There have been so many great songs released this year, so it was a real challenge to narrow my selection down to just seven. However as I was working on my best and worst albums of the year list, I realised there was some songs I absolutely loved, however didn’t love the entire album so I thought I’d give them a fair chance by creating a list based on individuals songs too. So here we go, from seven down to one of what I couldn’t take off repeat this year.
7 – F Cancer (Boosie) by Young Thug ft Quavo
Following up the success of bangers such as “Stoner”, “Danny Glover” and “Best Friend”, Thugga Thugga came with this high-octane track off of his I’m Up tape. From beginning to end, this is just energy, energy and more energy. The choice of Quavo as a feature on this also maintains the pacing, and throughout the track Young Thug’s frantic delivery keep the intensity at a million. I assumed the Boosie reference was just a shoutout to the rapper following his own battle with cancer, but it’s so random and so hype that I didn’t even care to put any more thought into the meaning of that. I have found that that is the best way to enjoy Thugga’s music.
6 – Could It Be by Lance Skiiiwalker
This was the first solo song I heard from new TDE recruit, Lance Skiiiwalker and it instantly connected with me. To this day, I still don’t know what it is about this track but there’s something about it that resonates with me on an almost subconcious level. Could it be the smokey vocals or could it be the uplifting mood of the second half of the song? I don’t know but damn this is just so catchy. It’s like the perfect blend of that uber-artistic style as pioneered by artists like Andre 3000 and most recently Frank Ocean, mixed with a little of that TDE flavour that makes for a really beautifully constructed song, even with the abrupt shift in tone.
5 – Money Longer by Lil Uzi Vert
This is perhaps my vote for most fun song of the year, edging out D.R.A.M’s “Broccoli” simply because the production here is incredible, and Uzi’s delivery is simply infectious. Melodically it perfectly fits the beat, to the extent that even the echoes and ad-libs feel carefully timed for maximum sing along potential. As a collection of sounds, it epitomises the colourful nature of the record that the album artwork would suggest, and whilst there isn’t a single line in this song that will make you ponder it’s true meaning for more than 0.1 seconds, it’s still a hell of a ride. This is a classic example of why Lil Uzi Vert is amongst the rising stars in modern hip-hop.
4 – goosebumps by Travis Scott ft Kendrick Lamar
Travis Scott is an artist who I usually really enjoy listening to, however overall I did not like his most recent album, Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight. This is not to say I didn’t like all the songs, actually this one I loved. It combines the melodic elements that makes Scott’s music so entertaining as it is, with a flow reminiscent of a Lil Uzi Vert or Lil Yachty in how catchy it is. What makes this even better is that Travis knows when it is time to get the hell out the way and let others shine, as he does for Kendrick Lamar who adds to the song with a beautifully layered verse, complete with a few falsetto bars just for good measure. This is a subtle, well produced and complex banger; One that can be listened to casually or in the midst of a “turn up”, a love song with the Yeezus edge that Scott is famous for.
3 – Ride Out by ScHoolboy Q ft Vince Staples
This tune off of ScHoolboy’s epic Blank Face LP is a gritty banging anthem, one that made this critic rewind it at least 5 times on first listen. Q’s at his harshest, furious best here, sounding absolutely fuelled with rage through his opening verse, which is perfectly juxtaposed by the off kilter harmonies in the chorus. Then Vince Staples delivers yet another exemplar feature verse (something the LBC Rapper is developing somewhat of a reputation for) which sounds almost demonic in its lyrics. For me, its one of the best cuts off of an extremely solid album, which is saying something. It has to be heard to be believed, but is definitely a showcase of two West Coast rappers doing what they do best.
2 – 4r Da Squaw by Isaiah Rashad
This song is a masterpiece. I was a fan of Isaiah Rashad, and loved every song from his Cilvia Demo project, so was very keen to hear the second single from his commercial debut. It is just smooth and packed with emotion that connected with me on several levels. I wouldn’t want to rehash too much of what I said as I actually reviewed this song previously, but man it is just so well put together. It does reflect the quality of the album as a whole and is a must listen for hip-hop fans this year.
1 – Untitled 02 (06.23.2014) by Kendrick Lamar
For the bulk of the year this has been my number 1 song, cos it’s damn near perfect even if it’s just a throwaway from a To Pimp A Butterfly session. The imagery Lamar evokes throughout the song, from simple lines such as “Can’t pick a side, the gemini” or “It’s a tidal wave, it’s a Thunderdome” are vivid enough to dwell on for a minute. Then let’s not forget the infectious “Get Top/God on the phone!” bridge which begs to be yelled at full volume. Let’s also not forget that Kendrick is singing on this song and it sounds very decent, without utilising auto-tune or other similar vocal aids. Not to mention the silky verse towards the back end of the track which sounds just as poignant as when he performed it on the Tonight Show. All in all, just an amazing song that has to be heard several times over for absolutely no reason other than to marvel at its excellence.