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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It's 2016. You may be waking with a hangover, but we've got a soundtrack to help you get through what will surely be the only low point of your New Year! 

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 December, I decided to dig a little deeper, and look for some unexpected and undiscovered future hits. These are mainly records with an outside chance, rather than mortal locks: Better to go out on a ledge in the New Year and see if we can't call some long shots.

Welcome to 2016's first edition of Bout to Blow: 10 Dope Songs You Should Be Hearing Everywhere Soon.

DJ Luke Nasty and Anderson .Paak "Might Be Freestyle"

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DJ Luke Nasty's version of Anderson .Paak's "Might Be"—originally released on .Paak's 2014 album, Venice—has slowly built up a large following throughout the South and is on the verge of cracking open nationally. The rapping itself is, uh, serviceable, and it's not entirely clear why this version took off while .Paak's remains relatively obscure. But with a beat/hook/concept combo in an "Oh Boy" style, it's not hard to see what Dr. Dre and Game saw in Anderson .Paak. 2016 will be a huge year for him; his new album, Malibu, comes out in 2016. DJ Luke Nasty, meanwhile, has some music on his SoundCloud page.


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Although its gotten more traction internationally than in the states so far, London-based trio WSTRN have discovered a catchy lil gem with "In2," a record which also seems to have gotten a boost through a recent Kehlani snapchat. UK rap has historically had trouble crossing over in the U.S., but the smooth and simple style here seems like it would be an easy sell Stateside.

Famous Dex "2 Times"

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The first thing you notice about Chicagoan Famous Dex's "2 Times" is that Dex appears to be copping a lil of that Young Thug/ATL swag, replete with dabs and calls to free Guwop. Gucci is also an obvious point of inspiration here; the title and concept are extremely similar to—what else?—"Gucci 2 Times." He doesn't (thankfully) try to rap like Young Thug, preferring a pretty straightforward post-Keef rap style common in Chicago. But what really makes this record click is its shivering organ and "Still Tippin"-string beat courtesy of Maryland producer Kronic Beats. The song's gotten some radio play at Power 92 in Chicago and seems primed to get much bigger.

Young Thug f/ Trouble "Thief in the Night"

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Young Thug's biggest record right now is "Best Friend," and it's only getting bigger. "Hercules," his record with hip-hop's much-hyped beatmaker Metro Boomin could be next. But let's take a closer look at "Thief in the Night," a record he dropped on Slime Season 2 alongside belligerent, long-underrated ATL street rapper Trouble. Thug sounds reasonably coherent throughout ("I go down on a dyke/I go up on my price") while Trouble hushes the audience a la Juvenile's "U Understand." A proper sequel to Black Star's "Thieves In the Night," the production sounds appropriately nocturnal. Betting on Thug hits is a fool's game, but this one goes down easy.

Kevin Gates "2 Phones"

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Kevin Gates remains one of hip-hop's biggest stars to never have a true commercial smash. "2 Phones" may not break his streak of slightly-under-the-radar hits, but it's definitely going to be a lot bigger in the new year. It's not the most evocative Gates record, but its sticky chorus gives it the grim inevitability of rain in roiling storm clouds. One of those hooks you should plan on having stuck in your head indefinitely.

Mike Smiff f/ Ice Billion Berg and Sam Sneak "Drills"

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The most refreshing thing about this record is that it doesn't sound like anyone else's shit on the national level: It's uptempo but without that DJ Mustard bounce; it is nothing like current-day ATL; and despite its title and subject matter, it sounds nothing like Chicago's bleak drill scene. Its bounce is distinctly Floridian—locally, this is referred to as the stick-drill style—giving its confrontational subject matter a bit of confident joy, despite its aggro content: "Young nigga, might pull up with two shooters/Savage, my heart cold like two coolers/Extendo clip long like two rulers." "Drills" comes from Mike Smiff's tape All Gas No Brakes, and it's also worth checking out his version of Master P's "Make Em Say Ugh." This isn't liable to be a huge smash, but Mike Smiff's output sounds singular enough that it deserves more widespread attention.

Tony Hood f/ Young Dolph "Get to the Racks"

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Young Dolph has a huge following in the "chitlin circuit" clubs throughout the South and Midwest. There's not much notable about his lethargic style; he sets the bar low and delivers every time, a less-ambitious 2 Chainz. Nonetheless his voice now graces two hits, with Colonel Loud's "California" charting and OT Genasis' "Cut It" following close behind. Tony Hood's "Get to the Racks" looks like it may be his third high-profile record going into 2016 without Dolph as the primary artist. This time around, its a smooth melodic R&B cut, a world away from the lo-fi trap sound on which Dolph made his name. There's very little to say about the record—Dolph is not the type of artist to inspire lots of ideas or analysis—but it's an enjoyable little pop-rap gem.

Kent Jones "Don't Mind"

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"I'm here because of a DJ Khaled snapchat," read several comments under the YouTube for Kent Jones' "Don't Mind," a silly multilingual pop ditty from Khaled's We the Best music group. Khaled is mainly known as a meme artist these days, but his true strength remains hearing hits. Although none of Khaled's own solo records this year really captured the magnificence of 2014's "Hold You Down," Kent Jones' "Don't Mind" has a novelty factor that could take it pretty far. Cheekiness is an often undervalued characteristic of great music.

Guordan Banks "Keep You in Mind"

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Philadelphian Gourdan Banks is a Dreamchasers signee and R&B singer; his "Keep You in Mind" sounds as much like Washed Out's "Feel It All Around" (itself a slowed-down version of Gary Low's "I Want You") as any contemporary R&B. Somewhere in the air between Dam Funk, chillwave, J Dilla, and Ryan Leslie, "Keep You in Mind" is produced by K. Roosevelt, a solo R&B star in his own right whose 2013 single "Do Me Now" occupied a similar space in experimental pop-R&B.

Rich Homie Quan "The Most"

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This record is more than a year old and originally featured Young Thug, but Quan is pushing it as a solo cut going into the new year. It often felt like Quan did the least in 2015; despite having one of the summer's biggest songs in "Flex," he was overshadowed by the "Hit the Quan" dance craze, and his big solo tape, though sonically novel, had the longevity of a YouTube commercial with a "Skip" button. Nonetheless it would be too early to count him out; even if he's retreading old Rich Gang terrain on this single, that sound has become quietly influential, with both YG and 50 Cent swiping London on da Track to replicate it. The shimmering production on this record is a real highlight, and Quan's verses have a touching vulnerability: "I know that I gotta feed my family/No matter the circumstances, you gotta keep them happy," he sings before heaven's string section sweeps in.

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