Bout to Blow: 10 Dope Songs You Should Be Hearing Everywhere Soon

These are the songs to watch for this month.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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It's Aug. 1, summer is in full swing, and if you're anything like us, you've embraced "Can't Feel My Face" whether or not you wanted to.

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. In July, mainstream radio had a rough one; more than ever, what gets played on the hip-hop charts feels out of step with what's being heard everywhere else. Unless you're Future, of course. But we were able to find a few regional hits that keep things interesting, plus one massive dance record that is mere seconds from taking the country by storm.

All this and more, in this month's 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 @somanyshrimp.

Drake "Hotline Bling"

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As a copyright-safe remake of D.R.A.M.'s long-building indie hit "Cha Cha," Drake's "Hotline Bling" is an odd little pop single, and musically stronger than the two recent diss records that have attracted the most attention. Drake's best songs work independently of Drake's persona: As self-mythologizers go, he can undercut himself if you're not one for the Drake persona. But as a pop songwriter, he's got a gift, and it's one he's improved upon in recent years. The lilting cod-Nintendo-reggae of "Hotline Bling" pushes it away from the stripped-down If You're Reading This, It's Too Late monochrome. Instead, it's a sly pop gem with replay value, a song that transcends its creator.

iHeart Memphis "Hit the Quan"

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Atlanta may run the game when it comes to dances, but it's Tennessee's iHeart Memphis who figured out how to turn "the Quan"—see the disapproving DJ Akademiks' video on the subject—into a true hit record. "Hit the Quan" is on the verge of blowing up everywhere, thanks to its toddering oddball beat that matches its ridiculous command to "get down low and swing your arm." The verses are sloppy in a memorable way, all stiff, moving at unpredictable angles—much like the dance itself: "I paper chase then vanish, hit the Quan on her, make her boyfriend panic/I heart Memphis, but I also love dancing, I done took off on 'em, I don't planned on landing."

Bankroll Fresh f/ Travis Porter and Boochie "Walked In"

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Bankroll Fresh's Life of a Hot Boy 2 was a solid but not exceptional street tape with a dry, minimal feel. "Walked In" was so unlike the rest of the record—much of which stuck to greyscale textures and Jeezy-esque bombast—that it was easy to pass over: Less a Bankroll song than a Travis Porter one, the Mr. 2-17-produced record has become a bubbling hit, particularly in Georgia. Mr. 2-17 sticks to heavy drums and a three-note piano line, from which all the rapping hangs like clothes on the line. At a time when most Atlanta rap—including Bankroll Fresh's own—seems glued to trap mythos and various kitchen utensils, Mr. 2-17 has hewed closer to the dance-rap style of snap or swag rappers past, to great effect. (See also Speaker Knockerz-referencing: "Are You Mad?! Or Nah!")

Selena Gomez f/ A$AP Rocky "Good for You"

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With 55 million views in a month, Selena's "Good for You" video didn't even have a chance to be "bout to"—it just blew. An unrepentantly sexual record about the urge to be generous, "Good for You" drips with sensuality. It feels like bad form to have a rapper intrude on such intimate emotions, yet the official single features a guest rap. And A$AP Rocky, though of late a very particular and precise writer, doesn't quite have the effortless panache needed to carry off lyrics about ass shots in the context of such carnal vulnerability. The new generation could really use its own Fabolous.

WizKid f/ Drake and Skepta "Ojuelegba"

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WizKid's "Ojuelegba"​ has been a big record in Africa for most of this year, but obviously it's gained a huge boost with this Drake remix, first leaked on the rapper's OVO show on Beats Radio. With a guest spot from grime rapper Skepta, the remix is reminiscent of the "no genre is the new genre" heatrocks of Diplo's Hollertronix era of the early Internet—when colliding aesthetics were seen as inherently worthwhile, whether or not there was much chemistry between the parties involved. But in this case, Drake's pulled it off. In part, it's a success because of the malleability of Nigerian afropop, the scene of which WizKid is a part: It's a style that can incorporate many different worlds, and does, because it prioritizes pop and culture over genre. "Ojuelegba"​ is a perfect example, transforming "Nothin But a G Thang" synthesizers into a space open for everyone. It's hard to imagine WizKid would sound quite as comfortable over grime or Drake's frozen soundscapes.

Joe Moses f/ RJ "Get Off on Slauson"

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DJ Mustard's latest tape is respectable enough, but also a bit blank; it's hard to imagine it'll spawn many hits. While Mustard's sound isn't over quite yet—"Post to Be" and Krept & Konan's "Freak of the Week" still get burn, and one can never forget the "Classic Man"—the rap and R&Bass sound that he pioneered does seem to have tapered off a bit, with even YG moving to a retro Sir Jinx-style track for "Twist Ya Fingaz." If the door is slowly closing for YG's associates as Mustard's movement recedes, they may end up in a position where taking a different approach provides them with greater opportunities. Enter Joe Moses and RJ's "Get Off on Slauson," a slick song washed in gleaming synthesizers that focuses not on conquering the world, but on the hyper-local, street signs and dead homies, the ever-present threats of violence: "East Side, West Side, both will split your head like apartheid."

PnB Rock "Fleek"

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With the success of singjay rappers like Def Jam's Lil Durk and Fetty Wap, artists like St. Louis' La4ss and Philadelphia's PnB Rock have found local success that, with the right push, could broaden beyond their hometowns—if they make the right moves. The term "Fleek"—now over a year old—may be too dated to make it: It's hard to tell, in the hyperspeed Internet era, where slang can seem played out days after its arrival. But the song's trick is to treat the title as slang rather than meme—to let it be a sincere salute to the effort of appearance, rather than a joke playing off the term's prevalence.

Monica f/ Lil Wayne "Just Right for Me"

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Lil Wayne's had a rough six months. But after more than a decade of pop cultural omnipresence, can it be any surprise the market has shifted so suddenly from the sound of his voice, to a new generation of stars? Monica's "Just Right for Me," though, is a good fit: mature, self-consciously "soulful," but with a gritty heart that suggests resilience, even as his burdens weigh him down. Wayne, though assuredly in a gradual descent verging on freefall, hasn't given up the fight, and it will be a sad day when he reaches the stage of acceptance. Thematically, it's a perfect match for this song, as Monica sings to him: "And I don't care about your past, 'cause you're just right for me."

Slim Thug f/ Joel Osteen "Chuuch"

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The most talked-about guest spot on Slim Thug's latest album, Hogg Life,​ doesn't come from the usual suspects—your Young Thugs and Futures, Meek Mills or Drakes. Instead, it's Christian megachurch minister and Martin Short lookalike Joel Osteen, who appears in both the intro and scattered throughout the nearly 6-minute-long "Chuuch." The song builds to an epic climax around the 3:00 mark. The theme is about soaring with eagles rather than consorting with chickens, and with vocal and organ accents, it's really quite motivational. Highly recommended.

PARTYNEXTDOOR "Kehlani's Freestyle"

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PARTYNEXTDOOR's "Kehlani's Freestyle" is ostensibly about—his girlfriend, liaison, lover?—R&B singer and soon-to-be star Kehlani. And lyrically, it's so personal ("Damn, I wish we took it slower") and openly sexual ([Redacted]) that it's almost uncomfortable to talk about it here. Even saying its name feels a bit like leering. But as a song, it's effective, a simmering slow jam that seems to stew rather than flow, whirling in place as if we were catching PND's internal monologue—one he let slip out to the world in a moment of weakness.

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