bickering that begets dancefloor beckoning that becomes so much more. —Kyle Mullin

23. DijahSB f/ Mick Jenkins, "Here to Dance"

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Album: N/A

Producer: Reon Vangèr

Year Released: 2021

Along with being a source of wit, brevity also wellsprings romance, at least for a wordsmith like DijahSB. The rising MC spits succinctly epic club pickup lines like: “I know you just here to dance/So let’s forget about the world” over equally no-nonsense two-step percussion. Before that, Chicago MC Mick Jenkins smoothly exhales some deep-down low notes about taking pains not to waste his boo’s time. It’s good to know their priorities are so thoroughly on point. —Kyle Mullin


22. Tommy Genesis, “wild child”

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Album: goldilocks x

Producer: Charlie Heat

Year Released: 2021

Nobody knows their way around a perverse lyric quite like Tommy Genesis, and on “wild child” we hear some of the Vancouver-born rapper’s pearl-clutchingest work. Over a gauzy Charlie Heat beat, she narrates a sexual fantasy on her own terms, redirecting the male gaze like a gun to the head of her lover. One minute she’s “chewing on your earlobe,” the next she’s going full-on succubus, spitting about eating souls. It’s confounding, arousing, and terrifying all at once, but I’m into it. —Alex Nino Gheciu

21. Emanuel, "Need You"

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Album: Alt Therapy

Producers: John Fellner, Ryan Bakalarczyk

Year Released: 2021

Fellas that sing along to this song’s lyrics, especially, “I feel like I just fell in love with you, like a song on the radio,” are bound to make their boos elicit instant “awww”s. And when Emanuel sings about his new ladyfriend having the potential to harbor a unique type of love, couples will clamor to slow dance as They swoon. The piano and spare strings both leave room for Emanuel’s esoteric voice and laid-bare lyrics, before underlining the theme about what you truly need, rather than less-than-pure distractions That clutter far too many instrumentals (not to mention love affairs). —Kyle Mullin

20. Nav, "Call Me"

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Album: Perfect Timing

Producer: Leland Wayne

Year Released: 2017

Nav is feeling lonesome, and he’s not afraid to talk about it. “Are you really here for me?” he sings on the chorus of “Call Me,” his morose slow jam from 2017. “I don’t know,” comes the disappointing refrain. Wealthy, successful, and always busy on the road, he’s got no time to commit and keeps coming up unlucky in love—downcast feelings that make this R&B track a kindred spirit of classic country. “I need you to hold me,” he confesses, surprisingly candid. You have to feel for the guy. —Calum Marsh

19. Kaytranada f/ H.E.R., "Intimidated"

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Album: Intimidated EP

Producers: Kaytranada, H.E.R.

Year Released: 2021

Kaytra’s beat here evokes the pulse-quickening of first locking eyes with a new crush from across the dancefloor. H.E.R.’s lyrics, meanwhile, beautifully capture the vulnerability of love at first sight, including lines like “Pull me closer… Hold on, love, let’s make the most of this before it’s over.” Aside from deftly evoking such heartfelt anticipation, her impassioned singing and his sweeping synth grandeur raise the stakes high enough to make “Intimidated” sound like new love soundtracked at the end of the world. —Kyle Mullin


18. Haviah Mighty f/ Astrokidjay, "Coulda Been U"

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Album: Stock Exchange

Producers: Haviah Mighty, Mighty Prynce, Denise De’ion

Year Released: 2021

Canadian rap isn’t just romantic. It’s also beautifully inclusive, thanks to groundbreaking MCs like Haviah Mighty. This cinematic queer club song finds the North’s Queen B sneaking some time with a lady friend off the dancefloor, while said acquaintance’s man waits obliviously at the bar. And while Haviah’s lyrics convey just how smitten this woman has left her, the true object of the MCs affection is lost possibility. Imagining just how sweet this tryst could be, before prioritizing the self-love she truly deserves, is the sort of capital-R romantic theme that helps these ominously sexy lyrics—and their plot twists—rival any novel. —Kyle Mullin

17. Manila Grey, “Silver Skies"

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Album: No Saints Loading

Producer: azel north

Year Released: 2019

“Silver Skies” is a modern West Coast classic, and the sexiest song you’ll ever hear about being an absentee lover. Vancouver R&B duo Manila Grey take turns crooning sweet nothings to paramours they have no time for. “I’m out on the next flight, I’ll be back late night,” relays Soliven, while Neeko laments the fast-paced, lovelorn lifestyle he leads “in my new whip, new drip, new money coming in, everything but you.” The dreamy, synth-soaked sonics—almost a tropical house take on the Drive soundtrack—create an atmosphere that hangs in the air, like an unfinished romance you can’t forget. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. —Alex Nino Gheciu

16. Belly f/ The Weeknd, "What You Want"

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Producers: The ANMLS, NAV, Cirkut

Year Released: 2018

Palestine-born, Ottawa-raised Ahmad Balshe, better known as Belly, has emerged over the last decade-plus as one of Canadian hip-hop’s most celebrated songwriters and producers, penning songs for The Weeknd, Beyonce, and Danny Fernandes, as well as writing and performing a number of hits of own. On “What You What,” Belly channels the silk-smooth, effervescent splendour he brought to The Weeknd’s music into a sincere love song song all his own, as he exhorts a crush to “spend my cash and smoke my weed.” —Calum Marsh

15. Chiiild f/ Mahalia, “Awake”

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Album: Hope For Sale

Producer: Yonatan “xSDTRK” Ayal, PL, Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II

Year Released: 2021

If a suitor swaggered like this song’s bassline, you couldn’t help but fall in love. The deliciously assured, desire-dripping tone of both Chiiild and Mahalia’s singing delivers far tamer lyricism than other entries on this list. At least on paper. Yet when you hear it, you’ll swear this song is the most risqué to ever grace your playlists. Who knew a simple chorus like “Meet me in the bedroom” could reverberate so many multitudes? Mahalia’s lyrics about Nelly and Kelly and stomach butterflies, along with a syrup-thick mid-

song breakdown, each (let alone together) allow “Awake” to rouse you from even the deepest of slumbers. —Kyle Mullin


14. Choclair f/ Saukrates, "Rubbin"

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Album: Ice Cold

Producer: Saukrates

Year Released: 1999

It’s impossible to have any serious conversation about Canadian hip-hop without mentioning Choclair, the Scarborough-born rapper whose early music in the mid-90s was foundational for the genre in this country. For proof of both the age and classic status of “Rubbin’,” his most irresistible club banger and a staple of northern hip-hop at the turn of the century, look no further than its opening line, which finds Choclair enthusiastically describing a hottie in “spaghetti straps.” Times have changed, but Choclair is immortal. —Calum Marsh

13. The Weeknd, "Take My Breath"

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Album: Dawn FM

Producers: Max Martin, Oscar Holter, The Weeknd

Year Released: 2022

Some couples cutely stroll, arm in arm. The Weeknd would rather soundtrack love teetering on the edge. His to-the-rafters belting of lines like “Take my breath away/Nobody does it better, babe/Bring me close to—“will have couples white knuckling as they not merely strive to thrill each other, but later hold onto to each other for dear life. For those inclined to radio-friendly drama—at least in their fantasies, if not their role play—this Dawn FM song is reason to gasp with glee. —Kyle Mullin

12. TOBi, "Conquest"

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Album: ELEMENTS Vol. 1

Producer: Alex Goose

Year Released: 2020

Play this steamy number and watch every window in sight fog up in an instant. It’s the perfect soundtrack for couples spicing things up and reaching new limits. When the tripwire-tense bassline and racing-heart percussion ease at the chorus, and TOBi sings, “It feel like bondage, and bondage never felt so good,” you’ll swear freedom is overrated. Even more strongly forged: his lyrics about metronome hips and licked lips. —Kyle Mullin

11. Majid Jordan, “Waves of Blue”

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In music, using water as a metaphor is far from original, but most aqua-themed tracks aren’t nearly as endearing as Majid Jordan’s perfectly executed foray into upbeat, R&B-tinged pop on “Waves of Blue.” “I’m in love with the thought of being in love, in love with you,” Majid Al Maskati sings on the yearning song, letting the sound of his smooth vocals effortlessly wash over listeners. It’s retro but completely timeless, a classic that’s destined to be played on repeat by lovestruck people everywhere. —Natalie Harmsen

10. PARTYNEXTDOOR f/ Drake, “Come and See Me”

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Producer: Noah “40” Shebib

Year Released: 2016

Long-time Drake collaborator PARTYNEXTDOOR wrote a love song from an unusual perspective with “Come and See Me,” taking the vantage of the overworked, emotionally under-available touring musician being guilt-tripped to spend more time with a casual lover. Between “you up?” texts past 2 a.m. and fights about hurt feelings, it’s a refreshingly honest take from a guy who’s open to the idea that he’s to blame for things not working out. —Calum Marsh


9. Dvsn, “Too Deep”

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“Too Deep” is easily one of Dvsn’s best and most sultry love songs and deserves a spot on this list for its all-around R&B excellence. From the gospel-influenced sound to the vivid lyrics, it’s clear that this is an anthem capable of making babies, reuniting exes, and sending couples to the altar. Daniel Daley’s vocals shine to the fullest when he sings about lips that have him “feeling very vulnerable” and it’s an outpouring of harmonious emotion that doesn’t hold back. —Natalie Harmsen

8. Daniel Caesar & H.E.R., "Best Part"

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Album: Freudian

Producer: Jordan Evans, Matthew Burnett

Year Released: 2017

A sincere slow-burner that can resuscitate coldest, most deceased of hearts, “Best Part” is a honeymoon-phase joint through and through. The duet by Brampton, Ontario’s Daniel Caesar and Vallejo, California’s H.E.R. sees a couple of lovers do the exact opposite of playing it cool. “You’re the Tylenol I take when my head hurts/ You’re the sunshine on my life,” Caesar croons over some finger snaps and acoustic guitar. This is about as emotionally available as it gets. But kudos to these two for singing lines like “You’re the coffee that I need in the morning” without making us want to projectile vomit—and nabbing a Grammy for it in the process. —Alex Nino Gheciu

7. Jessie Reyez and 6lack, “Imported”

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Producer: Hennedub

Year Released: 2020

These R&B clinicians have the right remedy for lovesickness. Over bruised-heart bass swells Jessie Reyez and 6lack’s respective high and low, needle and thread coos stitch emotional wounds snug. And if their chorus—about offering a special someone means to forget whoever they’re pining over—isn’t a potent enough love drug, Reyez’s lines about “if you get too much of me” certainly will be. What’s more: 6lack’s shaky fidelity (“I got morals on Sundays, sometimes on Wednesdays”) is usurped by his rhythmic Hypocritic romantic oath. —Kyle Mullin

6. Drake, "Marvin's Room"

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Album: Take Care

Producer: Noah “40” Shebib

Year Released: 2011

The nation’s most esteemed hip-hop luminary has penned no shortage of songs about love, lust, and heartbreak, but it has to be the mournful, downtempo “Marvin’s Room,” the centerpiece of his 2011 album Take Care, that distinguishes itself as one of the best. Forlorn, yearning, and unapologetically sentimental, it’s a cognac-soaked barnburner about the one that got away and one late-night call pining after her. —Calum Marsh

5. Baby Blue Soundcrew f/ Kardinal Offishall, Sean Paul, and Jully Black, "Money Jane"

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Album: Private Party Collectors Edition

Producer: Kardinal Offishall

Year Released: 2000

“Money Jane” was ahead of its time in many ways—it catapulted Sean Paul into international stardom, was one of the first dancehall tunes to crack the mainstream in Canada, and laid the foundations for the “Toronto sound.” Still, its greatest legacy is that, amid the bitches-and-hoes era of rap, it was a tune that celebrated its female subject’s entrepreneurial spirit and financial independence. “At the barbeques, buying me a drink without asking/When she with me, she be looking out for me simple and plain,” raps Kardi sans a hint of shame. A love song for boss-ass, breadwinning women everywhere. —Alex Nino Gheciu

4. The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face”

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Has there ever been a more passionate love affair in music than that of The Weeknd and drugs? Abel has a fondness for musing about toxic women while being, well, intoxicated, and “Can’t Feel My Face” is pretty much his pop magnum opus when it comes to crafting a catchy hit about his two favourite things becoming intertwined. It’s not entirely clear if he can’t feel his face because he’s high on cocaine or simply because he’s just happy to be around his love interest, but we’d speculate that it’s likely both. Regardless, this song is a pure rush of euphoria and perfectly encapsulates the feeling of letting your heart obsess over someone. —Natalie Harmsen

3. Tamia, "So Into You"

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Album: Tamia

Producers: Ian Alexander, Quincy Jones, Tamia Washington

Year Released: 1998

My dream is to one day be loved by someone half as much as Tamia loves whichever lucky schlub she’s buggin’ about in “So Into You.” So dripping with fire and desire is this track that Fabolous couldn’t resist remixing it for his 2003 LP Street Dreams—but with Ashanti singing Tamia’s parts on the album. However, the Windsor, Ontario chanteuse reclaims her rightful place in the radio single, thanks to scheduling conflicts preventing Ashtanti from appearing in the music video. The R&B gods made it so—and thank heck for that, because the Tamia version slaps so much harder. —Alex Nino Gheciu

2. Justin Bieber f/ Daniel Caesar and Giveon, “Peaches”

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Album: Justice

Producers: HARV, Shndo

Year Released: 2021

For Beibs, only the best will do. His heatwave glimmer of a croon over Harv and Shndo’s balmy instrumental, along with Bieber’s lyrics about imported Georgia peaches and California weed, all let your imagination roam equally far. Is young Justin treating his Valentine to the finest things? Extravagantly wooing a new flame? Or are these wares metaphors for his all the more refined taste in women? While his line about “the texture of your skin” indicates the latter, the peaches-and-cream-sweet subsequent lyrics about eternal hugs and “the way you lift me up” ensure this ripely picked number remains tasteful and heartstring-grabbing. Speaking of sweet: Giveon and Daniel Caesar’s verses make this not merely the perfect Valentine’s Day number, but also Complex Canada’s song of the year—Kyle Mullin

1. Drake f/ Majid Jordan, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”

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Album: Nothing Was The Same

Producers: Majid Jordan, Paul “Nineteen85” Jefferies, Noah “40” Shebib

Year Released: 2013

We’ll admit, “Hold On, We’re Going Home” is a weird song. Even for Drake, who by 2013 had cornered the market on singing rappers, this was a left turn: a tender pop-disco two-step that finds him on a Phil Collins tip. Still, it’s Aubrey at his most open-hearted. Certified Lover Boy-era Drake may be “way too sexy to go unprotected,” but on this track, he’s completely vulnerable, laying his soul bare to the “good girl” he’s pining for. “I can’t get over you/You left your mark on me/I want your hot love and emotion endlessly,” he amorously croons over euphoric, reverb-dunked production by Nineteen85, Majid Jordan, and Noah “40” Shebib. You’d be hard-pressed to hear that level of sincerity in an age where we find dates while we’re on the toilet, but Drizzy did intend to create something timeless with this number. He wanted it to be “a record that was played at weddings in 10 years.” Nearly a decade later, the track sticks the landing—it’s an impassioned classic that transcends era and genre. An all-or-nothing love jam that conjures bodice-ripper fantasies, and makes grown men want to caress their own faces. It leaves its mark on you. —Alex Nino Gheciu

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