It almost feels crazy to write a ‘top 10 songs of December 2017’ after just doing a top 50 songs for the year 2017 but there’s just too much going on right now to skip it. This month had new albums from Shy Glizzy and Lil Boosie, a new mixtape from Lil Wayne that was more interesting in theory than practice, a couple new albums from some of Detroit’s lovely ladies like Molly Brazy and Cuban Doll, and was capped off with ‘The Gift’ from FMB DZ. As you can see below I’m still on my Detroit grind right now with a couple of tracks by longtime favorites making some heavy, profound music (and an unexpected rainbow-haired interloper) mixed in.
Sada Baby – Free 80’s
“Real nigga look me in my eyes, I ain’t fake at all.”
While December was an amazing month for new music with new albums from heavyweights like Shy Glizzy and Lil Boosie to Sada Baby’s fellow Detroit native FMB DZ, I don’t think I listened to any song more times on repeat this month than ‘Free 80s’. There’s just something about the swagger and veneer that Sada brings to the track that makes this song compelling, more so than any specific line or lyric. Taylor Greer of Fake Shore Drive described it best, saying “The truth is, Detroit is in a league on their own, and has been for some time. The artists and music that you hear in the city, provide a glimpse into a culture surrounded by ingenuity and preserved by the hustle. So when you hear artists like Sada Baby or 80’s spit, just know you’re not just hearing lyrics over a beat — you’re actually hearing the ingenuity of the artist’s hustle.”
I love the cameo from FMB DZ in the video when Sada Baby mentions him (making multiple appearances on this songs of the month list even when he’s not actually in the song!) supporting his fellow Plymouth Road rapper, as well as the cameo from Tee Grizzley’s chain.
The vest with no shirt under it combination does not work for most people and I certainly wouldn’t dare try to pull it off but Sada just has so much swag he’s able to pull it off and override any concerns that the average person would have when rocking that look. (Now I’m not saying I want this to spark a trend, let’s keep it to just Sada for now).
“I won’t talk about no shit that I don’t know bout. If that chopstick ain’t on me I don’t go out.”
“I’m an east side nigga with a roll on me. I can’t say none of my niggas ever told on me. They won’t ever let no other niggas roll on me. Big face (???) type of niggas never fold on me. Tooda Man gon do what’s right if you act wrong on me. He done killed a nigga if he swung on me. Know I kill a nigga if he swung on me. Bang bang close range I got blood on me. Step on the work like it’s a motherfucking rug. I can’t talk to nobody unless I’m off my drugs.” (I love the look that Tooda Man grills the camera with when he’s mentioned in the verse).
“I’m in Cali you niggas at home want to trade places? I’m just out here facing, stacking, yelling free 80s!”
“Burberry shirt cost an ounce of cookie, young Skuba Steve different type of rookie. Monkey nuts everywhere the wop look like Jumanji.”
The ‘Free 80’s’ title and chorus are in reference to Eastside 80s, an imprisoned Detroit rapper. All of the current wave of Detroit rappers go hard but Sada Baby also adds in a twist of personality and humor along with some wierd flows and wordplay to give him a style all his own. No one else besides him could pull off a red ranger Power Ranger tattoo and actually make it look kind of dope. I’m in the middle of listening to his new mixtape ‘Dat One Nigga’ right now and should have a couple of highlights from it up here soon. Sada Baby already ‘blew up’ in 2017 but I think we’re going to be seeing him everywhere in 2018.
FMB DZ – All the Smoke
I’m tempted to say that no rapper had a bigger/better 2017 than FMB DZ or burst onto the scene with more of a bang.
A perfect Yuletide gift indeed from a gun-wielding, Buffs-sporting Santa Clause…
“Nigga ain’t my man if he ain’t riding with me, I fuck with the BandGang I got Mas with me. My nigga (?) got a sleeve and a 550, I got popped I could have died I had God with me. A nigga gotta die if a nigga want beef. Free my nigga 80’s I’m good in the East. You know this bitch a classic with Ant on the beat. Niggas know that I’m gonna shoot so they pass it to me.”
“You’ve got guns I got guns we can shoot it out. I’m aiming for a nigga’s head I ain’t killing clouds. Lord forgive me always been a wild child, two FNs and two chopsticks cost me five thou. Nigga telling me I’m next bitch I’m up now, I’m in Houston making plays bitch I feel like Yao.”
“Put a nigga on your block so we can find the house, firebomb will chop y’all down while you’re running out”
I ended up lazily forgetting to put together a top 20 mixtapes/albums to go along with the top 50 tracks of 2017 that I did a couple of posts ago, but it’s safe to say FMB DZ would be on the list twice this year; once for The Gift and once for Washington DZ.
Shy Glizzy – Take Me Away
From the previous post…
The Glizzy Gang head honcho has a knack for these heavy but melodic songs like this that focus mainly on death and what people will be saying when he’s gone/what type of legacy you leave behind, i.e. this one and 2015’s ‘Funeral’, which was previously Glizzy’s finest work in my opinion. ‘Take Me Away’ is the standout track from his recent ‘Quiet Storm’ album and may challenge Funeral for his career best so far.
I love the montage setting the mood in the beginning of the video, with the random, dispassionate shots of Glizzy’s hood (the overgrown back alleys behind apartment buildings, clotheslines, staircases, the D.C. skyline off in the distance, a police helicopter circling overhead, guys posted up on the corner) interspersed with him walking in the rain and waiting in his house with police sirens outside the window. The cold, sobering beat goes perfect with it. I’m certainly no expert on this type of thing but the intro is A+ cinematography. It really feels like the calm before the storm.Even the title ‘Take Me Away’ goes perfectly with this vibe.
From a fashion perspective, I’m not sure if I’m feeling the Supreme umbrella but those Georgetown Hoyas shorts are fire. Bonus points since he’s representing DC AND because I looked for them online and couldn’t even find them so a rare gem indeed. (Another side note – Lightshow also had a song called ‘Burberry Umbrellas’ recently. What’s with these DMV-area rappers and high-end designer umbrellas?).
The chorus is simple but hits hard – ‘If the streets take me away, a real nigga I die.” He’s come to terms with the fact that he can die any day in the environment he’s in and while he’ll survive at all costs at least if he dies he feels like he never caved in or folded and no one can say he wasn’t ‘real.’ It’s a steadfast but sobering message and I would imagine this song was probably influenced by the recent death of 30 Glizzy.
OuttaTown ft. Gucci Mane – Yamaguchi
There’s just something hilarious but simultaneously amazing that I can def get behind about a group of otherwise tough-looking grown-ass men yelling about how they’re Kristi Yamaguchi, a petite, female Asian-American figure skater of ’92 Winter Olympics fame. I love how this video just comes out swinging full force, with OuttaTown and his cohorts wasting no time, already rocking out yelling the anthemic chorus as soon as the video starts. I feel like it would have been more convenient and perhaps more macho to just use an NHL player’s name for the chorus/title to serve the purpose of showing how icy they are but using Yamagucchi just makes it even more over the top ridiculous. (One question based on the chorus – why is Yamaguchi ‘what these niggas don’t like’? I feel like she cut a fairly innocuous and uncontroversial public persona). I also like the fact that Yamaguchi sounds kind of like ‘I’m a Gucci’ or at least rhymes with Gucci’s first name.
I love the dance move OuttaTown executes at about 1:05 as he lets you know, “This is real life, this is not a movie. Skating on this ice – KRISTINA YAMAGUCHI” as well as the dramatic shot of him and Gucci marching down the hallway after.
The song also plays to Gucci’s strengths – as the homie icebergsweater said, “hearing a 2017 rap song trying to sound more like a late 2000’s Gucci Mane/Jeezy song production-wise pleases me a lot for some reason. It’s a better fit than some of the claustrophobic trap beats Gucci’s been on lately.”
Meek Mill – Save Me
Between Shy Glizzy, Boosie, and Meek, we’ve got some seriously deep/heartfelt songs this month. ‘Save Me’ was the closer from Meek’s album ‘Wins and Losses’ from a couple of months back. At the time I had heard it and not thought much of it, and then browsing Hotbox Social’s end of the year best songs list, I gave it another listen and was blown away by how good the song was and wondering how/why I had underappreciated it at first listen earlier this year. With Meek currently being behind bars in Pennsylvania, the song takes on even more heaviness and meaning. (Side note: I love the ‘Free Meek’ custom Adidases James Harden was rocking and the fact that he visited him in prison in Chester while he was out there). This is a Meek song that doesn’t sound like any other Meek song, and one that you wouldn’t expect from him in that it’s really more singing than rapping, but it works perfectly. I’d go as far as to say it may be Meek’s magnum opus so far. This is the type of epic track that you want to close an album with.
Lil Boosie – Webbie I Remember
9 times out of 10 when you see someone standing at the banks of the the river with a pensive look on their face, throwing twigs into the water or skipping stones, you know that something deep and introspective is about to happen (especially with those piano keys setting in as the beat) and Boosie delivers on that here in ‘Webbie I Remember’.
Boosie has been through a lot of ups and downs in his 34 years on this Earth and here he reflects on his relationship with Webbie and life in general. I love the black and white photos and video clips periodically interspersed throughout the video giving you a look back at long-buried memories of a simpler time. You really get a window into all sides of the coin of Boosie’s life; rocking out shows and cutting up with friends, to kids, to falling out with longtime friends, to cancer, to walking in and out of court and his prison stint.
“Went to war had a lot of niggas running. Behind bars, like a boss how I’m coming.”
“We was young and fucked up in the head. Drag you from the river if you fucking with my bread. Had a little money but we living in the red, we ain’t got it like we said.”
“Walking through the mall with a strap, 13 chains on I ain’t going for the jack.”
“When was kids we just wanted our turn, in the hospital me and you don’t learn, steady asking God give us one more turn.”
Whether you love every song or not, I think everyone can agree that Boosie is undeniably one of the realest artists alive; very few other artists could touch on such a wide range of emotions (like pain, love, regret, nostalgia) in a short video like this and make you feel what they’re saying so much.
Tay B & FMB DZ – Back 2 Back
FMB DZ makes yet another appearance on this list, this time with Tay B (also see below), as the two Detroit natives trade bars over a fun, bouncy old school beat that sounds like it’s from some 80s house party, which is fun to hear them rap over since DZ is usually going over harsher, more stark beats. These two trade bars back and forth seamlessly like it’s Jadakiss and Styles P in their prime.
“Try and touch DZ that’s a closed case, free my Pops he respected by the whole state!”
Joseph McFashion, FMB DZ, Tay B, Cash Kidd – Raw 2
Raw 2 goes even harder than the original ‘Raw’ and Raw was pretty hard. It’s clear that ‘Coach Joey’ is Joseph McFashion spitting a few bars at the end of the video in some sort of thinly-veiled alter ego but when you put together a video this hard with this type of cast you can do whatever the hell you want.
FMB DZ, the only holdover from the original Raw video, kills it as usual – “I don’t know if he got pole but I got mine, every nigga with me strapped up like we rock climb.” We also get a rare glimpse of the Top Shotta without his Buffs.
Cash Kidd – “Feeling like a snowman I keep that stick on me”
Even Coach Joey can’t resist getting in on the action and spits a quick couplet about how he’s a millionaire and a mogul.
Side note: I was very curious as to what the ‘Riptide Fast Pitch’ on Csah Kidd’s shirt was referring to and from what I can tell from a quick Google search it looks to be some sort of softball league, so I’m unclear on if Cash Kidd is a weekend warrior on the softball diamond or if he just grabbed a random shirt laying around for the video. Either way, I also love his casual brag about ‘Doing credit card fraud up in Macy’s’. He brings the perfect energy to this type of track.
Allstar JR ft. Steven B the Great – Felony Warrants
“Look how the feds gettin my dog boxed with them, took them to a bench trial, they gave him 20, now he looking for a pen pal, called home all he said was this shit wild. All my niggas got fed cases, single parents raised them to be some headcases.”
“Remember I was riding in stolies, free Bud he a savage he would shoot at the police.”
6IX9INE – Kooda
From my previous post…
“I don’t know if Kooda will hit the same heights as Gummo or cause quite the same stir but it goes hard af (maayyyybe even harder than Gummo, this Nintendo-sounding beat is another sledgehammer) and I have to give credit where credit is due to Tekashi – I honestly thought Gummo would be a one hit wonder and then we’d never hear from him again but he’s definitely got a second hit on his hands here with Kooda. (Tekashi is coming up with some great names for these songs, better than his own moniker 6IX 9INE. He should consider just going by Kooda or even Gummo).
I like the part where Tekashi yells ‘We’re gon show what we about” partially because it sounds cool and partially because I actually am genuinely curious what exactly it is that he’s ‘about’.
Imagine if you were an unsuspecting commuter just looking to use this subway station on a normal day and then walked in on this video being filmed? My only minor quibble about this one is the Hilfgier polo that Tekashi is wearing with the buttons buttoned up all the way to the top and the tips of the collar curling up, loosen up a bit bruh you’ve got a face tattoo and rainbow-colored hair, the top button isn’t going to make you look any more formal, you can loosen your collar a bit!”
Similarly to Gummo, Detroit’s Snap Dogg now has his own freestyle over the Kooda beat, for in case you were looking to bump Kooda but with an angrier and more intimidating rapper rapping on it. Snap Dogg is rocking his Bronco Boys chain as well as his ankle monitor and just generally spazzing out on the beat. I can’t decide if the ‘What up 6ix 9ine?’ at the beginning of the song is meant to be friendly and collegial, or menacing and threatening towards Tekashi. There’s also a fairly strange guy in a cow suit that seems to be in heat or something, a lot of expensive cars, and a lot of guns.