Here’s our top banger from this year, it’s lit!
CL X Diplo X Riff Raff X OG Maco – Doctor Pepper
A team up of disparate artists who can always be trusted to produce something suitably turnt, ‘Doctor Pepper’ is essentially a lesson in all you need to produce the perfect banger.
Producer Diplo crafts a sleazy, sinister minimal beat that borrows from the incredibly prevalent Atlanta rap scene, which is perfect for the trio of rappers.One of K-pop’s most charismatic stars CL (aka 2NE1’s leader, aka the baddest female, aka international solo artist) transforms frustration at a cancelled recording session and a can of Dr Pepper into an attitude-loaded hook.
RiFF RAFF is there to provide delightfully wacky quotables like “DRIVIN’ BACKWARDS THRU ROME IN A RANGE ROVER/YOU SKATIN’ ON THIN ICE, ANNA KOURNIKOVA,” while OG Maco rounds the track off, delivering a gruff verse that namechecks Charlie Sheen and Call of Duty.
Novelist X Mumdance –Shook
“You ain’t gonna get no girl you’re shook/You’re not gonna go nowhere you’re shook” cheers for summing up three years of uni for me, Novelist. In all seriousness when it came out this track fucking blew everything out the water, kicking off a year that was hyped to be an amazing year for grime but was actually a bit meh, we had shit like Dizzee Rascal coming back and trying to pretend he’s still from endz and relevant, Stormzy getting big (if he tells me to shut up on twitter I’ll be mildly entertained) and RS becoming a fixture on the awkward comedy circuit, Grime seems to have stagnated a little and this is why the Take Time EP really stood out this year, with ‘Shook’ just slightly having the edge over ‘1 Sec’.
Longtime collaborators Mumdance and Novelist have come together once again and everything about this tune is great, combining an old school grime aesthetic with a touch of Mumdance’s experimentalist vibes and vital bars from Novelist. We haven’t seen much collab from the pair in 2015, but here’s hoping for a full length album from the two with loads of awesome appearances, a la The Bug and Flowdan.
Keith Ape ft Jay All Day, Loota, Okasian & Kohh – It G Ma
The obvious similarities between ‘It G Ma’ and OG Maco’s ‘U Guessed It’ led Maco to call Keith Ape out for cultural appropriation, calling ‘It G Ma’ “Wack As Fuck”. Maco’s anger is understandable because in all honesty, it must really hurt when a group of Asian rappers unknown to the western world do you better than you.
People have latched on to Keith Ape and crew purely because everything about the track is more exciting – from the video in which Keith Ape chugs farmer alcohol like it’s Dom Pérignon to the intermittent and erratic English lines like “orca ninjas go Rambo!” The production, overloaded with bass and menacing synths, is more than just a few plinks and plonks on a fruityloops preset piano too. Just like Yung Lean and his Sadboys and Tyler and OF, Keith Ape left a lasting impression with ‘It G Ma’ by being completely averse to the norm. Let’s face it, who doesn’t now want to be part of the Underwater Squad?
Vince Staples – Senorita
Not sure if the OF stans were doggedly listening to Shyne Coldchain Vol 1 & 2 like they said they were before claiming everyone was sleeping on Vince Staples, but Vince presented himself as someone who told the stories we needed to hear with Summertime 06, and the clear banger from the acclaimed album was ‘Señorita’.
It features a Future verse (who else?) lifted from ‘Covered N Money’ as the hook, a technical throwback to hip hop in Vince’s forming years, and two of the hardest verses in which Vince begins viciously, “fuck ya dead homies, run ya bread, homie/got some lead for me, I’m on Artesia parked in my Beamer, bumpin’ my own shit.” The semi-automatic bass bumps and the erratic hi-hats along with Vince’s ferocious, but detailed bars make for gangsta rap that’s not rough and raw like before, but devastatingly precise.
Koi – Le1f
While PC Music affiliated producer SOPHIE has spent the latter half of the year dropping sonic trash like ‘L.O.V.E’ and ‘MSMSMSM’, it’s still easy to forgive him when reminded that he had his hands all over a definitive summer banger in the form of Le1f’s ‘Koi’.
Defined by hyper, choppy synths and an impeccable chipmunk vocal hook, the production is SOPHIE at his most vibrant and colourful yet. While Le1f’s low-toned rap rides the beat perfectly, as his lyrics deal with his entertainingly narcissistic, and harsh rejection, of a ‘boy’ in a club.
Despite being a collaboration that makes perfect sense in theory, it ends up being immeasurably more fun than what could have been imagined.
Night Lovell – Fraud FF
Night Lovell’s fucking great. Over the past 18 months, he’s taken the whole Atlanta trap meets cloud rap thing into slightly more legit (almost Lynchian) territory with devastating effect. Concept Vague rounded off 2014 magnificently and Night’s been steadily releasing banger after banger this year.
‘Fraud FF’ is what we really wanted to hear around a year after Concept Vague, whilst everyone else has been basically trying to ape Night in 2015, he’s been innovating, building on his sound and the result is fucking great, tight, slavishly produced beat, tight fucking flows and top barz. All these morons putting out a tape a month need to sit the fuck down cos man’s pretty much sending for ya on this tune.
Night hasn’t released 5 mixtapes this year and it really shows, he’s released a tasteful amount of tunes and ‘Fraud FF’ is pretty much the apex, if everyone in the underground was as quality oriented as this, hip hop would be the only music in existence.
Travi$ Scott ft Future & 2 Chainz – 3500
Metro Boomin had an explosive 2015 working on Dirty Sprite 2 and What A Time To Be Alive, but collaborating with Zaytoven and Mike Dean for Travi$ Scott’s ‘3500’ was undoubtedly the pick of the bunch.
The instrumental hits all the banger specifications – long, comfy bass hits and hi-hat flourishes with equal amounts of gritty and pretty synths – and Travis delivers one of the strongest hooks for a rapper of his stature. The featured verses from Future and 2 Chainz are pretty much the epitome of why these two are widely loved. Future’s “proudly downin’ these percocets” while 2 Chainz recalls his childhood “drinkin’ breast milk out a lean cup”. It’s bonkers, it’s brilliant, but most importantly, it’s a bloody banger.
IndigoChildRick – Retribution
Everything about this tune is a fucking banger, banger 18 if you will; the electro-y sound design, how hard the beat goes, how fucking hard man goes when he’s spitting, everything about this song is great, it’s polished, ‘rick spitting trademark Miami venom sounds like it’s been produced by some dude who gets paid to take loads of mescaline and sit in a basement listening to grindcore 24/7.
The very best thing about it is the hook, seriously, “NIGGA SHUT THE MOTHERFUCKING FUCK UP BITCH SHUT THE FUCK UP SHUT THE MOTHERFUCKING FUCK UP”. Hook of the fucking century. Visuals are pretty nice as well, much like the tune, kinda blending into what’s going on with hip hop but still very much doing its own thing. IndigoChildRick is killing it at the moment. He’s currently touring with THE ULTIMATE Denzel Curry and by the looks of his Twitter we might be expecting a full release off of him sometime sooner rather than later.
Drake X Future – Diamonds Dancing
While it’s true that Drake and Future’s What A Time To Be Alive didn’t quite reach the highs that hype demanded it too (a near impossible ask of the duo) it still produced a number of 2015’s definitive bangers, the biggest standout being their most fully realised collaboration in ‘Diamonds Dancing’.
With Metro Boomin on production (wow) ‘Diamonds Dancing’ gains banger power from its ominous chimes and creeping thuds.However, it remains memorable as it sees both rappers playing up to their individual reputations. Future is full or regret and paranoia in the face of his decadent lean-centric lifestyle, while in the final two minutes Drake is most overdone emotional work yet, essentially being a breakdown over a girl from his past, but y’know, at least there’s no clumsy rhyme of “team” and “rings” this time round.
(The original isn’t available anywhere, so here’s a nightcore version by Dylan Brady)