World’s most strongest hip hop song & World’s most powerful hip hop song
There’s something so fascinating with what Frank Ocean does rhythmically here. The beat of “Chanel” is a normal enough, shuffling 4/4 beat. But the way that his voice comes and goes and pulses in and out and stretches at its own whim, cutting himself off and crescendoing at unexpected moments, he pivots what could could be a simple song into something that’s challenging for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on.
What begins as a vivid description of the dying embers of a party becomes a splendid confessional. “I get so lonely, I forget what I’m worth / We get so lonely, we pretend that this works,” SZA sings over a lush composition of strings and airy drums. “I’m sorry I’m not more attractive / I’m sorry I’m not more ladylike.” It’s a dreamy and stunning image of insecurity.
It’s the deserved song of the summer of 2017: an extraordinary and confident mainstream debut that blasted to the No. 3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. After beginning as an Instagram personality, Cardi B’s no-apologies personality brought her to the reality series Love & Hip Hop: New York to her own inevitable rap career. This is the hit Cardi B always deserved.
4:44 is a comeback story of sorts for Jay-Z. The hyphen is back, and along with it the themes and heart that made him one of the best rappers alive. On “The Story of O.J.,” No I.D. uses both Nina Simone’s “Four Women” and Kool & The Gang’s “Kool’s Back Again” on a track that Jay-Z said in an iHeartRadio appearance is “about we as a culture, having a plan, how we’re gonna push this forward. We all make money, and then we all lose money, as artists especially. But how, when you have some type of success, to transform that into something bigger.”
Only Rae Sremmurd can turn an eerie Mike WiLL Made-It beat into some sort of verbal jungle gym. It’s their stylistic dexterity and vocal agility that makes this track such a badass tongue twister to hear.
From the moment after Metro Boomin’s tag, Kodak Black’s point on “Tunnel Vision” is clear with the opening chorus line of “Li’l Kodak they don’t like to see you winnin’ / They wanna see you in the penitentiary.” The playful flute in the beat with his lyrics (and the video, which shows a black man strangling a white man with a MAGA hat and a Confederate flag vest) is a striking and unforgettable juxtaposition.
Tyler, the Creator’s schizophrenic “911 / Mr. Lonely” switches moods from sweet to mad to aggressive seemingly on the rapper’s whim. It moves from a smooth soul beat, to Tyler’s horrorcore flow, to a fluffy Frank Ocean interlude to a spitfire outtro. Our job is to keep up.
Vince Staples is fucking intense. And that’s what makes him one of the most commanding young voices in hip-hop. His music is as unflinching as his critiques of the current social and political climate in this country. As he raps on “BagBak”: “The next Bill Gates can be on Section 8 up in the projects / So ‘til they love my dark skin / Bitch I’m goin’ all in.”
Cleverly sampling his own “Heart Pt. 4”—a promotional song that didn’t make the final cut on DAMN.—“Fear.” can be considered the heart of Kendrick Lamar’s latest masterpiece. On an album that explores all the sins and qualities that captivate a man of faith, “Fear” contains Lamar’s central thesis: “Within fourteen tracks, carried out over wax / Wonderin’ if I’m livin’ through fear or livin’ through rap / Damn.”
Not everything needs to be political. Sometimes there just needs to be a song with a beat as sweet as candy, and that’s exactly what Drake’s “Passionfruit” is. Just let the warmth of this song wash over you, and forget your troubles and the state of the world