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

These new songs from Jeezy, Kendrick Lamar, and more are poised to make an impact.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Welcome to October's edition of Bout to Blow. 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 vehicle for a dope beat, hook, and some tattoos. Shots?

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.

A few of the songs we've spotted have climbed considerably higher; Iggy and JLo's "Booty" lunged into the Top 40 its first week, starting off at No. 18—the highest debut of JLo's career. "Hold You Down," "Touchin, Lovin'" and "Or Nah" seem to have popped off as well. Other records, like Que's "Too Much," are taking a longer path, but are still bubbling upward. That said, DJ Mustard's "4 Digits" looks like it's not getting a push before "Face Down," and my main man Baby Bash is still stuck at the local level.

What's in store for October? 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 @somanyshrimp

Jeezy “Holy Ghost”

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While Jeezy and Jay Z's “Seen It All” is still gaining spins coast to coast, the incredible “Holy Ghost”—which just got a video this past month—is the greater song, a true capstone for one of the 21st century's most enduring careers. The Kendrick Lamar remix could end up pushed instead, since he's liable to be on fire for the next few months. But “Holy Ghost” is better solo. After all, it's a song that wrestles obliquely with Jeezy's personal relationships, the lives sidelined, the trust misplaced, the strength martialed to grant forgiveness (“You're only a man homie, I ain't mad at ya”). Jeezy's work is stronger when reflecting on its own lonely grandeur: “Think you've figured it out, but you don't have a clue/Think you're on top of the world, but the world on top of you.” “Holy Ghost” hasn't been pushed to radio yet, but it should be.

Kendrick Lamar “I”

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But you knew this. Even those who dislike this record seem to realize it's liable to be a pretty big one, what with the comparisons to Macklemore and “Happy.” For all American love of sex and violence, affirmation sells too. Unlike Macklemore's neo-liberal tolerance agenda or Pharrell's future Paxil jingle, Kendrick Lamar prioritizes “positivity” in a pretty revelatory way. (For more, read our essay on why Kendrick Lamar's “i” is a pretty radical record here.)

Radio is adding this record as we speak (it's riding the Rhythmic format pretty heavily, much like the West Coast “ratchet” sound, and rappers like Childish Gambino and, yes, Macklemore), and it's popping up on a variety of other charts. The only thing that really could have improved this record was if it'd come out in summer…although then we'd have had four months of folks setting up Kendrick against Iggy Azalea, so maybe we dodged a wet washcloth there.

Vince Staples “Blue Suede”

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Vince Staples' “Blue Suede” has been out for a minute, but in that time it's steadily racked up half a million YouTube views without much in the way of airplay. And it's only liable to get bigger in the lead-in to Hell Can Wait, the rapper's upcoming Def Jam debut. But radio has never seemed less adventurous than it does in 2014, at least as pertains to hip-hop, which is unfortunate because “Blue Suede” feels like the kind of counterintuitive, almost abrasive move that would sound fresh on the airwaves.

Vince Staples is a young kid with a clear writer's eye, and the poetic imagery of its hook is striking. But what makes “Blue Suede” work is that beat: It's Masta Ace's “Born to Roll” slowed up, the background synth shifted to the foreground—it's a nicely executed flip (no one I've seen has caught the similarity to Ace's record yet), but it gives Staples the kind of multi-generational appeal that doesn't interest many of his contemporaries.

Young Thug “I Just Might”

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Young Thug records continue to leak daily; even if you exclude the entire library of Gucci/Thugger collaborations, Grand Hustle is sitting on a bunch of hooks and verses, with T.I. and Trae pushing out new Young Thug records (not even their first). 2 Chainz's mediocre “Dresser” is doing the rounds. With “Lifestyle” taking off, Quan and Thug have had some real traction as well, and leaked several new records, the best of the recent ones with DJ Drama (“Right Back”).

Then there's the Metro Thuggin project, and whoever is behind the release of “Lakers,” and…well, this could go on forever. But easily the most slept-on record Young Thug has unveiled since “Lifestyle”/“About the Money” is the DJ Spinz-produced “I Just Might,” a beat that alternates between hypnotic and dizzying. It's liable to get lost in the noise, if someone doesn't recognize how strong a contender it would be for wider success.

Jermaine Dupri f/ Ty Dolla $ign & Migos “Pull Up”

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Everyone cheered for Thugger and Quan's “Pull Up,” but it's the third-best record called “Pull Up” released this year. First is, obviously, Chief Keef (“Drunk in love with my gun, bae, bitch Beyonce/When we pull up it's no Bombay, red rum the other way”), but second is an ignored release in the flood of Ty Dolla $ign collaborations and Migos churn. Ty's songwriting skills—and a particularly heart-wrenching guitar line during the chorus—successfully transport the Migos aesthetic to planet Dolla $ign without a single spilled drink or coffee stain. Jermaine Dupri is also involved in this project, if I remember correctly. In a just world, some kind of radio PD is picking through the haystacks to find this needle, since it seems like it would make noise with the right exposure.

Famous to Most “Whip”

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If one thing has developed over the past few months of this column's existence, it's a dissatisfaction with the relationship between hit records and radio, a creeping suspicion that the system—never exactly efficient—is less capable than ever of identifying hits and getting them in a position to take off until well after the public has already invested in them. Part of this is because we find new records from so many other sources these days. The latest example? Famous to Most's incredible “Whip,” a bubbling Vine phenomenon (just search “whipdance”) that catapults off the success of similar dance records like the Nae Nae. 

For kids paying attention, we're all super late to the Whip Dance, as Usher's already performed it on live TV. But really, this song is just getting started. It helps that along with the viral dance, the song's manic, freewheeling energy congeals into a banging-ass record. This goes a lot harder than the Nae Nae, and almost reaches a midpoint between Southern dance records and the New York “Litefeet” style—at least, judging by Vines like these. Is Vine reshaping the music itself? The revolution might be televised, but it definitely won't be on the radio.

Flo Rida f/ Sage the Gemini “GDFR”

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There are definitely people who like old Flo Rida records, but those people are empirically wrong; Flo Rida sucks (and no one cares). He's a great businessman. But generally speaking, he makes trash music. Or at least he did, until he dropped “GDFR” alongside Vine hitmaker Sage the Gemini. (“Red Nose,” “Gas Pedal.” Yes, you've heard them.) Some might complain that the use of a horn sample is an attempt to play off the success of Jason Derulo's “Talk Dirty” and Ariana Grande's “Problem.”

But a better comparison for the loop used here might be a Lakim Shabazz/45 King record like "First in Existence," as some have suggested, or the first touchpoint that came to my mind: the Black Sheep "Strobelite Honey (No We Didn't Remix)." But the most important thing about this record is that it's a real possibility for Sage the Gemini to cross over on mainstream level, leapfrogging bigger rap stars and diving into the pop market. He might as well; as he shows here, he's got a gift for clever punchlines that translate well to pop.

Kehlani “FWU”

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Women are running the R&B charts in 2014. No one can be mad at "Whole Damn Year," Mary J. Blige's harrowing new single, and Jazmine Sullivan is one of the best singers in the game point blank. But many of the genre's biggest hitmakers these days seem to prioritize atmosphere over big shows of vocal technique; Tinashe's “2 On,” Jhene Aiko's “The Pressure,” and Tiara Thomas' “One Night” are all great songs, but few would argue the singers' interpretations of the material was what put each over the hump.

Oakland native Kehlani flirts with trendy approaches, but her vocals are the centerpiece of “F.W.U.,” and are distinctly her own; she never really seems tempted by the times to lean hard on Cassie/Aaliyah vibes, and adjusts well to shifting musical contexts on her debut EP, Cloud 19. “F.W.U.” is also simply an incredibly well-written record. A song of devotion that plays off the title of one of the summer's most popular R&B hits about betrayal, “F.W.U.” is the rare R&B single that is both cool and good, the arc of its songwriting hinging on a clear-skies bridge 2/3rds of the way through: “No secrets, baby/Between us, I love that we're honest, I'm keeping my promise/I'm thugging regardless, years down the road when we're up on out the projects/Baby, we're like rockets, loving what we started….”

Rae Sremmurd “No Type”

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Kid Ink f/ Usher & Tinashe “Body Language”

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The attention focused on Big Sean and E-40's solid DJ Mustard record “I Don't Fuck With You” is a little mystifying; it's not even the best record Big Sean released that day (I'd argue for his Mike Will cut “Paradise,” and a good argument can also be made for his song with Key Wane, “4th Quarter”), but it seems to be benefiting from a generic DJ Mustard enthusiasm that has yet to ebb.

There's another artist who has managed to parlay regular ratchet records into consistent craft: Kid Ink, who's managed to flip a notionally lazy approach (Wiz Khalifa's Wiz Khalifa) into a pretty workable template as the ultimate Mustard-wave mercenary. This beat wasn't even produced by Mustard; it's actually Stargate. But hey, it's catchy as shit, and reasonably harmless, even if it feels a bit empty going down.

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