No. 1: "Drowning" by A Boogie Wit Dat Hoodie ft. Kodak Black
A decade ago, the regional pairing of Bronx rapper A Boogie Wit Dat Hoodie and South Florida rapper Kodak Black would've turned heads, but in 2017 it's almost too obvious. "Drowning" sees two young, world-weary rappers just trying to keep their post-fame heads afloat.
No. 2: "Lipstick Stains" by Jay Som
On her debut album, Everybody Works, the Bay Area singer Jay Som channels some serious '90s indie-rock vibes. She packs a whole lot into the opening track, "Lipstick Stains," and over the course of just two minutes is able to paint a detailed portrait of lost love.
No. 3: "Waterfall" by Stargate ft. Sia & P!nk
Even if the Norwegian production duo Stargate are the lead artists on "Waterfall," the song's stars are clearly Sia and P!nk. Perhaps not the most intuitive pairing, but the combination of P!nk's brash '00s pop hooks and Sia's singular singing style makes for a unique cross-generational meeting of pop talents.
No. 4: "Living In The City" by Hurray for the Riff Raff
Born in New York City, Alynda Segarra (aka Hurray for the Riff Raff) ran away as a teen and traveled around the United States. So when she closes "Living in the City" by repeating the song's title phrase over and over, the line between the album's narrative and her own starts to get a little bit blurry.
No. 5: "Chanel" by Frank Ocean
Four years separated the releases of Frank Ocean's Channel Orange and Endless/Blonde, so the sudden release of "Chanel" came as a surprise to many of his fans. The other shocker here? Frank turns to rapping, rather than simply singing—but no matter the form his voice takes, it always has the power to hit you directly in your heart.
No. 6: "Hereditary" by J.I.D.
With every new crop of young rappers, the reach and influence of J. Cole only becomes more evident. It's certainly palpable on this new track by J.I.D. (who's signed to Cole's Dreamville label)—a coy song that reflects on a relationship that's dissolving before his eyes. While it's admittedly a slight downer of a topic, the song is buoyed by a warm funk reminiscent of old-school Atlanta legends Outkast.
No. 7: "REDMERCEDES" by Aminé
Last year, the Portland rapper Aminé arrived out of nowhere with the raunchy "Caroline." He's back with a new single, "REDMERCEDES," which—as the name states in all caps—is indeed about a red luxury car. But where humor drove his previous hit, here he tries to play it a bit cooler; the song is aided by production that is one part early '00s Neptunes and one part late '00s electro-pop. Maybe early 2000s nostalgia can be fun?
No. 8: "Lookin'" by Playboi Carti ft. Lil Uzi Vert
Back in 2015, Playboi Carti released a few songs that scored millions of plays online, but in 2016 he was more likely to be seen hanging out with A$AP Rocky and palling around fashion week events than releasing new music. "Lookin'," his latest single with Lil Uzi Vert, is a welcome return to the lo-fi Day-Glo trap sound of his previous hits.
No. 9: "I Know" by D Savage
"You say you hate me but you still like my page," says D Savage, succinctly describing the world of underground rap in 2017. The young rapper may only have a few songs to his name, but "I Know" is by far the most memorable. And, at less than two and a half minutes long, it retains a punk-ish sensibility.
No. 10: "Blast" by Tokyo Machine
After a few seconds of video game-inspired bleeps and bloops, you'll be pretty confident that you know just how Tokyo Monster's "Blast" will play out. Then the song pivots three times in the first 90 seconds before finally arriving at a chiptune-indebted dubstep drop.
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