Tag Archives: Rocko

2015 RAP

‘Tis the season for spending time with family and loved ones, sipping egg nog, and coming up with ranked lists of your favorite rap songs from the past year.  I used to be a staunch anti-lister: how could we attach such a rigid hierarchy to such personal, subjective material?  I also hated all the petty, pointless arguments that always ensued – such a waste of time that we could be spending on listening to more music.  I still think most of those arguments are dumb, but I’ve recently realized that, like many things I initially disliked, I was just thinking about them in the wrong way.

More and more I’ve come to see the value in these lists; not as what they seem – rigid value judgements about inherently unquantifiable subject matter – but as a starting point for conversation and possible introduction (or re-introduction) to material that might have slipped through the cracks for some listeners.  So this year I’m throwing in my votes for best rap songs of 2015.  I have purposely not looked at any other end-of-year lists so as not to be swayed by the judgements of others.  No doubt I will discover countless songs I should have included once I do see everyone else’s, but maybe someone else will discover something in these 35 selections from this great year in rap.  After the first 5 or 6 songs, I didn’t put much effort into the order so don’t get too caught up in that part of it.  Let me know if you agree, and DEFINITELY let me know if you disagree or have alternate selections, I hope to learn more than teach from this first attempt.

To keep this from being a list of Young Thug and Future songs I stuck to the standard format of doing one track per artist, except in a couple cases where groups have gone solo and where artists have been featured on another song elsewhere on the list.  I definitely see Rich Gang, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan as three separate entities, and Nef the Pharaoh gets featured twice since I didn’t put any of his own solo material on there.

Here we go!

  1. Rich Gang – Up, Up, and Away
  2. Future – No Compadre
  3. Young Thug – No Way
  4. Rich Homie Quan – Flex
  5. Tree – Well
  6. Dr. Yen Lo – Day 3
  7. Juego the Ninety – D’Juego
  8. Vince Staples – Norf Norf
  9. Earl Sweatshirt – Solace
  10. Kendrick Lamar – These Walls
  11. Foxx – Don’t I (feat. Wacko)
  12. Boosie Badazz – Mama
  13. Bandit Gang Marco – NO CASH (feat. Bandit Gang)
  14. Yung Gordon – Finna Hit My Walk (fast version)
  15. Black Zheep DZ – Ice-Hot
  16. Starlito – My Love (feat. Don Trip)
  17. Corn – Old School Hyphy (feat. Nef the Pharaoh)
  18. The Jacka – Ancient Astronauts (feat. Goldie)
  19. Bloody Jay – Want it Like This
  20. YG – Twist My Fingaz
  21. Butch Dawson – Brain
  22. Chance the Rapper – Israel (feat. Noname Gypsy)
  23. Young Jeezy – Birds Could Talk
  24. Jay 305 – Goin’ Up (feat. Dom Kennedy)
  25. DJ Chose – Everywhere I Go (feat. MC Breezy)
  26. Pablo Skywalkin’ – Feeling Myself
  27. Earl Swavey – What Would You Do? (feat. DJ Worm 2G)
  28. 22nd Letter – Blunt on Me
  29. Don Trip – Eviction Notice
  30. Kevin Gates – Khaza
  31. Denzel Curry – Lord Vader Kush II
  32. Zuse – Till I Die
  33. Shabazz Palaces – The Mystery of Lonnie the Døn
  34. Danny Brown – Worth It
  35. Rocko – I’m High

Honorable mention to “Coldest Summer’s Mine” by Justiiice which has inexplicably disappeared from the internet.  It probably would have bumped Rocko off the list had I found a link.

Special thanks to Rap Music Hysteria, The Martorialist, and Tumblin’ Erb for their constant inspiration.  This would have been a much shittier list without y’all.

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So far 2015 has been the year of modest, understated, low stakes rap releases.  Future put out 56 Nights, Young Thug has Barter 6, Rocko released Expect the Unexpected, and Earl Sweatshirt put out what I think is best work yet with I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside and more recently, this trip:

Earl Sweatshirt – Solace

I’m used to wading through at least 20 tracks of of intros, outros, DJ drops, skits, remixes, songs for the club, songs for the car, songs for the ladies, songs featuring the hot R&B artist right now, etc. for the (hopefully) 3 or 4 tracks that I really enjoy listening to on an average new mixtape/album.  All of the releases listed above clock in at under one hour and most of them closer to half that, and there seems to be no effort from these artists to pander to all the standard rap sub-audiences for approval.  These all feel like very focused exploratory projects made for the love of music rather than the love of radio play and chart numbers.

The best part about this phenomenon is that it feels totally spontaneous.  It’s not like somebody famous made a big deal out of taking this more subdued, less pop-oriented approach to a rap project and then everybody started jumping on the bandwagon.  Maybe all these artists are hitting some kind of mid-decade introspective mood, or all the racial tension in America right now is making people not want to party like usual, or maybe everybody’s just tired, but for some reason all these different artists started releasing these unusually somber, brief, dark releases with no clear singles and no nod to the standard mass demographics just to exorcize their own creative demons.  I hate to call it a trend because the first thing that would ruin a release like this is if somebody did it to be trendy, but I hope that whatever is independently happening in the minds of these artists keeps happening to others because it’s an underexplored avenue for rap that it is actually, as it turns out, quite suited for.  But even if this is all we get, I’m happy about it.

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I could listen to Young Thug mumblechant “lilbittybihh” for so much longer than this.

Rocko – Lil’ Gurl Shit (feat. Young Thug)

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I think Future might have taken his alternating “new statement”/”repeating statement” form too far in this one, I’m just bein honest.

Future – Honest

Here’s a brief history of the progression of this technique; I’ll link instead of embedding for your browser’s sake.

2010 – “All The Time

Early 2011 – “On 2 Us

Mid 2011 – “Smoke & Mirrors

Late 2011 – “Word To My Muva

Early 2012 – “Nunbout

Mid 2012 – “Same Damn Time

2013 – “U.O.E.N.O.

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