After a few months, 2017 is already shaping up to be a strong year for music. Bubbling under Future's latest, untouchable run, and some high profile beefs, are some songs that you haven't heard yet. This month's Bout To Blow column has some more obvious picks than usual, but that's just because they're undeniable. Mixed in with those, though, are the sleepers that could dominate in the months to come.
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.
After a harsh decision-making process, we narrowed March 2017 down to the 10 best records you have to know. Chief Keef, Lil Uzi Vert, and Future all make a case that they have the next chart smash in their pockets—we'll let the listeners decide. It's this month's edition of Bout to Blow: 10 Dope New Songs You Should Be Hearing Everywhere Soon.
Chief Keef "Can You Be My Friend"
THEY. "Motley Crew"
THEY. call themselves a "grunge&b" duo, though they're about as "rock" as N.E.R.D., who they spiritually channel throughout this year's strong Nu Religion Hyena. There's definitely the aura of an industry plant around their carefully manicured presentation and odd moniker, and the "electronic pop R&B with hip-hop production and a sprinkling of rock" recipe likewise feels laboratory-concocted. But it works, in large part because of its label-like spare-no-expense attention to songwriting, and its light touch: the album is well-balanced, without individual ingredients taking too much space. "Motley Crew" is one of the more rock-oriented records on the tape, and it's already getting traction throughout the country; "U-RITE," when pushed as a single, may go even further. Call it N.E.Rae&B.