Tag Archives: Young Thug

I JUST WANNA MAKE IT BACK TO MY KIDDIES

Whether you think Young Thug is the greatest ever or a total disgrace, there seems to be a general agreement that the words in his songs don’t matter – it’s all about the delivery.  I can see how a listener might come to this conclusion on first listen; he does have the most exciting and interesting delivery of any rapper in recent memory.  But it’s amazing how many people don’t notice that the great thing about Young Thug is not just that his voice and adlibs and timing are virtuoso-level, it’s that even when you dig through all this ornate embellishment he’s often saying some very compelling things.  His imagery is vivid, his metaphors are complex, his references surprising.  He doesn’t draw attention to any of these facets of his style but they’re there for those that put in the effort to search, and his music absolutely rewards this close listening.

I gave up trying to predict the course of Thug’s career long ago so I’m not going to hang my hat on the notion that this is a “new writerly direction” for him, but I think this is the most convincing argument for his lyricism yet.  Typical to his style, you still have to dig a bit to find the beauty in the words, but isn’t that what art is for?  To train us that beauty is everywhere if you can dig a little bit and look from the right perspective?  The most noticeable lines in the song are about how much money he pays for his bodyguards, which in and of itself doesn’t have much emotive power behind it, but placed centrally in a song about his dedication to and the sacrifices he’s willing to take for his family this line transforms from confusing brag to touching revelation.  Hopefully this can be the starting point for people who’ve written off Thug’s lyricism up until now.  If you feel anything listening to this song, go back to the other ones that didn’t feel like much and see if there’s some lyrical substance you missed under the squawks and shouts.

Young Thug – Safe

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2016 RAP

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  1. Boosie Badazz – Mann
    Young Thug is still the best rapper breathing but Boosie owned 2016 for me and that’s not just because he gave me a pound on the DFW airport tram wearing pink socks.  After stirring some mainstream attention in 2015 when he got out of jail while simultaneously releasing some of his weakest material to date, multiple personal tragedies struck late last year to reawaken Boosie’s deepest talents and push them to the heights we witnessed in 2016.  Boosie has long been on my Top 5 Rappers with the Most Conviction, but 2016 might put him at #1.  So many have spoken nearly identical words, but with Boosie you believe him; and by that I don’t mean the literal content of the sentences, but the emotional force behind them.  Only a fool would believe the literal truth of every word any rapper says, but let me at least believe that you really feel the way you’re claiming, and not just selecting an emotion or message you think will make people think you’re deep or smart or relevant or scary or whatever image you’re going for.  When you hear a Boosie song from 2016, you know that each time he stepped into the booth he made the only song that he could have possibly made at that moment.  So many rap songs sound like the result of board room conversations or long ponderings about what kind of song would be relevant at this moment in the cultural zeitgeist (e.g. every Kanye West song).  With Boosie you’re getting the rawest, most pure expression of his perfectly flawed self at every moment, and that is a rare gift to receive as a listener.  Everyone wants you to believe that 2016 was terrible (and this song is in fact a great soundtrack to that sentiment), but for me it will forever be the year I proposed to the woman I love and gave Boosie a pound on the DFW airport tram.
  2. Young Thug – King TROUP
    While “Harambe” stood out out as perhaps the most marked development of Thug’s style this year, my favorite version of Young Thug right now (there are so many…) is the delicate, restrained version.  Maybe I’m just always one step behind his movements; last year I thought Barter 6 was boring on first listen and wanted the wild, unpredictable Thug back, now he breaks his voice screaming an entire song at me and all I want is whispers and syncopated empty space.
  3. Spodee – Black & Flashing
    It was almost as hard to pick a Spodee song for this list as it was to pick a Young Thug song for this list, his music touched me in so many different ways on different songs that it’s hard to say what the “best” was.  In situations like these I let the song that makes my body do the most interesting things break the tie, which is how we get “King TROUP” and “Black & Flashing“.
  4. Denzel Curry – Purrposely
    Now that Percocet, Xanax, & MDMA are the dominant rap drugs it’s rare to get such raw aggression from today’s artists like Denzel achieves here.  Boosie of course also achieved it with “Finish U” but he is the exception to every rule.
  5. Kodak Black – Slayed (feat. Boosie Badazz)
    Kodak Black wins Best Pronunciation of 2016.  The dropped consonants and captivating “ur” syllable repetition throughout his verse on “Slayed” are enough to keep my interest alone, but there’s so much more to this mournful track than this, and the mixtape that contains this gem is easily Kodak’s strongest project to date.
  6. Lil’ Wayne guest spots
    Sometimes you give up on artists only to have them nonchalantly waltz back into your life with an impossibly turned-around trajectory and revitalization.  Wayne did this for me in 2016 but puzzlingly only in his features, most notably “I Got A Question“, “Mad“, and “Bout That“.
  7. Tree – Heard Nothing
    We already know Tree had the non-rhyming chorus of the year on “All Dat“, but “Heard Nothing” is actually the best song on that project.  It’s easy to think of Tree as an artist with a single signature style that is just as deep, personal, and sincere as it is predictable (we’re still pretending like Trap Genius never happened, remember).  But “Heard Nothing” truly breaks new stylistic ground for Tree and I’m glad to hear him still experimenting with new flows and approaches to songs.  The almost mumbling, trailing off, crossing-the-bar complexity of phrase in this song is a far cry from the “I’m a better gangster than my father was…” one-liner style we’re accustomed to, and even though I could listen to infinite iterations of Tree rehashing his Sunday School flow for eternity, development and growth are certainly refreshing as well.
  8. Future – In Abundance
    The first few months of 2016 saw an abundance (see what I did there?) of Future releases but this loosie moved me more than anything on those mixtapes/albums/EPs/whatever they’re called now.  You might think of this as Future’s “King TROUP“, which is probably why I love it – constant delicate whispered syncopation.
  9. D.R.A.M. – Broccoli (feat. Lil’ Yachty)
    This song is way higher on the list than it should be but I just realized we’re almost 10 songs in and every track has been pretty heavy on the dark, sad, lonely, angry spectrum so here’s a beautifully fun happy song to vibe to for a few minutes before I make you listen to another song about death and loss.
  10. Chance the Rapper – Summer Friends (feat. Jeremih & Francis & the Lights)
    Y’all already know how I feel about Coloring Book, but even I can’t deny the beauty of this track.  Not only is it the only understated moment on that whole album, but it finally pairs Chance & Jeremih on the same song, something I’ve been wishing for since I first heard “Oui” and saw some parallel stylistic leanings.  The only way to improve this track would be to increase the Jeremih ratio by a factor of at least 3; matter of fact they should have kicked whoever Francis & the Lights is off the track completely and let Jeremih do all the singing.
  11. Zeroh – clock
    Zeroh makes rap music that’s actually as crazy as Desiigner and Danny Brown want you to think their music is.
  12. YG – Who Shot Me?
    A lot of the best music this year was the result of tragedy and pain.  Tree almost lost his mom, Boosie got cancer, and YG got shot under circumstances that made him call into question the loyalty of those closest to him.  I’m not thankful for any of these events but I admire these artists’ ability to transform these tragic moments into captivating, timely pieces of music for us lucky listeners.
  13. Ty Dolla $ign – What Are We Doing?
    A rare & welcome moment of honest introspection from Ty.  This song is tied with “No Justice” but wins out on the list because “No Justice” is arguably not even a rap song.
  14. Fetty Wap & PNB Rock – Addicted
    This mixtape was unexpected in so many ways, from the odd artist pairing to its surprising replayability.  PNB came into my awareness via “Too Many Years“, and we all know how Fetty Wap was introduced, but nothing about these artists histories or styles warned me that they’d come together to make this weirdly enjoyable mixtape that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.  What each of these rapper/singers lack in raw talent they more than make up for in chemistry on the best moments of Money, Hos & Flows, and that chemistry is best exemplified on the opening track where they calmly trade fours over an unassuming IBeatz production, somehow able to constantly hold my attention through three and a half minutes of pretty middling rap.
  15. Cousin Fik – Learn Sumn (feat. K00l John)
    Glad to see punchline rap alive and well in the bay thanks to Fik.  Sickest Nigga Healthy 3 is worth your time.
  16. Ezale & DJ Fresh
    See I like happy rap songs too!
  17. Nef the Pharaoh – Michael Jackson
    We’re getting into more stream-of-consciousness selection than song ranking at this point, I’m just gonna go ahead and knock out all the 2016 Bay Area jams now.  I think this song actually came out in late 2015 but it’s the best track on the 2016 Cardo/Nef tape so it gets a pass. “Say Daat” is good too.
  18. Mistah F.A.B. – Up Until Then (feat. Boosie Badazz & Iamsu!)
    Son of a Pimp, Pt. 2 turned out to be pretty disappointing but this track still jams.  I hope someday Iamsu! starts having fun making music again, sometime around 2013 we went this weird serious/aloof direction and his music has only suffered as a result.  This at least has a glimmer of that former lightheartedness, with strong verses from F.A.B. and Boosie.
  19. E-40 – Slappin’ (feat. Nef the Pharoah and D.R.A.M.)
    Before “Broccoli” captured everyone’s hearts and attention, this banger was in heavy rotation in my world, and still gets frequent revisits.  E-40 has a similar effect on Nef that Birdman had on Wayne in Like Father, Like Son – Nef checks his ego just enough to focus on rapping well instead of the kind of self-indulgent wanderings we’ve seen on some of his recent releases.  D.R.A.M. is also great on this song, pulling off a chorus only he could.
  20. Lil’ Durk – Check
    Last year two artists clicked for me after years of being unable to appreciate their music – Jeezy & Lil’ Durk.  I’m still not sure if their styles changed or my brain did (maybe both), but I’m happy I have two more active rappers whose releases I can be excited about.  Durk 2x is awesome, and “Check” is easily one of the best album openers of 2016.
  21. Jeezy – Goldmine
    Trap or Die 3 wasn’t quite as strong as last year’s eye-opening Gangsta Party but there’s still plenty to vibe to on this tape – see “Bout That” on #6 above.
  22. 9% Camp – Shit Right
    Gotta give these cats props for going in hard on a 6/8 beat like it’s nothing.
  23. Jeremih – Giv No Fuks (feat. Migos)
    I know this came out in late 2015 and Jeremih is not a rapper, but this is a rap song and none of us had time to fully process Late Nights: The Album before this year, so it deserves its place on this list.
  24. Nipsey Hussle – Basic Instinct
    Slauson Boy 2 is great, and this song feels like if you boiled that whole mixtape down into its most potent extract and then dripped a droplet of it onto each eyeball.
  25. Ka – Mourn at Night
    Honor Killed the Samurai wasn’t a huge step forward for Ka or anything, but was still one of the albums I listened to the most this year.  This is an especially swirly one that contrasts beautifully with Ka’s stone cold delivery.
  26. Starlito – Greatness
    Now that his friend Red Dot is out of jail, Starlito will definitely have to come up with some more album, shout-out, and song title sources, and I wonder if it might even shift his whole creative direction in some way with how heavy that message has been in the past few years.  Maybe that’s how we got Starlito rapping over a hopeful Jazzy Pha beat and not talking about depression every few bars.
  27. Justiiice – Running in Circles
    I’m pumped that my Justiiice pick for this year is still on Soundcloud to post after having my 2015 pick disappear from the Internet before I could pay it homage.  Anyone still doubting Chief Keef’s influence on today’s rap or auto-tune’s emotive power should study this song thoroughly.
  28. Vince Staples – Big Time
    Little Bit of This had a cool video but I think “Big Time” is the best Vince Staples song this year.
  29. ScHoolboy Q – By Any Means (Part 1)
    How “That Part” became as huge as it did this year will forever be a mystery to me, but this track might actually be my favorite ScHoolboy Q song ever (which isn’t saying much because I don’t actually like him but one of my favorite things is when an artist I don’t like makes a song I do like so enjoy).  Parts 2 & 3 ain’t bad either.
  30. Danny Brown – Lost (as of this writing, the only YoutTube link for this is actually weird instrumental funk song that has nothing to do with “Lost“, so this is the only link to a paid streaming service, sorry for it)
    Maybe it just needs a little more time to grow on me, but Danny Brown’s Warp debut didn’t quite rub me the right way.  Unlike the best moments of XXX and Old, Atrocity Exhibition shows Danny Brown at his least synergistic with the production he’s choosing.  Most of the raps don’t feel like they were written or even chosen for the beat they’re on, and as a result the rhythm and cadence of the individual lines don’t interlock very well with the rhythm and cadence of the music.  It sounds disjointed and sloppy and not in the good ways that Danny Brown can sound disjointed and sloppy.  The off-kilter production serves to highlight not Danny’s weirdness or individuality, but rather exposes his rap style as being surprisingly basic.  The dominant aesthetic is warbly unquantized sample with disconnected single couplets in a weird voice.  There are a lot of cool textures and gestures throughout, but “Lost” is one of the only tracks that feels cohesive in the way I know Danny Brown can be; and by that I mean cohesive within a single song, the album as a whole is quite cohesive.
  31. Curren$y – Told Me That
    I’ll admit I haven’t paid much attention to Curren$y since he left Young Money and the best parts of his rap style behind back in ’07 or whenever that was.  Luckily I try to listen to everything Starlito puts out so I happened to catch this moment where a glimmer of Curren$y’s former A game peeked out from the darkness.  For the first time since the “Ridin’ with the AK” era we hear Curren$y making the words fit the groove instead of the other way around.  This is when Curren$y sounds his best, putting just the right syllables on the right places in the bar, and emphasizing just the right moments to pull you into the flow of the beat even more strongly than before.  Now that I know he’s still capable of this, it makes me wonder if these gems are sprinkled through his whole back catalog just under the surface.  Anybody know whether or not that’s the case so I don’t have to spend the next month listening to a bunch of weak ass Curren$y songs?
  32. Lil’ B – Finess ‘Em
    Now more than ever we need to remember that Lil’ B exists and take his music to heart.
  33. Mozzy – Messy Murder Scenes
    Rap game Energizer bunny on this one.
  34. Ralo – My Brothers (feat. Future)
    I’ll admit a lot of the driving force of this track comes from Southside and Future, but Ralo holds his own on this uncharacteristically upbeat track, and is definitely an easier listen than most of the other tracks on Diary of the Streets 2.  It’s possible that my ear just hasn’t quite adjusted to Ralo’s usual voice and delivery, but I find that I enjoy his songs most when he’s got a little bit of staccato mixed in with the constant dragged-out lilt of his crazy ass voice.  I’ve got faith he’ll catch his stride and hone his sound, or that I’ll come to realize he’s been great all along and just couldn’t hear it.
  35. Earl Sweatshirt – Mirror
    Earl stays comfortably in his own lane with this one, relying on the strength of his lyrics and delivery to keep you engaged with this wildly gritty production.  I’m absolutely in favor of this kind of under-produced basement rap, as long as it has the urgency and vibrancy Earl exhibits on songs like “Mirror“.
  36. Tate Kobang – Oh My
    Also in favor of the stripped-down physicality of songs like “Oh My“, it’s a nice break from the hazy somberness and detachment of so much of today’s rap.
  37. Butch Dawson – Ain’t No Limit I Go
    This song does a great job of never giving  you quite what you want but in a very endearing way, like an older brother holding a piece of candy just out of your reach with a big grin on his face but you know he loves you.
  38. Noname – Sunny Duet (feat. theMIND)
    I haven’t heard a female rapper be this playful and lyrical at the same time since Ladybug Mecca and its wonderful to hear.
  39. DJ Carnage – Mase in ’97 (feat. Lil’ Yachty)
    Here’s a pretty serious rap conundrum – Yachty spitting “hella bars” on a song named after a 90s rapper [scratching chin emoji].
  40. Z-Ro – New Shit
    Ro keeps it almost too real on this one with the “I don’t do this for y’all” line but by now we should be used to Z-Ro’s keeping it a little too real.

    These next 5 I’m still on the fence about

  41. Aminé – Caroline
    It’s hard to say exactly what’s holding me back on this one, I just have this feeling my future self will find my current self naive for thinking this was cool.  I should probably just enjoy it for the fun song it is, but I can’t shake that sinking feeling…
  42. 21 Savage – No Heart
    I’ve listened to Metro Savage or whatever that album is called  a few times now and I sorta get it I think but I just don’t yet feel like it achieves what so many people think it has.  I see what he’s going for, but it doesn’t feel to me like he actually got there.  Might just take a few more listens.
  43. Kevin Gates – Really, Really
    I like Kevin Gates a lot but I’m never actually in the mood to listen to his music.
  44. Gucci Mane – Dirty Lil’ Nigga
    Gucci is a legend and I’m glad he’s fit and out of jail and has shiny teeth and everything but every song I heard from him this year just didn’t quite hit home for me.  I like a lot of things about a lot of it, and this one’s probably my favorite, but it’s still a little lackluster compared to what I know he’s capable of.
  45. Brodinski’s collaborations (Dead People, Get Me Some More, Big Dawg, etc.)
    Feel kinda the same way about these as I do about “Caroline“.  I can’t deny the immediate physical response I get from these songs but something feels suspicious about it.  I feel like I’m almost being catered to too much, and it leaves me wondering about the hidden agenda there, or worse what better music might I be missing?

    Best from other people’s lists:

  46. The Team – Can I (RAP MUSIC HYSTERIA!)
    It’s embarassing but also beautiful that this video was shot 4 blocks from where I live but it took a blogger in Florida posting it for me to find out about it.
  47. Smino – Zoom (Noz)
    This dude is pushing into Zeroh territory as far as actually-crazy-sounding rap music and not “look how crazy I am” rap music.
  48. NBA Youngboy – 38 Baby (The Martorialist)
    I saw this video when it came out and loved it but then forgot who it was or where I saw it posted or anything about the dude’s name or where he’s from so it slipped through my fingers in the moment.  Luckily it popped up on a few of these lists this year so I could rediscover it and share.
  49. WNC Carlos, JMM Larry, & SOG Sherwood Flame – Cross Me (So Many Shrimp)
    Rap can do relentless like few other genres can (see “Messy Murder Scenes” above and “Gas Chamber” below) and this is an especially fun version of it.
  50. DB tha General – Gas Chamber (RAP MUSIC HYSTERIA!)
    Speaks for itself.
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BLACK TIGER WHITE JAG

In case anybody was worried that Young Thug might be taking Lyor Cohen’s condescending advice to heart…

Lyor Cohen & Young Thug convo

(The original version of that convo above continues with Lyor getting pretty heated and calling Thug “son” which was pretty cringe-inducing but I guess CNBC wasn’t trying to include that part.  Anyway I’m glad to see that despite this conversation, and I’m sure many others, Thug is still comfortable being his wild self even on official singles.  I love his more traditional songs too but please don’t tell  Young Thug to not freestyle.)

Young Thug – Turn Up

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RAP GAME HUGO BALL

It’s great when completely disparate artists make the same discovery completely independent of each other.  While the Dadaists felt the need to pontificate and publish manifestos about their groundbreaking movement, street kids making the same aesthetic realizations are just posting them on Worldstar.  Check out this new track whose chorus is just as pure sound poetry as Zang Tumb Tumb.

Yakki – Gang Gang (feat. Lotto Savage & Yung Booke)

Gucci got close to this with some of his more hypnotically simple choruses, but was still relying on the sounds he was making to have some semantic meaning.  “Versace” is also in this realm.

Gucci Mane – I’m Up (feat. 2 Chainz)

Young Thug of course comes to mind as well, but even he keeps his guttural chirps and growls in the background punctuating the more traditional vocal sounds that you find in the dictionary.  This is maybe the closest effort from Thug, with a chorus 50% comprised of the word “yeah”.

Young Thug – Dome (feat. Duke)

Who’ll be the one to take it to the next level, with entire verses of utter beautiful nonsense with maybe a few familiar definition-having sounds for decoration in the background?  Maybe rap isn’t that concerned with taking concepts to their logical extreme, but I’d welcome it if someone tried as long as it was a sincere effort like the ones above, and not some silly shit.

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WHY YOU MOVE LIKE DAT?

The music video is such a great medium.  It can have so much power to shift and sway your opinion of a song or artist, but in my experience, its power only works in a positive direction.  A really great music video can make you love a song you used to hate, but even the shittiest music video ever made can’t rob you of your ability to love a song you’re already in love with.  Its powers can only be used for good, not evil.

The most vivid memory of this I have is seeing the video for T-Wayne’s (the original T-Wayne not the dude from every Vine from Spring 2015) “Can’t Believe It“.  I was on a long road trip when this song was hot so I heard it on the radio a ton.  I loved Wayne already and had nothing against T-Pain (unlike most rap fans at the time) but this song just fell flat on my ears before I saw its video accompaniment.

T-Pain – Can’t Believe It (feat. Lil’ Wayne)

On first watch it was incredible to witness the song transform before my eyes.  The sparseness of the beat went from boring to spacious, the synth bells went from tinny to sparkling, and the vocals went from flat to fluid when paired with the imagery in the video.  It also always helps to see a rapper’s face and body while he/she is rapping, it can provide a lot of very helpful emotional context, but this video offers so much more than that.  T-Pain’s “yeahhhh” mellismas are so easy to ignore in the audio-only realm, but with this new context each one is a nuanced and refreshing unfolding of an image.  I’ve never been won over so quickly with a simple change of medium like this.

Two of my favorite new songs got videos this past week; one is a great example of how a video can deeply enhance its aural component and the other is a great example of how even an unwaveringly dumb video can’t ruin the greatness of its matched song.  We’ll start with the bad example:

Young Thug – For My People

Young Thug might have the largest gap between music and music video quality of any artist I’ve ever witnessed.  “Loaded” is the only video of his I’ve seen that felt like it had any connection to or felt at all like the song it visualized, and even that video isn’t great.  All those Rich Gang videos were just gross, and his solo material since then has been accompanied by mildly entertaining, chuckle-worthy but ultimately unfit visuals.  It’s a shame because Thug himself is an extremely visually interesting person and performer, and he is consistently the only thing that makes his videos worth watching at all, but even his natural charisma and emotive physicality aren’t enough to make these videos a fraction as powerful as the music they accompany.

Rising star Kodak Black, however, really struck a chord with me on this new one.

Kodak Black – Like Dat

This video is probably lower-budget than Thug’s (and is certainly lower-budget than “Can’t Believe It“) but its power is undeniable.  I liked this song before this video came out, now I love this song.  Certain feelings are only possible when performing or at least watching someone perform certain actions, and watching Kodak rap from the floor of a shitty hotel room with a head lamp on or do that little doo-wop shimmy with his homie at the end makes you understand how you’re supposed to feel about this song way more than any description could, or even that the song alone could convey.

I was listening to “For My People” daily before I saw its video, and I’m still going to listen to “For My People” daily for at least the next few weeks after seeing this video.  But “Like Dat” was only an occasional selection until this visual dropped; now it just might bump “For My People” down a notch in the rotation.

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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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EACH DAY THROUGH MY WINDOW I WATCH AS YOUNG THUG PASSES BY

Ever since I Came From Nothing 2 came out there’s been a single tiny office inside my brain with one little clerk patiently yet diligently searching for the follow-up to “Keep In Touch“.

Young Thug – Keep In Touch

It’s not that it’s my favorite Thug track ever or that it’s even a crucial song-type that he needs to master to round out his oeuvre, it just stuck out so much on that tape that’s so full of cacophonic wildness that I couldn’t help but hold out just a shred of hope that he’d make another song with that special kind of carefree playfulness usually reserved for Biz Markie or Fatlip.  Behold!  And over a Temptations sample no less.

Young Thug – No Games

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JUST LIKE A SUPER HERO

I think Bloody Jay is tryna troll me from the not-so-distant past right now – while time travelin’ through his back catalog after The Dark Night surprised me so pleasantly I found out he’s not only has his own entry in the Blood, Sweat, Tears” rap canon, but he beat both Looni and Thugga to the “Up, up, and away!” rap lyric by a long shot.

Bloody Jay – Blood, Sweat, N Tears

Bloody Jay – Super Hero

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YOU AIN’T GRINDIN’ TILL YOU TIRED

There are a lot of things to love about Starlito’s newest tape (like the realest relationship-rap song in recent memory), but one reference in particular caught my attention on first listen.

Starlio – I Get Tired

The Game – My Life (feat. Lil’ Wayne)

When “My Life” came out it quickly became my go-to Exhibit A for defending auto-tune to all those mid ’00s haters who still took their rap cues from Jay-Z and hungrily grasped at any opportunity to dismiss an innovation or new direction in rap.  I liked T-Pain a lot too but that was a hopeless position to take toward anyone who I’d be having this debate with, but Wayne’s auto-tune use was harder to dismiss, especially on such an emotionally deep and vulnerable song.  Cher (or, more accurately, one of Cher’s producers) introduced it to the world, T-Pain built an entire style on it and made it a household name, but I think Wayne deserves a lot of credit for paving the way for a less-gimmicky and more expressive use of the infamous Auto-Tune.  It’s his work that set the stage for Future, Chief Keef, and Young Thug to make some of the most interesting emotionally powerful music of the past decade, and I think “My Life” is a prime and often overlooked example of this.  This reaches beyond rap too, if Wayne hadn’t taken Auto-Tune’s use as an expressive tool to the next level and it had simply out of fashion when T-Pain did, would Bon Iver have made “Woods“?  Doubtful.

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THE “RICH GANG: UNRELEASED” AWARDS

My free moments this weekend were spent winning a very small amount of money on a $1 scratcher, eating some really overpriced chicken and waffles, and aurally digesting the insane fire hose blast of unreleased Rich Gang music that erupted from the depths of the rap Internet earlier this week.  First listens are unreliable, especially in my case, but I’m going to do my best to justly pass out a few important superlatives from the 100+ tracks in this collection to help y’all navigate the chaos.  I’m omitting from consideration the 30 or so tracks that were leaked or released before this last deluge so it’s only the newest new shit in here.

Best Duo Song: Love Her

Thug and Quan trade 4s like Ervin and Dolphy and triumphantly profess their love for each other in this joyful duo track.

Best Rich Homie Quan Solo: The Story Behind It

Quan rappin’ even better than he did on “Rappin’” with some serious bounce in the production.

Best Young Thug Solo: Guarantee (I Want It)

I’ve already changed my mind four times in this selection and I still might change my mind some more because there are so many great Thug solo tracks in this collection, but for now I’m putting my stamp on this one, it’s got some of the intensity of “Givenchy” but with unfortunately only about half as much rapping, but wins with the declaration “If you got AIDS, I want it!”

Best Feature: Runnin’ Out of Money

Thug really brought the best verse I’ve heard out of T.I. in a long time in this ode to determination .

Most Unique: Here

Late Gil Scott-Heron samples and expansive synthy dark emptiness coupled with Young Thug’s slippery style-switching make this sonically the most unusual track in the collection.

Best “Ruff” Track: Boy

The intensity on this track is really great, but this selection truly shines in its ability to unquestionably prove that it’s much more pleasant to listen to an unaccompanied beat than a Wiz Khalifa verse.

Funnest: Bitches

It’s hard not to at least chuckle when Thug starts his “bom bom bom bom bom nom nom nom” chant with the synth in the intro to this blatantly yet so playfully offensive track.

Most Excellent Birdman Rap: No No No

I can’t remember which one right now, but in a recent Stay Hatin’ episode there was a brief debate on whether or not Birdman is a good rapper.  It’s much less debatable that Birdman at least used to be a good rapper, but for the question at hand I offer this and the next selection as evidence.

Most Embarrassing Birdman Rap: Count Up

Yikes.

Most Heartfelt: Yesterday

Although Quan is a little under-represented in my selections (because his solo songs in this collection just aren’t as strong as Thug’s on the whole), he’s always had a little more warmth than Thug so it’s no surprise he comes out on top in this all-too-often neglected category of rap songs.

Sexiest: Lil’ Nigga (They Know It)

This was a strong contender for best duo but I really wanted to include “Love Her“, so it got relegated to this arguably more prestigious category.

Stay tuned for inevitable corrections and additions.

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