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

The September 2017 edition of Bout to Blow features songs from Asian Doll, Gucci Mane, Rico Nasty, G Herbo, Baka Not Nice, Lil Skies, and more.

gucci migos bout to blow lead

Image via Getty/Chris McKay

gucci migos bout to blow lead

Welcome to the September 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.

Queen Key "Kung Fu"

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Queen Key hails from Chicago's South Suburbs, and her anthem "Kung Fu" is driven by organs and a twisting, buzzing bassline, framing a comic chorus: "Kicking niggas off the earth." Queen Key's rap style relies on blunt, to-the-point bars; I was initially reminded of Project Pat when I heard her local hit "Baked Like a Pie," but "Kung Fu"—which comes in under two minutes, an echo of Valee's "leave 'em wanting more" clipped song structure—taps the spirit of late 2000s Gucci Mane.

Baka Not Nice "Live Up to My Name"

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Baka Not Nice has spent several years in the background at OVO, interrupted briefly by a conviction for human trafficking; with the release of the bouncey, sing-song street nursery rhyme "Live Up To My Name" is his first real hit, a genuine earworm with whimsical energy and subtly humorous lyrics delivered with a sloppy insistence: "I drink Henny when I shoot my pistol at the range/That way when I'm tipsy I still know I got my aim." With his first real hit in the bag, Drake recently announced that he'd signed Baka to OVO.

Gucci Mane f/ Migos "I Get the Bag"

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"I Get the Bag" builds on the atmospheric Migos hit "Slippery," and improves on it; the beat is a masterpiece of atmosphere and heft, managing the neat trick of spare, austere production that nonetheless seems to take up space. Much as Gucci's "Met Gala" was a showcase for the Migos' Offset, "I Get the Bag" is really a feature of Takeoff, the group's most underrated member. Though hype levels since Gucci's release seemed to outpace the actual quality of his output, "I Get the Bag" is a genuine accomplishment, albeit one that depends on the Migos' hunger for more.

Lil Skies "Rude"

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SoundCloud rapper Lil Skies recently stumbled on a few songs worth hearing; "Off the Goop" and "Red Roses" have a meandering, dreamlike charm. "Rude" channels a similar energetic wistfulness while wedding it to a familiar template—its structure is reminiscent of Rich the Kid, Famous Dex, and Jay Critch's double-time formula on Rich Forever 3. But producer AllSteezy's beat gives the song a reflective, twilight atmosphere to balance Skies' fleet train-of-thought patter: "Life's a game and my TV done glitched/Rolling up watching Lilo and Stitch."

PoloGang Kentae f/ Nick Kane "Backstreet Baby"

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Kentae is a member of PoloGang, a five-man crew from Toledo, Ohio, whose sound reflects the disparate influences on rust-belt rap: Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Memphis. "Backstreet Baby" has a sense of placeless-ness as a result—it feels as if it could come from anywhere, or for that matter any era—which also makes it also seem as if anyone, anywhere could like it. It's a song built around an undeniably catchy chorus and a heart-on-sleeve earnest emotionalism that splits the difference between melancholy and pride. The invisibility of its regional or generational markers seem to foreground its emotional content in a way that reminds one spiritually, though not musically, of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, another set of Buckeye state street rappers.

Asian Doll "Nice to Meet Ya"

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Compared with distinct stylists like Rico Nasty or Queen Key, Asian Doll's rap style is, on the surface, less distinctive. As a result, I came around to her work more slowly than other rappers in this space, until it felt as if she had been hiding in plain sight. Her aggressive rap style is balanced by funny lyrics—"that nigga flexin, ate my pussy like some turkey dressing/Count your blessings, I get mine from shootin illegal weapons"—and just a brutal, focused energy that makes for extremely compelling art.

Q Money "Work"

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Nothing about "Work" feels new; if anything, I kept hearing echoes of O.T. Genasis with its bluntly basic, percussive rap style. "Work" is a descendent of "Cut It" or "Push It," and it works simply because of its economy and brutalism. Hit me in the head with familiar phrases until I'm in a trance, hammers banging on anvils on the factory floor. Also, incidentally, a win for Ohio; Q Money hails from Cleveland. This song first took off from a viral Facebook meme where a man in a pink shirt danced with a hand-held mirror.

Smooky MarGielaa "Stay'100"

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A 15-year old should not have this much effortless control over his rap style; there are rappers double his age with less command over their own vocal talents. "Stay'100" is a simple composition, subtly melodic, with an innocence appropriate for Smooky's age, but decisively executed. His earlier music circulated for some time, but a recent affiliation with ASAP Rocky (and starring role on the recent Cozy Tapes) has pushed him closer to the spotlight—a space he's likely to take up more of in the future. As a natural talent, he exceeds his new labelmates; here's hoping he can match their success as well.

Rico Nasty "Poppin"

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As the music supervisor for Insecure, Kier Lehman has helped create a platform for many hip-hop and R&B records not serviced by traditional venues like radio; one of his best recent picks was "Poppin," a raw, lyrical record from DMV rapper Rico Nasty. It's not a hit record in the traditional sense of relying on a melodic chorus or obvious hook, but provides an opportunity to experience Rico's brash personality in an uncut form.

Roman GianArthur "Real Love, No Shade"

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Another triumph of Insecure's tastemaking, Roman GianArthur's "Real Love, No Shade" starts out as a straightforward funk record, then shifts into a lilting, reggae-like masterpiece that mixes anguish and pleasure and glee into a powerful emotional cocktail. GianArthur is an artist on Janelle Monae's Wondaland label, and was a key to the success of Jidenna's "Classic Man." With an approach that intermixes R&B classicism with incremental innovation, he deserves more appreciation for the subtle wonder of his songwriting.

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