One month left in Bout to Blow: 2014.
As you know, we've become pretty agile at predicting hits. Occasionally, we've whiffed. Other times, we've called it before most of your favorite publications. But the point isn't just to get it "right"—anyone can look at stats and see what's going to pop.
This column has two goals:
1. To use the many tools available to us today to get some idea of what songs were really bubbling with "the people"—in other words, to insert some science into the process.
2. To contextualize that information, because raw numbers in a vacuum would have you thinking an anonymous rapper dropped onto a stellar track was hip-hop's next big rap star when he was more like an empty tattooed vehicle for a dope beat and a hook.
The post is obviously intended to be somewhat predictive. There's also an element, though, that is cheerleading. Many of these songs might be flourishing in certain markets, but could use wider exposure. They're tracks where the metrics suggest some forward momentum, even if the clubs and radio play don't reflect that.
Since last month, few of the tracks we called have popped completely. Outside of Ariana Grande (whose "Love Me Harder" is popping for real) and Fergie ("L.A. Love (lala)" is well on its way), most of the records are still in the bubbling stages. That's not, per se, a negative thing; as this column has become more popular, I've had a tendency to go out on a limb a little more often. After all, the same stats I see are available to everyone else, and some—like Lyor Cohen's new label 300—have access to more stats than the general public. But it's 300 that proves the worth of this project: As Cohen gets behind records like Shy Glizzy's "Awwsome" and a new record by Fetty Wap that makes this month's list, it's become apparent that we're not the only ones who think hip-hop has more dope records than radio realizes.
So what's in store for December? Check out this edition of Bout to Blow: 10 Dope Songs You Should Be Hearing Everywhere Soon.
David Drake is a writer living in New York City. Follow him on Twitter at @somanyshrimp.