2 Chainz, dinneriwthjohn, Draco, Drake, Future, Glow, Good Drank, Gucci Mane, John Walt, Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, More Life, NAV, OMB Peezy, Optimistic Challenge, Playboy Carti, Quavo, Ripp Flamez, Shell, Sounds of Blackness, Valee
Here are my top 10 tracks for March, click the link below the first couple of them to read/listen to the full top 10, and enjoy
Valee – Shell
Starting off this month is a song I played about 500 times by a newer (at least to me) artist from Chicago, Valee. Clocking in at barely over a minute and a half, I love the simplicity and minimalism used here. I have to give credit to one of my favorite blogs, somanyshrimp.com as I first heard this on Episode 5 of their great new podcast that they put up every couple of Sundays now. The plot of the story can be condensed into Valee describing a trip to a Shell gas station. As someone who spends a lot of time on the road I can certainly appreciate the appeal of taking a break walking into a Shell or Exxon to grab a cool beverage, although admittedly mine aren’t usually as syruppy as Valee’s. My favorite part is the description of the Margielas as ‘bumpy Margielles, feel like braille’ something about this description of them makes them sound so luxurious. Also of note in the video is the nice old school Chevy that Valee is taking out for a ride from a very anonymous looking storage unit.
Ripp Flamez – Church in the Projects
I found out about this song on one of my favorite sites, and one I feel like I’ve been checking for as long as I can remember, Dirty Glove . This whole mixtape, Project Melodies, by Ripp Flamez is incredible and very different than anything else out right now, and definitely deserves more views/listens than it already has. I don’t know a lot about the artist Ripp Flamez but he is from Ohio and has a really unique voice/delivery it’s almost more singing than rapping. I could have went with a number of songs from this mixtape for my March Top 10, including standouts like ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Blurry’ but I decided to go with the project’s finale, ‘Church in the Projects’ because overall it was the best track to me and was haunting and alluring all at once. You’ll have to listen to it for yourself but there’s just something resilient that stops you in your tracks about the opening/chorus as he sings ‘I keep my hand on the Bible/they won’t understand I’m a man from the projects/I won’t stand through the nonsense/I’m just a man from a land full of violence.”
OMB Peezy – Loyalty Over Love
‘Straight outta Mobile!’ I have to give a grateful shout out to another one of my favorite blogs, The Martorialist here, for introducing me to OMB Peezy and this song. I don’t know as much about OMB Peezy but this song goes hard and he brings a ton of energy to the track and this one will definitely stay in your head for a while. I also always like getting an inside look at the artists’ neighborhood. I’ve always felt that Alabama is an underrated state for interesting rappers (Jackie Chain or G-Side anyone??).
Playboy Carti ft. Lil Uzi Vert – Woke Up Like This
I wasn’t sure if this was going to be some sort of Beyonce reprise or what to expect from this song title and these two guys, and I haven’t always liked all of Lil Uzi’s output but I have to say, I really enjoyed this one. Playboy Carti does a really good job here and I feel like we need more material from him, he’s certainly cultivated quite a buzz and he seems to benefit from the air of mystery he’s created but here’s to hoping we get more material from him soon.
Sounds of Blackness – Optimistic
A rare non-rap song on the list, this gem from 1991 enjoyed an unlikely but much-deserved recent resurgence in popularity due to the ‘Optimistic Challenge’ videos by Chance the Rapper as well as a plethora of dancers on Youtube, and it couldn’t have happened to a better song. Just by chance, right before the Challenge took off, on one brutally cold day this winter I had put this on early in the morning as I walked to the store and it’s been part of my rotation ever since. You can’t listen to this song early in the morning and be in a bad mood afterwards. It may be wishful thinking on my part but given the renewed interest in the song, I would love for a couple of rappers to record verses over it. The song also has a great message.
NAV – NAV
A self-titled song on a self-titled album by NAV, mainly just the name drew my initial curiosity but I was glad I checked it out because it was one of the most infectious songs I’ve heard in a while. I don’t know a lot about NAV but it seems like he’s getting a lot of hype all of a sudden and has some sort of affiliation with the Weekend and was also recently played on the OVO radio show on Apple’s Beats 1 so I’m sure he and this track will only ascend in popularity from here. Apparently he is a Punjabi rapper from Canada. I love the catchy and triumphant chorus, “I remember being broke and down bad, now I pay nothing for my sneakers ’cause I’m NAV!” Almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Drake ft. Kanye West – Glow
I’m not really a fan of either Kanye West or Drake, and they get so much attention and there are so many other great artists out there not getting enough attention that it’s rare I would highlight them on this blog, but I do have to give credit where credit is due, and I really liked the track ‘Glow’ from Drake’s new ‘More Life’ playlist. I feel that they borrowed some imagery from Chief Keef with the whole ‘glow’ thing but overall I’m not going to let that detract from my enjoyment of the song. I didn’t even post a link to the song here because obviously any Drake song basically gets taken down from the internet right away but that’s a topic for another day. The production is interesting and tenebrous. There’s something oddly satisfying and relatable about the way Kanye raps ‘They used to laugh when my whip was on the tow truck.’ It makes him a more relatable figure and it’s also very believable as he’s someone who has talked and rapped extensively about his struggled with debt. You can really feel how good it feels to now be well beyond the stratosphere of the people that used to laugh at him for his car being reposessed.
dinnerwithjohn – Pinstripe
There’s something appealing and unique about this strange track that kept me coming back even after I didn’t like it the first time I heard it, and I was soon hooked and it became one of my current favorites. I have to give another shout out to somanyshrimp.com here as this was another excellent song I would have never heard if it weren’t for their radio show. He was a collaborator and friend of another up and coming Chicago artist, Saba. I didn’t realize that dinnerwithjohn is the same guy as John Walt, who did the trippy and shimmering song ‘Kemo Walk’ and video a couple of years ago which I would also reccomend checking out. I would rather let his talent shine here than say much else, as sadly this promising and creative artist was recently taken from this earth way too soon as a victim of violence.Rest in peace John Walt.
Future – Draco
Whether you’re a fan of Future or not, you certainly can’t knock his work ethic, as he unexpectedly released two albums one after the other seemingly out of the blue a few weeks ago. While many of the tracks on them seemed to blend together to me, and were not amongst my favorite works by Future, I loved the song Draco and found that I was often playing it on repeat and singing along with the hook in my head as well. It reminds me more of some of his more upbeat, melodic material like ‘Just Like Bruddas’ as opposed to some of his heavier, more plodding music. He was also pretty theatrical with the video here, I’m not sure how he has time to get all of this stuff done at once!
2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Quavo – Good Drank (new version)
I won’t say too much about this song since it’s already really popular (hence the performance on Jimmy Fallon’s show), aside from that the original version wasn’t bad but this new supercharged version adding in the choir singing along on the chorus takes it from above average to amazing. I don’t know whose idea that was but it was a stroke of genius! As a longtime Gucci Mane fan (has it been over 10 years already??) it was also cool to see him performing on such a big stage, especially since it was only a couple of years ago that he was sitting behind bars in prison. I’m not sure why Quavo isn’t in the version that appears here/why he wasn’t on the show, but he is certainly becoming one of the new go-to guys for hooks. I believe a Sound cloud track of this version is available here on the site Nah Right.