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

Featuring Migos, Rae Sremmurd, Kap G, and more.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Once again, most major artists have flown uninspiring singles up the flagpole. This month, we took a look at some bubbling-under records which promise only to get louder in the coming months. Welcome to the May edition of Bout to Blow.

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 May 2016 down to the 10 best records you have to know. It's this month's edition of Bout to Blow: 10 Dope Songs You Should Be Hearing Everywhere Soon.

Lil Haiti “Low It Down

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The more we complain about New York regional knock-offs pushing more copies than the artists whose careers inspired them, the more it happens. This time around, though, the song is a real hit. Lil Haiti's previous record, “Hit the Wave,” sounded like a drill record fumbling for a catchphrase, but “Low It Down” really connects. (Perhaps part of what makes New York versions of Atlanta and Chicago styles connect so broadly—aside from the obvious advantage of being in the country's foremost media market—is the large population of Caribbean immigrants interpreting Southern and Midwest styles through a different lens, as is suggested by the subject of this Coli thread.) “Low It Down” has a great beat which doesn't sound like much else out, weird 8-bit effects and unusual percussive choices colliding to sound at once futuristic and ancient, like a fusion of a fresh vision and traditional tools.

Rae Sremmurd “Look Alive”

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Rae Sremmurd's second single from their upcoming sophomore album is a disorienting step into a free-floating drug trip. The group's lyrics—particularly Swae Lee's—are a great underrated element of their appeal, at once tossed off and evocative, capturing an in-the-moment, conversational, incidental truthfulness: “You my target, no doubt/Something about you really stood out.” And the duo continues to discover fresh melodic terrain as well, an intuitive sense for hooks that is nonetheless presented, like a rose inside a display case, in the clearest possible space.

Migos “Say Sum”

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The Migos are back! Maybe. Who knows, these days. But this is a definite push of the reset button for a trio who've struggled with legal issues, imitators, and a degree of their own creative fatigue. “Say Sum” feels like a full but comfortable step into pop territory, a funky, well-crafted record which seems A&R'd up in the best sense. Offset may have the standout verse, closing the record with bars about his “tuxedo on, feng shui,” but it's more of a demonstration of the group's chemistry shaped for maximum pop impact.

Trinidad James f/ Mystikal and Lil Dicky “Just a Lil' Thick (She Juicy)”

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One of those records where, if it whiffs, you'll feel completely embarrassed for endorsing, Trinidad James' body-positive anthem is a shameless reach for the pop charts, a throw-everything-at-the-wall type long bomb. Of course, if it becomes a real hit, everyone will hit themselves for not recognizing its obvious underlying genius. The rapper—or someone at his label—is clearly unafraid of pilfering pop history to create a full-on phenomenon. Trinidad, who has historically been the archetypal limited technical talent, is rapping here like he's had Luda ghostwriting for him; meanwhile, his video swag is like a cross between Busta Rhymes, Coolio, and André 3000 (fuzzy boots era). He's joined by sex offender and rap genius Mystikal, and one-note fish out of water joke rapper Lil Dicky. Yet the song works, because it just doesn't care about tastefulness at all. It's resolutely uncool, and doesn't mind risking looking stupid to be great.

Kap G “Girlfriend”

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Kap G's released strong records before—most notably a well-time anti-police record (“Fuck La Policia”)—yet none of his previous cuts quite measured up to “Girlfriend,” his latest single. The song is a low-key record without being subtle, a cold performance so icy it's as if it'd been chilled before release. He also seems to have figured out a melodic flow that doesn't feel like it's reaching too hard to hit the right tones, a trick in this melody-driven environment.

Ayo Jay f/ Fetty Wap “Your Number”

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For those of us who grew up with classic pop-soca jams like “Turn Me On” by Kevin Lyttle and “Tempted to Touch” by Rupee, Ayo Jay's afropop by-way-of dancehall soon-to-be international smash will be a pleasant reminder of gentler times. The song is actually several years old; last summer, the singer's label connected Jay with Fetty Wap, and the two recorded a new version together in the studio. Ayo Jay was born in London, and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, but recorded the song in a housing project in East New York, where his cousin was staying; Jay was a college student at the time, studying finance and economics.

Yatta and Lil Yase f/ DJ Spunks “Foolin”

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Lil Yase—joined here by imprisoned rapper Yatta—has become a Bay Area phenomenon over the past several months, racking up several local hits, including “Get It In” and “Bum Bitch.” Last year's “Foolin” looks like it might be en route to toppling both of those as the rapper's biggest song to date. He raps with a constipated, understated, minimal style over sparse, spare beats which seem less interested in the energy blast of hyphy than in cultivating a sense of static unease.

M-City J.R. “Addicted to My Ex”

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This record and its spectacularly strange video from Detroit rapper M-City J.R. have become something of a regional phenomenon over the past few months. It's not so much an innovative record as a biggest possible maxed-out version of contemporary sounds and trends, a record which hits much heavier than it should. It's having a real-world impact—regularly one of the best selling rap records on iTunes, “Addicted to My Ex” promises to just get bigger in the ensuing weeks.

Berner f/ Hollywood “Gunplay”

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Berner works hard and has a great ear for beats. He's long overdue for a legitimate hit; “20 Joints” became a regional one over the course of several years, but “Gunplay,” from his latest album, Hempire, is perhaps the most promising of his long career. Should this one go long, just remember where you heard it first.

TWENTY88 “On the Way”

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A Big Sean and Jhené Aiko combo album ranks in the 80s or 90s of my personal most anticipated duet albums. But “On the Way” not only looks like it's about to break through on radio, but captures an effortless lighthearted je ne sais quois which Sean only occasionally captures; in contrast with the studied grimness of his last solo album, it's a breath of fresh air, thanks in large part to a sample of Les Brown's jazz recording “Sentimental Journey.”

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