Editorial: 10 Loosies You May Have Slept On In 2016 (So Far)

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Another day, another rap song is released. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? It takes time and effort to weed through the wack shit and find the fire in the midst of so many daily drops. But it’s a process that the true heads love and take pride in. Discovering a sick new song is invigorating, right?

Being that the first half of this year has been absolutely flooded with new music, I spent some time digging through my music archives to pick out ten loosies that should not be slept on in the midst of the meyhem. These are the non-album cuts that made a real impact on me when I first heard them, and are still in my heavy rotation leading into the summer. Listen below.

1. Blu “Cobb”

If you give Blu the right track, it’s easy to hear how incredible an MC he really is. The guy’s got top tier skills that too often go underappreciated. So that’s what Alchemist did with this piano-laced beauty of a beat—he showcased Blu’s excellence. I think it’s about time we got a full project from these two Cali cronies—but for now, just listen to this and give thanks, then cop the limited edition 45 vinyl before it’s gone.

2. Chuck Strangers “34th and Beverly”

Pro Era rapper/producer Chuck Strangers came out of nowhere and hit us in the head with this one. Driven by mean electric guitar licks and dusty drums, Chuck reminisces on his coming-of-age days in Brooklyn “trying hard to be Erick and Parrish fused.” Shouts to EPMD for influencing the new school of professional hip-hoppers, and to Chuck Strangers for the raw, honest flavor.

3. Conway “Birdy”

Westside Gunn’s older brother Conway is undoubtedly one of the hardest rappers to come out of New York state in a minute. And if there’s one producer right now who can recognize talent, it’s Statik Selektah, who really outdoes himself on “Birdy.” I’ve always been a Statik fan, but he’s solidified himself as one of the top rap producers in the game over the past couple years. “Birdy” is proof, as is the Conway-featured posse cut “The Curve,” which also deserves a nod of recognition. Here’s hoping these two keep working together.

4. D.I.T.C. ft. O.C. and A.G. “Lost In Time”

D.I.T.C. bombarded us during the first half of 2016 with weekly drops that culminated in a full crew album release. Many of the standout leaks were featured on the album, but “Lost In Time” somehow didn’t the make the cut. On the DJ Manipulator-produced song, O.C. and A.G. proudly let their age show and break down how they maintain their relevance without following the latest trends—and they do it well. Salute the OGs.

5. Hus Kingpin ft. yU “The Breaks”

What do you get when you mix potent talent from Long Island and the DMV? One of the dopest, most moving rap songs of the year to date. SmooVth provides the backdrop for yU (of Diamond District fame) and Hus Kingpin to solemnly wax poetic—and not to play favorites, but yU’s verse is especially ill (“I am son of a builder whose father was a builder, too/So if you wasn’t about no growth then I ain’t feelin’ you.”) The harmony-heavy chorus is gorgeous, too.

6. Milano Constantine “Closer”

I’m still anxiously awaiting Milano’s EP with Marco Polo and DJ Skizz, but “Closer” has done a great job of holding me over. It’s a self-produced gem that was released earlier this spring in dedication to his late father, and the early D.I.T.C. affiliate does his thing on it, rapping, “You can tell that Pun rubbed off God the way I’m punishing.” Float to this.

7. SHIRT “Poor People’s March”

“How you treat another human being like less than nothing?/How one man can live so well while the rest is suffering?” SHIRT spills some deep thoughts all over this heartfelt Trac-Quada production, showing once again why he’s one of the dopest artists in the Big Apple. Fuck the fluff, respect the real.

8. Westside Gunn “Razors”

Westside Gunn’s album Flygod is filled with fire, but “Razors” clearly shows he’s got more heat in the clip. Seriously, Gunn and his brother Conway have been beasting all year, and it doesn’t look like they’re ready to let up anytime soon. I don’t know much about the producer of this song—Nicholas Craven—but he gave Gunn with some serious soul sickness with this one. Check out Craven’s Soundcloud page, too—he’s got a bunch of nice instrumentals posted on there.

9. Westside Parlé “PutMeOnFlex Vol. 3”

Westside Parlé—not to be confused with Westside Gunn—is a Bronx rap artist who’s yet to get the props he deserves. Earlier this year, he started a “PutMeOnFlex” freestyle series, jacking beats and making them his own in the spirit of New York’s Hot 97/mixtape freestyle glory days. The third installment is the hardest, as Parlé flips Bryson Tiller’s “Rambo” beat and shows off his prowess as a skilled MC and hook master. Yo Flex stop frontin’ and drop a bomb to this.

10. Your Old Droog ft. Styles P and Joey Bada$$ “Just Rhymin’”

Concept songs are cool, but it’s refreshing to hear three great MCs just get on the mic and go for theirs. And that’s what Droog, Styles, and Joey do on this Black Milk-produced banger. And I do mean banger. Come to think of it, that is the concept of the song—they’re just rhyming! Now, who wanna spar with the Gods?

*Bonus* Madeintyo “Uber Everywhere (swell Remix)”

I first caught wind of Australian producer swell when a beat he flipped from a Vine sample got posted on Pigeons and Planes. Then I started following him on Soundcloud, waiting for him to share some more flames. And a month or so ago, he did, with this remix to everyone’s favorite ode to Uber. It ain’t easy to do an awesome remix, but swell came correct here. Wait for the beat drop, it builds unexpectedly, and beautifully.

Previously: 10 Loosies You May Have Slept On In 2015 (So Far) | 10 Songs You May Have Slept On in 2014 (So Far)

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