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

These are the songs that are about to invade your ears.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Cuffing season is upon us, or so I hear. It's getting cold, unless you're somewhere tropical, and in that case this music ain't for you.

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. 

November wasn't amazing for rap singles, but damn if R&B hasn't picked up the weight. With Jeremih prepping for a supposed album release, Chris Brown spinning out a sleazy smash, and a young newcomer jumping in the game from out of nowhere, it's time to get caught up. Grab some cocoa and curl up by the fire with the one—or ones, if you're into that sort of thing—you love. It's this month's edition of Bout to Blow: 10 Dope Songs You Should Be Hearing Everywhere Soon. 

Listen to the 2015 Bout to Blow picks on Apple Music.

Zoey Dollaz "Blow a Check"

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Miami rapper Zoey Dollaz has a hypnotizing lil bubbling banger with "Blow a Check," its chorus Drake-ian enough one wonders if he's had some sort of secret ghostwriting past. His focus on running through the money has a kind of hamster wheel perpetual motion that suggests the ineluctable momentum of spending so long, rationalization is forgotten and obscured—the moment tossing dollars is more compulsion of muscle memory than pleasurable activity. Takes one to know one, this critic approves.

DLow "Bet You Cant Do It Like Me"

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For every dance comes a song. Sometimes those songs take off—see "Hit the Quan," "Whip/NaeNae"—and other times they don't, i.e. the tragically doomed via SEO original "Whip" by Famous to Most. DLow—whose "DLow Shuffle" was by some miles the biggest record to pop from Chicago's "Bop" movement back in 2013—has another one. Only his isn't about any specific dance, it's about all of them, executed better than anyone else. At a time when Hillary Clinton hit the Nae Nae on Ellen, I like to think of DLow's version as an argument for craft in the face of numbing democratization. The reason the song works—aside from its obvious cribbing from ATL past (a chorus via D4L and a beat that echoes "Knuck If You Buck")—is that it feels more like a workout than a song, transforming silly fun for everyone into a competition for pros only.

Yo Gotti "Down in the DM"

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This could have been included last month—evidence of its snowballing rise could be seen in certain regions back in mid-October—but Yo Gotti's singles career is like the star who cried wolf: His businesslike approach to hustling out slabs of radio-ready trap rap has sustained one of the genre's longest careers, but his records have a tendency to get stuck in the "bubbling under" phase—approximating a truly likeable smash but in the final verdict ultimately under-whelming. How else to explain the rise and sudden stasis of "Rihanna," his Young Thug feature from earlier this year? Yet creep anthem "Down in the DM" not only is going to transcend Gotti's typical track record, it deserves to. Its minor key production suggests a slinky sleaziness, a complementary atmosphere for the virtual space of forbidden lust and illicit exchanges.

Jacquees "Like Baby"

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You've never seen "underrated" until you've been to a Jacquees show: no artist's fanbase is so audible IRL and so unheard in media online. This is liable to change with the inevitable success of "Like Baby." As a golden-voiced bad boy soaked in Cash Money history—the video for "Like Baby" refracts the Hot Boys' "We on Fire," and it closes with shoutouts to BG, Turk, and Mannie Fresh—the young dreadlocked rapper suggests Baby's found yet another distortion in the Lil Wayne archetype. Longterm success is never pre-ordained, but with the Cash Money muscle behind it, it's hard to imagine that the icily atmospheric pianos of "Like Me" will be anything but a chilling presence on rap radio for the next few months.

Young Greatness "Moolah"

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A signee of Quality Control, the same label behind the Migos, Young Greatness is a solid rapper from New Orleans with one genuine, long-rising hit in "Moolah." Produced by the legendary Jazze Pha—many remember him as the guy with the too-frequent ad-libs, but I prefer to recall his work behind Tela's "Sho Nuff" and Field Mob's "Sick of Being Lonely"—"Moolah" is a solid slice of post-Migos/Quan trap shit that makes whipping work seem like one of life's simplest pleasures. The song's been out for ages—it first dropped back in May—but has gotten a renewed push and is liable to be in your earbuds any day now.

Kalin and Myles "Brokenhearted"

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Perhaps the most controversial inclusion in Bout to Blow history was teen sensation Kalin and Myles' "Trampoline," a silly, kitschy reimagining of Bill Withers intended mainly for suburban butt jiggling. "Heartbroken" sacrifices "Trampoline"'s trolling novelty for a more sincere emotional punch. We're back at another McMansion pool party, and this time, the chill teen sensations are being their empathic heartthrob selves, offering a hand to jilted lovers across the subdivision. But don't take a dude's word for it; listen to the fans.

Jeremih "Oui"

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With the sensuous seduction of "Planes" echoing in my ears, I didn't quite hear "Oui" for what it was when it dropped in late October: a cute conglomeration of The-Dream's tics and Lloyd's grainy generosity, packaged together as a tasteful alternative to the scumbaggy status quo of "relatable" contemporary R&B. Its reassuringly respectable approach at first feels anonymous, its titular conceit too clever by half. But it may just be that by going against the groove, Jeremih—who seems incapable of staying off the charts, despite the long delays for his official album—might have crafted, in the words of Khaled, Another One.

Chris Brown "Back to Sleep"

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I know no one rooting for Chris Brown. (For christ's sake, he hit Rihanna.) Obviously, a substantial portion of his audience not only doesn't care but has rendered some tortured-soul narrative from his troubles. He remains a perpetual factor, in part because he makes a lot of people a lot of money, and "Back to Sleep" is liable to continue this trend. Lustfully smooth, the record's atmosphere suggests the "Night Shift"-era '80s, with an f-bomb dropped in the hook to keep things modern. It fits in well with the Weeknd's "As You Are," recalling specific points of '80s history rather than a generalized pastiche: In this case, the three-note climax of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" seems the most obvious touchpoint. This isn't even Brown's only record this month; check out—no, seriously—his collaboration with French Montana and Migos, "Moses," which is much more durable than you'd expect.

Lil Durk f/ Dej Loaf "My Beyonce"

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This isn't Durk and Dej's first collab or even first appearance on Bout to Blow as a duo. "What You Do to Me"—though it reached 2.5 million views on YouTube and some level of cult success—may have just proved a launching pad for the two to have a longer, more inspired pairing over the long term. Where that song was all about the rush of the crush, "My Beyonce" is a languorous savoring of romance that's since been consummated. Can we get a duets record? Are Durk and Dej the 2015 Rene and Angela? Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal? Marvin and Tammy? Tune in next time to Dragonbae D.

Ravyn Lenae "Blossom Dearie"

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In Chicago a new sound is brewing, cultivated around producer Monte Booker and propelled nationally by the easy listening West Coast vibes of Beats 1 and Joe Key's Soulection radio station. His sound is a sticky, tactile realism, as if his drum sounds were recorded by a Foley artist—shoes tap and hi-hats tear. Chicago is not at a loss for unique artists, but even there, the shadows of Chance and Keef loom large; here is a crew who've found their own terrain. Along with Pigeons and Planes-cosigned rapper Smino (whose "Ciabatta" is a definite standout), it's the innocent hippie-soul and delicate approach of 16-year-old (!) singer Ravyn Lenae that really stands apart, a jewel whose sensibility is so pristine one feels like they're trampling the grass just listening in on her blooming single "Blossom Dearie." Although the sound can seem experimental and a bit left field, at the core of this collaboration is a real heartfelt pop record with a potential audience in the millions.

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