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

Our picks for the under-the-radar tracks we think are about to make it big.

Dej Loaf

Image via Josh Brasted/FilmMagic/Getty

Dej Loaf

Welcome to the December edition of Bout to Blow. This column has two goals: 

1. To use the many tools available today to get some idea as to which songs are really bubbling with "the people"—in other words, to insert some science into the process. 

2. To contextualize that information, because numbers in a vacuum will 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 of cheerleading, too. Many of these songs might be flourishing in certain markets and 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. After a harsh decision-making process, for September we narrowed a long list down to the 10 best records you have to know. 

It's this month's edition of Bout to Blow: 10 Dope New Songs You Should Be Hearing Everywhere Soon.

DDG "Givenchy"

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DDG, also known as PontiacMadeDDG, is a social media polymath who made his name through vlogging and vining and gimmicks like dissing Lil Yachty before establishing himself as—well, a reasonably talented artist with a genuine hit single in "Givenchy." If something about his rise feels cynical, his song's shameless catchiness feels like an authentic complement to his open ambition. If it's surprising that his quest for fame hasn't overshadowed the music, it's only because expressing his personality online seems to have come to him as naturally as breathing. With a memorable rhyme pattern operating as its primary hook, the song's infectious stop-start sound is liable to take off at any moment.

Don Ace "4 5"

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Don Ace's street rap milieu may seem overfamiliar, but comes with a contextual tweak here—soft, bright, calming pianos which operate as a kind of musical halo—a song that would have been pro forma in other hands becomes a subversive twist on an old standard. The use of this "positive" musical signifier puts every other aspect in a new light, the unexpected tone suggesting deeper, truer emotions beneath. There's nothing happy about everyone on his block toting a pistol, true. But does this circumstance make happiness an impossibility? In thinking about happiness in the context of a tragic American story, and happiness in the context of violence, it creates a deeper layer of melancholy, a truer one, a reminder that happiness and all other feelings exist only in conjuction with their opposites.

Dej Loaf & Jacquees "At The Club"

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In this writer's opinion, "At the Club" is one of the best songs of the year. Jacquees and Dej are a strong tag team, their vocal styles are a perfect complement even if they don't exactly have the chemistry of lovers, ironically keeping them in the friend zone—the single was off the duo's Fuck a Friendzone mixtape. Musically, "At the Club" sounds like the spiritual successor to Pretty Ricky. Rather than feeling like empty nostalgia, this retro aesthetic is refreshing, a cool glass of ice water on a hot club dancefloor.

Drakeo The Ruler "Big Banc Uchis"

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L.A. street rapper Drakeo's been making noise for some time. His SOB X RBE collaboration "I Could Never," released earlier this year, was a career highlight for both the group and Drakeo himself, and jams like "Silly Billy," "10 Chains," and his "Impatient" freestyle have galvanized fans. But Drakeo spent most of the year behind bars. While that would slow most artists' creative growth, Drakeo seems more motivated than ever. As a rap stylist, Drakeo has a unique sensibility, an economical approach that emphasizes hip-hop's proximity to spoken language, rather than writing. His phrasing is distinct, and the songwriting present on "Big Banc Uchis" seems to flow directly from his rap style, rather than accommodating it.

NoirIllusions f/ Fijimacintosh "Glock Box"

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NoirIllusions and Fijimacintosh's "Glock Box" has a playful immediacy uncommon to such low-profile artists, but its cheeriness has an addictiveness that's tough to deny. The track does a neat trick of giving a song about packing weapons, fucking all night, and foreign cars—rap toolkit shit—an effervescent tone. It's executed economically, and with a shamelessness that suggests this won't be the duo's first visit to these pages.

Z-Money f/ Valee "Two 16s"

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There was a lot of excitement for ZMoney when he first broke through with the JNeal-helmed project Rich B4 Rap, the kind of effortless, funny, lewd, well-rounded project that gives rap fans Slick Rick echoes in its obviously Gucci-influenced DNA. What followed for ZMoney was a series of legal issues which kept him off the radar, and some uneven projects which failed to ignite much more outside attention. ZTM, the home to "Two 16s," is a collaboration with St. Louis producer ChaseTheMoney, who previously also produced the acclaimed VTM for Valee. While it's more prelude than triumph, it's got a low-key tautness which suggests Z-Money's been refocused and has his eyes on the prize. But the star of "Two 16s" is Valee, whose verse (which suggests echoes of Gucci's flow on the beat switch during "Photo Shoot") sucks up the oxygen, a tightrope-glide of a stylistic exercise which offers itself as art, first and foremost.

Saweetie "Icy Girl"

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While it feels like "My Neck, My Back" never really left popular culture rotation, Saweetie manages to carry this remix purely on her own personality and understated style. The original barely echoes. There's a laconic Harlem swag to this one-off which suggests pure, unadulterated confidence, and more of a classic Bad Boy aesthetic than a Khia one.

BlocBoy JB "Shoot"

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Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB nailed this record, which takes a familiar flow—if you identify its origin, post in the comments—and transforms it into a darkly memorable swirl of sound that suggests an uncut slice of local rap culture. The "Shoot! Shoot!" hook and minimal production has that unadulterated feel that defines so much great local rap, and ultimately amounts to something much greater than the sum of its parts. This is innovative songwriting in its purest form.

Lil Skies f/ Landon Cube "Red Roses"

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Though Lil Skies has made this column previously, we whiffed on the specific track: it's "Red Roses," which is moments from hitting the charts, thanks to its unassuming, coolly reflective approach. Whatever your stereotype of "SoundCloud rappers," Skies' track suggests a deepening artistic sensibility and a much more nuanced approach than the aggro-bombast drill-goes-rock-n-roll cliché of the moment. The Pennsylvannia-raised rapper is poised to have a breakout moment, even as a SoundCloud rap backlash in the press seems imminent.

Sherwood Marty "Sherwood Baby"

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Sherwood Marty is the most promising artist to rise from Baton Rouge since NBA YoungBoy one year ago. His "Sherwood Baby," which recently surpassed a million YouTube views, builds on a refreshing organic production sound and carefully centered, purposeful rapping, as well as a flow copped from Chief Keef's classic Bang 2 highlight "Morgan Tracy."

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